Unforgettable Ketchikan

The way Jonathan Evison describes it, it’s a really depressing place to end your Alaska cruise:

  • A working-class town smelling of barnacles and rust, wood rot, and diesel smoke, wet dog hair in heaters, and fish nets hung out to dry. Despite civic-minded efforts to splash some vibrant color about, there’s no disguising the town’s blimp gray underbelly.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

You Should Not Have Gone On That Cruise, Harriet Chance!

Nearing the end of Jonathan Evison’s novel, This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance!. Self began reading it in, of all places, Paris. It’s been very entertaining. Only wish there had been more of Rudy, the Filipino cabin steward.

The Alaskan cruise which is the “frame” for this novel about Harriet Chance’s entire life, isn’t such a good idea. The views are breathtaking, but the people are anything but. Self is so glad, because now the novel has cured her of the desire to go on an Alaskan cruise. All you do is gain five pounds and spend dinner talking to strangers.

p. 266:

“Y’all mind if I join you?” says a morbidly obese fellow, who has materialized suddenly at the end of the table. He’s clutching a Caesar salad and wearing a black T-shirt that says I SEE DUMB PEOPLE.

What is Harriet’s obsession with other people’s weight? As if to oblige her, most of the people she meets on the cruise are overweight.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Still Reading: THIS IS YOUR LIFE, HARRIET CHANCE!

Hugely enjoying this Jonathan Evison novel from a few years back, This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! Turns out Evison isn’t even remotely close to being the age of his protagonist. That is what happens when you have imagination!

pp. 94 – 95:

“I feel so strange,” says Harriet. “Am I . . . dead?”

“Not yet,” he says, examining the television remote. “Trust me, you’ll know.”

“Should I be frightened?”

“Won’t do you any good,” he says, setting the remote aside. “Don’t bother planning.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Still Reading THIS IS YOUR LIFE, HARRIET CHANCE!

  • She never mentions her husband, but that diamond must be four karats. Likewise, she never enquires about Bernard, or your children, or your home.

p. 31, This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison

#amreading: THIS IS YOUR LIFE, HARRIET CHANCE!

Yes, we’re getting ahead of ourselves again, but hey, it happens . . .  The reflective mind is a pinball, pitching and careening, rebounding off anything it makes contact with.

— p. 29, This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison

#amreading: THIS IS YOUR LIFE, HARRIET CHANCE

Self is very much enjoying her first Jonathan Evison novel, This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance. She is in Paris, enjoying the vibes. The book she read before this one, The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey, by Rinker Buck, was about crossing America in a covered wagon; she began reading it in Cork, almost a month ago. She was still reading it in London. Still reading it in Bath. Finally, finally, in Versailles, she finished it. Because mules just do not go with chateaus, just saying.

Now, at least, she’s reading about cruises. Much better:

The weight of the impending cruise sits on her shoulders, a heavy dread. If only she could cancel without breaking Mildred’s heart. From the beginning, Harriet hoped that Mildred would decline, so she wouldn’t have to go herself, but she should have known better.

— p. 23, This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison

Since the book blurbs all state that the cruise is going to happen, self doesn’t have to wallow in the main character’s dithering. Rather than condemn, she relates.

It is a painful, really painful, idea to go on a cruise.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Back In the Day: Rinker Buck

Apparently the Native Americans and the western settlers moving along the Oregon Trail in the mid-19th century got along quite well.

The amicable relations came to an abrupt end in 1855:

  • In 1855, a detachment of six hundred U.S. Army soldiers commanded by General William S. Harney surrounded a band of Brule Sioux led by Chief Little Thunder near Blue Water Creek, six miles north of Ash Hollow, slaughtering eighty-six braves and capturing most of their women and children. Harney’s expedition was launched in retaliation for an incident the year before, when an inexperienced Army lieutenant, John Grattan, had brashly marched his soldiers into a large Brule Sioux camp outside Fort Laramie, Wyoming, demanding that the chiefs produce the Indian who had shot a Mormon pioneer’s cow, even though the Brules had already offered restitution for the cow by giving the pioneer his pick of their sixty-horse herd. The usual army bumbling was involved. Grattan was a recent West Point graduate, unfamiliar with Sioux ways, and his French-Canadian “interpreter” could not speak the Brule dialect and was drunk.

The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey, p. 213

Another From Rinker Buck

Somewhere a few pages ago, Rinker Buck mentions that he is part Irish.

The Sentence of the Day is from The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey (Was reading this in Cork and the irony was rich: She was reading about of all things mules while listening to mostly cello music in a fabulous Irish city).

A rumination on the memory of Buck’s Dear Departed Dad:

Buck’s Dad: You’re not quitting. You just keep going . . .

Buck, years later: The idea that I could be doing quite a lot by not doing anything at all, just by not quitting, was quite beyond me at the time, but I did feel that night that I had the pioneer spirit.

Very wise, Mr. Buck.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Danger!: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 3 May 2017

Signage, Cork:

DSCN1591

How will Brexit impact Ireland? No one knows for sure.

What’s next for America?

DSCN1114

Reading The Guardian, March 2017

As luck would have it, self began reading The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon:

DSCN1109

Self’s reading of THE DECLINE AND FALL gave self all sorts of premonitions.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Sentence of the Day: Rinker Buck

“I cannot enjoy my life unless I am overactive, or find a challenge that makes me ebullient.”

— Rinker Buck, The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey

Self bought five books on this trip: five big, fat books. What was she thinking?

When she arrived in Cork, two days ago, she found that the platform exit was down a long cement ramp.

Of course, it was easy to roll two suitcases down a ramp.

What self completely failed to appreciate was that, if there is a downhill, there must be an uphill.

She decided to tackle this uphill ramp by finding the right attitude. That is, by sucking it up. About a quarter of the way, she stopped dead and had a most inconvenient thought: I will need a crane.

Then, an older woman in a black pantsuit turned and said, “Come on, give me the bags.” Self was all like, No! These are my bags! These are my punishment!

But the woman decided to pretend self was not protesting, and reached for the bigger of her suitcases.

All the way up the ramp self apologized. At the top, she reached for her big suitcase, absolutely dying with shame. The woman said, matter-of-factly, “I knew you’d never make it up that ramp.”

Meanwhile, it occurs to self that she cannot handle both these bags by herself when she needs to be off and on trains. Constantly.

But, since self has no choice, she decides that an attitude of cheerful denial is the best policy. After all, it’s always worked for her before.

The reason she knows it’s worked for her before is: she has never let go of the notion that suitcases, no matter how heavy, are no big deal. There is terrible disconnect here, but the importance of this notion, this notion of self-punishment followed by absolute self-reliance, is obviously something vital to self’s personality. Why, she has no idea. As vital notions go, this one’s pretty bruising.

Last year, she remembers being helped onto a London bus by the driver himself (No San Francisco MUNI driver would ever relinquish the steering wheel of a bus to help a batty woman. Self’s just saying) He reached down and grabbed her suitcase. After, he said: “I tell you, it must be really nice to leave home knowing you’ve brought all your books with you.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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