Sun and Grammar

School is now officially over for the year. It has been gradually drying up over the past few weeks, with the children being kicked out of their classrooms by repairmen, classes being cut to 30 minutes, and then half of the remaining classes being shed in favor (I imagine) of an afternoon nap or swim.

I went back to Davit Gareji monastery, on the border with Azerbajan with some friends. I stayed the night on someone’s couch in Tbilisi, we drove to the monastery, looked around, got very hot, had a picnic by the road, visited another ancient cave monastery in the area, talked with a monk there (he didn’t know English, but it was still my favorite part, because usually I feel like I’m such an anonymous tourist at important holy sites), and returned to Tbilisi. I spent the night at a hostel in Tbilisi, went to Sameba with A and L, and then walked about town (without my camera, unfortunately) looking for shade. After a half hour or so wandering about in the sun we did find a shady park, and went to the Dry Bridge Market, which is a big flee market/art fair. There were some nice things, and I bought a little picture of a church. This being Georgia, it’s hardly possible to walk down the street without encountering a picture of a church, but at least he painted it and didn’t just print a copy of someone else’s work, as is commonly the case.

On Monday and Tuesday I was pretty dehydrated and sick, so I didn’t get out of bed until mid afternoon Monday, and did nothing Tuesday besides an hour of school and dinner with a friend. Wednesday was much the same. Thursday one of the volunteers in Gori had everyone over for a leave-taking supra, with the TLG-ers and some neighbors. Several of them brought instruments, the food tasted not-entirely-Georgian, and when the sun went down it was pleasantly warm. They’re all pretty cool people, and we had a nice time. Yesterday I trudged through the blistering afternoon heat to return various large stacks of books, and as I was walking back over the river saw a man and two boys washing a small flock of goats. It was adorable. They were all clustered on the rocky sandbar in the middle of the river, with one boy keeping them from leaving the bar’s tip, another standing in the water to receive a goat, and the man grabbing them to hand to the boy in the water. I had never seen such a dense little knot of goats. They don’t seem to appreciate water as a subversive substance. After observing the washing method, I can appreciate why. The man would grab a goat by it’s hind leg, and drag it to the boy, who would grab the two hind legs, and push it, upside-down and head first, into the river, and sort of thrash it around a bit. when it was clean or nearly drowned (I’m guessing the first event was the sooner), he would return it for another. It would stand there shacking itself and harrumphing grumpily about water in its nose while the rest of the flock received similar treatment. Another volunteer saw a cow walking down from the second story of an apartment building (I had see one hanging out on the balcony of such a place myself). Then I saw N for tea, and we were indignant about tests and grammar stuff. Today I’ve mostly been packing sitting around, unwilling to go for a walk in the heat.

Speaking about being indignant about grammar stuff, that was the second time I got in trouble over “I wish” constructions. It occurred to me part way through this exchange that they are held in low esteem among most of the people I know. Of course you have to know what they mean (none of have to opportunity not too, anyway), but they’re looked down on if a person actually uses them. Sentiments like I wish I weren’t so fat, or I wish he’d stop talking so much, come across as something of a character flaw; they express a kind of whiny indecision and dwelling on things that aren’t the case. And I find that a lot more interesting than what kind of would, had, have, might word is stuck in to hold the thing together. It’s one of those constructions where the tone is just as important — in conversation more important — than the word, and if you get the word right, but the tone wrong, the affect of the whole is just as wrong as if the word were (guessably) wrong. But I’m also comfortable using guessably as a word, so who am I to judge? I would conclude that, for a number of reasons real as well as linguistic, wishes are gnarly and shouldn’t be used.

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