Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Further Reports as Events Warrant

Didn't get up till 9:00 – very late for me. A little under the cold and discouraging weather. Came straight out to get my breakfast and a dose of artificial light at Tom's. Spent an hour and a half on my Spanish, reading, making flashcards, looking things up. A jilguero? Well, my dictionary called it a linnet or a goldfinch, which makes no sense at all – I've never seen a linnet, but by God I know it's not the same bird as anything I'd call a goldfinch. Google images showed me a jilguero: a very handsome fellow indeed, as this Wikipedia photo by J.J. Harrison ( shows:

This is, apparently, what Europeans call a goldfinch. Who knew? Well, everyone who cares but me, probably. To this norteamericano a goldfinch is a brilliant yellow bird with white and black accents, and not even smidgeon of red. God save us, a red-faced goldfinch? Next they'll be putting green stripes on the American flag!

So I'm slow, and a bit troubled to think of those godless Europeans going about calling this lovely bird – not his fault, poor fellow – a goldfinch, and I'm late, and I need to go home and make a salad and getting my eating back on program. The last few days it's spun out. I've been in a funk. Last night I ate a vast meal of Thai food, great quantities of rice and a delicious yellow curry that was as hot as the sun: and I've been eating ice cream, and buttered toast with honey, and proffered Christmas cookies (No human being can decently turn down the first cookies of a splendidly proud nine-year-old, can he? This in-home massage gig has its hazards.)

So today, today is the day I get it back together. Undressed salad and plain meats and tubers, and tracking consumption to hold myself to a Spartan three thousand calories a day. I weighed and measured myself today, which was rather cheering, although my scale is obviously inaccurate – it gives me readings that vary by several pounds, as I get on and off – but anyway, I seem to weigh something in between 210 and 215 lbs, and to measure 45 ½ inches around the waist, which is at least ten pounds less, and two inches less, than the last time I measured. My erratic and varied eating innovations seem to be accruing (or rather disaccruing), which is pleasant to see.

Well, as Calvin would say: further reports as events warrant! xo


Jarrett said...

Names of birds, like those of trees, have flown around the world without firm images attached. A respectable Western avifauna must have a goldfinch, so that name gets slapped on whatever poor bird will credibly serve the role. Australia has a "robin" that's absolutely nothing like an American Robin ...

Dale said...

Yes, I know what you mean! I remember finally seeing a "robin" in England, and suddenly understanding a lot of literary references to them. They're a lot perkier than ours and their breasts actually are red, rather than tawny orange. It is kind of puzzling: they must have known it wasn't the same bird. But yes, I think it's that impulse to fill all the taxonomical slots, whether it really makes sense or not.

Lucy said...

I remember being taken aback when your goldfinches appeared once at Dave's, even got him to find an audio. In fact they sound quite similar, and I think the impression of bright yellow and black when they fly - surely Hopkins' 'finches' wings' - is also akin.

They are among my favourite small birds, one of those things which feels like a good omen when I see them, and a charm of them is, well, utterly charming! The song is perhaps less tuneful but more tinkling and resonant than a linnet's. I've noticed of recent years that linnets seem to have displaced them somewhat in our garden in the summer months, which I'm a bit sad about; I like linnets but not quite as much.

Language dictionaries, like people, are often rather sloppy about the finer points of taxonomy; my French one reckons that dock and sorrel are one and the same - all 'l'oseille' - while you only have to be here in the country for five minutes to learn the different word - a dock is 'une parelle'. That's weeds mind; birds they care less about, to most people a kestrel (une crecerelle) and a sparrowhawk (un epervier) are the same. I see it as my mission, armed with my multi-lingual Collins bird guide, to put them straight! Not that I get so many opportunities.

Blimey, that was a comment and a half.

Dale said...

Lucy, we are the Knights of Nomen!