Image captured last week at the Conservatory at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens.
Since my last post, I’ve read:
■ Macbeth (William Shakespeare; 1606. Drama.)
In advance of watching Joel Coen’s film. Related story/review here.
■ Six Characters in Search of an Author (Luigi Pirandello (Trans. Edward Storer; 1921. Drama.)
Cannot recall the precise path that led me to Scallydandling about the books, but I can say that I enjoy poking about in her video lists. Six Characters was her January drama selection.
■ Late Migrations: A Memoir of Love and Loss (Margaret Renkl; 2019. Non-fiction.)
For the commonplace book:
But the shadow side of love is always loss, and grief is only love’s twin.
Holding a useless camera, I suddenly realize that something extraordinary is happening right before me, a great serpent slowly on the move and all the songbirds aware of its presence and calling to each other and telling each other to beware. The miracle isn’t happening in the sky at all. It’s happening in the damp weeds of an ordinary backyard, among last year’s moldering leaves and the fragrant soil turned up by moles.
[…B]ut the flip side of ignorance is astonishment, and I am good at astonishment.
When I didn’t die, however, and then didn’t die some more, I came one day to understand: I wasn’t dying; I was grieving. I wasn’t dying. Not yet.
Human beings are creatures made for joy. Against all evidence, we tell ourselves that grief and loneliness and despair are tragedies, unwelcome variations from the pleasure and calm and safety that in the right way of the world would form the firm ground of our being. In the fairy tale we tell ourselves, darkness holds nothing resembling a gift.
What we feel always contains its own truth, but it is not the only truth, and darkness almost always harbors some bit of goodness tucked out of sight, waiting for an unexpected light to shine, to reveal it in its deepest hiding place.
With the month closing and only nine books on my list, I’d say this year has begun at a far more leisurely pace than last year (twenty-five books). That said, I’m reading quite a bit. With 100 Days of Dante, I’ve nearly climbed Mount Purgatory. With book groups, I’m reading Anna Karenina, Moby-Dick, and Debt (see sidebar). I’ve just begun A Clockwork Orange, the February Cardiff BookTalk selection. And my husband and I have embarked on a read-the-bible-in-a-year schedule. (It pains me to confess that I haven’t read the complete bible. Do you have a recommendation for a “bible as literature” resource? We’ll take it.)
I began listening to State of Terror (Louise Penny and Hillary Rodham Clinton) on the drive to and from Michigan last week — not Chief Inspector Gamache but certainly entertaining. While away, I also tried to finish Noah Hawley’s latest novel, Anthem (review here), but no luck. Unlike S. Kirk Walsh, I’m finding it a bit… tedious.
Before heading out on my mini-vacation, I gave a Zoom* performance for an audience of one, playing the Rondeau, Polonaise, and Badinerie from Suite No. 2 in B Minor, BWV 1067. Was it flawless? Nope. But while I was away, my teacher wrote, in part, “Really, really excellent work on the Bach! So pleased and proud that you put your all into it and did such a great job.” Yes, I’m still grinning. My new solo piece is Howard Ferguson’s Three Sketches for Flute and Piano. I’m also working on the ninth of 18 Studies for Flute by Joachim Anderson, Op. 41, in Robert Cavally’s Melodious and Progressive Studies from Andersen, Gariboldi, Koehler, and Terschak for Flute, Book 1, and “From Duetto No. IV” (W.F. Bach) in Selected Duets for Flute, Volume II (Advanced). My practice schedule remains much as it was in the fall.
Our walking schedule, however, does not: The snow and ice (to say nothing of the extreme cold of days like yesterday) make early morning walks in the neighborhood untenable, so we’ve been using workouts on DVDs, after which, I hop on the exercise bike while my husband gets ready for work. We have the equipment needed to walk the conservation district paths, though, so we head there on the weekends during which the weather cooperates.
* Given the continuing uncertainty surrounding the virus, I requested that we return to the virtual format until at least February.
I loved that part you quote about the “great serpent”! I bought Renkl’s newest book of essays when I saw it at the college bookstore last week (Graceland, at last).
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Late Migrations was an impulse purchase motivated in no small part by how beautiful the physical book is. I loved the time I spent with it. Now I need to look into Graceland, At Last.
I have been reading furiously and have finished 13 books so far this month. I think I will finish at least one more before the end of the month. I must confess, however, that a couple of them I should have given up on but didn’t because I am trying to hit some arbitrary quota I made for myself. I am a goal-driven person, but I feel like I may be acting more like a shark in chum-filled waters. I need to dial that back a bit.
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The goal orientation can become a problem for me, too, so I try to rein in my obsession with numbers by focusing on reading projects.
I’ve slowed down considerably as well since reading physical books and no ebooks. Finished 8 this month. Congratulations on your zoom performance!
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Thank you, Robin!