Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sunday Sundries, 43

1. AOTW: In Aurora (Ohio), the McDonald's has two driveways in front; they are one-way (one an entrance, the other an exit). Right in front of the building is a short, curving part of the driveway system that connects the entrance and exit lanes. It, too, is one way. This past Tuesday evening we were driving the correct way on that little connecting lane, and here came the AOTW driving the other way in an SUV, his body language (and SUV language) communicating that we were somehow at fault. We weren't. We had to go up on the curb to avoid hitting him. (In the photo, the little connector lane is just to the right of the parked car; if you look closely, you can see the one-way arrow painted on the blacktop.)

2. I finished another book this week about Mary Shelley, called (surprise!) Mary Shelley, by Martin Garrett--part of the British Library Writers' Lives series (Oxford UP, 2002). It's a beautiful book to look at, full of pictures of the people and places significant in her life. I didn't really learn much from the accompanying text (it is really a book for people who are beginning their journey through MaryWorld). I was disappointed that it seemed to buy into the idea that Mary got the Frankenstein name from her 1814 journey down the Rhine, a theory that I just think doesn't hold much water (no Rhine pun intended): and there is no documentary evidence to support it. Still ... if you want a good (short) introduction to MaryWorld, this would be a good one to read.

3. I'm nearly finished reading a novel by a former Harmon Middle School student, Cori McCarthy:  Breaking Sky, an exciting YA novel about the not-too-distant future when America's status in the world has diminished. But some young pilots (including our hero, a talented young woman named Chase) are training with some hot new aircraft in the hopes of changing things. I didn't know Cori well (I knew her brothers better). She was in 8th grade the final year of my career (1996-97), and I retired in January that year. I also had a student teacher most of the fall and just did not get to know the 8th graders very well at all. My loss. I'll write more about Breaking Sky next week when I've finished the book.
4. On Saturday night, Joyce and I went to Kent to see the film Still Alice, the story of a 50-year-old academic (a star academic, by the by, played wonderfully by Julianne Moore) who learns she has early-onset familial Alzheimer's. This is a disease that Joyce and I know very well--she far more than I because she dealt with her mother's battle for nearly a decade--and subsequently wrote a terrific book about her mom's struggle, In a Tangled Wood: An Alzheimer's Journey (SMU Press, 1996--here's a link to the book on Amazon). Strong performances, too, by Alec Baldwin (her husband) and Kristen Stewart (one of her daughters). (Link to trailer for the film.) Tears arrived more than once.

5. Today, I'm making (I hope) the last batch of chicken soup of the season--made the stock yesterday from the carcass of a roaster we'd eaten the previous week. CrockPot, here I come!

6. I'm going to be reviewing a new biography of Saul Bellow, and, as I've said here before, I've been reading some of Bellow's novels that I either never read or have forgotten. I've nearly finished his 1953 novel, The Adventures of Augie March, a book I'm fairly sure I read nearly a half-century ago (some names of characters are familiar to me--and, no, not just Augie's!), but I couldn't have told you a lick about it until the past week. It's a long book, a coming-of-age, episodic novel that, in a way, propelled Bellow's subsequent career (which culminated with a Nobel Prize in 1976). I'll write more about the novel when I've finished it, but here are a couple of lines that leapt out at me the other day:
  • "It takes some of us a long time to find out what the price is of being in nature, and what the facts are about your tenure" (Lib of Amer edition, 797).
  • "Everyone tries to create a world he can live in, and what he can't use he often can't see" (816).

7. The other day, I read (or used?) the word hanker, meaning to have a restless or incessant longing (for)--e.g., "I have a hankering for some chocolate." And then I wondered, Where did that word come from? The OED traces this meaning to 1642; an earlier one (1601) means, basically, to hang out.  (Milton used it in an essay!) The OED says the origins are "obscure"--though they note a similar Dutch word with a similar meaning. There's also a related English word--hankerer--which I've never seen (that I can recall). "For chocolate, she is a hankerer!" (Or ... for chicken soup.)

I remember from my years of watching cowboy movies and TV shows that hanker was a common word from the mouths of Westerners--e.g., "I have a hankerin' for some chow."

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