Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Little to report. I took my knitting along to our luncheon engagement, but didn’t get much done. We had sherry, and I got in a few rounds, and then left the bag behind in the sitting room when we went to lunch in the kitchen, and after that we sat over the remains and I felt I really couldn’t go back and retrieve it. My husband has a routine appointment with the diabetic people at the Royal Infirmary next week -- that should advance the sock substantially.

The sleeve proceeds.

I found some news about the injured rugby player at last, and it sounds pretty good.

Dawn, your comment about Carnival in Europe yesterday is most interesting. Here in Britain, religious events of all sorts (all faiths) are almost completely ignored unless they can be made to yield profit. Mid-Lent Sunday once involved an old and rather sweet tradition of children giving posies to their mothers of the first spring flowers. It has now become Mother’s Day, with results you can easily imagine. Yom Kippur and Ramadan and Ash Wednesday are very small beer by comparison with Mother's Day.

What do you mean in the Netherlands by “south of the river”? The brilliance of the translator of the Stieg Larsson books is that the idioms never sound wrong or stilted, and that Swedishness is not lost. Yet he must have come across many phrases like “south of the river” which had to be not literally translated but unobtrusively explained for English-speaking readers.

Over Christmas I started reading Arnaldur Indridason’s “Hypothermia”. This time we’re in Iceland. It was interesting enough, but I didn’t bother going on with it once we got back to Edinburgh and real life supervened. I felt in that one that the translation was in my way – but I’d have to back and read it again with attention to illustrate that remark, and I don’t intend to do that.

Go look at Monday’s post from the Fishwife – the one about vegetables, not wool – and rejoice in the springtime. You will find this in the Oxford English Dictionary if you pursue the word “Lent”: “The ecclesiastical sense of the word is peculiar to Eng.; in the other Teut. langs. the only sense is 'spring'."


  1. Dawn in NL1:11 PM

    Hello Jean,

    regarding my comment 'south of the river', it would be better translated as 'under or south of the major rivers', being Nederrijn, Lek, Waal (branches of the Rhine) and Maas (Meuse in France). The rivers mark the border between Protestant North and Catholic South and also were the border of the Roman Empire.

    It is a religious and cultural border. I have lived down there and it is different, more relaxed. Someone described it as "a southern way of living" which sounds like the south of Spain rather than another area of a small country.

    Halfway down this Wikipedia page there is a section on the Dutch carnival.

    All the best,

  2. Jean have you read the Henning Mankell books? I enjoyed them and I didn't have the awkward translation feel. Just the other day I was wondering if someone would figure out a way to make Lent into a secular money making operation, six weeks of buying your way into self sacrifice?

  3. =Tamar2:29 PM

    I read a theory that all (western?) countries have an invisible cultural upperhand-underdog border, usually north-south. The south is often the underdog, called lazy, ignorant, slow-moving, etc. London being in the south of England, underdog was north of the Mersey; Scotland has its highlands-lowlands division. In the US, a busy southern city like Atlanta is called "un-Southern" by southerners.
    It's probably oversimplified; there are east-west-center divisions too.

  4. Lent here in the Pacific Northwest has begun with crocuses and daffodils popping open everywhere, plum trees in bloom, and camellias entering their prime. The unseasonably warm weather is doing it. I'm hoping we don't get slammed with a cold snap. It's getting close to rose pruning season.

  5. The comments re Henning Mankell prompted me to fetch my latest read - Henning Mankell's The Eye of the Leopard. An excellent book I thought. First published in 1990 and set in Sweden and Zambia. The translation is by Steven T. Murray who is Editor-in-Chief of Fjord Press here in Seattle.

  6. Anonymous5:41 PM

    Giving posies to one's mother used to be a May Day (May 1) tradition in some parts of the US, but completely died away, in my part of the country at least, by the middle of last century. However, the teachers of the younger children at a nearby grade school carry on a version of this by having their students plant flowers in large plastic cups, then leading them around the neighborhood to leave a young plant on every doorstep. Now I look forward to this live flower delivery every year. Here in California, of course, spring begins in February so by May Day the season is in full bloom and the children usually enjoy a sunny walk as they bring the flowers.
    -- Gretchen

  7. Jean K.9:31 PM

    Regarding =Tamar's comment, it is the northerners that call the south "lazy, ignorant, slow-moving". The south might view itself as easygoing, relaxed, taking the time to enjoy life.

    Washington D.C., situated near the north-south border, has been described as a city of northern charm and southern efficiency.

  8. Gretchen's comment reminded me of May baskets. When I was in Kindergarten (4 decades ago) I made a May Basket for a wonderful neighbor - he and his wife were very kind to us. It had flowers (probably made from pipe cleaners and kleenex) and little candies. What fun it was to leave it on the doorstep, ring their doorbell, then run away so that the gift was "anonymous."