Nine Weeks To Read “The Big Wave”

When self was a little girl, one of her favorite books was Pearl S. Buck’s The Big Wave.

Last Christmas, when son gave her the book of Hokusai prints illustrating the classic Japanese anthology, The One Hundred Poets, she remembered, first, the Hokusai print (which is not in the anthology, but she could picture it very clearly), and then the story.

Soon after the start of the New Year, self went to her local library and looked up the book. She found that there was one copy available, but it had to be requested from another library. Self put in a request, and sometime after the first week of January, the book came. Self checked it out on January 9.

Since January 9, self has read one or two paragraphs at a time. It’s a strange experience: she doesn’t remember anything about the story! And the language seems so simple. And, when she was small, she didn’t know the author was an American woman. Now, she knows that the author is Pearl S. Buck. Now that self knows this, she reads the story differently.

So, nine weeks have flown by. The book is now due on Monday. She can’t renew it one more time, as she’s reached the two-renewal limit. But, luckily, the book is quite short. So, this evening, self sits down at her son’s desk (his room is becoming her study now, instead of the little closet space she had before) and decides to try to read it in its entirety.

The story is simple, very simple. But there is always this threat, underlying the simplicity of the language. On p. 22, self reads:

On days when the sky was bright and the winds mild, the ocean lay so calm and blue that it was hard to believe that it could be cruel and angry. Yet even Kino never quite forgot that under the warm blue surface the water was cold and green. When the sun shone the deep water was still. But when the deep water moved and heaved and stirred, ah, then Kino was glad that his father was a farmer and not a fisherman.

And yet, one day, it was the earth that brought the big wave. Deep under the deepest part of the ocean, miles under the still green waters, fires raged in the heart of the earth. The icy cold of the water could not chill those fires. Rocks were melted and boiled under the crust of the ocean’s bed, under the weight of the water, but they could not break through. At last the steam grew so strong that it forced its way through to the mouth of the volcano. That day, as he helped his father plant turnips, Kino saw the sky overcast halfway to the zenith.

“Look, Father!” he cried. “The volcano is burning again!”

Here, finally, is the story self remembers, dear blog readers! Stay tuned.

Hunting For “Billy Bathgate”: The 4th Most Gorgeous Day So Far in 2008

This morning, on the way home after fab dimsum lunch at Ming’s in Palo Alto, self asked hubby to stop by Menlo Park Library so she could pick up a copy of E. L. Doctorow’s Billy Bathgate, one of the next books on self’s reading list. For some reason, Redwood City Library did not have a copy of this particular Doctorow novel.

Upon arrival at Menlo Park Library, however, self discovered that someone had just checked out the library’s only copy of this particular novel. Why is everyone suddenly on the same wavelength as self? Now, the only other library in the vicinity that has a copy of Billy Bathgate is the one in Belmont.

After the library, hubby and self drove to the old Century Park 12 movie theatre on Bayshore, and watched “The Bank Job.” What a fun movie! Jason Statham is such a compelling actor. There was even some kind of love triangle sub-plot going on between Jason, Saffron Burrows (whose character went by the rather improbable name of Martina Love) and Jason’s long-suffering blonde wife. Anyhoo, it was wonderful for self to re-live the 70s. Self was put in mind of other 70s movies she has loved: “The French Connection” and “The Godfather.” She loved all the low-life cockney accents, and the Jason Statham side-kick who looked disconcertingly like loony comic Andy Kaufman. And Saffron Burrows is still lovely, though her face looks rather sharper than self remembered it being in “Enigma,” several years ago.

After the movie, hubby drove home, and then self rushed off to Redwood City Nursery, which is her other favorite plant nursery, and she got there just half an hour before it closed. But there were other people still pulling in to the parking lot. And the nursery had set out the fattest, most gorgeous pink, white, and red camellias self had ever seen. But since these magnificent specimens started at $35, and self has no luck at all with this particular plant, she regretfully had to pass.

Instead, she bought four itty-bitty pots of lamium, which the tag said was a shade-loving plant that could take all kinds of mistreatment: poor soil, drought, etc etc. That certainly is the plant for self! (And then, after she made her purchase, she worried that hubby would forget to water while she is in Israel)

Now, hubby engrossed in Duke/North Carolina game (North Carolina leading), and Dick Vitale is his usual excitable self, and self got to see Eli and Peyton Manning sitting on the sidelines (Both dressed in long-sleeved shirts with collars). Stanford played earlier today, but lost (big) to USC, boo.

Dinner (stir-fried minced pork and asparagus) is over. Self and hubby are having slices of lemon meringue pie with oolong tea. Tomorrow self thinks she’ll try planting the Blanc Double de Courbet rose that she ordered from Edmunds’ Roses. Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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