Tiny Stories, Tiny Tales

Yesterday, being in a grumpy mood from a sprained knee, I limped over to the library and picked up a copy of Harold Bloom’s Critical Edition of Mary Shelley. I really don’t have much to say on Bloom except whenever I read him, I snooze but this Edition gathers the stuff people said about her and her work, Frankenstein. Frankenstein doesn’t interest me but what they had to say about her did.

Particularly what her husband says. I haven’t read Shelley in a long time but I was struck by his…his usage of words. I’ve been studying scansion off and on and just his sheer way with the stuff made me all dewy-eyed, etc, etc.  I’ll just share the last stanza but the whole thing is worth reading, The Revolt of Islam, The Dedication.

“Truth’s deathless voice pauses among mankind!
If there must be no response to my cry—
If men must rise and stamp with fury blind
On his pure name who loves them,—thou and I,
Sweet friend! can look from our tranquillity
Like lamps into the world’s tempestuous night,—
Two tranquil stars, while clouds are passing by
Which wrap them from the foundering seaman’s sight,
That burn from year to year with unextinguished light.”

As purdy as it is…what strikes me is the shame of it. Imagine writing Frankenstein when You’re nineteen and then…and then…more or less everyone dies around you (two children, your half sister, your husband, his dear friend and yours, Byron) and you’re left pretty much destitute with one small child and a society that shuns you. She commented that at 29, everyone she knew and loved had nearly all passed on. Not surprising  another masterpiece never flowed from her pen. There was no support structure left and masterpieces do not come out of the emotionally (or physically) destitute , no matter what a certain reading crowd would like to think.

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Life Lessons from a Cardinal

Outdoor living is coming in fits and starts now that it’s June. Last week it was in the 90’s (30C) and today it is gentle and cool with thunderstorms passing by north and south, bringing coolness in the wake of their stormy skirts. The sun shines but the thunder rumbles nearby and my cats retreat farther indoors to snooze on chairs instead of near windows.

It is tempting to join them. The heat break means that deep good sleep is possible again. Even with air conditioning, I sleep poorly when it’s hot. I sleep best when it rains.

And it has been raining at night but in great torrid thunderstorms where the house shakes and the windows rattle. Sometimes I lie in bed as the thunderstorms march by and wonder at the fate of all the creatures and people living outside.

It is summer and I have no arguments with it. It’s too hard to argue with the seasons. On the beautiful days, I sip my breakfast tea outdoors and watch the birds and squirrels to start my day. There’s always a drama playing out in the backyard. My favorite is the cardinal who walks along the deck rail, casting his bright black eye here and there and then breaks into song until a robin kicks him out. When the coast is clear, he returns and does the same thing all over again. Despite my nearness, he doesn’t mind me at all and I adore his bright red plumage and courageous laughing heart. His song cheers my soul and I’ve come to recognize his particular song. It falls under the same lines as all cardinals but it has a bit of improvised trill at the end. I think he’s been hanging out with song sparrows and got Ideas.

He’s a hard individual to photograph (all flash and movement) but I’ve shared a photo of a cardinal from National Geographic so you can get the idea. He’s hard to ignore and is a permanent on the robins’ blacklist. I aspire to such a level of happy insouciance.

How to Get Through a Big Book

How to get through a Big Book and have a little fun too.

  1. Make and eat food mentioned in the book (big books always include food, usually in meticulous detail).
  2. Read a little bit each day.
  3. Make a soundtrack.
  4. Dress like a character from the book for a day. Or a week. Or a month if it really grabs you.
  5. Ten minutes to kill? Daydream about the landscape or what the characters are seeing as they move through their day.
  6. Read passages you enjoy out loud. If you’re in the right mood, record yourself reading passages and share it (Instagram is great for this). Include illustrations if you like (thank you, Shirin).
  7. Whip out a highlighter or some sticky tabs for those great parts.
  8. Pace yourself and remember, reading gigantic books isn’t a race. It’s about the journey. Might as well bring along snacks, good drinks, great lighting, and enjoy the ride.