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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Insatiable curiosity

Nonna is visiting for the summer. She is a little hard of hearing but has the debatable benefit of hearing aides. [translation = where are they?] She attempts washing up amid many gallons of water and a non functioning tap, [translation = faucet] whilst I make lunch for the masses.

“When will it be fixed?” she asks at the fountain streams and floods the kitchen counters and floor.
“Two weeks for the parts to come and heaven knows when we can ever find a plumber,” I bellow. [translation = or afford one]
“Is it original?”
“Did it come with the house or is it new?”
“I have no idea.”

I mop the floor with old towels as the boys attempt to skate. [translation = fall over, bump themselves, get very wet and have meltdowns for all three reasons]

“Why it is?”
“Why is what dear?”
“Why it is wet?”
I point to the broken tap.
“No!” he screeches with annoyance, “no, why is dah water wet?”
“Water is always wet, that’s what water is, wet!” I am annoyed at my inadequate explanation of something so straight forward. I am annoyed that the other one has run away to hide with a catering sized jar of peanut butter. [translation = in America these jars are the same size as a small person's head] I hunt him down, leaving the other two questioners to their own devices.

“Come along now, you know that’s not good for you. If you eat too much you’ll be sick.”
“Why I am sick?”
“No, you’re not sick.... yet, but you will be if you eat too much of that, it’s too rich.”
“Rich? You mean expensive?”
Pardon me! I didn’t know he even knew that word and such a perfect delivery!
“Er, no, not expensive, too…….too……fatty.”
“Fatty! Fatty? Is not being fatty it is……er……..a solid liquid. See?” He extracts a finger from the jar with a slick of peanut butter. I hear Nonna squeak in response to the cascading tap and scurry back into the kitchen clutching the jar of peanut butter to my chest.

“When’s lunch gonna be ready mum?” my daughter asks quite reasonably as I reach across the sink.
“At this rate we’ll be lucky if we’re ready by dinner time!” I mutter under my breath. [translation = evening meal time] Instead I offer something more optimistic, in the hope of stemming the tide of enquiries, if not the fountain of water, “just give me five minutes dear.”

“How many seconds are der being in dah five minutes?”
“300!” I snap as I set the visual timer.

“Is it new that?” asks Nonna, flapping a hand in the direction of the timer. I think of all the timers that we have in the household but I have no idea in what order we bought them nor how old this particular timer is. “I have no idea. Newish I think.”
“You had it last year when I was here?” she continues. I think. We’ve had the visual one forever.
“Yes.” I am confident that is the correct and truthful answer.
“I don’t remember it,” she murmours. I am uncertain how or if, to respond in view of the number of hours I spend looking for the many accessories that she possesses, but is unable to find.

She stacks the last cup on the side of the sink in a precarious position. “What about this one then?”
“What one?”
“This thing here…….the dishwasher. Is it new, or did it come with the house?” I take a deep breath. I cannot quite work out why I am so irrationally annoyed with this innocent question? I am tempted to run round the house and take an inventory of every item to date stamp each one. [translation = post date] I exhale as the next round of questions come flowing from a couple of speech delayed people.

“When I am gone?”
“Pardon? Do you mean ‘where have you been’?”
“Er, no I .....'mean?'....., er……..what it is ‘been’? Bean? Bean! Mean and bean rhyme! I do not like bean.....er ....beans.”

I feel that I have lost the thread of every conversation.

“You think this is a new one?” asks Nonna waving the sodden towel at me.
“No, definitely old, almost a rag, only used for mopping up.” At last I have identified an accurate fact.
“It looks like brand new to me!” she baulks.

“Yes dear.” I try and suppress the ‘what is it now’ tone in my voice.
“Do you think that Hermit crabs can smell?”
“Yes. They definitely have an enhanced sense of smell, so that they can find their food and sense enemies approaching.” At last I have identified an accurate fact.
“No. I mean can they smell. They smell bad. Do you think one’s "died?”

“What it is?” shouts the next one at full volume.
“What is what dear?”
“It is dah midnight blue or dah indigo?” I grit my teeth and look around for anything, anything at all, that could remotely be described as blue. I can see nothing within my immediate vicinity. [translation = or his] “Can you point to it dear?” He takes his hand out of his pocket, uncurls his fingers and reveals a tiny piece of lego.
“Mid blue” I pronounce.
“No, just mid.”
“Can I be putting dah little ‘l’ and dah little ‘e’ after dah mid?”

I have the urge to go and dead head the roses, or shred a head of lettuce with the sharpest knife in the drawer or cut the grass with a pair of nail scissors. I decide that my brain has died and that I too, have completely run out of words. [translation = or at least any useful ones]

Mirror, mirror, on the wall - Beauty from within

One’s outward physical appearance has the first impact. Whilst it’s important to be well presented, that is to say clean and tidy, otherwise, it is not important at all. [translation = not one jot!]

Most of us are aware of the pressures upon young women about their appearance. Since I have two girls, I have always been at great pains to concentrate upon their inner characters.

Since my eldest daughter is on the cusp of her 26th birthday, I have had a great deal of practice. [translation = self esteem for all children is essential] As a result of all this practice, I am indeed a past master about sweeping aside the frippery and trappings of fashion. [translation = second to none] Do not come to me in your pink frilly skirt with your face made up and your hair just curled. [translation = show me your soul instead]

My youngest son presents himself before me standing at attention like a soldier. [translation = although he is leaning like the Tower of Pisa] Our eyes meet. I wait. I wait because I think he is about to tell me something. We spend a few moments in frozen silence whilst I debate whether or not to prompt him. [translation = risk breaking the spell, invoking a meltdown] He raises his eyebrows several times in what I assume to be a meaningful way. Indeed, rather a suggestive manner! [translation = but what is he suggesting?]

“Am I hansom?” Ah! His eyebrows were prompting me! Such sophistication, such subtlety! [translation = I qualify for the 'thick as a brick' award of the day]
“Oh yes, your hair looks fabulous. What a great job you did brushing it all on your own.” Hallelujah!

“I am hansom?”
“Well, hansom is as hansom does.”
“Er, hansom is all well and good, but it’s your inside that is far more important.”
“I cannot be brushing my insides. Oh how stupid you are being today! How am I be brushing my insides? I do not like dem anyways.”
“Forget about your insides for the moment, who told you that you were stupid?”
“No-one is telling me I am stupid today. I am telling you dat you are dah stupid person.”

I pause, that phrase was so pat. [translation = perfect intonation of someone in authority, the perfect sentence that tells me that it is really someone else’s = echolalia] Who was it? [translation = be assured that I will track that person down, I will store that speech pattern forever, an lo, be afraid, be seriously afraid] He breaks my distraction with, “you are being stupid now, er ……I mean, you are still stupid?”
“Lets concentrate on the outside again, your lovely brushed hair. My! but you look suave!”
“I am suave?”
“What it is dah suave?”

Perfect. [translation = and definitely not stupid]

suave (swäv)
adj. suav·er, suav·est
Smoothly agreeable and courteous.
[French, agreeable, from Old French, from Latin suvis, delightful, sweet; see swd- in Indo-European roots.]
suavely adv.
suaveness, suavi·ty (swäv-t) n.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2003. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

ThesaurusLegend: Synonyms Related Words Antonyms
Adj. 1. suave - having a sophisticated charm; "a debonair gentleman"
debonair, debonaire, debonnaire
refined - used of persons and their behavior; cultivated and genteel; "she was delicate and refined and unused to hardship"; "refined people with refined taste"
2. suave - smoothly agreeable and courteous with a degree of sophistication; "he was too politic to quarrel with so important a personage"; "the hostess averted a confrontation between two guests with a diplomatic change of subject"; "the manager pacified the customer with a smooth apology for the error"; "affable, suave, moderate men...smugly convinced of their respectability" - Ezra Pound
politic, smooth
diplomatical, diplomatic - skilled in dealing with sensitive matters or people

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