September 6th, 2009

Odds and ends

I think that toenails get less and less attractive as one ages. They start sort of twisting as they grow, they look dry, they get sort of gnarly. I have discovered that I really like Bloody Marys and that they vary greatly from place to place. Most mixed drinks are pretty standard. If you order a manhattan, you get a close proximity to a good one wherever you go. Not with bloody marys. Some of them are pretty weak approximations. But the good ones? Yum. Never before in my long life have I enjoyed that drink. I am thinking that I am pretty close to the time in life when a person gets rid of things. I can see the maple across the street. It has patches of reddish leaves, and they are dancing back and forth in the wind as I type (can we say type still, instead of input?). The weather is unsettled today. Because of facebook, I now know where the name Sedro-Woolly came from. Thanks, Jonny. I jammed the tip of my right ring finger, so it is sore under the nail. That means every time I hit a key with that finger, I get a stab of pain. Yesterday, too. Yesterday I found a beautiful web page for Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris. Got a laugh over what I learned about the grave of Victor Noir. I am going to be ready for retirement, ready to shake the dust off my shoes, as the saying goes. I wonder if there is anything to DO after retirement? My friend MM is a half an hour from landing at Sea-Tac after a ten hour flight from Paris. She left at 10:30 am and arrives at 11:30 am. That means she has nine hours to live all over again. It is interesting to wrap your brain around that idea. I have noticed that when I type the word "your" I often end up with "you" and have to go back. So far I am succeeding in my determination not to go in to campus on weekend days. I no longer contribute that time. So I am doing some bits of work at home, and it seems to be okay. We will see how long I can sustain it.

December 29, 1909

I am reading a book (Murder at Deviation Junction) which is set in the tough iron mining districts of England in the year 1909. It is a pretty atmospheric bit of writing. As I was reading I remembered that my paternal grandparents were married that year, specifically on December 29th, 1909. So the alien and forbidding world of the novel, seemingly accurately portrayed, would have been a contemporary experience for my grandparents. Little Gram was born in 1878, so was not a child in that year.

And now we are exactly one hundred years later, with 2009 being their centennial anniversary. But Grandpa John died in 1952, and Little Gram died in 1971, at an advanced age. So I am thinking what memory must have been like as they looked forward to their weddings. It would have been close to what my daughter (1976) has right now. Good memories of President Cleveland and President Harrison, Powerful recall of the assassination of President McKinley (which happened exactly one hundred years ago today!). And the assassination of President Lincoln would have been as recent a historical memory as that of the Kennedys and MLK are to us today. This is something it is hard to put my mind around.

Little Gram used to tell me how hard it was really to grasp that Grandpa John's grandfather was born in 1795, in the eighteenth century (in St. Nicholas Parish in Liverpool). He would have been fourteen on December 29, 1809. Four generations separate me from the eighteenth century! I can almost reach out and touch it.

And what will the world be like when we are forgot and the date is December 29, 2109?

New postmortem book

I am just back from a solo jaunt to Starbuck's and Barnes & Noble. I took my 1909 setting novel and read amid the susurration of the coffee shop. Then I went to B & N. I had a 15% coupon to add to my membership 40% off and wanted to get the new Henning Mankell. No luck there; they had no sign of it, even though B & N was trying to get me to buy it over the net last week. Anyway, I used my discounts by buying The Girl Who Played With Fire, which has been tempting me for several weeks. I hardly ever buy a new hardcover book, though my house is jammed with books. I buy antiquarian books for my collections and remaindered books and nice trade paperbacks. Mostly my daily reading is from the SPL. The first book in the series I just bought was The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and it was another doozy from a Swedish author. Those Scandinavians are super hot currently, and this is selling hugely. What is unusual here is that the author died in 2004 after delivering the manuscripts to his first three novels to the publisher. So this series is going to end with just one more book. Sad. And he totally missed his international acclaim. Sadder.