Tuesday, December 03, 2013

So recently past, autumnal color

There was not good light today for taking photographs. But not to fuss, there are plenty in the backfiles. Today was a day of exciting news, one dachshund has an anal gland (sorry) tumor, most probably adenocarcinoma, and is going in for surgery tomorrow. On the way home from the vet's office, we stopped for a meal and left one of our cell phones in the Carl's Jr. Some one had been using it, but now it is deactivated. But we left the table nice and clean, taking the trash to the bin, while leaving the phone on the table. Somehow, I don't feel too poetic right now, but there is still plenty of time until midnight.

Perhaps this is the moment to confess that I have secretly wanted (at least since I bought a new red small Toyota truck in December of 1986) to take a road trip in a car that I could sleep in. Once Diane and I did sleep in the back of the truck on the way to San Diego near the end of that decade. We stayed at the campground in Leo Carillo State Park. Until that day, I hadn't heard of Leo, but of course he is in Wikipedia now. A descendant of an old California Family, he made a good living playing stereotypical Mexican sidekicks. He also was a cartoonist and a conservationist, and was married to the same woman instead of changing wives in the classic Hollywood manner.

I love books like Travels with Charley and Blue Highways and many others of that ilk. For the purposes of daydreaming, I am conveniently forgetting that I don't really like driving and get someone else to drive whenever I can. My mother took a summer-long road trip in her AMX after she retired. She visited relatives and friends and all the places she had lived that were important to her. She liked driving, and only reluctantly gave it up after hitting a gray car on gray pavement at twilight on two successive Tuesdays. She had macular degeneration; I always wonder if growing up in the sunlight that always falls on Southern Arizona in the desert sun may have been at least a partial cause.

I also like books about walking trips, which I am even less likely to be willing (or able) to make than driving ones. Many of these books are by British authors, walking in the British Isles or in Continental Europe. The one I am reading now is a translation of the one by Heinrich Boll (who later won a Nobel Prize) a German veteran of World War I whose trip recorded in Irish Journal took place in the mid-fifties, when Ireland was quite unchanged (unlike most of Europe) by the recently ended World War II. It is now considered a classic of the genre.

Here is a sample from the beginning:

 ".... but here on the steamer there was no more England: here there was already a smell of peat, the sound of throaty Celtic from between decks and the bar, here Europe's social order was already assuming new forms: poverty was no longer "no disgrace" it was neither honor nor disgrace: it was--as an element of social awareness--as irrelevant as wealth; trouser creases had lost their sharp edge, and the safety pin, that ancient Celtic clasp, had come into its own again. Where the button had looked like a full stop, put there by the tailor, the safety pin had been hung on like a comma; a sign of improvisation, it draped the material in folds, where the button had prevented this. I also saw it used to attach price tickets. lengthen suspenders, replace cuff-links, finally used by a small boy to pierce a man's trouser seat: the boy was surprised, frightened, because the man did not react in any way; the boy carefully tapped the man with his forefinger to see if he was still alive: he was still alive and patted the boy laughingly on the shoulder."  

From Henrich Boll, Irish Journal, translated by Leila Vennewitz, Melville house, 2011, pages 3-4.

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