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Posts Tagged ‘Merle Miller’

Monday, 22 January 2018

I had begun an enormous book, set from the 1920s through WWII. The protagonist, Joshua Bland, an insecure, sarcastic, depressed, self-absorbed, lonely, unhappy man cannot be described as sympathetic. I cared for him.


As usual, my own self-absorbed qualities meant that Joshua’s experiences brought up some memories of my own. Here are my favourite passages out of 558 pages and a few of the thoughts and memories that the book inspired.

About his dog, Ab, and animals:


…….

 Joshua’s small town childhood home, while much bigger, reminds me of living in a Seattle house and later a tiny Ilwaco house with all but one room blocked off to save heat.


I used to think, “I could be living outside,” and never thought of a cave.

As is true for many lucky readers, a good librarian was one of Joshua’s mentors.


Two teachers, of whom his mother disapproved:



I was fortunate to have a warm and wonderful second grade teacher, Miss Ruth Gregory. Already in at least her late fifties if not older, Ruth Gregory lived in a small University District apartment with Miss Larson. Because my cousin George was gay and lived with his partner Bob, my family never displayed prejudice against obviously gay couples. My mother and grandmother and I would go into the apartment building door with the green awning to visit my beloved teacher, for several years after elementary school.


Years later, a friend lived in that same building with that same view to the south. I wondered if by some chance she might even have lived in the same apartment.

A  passage describing a depression era farm foreclosure made me wonder, why can’t people behave so generously and kindly in modern day foreclosures?



My focus on reading is not as powerful as it was before distractions of online news and social media, so I did not quite make it halfway through the book by Monday evening telly time. (We are watching an old British show called Fresh Fields.  I did not like it at first and then it grew on me .)

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

We had slept through a tsunami watch associated with a 7+ Alaskan earthquake. While some friends were up till 4 Am waiting to see if it would turn into an actual warning, others drove inland, and others prepared for possible evacuation of the critters in the animal shelter. I went to sleep at two, as usual, with my phone turned off and unaware of all the stress. I was inspired today to refresh the contents of my go bag, also known as a bug out bag, and to put it close to hand at the foot of my bed. It is also suggested that we have a pair of sturdy shoes by our beds with socks already tucked into them.

When I moved here 25 years ago, potential tsunamis were not much spoken off, research had not yet shown the danger, and tsunami evacuation signs did not dot our roadsides. If they had, I might not have moved here,  might not have become a jobbing gardener, and…a different path would have awaited me in Seattle. (My little Seattle house is now worth about $600k, so I’d very likely be wealthier in assets but perhaps poorer in job satisfaction.)

The weather was stormy, with 60 mph wind gusts at nearby Cape Disappointment.


The cats had no interest in going outside.




Here I will throw in a decorating tip: Hooks and a string and some tiny wooden clothes pins make for postcard display. The ones by my bed all represent sleep and dreams.

The cards in the kitchen represent cats, gardening, and tea time.



The card to the left, below, is titled Noodle Takes a Nap. In the eighties, I named a grey cat after that card.


Allan’s Medicare card arrived, well over two months since he carefully applied for it. (My insurance card finally came at the end of last week, good news which I forgot to relay in this blog.)

I continued with my book, managing to focus better by putting my internet devices out of reach.

As often happens when I read a book about someone with social difficulties, I found words that spoke to me. Advice from a college teacher and mentor:


I was reminded, below, of some of the bad behavior I see on social media:


The author grew up in a small town and well knows the power of small town gossip.  I once said a thing, not even a bad thing, in the foyer of a local pub in Seaview.  By the next day, the thing had been repeated by a pub patron, via email, to a client of mine who lived part time in New York, and was repeated back to me by a friend who lived in Long Beach.  In the fictional small town, in the 1930s, gossip was as fast moving as it is today.


I once, so long ago, was part of a small social group in which I indulged in gossip about one particular (now former) citizen who had caused pain and irritation to most of us. I got uncomfortable when the group became exclusive of others besides that one person. And I soon learned that expressing that discomfort was a quick route to being one of the shunned. It was a powerful and life changing lesson in more than just the speed of gossip.

I’ve had many thoughts about the power of gossip over the years. Here is a good book I read about it in the 80s.


I thought then, and still do, that there is a big difference between what I called sweet gossip (kindly topics) and malicious gossip.  And there’s this:

Back to A Gay and Melancholy Sound. While I do not feel that “They”, meaning me, is (are?) out to destroy my own happiness (well, not since my 30s), the following passage perfectly describes hypochondria. (And Joshua did not even have Dr Google to scare him.)


Advice from the college professor and mentor about the delicious meal of happiness:

By now, the story has moved on to WWII. Here is we could strive to be like, if it’s not too late:



I am not sure I know anyone like that. Anger (often justifiable) disqualifies most people.   I will have to think on it.

A footnote:


On a trivial note, I smiled in recognition at Joshua’s inability to tell his left hand from his right and his failure at good package wrapping.  Allan wraps our packages now. I have indeed had one rejected by the postmaster.



And on another trivial note…Oh, how carefully I learned, when attending the symphony on a grade school field trip, to not clap in the wrong place.  It still makes me anxious.


Skooter continued to avoid the bad weather.

In the evening, we watched This is Us, a now favourite show that I had avoided because it looked too tear-jerking to me. Its scenes of a house fire, combined with the Alaska earthquake and local social media freaking out about the “ring of fire”, made me decide that I had to finish my book before sleeping, in case disaster overtook us by morning.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

So I read into the night, finishing at 3:30 AM and thereupon letting out an involuntary sob so loud that it woke the cats.

In email today came some photos from The Anchorage Cottages.

Could these be reseeded sweet peas?  They look more like Cerinthe to me except for the tips. (I have decided on cerinthe.)


I replied with a request that Beth clip off the two ugly hellebore leaves, below, so that I don’t feel compelled to make the trip up there to do so:

A sweet small cupped narcissus:

The weather continues to be good reading time, and will probably be that way for at least another week. I still have shingles…not as painful now…so rest is good.  None of the big garden projects, and especially not the mulching with eight yards of Soil Energy, will happen this winter. I need to be philosophical and relaxed about that.


We had a new washing machine delivered today.  Our old one broke down hours after last week’s delivery of a new refrigerator. I am feeling as though we should start economizing because of all our recent expenses (appliances, vet bills).  What I am really hoping is that we get back an old garden that I love, thus making a bit more money, having maybe six hours a week less free time, and not having to economize on our main non gardening indulgence, our garden club restaurant meals.

Speaking of which, tonight we had our first North Beach Garden Gang dinner this year. We chose burger night at The Depot Restaurant.



Talking about gardening with Dave and Melissa felt a lot like getting back to normal.

Next: I have every intention of getting out of my comfy chair and over to my desk to write those retrospective blog posts.

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