Thursday, July 18, 2013


Well, I'm not as young as I used to be, and a month of traveling, while tremendously fun, really wore me out.  We've been back for two weeks now and I'm pretty much recovered.  My reading has slowed lately, not only because of jet lag, but for a couple of other reasons.  One is that I'm doing a lot more language study these days.  I'm still reading and working on improving my German, but I've also started studying Dutch--while in Amsterdam last month I discovered how similar it is to German and picked up a textbook and a dictionary, and am working through the text.  I'd love to be able to start reading in Dutch, too.  Where I live, there is virtually no chance to attain spoken fluency in either of those languages, but to be able to read them gives me a lot of pleasure.  The other language I'm studying is Arabic (reading and pronouncing only at this point), something I've neglected during the years my children were small.  Which leads to my other reason for less reading time--Ramadan has begun, and during this month we emphasize prayer and fasting over other pursuits.  I've certainly not stopped reading, though, and will be posting as I finish stuff.  It's good to be back!

Here's a poem I like, from a book I picked up while traveling.


by Georg Takl (1887-1914)
Trans. Michael Hofmann

Laden with berries the elderbush;  placid the childhood
lived out in its blue hollow.  The quiet branches are brooding
over the bygone path where lank, brownish grass
whips in the wind;  a rustling of leaves

like blue water tumbling over rocks.
The blackbird's soft plaint.  Speechless,
a shepherd follows the sun as it rolls from the autumnal hill. 

A blue moment is nothing but soul.
A timid deer peeps out from the forest's edge, while ancient bells
and sunless hamlets merge tranquilly with the valley floor.

More pious now, you know the meaning of the dark years,
chill and autumn in lonely rooms;
and in sanctified blue, luminous footfalls echo away.

The soft rattle of an open casement;  the sight of
a neglected graveyard on the hillside brings tears to the eyes.
Memories of once-told legends;  but the soul will sometimes lighten
when it recalls joyful people, burnt golden days of spring.


  1. Glad to hear you had a vacation of a lifetime ....enjoying Europe while reading some great books. Kudo's for you starting yet another language! It opens up a whole new world of books. Simon Vestdijk is a wonderful Dutch author. He was born not far from where I live.
    My reading schedule will change as well. I must start reading more English! My French/English/Dutch books are waiting for me. I just have to make a plan so I won't go overboard on 1 language. I've been reading French constantly for the last 14 months. My vocabualary is increased expotentially! If you want the results you have to do the hard work!

  2. Yes, it's hard to choose whether to focus on one thing and give it all your time, or focus on all the things you're interested in at once, and progress more slowly in each. I'm doing the latter these days, and trying to be patient about my progress.

    Dank je for the Vestdijk rec--I'm off to Amazon to find him. :)