Childhood in China.

 Growing up in China.

A year ago I stumbled upon http://www.ljhammond.com/essays/my-youth.htm a most interesting account of growing up in China. So human, so warm, so tender an account of the difficulties faced. My words are useless, read her account.

Tonight I am writing the characters, pinyin and translation for Zhou Xuans ‘Song of Four Seasons’ that occurs early in ‘Malu Tianshi’. The on-line dictionary I favour this time which can show both traditional and simplified characters is www.mandarintools.com and this site is worthwhile, I’ve just discovered the flashcard page which has ten different levels of difficulty.

I was keen on http://hua.umf.maine.edu/Chinese/search.html

tho this time I need to input traditional (copy and paste character by character) and see also the simplified equivalent. The song itself http://californiadream.com/personal/ZhouXuan/seasons.html

is so very beautiful.

I now have three Chinese friends. The first Xiao Xia is very dear to me, in my own way I can say I love her dearly. A lovely sincere woman I spent happy hours with at Keswick, left England over a year ago and has gone to USA, living in New York.  Perhaps we’ll never meet again, perhaps we will? I would like to. I wish her the greatest good luck in all her endeavours. I shed tears when I opened her Chinese New Year card – xinnian kapian- which arrived a year ago. With Xiao Xia you often think ‘is she bothered’ then something lovely happens. I hope she meets a most honourable hardworking and talented life companion that will provide happiness and warmth for her.  I could tell she was fighting back the tears when she rang the workshop to say cheerio and thankyou when leaving England. I have kept that message on the machine, I’ll never delete it. If I’d been at the workshop at the time I am sure we would both have been in tears. A lovely person. Xiao Xia means small rosey cloud at sunrise. How lovely! My second encounter is with Zhu Zhu, a most charming e-mail pen pal. Zhu Zhu means water droplets on bamboo. One of her sisters is Zhu Hong, red bamboo; hong is red, zhu is bamboo.  Thirdly is a recent addition, Zeo Deng, excellent English and most helpful. Zeo Deng as with Zhu Zhu was amazed to find an Englishman respond in very basic Mandarin.

I enjoy working on Chinese songs and poems, so much of the usual language learning is irrelevant to me, booking hotels, recreational stuff. ‘Mathews’ dictionary presented to me from County Reference is most useful for its outstandingly well written characters, once practised from there they both look good and ‘stick’ in the mind.

I was given a pile of old papers in December, including a ‘NY Review of Books’. Some interesting stuff, a Freeman Dyson review – a man I’m always keen to read and also an article on Primo Levi. Interestingly an Edward Hopper painting was used somewhere, it was my first painting a few years ago, still looks passable, ‘Sun in an Empty Room’ 1963. The way it spoke to me was moonlight and I painted it as such. Mine is around 30×20 inch. Oil on gesso ground. At the moment I’m keen on creating three dimensional abstract objects within the two dimensional surface. Its funny how NY figures in my life, my main customer is there, I used to listen to a lot of east coast radio amateurs on short wave and now Xiao Xia is there. Unlike my two most recent Chinese penpals, Xiao Xia will be able to access these pages.

This afternoon was gardening, found a pile of bulbs half sprouted to pot up. Also separated some Gentians bought last year, Sino Ornata and named variety Inverleith. Say sixty resulting from six bought in. Nice arithmetic. Smud is fascinated with me, a close companion whilst gardening. The garden is full of birds, light levels are increasing and I’m on the go!

Today has ended well, met the Mum of some kids I speak to, the second eldest/alpha has really been ott, early evening when we returned from countryside here is the offending article on her scooter “I’m sorry” and two lovely cute notes of apology on the door mat. How lovely – apologies accepted. Now we can be friends again. She must have had a serious talking to. Thank goodness its worked out well, disharmony and upset gnaws into my brain like a worm.

Trying to memorise the first few lines of the Fitzgerald ‘Iliad’ – my memory is like a seive!

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