Loosely Translated

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When I was in high school, I signed up to be a Rotary Exchange Student and ended up going to The Netherlands.  I say “ended up” because originally I was supposed to go to Italy.  Alas, that trip was cancelled 6 weeks before I was scheduled to leave (long story, but I would like to state for the record that it had NOTHING to do with me–Scouts honor….and before you ask, yes I was a Girl Scout, thankyouverymuch–for a whole year!).  In hindsight, it was probably for the best that I didn’t go to Italy, as I don’t think I would have moved back.  But that is just a huge sidebar that doesn’t actually have anything to do with this post other than to lament at how close I was to moving to Italy.

When I arrived in the Netherlands, I was sent to a two-week crash course Dutch camp where I lost my voice learning a lot of useful phrases like “ik weet het niet” (I don’t know), which is exceptionally useful when asked random questions like (on the first day of school) “Are you new here?”  As the year progressed, my Dutch became much more fluent and I picked up many colorful phrases and colloquialisms.  I think my favorite is “helaas, pindakaas” just because it’s just fun to say. Loosely translated, it means alas or c’est la vie (if you want to be fancy), but literally translated it means “oh well, peanut cheese” (although the Dutch would argue that pindakaas is peanut butter, but I SAY that if pinda=peanut and kaas=cheese, then pindakaas is peanut cheese).

I know what you’re thinking “why is she even telling me this?”  Well, thank you for asking.  It is because this month’s Wine Writing Challege (MWWC #32) is TRANSLATION, as selected by last month’s winner Nesli of Wi.Nes.  And to me, nothing says “translation” quite like fumbling through learning a language while living in another country for a year.


Which brings me wine…because doesn’t everything?!?  The world of wine easily has its own language and when you are new to wine, navigating it is a lot like fumbling through learning a language while living in another country.  This extends beyond just the varietals that are a mouthful to say [ahem, gewürztraminer].  There is also the methodology and just try saying oenology after a bottle or two!   But I think that it is the descriptors that can leave people a little lost in translation, if you will.

I believe this is mainly because taste is subjective and how I describe something may not be how you describe something.  For example, if you ask me to describe the 1997 Sister Creek Cabernet Blend, I would say that it was oaky, medium-to-full bodied, with a lingering cherry finish.  My BFF would say it was so dry it knitted her tongue a sweater.  Incidentally, I think this became her go-to descriptor to whether or not I would like a wine:  will it knit your tongue a sweater? Yes?  Then Sherry will love it!

Some descriptors are easy to translate: red. white. rosè. blush. fruity. sweet. vanilla. cherry.

Others might require a bit of translating/clarification, especially to those who are new to the language of wine, like the following (while I didn’t look them up, I’m sure my descriptions are fairly accurate):

  • Nose smell
  • Finish aftertaste
  • Vintner winemaker
  • Dry leaving your mouth feeling like you drank sandpaper
  • Oaky the taste of drinking tree bark
  • Tobacco tastes like smoking a cigarette, but without the gross chemicals–just the tasty wine ones!
  • Buttery as if a stick of butter was added.  Not the fake movie theatre butter, but the good stuff.  
  • Dirt drinking freshly tilled earth, but in a good way of course
  • Jammy lots of fruit flavor, like you just got smacked with a fruit pie….or jam. That’s probably a better analogy.
  • Full-bodied like a painting by Rubens
  • Earthy see Dirt.
  • Chewy you’ll need a knife and fork to drink these wines
  • Floral yes, like flowers
  • Spicy usually of the pepper variety–black pepper, bell pepper, and if you’re really want to sound snobby, white pepper (just kidding….sort of)

And then there are those extra fun descriptors that make some wine drinkers question if they actually want to drink the wine in their glass.  You know those descriptors that make you ask (hopefully to yourself and not out loud to the vintner): WTF did you put in this?!?!?!  Don’t worry, the alcohol kills all the germs! Again, I didn’t look up these exact definitions, but I’m sure they are close.

  • Leather smells like you bought a really expensive handbag, but is much tastier
  • Smoky think campfire and that annoying smoke that blows in your face regardless of where you stand
  • Knit Your Mouth A Sweater see Dry and add “very, very, very” in front of it
  • Petrol yes, like gas–so no smoking and turn off your car engine before consuming
  • Pencil Shavings don’t panic…I’m quite sure no pencils were harmed in the making of these wines
  • Wet Dog just like in real life, this is never a good descriptor and should be dumped down the drain (the wine, not the dog).  DO NOT COOK with it (the wine–and, well, also the dog). No one wants “wet dog” food–except maybe the dog.
  • Forest Floor tastes just like you are hiking in the Pacific Northwest, but without hiking or the need to travel to the Pacific Northwest
  • Botrytis a mold that smells a bit dusty and like you’re about to spend a lot of money

Finally–my personal favorite descriptor–even though I try to avoid wines with this description because they always makes me simultaneously think “how do you know what that tastes like?” and “this is why I prefer reds!”

  • Cat Pee yeah, you read that correctly. usually associated with Sauvignon Blancs Tasting Note: try to refrain from asking the vintner if it was added–chances are you don’t really want to know.

Of course, the best way to learn is to drink taste a lot.  It definitely makes translating a lot more fun*.


Cheers!

PS–Thanks to my wino friends who offered up the descriptions they use most frequently. And if I didn’t text you for that information, it’s not that I don’t love you–it’s just that I don’t think you drink enough wine.

*this easily applies to both wine and languages.



Chalkboard Art: Gremlins

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New York City streets are filled with a lot of things: people, dogs, trash, mysterious things you’re better off not knowing what they are…but my favorite things NYC sidewalks offer are Chalkboard Art.

Seems like sound advice…

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Memoirs of a Princess Pupcicle: Pop Tarts

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Being a Big Dog in a Big City, Addy gets a wide variety of reactions when we are out and about.  It’s usually fear.  Mostly people try to disguise it, usually pretending there is a reason to suddenly cross the street. However, sometimes, it’s blatantly obvious.

Along our morning walk, Addy and I pass by a bus stop filled with kids waiting for the school bus.  I noticed that Addy always beelines for a young boy (maybe 6 years old)…after a couple of days I realized it was because he was sharing his pop tarts with her.  Once I realized this, I let him know that while it was sweet, he didn’t need to share his breakfast with her.  He looked at me, with a bit of sass and said:

I share my breakfast because I don’t want her to eat me.

Oh honey, she’s not going to eat you…I promise.

Lady, I ain’t taking noooo chances!

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Memoirs of a Princess Pupcicle: The Enforcer

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I’ve inherited a cat.  He, being Toulouse, spent the first year or so of his life with us–so he is not unknown to Addy.  He is, in fact, her kitty.

When Toulouse first moved in, he was small enough to fit in your hand–and naturally thought he could easily take on a 90lb dog.  Toulouse would follow Addy around the house and wait patiently for the perfect moment to strike.  His favorite spot was behind a pile of books at the top of the stairs: a well thought-out ambush spot for the Princess as she came up the stairs.   The problem, of course, being that she tended to be slightly oblivious of this ball of fur and could easily knock him down the stairs with her big ol’ labrador tail.  I’m quite sure she did a time or two.

baby toulouse

Baby Toulouse waiting to ambush Addy

A couple of years have passed, but Addy, of course, still thinks of him as her kitty.  Toulouse–for some reason unbeknownst to me–will even allow her to occasionally bathe him (although he always looks mortified while she’s licking him).  Since Toulouse has moved back in, I’ve seen a lot of pouty Addy faces that some of her affection might be given to Toulouse, however, she always has my back when I’m fussing at him to stop clawing the furniture or to get off the countertop.  Addy is more than happy to chase after him, barking reminders at him Get off the counter!  Stop clawing!  Don’t make Momma yell! Come back you need a bath!

Yelling in both human and barking–double whammy!  Poor Toulouse.  Meanwhile, Addy smiles at me I got this, Momma, I got this.

toulouse tulips

Best seat in the house: a sunny window and far out of reach of a certain cold, wet nose…

Chalkboard Art: Pancakes

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New York City streets are filled with a lot of things: people, dogs, trash, mysterious things you’re better off not knowing what they are…but my favorite things NYC sidewalks offer are Chalkboard Art.

You can’t argue with sound reasoning…

pancakes

Memoirs of a Princess Pupcicle: Sweet Jesus!

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Being a Big Dog in a Big City, Addy gets a wide variety of reactions when we are out and about.  It’s usually fear.  Mostly people try to disguise it, usually pretending there is a reason to suddenly cross the street.  However, sometimes, it’s blatantly obvious.

Several years ago I worked for a shall-not-to-be-named coffee company.  During this time, I was usually up and walking Addy at 2am.  This, of course, was just in time to run into everyone in the neighborhood who caught the 1:30am ferry.  Most were just getting home after a long day’s work.  Others were not-so-quietly coming home from a great night out.

It was while we were walking behind a group of people in the latter category that one of the women in the group–who apparently had a GREAT night out–glanced back at us.  When she saw Addy she let forth a blood-curdling scream and promptly fell over, off the sidewalk and  into the street [don’t worry, there wasn’t any traffic].

My first inclination is to offer assistance, as her friends were too busy laughing to help, but of course, I quickly realized Addy was the problem.  Addy, naturally, wanted to help her new friend, who was screaming loudly:

I’m down, I’m down! Oh sweet Jeeeeesus, I’m ready to come home.  I’m ready sweet Jesus.

Ma’am are okay?  Can I help you up?

I’m ready to go home, Sweet Jesus just take me now and don’t make it too painful!

MA’AM [more laughter from behind me] DO YOU NEED HELP GETTING UP? [I wasn’t yelling, per se, merely speaking very clearly and very loudly because at this point I could smell the alcohol coming off her body.]

She stopped her rant mid-Jesus-take-me-home rant and looked at me, slightly confused.

You mean he ain’t gonna eat me?

No, ma’am, she’s not.

Oh, well, then I’m good.

She then popped up and kept right on trucking, uh, wobblingDSCN0701

Sunday Comics: The Important Questions of Life

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Daylight later in the day?  Awesome!  Losing an hour to get it?  Suck.

daylight saving

And for the record, here’s what Addy thinks of springing forward:

The Presidents…And Perhaps Tommy Lee Jones.

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How well do you know your Presidents?  A few years ago, Buzzfeed challenged their staff to identify 10 Presidents based on their picture.  Most guessed Ford and Adams correctly, however, the rest…well, let’s just say there are some creative answers!

Here’s the list, if you’re interested in seeing how well you know your Presidents.  Click on the pictures to see how Buzzfeed did and check your answers.

presidents

PS–[SPOILER ALERT!] can we all appreciate how President Andrew Johnson looks exactly like Tommy Lee Jones (even more so than Millard Fillmore looks like Alec Baldwin!)?!?!?

Memoirs of a Princess Pupcicle

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Confession time:  remember earlier in the week when I told you that as I started sharing some of my series from ShezzaSpeak, I would start with my one of my favorites, Chalkboard Art?  Well, that was a lie.  And anyone who actually knows me knows that it was a blatant lie. This is because more than food or wine or beer or coffee or humor or travel, my most favoritest thing is my darling beloved pupcicle, Princess Adelaide Grace, about whom I’ve already shared a couple of stories (which you can read here and here!). So I guess technically hers was the first (rightly so!) series from ShezzaSpeak that I brought over.

Today, I thought I might share exactly how this series came to be with my very first Memoirs story.  With the exception of a couple of grammatical changes, I’ve left the story as I originally wrote it, which was over 2 years ago.  So just for current day references, she’s now nearly 11 (she’d say 10.5!) and down to a svelte 83lbs!

Memoirs of a Princess Pupcicle

I’m sitting in bed with my laptop, silently urging writing ideas to come.

Suddenly I am aware of soft snoring from the end of the bed.  I look up and there is a cute 90lb ball of fur.  I can’t resist.  Slowly, ever…so…slowly I reach for my phone.  I quietly scroll the camera icon upward.

Don’t you dare take my picture.

Sigh.  Why not?  You’re so cute and I love you and I want a picture of you looking cute.

You already have 8390 of them and you’re supposed to be writing, not procrastinating.

I don’t have 8390 of them and I’m not procrastinating, I’m searching for inspiration.

You could write about me.  8390 articles would be far better than 8390 out-of-focus photographs.

I could write about you, however, you don’t like to have your picture taken.  In order for a post to be successful, you need at least a picture or two.  At last count, I believe you didn’t like having your picture taken.  In fact, I believe that you hate it.

I think you’re making that up about pictures and posts.  But I’ll make you a deal: if you write my memoirs, I suppose I could make an exception.

Your memoirs?  Really?  That’s a big word.

Yeah, well, I’m a big dog and I’m 8 now–don’t think I don’t know that you give me senior food and senior vitamins.  If you tell my story, I’ll let you take a picture of me.

A picture?  As in just one?

Well first let’s see how good your stories are.

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Chalkboard Art

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For those of you who are lovely enough to follow my other-and-even-more-neglected blog, ShezzaSpeak, this post might seem a bit familiar.

After a lot of contemplating, soul searching, and consulting of the oracles, I have decided to merge my two accounts (if for no other reason than suffering from only ½ the guilt when I’m rampantly neglecting them both!).  My plan is to bring over several posts a month–some will be identical and others will be reworked so that they are hopefully not too trite.

The first series I wanted to bring over was one of my favorites.  Well, they all are in their own way, but given today is Valentines Day, I thought this especially appropriate.  So may I present to you: Chalkboard Art!  Just a note: all Chalkboard Art pictures are my own, unless specified.

New York City streets are filled with a lot of things: people, dogs, trash, mysterious things you’re better off not knowing what they are…but my favorite things NYC sidewalks offer are Chalkboard Art.

Nothing says “Happy Valentine’s Day” like 3am drunk dialing…

 

whiskey