Monday, September 17, 2007

Japanese, Mr. Owl and Butchering Yards


Goth Girl started her Japanese language classes last week. It is a small class (maybe 7 students in all) but I think it will be fun for her. The teacher is a native Japanese speaker, which I think is important in learning a language that is so vastly different from one's own. Learning the syntax, gender, politeness and linguistic idiosyncracies can be difficult when the language you are learning also has a culture that is quite different at well.

I look at politeness as one of the things that is slowly being dropped from the American English language. In Japanese there are several ways in which to say "thank you." There is the utmost in polite, the common polite and the familiar. There was a time when you would find that in our own language, but I'm seeing that slip away when the word "thanks" is used familiarly even with people who are in a position for more formal gratitude.

The funniest thing of Emily's language class is me helping her with her homework and learning the language. As with any language there are peculiarities with the written language and the spoken language. And even transliterated, it still has some odd rules. There is this mysterious "silent u" on the ends of some of the words which makes me ask why the u is there if it is silent and doesn't seem to be effecting the pronunciation of the word. Of course this question comes from one who questions why English isn't written phonetically anyway as it would be SO much easier than our currrent system. (Like why is there a Y in system when it obviously is pronounced sistim?) The world may never know.

Mr. Owl

I keep running into a commercial on TV over the past week which really brings back memories of my childhood. It's the Tootsie Roll Pop commercial with Mr. Owl counting the number of licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop. You know "One, Twohoo, Three, CRUNCH. Uh, three." You can see it here if you don't remember or are too young to know
Mr. Owl. It was one of my favorite commercials as a kid. It was cute, simple and effective.

Butchering the yard

This weekend was spent butchering our backyard. One might say that we were recovering it. After 2 years of major neglect, we finally started pulling things out. We uncovered a ton of space that had previously been taken over by a HUGE azalea bush. We thought it was a bunch of azaleas but when we finally managed to cut back down to the main trunk (and yes; this "bush" was so big it had a trunk!) we found that it was truly just one giant monster. We found about 64 sq. ft of "lost" yard under there. Next weekend I want to take out the azaleas (azalea?) that are (is) growing under the one lone pine left in the back yard. It is mostly dead anyway and has enveloped a few other plants along its way. The yard looks much better now and we found (buried under the azalea) a bunch of hostas which are going to look really nice now that they have a bit more breathing room. I'm going to work on a plan this winter on what to plant as far as local plant varieties that need little care and tending and at the same time won't overtake the yard.

I really do like our yard for the most part. Much of it is fairly self maintaining, especially along one side where under the oaks are just tons of hostas and fern growing. We go through and trim the few plants that do get a bit wild like the holly and whack at the heather that is growing out into the walk way. I like the idea of a yard that I can putter in, but if I neglect it for a week (or a month) or two won't take over the entire neighborhood. I still want to leave the "buffer" between me and the people behind us. I like my little bit of seclusion that it affords me. I may trim it down a bit and take out a few things that annoy me, but I like that I've got this buffer between me and the perfectly manicured treeless ick behind me.

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