Saturday, November 02, 2013

One thing leads to another . . .

Watch this space for my review of Brenda Hillman's new book, Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire! Wowza!

We weren't here during rose season this year. They bloomed without us. The roses in this bouquet were all in bud during the frosts before we came; now that it is warmer these buds have been putting on a good faith effort to unfold. Some of them had frost-blasted outer petals. A couple of days ago I cut them and brought them in, and pulled away some of the dead petals. The buds are responding to moisture and indoor heat as I had hoped they would, with a nice end-of-season show. I notice that the gardener who selected the original bushes favored colors that go together. They smell good, too, as one expects of roses. And though I'll have to throw them away next week, I can have the photos for a longer time.

Coming through North Dakota on the way here, I was struck by the beauty of the landscape, even viewed from the freeway. I did get some pictures at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, just before we left the state, but, naturally, I was distracted by the buffalo! And this was a different sort of landscape--the uncultivated Badlands. I should come back sometime and spend at least a month taking pictures here, I said to myself, knowing that's a near impossibility! In the motel that night I read about North Dakota, ordered some picture books of the state, and found out that Larry Woiwode is the Poet Laureate of Nebraska, and that he had written a writer's memoir, one of my favorite kinds of book. I love getting used books from Amazon; they are often VERY cheap and you are not limited to the books that happen to be in stock in a store. Plus they turn up in your mailbox very soon. I follow threads of reading interest this way. I ordered this memoir; it came a day after we got here.

The Woiwode book is called A STEP FROM DEATH. It begins with his recounting of a terrible hay-baler tractor-PTO accident in which he was very nearly killed. He had fractured ribs and vertebrae, and was pretty well crushed and abraded as well. These are the kinds of injuries that take a long, painful time to heal. Even with painkillers, one is hurting most of the time and not good for much useful thinking or physical or mental work. I am still not quite finished with this short memoir. I got distracted by two things: 1) he called Andre Gide, "one of my favorite writers when I moved to New York." I wouldn't have guessed this, even though Woiwode has surely changed a lot since he moved to Nebraska and began to farm and raise horses in addition to writing and teaching. Andre Gide was born in 1869! Plus, he has to be translated from the French! I remember hearing quite a bit about him from older people when I was in college, when a great deal of fuss was often made over many of the French writers and filmmakers. Tonight I have finished the Gide Memoir, Si le grain ne meurt. (In translation, my old paperback copy is called, If It Die, which seems a poor rendering of the scriptural, " Except a corn of wheat fall onto the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." John 12:24.)

The second distraction is his discussion that of the few things that could hold his attention was the two volume biography of the poet Coleridge by Richard Holmes. I started the first one about an hour ago (they took longer to get here) and had to FORCE myself to stop for my nightly post. (I wonder what I could accomplish if I posted first thing in the morning? Maybe that's the idea for NEXT YEAR?) Anyway this book and its sequel look to be mighty winners.More to come.

So, follow a Reading Thread, a Memory Thread, or just embroider, like she does. I've been following her blog for quite some time, it is very interesting and very odd. It is all about connection. . .

Tonight is the very end of the birth anniversary of my beloved youngest brother Robert William Hopper, who died in 1997 from cancer. When he knew he would die, he wrote us a series of short reminiscences about his childhood. He told me that you just caught hold of something and pulled the little piece of string. And you just kept writing and pulling on the little piece of string, and memories came back. This is where I got the idea for the Memory Thread. I still have two sisters and three brothers and thus am very lucky, compared to many folks. But I will miss him, his love and wisdom, for the rest of my life. Sleep well, everyone.

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