Tuesday, October 30, 2012

of making many books there is no end

I wrote a little while back that I was reading The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James, and further that I can take Henry James only in small doses. By the time I finished Portrait of a Lady, however, I was in its grip. Even though I remembered the main story, I had forgotten some details, and I got into the tension of seeing how and when Isabel Archer would discover the secrets around her.

So I decided to give The Golden Bowl another try, and I now have gotten further in it than I ever have before. I fortunately don't know the details of how this story is going to unfold, so it's intriguing. You get to see the golden bowl of the title in an early chapter, and now I am waiting for its reappearance.

Still, these are very inward dramas. It sometimes feels like Henry James's books are all about people picking up on each other's vibes without actually saying or doing much. And he has big extended metaphors about how, for example, people or situations resemble a building. At one point a female character is dealing with a situation that is like a pagoda in a garden and she is walking around it looking for an entry, meanwhile seeing other characters looking out from within. This sort of thing goes on for paragraphs, and her attempts to penetrate the pagoda are a plot development, even though the whole thing is just a comparison in her mind, or perhaps only the narrator's mind. Another time, a male character is like a large neo-classical structure in the village green of another character's life. Fortunately, his siding is smooth, not pointy.


Still, I'm enjoying it and rooting for Maggie Verver, now married to the handsome and irresistible Italian Prince Amerigo.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Ready to fall

The days are getting shorter; therefore, the mornings are getting darker; therefore, it is getting harder for me to wake up in the morning. And it was not that easy in the first place.

Fortunately, this weekend we (finally!) get to "fall back."

Friday, October 26, 2012


When it's dark, cold, and rainy out, it's good to come in from taking the dog for a walk and close and lock the door and know that I'm in for the evening.

My place is messy, with a plethora of chairs and an excess of coffee tables, but it's warm and light and, to me, homey -- gezellig. It's particularly soothing to be in for the night on a Friday, when tomorrow will be a leisurely morning. The dog and I can settle down to read, watch TV, or browse the internet.

Or chew a bone, as the case may be.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A touch of gold

Saturday I took a few pictures of the trees and shrubs that have gold tips and touches among the remaining green.

The big, gnarled old maple tree in the center of our cul-de-sac.

The green Japanese maple bush in front of our house. I love the lacey leaves on this one.

And this tree in our back yard -- I don't know what kind it is, but it's pretty.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Name that tune

Which reminds me of another pair of songs with the same tune. When I was in high school, I was so misguided as to buy an album by the group The Starland Vocal Band. Their only hit was a song that deserves oblivion, Afternoon Delight. However, on the album was a lovely rendition in 4-part harmony of a song called "American Tune," which, it turns out was written by Paul Simon.

I loved the tune, and shortly afterwards at a Good Friday service recognized it as "O Sacred Head Now Wounded."

Original composer J.S. Bach. It's part of his St. Matthew's Passion.

rose rose rose and love love love

For some reason tonight I remembered a round I learned somewhere. The words I learned were:

Rose, Rose, Rose, Rose
When will I see thee wed?
I will marry at thy will,
Sire, at thy will.

That was the whole thing. Somehow it always seemed romantic to me, like a medieval lady talking to the king. And the name Rose was extra romantic, because the smell of roses in boxes or drawers always feels to me like some English country house pot pourri.

I googled it and found a number of versions, none exactly like mine. Here is one with four verses, and the woman singing does a 16-part (!) round.

Rose, Rose, Rose, Rose,
Will I ever see thee wed?
I will marry at thy will,
Sire, at thy will.

Ding dong ding dong,
Wedding bells on an April morn,
Carve thy name on a moss covered stone,
On a moss covered stone.

Lay low, nobody home.
Meat nor drink nor money have I none,
Still we will be very merry,
Lay lay low.

Ding dong, ding dong,
Funeral bells on a November morn.
Rose, my Rose, is dead and gone,
Is dead and gone.

I also knew another song to the same tune, which I taught to little Sunday scholars to sing in a round:

Love, love, love, love:
Christians this is thy call.
Love thy neighbor as thyself,
For God is love.

So I googled that one, too, and didn't find exactly the version I knew, but this lovely song.

Love, love, love, love:
The gospel in a word is love.
Love your neighbor as your brother --
Love, love, love.

Peace, peace, peace, peace:
The gospel in a word is peace.
Peace that passes understanding --
Peace, peace, peace.

Joy, joy, joy, joy:
The gospel in a word is joy.
Joy that fills to overflowing --
Joy, joy, joy.

Christ, Christ, Christ, Christ:
The gospel in a word is Christ.
Love him, serve him, and adore him --
Jesus Christ.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Worlds collide

At home, in paperback, I am (re)reading Tom Jones, by Henry Fielding. Out and about, on my Kindle, I am (re)reading The Portrait of a Lady, by Henry James. Both authors named Henry, but not much else in common. They are quite different reading experiences.

Fielding is a man of the 18th Century and the Enlightenment -- although still firmly grounded in Christianity -- and Tom Jones is a perfectly structured comedy, sometimes sophisticated sometimes broad and bawdy.

James a man of the 19th Century. Is he a product of Romanticism? I don't know. His style is unique, which is perhaps just as well. Somewhat rarefied and hyper-refined. He's a genius, but no one else should try to imitate him. I can only read a Henry James novel once in a great while because of the level of attention required. Thankfully, Portrait of a Lady an earlier work and not quite as "Jamesian" as some of his later stuff. I confess I've started The Golden Bowl several times but never have gotten very far.

Friday, October 12, 2012

A shot in the arm

Got a flu shot today. Last year, they gave me a Snoopy bandaid.

This year, it was Daffy Duck.

To our good health!

Inferiority complex

I have just been browsing in two eloquent blogs by people I know, Peripheral Vision, by Cathy Smith, and Stuff in the Basement, by James Schaap. Because they are my acquaintances, I want to say, "Hey, guys! I blog, too! Come read mine!" but while their blogs contain thoughtful, well-crafted essays and even complete works of fiction, mine contains "TMI" about my sinuses, sleep patterns, furniture, and food, with occasional remarks on the weather and a wealth of pictures of my flowers and my dog.

Browsing backwards to see if any of my posts are better than my recent ones (yes), I saw that in July, in an attempt to raise the level of my blogging, I made a quiz about Pride and Prejudice. That was a mild success, but then I forgot all about it and never did it again.

I'll have to make another quiz on a good topic. Meanwhile, I'll let my friends know that my blog has at least one interesting item, namely, the mention of their blogs.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sneeze, cough, hack, bleah

It seems like I've been sick a lot lately. I had a sick day in August, I had a cold in February, and also last November. And I guess I didn't blog about it, but sometime in the last couple weeks I came home early from work with a bad headache.

Now it's a nasty cold. Yesterday I sneezed more than I previously thought humanly possible, and my nose ran like a river. It was gross. Today I have congested sinuses and a cough that is dreadful both to do and to hear. And I'm kind of achy. Still, I hope to make it to work tomorrow. I guess it's the mark of a good employee that your absence would be an inconvenience to your boss.


I know I'm sick because no food appeals to me. It's all tasteless, so I hardly want to bother...

I was going on about what I ate and why when it struck me that this is a rather dreary post. So here's a video that apparently went "viral" -- punny! -- this week:

Poor little dog. I think I know how he feels.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Defining terms

My dog likes to lie on top of my clothes. So when I leave my robe lying on the couch instead of hanging it up, I'm not being sloppy, I'm just being kind to animals.

No need to thank me, old friend.
The idea of defining terms reminds me of this bit of dialogue:

"Will it not be advisable, before we proceed on this subject, to arrange with rather more precision the degree of importance which is to appertain to this request, as well as the degree of intimacy subsisting between the parties?"

"By all means," cried Bingley; "let us hear all the particulars, not forgetting their comparative height and size; for that will have more weight in the argument, Miss Bennet, than you may be aware of. I assure you that, if Darcy were not such a great tall fellow, in comparison with myself, I should not pay him half so much deference."

It's always appropriate to quote Jane Austen.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Insidious naps

This morning I went to the morning worship at my parents' church. I was going to go to the evening worship at my own church, but overslept on my afternoon nap.

I got into my recliner with a pillow, afghan, and TV remote, fully intending to take a nap, but only of about an hour's duration. I put the Classic Arts Showcase Channel on TV, which seemed to start out with some operatic singing, and I woke up two or three hours later, at 5:55 p.m., five minutes before the evening service begins.

There is no way that at that hour I could lock my dog in his box and go away, even if I was fit to be seen myself. At that time of day he needed his dinner and, more importantly, his walk. His walk is not just for his amusement, it's for his necessary bodily functions. It must be done. So I fed and walked him and ended up spending the evening at home.

I told my dog that my recliner casts a spell over me. It lures me into a deep sleep.

The arms of Morpheus

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Dog box saga complete

Well, today I got that dog box built. It took a very long time for me to get the door on. It was not complicated, but I just had to get the spring-loaded pins at the top and bottom of the door to match the holes in the box. A couple times a spring-loaded pin came popping out and rolled away, and I had to search for scattered hardware on the floor. But finally, for some reason, I was able to get it together.

To make it more attractive to my dog, I put his bed inside.

Just to see if he understood that this was his box, I told him to go inside, and he did. He wasn't thrilled about it, but he did it.

And this is what it's like with the door closed.

I have it next to the recliner so the top can also serve as a surface for a cup of coffee and the TV remote.

So that's one thing done.

Monday, October 1, 2012


So I went to the the Petco on Bakerview and they did give me the replacement part. They were completely nice and helpful and apologized for my inconvenience. Good people.

Also, a little girl and her parents were buying supplies for a gray striped kitten the little girl was cradling in her arms. The kitten was mewing, and cuteness abounded.