A New Normal (in One Room, Anyhow)


Last week I talked about waiting, and I mentioned that we were waiting for someone to come give us an estimate on new flooring for the living room, kitchen, and maybe the bedroom.

Our wishes turned out to be a little ambitious.

What we had saved would take care of the living room alone, and–after three or four years (maybe longer) of being totally out of debt–we weren’t about to even do a one-year interest-free arrangement. That would still have meant being obligated to spend money we didn’t have yet.

We also had to compromise on the specific wooden flooring we’d originally wanted. But the laminate we settled on looks great and will serve well. Why spend enough for a floor that would outlive us?

Today’s (this past Tuesday) the big day–a lot sooner than we’d expected–and two quiet Latino men are in the midst of the installation. Fortunately, THEY do the furniture moving. But we still had to move breakables, spillables, and other miscellaneous small stuff. I dread having to put everything back in place later.

        

I must admit I’ve been fascinated watching the men as they work. And just as fascinated at how much Spanish I’ve forgotten since high school and college. But one thing hasn’t changed. I still can’t listen fast enough to comprehend even the Spanish I would recognize if I saw it in writing. Spanish is indeed a beautiful language, but those words seem to connect in what for me are incomprehensible ways.

I envy Kathleen. She got to go to work today while I sit here with my laptop at the end of the counter where I normally sit to eat breakfast. Right now I have one foot draped over the pen we were smart enough to keep when our miniature dachshund, Happy, no longer needed it otherwise. She keeps jumping up and barking (not necessarily in that order), but I think my foot gives her some assurance.

As of this moment, I’d say the guys are more than half done. If it weren’t for corners, heating vents, and a place where the cable comes through the floor, it would undoubtedly be a straight shot.

Nonetheless, the new normal is coming. The six-by-six rug we ordered last weekend–we wanted a splash of color–is due today, and it can’t take but so long to put everything back in place.

I hope.

Here’s the finished job. We’re thrilled!

Do you have a tale of some home improvement you’ve done and had done? Please leave a comment.

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I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

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Spanish That Wasn’t Quite Adequate

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I took three years of Spanish in high school. Early in my studies, I started feeling pretty confident. So much so that I tried showing off to the slightly older (and very attractive) sister of my best friend.

Doggone! How was I supposed  to know that their father had been stationed in Puerto Rico long enough for her to know Spanish better than I ever would?

I learned two things from that experience. Don’t show off about my Spanish, and don’t show off—period. Maybe that’s why I don’t compare myself to other guitar players. If someone tells me I’m good, I’ll thank them graciously, but I know better than to let it go to my head.

But we weren’t talking about my guitar playing.

When I entered junior college, they told me I needed one year of a foreign language. They didn’t offer a second year Spanish course, and they weren’t about to let somebody who’d studied it three years in high school meet the requirements with the first year course.

So, out of necessity, I started taking first year French. I hated it, and I could easily see it ruining my 3+ GPA.

But one of my instructors, Mr. Kirkconnell, befriended me and arranged to teach a second year class with me as his only student. Now THAT was something else, even if he did miss a lot of classes.

Flash forward forty years or so. I was writing Found in Translation and needed to use some authentic Spanish. With a little help from the Internet, I was able to do what I needed to do.

Flash forward to a month ago, when I first learned about my church’s upcoming mission trip to Nicaragua. Hmm. Perfect time to brush up on my Spanish, huh?

I bought a grammar refresher book. From going through just the first fifty pages, I discovered how much I hadn’t learned in high school, much less forgotten. So I abandoned that book in favor of a Spanish-English dictionary and a little Dummies book of useful Spanish phrases.

I wasn’t set, but I was as set as I’d ever be.

We arrived in Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua. The signs were pretty easy to figure out—for the greater part.

But spoken Spanish? Forget it! Even if I didn’t Have a hearing problem, I couldn’t listen fast enough to follow it. So I got real good at saying, “Lo siento” (“I’m sorry”), “No comprendo” (“I don’t understand”), and “Donde es el bano?” (“Where’s the bathroom?”). I didn’t bother with “No tan rapido, por favor” (“Not so fast, please”) because I knew it wouldn’t help.

I’ve concluded that part of the problem is the same thing that makes Spanish such a beautiful language to listen to (if one doesn’t need to know what’s being said): The words basically roll together in such a way that somebody like me can’t easily separate  them into individual words.

I’m glad I brushed up on my Spanish, though. But if I get to go to Nicaragua again, I hope I’ll at least have a larger vocabulary. Maybe I’ll get a little further than “Hola” (“Hello” or “Hi”), even if I still can’t understand what the person I’m trying to talk to says back.

What’s your experience with a foreign language? Or are you still working on English?

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Please leave a comment if something in this post has spoken to you. I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to the top right of this page where it says, “Follow Blog via Email.”

By the way, “On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I use “As I Come Singing” to post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Check here to see the list.

Because I’ve used up all of my songs, I revise and repost a previous post each Wednesday. If you’re interested, please check that blog out here.

Best regards,
Roger