Saturday, November 22, 2008

That Funny Sentence

I'm sorry! Until FlaHoos mentioned it in person this morning, I didn't even realize that my Devoted Readers may have been living in eager suspense, waiting, as author Diane Hammond did, to hear that funny sentence from Hannah's Dream. I fear that you had to be there, or that the preceding pages are required for context. Therefore, I'll copy that sentence and the one that follows it to end the paragraph, and you'll just have to chuckle or not.

Well, the setup is that Truman, a single father, is home with a cold, and a fellow zoo employee has offered to bring him some soup. The Oat Maiden was a cafe several blocks from the zoo and, from what Truman could deduce, it specialized in dishes made with obscure grains, husks, stems, hulls, rinds, and pith. He was too sick to care.

This afternoon I finished another book I absolutely recommend: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a collaboration between aunt and niece, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. It's a slice of World War II and a slice of love and much, much more. Just read it.

The story does tell of many of the atrocities of war. It's another book that made me laugh and cry. But, really, why do we keep having wars if we all know that War is hell, that War is not the answer? Why do wars continue? I've never read a book about a soldier who couldn't wait for another war to attend. Certainly young men have often been eager to go to war, but that's before they've actually gone. Once they've gone, they seem to cool down about it.

The book talked about slaves during WWII -- young boys from Poland, forced to work, unfed, until they died from exhaustion, but no matter: there's more where that came from. In fact, death by exhaustion was part of the plan. As a Good American, I tend to think of slaves only in terms of Negro Slaves in the colonies and later in the states. I have to feel guilty, even though neither Nicolazzos nor Huckabones were here in time to own slaves and probably wouldn't have had enough money anyhow. I'd like to think we wouldn't have had the heart for it, either.

Despite these topics, the book was funny and charming and hopeful. I already drink my coffee from pretty blue-and-white cups and saucers -- quite like a lady, thank you -- but this book made me want to drink tea from same. Well, it does take place in the mid-forties in England. I wanted a blouse with ruffles and maybe a shawl.

Probably the best book on WWII I've read was by Marge Piercy, Gone to Soldiers. That'll make you a peacenik. Hopefully.

But whether to war or not is hardly nattering, is it?

I had a little insight this morning that just makes me feel stupid, but there it is. I was at Hank's funeral. I'd like to say, "We buried Hank this morning" because that sounds so ... romantic? It also somehow sounds real, if the two can be mixed. I wish we had buried Hank this morning. I wish we'd been out in the cold sun, wind thrashing our clothes while the pastor's words were whipped from his mouth and the casket was lowered. That's how you know someone has really died. But that's not what we do anymore, so, okay: I was at Hank's memorial service today. Everyone who met him liked him; many loved him. He was bright and funny and kind. Well, a stroke knocked him out and so he retired. He was plenty old enough to retire -- he just hadn't gotten around to it.

Much as I enjoyed his company at work, I never visited him or called him after he retired. When I myself, ah, became unemployed, I had plenty of time and no excuses, but I simply didn't visit him. He was close by, too. I just didn't do it.

So when I heard of his death, of course I felt bad. What a selfish creature I'd been! I could have brightened up some of his last remaining days but no! I was too busy overeating and reading and blogging and stuff. No time for old friends!

"Well," I told people, "at least it wasn't my own father I'd ignored. It was someone else's father." Heh. Aren't I clever?

But the insight was this: I had missed having my days brightened by not going to visit Hank. I had fallen into the pit of erroneous thought. I had thought that, what? retired people are suddenly no longer interesting? People who've had strokes are somehow, um, invalid? I was a Little Red Riding Hood, strolling off through the forest to bring succor to someone who, I realized this morning, could have brought me some muffins, too.

Have I muddled the metaphors enough?

I thought so.

I'm going to try to limit my book talk to simply mentioning what I just read, who wrote it, and whether I like it. Okay? That way, you non-readers out there (and you know who you are) won't be yawning so much.

In half an hour, I'll head over to Mike's so I can greet Sunny and Benji and Rico, Rudy, Telshe, Mo, and Benny, and pick the human up to take to John and Janet's, where we will gorge ourselves on a fabulous home-cooked meal (something I often long for) and then pull our over-stuffed selves into the TV room for a movie. Halfway through that, there will be a break for some indulgent dessert surely accompanied by huge mounds of ice cream. Will the previous overeating cause even the smallest refusal from any of us? Will just one of us protest wethinks we doth devour too much? Will there be a whimper of unwillingness?



olga kruse said...

I love your reviews, though I have not read the books; I just enjoy your sense of humor. Keep writing. Thanks.

Pi-Dave-ke said...

The last couple of paragraphs reminded me of a circumstance, recurring every holiday and at times in-between, that, quite literally, leaves me with a terribly uncomfortable feeling.

I, like you, thoroughly enjoy home doesn't even have to be all that good...better than average is fine...and I just eat up the love and caring and hard work that the host or hostess has lavished upon the guests via the repast proffered at our little occasion. In country speak: "I make a pig o' myself on thet good home cookin'!"

Then the assault (insult?) comes, even before the dishes are cleared or the last pickle munched: "Anyone for some pie (or cake, or some other caloric instrument of doom)?"

My gut is full, I haven't even been able to release a healthy belch, I'm on the verge of pain, I may have to make a visit to the toilet soon, and for your "clean-up convenience" you want everyone to cram dessert into their faces before there is any possible way to fit it in without some internal tendons and ligaments being permanently damaged! If I'd-a known you were going to hawk the pecan pie so soon (and you know I can't leave the room occupied by a pecan pie without at least a taste) then I wouldn't-a glommed onta your so-very-tasty main course...maybe.

Isn't there some unwritten rule requiring at least thirty minutes between the final relish plate item and the first whiff of whipped cream (alright, Cool Whip, if you insist)?

Sometimes I think: "Look, I'm coming to visit you and help you consume the entirely-too-much food you cooked. Could you please just give me some time between the meal and dessert? Great stuffing, any pecan pie left?"

Pi-Dave-ke said...

Well, this comment was written for the blog above, so move it up one knotch!