This Little Piggy

IMG_4929 (1)

I came across ¡Pío Peep! Rimas Tradicionales en Español (Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhymes) and was immediately struck by the unique adaptations of the rhymes. They are clearly not straight translations and made me wonder what makes a rhyme work in two languages and what is lost and what is found in the process of adapting–especially when rhyme is a central part of the experience.

In Spanish, “El sol es de oro” is, although concise in both languages, very different in English.

El sol es de oro

El sol es de oro

la luna es de plate

y las estrellitas

son de hoja de lata.

Directly translated:

The sun is of gold

the moon is of silver

and the little stars

are of tin.


The English adaptation, on the other hand,

The Sun’s a Gold Medallion

The sun’s a gold medallion.

The moon’s a silver ball.

The little stars are only tin;

I love them best of all.

Clearly different.

One that was closest in translation was unfamiliar except for the form. This one seemed to be counted on the hand as the more familiar (to me at least) “This Little Piggy” is counted on toes.

Aquí puso la pajarita el huevo

Aquí puso la pajarita el huevo.

Éste lo agarró,

éste lo partió,

éste lo cocinó,

éste le echó la sal,

y este pícaro gordo

se lo comió.


Here the Bird Laid the Egg

Here the bird laid one round egg.

This one found it,

this one cracked it,

this one cooked it,

this one put salt on it,

and this fat rascal

gobbled it up!

from ¡Pío Peep! Rimas Tradicionales en Español (Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhymes)

  • What is lost and found in translation? How does this rob or enrich you or a character? What happens when we try to rely on literal translation?

Book of Kells

Visit the Kells online at:

We were grateful it is not high tourist season as we headed to the Trinity College Library  to see the illuminated New Testament gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John that are known as the Book of Kells.

We learned about the venerated manuscript’s ink and the colors (lilac, pink, verdigris, indigo, and red and yellow ochre) and the collaboration between writer and artist, what symbols we were seeing in the leaves of vellum, that vellum is calfskin, that the book faced several rounds of warfare and survived.

I looked and looked for a piece of writing to capture the sense of this adventure. I finally found “Scriptorium” by Melissa Range:

Before the stepwork and the fretwork,
before the first wet spiral leaves the brush,
before the plucking of the geese’s quills,
before the breaking of a thousand leads…

(Read more at:

We leaned over the glass case, wishing we had retained more training in Latin, wishing we had brought a magnifying glass, remembering there was a line of people patiently (or not-so-patiently) waiting behind us. We hastily admired the shine of the colors; we tersely studied the Celtic knots; we speedily marveled at how the pagan and religious interconnect on these pages. I could not resist hurriedly scanning for peacocks (symbols of Christ), fish (symbols of Christ), snakes (symbols of Christ’s rebirth), and eagles (symbols of John and Christ’s ascension to heaven) in the intricate pages displayed.

The next thing we knew we were headed out of the gallery and upstairs into a library reminiscent of Hogwarts’s on the floor above the sacred texts. We felt as if we’d just taken in a museum of information; we were as exhausted as we were acutely aware there is much more to learn.

  • The Book of Kells reminded me of Visual Journaling and the power of drafting using visual art as well as words. Here is an example:, and, of course Frida Kahlo’s journal:

Scuba Diving

scuba diving

M—asks my plan for the day. When he hears I will go to the library, he asks me what I will choose to read although we both know it will probably be whatever is in the poetry section.

I try to branch out, look at a book of Hitchcock short stories, dare to peruse the mystery section. I even consider memoir, but in the non-fiction section, I get caught up on the titles on writing, the how-to guides. I am so predictable, I think as I look for anything I haven’t read before. Then, I am delighted by the book tucked between Creating Unforgettable Characters and Storytelling in the New Hollywood.

A thin volume, The Complete Scuba Diving Guide doesn’t appear to be so complete. Or, perhaps, scuba diving is simpler than one might imagine. I had to open it up to see if maybe it was, in fact, a guide to writing, an extended metaphor.

Skimming the entire manual, I am fairly certain it was not misplaced.


Second Tuesdays at the neighborhood library are family game nights. Tomorrow evening we will play the Scrambled States of America, a fun way to learn about the US landscape as well as state capitals and mottos.

In April, we’ll play Apples to Apples.

We started off these comedy sessions with Family Feud, moved on to Monopoly and Bingo, and this is is a snapshot of Pictionary night.

Pictionary was hilarious. It was all vocabulary related to the household. We had two enthusiastic teams of people from three to forty-three (ish) and a handful of delighted spectators. We expressed disgust at our own teammates’ poor interpretations of the words: garage, remote, washing machine. (Garage was especially disappointing.) And, when it was our turn to draw, we were stuck. Even tennis shoes were impossible.

These are both ironing boards. They have a full suit of clothes on them. A moment after I took this, one of them suddenly had a head and and hands!

On a related note, please check out: