Saturday, April 30, 2011

Two Birds with One Stone

It's the last day of National Poetry Month and the day after William & Kate's wedding.  So here is a poem by Stevie Smith in the nick of time.

The Hat*
I love my beautiful hat more than anything
And through my beautiful hat I see a wedding ring
The King will marry me and make me his own before all
And when I am married I shall wear my hat and walk on the palace wall. 

 *Stevie Smith, The Collected Poems, New York: New Directions Books, 1983, page 272.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I finished The Bones of Avalon.  I don't usually go for historical novels, but I love Phil Rickman's Merrily Watkins series.  So I was waiting for the next one to come, and instead out came The Bones of Avalon.  I did enjoy it.  It had many of the same themes as the Merrily Watkins series: mysticism, murder, church politics.  It takes place in Elizabethan times, but Rickman only slightly antiqued his language.  In his afterword he thanks various linguists for their advice which he ended up mostly not taking since, "a strict adherence to Elizabethan written structures and terminology would only have made it sound stilted in ways it never would have been at the time."  Fair enough.  He has a great talent for taking masses of material and making it into a riveting story

Speaking of stilted language, I was thinking about the pronoun thou, which is no longer used by most speakers of English, but which used to be the informal form of you--the form you'd use for family, close friends, or people you were insulting.  Nowadays we mostly hear it used in prayers and hymns, so that it has formal, exalted associations.   That's why The Philadelphia Story had this scene between Macaulay Connor (Jimmy Stewart) and a Quaker Librarian

Librarian: What is thee wish?
Macaulay Connor: I'm looking for some local b - what'd you say?
Librarian: What is thee wish?
Macaulay Connor: Um, local biography or history.
Librarian: If thee will consult with my colleague in there.
Macaulay Connor: Mm-hm. Dost thou have a washroom?
[the librarian points]
Macaulay Connor: Thank thee

It's hilarious to use a holy, exalted word in the same sentence with washroom--at least from the Judeo-Christian viewpoint.

In other news, we had pizza for lunch in the office today.

I think this must be a magic mushroom pizza.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Two Layers of Cat

The Romeo Suspension bridge over the Juliet river of snooze.

From above.

Romeo's famous thumbs.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Snooty Cutie

I need to sleep like this so I can keep my nose up.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Vacation Recap: March 18

Friday morning we went back to the Leather School, so I could re-buy the items I lost.  We took the train back to Rome.

We wanted to eat dinner at a well-reviewed place, but it was full.  We ended up at La Scala, Via Sabotino, 2.  We had a mushroom pizza and some pasta.  The pizza was good; the pasta a bit salty. The next day, we flew back to Boston.

Vacation Recap: March 17

Museli, blood orange juice, and coffee, then it's off to the Basilica of Santa Croce.  We got the audio-guides and hit all the most important points (as indicated by our audio-guide pamphlet) as well as a few that interested us.  I only took one photo, because I bought myself a book of photos from the souvenir shop.

I was surprised that such a modern person would have a memorial in such an old church. 
I bought a pair of boots at a tiny shop.  Sue resisted buying a beautiful bag at a shop that had supplied her with other bags.
Of course we also checked out the School of Leather, where Sue ordered a belt.  I bought a wallet for me, a wallet for my brother, and a change purse for my sister-in-law.
We walked through the Farmacia of Santa Maria Novella, but bought nothing.

Then, after getting back to the convent, I realized I no longer had my bag of leather goodies.  I had either put it down somplace, or it had been snatched while I was tired and trying not to hit other people with my umbrella.  (It was drizzley in the afternoon.)  Sue felt so sorry for me that she insisted on taking me to dinner at Trattoria 4 Leoni that night, which brings me to my favorite dish of the trip: artichoke lasagne.  There was a nice British couple at the next table.  She had the lasagne; and her enthusiastic approval confirmed that selection plus a pasta (was it with pepper?) and the house red.  We had a gelati and cheesecake for dessert.  Sue said she was normally indifferent to cheesecake, but this one was good.  The British couple told us they had discovered the restaurant seven years ago, and wanted to come back. (And, obviously, they did.)

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Vacation Recap: March 16

Now we took the train to Florence, where we would spend a couple of days before returning to Rome. The rocking train put us to sleep. At the station, Sue's Italian went back into action, finding us the bus we needed to get to Casa Santo Nome di Gesù, Piazza del Carmine, 21. An elderly Florentine woman on the bus gave us much friendly advice.
After checking in at our convent, we headed back out to Villa I Tatti.  This Harvard library and research center is Bernard Berenson's former home on the outskirts of Florence.  We had signed up for a 3 O'Clock tour to see some of the artworks Mr. Berenson left to Harvard.  It took a while to get there.  We took a long ride on bus !0, then we climbed a hill.
Among the other members of our tour was a woman Sue remembered from a Freshman or Junior Parents Weekend, at which event this woman had spent most of her time complaining about the fact that she hadn't been able to use Lamont when she was at Radcliffe.  And, strangely enough, when she found out that we worked at Lamont, she again bewailed her former exile at great length.  Well, it was an injustice, but that was over 45 years ago.  Was this woman a Lamont-access monomaniac?
No, I don't think so.  My further observations suggested that she simply needed to be the center of attention. She was the girl in your class who always had her hand up.  She had a Susan-Sontag hairdo.
Our guide was an enthusiastic, charming, and knowlegeable woman.  She told us a story about a portrait of a man who had been at a party where all the guests were massacred (by the Medicis?); but his name was the only one remembered among the massacred.  A previous tourist had asked our guide if it was worth being murdered, just so you could be remembered.  "You'd have to ask Achilles that!" said the Susan-Sontag wannabee.  OK.
Inside photos were forbidden, but here's a picture of the garden.

We also had a tour of the library, so it was after 5 when we left.  We wanted to eat at a place called Trattoria 4 Leoni that night, but it was full up.  So we made a reservation for the next night and continued our quest for grub.  We sat down in a casual place filled with student-types.  A peddler came in and began pitching his stock from table to table.  We agreed to leave.  Finally we ate at Il Magazzino, Piazza della Passera 2-3.  The guy told us we had to be out in an hour.  I can't remember the meal, but the receipt says we had bevande, piatto unico, and primi piatti. I do remember they had so much wine they were storing bottles on their window sills.