Zik, zik.

In Hungarian, instead of singing “Tiddly Pom”, Winnie the Pooh sings “Zik, zik”.

And now, for something completely different,  here is the definitive bilingual Pooh, all together in one place, in English, in Hungarian, and even a YouTube in Hungarian for anyone in a sing-along mood who wants to know how to  pronounce the Hungarian.  Unfortunately they don’t sing the zik‘s on YouTube, which I think would have been a lot of fun.

The Winnie the Pooh song in English:

The more it snows
(Tiddly Pom)
The more it goes
(Tiddly Pom)
The more it goes
(Tiddly Pom)
On snowing.

And nobody knows
(Tiddly Pom)
How cold my toes
(Tiddly Pom)
How cold my toes
(Tiddly Pom)
Are growing.

YouTube of Winnie the Pooh song in Hungarian.  Lyrics are under the screen, so you can follow along.

Pooh song in Hungarian:

Egy napon, mikor Micimackónak semmi dolga nem akadt,
Eszébe jutott, hogy tenni kéne valami nagyon fontosat.
Elment tehát Malackához, hogy meglesse mit csinál,
De Malackánál éppen akkor senkit sem talált.

Így hát elindult hazafelé, miközben sûrûn hullt a hó,
S arra gondolt otthon talán akad egy kis ennivaló.
Hogy kimelegedjék ugrándozott, s jo nagyokat lépett,
S a hidegre való tekintettel énekelni kezdett:

R: Minél inkább havazik, annál inkább hull a hó,
Minél inkább hull a hó, annal inkább havazik.
Hull a hó és hózik, zik, zik, zik
Micimackó fázik, zik zik, zik,
Hull a hó és hózik, zik, zik, zik,
Micimackó fázik.

Ismert erdei Körökben az az általános nézet,
Hogy Micimackó, mint minden medve szereti a mé-ézet.
És ez nem csak afféle szerény vélemény,
De határozottan állítom, hogy tény, té-ény, tény!

Ezért, hogyha, ha hideg van és sûrûn hull a fehér hó,
Kell, hogy legyen az almáriumban, eltéve ennivaló,
Így aztán ha télidôben Micimackó megéhezik,
Megkóstol egy csupor mézet, alaposan fenékig!


Micimackó a barátom, és gyakran elbeszélgetünk.
Azokról a dolgokról, mit mind a ketten ismerünk,
És tanultam egy verset is, s most már kívtülrôl tudom,
Ha hideg van és hull a hó, én mindíg ezt dúdolgatom:


Translation of Hungarian, via google translate:

One day, when Winnie had nothing to do,
He remembered that ought to be something very important.
He went onto the piglet so that meglesse doing what
Malackánál but just have not found anyone.

So he started to walk home while it was snowing heavily,
And he thought there might be a little food at home.
He jumped to kimelegedjék and has big jo,
And regarding the cold began to sing:

Chorus: The more it snows, the snow is falling, the more the snow is falling, the more snow. Snowing and hózik ing, ing, ing cold Winnie the Pooh, ing ing ing, snowing and hózik ing, ing, ing, Winnie the Pooh cold.

Known in circles in the forest, the general view,
Winnie the Pooh that as all the bears like the ho-oney.
And it’s not the sort of humble opinion,
But definitely say it’s fact, fa-, fact!

Therefore, whenever it is cold and often fall of white snow,
Should be the almáriumban, eating away securely,
So if you get hungry télidôben Winnie the Pooh,
Taste of a jar of honey, to the bottom!


Pooh’s friend, and often have a chat.
About things, what we both know,
And I’ve learned a poem, and now I kívtülrôl,
If it’s cold and snowing, I always sing this song:


I think there might be too many zik’s in the translation though.  When the song is referenced in a Croatian short story it says, “he would start to sing, right into my ear, the Hungarian children’s song that goes Hull a hó és hózik-zik-zik, Micimackó fázik-zik-zik—about Winnie the Pooh freezing….”

Sure enough, here are some chords with only two zik‘s…

…and turning to google, we have:

325 ghits for Micimackó fázik-zik-zik

and 7 ghits forMicimackó fázik-zik-zik-zik

Micimackó fázik-zik-zik it is. Besides, anything else and the meter is all wrong.


From Studiolum of Rio Wang we now have the definitive YouTube, sung by Zsuzsa Koncz, two ziks at 3:37:

Posted in Books. Tags: , . 2 Comments »


During the recent interest in my post about Native American artist Paha Ska, which means “white hills” in Lakota, I got curious about the Lakota language.  I found to my surprise that there is quite a bit of information available about Lakota. According to Ethnologue,  the Lakota language has over 6000 speakers spread across North Dakota, South Dakota, North Nebraska, south Minnesota, northeast Montana and a handful in Canada.  Unlike some of the world’s languages which are dying out, in some areas Lakota is a vigorous language.

While looking for Lakota language resources, my imagination was captured by an exhibition of Lakota Winter Count calenders at the Smithsonian website.  There is a brief excerpt of someone speaking in Lakota to introduce the exhibit, then the voiceover continues in English.  There is also a recording of a native Lakota speaker pronuncing  names of of various tribal groups.  But the most interesting part of the exhibit is the Winter Count calendars themselves.

Winter counts are histories or calendars in which events are recorded by pictures, with one picture for each year. The Lakota call them waniyetu wowapi. Waniyetu is the word for year, which is measured from first snowfall to first snowfall. It is often translated as ‘a winter.’ Wowapi means anything that is marked on a flat surface and can be read or counted, such as a book, a letter, or a drawing.

The above Winter Count is from the Rosebud Indian Reservation area, the calendar from the collection that is closest to Paha Ska’s native Pine Ridge Reservation. [Source: Smithsonian]

Here is also a listing of free resources in the Lakota language. Wikipedia usually has detailed linguistic information, but there are other dictionaries and lexicons as well, including a Bible.

Lakota lexicon
Lakota translation (short dictionary)
Lakota language, keyboard, fonts, grammar, Bible translation in Lakhota and Dakhota, translation of texts
Lakota-Useful phrases from Omniglot
Lakota Grammar +
Lakhota letters (alphabet) and sounds
Wikipedia: Lakota language with grammar
Smithsonian winter counts

The following images are also from the Rosebud Winter Count. The detail is of the year named “Captured a Holy Woman and Let Her Go” (1797-1798).  Calendars can be compared with each other for the same year.  The website is set up to open on the date of a known meteor shower that is used as a reference for the other dates.

The longest winter count is one kept by Wapostangi or Brown Hat, also known as Battiste Good. The Battiste Good winter count “is unusual because it includes a series of entries that cover periods of seventy years and extend back to the time when the Lakota received the White Buffalo Calf Pipe, a sacred object still maintained by the tribe, which Good calculated to have occurred in 900 A.D.”

Just Folk

I have a favorite CD called Spirit Within recorded by a group called Just Folk. They’re a bit of a mystery though, because the CD isn’t listed on Amazon, and the group isn’t listed anywhere. I once heard them play as well, at a special dinner at the Red Oak Restaurant in Bishop Hill, Illinois.  It was the best $16 I ever spent in my life. They played traditional medieval instruments, a large keyboard instrument for one–clavichord?–and wore historical dress.  My guess–university people from some music department in Davenport, Iowa having a little fun on the side.

Here is the playlist:

1 Carol from an Irish Cabin
2 Spread your Wide Wings
3 Who can Sail
4 Simple Gifts-And Now My Dear Companions
5 My Carnal Life I Will Lay Down
6 Greensleeves
7 Cold Frosty Morning
8 Fanny Poer
9 Poor Wayfaring Stranger
10 I Wonder as I Wander
11 River
12 Mississippi Sawyer
13 St. Basil’s Hymn
14 Childgrove
15 Gift of Love
16 Love is Little
17 Slumber Song
18 Sing We Now
19 Sally Gardens
20 Liberty
21 Babylon Is Fallin
22 Puttin on the Ritz
23 Every Night When the Sun Goes In

Posted in music. 4 Comments »

My Secret Life with Leonard Cohen

Driving cross country can be tedious. Even with a steady supply of good radio stations, if the trip is long enough the mind begins to wander. On the way to the Leonard Cohen concert in St. Louis, optimistically at least a five hour drive, a scenario about Leonard Cohen popped into my head, and continued at sporadic intervals throughout the subsequent camping trip.  Every once in a while, when I glean another Cohen factoid, another piece of it spontaneously falls into place.

Scene one- somewhere in the U.S.

I arrive and Leonard greets me.  How was my trip, etc. If you need a place to stay you can crash here, and by the way, there is hot water for a shower in Leonard’s hotel suite, feel free to use it. (I know, I know, but it’s my fantasy.  Since living in Jordan, for some reason every meaningful fantasy must have hot water in it. It is somehow symbolic of being in a safe place.) I emerge refreshed and Leonard has just returned from his trailer (yeah, yeah, I know they travel by plane, but it’s my fantasy and here he has his own RV for makeup) Everyone is already eating and I join the meal in process. (If this isn’t surreal enough yet, keep reading.) The meal turns out to be a privately catered Wisconsin Door County style fish boil on the inside of a circle formed by the band’s trailers.

After the fish has been eaten, everyone gathers around the remains of the fire and starts singing. My singing voice, in real life not quite ready for primetime, is joined by the voice of Sharon Robinson and with her harmony becomes golden. As it becomes dark, more and more people gather at the fringes of the light thrown by the fire and the music ebbs and flows.  Finally we begin to spontaneously compose songs, and I find I have become a poet as well. Verse after verse is thrown into the night as an offering, fragments of despair, resolution, longing,  from every sacred tradition.

Scene two, the next morning

Leonard has been forwarded a copy of my resume (from where?  these imaginings have all the continuity of dreams!) and says he needs me as an assistant at his Jerusalem nonprofit office.  I’ll be making sure everything is culturally appropriate for the comfort of the Arab women involved,  as well as being the liaison with the Catholic social agencies where my old Jordan roomate is now working, not to mention doing the odd bit of paper shuffling, which I’m very good at as long as it’s not my own paper. The position also provides central heat, Western health insurance, unlimited hot water (yes!), and access to a huge library filled with tomes about the Middle East.

Scene 3 –Jerusalem

Leonard arrives on pilgrimage.  I see him to the monk’s quarters and sneak an argila with apple tobacco onto his balcony (it’s a no smoking facility). I offer him hot water for a shower and a nicotine patch. After dark, he steals out into the Arab section with his body guard  dressed as a bedouin, looking for some good roast lamb (Wait, isn’t he a Buddhist monk?  Should it be  felafels? But in the Arab Quarter the best evening meal is those little individual pizzas made with pita bread and egg.)

Not bad, not bad at all.  As fantasies go, it’s one of my better ones. But where DO these images come from?

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Eradicate the optimist
who takes the easy view
that human values will persist
no matter what we do.

Annihilate the pessimist
whose ineffectual cry
is that the goal’s already missed
however hard we try.


Catching up on my email I see from Singapore Jake I have missed the birthday of Piet Hein, a Danish polymath and designer who wrote a series of short poems called Grooks. Gruk in Danish is an abbreviation of Grin and Suk (laughter and sigh).

Hein or rather Kumbel wrote literally thousands of grooks in English as well as some in Danish. His website has a biography with quite a few more grooks not found elsewhere on the web in both English and Danish, as well as an interesting explanation of his pen name, Kumbel Kumbell, that he adopted during the WWII German occupation of Denmark.

The production of a whole series of interrelated short texts is, of course, nothing new. Fine examples of this genre are the witty lines of Fritz Jürgensen, the ingenious nursery rhymes of Louis Levy and Storm Petersen’s ‘Flies’. Similar examples from other countries have come from Christian Morgenstern and Erich Kästner as well as the American Ogden Nash. But when it comes to both quantity and quality, Piet Hein’s Grooks are, even so, something special.

For a long time they appeared under the signature Kumbel Kumbell. Here is the reason why:Piet is the Dutch form of the name Peter or Petrus, which means rock, stone, and Hein is a way of spelling ‘hen’, the old Danish word for a whetstone. ‘Kumbel’, or ‘kumbl’ as it strictly speaking should be written, also means stone, though more a grave monument. In other words, Piet Hein, or Stone Stone can, in a way, be translated by Kumbel Kumbel. He originally wrote the second word with two Ls, also later the signature became just Kumbel – the name he is at least as well known by as his own.

A note about the poem selected above: this might not be the most representative of his poems. If I wanted one of those I could have picked an early one like: Little cat, little cat, walking so alone; tell me whose cat are you – I’m damned well my own. This week, while following the back trail of who links to me and who they link to in turn,  I have been cursed to have looked at some political blogs that in the year since the election have become little more than hate sites.

One local Chicago blog, Hillbuzz, used to be a good source of insider information about local political appearances by Hillary Clinton and other members of the Clinton family, but now it’s somewhat to right of both Stormfront and Attila the Hun. On the day after Christmas, they wrote a deeply offensive piece about “the latest attempt Muslims made to destroy a commercial airliner” and penned the following inflammatory words, “Terrorism could actually be solved in one easy step, that should go something like this: every time Muslims attack… any other Western target, a prominent mosque somewhere will be demolished.”

The comments fell into lockstep with the editorial tone, starting with the very first one: “We have the best special forces in the world. It is time to go hunting…” …the rest fell into line: “Crop dust…  Islamic holy spots with pig’s blood…”, “Any name perceived as muslim — any passport from a muslim country … a total transportation ban. Let them travel by camel.”

Do you suppose that when the news broke today that the would-be bomber’s father had warned U.S. officials about his son, the same website ran a story about “the latest Muslim attempt to save American lives”?  Of course not–it wouldn’t fit their narrative. Ironically, they say they won’t publish any hate speech against gays: “…you should be spreading your nastiness elsewhere, because it won’t be tolerated here.” Lovely people.  They only advocate  violence on the basis of religion.   This website used to be perceived as having a quasi-official status; let’s hope it doesn’t represent the views of the Clinton State Department.

On the other side of the teeter-totter from these crackpots sit people like Juan Cole and Noam Chomsky, who seem to be singing kum-bah-yah, but who succeed only in making the Palestinians’ grievances look illegitimate, and whose games are anybody’s guess. Maybe this one is the more appropriate poem:


For many system shoppers it's
 a good-for-nothing system
that classifies as opposites
 stupidity and wisdom. 

because by logic-choppers it's
 accepted with avidity:
stupidity's true opposite's
 the opposite stupidity.

Warm and comfy

The weather outside is frightful, rain changing to various little white stinging things. Meanwhile, inside, all is warm and comfy.

Red-hatted nisse wait for Santa’s immanent chimney descent.

There are many naps, scheduled and unscheduled.

And yes, the Goat is honored here.

Did I mention lefse?


Posted in Illinois. Comments Off on Warm and comfy


Every year for the last hundred years or so, someone in the family has made these cookies at Christmas. This year, I’m making them.

They can be eaten right away, and these will be, but they taste better after a few days.

Posted in Food. Comments Off on Cookies

Stopping by

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
~Robert Frost, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

When I went to bed last night, the longest, “darkest evening of the year”, there were a few flurries. When I woke up, for the first time this winter, the ground was white. But funny thing, we don’t “stop by” woods any more, we have to make a special trip, usually for reason of exercise and certainly without the pony.

Here is the timeline of the above photos. I start at the secret hole in the fence, which is no longer concealed now that the leaves are off the trees, and climb up the hill to the railroad right of way. I find people tracks, dog tracks, some rabbit tracks filled with snow, probably from last night, and some old tracks I can’t identify for certain, probably deer.  And railroad tracks.

Then I head to the state park where I hope to find a Charlie Brown type Christmas tree. (Not really, it’s an excuse to exercise.) First to the trash area where they throw the old tires and tree branches.  Something moves behind the hill, behind the tires. I advance, camera in hand.  It’s big, really big. Deer?  But no, it’s doglike, bigger than a fox.  Grey.  A shepherd?   Oh dear lord could it be a wolf? I advance to the small hill and it bounds away.  I photograph the footprints.

Back on the road, it’s officially sunset and the park is officially closed, but the snow is bright and I continue to take pictures.  A bicycle passes me on the road.  Finally I decide to leave the park, but the gate is locked.  No problem, there’s a secret entrance for everything.  I find the bicycle has been there ahead of me.

I just remembered, the name of the lake is…Wolf Lake.  Oh, yes, that was a wolf I saw.

Posted in Adventures. Comments Off on Stopping by

Winter Solstice

As always, they’re clickable.  For more images here are links to  last year’s solstice images and NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day. And now that we’re in Capricorn, the sign of the goat, don’t forget to check your horoscope at Bob Brezsny’s Free Will Astrology (and he’s put back his delightful “sacred advertisements”).

Cohen at St Louis photo outtakes

I have already posted the best photos from Leonard Cohen’s St. Louis concert; here are the less than best photos. They evoke something for me. Maybe they will evoke something for someone else.

These were taken with a little hundred dollar Canon Powershot A560. There are probably better cameras with higher resolution and better stability on the market now for the same price, but I don’t have one. That means I have to hold the camera perfectly still without a tripod while I take the picture. I have found that if I take enough pictures, I will get some that aren’t too bad. And what about the ones that aren’t not too bad? I’m keeping ’em. It’s Leonard friggin’ Cohen.

(Yes, they’re clickable. I rather like the closeup of the Webb sisters in the 5th row.)