Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Jubilate with Cake

Going Gray by Elise Neill
On display at our township's
first ever Recyclable Art Show

In the third week of the eighth month, there shall be a celebration. And though it is not a celebration you particularly want, as you need no reminders that you are getting older, thus shall the Lord command:

Thou shalt eat of cake, provided by the Common Household Husband, and there shall be some cake saved for him, even as he is only meant to eat of jello in his current state. Thou shalt not bring him any bagels.

Thou shalt enjoy presents, possibly including sticky notes, and thou shalt wonder whether your daughter actually finished cleaning up her room yet, as you did really want that her to find that shirt that she bought from bell choir, where they make a joyous and very loud noise.

Thou shalt be thankful that you have the option of getting one year older, lo, as opposed to disintegrating into dust as your children often remind you you shall. Thou shalt remind thyself that the birthday celebration is as much for others as for thyself, as demonstrated by the male progeny returning to the house of his parents, for this birthday is just as much about allowing others to eat of cake as it is for thyself to eat of cake.

And lastly, thou shalt not regret not having time to make a pie. For having a husband in the hospital is hard enough, without having to think about baking anything for a while.

                                                                      -       The Book of Jubilations 9:1-14 

This ancient passage was revealed this week by Younger Daughter.  For my birthday she presented me with a twenty-page tome entitled The Common Household Bible.  This venerable volume consisted of my scripturish blog posts, interspersed with holy writings (newly revealed to Younger Daughter as she sat in her cave-room) pertaining to the Common Household, the passage above being just one example.

This is a work of love and I love it.  It provided much levity during a week which was difficult, not only for national news (which is always difficult these days), but also because of the Common Household Husband’s quite brief stay in the hospital.  (Please do not tell my mother he was in the hospital.)  He is out of the hospital and doing fine.

The cake was chocolate with chocolate frosting and raspberry filling.  And then there was another chocolate cake with chocolate frosting at book club. Jubilation!

Friday, August 9, 2019

First Lines: July 2019 edition

NOT a quiche of death

Here are the first lines of the 6 books I finished reading in July.  Fire, either actual or metaphorical, is a prominent feature in several of them.

Book 1
Mrs. Agatha Raisin sat behind her newly cleared desk in her office in South Molton Street in London’s Mayfair.  From the outer office came the hum of voices and the clink of glasses as the staff prepared to say farewell to her.

Book 2
The night Effia Otcher was born into the musky heat of Fanteland, a fire raged through the woods just outside her father’s compound.

Book 3
“Saturday evening,” remarked Isabel Dalhousie.  “A time for the burning of the ears.”
Guy Peploe, seated opposite her in the back neuk at Glass & Thompson’s café, looked at her blankly.  Isabel was given to making puzzling pronouncements – he knew that, and did not mind – but this one, he thought, was unusually Delphic.

Book 4
Chapter 1: A Good Café on the Place St. Michel
Then there was the bad weather. It would come in one day when the fall was over. You would have to shut the windows in the night against the rain and the cold wind would strip the leaves from the trees in the Place Contrescarpe. The leaves lay sodden in the rain and the wind drove the rain against the big green autobus at the terminal and the Café des Amateurs was crowded and the windows misted over from the heat and the smoke inside.

Book 5
Marsh is not swamp. Marsh is a space of light, where grass grows in water, and water flows into the sky.

Book 6
Isabel Dalhousie saw Brother Fox that morning at eleven minutes past four.

The titles and authors revealed:

Book 1
Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death, by M.C. Beaton.  © 1992.  
This print book needs editing – sometimes (at least in the first chapter), the main character seems to have a different name. It’s as if the author first intended to name her character Angela, and then switched to Agatha, but there was no “find-replace all” option in 1992.  Otherwise, an enjoyable “cozy mystery” – a diversion from today’s news.

Book 2
Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi.  © 2016. 
Homegoing is a historical novel, following two parallel stories of a family through history – one branch in “Gold Coast” (Ghana), Africa, the other branch in America.  Each chapter is a vignette from a generation. I chose it because Ta-Nehisi Coates said “Homegoing is an inspiration.”  Please note that it includes many accounts of rape and other violence.

For its summer reading bingo, the library put this book in the category of “Historical fiction with a female protagonist”, but this is not at all a story with one protagonist.   Like the author of Pachinko, Gyasi shows us how the experiences of previous generations affect the following generation.  But this type of story is, I think, more work for the reader, and gives less depth to each character.    In Homegoing, the stories of each generation are well-told and adequately connected to the previous generations. I still think about certain characters from this book and their place in history, so maybe there is plenty of depth to the characters after all, which just highlights the talent of the author.

Book 3
The Charming Quirks of Others, by Alexander McCall Smith  © 2010. 
The 7th Isabel Dalhousie novel.  More diversion.

Book 4
A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway.  © 1964.
I read for the second book club.  I suggested it, having enjoyed it for the first book club, but it was not as enjoyable for this second reading.  The account of the car trip with F. Scott Fitzgerald is now quite painful to read.  The two white male American writers drive through France in a car without a top, drinking wine every time they pull over to the side of the road to avoid the rain.  And they get away with it – no repercussions. Hemingway is a truly great writer, but also kind of a jerk. 

I was intrigued by Hemingway’s use of the pronoun “you” when he clearly was referring to himself – this technique is evident even in the opening lines I quoted above.  I thought it might be a way of distancing himself from his own decisions, but it also draws the reader in and places us right there in Paris in the 1920s.  Yes, a great writer.

Book 5
Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens © 2018.
Good nature writing.  Totally implausible plot.  Where are the mosquitoes?

Book 6
The Perils of Morning Coffee by Alexander McCall Smith.   © 2011.
This is one of those teeny books you can get only in e-format.  A very short book.  Just what I needed.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Anecdotal Evidence: Furniture

The weight of a piece of furniture is inversely proportional to its price.


When Son moved out to his own apartment (yesssss,  adulting!  but ach, I miss him!) he took some furniture from our house.  We did not allow him to take the dining room table, as it is currently needed here for storing mail, dishes, campaign literature, and baked goods. Occasionally we use it for Shabbat dinner.

Son moved on a Saturday; he had invited a couple friends over for Sunday evening to play games.  For this, he needed a Dining Room Table Of One’s Own.  On Sunday right after I got home from church Son called me and said, “Let’s go shopping for a table.”  I said, no thanks, but he said he needed my car to transport the table.  Okay, fine. 

We went to one Goodwill, which had nothing.  We went to another Goodwill, which had a very beat-up dining room table, but just the right size for his needs.  Price: One dollar.  I wrote it out in words because if I had put it in numerals you would think I had mismarked the decimal point.  (It was marked down from $10.) 

Price: $1.  Weight:  10 tons. 

According to my exhaustive research of looking at one random website, particleboard can be twice as dense as actual real wood.  I do not know nor care what Son’s ‘new’ table is made of, I just know that it was damn heavy.

Son's table, squinched in my car

So then it was up to Son and weakling-me to carry it out of Goodwill, squinch it into the back of my car, carry it out of the car, up the steps, and into his apartment.  We got it done, but I needed to sleep extra on Sunday night.

It cleans up real nice!
Hint to the wise:  If you are going to Goodwill to buy furniture, bring a tape measure AND two screwdrivers (flathead and Philips head).  That way, if you need to, you can detach the legs for transportation (not the son’s legs, but the table’s legs).

The 'new' table can also be used to store puzzle pieces.
Dear Reader, what is currently stored on your table?