Tuesday, March 27, 2012

the doldrums of winter have passed

It seems I am more productive with the growing light. I'm not cleaning out the garage or anything, but I am making spaghetti sauce and crab cakes (not for the same meal) and a lasagna with kale and hot Italian sausage.

All three of our grandchildren will be here tomorrow night for dinner and they're having spaghetti. Every time one or the other is here, they look for the other one. Where's Elliot? Where's Alex and Ella? Surprise! They're all here!

Ella and I are going shopping for an Easter dress next Tuesday. We love to buy dresses, don't we Ella?

I dislike the wind mightily so I may have to spend the day in the basement. There is also (I can hardly believe this...) a fire warning. What the hell do you do about that? I told Regis to build a raft so we can escape down the river.

It's like when those random shootings were occurring in one of the large cities (Washington, DC?) and they advised that you not walk in a straight line. I practiced that because it was such an outrageous thing to suggest. I could picture all the citizens of Washington, zig-zagging down the street like they'd had too much Chardonnay.

I have a lot of unreasonable fears. Some days I keep them at bay, some days I don't. If I'm not talking about them (because I know they're unreasonable and will make me sound crazy) it doesn't mean they aren't lurking in the back of my mind.

Everybody has them. My cousin won't buy consignment clothes because they could contain dead skin and bugs. A friend of mine won't take baths because she has to scrub the tub so thoroughly that it's a lot of work. (I'll take a bath right after the dog.) I have another friend who worries about the wheels of big trucks coming off as she passes them on the highway. I worry about that but I tend to worry about major disasters more than small ones. It's why I won't watch movies about zombies or earthquakes or asteroids.

I'm reading the funniest book. The title is Travels with My Aunt and it's by Graham Greene. Here's what he says about the book:

Graham Greene on Travels with My Aunt:
If A Burnt-Out Case in 1961 represented the depressive side of a manic-depressive writer, Travels with My Aunt eight years later surely represented the manic at its height—or depth.
… Travels with My Aunt is the only book I have written for the fun of it. Although the subject is old age and death – a suitable subject to tackle at the age of sixty-five – and though an excellent Swedish critic described the novel justly as "laughter in the shadows of the gallows," I experienced more of the laughter and little of the shadow in writing it. When I began with the scene of the cremation of Henry Pulling’s supposed mother and his encounter with Aunt Augusta I didn’t believe for a moment that I would continue the novel for more than a few days. I didn’t even know what the next scene was likely to be – I didn’t know that Augusta was Henry’s mother. Every day when I sat down before the blank sheets of foolscap (for as symbol of my new freedom I had abandoned the single lined variety where the lines seemed to me now like the bars on a prison window) I had no idea what was going to happen to Henry or Augusta next. I felt like a rider who has dropped the reins and left the direction to his horse or like a dreamer who watches his dream unfold without power to alter its course. I felt above all that I had broken for good or ill with the past.
I was even irresponsible enough to include some private jokes which no reader would understand. Why not? I didn’t expect to have any readers. So I christened "Detective-Sergeant Sparrow, John" after that elegant scholar the ex-Warden of All Souls, Augusta’s black lover "Wordsworth" after a villainous District Commissioner whom I had met more than thirty years before in Liberia, Mr. Visconti’s son "Mario" after my friend Mario Soldati who once greeted me and gave me lunch in Milan station with similar flamboyance on my way to Istanbul. I remember I even found room for Kingsley Amis’s surname which I gave to a character on whom I can’t at the moment lay my finger. The name Visconti for Aunt Augusta’s lover was adapted from my favourite character in Marjorie Bowen’s The Viper of Milan which I had loved as a boy, and it gave me an innocent amusement when I heard Detective Sparrow describing him as a viper. Some critics have found in the book a kind of resume of my literary career—a scene in Brighton, the journey on the Orient Express, and perhaps a hint of this did come to my mind by the time Aunt Augusta arrived at the Pera Palace, but what struck me with some uneasiness, when I reread the book the other day, were the suggestions I found in it of where the future was going to take me. The boat which carried Henry Pulling from Buenos Aires to Asuncion stopped for half an hour during the night in the little river harbour of Corrientes in northern Argentina, but I had no idea that I would be landing there from a plane some years later in search of the right setting for The Honorary Consul. Consul.

It's very entertaining. I started reading it to avoid The Hunger Games. (See paragraph about unreasonable fears.) Ha!

Well, off into the day. I have a lot of social calendar planning on my agenda in the next few days: Easter dinner, the wine trip, River Rock's anniversary party, our birthday party in June, and probably a couple other things I have forgotten for the moment. I better get busy!

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