Figs, Heat, Summer

Finally, heat.

The California summer is dry, and the light is blinding.

Self welcomes this weather.  It’s only now she is having a real summer.  For in Scotland, it rained three of the four weeks she was there, Amsterdam was overcast, and Paris had torrents of rain.

As luck would have it, on the flight home, self had a stop-over in Seattle.  At the baggage claim, a young woman approached her to ask if she knew the best way to get from Sea-Tac to the city.  She gave self a card, after telling self she was attending a conference on climate change.  The business card was for a place called the Walker Institute.  It says, on the upper right-hand corner, “Our climate, our future.”

Since arriving, a day ago, self has been watering like mad!  (And where oh where is Jose, the gardener she asked for help today — he should have been here half an hour ago — ?)  She stands underneath the fig trees:  sap spots her forearms.

The figs are ripe, almost to bursting:

Ripe Figs, Backyard: Self has two fig trees.

In other matters, the bottles of fine Scotch whiskey self purchased from The Whiskey Trail on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh arrived, in very excellent shape!

The whiskey self bought from The Whiskey Trail in Edinburgh arrived in excellent condition!

Self was so glad she decided to mail them instead of trundling them along to Amsterdam and to Paris —  as it was, she almost ran out of space in her suitcases; her two bags were absolutely filled to bursting (and, in addition, her back and shoulders were already thrown out of joint with the stuff she had to haul on the train!)

The staff in this Edinburgh store are extremely helpful: Five Stars!

In other matters:  self returned to the library and checked out a third mystery:  Christine Falls, by Benjamin Black (who is really the Booker Prize short-listed author John Banville).  Her reading tends to follow a certain pattern:  There was a year or two when she read only books written by women.  Another year, she read only travel books.  One summer, she read five novels by Henning Mankell.  And so forth.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Settling In: The New Yorker of 28 May 2012

Oh, The New Yorker.  Self knows it’s one of the delights of coming back home:  catching up on all those back issues.  She’s currently on the May 28, 2012 issue, and these are some of the books mentioned in the Briefly Noted section:

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, by Ben Fountain:  a group of Iraqi veterans spends Thanksgiving Day watching the Dallas Cowboys.

“A pitch-perfect ear for American talk drives the satire:  the members of Bravo Squad speak in an endless stream of vulgarity, and the Texans who surround them talk of ‘double y’im dees’ and ‘acks of sack-rih-fice.’ “

The Spoiler, by Annalena McAfee:  about “a London newsroom at the brink of the digital age.”

“The plot consists of two tales of humiliation,” one involving “a legendary war correspondent” who “has been reduced to writing about her declining health” and a “tabloid hack who is stuck writing articles with titles like Top Ten TV Bad-Hair Days.”

A Sense of Direction, by Gideon Lewis-Kraus:  a book about pilgrimages:  Camino de Santiago in Spain, Shikoku in Japan, and Uman, in Ukraine.

He makes the three treks —  Catholic, Buddhist, and Jewish, respectively — as a secularist, hunting for clarity while nursing his blistered feet:  “In my terror of stasis I had chosen motion; in my total absence of stability or routine I felt both electrified and panicked.”

In addition, today self was able to check out two mysteries from the downtown Redwood City Library:  Jesse Kellerman’s Trouble, and one of Alexander McCall Smith’s Precious Ramotswe novels (She’s read three others and finds them almost as addictive as reading Henning Mankell), The Miracle at Speedy Motors.

She finished reading the The 9/11 Commission Final Report (She’s glad she had a long plane trip to really concentrate) and is now beginning Lauren Groff’s novel, The Monsters of Templeton.

Self thinks it is pretty amazing that she is ambulatory:  she got only two hours sleep.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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