Lost in Buenos Aires



Toma un descanso,


Abre tus ojos

Ahora cuente hacia atrás de tres …

Dos, uno.

Tienes quince años, niño inmaculado y

En absoluto lo que tu madre piensa

Solo ir a caminar

En una calle oscura

Se ve la pulperia

Estaba abierto, estaba cerrado

¿Qué secretos estaba dentro,

Mama mia

Te preguntas…

Que te costará


Take a moment,


Open your eyes

Now count backwards from three…

You’re fifteen, spotless child and

Not at all what your mother thinks

She sent you to the mini-mart

And along the way you saw the pulperia

Was it open, was it closed

What secrets lay inside, mama mia

You wonder…

What will it cost


The unripened grape, the ripe bunch, the raisin, all are changes, not into nothing, but into something which does not exist yet. Marcus Aurelius
Le raisin non mûr, le grappe de raisins, le raisin sec, tous sont des changements, pas dans rien, mais dans quelque chose qui n’existe pas encore. Marcus Aurelius

Which leads me to wonder, ‘If I were I younger and knew what I know now would I not make the same mistakes?’

Si j’étais plus jeune et je savais ce que je sais, n’effectuerais-je pas les mêmes fautes?

Mistakes happened and books were written, knowledge exists and lessons are taught, and history will still repeat itself.


The Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, 167 A.C.E.

Book Two

Begin each morning saying to thyself, ‘The busy-body, ingrate, arrogant, deceitful, envious, unsocial, all these beings happen by reason of ignorance of what is good. But I who have seen the beauty of good and the ugliness of bad, and the nature of him who does wrong; they exist as do I, but I can not be injured by any of them, for no one can fix on me what is ugly, nor can I be angry with my kinsman, nor hate him, for we are made to act jointly, like feet, hands, and eyelids, like the chatter of the teeth. To act against one another is contrary to nature, to be vexed and turned away.’

Tous sont fous, sauf moi, mais, avec toi, je dois ensemble toujours coexister.

April’s sweet showers


Prologue to the Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer: Modern English, French, and original Middle English,


Modern English

English did not become modern until William Shakespeare and the King James translation of the Bible, a fact that will surprise many “modern” high school English students.

When April with its sweet showers
Hath pierced the drought of March to its root,
And bathed every vein in such liquor
By which virtue engenders the flower;

When the West Wind also with his sweet breath,
Has inspired In every woodland and field
The tender crops, and the young sun
Has half its course within the sign of Aries run,

And small fowls make melody,
That sleep all the night with open eye
(So Nature pricks them in their hearts),
Then folk long to go on pilgrimages,

And pilgrims to seek strange shores,
To distant shrines, known in sundry lands;
And specially from every shire’s end
Of England to Canterbury wind their way,
The holy blessed martyr to seek
Who helped them when they were sick.

Language Barriers

When I was a little boy the joke was told,
Q: Why did Peter throw the butter out the window?
A: To see the butterfly.

It is a joke that works in English but not in French, since butterfly in French is papillon.

Language barriers are large but none so great as that observed by the Welsh and English cleric Matthew Henry, There are none so deaf and none so blind, as they who refuse to see and will not listen.


Quand avril avec ses douces douches
La sécheresse de mars à sa racine a percé ,
Et a baigné toutes les veines dans une telle liqueur
Par quoi la vertu engendre la fleur;

Quand le Vent de l’Ouest aussi avec son doux souffle,
A inspiré dans tous les bois et champs
Les plantes tendres et le jeune soleil
A couru la moitié du cours en Bélier,

Et les petites volailles chante la mélodie,
Qui dormir toute la nuit avec l’œil ouvert
(Donc la nature les pique dans leurs coeurs),
Ensuite, les gens souhaitaient faire des pèlerinages,

Et les pèlerins cherchent des rivages étranges,
Aux sanctuaires lointains, connus dans les terres diverses;
Et surtout depuis la fin de chaque cours
De l’Angleterre à Canterbury se promène,
Le saint béni martyr à chercher
Qui les a aidés quand ils étaient malades.

Middle English

Geoffrey Chaucer (1343 – 25 October 1400) is the grand daddy of English literature. Thank God he wrote in the vernacular and not in Latin as had been the custom. English is the most polyglot of languages and one may observe in Chaucer’s English bits of French, German, and Latin sprinkled throughout.

If one looks at the words of Chaucer and then listens to the sound, much of the meaning will become clear.

Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour,

Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halve cours yronne,

And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye
(so priketh hem Nature in hir corages),
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,

And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
And specially from every shires ende
Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende,
The hooly blisful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.

Lost in Translation

Even the most literal of translations can be deceiving. That is a good thing for it means that Google Translate will forever require human intervention to determine the meaning of the words.

Listen is an active verb and if you don’t know what that means you haven’t been listening.

We do not know from a casual reading of The Prologue that the “ram” refers to Aries and the sign of the Zodiac that coincides with spring. Zephirius (Zepher) is the West Wind personified. The word priketh (prick) is a double entendre. Palmeres are those who carry the palm, a custom Roman Catholics continue to observe on Palm Sunday.

Otherwise, I try to stay true to the path Chaucer has taken. There are other translations. Mine is as literally as possible. Better to listen and learn.


Living color




Language is nuanced. Can you spot the differences and would you suggest others?

The valley is green, the hills are blue, the sun is a bright, bright yellow.
Here I stand, camera in hand saying to everyone and no one, hello.

La vallée est verte, les collines sont bleues, le soleil est un brillant, jaune vif.
Ici je me tiens, la caméra en main disant à tout le monde et personne, comment allez-vous?

Das Tal ist grün, die Hügel sind blau, die Sonne ist hell, hellgelb.
Hier stehe ich, ich kann nicht anders, die Kamera in Hand, für jedem und niemandem, Wer sagt hallo?

Ves más allá?
El valle es verde, las colinas son azules, el sol es un amarillo brillante, brillante..

Aquí estoy, la cámara en la mano diciendo a nadie y todo el mundo, hola.



Facing Snow

Du Fu’s poem Facing Snow was written in the winter of 755 after the rebel capture of Chang’an, eastern capital of the Tang Dynasty. Du Fu took his family to safety and then was captured by the rebels and taken to Chang’an. He witnessed first-hand the horror of the An Lushan Rebellion before escaping south the following summer.


Original Chinese



English Translation

Facing Snow

War cries and legions of ghosts.
An old man fretfully chants
A misty chaos and half twilight
Snow dances in a swirling wind
A languishing ladle with no wine or green tea
A cold furnace, once fiery red
Men whisper, what news.
While I brood on my empty book

French Translation

Face à la neige

Cris de guerre et plus fantômes.
Un vieillard chante avec inquiétude
Dans le chaos de la brume et le demi-crépuscule
Danse de neige dans le vent tourbillonnant
Une louche négligé sans vin ni thé
Un four vide, pas rouge vif
Les hommes chuchotent, quelles nouvelles.
Alors que je rêve sur mon livre vide

German Translation

Blick auf den Wind
Krieg schreit und Legionen von Geistern.
Ein alter Mann fragt sich gern
Ein Demi-Chaos und Halbdämmerung
Schnee tanzt in wirbelnden Wind
Eine unsichtbare Pfanne ohne Wein oder grüner Tee
Ein leerer Ofen, nicht feurigrot
Männer flüstern, was Neues
Während auf meinem leeren Buch ich starre und brühe

Notes on the Translations

Language is nuanced by time and culture. Its meaning subtle and mysterious. Thus translating can be a winding path through a dark forest. Even the title of Du Fu’s poem, Facing the Wind gives me pause. Why not a the stronger image of Facing the Snow?

Wind is the better choice. Du Fu conveys his thoughts on two levels. One is visual imagery, the other is metaphor. Captured by the enemy and held in Chang’an, Du Fu must answer for his actions once he escapes. While snow symbolizes the hardships of the winter, wind becomes a metaphor for the swirling accusations that inevitably would be made at court once Du Fu arrived to make his report.

Du Fu was forgiven for his temporary sojourn with the enemy. Others, like his friend Li Bai were not so fortunate.

Country Roads

Routes de campagne amène-moi chez-moi

Forgive me for a momentary diversion along a country road to a place I long to be.

Thinking about the good times, thinking about spring. And I am sorry things ain’t what they used to be. Now, close your eyes. Hey, it is good to be back home again.

Thanks to John Denver for all the great thoughts. Do you know how much we miss you?

Presque paradise, Virginie d’ouest

Bleu Crête de montagne

Rivière Shenandoah,

La vie y est vieux

Plus ancienne que les arbres

Plus jeune que les montagnes

Souffler dans la brise

Routes de campagne amène-moi chez-moi

Lieu j’ai envie d’être


Christmas Eve


Bien sûr, regarde avec des yeux brillants le monde entier autour de vous parce que les plus grands secrets sont toujours cachés dans les endroits les plus improbables.
Ceux qui ne croient pas à la magie ne le trouveront jamais.
-Roald Dahl

And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.
Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.


Christmas Eve is a quiet time at our house. A day for reflection. A day with a good book or a walk in the woods with the dogs, enjoying nature. Random thoughts come and go. One thought that is deep within the brain, one planted there years ago by Roald Dahl is whether the Terrible Bloodsucking Toothplucking Stonechuckling Spittler lies hidden behind a tree.

Will you go? Will you look?


Merriam-Webster defines “eve” as the evening or the day before a special day. It is a sign of wonderful things to come. Pick up a book, you are on the verge of something good. Open your eyes, look, read and behold. Enjoy the mysteries of life, but beware life is not for the faint-hearted.

Gentle Reader, you will often hear, beware what is out there. Beware the Whangdoodle, Hornswogglers, Snozzwanglers and Vermicious knids that live in the dark green forest, but the worst of all these, is the Terrible Bloodsucking Toothplucking Stonechuckling Spittler. But if you fear to take a chance in life you will never meet Don Mini and the Minpins and wouldn’t that be terribly tragic.


The woods are not quiet. It seems still and quiet because the sounds are different from the noise of the city. Listen and you will hear the rambling creek as it chatters with the stones, the birds up above darting in and out the branches, the squirrels in the leaves, all talking about the strange being:

Who shouldn’t be where he is but is.

1-path-2There is no reason
I stopped
My car to walk
Down a shady path
Do I need a reason to walk?
Underneath the trees
And talk to the babbling brook
It could be spring or fall
It matters not at all
But to get away
And look and listen
For nothing at all
And everything
For birds that sing
For squirrels that scamper
And announce the coming
Of a strange being
Who doesn’t belong
Out in the woods

Look at the beauty
Of a path in the woods
Meandering left and right
Lit by the light of the sun
Through the towering trees
On a dusty old path of memories
Like my scatterbrained thoughts
That go nowhere
But straight to my heart


“Some people without brains do an awful lot of talking, don’t you think?
The Scarecrow from Oz”

In the Land of Oz, silence is the most misunderstood art of conversation, and loneliness the most steadfast companion.

Silence c’est le mot le plus mal compris, et la solitude le compagnon le plus ferme. Je trouve, Certaines personnes sans cerveaux parlent souvent beaucoup trop, tu ne penses pas ?


Dans la terre d’Oz on cherche la sagesse.

Oz is a mythical place where one goes to seek wisdom. I say “goes”, but I do not reply that one “finds” the answer. For that one must be willing to listen. More than that, one must know to whom and where to listen.


Alors pourquoi les Français aiment-ils à dire, “On ne change pas”?


“Le monde déteste le changement, mais c’est la seule chose qui a apporté des progrès.”Charles Kettering.

“The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that [brings] progress.” Moreover, the only thing we can’t change is change itself, for it is inevitable in the progress of life. And what is this thing we call change? It is not something we can touch, though it can be felt. It can not be seen with the naked eye, but must be sensed. Change is the process of moving from moment to moment and then measuring the difference.