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2006-07-05 - 5:13 p.m.

..a window full of colored rings...

I was just hunting through some old files in search of a figure that I need to use for a paper that I'm writing. I found the figure, but I also found an old letter that I had written to my college roommate and her partner. This roommate was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer a few years ago. Her friends took to supporting her in all ways possible. From halfway around the world I sent her a barage of postcards, and translated one of my favorite Janosch books into English. Here's the letter I wrote to her:


Dear tigger,

Howdi in San Francisco. It has taken me a few days to sit down and clear my head and write to you, but in spite of my mental clutter, you have often been in my thoughts. This postcard translates as “And this here is my favorite place…” I love the idea of a penguin needing to go some place to relax and collect its thoughts. And then last week I heard this terrific story on BBC about a group (flock? Herd? Gaggle?) of penguins at the San Diego Zoo who took to migrating in circles, day and night, around their enclosure. Swimming endlessly in circles in hopes that someday they’d reach Puerto Arenas, or tropical Brazil… Penguins really rank up there as fun animals to talk about, in my book…

As you can see from this package, I succeeded in locating some Janosch books, although only in German. I made it a small translation project for myself, and satisfactorily learned how to say “brazen lout” and “dissolute scoundrel” in German…I hope you like “der kleine Tiger” as much as I do.

I also wanted to share with you an old memory that has revisited me this week, in the form of what the Germans call an “ear worm” – that’s a song that wiggles into your ear and never leaves. My personal earworm squirmed in the form of “Morning Morgantown” – that old Joni Mitchell song . That song has always obliquely reminded me of you, from those days when we shared that house on Adelphi, and I was first introduced to Joni and probably played that song 30,000 times. I heard it over and over, and perhaps on the 2000th time you told me a story of a vivid childhood memory, about “a wooden bird with painted wings, a window full of colored rings…”

I hadn’t really heard those lines until you told me the story, and now I’ve taken on that image as one of my own, every time I hear the song, I picture an Edward Hopperesque store front full of colorful flying birds and colorful wooden rings hanging everywhere. And isn’t that just a wonderful wonderful thing to give to someone? Not diamonds or dinners or gadgets – a window full of color. Anyway, right now I wish that I were an artist – a painter or a sculptor – so that I could give back to you the image you pointed out to me – so I could send you a window full of painted birds and brightly colored floating rings.

Janosch is a colorful substitute, as are these pictures of Germany. And perhaps you are now stuck with the same earworm…think I’ll put in my Joni CDs and conjur up some positive images now.

Please hang in there. And wishing you always "the luck of the earth."
Much love, teranika


In spite of her incredible courage and spirit, she passed away. I still think of her when I listen to Joni or read Janosch stories.

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