jump to navigation

38 Ways to Win an Argument, by Schopenhauer (The Teaching Company) June 27, 2008

Posted by solangek in Levez les yeux!.
Tags: , , , ,
2 comments

I have recently been giving a wonderful gift by my father: two courses from The Teaching Company, How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition & Great Authors of the Western Literary Tradition, 2nd Edition.

Once I opened an account with the company, they sent me a “free article”. Hoping to inspire someone in the Big Wide World, here it is: a translation of 38 Ways to Win an Argument, by Schopenhauer. So if you like to learn, visit their website at www.teach12.com. I promise you won’t be disappointed because they have something for everyone and it is all great quality.

Enjoy!

Solange

(more…)

Advertisements

Merci Jiliane! June 18, 2008

Posted by solangek in Gracias! Merci! Thank you!.
Tags: , , , ,
2 comments

It was my sister’s birthday the other day, and she turned 21. As is usual on birthdays, I remember her past, compare it to her present and think about her future.

First of all, due to a significant age difference, I have never been very close to my sister. We have very different personalities, tastes, gifts and burdens. We are in different stages in our lives; she is just experimenting with living away from home with her boyfriend and I now have an established family with two children. We have had very different lives in general: I enjoyed the best of our parents’ relationship and she was about 10 when they broke up, while I was away from home, and 18 years old. I often looked after her (and our little brother) when I was a kid, even though I didn’t like to. I’ve never really known what to do with little kids, anyway.

All of this is very nice, but what would I say if I knew I could never see her again?

Well, she’s lively and quick, a right jolly young elf. It is easy to have a good time with her, and she used to write poetry. I’m not sure if she still does, but I hope so. She dances and likes to wear sexy clothes, which is a good indication that she feels sexy. But she also wears make-up, which indicates that she doesn’t feel as pretty as she should. She has the beauty of youth, as well as her own Jiliane beauty which will never fade. She reminds me a lot of our father, in that this physical world, what you wear, what you have and who pays attention to you seem to be important. She and our grandmother used to be quite close; they both have strong personalities and my sister loves Grandma’s soup. I think Jiliane enjoys being with Grandma because she takes care of her appearance, she enjoys shocking strangers once in a while, and they enjoy each other’s conversation.

Jiliane decided not to go to university after graduating from high school, as tends to happen in families which have more. The parents make sure their children have all that they need, and in turn the children grow up thinking that they don’t need to try, or work hard in order to fulfill their dreams. Children who grow up with everything don’t have any idea of how hard their parents work to make every day possible, so they think it is easy. When they have the opportunity to go to university… the kids think it isn’t necessary. Well, it isn’t necessary, and while it certainly doesn’t guarantee a good job or a bright future, it is certainly harder to “get there” if you don’t take the first step and get the tools, the skills, or the framed paper.

So basically, Jiliane is now in the limbo stage of life, a diamond in the rough… after moving out of her mom’s house, moving in with her boyfriend, tasting “freedom” and responsibility, and not trying to move up in the world. Everything still has the shine of novelty; everything is possible, so why make a choice now? Perhaps she is afraid that if she makes a choice of what to do with her life, she closes doors. Perhaps she isn’t sure of what she really wants to do yet. Perhaps she’s too in love… and is just enjoying coupledom. Whatever it is…

Sometimes I would like to ask her, “What are you waiting for?” I would like to tell her, “The world is so big; you are still so free, you can do anything… go for it! Take courses! Join an interest group! Learn to paint, to make stained glass windows, build a house – anything!” But I don’t think she would listen to me, because nobody pays attention to other people’s experience. It has to happen to you before you start moving. I know, because I’m the same way.

My husband told her once that she is a caterpillar waiting to turn into a butterfly. Now, at twenty-one and on her own two feet, she has the chance to turn herself into a butterfly. I hope she doesn’t wait too long, because she will probably be a gorgeous butterfly, one of the most beautiful. I love her, and I want her to be the best that she can be.

Happy birthday, Jiliane – Many Happy Returns!

¡Gracias Ximena! June 16, 2008

Posted by solangek in Gracias! Merci! Thank you!.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

Tomé mucho tiempo antes de escribir sobre Ximena, y qué pena porque si estoy haciendo este sitio, en parcialmente gracias a ella. Es mi hermosa cuñada, hermana de mi esposo. Parece gitana y podría llamarse Esmeralda… pero Ximena es un nombre muy apropiado también, en muchos aspectos.

Ximena es como una fuerza de la naturaleza. Es, a la vez, fuerte y débil: ataca con fuerza, pero también es vulnerable, tomando todo como si fuera un insulto directo a su persona. A veces creo que le gusta enojarse porque le da más energía.

Pero otra faceta es que es inspiradora: no sé si es el bat o la beisbolista; si es la pelota de fútbol o el pie que la patea, pero Ximena tiene una magia que mueve el mundo. Su encanto, su sonrisa y su emoción, empujan a los demás (ya sabemos quienes somos) a hacer lo que siempre hemos querido hacer. Hasta descubrimos nuevos gustos en la vida gracias a ella. Por ejemplo, si no fuera por ella, no estaría haciendo todo este ejercicio. Antes de conocerla, no me gustaba hacer ejercicio por gusto, aunque me gustaban las actividades físicas. Ella me enseñó a pasar tiempo con mi cuerpo, conmigo, para disfrutar moverme con fuerza y gracia (como Ximena).

Regresando a la idea de fuerza de la naturaleza, ella no esta atada a nada, creo. Más bien es como un cometa con un trayecto cerrado y repetitivo que la lleva seguido al hogar de su infancia, a veces a los brazos de de Julio, y por ratos a lugares totalmente diferentes. Muchas veces me da la impresión de sentirse atrapada por sus hijos, porque tiene muchos intereses a parte de ser mamá. Es bailarina, profesora de español y de educación física, ha dado clases particulares de aeróbics, ha tenido una fábrica de yogurt y otros negocios también. A parte de eso, creo que tiene una vida social activa, tiempo para leer… ¡parece hacer todo! Nosotras las mamás sabemos que ser mamá es trabajo de 24 horas al día y de 7 días a la semana, todas las semanas del año, y eso no nos deja mucho tiempo para otros intereses. Pero Ximena no se deja. Sigue su corazón, y supongo que eso es parte de su magia también.

Hay una canción de Billy Joel que me gusta mucho, y que me hace pensar siempre en Ximena. Aquí están las letras, pero la pueden escuchar siguiendo el vínculo en el título:

She’s Always A Woman

She can kill with a smile
She can wound with her eyes
She can ruin your faith with her casual lies
And she only reveals what she wants you to see
She hides like a child,
But she’s always a woman to me

She can lead you to love
She can take you or leave you
She can ask for the truth
But she’ll never believe
And she’ll take what you give her, as long as it’s free
Yeah, she steals like a thief
But she’s always a woman to me

CHORUS:
Oh–she takes care of herself
She can wait if she wants
She’s ahead of her time
Oh–and she never gives out
And she never gives in
She just changes her mind

And she’ll promise you more
Than the Garden of Eden
Then she’ll carelessly cut you
And laugh while you’re bleedin’
But she’ll bring out the best
And the worst you can be
Blame it all on yourself
Cause she’s always a woman to me
–Mhmm–

CHORUS:
Oh–she takes care of herself
She can wait if she wants
She’s ahead of her time
Oh–and she never gives out
And she never gives in
She just changes her mind

She is frequently kind
And she’s suddenly cruel
She can do as she pleases
She’s nobody’s fool
And she can’t be convicted
She’s earned her degree
And the most she will do
Is throw shadows at you
But she’s always a woman to me
–Mhmm–

Eso es Ximena… Supongo que es por todo eso que la adoro, y que es tan fácil quererla. ¡Qué bueno que existen poetas como Billy Joel para expresar nuestros pensamientos! Entonces a ella dedico esta canción, y estoy emocionada para verla pronto – a ella y a mis sobrinitos. He pasado mucho tiempo divertido con ella, y nunca es suficiente.

Ximena

¡Salud, Ximena!

Searching for happiness? June 13, 2008

Posted by solangek in DOWN TO EARTH, Levez les yeux!.
Tags: , , , , , ,
add a comment

If you are desperately searching for happiness, my recipe is as follows.

Simply remember all the beautiful things around you, think about how wonderful the world is and everything that is worth loving: children, the sky, big trees, forests, ladybugs, grandparents, your husband or wife, your special secret place that makes you happy, elephants…

Then simply make improving the world your life’s work. For the sake of helping everybody and everything around you (and yourself of course) to have a better life experience, always be polite, don’t waste; make all of your decisions based on what the wisest most wonderful and perfect person would choose. Live a healthy virtuous life, and strive for perfection in everything, especially yourself – but remember that perfection is a never-ending journey and not a destination. Remember that everyone just wants to be happy. You cannot change the entire planet, but you can work towards improving the little things around you, like yourself, and your family’s life.

If that were your life’s work, then where would happiness be?

If you aren’t sure where to start, here is a QUIZ to find out how wise you are.

Of course, you already know how wise you are – a quiz can’t tell you. But each question gives you something to think about, for you to evaluate different aspects of yourself, such as attitude, outlook, treatment of others etc. So even if the idea of measuring your wisdom is kind of silly, you can use this quiz as a personal checklist once in a while to remind you of the little things you can work on in order to become a better, wiser person.

Another way to perfect yourself is to read about what other, wiser, people before us have written about becoming a better person. Here in Ottawa, there is a Hindu temple with an online course on the Upanishads. You can find it HERE, on their website.

And finally, make a list of concrete, positive things you can or should do at least once, such as writing a letter to a friend or family member, bringing some flowers to a co-worker just for the heck of it, or preparing pancakes with your kids to give a certain somebody breakfast in bed. Then once a week, do something on your list.

Isn’t life wonderful? Every day we have the opportunity to do something in order to make our lives better.

Cheers! To us!

Mejorar como persona June 13, 2008

Posted by solangek in DOWN TO EARTH, Levez les yeux!.
Tags: , , , ,
1 comment so far

Una verdad sobre la naturaleza es que pensamos demasiado en nosotros mismos. No quiero decir que somos egoístas, quiero decir que pensamos obsesivamente sobre quienes somos, cuales problemas tenemos, nuestras relaciones con los demás, nuestra perspectiva del mundo. Complicamos todo. Nos llenamos la cabeza con peros y es ques, rencores, remordimientos, chantajes, justificaciones, manipulaciones, y sobre todo, de miedos. La lista de miedos que afectan nuestros pensamientos y comportamientos es tan conocida que ni vale la pena mencionarlos todos, pero hay unos cuantos, como el miedo a fallar y el miedo al desconocido, que son nuestros peores enemigos y limitantes.

Todo esto ya lo sabemos. ¿Entonces porque nos obsesionamos tanto? Muchos dan vueltas en círculos apretados, como papalotes locos, amarrados por un hilo delgado a nuestros miedos. Tenemos miedo hasta de nuestros miedos; luchamos desesperadamente para liberarnos de ellos y encontrar la felicidad. Creemos que nuestros miedos nos controlan, y entonces damos vueltas rápidas, rápidas, jalando en círculos para liberarnos de ellos… y no vemos lo grande que es el cielo azul. Solo vemos el hilo tenso que nos amarra a nuestros miedos, allá abajo en la tierra.

No queremos caer, pero al mismo tiempo, nuestro vuelo tampoco es muy estable. El problema es que pensamos que la culpa es de nuestros miedos, cuando en verdad es nuestra. Hablamos de « liberarnos de nuestros miedos », pero la verdad es que tenemos que abrir los ojos. Necesitamos dejar de pensar en nuestros miedos personales y mirar lo grande y hermoso que es el mundo a nuestro alrededor: el cielo, el bosque, la plantita feliz que crece con fuerza a bajo de tu ventana. Tus hijos y los niños en general. El vestido favorito que tienes en tu closet, un mango sabroso, jícama con limón y sal. El árbol que te da sombra durante el día y perfume en la noche, un hermoso verso, una bonita voz, un pájaro en el aire. Disfruta todo eso, y date cuenta que tenemos mucho que hacer en el mundo para que sea un lugar mejor para todo lo que amamos.

Entonces, ¿qué esperes? Haz pequeñas cosas para mejorar la experiencia de vida de los a tu alrededor: pórtate bien como una persona educada. Haz un esfuerzo para tomar decisiones sabias, con consecuencias positivas para todos los involucrados. No olvides darle agua fresca al chucho y a la plantita abajo de tu ventana. Nunca olvides decir por favor y gracias. Sea atento. Trata de vivir con virtud. trata de lograr la perfección, pero recuerda que ese camino dura toda la vida y no tiene fin.

Trata de embellecer el lugar en donde vives, y tu persona también, en todos los aspectos. Haciendo concientemente que tu vida sea una hermosa obra de mejorar el mundo, verás como desaparecen solitos esos miedos que antes te preocupaban tanto. No necesitas hacer grandes milagros, enfócate a lo que sí puedes cambiar (como la experiencia de vida de tu familia), y lo demás llegará por su cuenta con tiempo. Ya veras que con esa actitud, encontraras todas la razones que tienes para ser feliz, y feliz serás – como nunca.

Thank you Aunt Linda & Oncle Michel! June 11, 2008

Posted by solangek in Gracias! Merci! Thank you!.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

I can’t write about them separately. They are always together – at least when I see them, and even though I have spent a lot of time with them over the years, it never seems like enough. I always feel like I don’t quite know them.

They are creative, artistic people who enjoy eating good food as much as preparing it. Aunt Linda even sells pies at the farmer’s market, and they are definitely worth buying! She is so proud of her pie crusts… and rightfully so. But you know, they are so smart and curious, as they entertain interests in aviation, medicine, computers, web site design, mechanics, animal rights and protection, volunteering, leather working, wood turning and carpentry, cooking, baking, painting and drawing, helping their neighbours, crafts… you name it. Aunt Linda has worked with Saint John’s Ambulance, the SPCA and the local food bank. Oncle Michel is always being creative at his wood turning shop, and he is so talented (http://www.toymakersite.com/).

What I can’t quite put my finger on is why these wonderful people, who are so productive and spend their time doing so many positive things, always look tired and slightly bitter. I love them like crazy, and I know that they have many health and money problems… but as a couple they exude a feeling that the world is against them, which contradicts their acts. Their home has the same sad vibe, a direct reflexion, or perhaps expression, of this feeling about their place in the world. They might say that they simply have too many things (due to the scope of their interests) and too little space; nevertheless, I must insist that there must be way to organize and store their things. And after so many years, surely they might have been able to beautify their living space if they had had the interest to do so. This must be, if my interpretation is correct, a lack of self-love. It is simply what I feel when I visit and not based on any intellectual conclusions.

Who knows why this is so? They have never opened up about it to me, and I haven’t tried very hard to probe. It seems that our niece-aunt-uncle relationship doesn’t lend itself very well to confiding, and which is a shame. I would like so much to change that, and be able to take our relationship to a more adult level, which of course will be up to me, the niece. I’ll have to call them…

In the meantime, I just love them very, very much and hope that they know how much they mean to me, and how highly I think of them: they are definitely good examples of decent humans who walk their talk. They make the world a better place every day.

Sketch: Ottawa rush hour on a bicycle June 5, 2008

Posted by solangek in Levez les yeux!.
Tags: , , , , ,
2 comments

Surrounded by chaotic five o’clock traffic, I pedal as fast as I can to get through the next intersection before the light turns red. Grabbing my brakes, I screech to a complete stop, even lifting my rear tire off the pavement a little when the lights win my private little race.

Suddenly, everything is quiet.

Without any through traffic and in the shade of a tall office building, I feel like I am in a dream: sounds mute and the sunlight seems far away at the edge of the building’s shadow. A few pedestrians cross the street in front of me, from right to left, from the sunlight into the shade, but nobody is talking. How odd.

As their crossing signal starts to flash, a mailman jogs across the intersection with a large mail bag in his right hand. His running seems to be in slow-motion. That bag looks awfully heavy. It is big enough to be Santa’s bag of toys. The veins on his right forearm, which is noticeably bigger than his left, look like part of an industrial irrigation system. I wonder how long he has been a postman.

I look up at the street light again, waiting for the green light. Go! I kick off excitedly in order to gain enough momentum to change into a harder gear.

At the next red light, I grab my brakes again. This time the cars and I are in the sunlight, with a squat old stone church on our right and flowering bushes nearby which smell sweet and strong. I breathe deeply to enjoy the smell.

A young lady crosses the street in front of me, wearing black leggings and a long bright green top. She is slim and blonde, but I don’t see her face. The tight blouse has a wide band of stretchy lace at the bottom, which comes down to the middle of her bum accentuating her feminine gait (her high heels help, too). Like a pendulum, her bum swings left and right, left and right under her small waist, and her shoes tick evenly just like a clock. A man watches her back as she dances past him. He is fascinated by this lovely girl with the long hair and bright green top.

I look up at the street light again, waiting for the green light. Go! I kick off excitedly in order to gain enough momentum to change into a harder gear…

Lilacs June 4, 2008

Posted by solangek in Levez les yeux!.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

The most heavenly perfume crosses your path in Ottawa during April, May and early June. This is from the lilacs, one of my favourite flowers. They are delicate and dainty, evanescent.
When I was young there was a stand of white, pink and purple lilacs close to the house. I enjoyed going there to smell them, hiding under the boughs with the mosquitoes, flies and spider webs, feeling the flaky bark with my hands. I admired the graceful elbows and wrists of the branches as they zigzagged wildly, in all directions. The leaves, always gracefully poised on their petioles, looked like hands being offered for a kiss.

A lilac dryad would be full of kinks too, with flaky brown skin and gorgeous eyes to match her flowers. Imagine the perfume of her skin. Imagine her lush green hair sprinkled with tiny lilac flowers. Her strangely corkscrewy body would be an interesting contrast to the statuesque elegance of her movements. Her tranquility and her grace as she danced with the wind to the song of spring would enamour everybody lucky enough to see her…

MÊLER June 2, 2008

Posted by solangek in Levez les yeux!.
Tags: , , , ,
1 comment so far

Ce verbe est issu du bas latin misculare (cf. It. Mischiare et mescolare, occ., cat. et port. mesclar, esp. mezclar), classique miscere, p. p. mixtus, « mêler, mélanger », se rattachant à la même racine indo-européenne 0mei-k/0mei– « mélanger » que le grec misgein « mêler » (→ migmatite) ou l’allemand du même sens. Les mots de la famille sont en rapport avec l’idée de « mélange », que celui-ci soit concret avec mixtion et mixture, méteil « mélange froment-seigle », mistelle (de l’esp.), mesclun (du provenç.), miscellanées « receuil d’écrits », miscible, qu’il soit disparate avec promiscuité, ou plus abstrait avec métis (et métisser, métissage) et mixte (et mixité), s’immiscer, pouvant aller jusqu’au désordre et à la confusion avec pêle-mêle et méli-mélo. Mêler a produit mêlée, sang-mêlé, mélange (et mélanger, mélangeur) et des verbes comme emmêler, entremêler , démêler. L’anglais doit au français to meddle, « se mêler de », medley « mélange » (XIVe s.), to mix « mélanger » (XVe s.), que l’on retrouve dans mixer et mixeur ou dans mixage (emprunté par l’it. missagio) et remix. L’allemand meliert « grisonnant; chiné » vient du français.

Le Petit Robert 1; 40 edition

Esta entrada es para las personas a quienes les interesan las lenguas, especialmente la prima Angy, quien lo puede aprovechar practicando, y mi suegra Tere. Es interesante ver como los idiomas influyen a otros, y luego como estos mismos regresan, introduciendo nuevas palabras derivadas de las primeras al primer idioma. Las incito a seguir los hyper-vínculos a sus definiciones en español para comparar las definiciones en español y en francés, enriqueciendo su experiencia lingüística y su apreciación cultural. Me gusta pensar en el ejemplo de la nieve para los Inuit : may muchas palabras diferentes para describir la nieve dado a que la nieve es muy importante para ellos culturalmente y en ptráctica tambien. Entonces imagínense lo importante que son las mezclas para las culturas de Francia y México! Qué bonito, verdad?