Refreshing my vocabulary

Vocabulary has always been my weak point with languages. My Spanish vocabulary was once extensive from years of studying, reading, and conversation, but even though my grammatical knowledge is as strong as ever I now find it hard to pinpoint the words I’m looking for. In learning Farsi, I find myself itching to have more conversation but held back by the limited number of concepts I know how to express.

So I dusted off the Memrise app and have been spending my evenings reviewing all the languages I once knew (Spanish, Catalan, German, Japanese) and expanding my Farsi vocabulary. I could do this all day. 😊

Feline visitors

This kitty likes to come around our garden from time to time, and I’ll watch it from inside, but for the first time today I encountered it while I was out working in the garden myself. I startled it at first as I came around the house, but it quickly decided I was ok and came to say hello.

Midday risotto

I have what I consider built-in midwestern guilt (or perhaps a lingering case of Protestant work ethic) that makes me feel guilty for taking long breaks in the middle of the workday. This, even though I know I get plenty done and have a job that thankfully gives me flexibility in my work hours.

So it’s rare that I take the time to actually cook something from scratch for lunch. Today, though, I didn’t have much prepared and I happened to have everything I needed for Jacques Pepin’s Risotto with Broccoli Stems — only, in my case, using asparagus instead of broccoli (a substitution I have enjoyed in the past). It only took 30 minutes and was totally worth it.

Experimenting with bread

After hearing multiple people bring up sourdough bread in the past week, I decided it was time to give it a try. I’m not sure why I had avoided it before. So today I pulled out Beard on Bread and threw together the starter — so far so good, and I have tucked it in a warm spot in the kitchen to do its thing. Now I wait.

Discovering new poetry

On a whim a couple weeks ago I bought a new book: Poems That Make Grown Women Cry: 100 women on the words that move them. I initially skimmed the first 15-20 poems, getting a sense for the poetry, the women, and the descriptions they gave.

Realizing that I’d glossed over a number of poems, I decided to slow down and read one each day. That gives me plenty of time to delve into the ones I enjoy and to find ways to appreciate the ones that don’t grab me right away.

I’m eleven poems in now, and today I read Lord Byron’s “So, we’ll go no more a roving.” While looking up more about the poem I came across two musical renditions from artists I like — Leonard Cohen and Joan Baez — each one different from the other and beautiful in its own way.

Getting home safe and sound

We came upon a serious car accident on our way home last night. We had been at someone’s home for dinner, going through that ritual everyone must know where you say you should be getting home and then you stay for just a bit more conversation.

Well, last night I’m glad we stuck around for those extra few minutes.

A few minutes after getting on the motorway, the car in front of us slowed way down and pulled over — we were the first cars come up on the scene. One car was smushed on the shoulder while the other was perched on the railing in the middle of the motorway, with bits and pieces strewn in between. We hopped out of the car but someone ahead of the accident had also stopped and had already called emergency services, who arrived a couple minutes later.

We ended up sitting for over an hour, watching the police, paramedics, and firefighters work to stabilize the situation. Finally we were able to turn around, wind our way through the maze of emergency vehicles and large trucks parked behind us, exit the motorway, and drive to the next onramp to continue home.

It turns out that one of the cars had driven the wrong way down the motorway, causing the accident. If we had left dinner five or ten minutes earlier, we could easily have ended up in that accident ourselves. And, sadly, the driver of the other car died at the scene.

Although not an incident that inspires much happiness, it does make me exceptionally grateful for our health and safety.