Driving a canoe

87        Li was the first of my Chinese friends to come visit us in Arkansas. A friend of mine had sold us his canoe for $105 about a year before we left Georgia. I was dying to get it in the river and invited Li and others to take a canoe trip down the Buffalo River. Li had never been in a canoe and we had fun is we backed the canoe down the slope to the river at the Arkansas Highway 14 Bridge. I would've enjoyed going a long distance but we have not made plans for a shuttle so we decided to take the short trip from the bridge down to the old state park now known as Buffalo Point.

88        Li did better in the canoe than in the truck but I'd taken the backseat where most of the steering is done. He quickly caught on since paddling is a fairly simple job and thoroughly enjoyed the trip. After our short 1 mile voyage, roughly a kilometer, we paddled around the river for a while and then went swimming for a bit. Sheila and her sister, Teresa, had come with us and Li enjoyed his first tent camping experience.

89        A year or two later Changji and his girlfriend would go with me all the way to Rush the perhaps in the summer of 2010 after I purchased my kayak before I sold a canoe on Ebay for $450. Sheila and I Sheila and I decided the canoe was too heavy for us to handle and when I saw the kayaks on sale at Walmart for half that price I decided to purchase one. I don't use often but I thoroughly enjoy it.

My first e-mail in Chinese

90        About this time, I contacted a Chinese botanist who was studying Carex. I had been searching the internet on my own name and had found she had cited a research paper I had co-authored. We corresponded a time or two and then she sent me a short e-mail in Chinese, probably in response to a few words or phrases I'd used in Chinese myself in an e-mail to her. I decided to try to read the e-mail without using direct computer translation. That is, I decided to translate it word for word and see if I could understand the meaning. I spent four hours working on the four or five sentences she had sent me. Even after that, there were a few parts I could not understand. But I was learning to read slowly.

91        The words 加拿大 completely threw me. The meanings of the three characters are: to add, to catch, and large are big. I probably spent 30 minutes trying to decipher them to no avail. Finally, I e-mailed my friend and asked her if I had translated the passage correctly. My Chinese tutor in Atlanta had introduced the idea of compound words to me but I was about to learn the concept of words that are translated into Chinese phonetically. The meaning of 加拿大 has nothing to do with adding or catching or being large.

92        The Chinese language has been translated into Roman characters using several methods. The Communists had nationalized a system called pinyin which also uses tone marks to show which of the four tones of Mandarin Chinese should be used with a particular syllable. The word 加拿大 can also be written as Jiā ná dà, but that probably doesn't tell you much. My Chinese friend explained she was going to college in western Canada and the word加拿大 simply means Canada and has nothing to do with its literal meaning since it is simply a phonetic translation.


93        By April,