I was in a Dickens mood about three weeks ago, went to the main library, and came home with Dombey and Son, which is a later one. I’m about 200 pages into it and getting my Dickens fix (there are lots of descriptions of somber parlors, a “flaxen-haired” little girl, and someone young has just died), but most people I’ve talked to (okay, only three people, but that’s most of my accquaintance) have never heard of Dombey and Son. I had, distantly, and realized last night it was mentioned by Salinger in Franny and Zooey. I love the italics, so it’s the quote for the day. (A quote from literature, about literature! It’s a good day.) This is Franny speaking, near the end:
“He said he was–this is exactly what he said–he said he was sitting at the table in the kitchen, all by himself, drinking a glass of ginger ale and eating saltines and reading ‘Dombey and Son,’ and all of a sudden Jesus sat down in the other chair and asked if he could have a small glass of ginger ale. A small glass, mind you–that’s exactly what he said. I mean he says things like that, and yet he thinks he’s perfectly qualified to give me a lot of advice and stuff!”
So every time I think or read “Dombey and Son,” it comes out Dombey.
Because literature has nothing on a kitten. (And because I forgot the book from which I was going to quote today.) Also check out kittenwar.com.
This is, of course, the opening of T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland and is the only part most people (myself included) really get. There is a good annotated version online here, if you’re feeling scholarly. (Should have majored in English…)
It’s not that late, actually, but “Visions of Johanna” was in my head and seemed appropriate to quote here. (Hey, it’s officially the weekend now. I don’t have to try as hard to be clever.) Dylan fans, listen to the acoustic version of this from the 1966 Royal Albert Hall concert. Excellent.
“Ain’t it just like the night
to play tricks when you’re trying to be so quiet?
We sit here stranded,
though we’re all doing our best to deny it.
And Louise holds a handful of rain,
tempting you to defy it.
Lights flicker in the opposite loft;
in this room the heat pipes just cough;
the country music station plays soft
but there’s nothing, really nothing, to turn off…”
I’m afraid today’s post will be short, as we’re all trying to wrap things up so we can goof off later:
“Avoid adjectives of scale.
You will love the world more
and desire it less.”
I first came across this in a Robert Hass poem, from Human Wishes. (I’m afraid I can’t rememeber which poem. But it’s in there.)
Office Snack of the Day: Hazelnut biscotti. I made them, first toasting the hazelnuts.
Yesterday’s Office Snack of the Day, potato salad, sparked a discussion in the office on the merits of French potato salad, prepared with a vinaigrette, versus American potato salad, prepared with mayo and mustard. We concluded our versions of American potato salad were inferior to our mothers’ versions, but that the French versions (pommes de terre a l’huile) we made were delicious. M. adds bacon to her version. I do not.
All the potato salad talk reminded me of a passage in A Moveable Feast, Hemingway’s memoir of writing in Paris in the 1920’s. In this passage, he’s just gotten a check for a story and decides to go to a cafe, since he hasn’t eaten lunch:
“It was a quick walk to Lipp’s and every place I passed that my stomach noticed as quickly as my eyes made the walk an added pleasure. There were few people in the brasserie and when I sat down on a bench against the wall with the mirror in the back and a table in front and the waiter asked if I wanted beer I asked for a distingue, the big glass mug that held a liter, and potato salad.
The beer was very cold and wonderful to drink. The pommes a l’huile were firm and marinated and the olive oil delicious. I ground black pepper over the potatoes and moistened the bread with the olive oil. After the first heavy draft of beer I drank and ate very slowly.”
Good old Hemingway. Whenever I read him, I want to have a cocktail.
There are many birds outside the office. There are starlings, finches who live in the loading dock, a pair of mangy pigeons, and lots of sparrows. I’ve started feeding them (or “creating a dependency,” as C. says) and will bring in stale bread, baking misadventures, or birdseed. The sparrows are the tamest.
I had The Lovely Susannah read the poem today’s quote comes from last night, and while my shipmates scoff at the idea of literature improving your life, she genuinely liked the poem and now wants to read more Roethke. Here’s the quote:
I belive! I believe!–
In the sparrow, happy on gravel;
In the winter-wasp, pulsing its wings in the sunlight;
I have been somewhere else; I remember the sea-faced uncles.
I hear, clearly, the heart of another singing,
Lighter than bells,
Softer than water.
(from “Praise to the End”)
The image caption tells us these are “Sparrows of Palestine.” Our sparrows outside are not from Palestine.
Office Snack of the Day: potato salad.
Welcome to the first post of BLTL.
My friend S. wanted to be mentioned in the first paragraph. S., there you go.
The name of the blog will direct most posts, but I thought it would be a good idea to have some alternate topics, in case I couldn’t find a quote for the day. Other topics may include:
1. Office Snack of the Day
(Today: bread pudding with maple-lemon sauce)
2. Potential Band Names Found in Everyday Conversation
(From a conversation about the science fair yesterday: Rogue Electron)
3. Piratical Phrases Uttered
(The vast majority of these are just “Yarr!” But today M. gave us, “To the plank with you!”)
Tomorrow, I’ll have a post about Roethke and sparrows.
You can’t wait, I know.