Sunday, December 19, 2010


I went to church this morning, rather than afternoon, for the ten a.m. Lessons & Carols service, which I always love. A handful of people from my old church were there, including our deacon and his wife; he's going to start serving at the new church on Christmas Eve, so I'll definitely go to that service, now that I'm going to be in town. (We had awful weather all day today -- snow, rain, snow, wind, snow -- and lots of other people have cancelled plans that involved crossing the mountains.)

It was nice to see old friends.

This church has a pre-service slideshow of various announcements and visuals. This morning, I looked up to see a slightly different version of the image above, one that acknowledged the source of the quotation as C.S. Lewis' The Silver Chair. After my previous post, this was -- again -- perfect.

In Traveling Mercies, Anne Lamott describes her conversion as the feeling that "a little cat was following me," and says she finally told the cat -- as it wound around her ankles at her front door -- something like, "Oh, all right, you can come in."

I guess mine's a big cat.

In other news, yesterday I used my very wobbly Spanish for the first time at the hospital. I'd introduced myself to a patient and her family; the husband said they didn't speak much English, so I said I speak a little bit of Spanish. I tried to ask the patient if she wanted prayers or a warm blanket, but when I used the phrase "manta caliente" (which I'd gotten from Google Translator a few weeks ago, since it's something I say all the time at the hospital), the family merely stared at me in evident alarm. I pantomimed being cold and wrapping myself in a blanket, and she said yes, so I got her a blanket, and I believe I succeeded in asking the man if he wanted some water, which he declined. But by then they'd switched back to speaking English -- much more fluently than I speak Spanish! -- and they gave me such odd looks whenever they saw me afterwards that I hope I hadn't asked her if she wanted a spicy manta ray, or something worse. ("No, thank you. Spicy manta rays are what landed me in the ER in the first place.") Later I asked one of the housekeepers who speaks Spanish how to say "warm blanket," and she suggested "savannah caliente." I'll use that next time.

A student who's a paramedic told me the story of an English-speaking colleague of hers trying to coach a Spanish-speaking woman through labor in the back of his ambulance. He kept telling her to push, and couldn't understand why she and her husband were getting so upset at him. Turned out that the word he'd been using for push was "puta."

Ouch. I hope my own gaffe wasn't quite that awful.

Well, at least I tried. And I have to say that in all my years of studying languages (six years of French in junior high and high school, Old English in grad school, a grueling summer of intensive Latin in grad school), this is the first time I've ever tried to use another language in a real-world situation.

After my hospital shift I got a haircut and then wandered into Ross to look, unsuccessfully, for a cardigan sweater. I heard a small child sobbing, "Quiero!" and managed to deduce that he was crying, in the phrase so beloved of kids, "I want it! I want it!"

With any luck, he wasn't pestering his mom for a spicy manta ray.


  1. That's funny.....have yhou been into the eggnog or did you get your hair cut just a little too short? lol Good to see your sense of humour is alive and well.

  2. Anonymous6:14 AM

    one site I found suggested that while manta caliente literally translates to warm blanket, it's a phrase associated with the warming ovens they use in big restaurants after a meal has been cooked and is waiting to be served.....

  3. Anonymous2:10 PM

    Thank you for another lovely lion!



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