WHERE DO YOU LIVE?

Of course you have a residential address for that is how you direct friends and family to where you live – and increasingly the courier too. Do you live in a street, a crescent, an avenue, or a lane, for example? Each of these names signify different elements to the town planners. In our town, Cradock Road is one of the main entrances / exits connecting our town to Cradock which is about 200km away.

Roads join places together and can be dirt, gravel or tar. According to the National Treasury, the South African road network comprises roughly 754 600 km of roads and streets. This dirt road wends its way through a farming area.

Streets are commonly used names in suburban areas and generally have buildings on either side. Avenues usually run perpendicularly to streets and are bordered by either trees or buildings. Here is an avenue of Eucalyptus trees leading out of town in a different direction.

In my neighbourhood there is an avenue which is actually half of a circular street. I suspect that it was designated an avenue to make it seem grand at the time this particular suburb was developed.

The other half of the circular street is known as a crescent. As one might expect, a lane is a narrow road. The dirt road that runs along the top of the Rietberge on the edge of town is known as Mountain Drive because it is shaped by the topography of the mountain.

Have you ever wondered about the origin of the name of the road, street, crescent, avenue, or lane where you live?

DUTCHMAN’S TROUSERS

I have grown up with drought. My father, a farmer, used to look up at an overcast sky and shake his head sadly saying “There’s enough blue sky to patch a Dutchman’s trousers, so it won’t rain.” I was always intrigued by this expression, which I never heard being used outside my family – although I have passed it on to mine. He explained that ‘Dutchman’s trousers’, was a nautical term referring to the patch of blue sky that appeared when the weather broke, indicating fine weather to follow. The phrase refers to the very wide-legged blue pants that Dutch sailors used to wear – and which obviously needed to be patched from time to time.

While searching the Internet to verify this, I came across this interesting and informative song composed by Tom Lewis:

Dutchman’s Trousers

In the times when I was nothing but a lad,
I never did see much of m’Dad,
Oft’times that was reason to be sad,
For him and m’Granddad too were deep-sea sailors,
But m’Grandmother took me for walks by the sea,
To teach me the ways that the weather can be.
She’d study the sky and say to me:
“There’s just enough blue to patch a Dutchman’s trousers.”

“In the wintertime when the North winds blow,
And the sky takes on a silvery glow,
That’s a certain sign that it’s going to snow.
You must be ready to chip the ice from the rigging,
But if the wind is from the Southwest,
And the spray’s being blow back from the wave’s crest,
Batten down the hatches and hope for the best,
If you’re lucky you’ll see the blue of the Dutchman’s trousers.”

Chorus:
The Pilot gives us a “farewell” hail,
Haul on the halyards of the mainsail,
The wind is steady, there’s a following gale,
With just enough blue to patch a Dutchman’s trousers.

So when I became an Able Hand,
I remembered the lessons that I learned from m’Gran
The mates would call me: “the weather-man,”
On each ship I was the one with the reputation,
Who knew if a breeze or a gale would blow,
When I came on deck from down below
The Skipper would always want to know:
“Will there be enough blue to patch a Dutchman’s trousers?”

Where the saying came from I really don’t know,
The Hollanders used to be our foe,
That was a very long time ago.
For centuries now we’ve sailed the seas together.
From the great Southern Ocean to the Mediterranean,
On a sailing ship or a submarine,
The days are few and far between
When there’s not enough blue to patch a Dutchman’s trousers.

PATTERNS: CROSS YOUR PALM

I think we all know that to cross one’s palm means to pay for a service or even to pay for that service in advance. It often refers to a bribe to smooth the way for information or for an action to be performed. Sometimes we hear of crossing one’s palm with silver – an allusion to the tradition of placing silver coins in the palm of a fortune-teller before having one’s fortune told.

All of which this palm is taking seriously indeed! Criss-crossing, criss-crossing the palm all the way up to the lofty height where leaves still sway and dance in the wind.

BLUE

Blue, blue, my world is blue
Blue is my world since I’m without you …

So sang Marty Robins, associating blue with the feeling of sadness, as in ‘I am feeling blue’. Among the symbolic meanings ascribed to the colour blue is a feeling of calm and serenity; a sense of social distancing (in the sense before the arrival of the pandemic); and cold in terms of emotions. Then too, we talk about something happening ‘once in a blue moon’, or describe the bad start of a week as experiencing a ‘blue Monday’. Whatever your interpretation of blue might be, it is a natural colour only clouds and the cover of night can hide from us. A blue sky is a part of our world – how fortunate we are that it is not bright red!

Blue flowers include a morning glory:

Plumbago:

The flowers of rosemary are also blue:

This flower arrangement has elements of blue:

I will leave you with this interesting image of a church tower that has been painted blue:

 

THE VALUE OF POSITIVE FEEDBACK

I am in the throes of sifting through an accumulation of teaching files and notes, as well as stacks of pictures, posters and papers. The time has come to really let go and to make space for other interests. This tedious – and rather dusty – process reminds me of the many hours I have spent preparing lessons and notes. I recall too that I spent even more time marking assignments.

Ideally, I would have preferred discussing issues with individual pupils. The pressure of limited classroom time, the syllabus, the needs of other children in the class, as well as extra-mural activities seldom allowed for this. I turned to marking as a means of one-to-one communication, using assignments as a means of showing how various improvements could enhance its readability; pointing out errors and how to avoid them; and always finding some aspect to praise, no matter how poor the final mark might be.

Marking a stack of assignments often saw me burning the midnight oil for I believed that work should be returned at the most 48 hours after submission if my comments were to be taken seriously. I also wanted those who wished to act upon them to be able to apply their understanding to their next assignment.

Positive feedback is encouraging, and a quick turnaround is part of that. How you couch your criticism is also important if you wish to encourage a child to improve. It is because my marking was really a ‘conversation’ of sorts, that I usually eschewed the traditional red pen in favour of using a pencil or other coloured pens – all softer on the eye. Rather than simply placing an impatient cross next to an incorrect answer, I tended to point out where / how the error might have been prevented.

It comes as no surprise that none of my children opted to become a teacher of English!

Among the pages of used paper is this one – as anonymous to me as it is to you, for I recognise neither handwriting.

It set me thinking: to my mind, a teacher should model the good expression – including sentence structure – expected in an assignment, as part of the hidden curriculum by which we transmit norms and values. For this reason the volley of simple sentences used in the comment is jarring – their only redeeming feature is that they express positive aspects of the child’s writing. The apology might have been appreciated, but how can a teacher have forgotten to mark an assignment? I hope that the appreciation of effort put “into your piece” might have assuaged the child’s feelings and made up for what seems to have been a lengthy delay.

I am a harsh critic. To me this comment smacks of insincerity and routine reactions quickly noted down. If the child put “so much effort” into the article, surely he or she deserves an overall appreciation of it?