Nov 28, 2010

Somewhere Towards the End

Somewhere Towards the End is a memoir by Diana Athill. i liked it a lot!
okay i never heard of her either, but it was on the New Book shelf at the library, somewhere towards the beginning, because her name starts with A. 
i didn't know it won the 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award in Autobiography and was a New York Times bestseller.
apparently she was one of the great book editors of the twentieth century (sez the cover).
for some reason, i immediately like some books from the first page and dislike others.  it has less to do with the subject matter than with the writing style. 
this was one of those books that i opened to the first page, standing in the library, and decided to take a chance on it.  that doesn't happen with many, even tho you can take a good many chances on library books that you would never take at a book store.  i walked out with 3 or 4 to try out.  read this one right away- to the end!
i've read 1/4 of the s. hawking so far, and probably won't touch the others.
more and more, like my father, i start books and never finishing them.  i remember once he explained that after he read a bit of a book, he knew what it was about and could figure out what was probably going to be said or happen, so he lost interest.
Diana Athill's book kept me guessing. she is around 89 or 90 when she wrote it, and it is not just retelling incidents from her younger days, but also writing about what she does and thinks about now that she is nearing the end. 
as i read it i kept thinking of a friend of mine, who has a similar style, or voice, or something, to her tales of younger days and musings of current days. they both like to analyze life and search out what it's all about.  i'd never tell my friend of this similarity, for she would no doubt disagree quite strongly. heehee that's part of the similarity. but it makes me think she should write for publication, not just for fun, friends, and the internet.

Nov 27, 2010

elephant sanctuary much

this morning over oatmeal i read Trunklines from the elephant sanctuary -- loved it as usual -- and flitting in the back of my mind was the thought of how buddhist-sounding the expressions and presentations of the writer are. 
for some reason i assume he/she is not buddhist, and i idly mused on how much buddhism is the same as any open, compassionate way of thinking and living.
once that thought came, tho, i became aware of how scrupulously religion-free the writing about the elephants is. this is unusual in this day and age, when frequently there is an annoying religious tint or hint in any tale of doing of good.
i came to no conclusions except that these were wonderfully good people.
then on the last page, was a sad, loving notice of the death of one of the elephants.
the last word was "namaste."

Nov 23, 2010

man who shot etc

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance -- not a movie i ever wanted to see, but i got talked into it recently.  halfway through, i didn't want to watch any more, but i stuck with it to the end!
the next day i realized why it's a guy movie. 

(okay so this is gross generalization and stereotyping.  just keep in mind what my dear daddy always told me, "all generalizations are false." (yes including that one!))

inside a guy's mind:
inside a guy's mind is a mean, scary out-of-control guy prone to murderous rages.
inside a guy's mind is a guy who lives by the heart.  he loves deeply, cares hugely about all his friends and animals, he takes care of everyone and is always alert to protect everyone he loves from danger, even at the expense of his own happiness.
inside a guy's mind is a guy who lives by higher principle, who will fight for what he believes in and even lose his own life over it.
so there you go.
roles for women in this movie - uh - right.  plot device anyone?
imagine the fun i could have analyzing it if Annie Oakley showed up and shot Liberty V.
the history part is interesting -- women obviously couldn't vote, pommey couldn't come in the saloon, the railroad ruined the open ranges for the cattlemen -- tho they seem to be making out ok these days due to the gummint giving them huge wads of our money.
"Oklahoma" was way more fun even if the farmers and the cowboys couldn't be friends.

Nov 22, 2010

monster dream

one night i dreamt that a monster -- a blobby yucky sort of monster -- was eating all my winter clothes. 
it didn't want to especially, and i didn't want it to, but it had to be done somehow and we commiserated over it. 
"i suppose you will have to eat all my summer clothes too" i sez.
it sez resignedly with a sigh, "oh, you have summer clothes?" 
"yes, they are stored in the attic."
and so it had to eat them too.
plus all the stuff stored there, and the mystery boxes of who knows what inherited from great aunties or bought or received as wedding gifts, and even the big cut glass stuff my mom had for fancy dinners that nobody wanted after she died and who knows  where it is now either my brother took it for his girls or it went to the salvation army and some canny dealer bought it up. 
yes, the monster had to eat all that too!
poor thing!

Nov 21, 2010


i had lunch with a friend who has been dealing with something called pemphigus, a horrible auto-immune disease, for about 8 years. the treatment involves induced coma and bone marrow replacement and while almost killing him thereby saved his life. however he has been recovering from the medications for almost a year now. he looks to be in better shape than he has for a long time.

he is still in pretty much constant pain but as much fun to talk with as ever, with no great diminishing of his sense of humor, gentleness, his interest in people and curiosity about all things.  it amazes me that people carry on with their lives under such dire physical situations. i often think of a character in The Poisenwood Bible who has no legs, but lives, gardens, fetches water, raises her children, by walking on her hands (water carried in jug on head), and seemingly enjoys life. this sounds far-fetched unless you know some people who have chronic pain or disabilities and continue to have a lively involvement in all that is.

Nov 19, 2010

remembering supe!

i'm standing about where the superman suit is buried. i miss paul.  everyone misses paul! if i start to write about paul i'll go on and on. the superman suit was his. after he moved out of the village, he still liked to come over on halloween to give out treats to the hundred or more kids who came knocking. most of them he knew from little league, had given them their knickname. and as always, he wore his superman suit for treat-giving. 

suddenly one year he was getting old, grey, bald, more the shape of old elvis than of supe. we realized that an old bald guy in a superman suit, complete with that red speedo thing and cape, a couple of holes in the blue tights, a gut like santa...was maybe actually scaring the kids!  and maybe scaring the parents who stood out in the dark street as guardians! HAPPY HALLOWEEN BUWAHAHAHAHA 

we talked him into retiring the suit. but we had to give it the proper attention of a sacred relic. so one cold windy day, before the ground froze, a few of us went with paul and a shovel and the suit up to the sacred village ballfield, and gave it a proper burial in an unmarked spot in the woods outside the back gate.

standing there today i imagine that someday kids will dig a hole here for an arbor day project and find remains of it. if any of them know who superman is/was, and have any imagination, wow!!
we should have thrown a few bones in just to make it interesting.


low clouds hide the sky
no leonids for us this year
but in the morning - snow!