Monday Miscellanea

Work has been fairly stressful during the last few workdays. Documents that had a deadline at the beginning of October had to be made ready by today, editing tools last week had problems or were unavailable, and, last but not least, there was an internet outage in my area that lasted from Thursday afternoon to Friday night. I don’t usually work on Fridays, but this Friday I wanted to finalize a couple of documents. I had to postpone that to Saturday, and so had to work on Saturday morning, something I don’t much care for. I could have gone into the office to work on Friday, but my manager was OK with me finishing my documents up on the weekend. Luckily such long outages don’t happen very often, although this was the second time this year.

So, Friday we had our morning walk with Curious Dog and then I went grocery shopping. I had to pick up a lot of stuff I’d run out of, and needed to go to a drug store, my normal supermarket and the organic one, where I picked up some groceries the normal supermarket doesn’t carry. Took me at least two hours, but when I got home, Partner had cleaned the bathroom. That was great, because that’s usually my job. The weather was rather cold and wet, so we spent part of the afternoon and evening watching some episodes of the final, fourth season of The Bridge, a TV series set in Sweden and Denmark around the Öresund Bridge which connects Malmö with Copenhagen. We watched the first three seasons earlier this year or last year, I can’t remember. It’s very Nordic noir, very good, showing a pair of detectives, one from Sweden and one from Denmark, who work together on rather horrific cases. One of the detectives, Saga Norén, has Asperger’s and is an altogether interesting character.

Saturday it rained all day. I got wet walking Curious Dog in the rain in the morning and in the evening as well. After the morning walk, I worked for a couple of hours, then surfed the internet, then had lunch. In the afternoon, we watched some more of The Bridge. At night, we finished the series, and stayed up late to do it. CD was not happy. He doesn’t like staying up late as he is very fond of his routines. We also tried out a new, complicated recipe for mushroom burgers which turned out very much not worth the effort. A waste of perfectly good mushrooms (well, we did eat the burgers, but mushrooms cooked as mushrooms would have been a lot tastier).

We slept in on Sunday and then went walking with Curious Dog. It seems that there are quite a number of bitches in heat, he keeps excitedly following trails on our walk and pulling like an ox. Though when we actually meet a bitch (even if she’s in heat), he’s not that interested. He appears to prefer the hunt. It had rained all night and the rain and wind had knocked down quite a few walnuts, which we gathered up on our walk. I dried them in the oven at low heat and brushed off the dirt. They need to lie for a bit to ripen or something. At the moment they don’t taste that great, but they’ll be good after some time. The rest of the day, I did some cleaning, a bit of reading and some surfing. We’ve also turned on the furnace, since it’s gotten rather cold. At night, we watched the usual Sunday evening Tatort (Crime Scene) on TV, episode “Rebland” (“Vine Country”). It was an interesting episode about the ethics of using DNA profiling for police work. A fairly quiet episode (no shootouts or other exciting action) but good.

I spent time on the weekend reading Toni Morrison’s Love. My September Morrison. Very good, as usual, but I’m not finished even though it’s a slight volume, because I wasted too much time surfing the internet (which I do regret) and watching films (which I don’t regret). The weekend passed quietly. It’s kind of weird without my Mum here. I call her every night to check that everything is fine, but the house feels empty without her.

Work on Monday was hectic, what with the publication of my documents, the hassle after last week’s tool unavailability issues. Also, the usual lot of Monday meetings with lots of things to discuss since nothing worked as it should’ve last week. At least our tools are now running again and will hopefully stay fixed for a while. The walk with Curious Dog in the morning was rather cold. It was only 4°C and very foggy. Autumn has definitively come. I wore a woolen hat and a scarf for the first time this fall. Am looking forward to our vacation. Only three more working days (but lots to do). Fortunately, at least one meeting has been cancelled, but at least three other extra ones have been scheduled, some of them quite long ones. Yuck.

Partner made a great vegan omelet-like pancake with a shredded carrot, mushroom and smoked tofu filling – delicious and the highlight of the day (apart from the walks with Curious Dog).

Keep safe, world

Monday Miscellanea

I’ve had a rather busy weekend, starting with Friday, still in Bavaria. The day started off as usual, walking with Curious Dog in the woods for an hour or so. It was cool, but quickly turned into another hot day. I had to do a lot of shopping next, which took me the rest of the morning:

  • The small grocery shop in the village: picked up bread and buns and some produce and ordered the bread and buns that I wanted to take back with me to my place in Baden-Wüttemberg.
  • The dog food shop (Fressnapf) in the county capital (a rather grand name for a not so grand town).
  • The drugstore (DM) for special groceries and drug food stuff.
  • The normal supermarket (Rewe) for the main groceries.
  • Another supermarket (Edeka) for some cider that the other one didn’t carry.

Five shops in one trip. I was anxious to get a lot of food and everything I could think off because Mum is staying in Bavaria for the next three weeks and I don’t want her to run out of anything. This took until noon and then all those groceries had to be carried into the house and stored. Then we had lunch.

After lunch, I took apart the living room cabinet and carried the doors and smaller bits up the garage and then maneuvered the big parts out of the living room. I dragged and pushed them on some old towels; it was a tight fit getting them through the living room door into the hall. Once they were out-of-doors a neighbour helped me to carry them up to the garage, where we loaded everything onto their trailer. By that time it was 3:30 p.m. At 4:30 p.m. we drove the cabinet to the municipal collection point, where we had to knock it into smaller pieces so that it would fit into the containers. I also had to know the glass out of the cabinet doors. It was surprisingly hard to do. All of that took about half an hour, and then I took Curious Dog on his afternoon walk. At 6:00 p.m. we got back home, and I was tired and done for the day.

Saturday, after the morning walk with Curious Dog, I had another shopping trip, picking up the bread I’d ordered in the village grocery shop. Then I drove to the next village to get some money for Mum at the cash point and to another village to pick up some frozen produce and things I’d forgotten on Friday. Then I did nothing for the rest of the afternoon, except that after Curious Dog’s afternoon walk, I mowed the lawn (this only takes about 20 minutes, as our lawn is very small) and did a bit of vacuuming. I should have done those two chores earlier in the day, but I just couldn’t make myself do them.

Sunday, I stayed in bed later than usual and walked Curious Dog at around 9:30 a.m. It was a lovely morning, warm enough to go outside without a jacket. Probably the last time I’ll be walking CD in the morning just in a t-shirt. Afternoons are still warm, but mornings are quite cool. After our walk, I packed up all my and CD’s stuff and we drove off back to my place. I took Mum to the graveyard and dropped her off, as she wanted to check on the plants. We’ll have to plant winter plants soon; the current flowering plant is looking a bit peaky. The cool nights must be getting to it.

The trip was about half an hour longer than usual, at 3.5 hours. The country road from the Autobahn to my place was closed for some kind of maintenance work and I had to take a huge detour. And there was quite a bit of traffic, so it dragged on rather. Partner arrived just a few minutes later that CD and I did. We didn’t do much for the rest of the day. Took CD for a short walk. I cooked a quick soup for dinner. We watched TV, a very good Polizeiruf 110Tod einer Toten” (The Death of a Dead Person, but it sounds better in German) (110 is the German emergency call telephone number for calling the police). Polizeiruf 110 and Tatort (Crime Scene) are two of the longest-running crime series on German television. They are broadcast on Sunday evenings on public TV. Polizeiruf 110 originated in the German Democratic Republic but was continued on German TV after the reunification.

Work today has been full of calls and issues that have to be dealt with in the next couple of weeks before my vacation. I’m a bit annoyed as it looks like I’ll be busy with meetings when I’ve got enough of my usual stuff to finish up beforehand. What with all the calls, I didn’t get much done today. Tomorrow I have to get my winter tires for my car and also go grocery shopping again for Partner and myself, so I’ll be busy.

Despite all these tasks and work taking up my time, I managed to finish Barnaby Rudge. I’ll be writing a review on it, but I still have to write the one for Nicholas Nickleby. I liked both of them, but I Barnaby Rudge I found kind of special.

Keep safe, world.

Crime and Biography

Monday’s dog school was a great success. Curious Dog had a great time scrambling under bars, jumping over them, zigzagging around poles, showing off all his commands, dashing through tunnels. A real star. Maybe because there were only two dogs instead of the normal five or more. He wasn’t distracted by any doggy friends or rivals. The only other dog was not at all interested in him and he wasn’t much interested in her. He also got a lot of friendly time with the trainer, whom he loves, but who is usually much busier with more dogs attending the training. The both of us had a great time.

The week has been hot, up to 28°C until last night. Crisply cool in the mornings, good for lovely morning walks in the woods with Curious Dog, but hot by 11:00 a.m. I did the daily afternoon walks with CD very late, after 6 p.m. and I still arrived back home covered in sweat although we mostly walked in the shade. Today it’s cooler, with temperatures only slightly above 20°C. It’s still sunny and we had a very little rain, so that it’s also muggy. It’s supposed to stay sunny and cooler but without rain for the rest of the week and weekend, which is good, because I still have to mow the lawn and dismantle and get rid of the living room cabinet. That would be miserable if it rained (or impossible in the case of mowing the lawn).

I’ve finished reading the chapter on “Creators” in A Book of One’s Own: People and Their Diaries, by Thomas Mallon. This chapter is about diaries, journals or notebook kept by writers or artist or other kind of creators (as the title says). He gives examples of writers, poets, painters, photographers, architects, dancers, scientist and philosophers. I won’t mention all of them, as I’m most interested in writers and poets (at least at the moment). He writes about commonplace books kept by writers such as John Milton, W.H. Auden (published as A Certain World), Dorothy Wordworth’s Grasmere journals in which she keeps a record of the books her brother William read; Mary Shelley’s journal in which she keeps a similar record for herself and her husband. Then there’s Helen Bevington’s Along Came the Witch. She was an English Professors who kept a commonplace book. These commonplace books often morph into a combination of records of reading and diary keeping. I find that intriguing, as it is like my blog. I catalogue my reading, but I also record daily life. Gerard Manley Hopkins also kept such a journal before he started writing poetry. Sylvia Plath’s journal charts her determination (or even obsession) with becoming a successful writer and poet. Dostoevsky, Virginia Woolf, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Grahame Greene, Jean Rhys, Kathrine Mansfield and countless more kept diaries in which the seeds of their published works can be seen. Charles Darwin kept a famous journal of his travels on the Beagle that later informed On the Origin of Species. Leonardo Da Vinci kept notebooks or journals… too many examples to list here, so I will leave it at that. Next up is the chapter “Apologists”:

But now, after Leonardo, […], it is time to turn to those diarists – the apologists – whose private books were quite deliberately addressed to unborn readers whose attention they craved and whose good opinion they courted.

A Book of One’s Own, 1984, p 165.

I’ve been reading a lot this week, staying up late, reading during lunch. A bit of a binge. Surfing on Amazon, I found The Murders at White House Farm by Carol Ann Lee. I just stumbled across it and read all the content available online and was hooked. Don’t really know why, because I don’t like real life crime. But it was quite engrossing and I wanted to find out what happened – sensationalism, I’m sure. It was on sale for a good deal less than € 2, so I gave in and bought it. Finished it in one sitting, but it was quite horrible. A son who killed his adoptive mother, father, sister and her two young children just so he’d inherit all their assets. He also tried to and almost succeeded in making the sister appear as the killer, because she had a history of mental illness. Apparently, this horrific act from the 1980s in Britain has just been turned into a TV series. I kind of regret having read it. Did I really need to know about this?

The other book I read was lovely and very well written: On Chapel Sands: My Mother and Other Missing Persons, by Laura Cumming. It’s a biography of her mother as well as a family history written by the daughter. It tells the circumstances of her mother’s birth, her adoption and the lies surrounding that adoption. As the mother is an artist and her daughter an art critic, the family history is also viewed through the lens of art, through photographs and paintings. I found that a very interesting approach although the reports on Amazon are divided. Some readers didn’t like the slow pace and reflections on art at all, while others enjoyed it very much. I found it a moving book. It made me want to read at least one other book by Cumming: A Face to the World: On Self-Portraits. It sounds fascinating. Also fits in with my interest in diaries – a self-portrait is, like a diary, a way to show something of oneself to the world. Maybe I’ll select this one for my vacation reading.

I’ve been following the news about the situation with the burnt-down refugee camp Moria, on Lesbos in Greece. I’m glad that Germany has decided to get its act together and admit at least a few of the homeless refugees. I wish our politicians would allow more to come. Lots of cities have said they’d be willing to take in those refugees, but the politicians keep moaning on about waiting for the rest of Europe to help as well. It’s a disgrace for Europe that we can’t decide on a fair immigration policy and that Greece and Italy are left to deal with masses of migrants on their own. What about European solidarity?

Keep safe, world.

Monday Miscellanea

Today, I’m giving the book on diaries by Thomas Mallon a rest. I was too sleepy last night and only managed to read half of the chapter on “Creators”. Had to get up early for work as usual on a Monday and didn’t want to miss out on sleep.

Had another lovely early morning walk in the woods with Curious Dog. It was quite cool, but I only wore a short-sleeved blouse and didn’t wear a jacket, because that would have become too hot. A little bit of toughening up probably doesn’t hurt. I kind of admire people who swim in freezing water or walk barefoot in winter. Every year that we’ve been on vacation to the North Sea or the Baltic (and we’ve been going there with just a couple of exceptions every year since 2002) I think about taking a dip in the sea, just to see what it’s like, but I’ve never actually done it. Just wading generally seems cold enough. Maybe I’ll try it this time? Though it might backfire. Should probably not try this out in the Corona pandemic year. Where was I, anyway? Oh yes, walking with Curious Dog. The valley was full of gently billowing thin mist, floating above the fields but below the top of the surrounding wooded hills. Very pretty. By mid-morning all the mist had dissolved and now it’s a hot late summer day again.

As I logged in to work today, my virtual private network (VPN) connection was still on the blink. So, I did the stuff on my computer that I’d found on the IT support pages in the company portal last week and it actually worked. After the fix, the VPN was quite stable, not completely, but almost. Very motivating. It’s much easier and more effective to work when everything isn’t freezing up once a minute while the VPN reconnects. But then I shut the connection down for a few meetings, as I didn’t need it for them. The VPN slows everything down at the best of times so I disconnect when it’s not needed. Afterwards it was the same old problem. What a pain!

There were a lot of calls today, like always on Mondays. Most of my meetings, that is, online calls, are on Mondays and Wednesdays, and I have trouble getting anything else done on those days, except the usual quality checks and answering e-mails. Tuesdays and Thursdays are very light on the calls, much better.

This evening we have dog school again for Curious Dog. Already at the autumn/winter location, an indoor horse-riding arena. Looking forward to it. CD will be excited.

Yesterday’s Tatort (Crime Scene) TV series “Funkstille” (“Radio Silence) was weird. An American couple with a daughter who were double agents for both the CIA and the Russians. I found the story too obvious and the American couple were too German (also, atrocious American accents, very fake). The best part of it was the conflict between the parents and the daughter, who finds out about the double agent thing and fears that her entire life was a lie.

A couple of days ago I came across a poem in my copy of The Penguin Book of Victorian Verse edited by Daniel Karlin. The poem is by William Allingham (1824-1889):

Writing
A man who keeps a diary, pays
Due toll to many tedious days;
But life becomes eventful – then
His busy hand forgets the pen.
Most books, indeed, are records less
Of fulness than of emptiness.

Since I’m reading Thomas Mallon’s book about diaries and my blog is also a kind of diary, I was struck by this. I don’t actually agree with the poem (and I dare say Mallon wouldn’t either). An uneventful life is not necessarily “tedious”. Even if days are much the same, the things are still different. One reads different books, one has different moods, one sees the special elements in small things. And then when something does happen, it’s fun to write about it. According to Mallon, there are both diarists that do as Allingham says, keep a diary on mundane days and forget about it on eventful days and those that only record special events (such as a travel journal). So, the poem is just a reduction of the wide range of diary writing. Still, it was nice to stumble across it.

Keep safe, world.

Woodlice and Pilgrims

Last night, I again read the next chapter of A Book of One’s Own: People and Their Diaries (1984), by Thomas Mallon in bed. It was the chapter “Pilgrims”. These are diaries by authors who wish to wrestle with God, get to know themselves, find their calling (spiritual or worldly), or bear heavy burdens or blows of fate and wish to test or increase their strength. Some succeed in their efforts, some fail, some deceive themselves. Mallon categorizes Henry David Thoreau as one of these type of journal keepers, also May Sarton’s Journal of a Solitude; Anais Nïn (Mallon keeps referring to her as “Miss Nïn”, which I found condescending and irritating). He tells of a Dr. Ira Progoff who made money by teaching Intensive Journal workshops in the 1980s for people wanting to grow into their potential and change their lives. Self-realization for everyone who can afford the courses.

There’s also the diary of Josh Greenfeld, A Place for Noah, about the hardship of caring for his mentally handicapped son. Aram Saroyan’s journal about the last illness of his estranged father, Last Rites. C.S. Lewis A Grief Observed about the death of his wife Joy and his subsequent grief and crisis of faith (I read this one years ago but can’t really remember much about it). Then there’s Laurel Lee’s Walking Through the Fire about dealing with Hodgkin’s disease while pregnant. Alan H. Olmstead, a newspaper editor who wrote Threshold, about his struggles after retirement. And Florida Scott-Maxwell, who started a diary at 82 to record opinions on questions that debate the human condition about which she suddenly felt passionate, after a tranquil phase in her seventies.

Then there are the spiritual diaries, written for example by Richard Mather, Johnathan Edwards, Søren Kierkegaard, Thomas Merton. Annie Dillard’s Holy the Firm. Then there are the journals of Angelo Roncalli (Pope John XXIII) and that of Dag Hammarskjöld, Markings (he was Secretary-General of the UN in the 1950s). Mallon has judgements about each of these diaries and some of them don’t sound like I’d like them, but most of them seem interesting. If I put all of them on my TBR, it’ll be huge. Maybe next year I’ll come up with a plan to read a few diaries.

Despite it’s being Sunday, I was quite busy today. First, I got up late (read Barnaby Rudge in bed) and had a long walk in the woods with Curious Dog. It was pleasant in the morning but got too hot during the afternoon. I met or saw a few people collecting mushroom. One neighbour had half a potato net full of what looked like porcini mushrooms. I said, “Good pickings”, he said, “There’s no end of them” in passing. I saw a lot of what I took to be parasol mushrooms, but as I’m not an expert, I couldn’t swear to it. Maybe they were something else and poisonous. Anyway, I don’t collect wild mushrooms in Bavaria, because they are still contaminated with radioactivity from Chernobyl.

After the morning’s walk, I became quite active and partly disassembled the living room book cabinet (which never contained many books only crockery and keepsakes and other stuff). Mum has emptied it out and wants to get rid of it, as she says she’s never liked it. It’s a large one, with glass doors in the top part and either cupboards or drawers in the bottom part. It’s made up of two wide elements (about a metre) and one narrow one (about 50 cm). They are two metres high. I took apart the narrow one and carried it up to my room (with Mum’s help), where I already have one of the wide elements. It was originally a huge cabinet. My parent bought it secondhand years ago, and I’ve had that one element in my room for years, too. Now I’ve got the narrow one as well. I need to align them with a mason’s level and attach them to each other with screws, but to do that I have to take the stuff out of the existing element and I didn’t feel like doing that today. It’s probably going to be a pain and maybe I’ll wait until next time in Bavaria when I’m on vacation to do it. My room is currently a mess. The rest of the cabinet will either go to the neighbours if they want it, or I’ll take it apart and get rid of it at the municipal waste collection point. It’s not really a style that anyone wants in their living room anymore, but it’s a bit of a pity, as it is good quality.

There were a lot of dead woodlice under the part of the cabinet that I dismantled. I bet there’s more under the remaining parts. Yuck!

Keep safe, world.

Traveling Journals

Last night, I read the next chapter of A Book of One’s Own: People and Their Diaries (1984), by Thomas Mallon in bed. Called “Travelers”, it is about diaries or journals written by people on journeys, to keep a record of the extraordinary occurrences in their lives (instead of the ordinary ones of the chroniclers covered in the first chapter ̶ of course, the two categories can overlap). Mallon mentions diaries, journals or logbooks written by diarists such as Stephen Burrough (searching for the northeast passage from Britain to Asia in 1556), the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1803-1806), Amelia Stewart Knight (journey from Iowa to Oregon in 1853), Lydia Allan Rudd (also journey to Oregon in 1853, Jane Gould (from Iowa to California in 1862), Boswell’s and Johnson’s accounts of their travels in Scotland in 1773, the journals of Queen Victoria on her trips to the Scottish Highlands, Julia Newberry (trips to Europe from Chicago in the 19th century), Gauguin’s journals of his voyage to Tahiti, David Gascoyne’s Paris journal. Louis Philippe (future king of France, traveling in America), the actress Fanny Kemble’s Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation, Simone de Beauvoir and André Maurois both visiting America. Lewis Carroll and Henry Parry Liddon, who traveled together to Russia to experience the Russian Orthodox Church. The WWII diaries of Clara Milburn, who stayed at home, but whose life changed from the ordinary analogous with the upheaval of going on a journey, which is why she is lumped in with the travelers. Other authors were also mentioned, for example Siegfried Sassoon’s WW I diary. All fascinating. Lots of interesting diaries to look up and read one of these days.

I’ve never really thought about it, but it seems clear that there are hundreds of published diaries to read and uncountable ones that never got published but languish in archives or attics. Nowadays, of course, blogs. One could spend years reading nothing but journals. I certainly won’t do that, but I do believe that I’ve found a new-to-me genre to spend reading time on. Mallon’s book is a good aid in finding some interesting ones, so I’m glad I’m reading it.

Having stayed up in bed reading Mallon last night, this morning I lazed in bed reading the last few short stories in my copy of The Oxford Book of English Short Stories, edited by A. S. Byatt. Now, I really liked most of these stories, but I’ve already forgotten quite a lot the details of those I read in July and August. When I flip through the pages and dip into one or the other story, I do remember that I read it, but no details. I do a lot of reading, but I have a terrible memory. That’s partly why I started the blog, to keep a record of what I read. I do remember stories and books that I read more than once, so I’m sure I will be rereading these stories. Some books, like The Lord of the Rings, I almost know of by heart I’ve read them so often. I enjoy rereading, even if I remember the plots once I get into them. Sometimes I think that I should just keep rereading the books I own and stop getting new ones, but then, there’s so many interesting books in the world… I couldn’t do it. Maybe I ought to do a challenge, no new books for a certain period of time. Maybe next year. I do have quite a number of books both on Kindle and as hardcopy that I haven’t found time to read yet.

Today was a quiet day. I’d already gone grocery shopping yesterday, so didn’t need to go anywhere. Mum and I did, however, drive to the graveyard to check on the plants on the family plot. It’s still looking nice; we just removed a few fallen leaves and blossoms. We’ll probably have to do the winter planting in October, when I’m back from my vacation. We’ve got the plot covered in evergreen periwinkle. That’s a very hardy plant that stays green in winter and gets lovely small purple and white flowers in spring. We basically just change the potted plant. In late autumn we remove the pot and plant a Christmas rose instead. They can deal with frost and flower in winter and early spring. The flowers kind of curl up during frost and uncurl again when it’s warmer. We always try to use plants that flourish without much care since can only check on them once a month.

The morning walk with Curious Dog was pleasant. Didn’t need a jacket this morning, but it was already 9:00 a.m. when we started and quite hot in the sun by the time we returned. It got a bit cloudy in the afternoon and was pleasant, but when we went for the afternoon walk, the clouds disappeared, and it became too hot to go far. I was too lazy to go up into the woods, so we walked along the bike path in the valley. Lots of bicycle traffic. Heaps of electric-powered ones. They always come up at high speed and I have to make sure CD doesn’t get in their way. It’s a bit annoying really. The path is supposed to be shared by pedestrians and bikers and isn’t a racetrack.

Otherwise I started reading Dickens’ Barnaby Rudge. I’m rather liking it, it’s full of murder and mayhem and I’ve only read about 60 pages so far. Hope it stays interesting.

Keep safe, world.

Diaries

Although I was quite tired yesterday and went to bed early, I still stayed up till 11:00 p.m. reading the first chapter of A Book of One’s Own: People and Their Diaries (1984), by Thomas Mallon. The book was recommended by someone on BookTube and I found a copy via www.abebooks.de, my go-to online resource for out-of-print or used books. I’m interested in it, because I think it may give me pointers for my blog writing. Blogs are, after all, a kind of diary. The book categorizes diarists as chroniclers, travelers, pilgrims, creators, apologists, confessors, and prisoners and those are also the chapter titles. Last night I read the introduction and the first chapter. It’s very interesting.

The chapter “Chroniclers” is about people who write diaries to tell the day-to-day story of their lives. Mallon mentions Samuel Pepys, Samuel Sewall, James Woodforde, Elizabeth Wynne (married Fremantle), Edmond and Jules Goncourt (brothers who kept a diary together), George Templeton Strong, Virginia Woolf, and Evelyn Waugh. He tells us what their diaries are like and gives some quotes. I’d never heard of half of these people, but I would like to one day read Pepys’ and Woolf’s diaries. I’ve never read anyone’s diary (though I do read a lot of blogs and those are probably similar to diaries), but I imagine it’s like reading people’s published letters. Letters, I find, are good to dip in and out off, not to read a big collection in one go. Reading diaries, I imagine, would be similar. I’m looking forward to reading the other chapters and finding more diarists to check out.

This morning I woke up to a countryside wreathed in fog. Autumn has arrived. Lots of bedewed spiderwebs festooned in the bushes at the wood’s edge. Lots of mushrooms in the moss under the trees. It was a lovely morning walk with Curious Dog. On our return, in the valley, the sun was already dispersing the fog and I had to take off my fleece jacket. It was comfy and warm in the shady woods, but too hot in the sun.

Logging in to work, I again had problems with the blasted VPN. It kept disconnecting and reconnecting until, after a couple of hours, it stabilized. At least now I know that it isn’t a problem with my new Internet plan in Baden-Württemberg, but some other problem, because I never had this problem here in Bavaria before and my Internet plan is still the same as it’s been for the past few years. Thinking back, I believe the issues started with an update of the VPN software a couple of weeks ago. Anyway, I searched the company’s IT portal and found some tricks that may fix or improve the issue. Some are quite complicated, and all require a restart, so I didn’t try them out this morning after the VPN had stabilized. I’ll either try them on the weekend, or next week if the problem persists.

Had my synch call with my manager, but there wasn’t much to discuss, as I’m up-to-date with all my tasks despite the problems with the VPN. They are going on vacation next week and after that it’s almost my turn. So, we chatted a bit about our respective vacation plans.

After a late lunch, I went out grocery shopping. One crate of mineral water, one box of food and two carrying bags. Should see us through the week. Potatoes, sweet potatoes (the first ones we’ve had for ages, they are not always available and often they’re too expensive), Brussel sprouts, zucchini, cucumber, a small celeriac, kohlrabi, carrots, a small pumpkin, onions, garlic, leek, romaine salad, tomatoes, mushrooms, frozen spinach. Apples, pears, plums (just a handful), bananas. Tea, pasta, lentils, bread. And some odds and ends, some biscuits and a bag of sour vegan gummy things. A box of chocolate as a gift for the neighbour who always kindly picks up our mail so that it doesn’t overflow our mailbox. No dairy or meat because we’re mostly vegan. No plant milks and juices, because we are stocked up, ditto with tofu and tempeh (you can’t get tempeh here anyway). No dog food, because we brought that along from my place (and the supermarket doesn’t carry it). Curious Dog also gets his share of vegetables. He likes cucumber (raw) and zucchini, kohlrabi and carrots cooked with his normal kibble (not vegan). He also loves broccoli and cauliflower (oddly, both raw and cooked) and always gets some when we have those. He also gets bits of apples, which he loves, but not pears or bananas ̶ he acts like he wants those and then spits them out. He also loves watermelons and mango (of which he only gets small bits, because I think they are too sweet). Also papaya, but we almost never have them, because they are way too expensive except occasionally when they are on sale.

I say this guy in the supermarket, a family father with his kids, wearing his mask wrongly. It annoyed the heck out of me. How hard is it to pull the blasted mask over your nose for the time you spend in the supermarket? If you’re not going to cover your nose why verdammt noch mal are you even wearing one? Argh.

In the afternoon it got rather warm, too hot to work in the garden and still warm when Curious Dog and I took our second turn through the woods. No more fog, but a lot of mosquitoes or midges. Got at least two stings and found a tick taking a walk on CD’s back. So far none that have attached themselves, but it’s early yet. I’ll have to keep checking for them, but it will soon be the end of tick season.

Keep safe, world.

Unsettling

Last night in bed, I read an unsettling story in my Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories. It was “Patriotism” by Yukio Mishima. In it, there’s a description in gruesome detail of a couple, husband and wife, who committed ritual suicide. It kept me up wondering if the short story was supposed to be critical or supportive of the acts. The couple were very young, especially the wife, and they did it because the husband, a soldier, had a problem with some friends who took part in a revolt and against whom he would have had to fight. He didn’t want to do this, so he committed seppuku and his wife also killed herself to safeguard his honor or something. I found it very puzzling and quite horrible to contemplate.

I looked up the author on Wikipedia and learned that he had also committed ritual suicide for similar reasons. Very unsettling indeed and very hard to relate to; a totally alien mindset from my perspective. I don’t think that I will forget the short story anytime soon. According to Wikipedia, Mishima is an important Japanese author, who was once considered for the Nobel Prize in Literature but also a controversial political figure. A Japanese nationalist who opposed the post-war democratic constitution and wanted to restore the “sacredness of the Japanese Emperor”. That sounds very strange to me. I don’t believe in the sacredness of any human being regardless of their office ̶ or rather, aren’t we all kind of sacred (but not in a political way)?

We’re back in Bavaria and Partner is back in North Rhine-Westphalia. Our trip was ok, just a bit long. Some traffic backups at construction sites and I was stuck behind a slow lorry for a very long time on the country roads. I couldn’t overtake it, because of oncoming traffic or too many bends or hills or other obstacles that prevented me from seeing if the road was clear. We arrived at 4:00 p.m. I’ve now set up my office for tomorrow’s work, had a short walk with Curious Dog to calm him down after the drive, had dinner (Mum made lentil soup) and am quite knackered. I like driving, but somehow it tires me out. Probably all that sustained concentration.

Keep safe, world.

Choices, Choices

Since we’re almost done with War and Peace, my friend and I are considering which work of literature we want to take as our reading project for next year. We like to take one that’s long, which we divide up into ten section or so and then read throughout the year and keep on discussing it. Previously we’ve done Clarissa by Samuel Richardson. It was an amazing read. Reading slowly and discussing what we’ve read make the works stick in our memory more than usual. At the moment, we’re thinking of reading either the Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio (prompted by Corona) or The Tale of Genji, by Murasaki Shikibu. If we decide on the Decameron, I will probably read Genji anyway, as it’s on my TBR-pile and I’m really keen. But then, I’m also keen on Decameron. We’ll see.

Last night we watched the fourth and last part of the 1966 German TV version of Treasure Island. Not bad, but I will have to read the book again (I think I last read it as a child) to see if Jim Hawkins was as much of an idiot in the book as he was portrayed in the series. Not sure when I will get around to that, though.

This morning, while walking with Curious Dog, we tried to find a path through the woods that we haven’t taken for a long while. We couldn’t find it. So, we ended up taking a longer walk than planned and I was almost late for a call. It was nice outside. Warm in the sun and cool in the woods. We also passed by the nearby cattle field on the way back and were gawked at by a few young calves, who were frolicking in the sunshine. It was cute, but Curious Dog was not amused. He thinks cows are scary.

Work was full of meetings, but although I couldn’t block time for my tasks, I still made progress in between meetings (and during the boring ones) because I didn’t want to end the day without having reviewed at least one of my documents. I’m on a roll, it’s going great. Probably because I am increasingly motivated to get everything done in time for my vacation and I don’t want to have heaps to do in the last few days before it starts.

I booked an appointment to get my winter tires on the car before the vacation. I don’t like traveling with summer tires in October. What if there’s an early onset of winter while we are on the Baltic coast? That’s quite a few hundred kilometers north of here and it would be awful if we had to drive on summer tires in icy conditions. We always go on vacation to the Baltic or the North Sea in October and so far we’ve never had early winter weather, but you never know and I bet it would happen if I didn’t get the winter tires fitted.

Tomorrow, I’m just working in the morning, as in the afternoon Mum, I, and Curious Dog are off to Bavaria. Partner, as usual is off to North Rhine-Westfalia. I still have to do all my and Curious Dog’s packing (his toys, harness and leashes and food), as well as packing up the groceries that we will be taking along (some stuff that would otherwise go off). Hope we have light traffic and no traffic jams on the Autobahn, but the school holiday time is over (mostly) and therefore traffic should be normal (unless there’s an accident or something).

The weather is supposed to be good next week, so maybe I can get some stuff done in the garden and get ahead with patching the broken bit of plaster on the old garage. I haven’t done anything on that this year and I’m pretty sure I won’t get done with it. I’m such a lazy and unskilled plasterer.

As I’m not working tomorrow afternoon, I will be working on Friday morning instead. So, tomorrow is not my last day of work for the week. I shall have to get up early on Friday, no sleeping in. But it’s great to be able to arrange my working hours in such a flexible way, so I shall refrain from complaining.

Keep safe, world.