Wednesday, September 29, 2010

When You Sing (John Gorka)

There are lots of reasons for singing. We may use songs in class to practice our pronunciation, for example. But mostly, we do it for a tremendous sense of joy!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

They are pretty, from a distance!

Just a Sting at the Seaside! Urchins and Jellyfish

Ouch! I was about to dive into the ocean at my favorite beach in the world (or, at least on this island!), the Canteras. Well past 10 pm, the stretch of sand I had chosen was shrouded in darkness but I discerned in the water some pretty blue blobs that looked like tiny plastic shopping bags. This inflated figures were obviously jellyfish (the Canary people called them aguaviva although the RAE term is medusa).

Having no interest in testing their stingers, I moved along to another part of the shore but before I ventured into the drink, I asked a couple who were strolling along the sand if they reckoned I would run into more or these jellyfish. They just laughed and said "don't fret, it's just a little sting!" Indeed, I recall a friend being stung on the heel a few years ago. After a couple of days, his whole swelled up like a balloon! I think that unhappy situation lasted a while, too.

Although this is certainly not Australia where certain sorts of sealife can leave you dead or comatose before you have stepped onto the beach! But we do have more than our share of jellyfish and sea urchins this year. The September tides (the so-called Marea del Pino) brings lots of scary creatures up to our sacred shore.
Swimming amid all this sea life can be quite an adventure!

Hey, that's not cricket, it's a sticky wicket!

Cricket vs Baseball: Cross Sporting Borders

Bowl 'em a googly! Mixed up sporting metaphors!

Bowl 'em a googly! Mixed up sporting metaphors!

“...her loving subjects going away regretting they had not performed well and feeling, too, that the monarch had somehow bowled them a googly.”

Quote taken from Alan Bennett's novel The Uncommon Reader (Profile Books, 2007 p. 41).

I found this in a novel the other day and assumed it was cricket related but it sounded awfully like the US saying “throw somebody a curve.” This could be rendered into more formal English with the verb trick or deceive but I would go with the more flamboyant bamboozle, which I happen to love! In fact, I would bet the meaning is exactly the same. I do like this new twist on an old saw. It is not surprising as cricket and baseball are sporting cousins.

Anyway, my research showed that googly is a common cricket term in Australia and dates from the early 20th century.

For years, a favorite verb has been “balk” meaning to refuse to do something flatly and definitively, although I have always assumed this came from the noun “balk” which indicates an illegal motion by the pitcher. This may involve too long a pause between the windup and the pitch. Or something like that!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Buffalo Gals

One night when I was about three years old and couldn’t manage to get to sleep, my mom sang me a soulful, soothing version of this tune, The Buffalo Gals. It has been a personal and family favorite throughout my adult life and, as Bruce Utah Philips would have it, the singing of it always takes me home. I hope to record this soon with my daughter Rosie. We shall post our version of the tune on this blog as soon as we get around to it! For now, enjoy the song yourself. --- Delmar Lemming

Buffalo Gals, won't you come out tonight,
Come out tonight, come out tonight.
Buffalo Gals, won't you come out tonight
And dance by the light of the moon.

As I was walking down the street,
Down the street, down the street,
A pretty little gal I chanced to meet,
Oh, she was fair to see.

Buffalo Gals, won't you come out tonight,
Come out tonight, come out tonight.
Buffalo Gals, won't you come out tonight
And dance by the light of the moon.

I stopped her and we had a talk,
Had a talk, had a talk,
Her feet took up the whole sidewalk
And left no room for me.

Buffalo Gals, won't you come out tonight,
Come out tonight, come out tonight.
Buffalo Gals, won't you come out tonight
And dance by the light of the moon.

I danced with a gal with a hole in her stockin',
And her heel kept a-knockin', and her toes kept a-rockin'
I danced with a gal with a hole in her stockin'
And we danced by the light of the moon.

Buffalo Gals, won't you come out tonight,
Come out tonight, come out tonight.
Buffalo Gals, won't you come out tonight
And dance by the light of the moon.

You can read more about its background at
Here is a classic version of the song so you can get the tune:
Good luck!

Monday, September 13, 2010

If you sing this gem, The Worried Man Blues, you will not only improve your pronuniciation of the English language, you will also have a great time. As my daughter Mariana once chirped, once you finish singing those Worried Man Blues, you will forget all the blues in your soul!
We have enclosed the lyrics below and also a clip of a wonderful band of bluegrass virtuosos singing and playing this tune on Pete Seeger's Rainbow Quest TV show.

Worried Man Blues

Worried Man Blues

I went across the river and I lay down to sleep (3x)
When I woke up I had shackles on my feet!

It takes a worried man, to sing a worried song (3x)
I'm worried now, but I won't be worried long!

Twenty-nine links of chain around my leg (3x)
And on each link, an initial of my name!

I asked the judge, what would be my fine (3x)
Twenty-one years on the rocky mountain line.

The train arrived, sixteen coaches long (3x)
The one I love was on that train and gone.

Twenty-one years to pay my awful crime (3x)
Twenty-one years and I still got ninety-nine!

If anyone should ask you where you got this song,
Mention the EOI as we sang it all day long!

Worried Man Blues


One of my favorite films in recent years is Big Fish, the wild Tim Burton story about a family caught up in a collection of tall tales!

A Desert Tale...

A young lad joined a caravan that was travelling across the desert...

Telling a Tale

Can you tell this tale? Has anyone ever told it to you?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

No Sour Grapes! (Delmar Lemming)

We have been harvesting great bunches of pale green grapes this September. After grafting on some new branches last February, the old arbor is producing a new seedless grape that is so good for a mid-morning snack. At the EOI, the new crop has garnered rave reviews. Rosie has offered to make a jelly or jam with these gems but I fear they won't last that long. You can hardly stop yourself once you get started on a bunch. In fact, I wanted to enter a bunch in the Guiness Book of World Records, it was so huge and heavy on the vine. But soon as friends and families and work mates got hold of it, it as gone!

This morning, while digging in the garden, I uncovered some dark, dark Welch's type of grapes which were small and not quite ripe, but scrumptious. Their sweet flesh reminded me of the grapes my Aunt Mary Hanley used to grow in their Second Street garden. She turned most of them into jelly which she stored in the cellar in those portly jars, their lids sealed with wax and pectin.

Sweet memories and no sour grapes!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

José and his María

José is an elderly resident of La Atalaya who enjoys strolling the winding country road that leads from his village to the main road. Like many of the Atalaya neighbors, this retired carpenter has walked the road toward Santa Brigida and then doubled back. Many take this walk and admire the breathtaking views of the great Atlantic Ocean on the eastern horizon. Now, however, José has developed respiratory problems and has to carry an oxygen tank. Today I saw him walking the La Atalaya road with his wife María. His lifelong companion toted his tank. Their gait was gingerly maintained but every step carried dignity. It was a blessed moment.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Skunks in the Alley (Delmar Lemming)

Cycling around Franklin County this summer, we were taken by the wide range of animal life in the trees, bushes, riversides and even in our bike path.
The biggest shocks were those stinky skunks who lurked about the Pioneer Valley's wooded corners and clamoring on the bulkhead of my babça's old homestead on Second Street in Turners Falls, city of magic, city of light!