I had a long rest, and thank you so much to everybody who sent good wishes. I'm told I'm better now, and I hope so, because Resting Quietly is a royal pain in the kazoo. More than once I was put in mind of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper. However, unlike the poor lady in that story I was allowed to knit and so did not attempt to merge with the bedroom walls out of sheer boredom.
Not that the knitting itself is much to shout about. Here's the lot:
Another sock, obviously–once again in the same pattern and these and these. Why a third pair? First, because it wasn't too taxing on the mind or the fingers. Second, because at this point I can work it from memory and even my bookcase was verboten for the duration.
The other thing is a new altar cloth, using the pattern for the first one on the edge. In the center, in progress, is a panel out of Barbara Walker's second volume. She calls it "Scrolls," but I'll be a waltzing dakini if it isn't a dead ringer for the Endless Knot, one of the auspicious symbols of Buddhism.
That's it for knitting, I'm afraid.
Since I don't more to offer you, I'll answer a few questions that came in via comments and e-mail after I wrote about cataloguing my library.
Q. Do you actually have two copies of Maurice or did you make a mistake?
A. Yes, I have two copies of E.M. Forster's Maurice, but one of them is in French. It was given to me by my first true love, and is dear to me. Alas, the ending is just as implausible in translation.
Q. Can I borrow your copy of [title]?
A. Absolutely, provided you fit into one of the following categories:
- You are a member of my immediate family.
- You and I are presently involved in a committed, long-term relationship and I'm not planning on breaking up with you in the near future.
- I have an enormous crush on you which I hope may develop into a long-term relationship and I'm trying to seduce you with literature.
If you fit into none of these, I'm afraid the answer is no. I'm very Polonius about my library, and usually prefer to be neither a borrower nor a lender. Having another person's books in my care gives me horrible jitters, lest something should happen to them.
Q. Have you actually read all of those books?
A. Of course not. Have you ever tried to read a Baedeker guidebook cover-to-cover? However, anything I haven't read through to some great extent, with the expectation of picking it up again frequently, doesn't stay on the shelf very long. Space is too precious.
Q. How does a book earn the tag "beloved"?
A. There are many ways. It may be a book that reminds me strongly of a particular place or time I hold dear. It may have had a profound impact on my worldview or my writing. Most likely, no matter what, it's a book I've read so often that to be without a copy is unthinkable.
Q. Why did you label certain authors with the tag "pompous ass"?
A. Because I find those authors come across as such. It doesn't mean I necessarily dislike the book. Alden Amos's Big Book of Handspinning is an example. I love the book, and I even love his sense of humor–until his coyness gets in the way of his scholarship. When he remarks that "most" Lazy Kates are unfit for their intended purpose, but doesn't bother to say why, or which designs do work, I want to smack him.
Q. How dare you say that about Madeleine L'Engle, you heartless sonofabitch?!
A. Because I'm sorry, but I've never liked her books. At all. I read A Wrinkle in Time in fourth grade because it was damned near compulsory, and by the fifth page I could tell she was going to try to slip a badly-disguised Sunday School lesson past me. C.S. Lewis did the same thing, of course, but I liked his writing enough to make allowances. And, frankly, I find that in her later works she went completely off the deep end and wrote book-length inscriptions for sappy greeting cards.
This doesn't mean that if you love Madeleine L'Engle I think you're a moron. It just means our tastes differ on this point. And wouldn't life be boring if we always agreed on everything?
Q. Okay, smartypants–so why do you keep all those books by Madeleine L'Engle if you think she's a pompous ass?
A. I'm letting them appreciate. They're all signed with personal inscriptions (long story), and one of these days they're going to help me finance a house. Thanks, Maddie!
Q. How the hell did you make it through Middlemarch?
A. I'll tell you the same thing I tell everybody–even when they don't ask. Skip the prologue about Saint Theresa. When you finish the book, with tears in your eyes, you'll go back and read it and understand it and very possibly read the entire book over again...I did.