Adieu to a beloved Poet + favorite French words, in honor of Herman Meyer
Wednesday, February 24, 2021
This photo was taken on February 16th, at 3:21 p.m. in Sospel, France. Marveling at the heavenly ceiling and the mysteries beyond, I was unaware of a friend's passing on the very day.
I have been carefully collecting a list of interesting French words since the beginning of this month, in hopes of sharing them with you someday. I never imagined I would use them in a eulogy. Let's learn some vocabulary now while remembering an honored war veteran--and fellow desert rat (from Phoenix) whom many of you know from the comments section of this blog.
That's "hobby" in French. One of Herman Meyers's passions was la poésie. More than une lubie, poetry was a gift this 90-year-old outdoorsman and electrical engineer shared with the world. Right up to the end, Herm posted his poems on his blog Poems, Photos and Stuff and sent them privately to cheer up friends. He eventually collected his rhythmic verses into an anthology "that may leave you smiling, pull at your heartstrings and/or leave you in tears..."
"Brand new"—Herm, who would have turned 91 on May 23, wasn’t flambant neuf. He would have had fun using the brand new term in a stanza. Most of his works were inspired by photos. His book is aptly named "Pic Poems and Stuff". Don't you just love the "and stuff" which hints at the author's way of not taking himself too seriously?
"Le Système D"
"Plan D"--I learned this term in the comments section of this blog (thanks Sheryl!). Jean-Marc tells me the D is for débrouiller which means to deal with it. How would Herm want us to deal with his departure? What is Plan D?!
Plan D rhymes with zinguerie, a word I saw painted over a (plumbing?) shop while passing through Monaco last week. The term has something to do with zinc... which, come to think of it, is sort of the color of Ham Radio (OK, that was a stretch, but I'm determined to share the words, in the order in which I've learned them, into today's tribute. Hang on, it'll get more chanllenging soon!). Just to say Ham radio was an early passion of Herm's that eventually led to extensive radio school training with NATO in Fontainebleu, France!
Now there's a fun phrase meaning "guilty pleasure" and I have a hunch Herm would have incorporated this phrase in his picture poetry, where he shared his love of hiking, the Southwest, cowboy culture, friendship, family, service to others, and all creatures great and small to name a few. Perhaps one of Herm's guilty pleasures was repetition (mais bien sûr, he was un poète!); his favorite expression, shared now and again in the comments on my blog, was this gem:
C'est la vie, c'est la guere, c'est la pomme de terre!
(Literally: That's life, that's war, that's the potato!)
(Herm's translation: "Stuff happens!” Of course he’d say “stuff”! This poet wasn’t stuffy or smug!)
"Herm on his daily ride around the park" (title of an email he sent)
"It’s convenient"--In one of Herm's last emails of 2020, this passionate outdoorsman announced his hiking days were finito! From then on he rode, et c'était commode! Of course he "poemed" the news:
As time passes by for this aging man
I'll keep doing the exercises that I can
But, instead of the cross-country hiking
I'll stay active with my in-the-park triking
"To take a turn for the worse"--I learned this reflexive verb while out on a walk with Jean-Marc. "Le temps se gâtent" he said, as the bright sky darkened. Returning home, I found an email from my friend Karen in Phoenix, who shared the news of Herm's passing.
"No kidding" (Just a cool Southern French phrase you hear--even in Paris! It doesn't really fit in this section. But we're going to make it fit, just as Herm did with his rhyme gift.)
I received a courriel from Herm's wife, Sharron, who shared about Herm's joy reading my blog. Sharron left me with a compliment as she signed off:
"I always fondly called you his "other girlfriend." Please share this with your mom, he was also a fan of hers too.”
"To show off"--Because Herm didn't talk a lot about his service to the United States, let's show off for him here. In 2018, he was honored as a war veteran, and selected to go on the Honor Flight--an all-expenses-paid trip to see the Korean War Memorial in Washington D.C.
"Shortage"--Now Herm has passed to the other side, the mysterious Ever After. Let us all make sure there are no shortage of words for our word wrangler to work with, as he writes his poetry from the hereafter, l'Au-delà.
Help honor Herm by sharing a favorite French word in the comments section just below. And share what town you are writing in from. Merci beaucoup (I have a feeling Herm would say Merci buckets. He was comfortable enough with words to have fun with them :-)
Swell--That's "swell" as in "ocean waves" but it may as well mean swelled or swollen hearts. To Herm's wife, Sharron, his 3 adult boys, Brien, Craig, and Neal, and to all who love him, our collective hearts go out to you. May the favorite French words that follow in the comments, send waves of comfort your way.
Tu vas me manquer. I am going to miss you, Herman Meyer! Sans déconner!
"Your Other Girlfriend"
Read more about Herm on his blog and his book of "pic poetry" Photo: Herm leads a group of Francophiles at a meetup in Phoenix, in 2011. That story here.
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety