Sunday, September 23, 2007

Moving On

J: ― "Tonight I'm having the last gin and tonic of the summer."
M:― "So that means no more gin and tonics?"
J: ― "No, it just means that now I move on to the gin and tonics of the fall."

Monday, September 17, 2007

Monday, Mid-September

Lovely lazy weekend. Gorgeous early autumn weather. Reading Annie Dillard's The Maytrees – one of the last books from my summer list. Not exactly a fast read for such a short work. Only about a third of the way through, so I don't want to make any snap judgments, but I think it's just possible that Annie should be encouraged to stick to non-fiction in the future.


Something new to me – reading challenges. Well, blogging in general is pretty new to me. I've known about reading challenges for school kids, but hadn't run into the adult version until very recently. Something to consider for the fall? The idea certainly sounds intriguing. Maybe a way to keep myself from backsliding into spending too much time in front of the TV. Have to give it some thought.


And speaking of TV-gazing – we're certainly enjoying the new series of Inspector Lynley mysteries on PBS this month. But someone really needs to do something about Havers' hair. She's beginning to look like a bag lady. In fact, Lynley and Havers both need a good scrub down and a troop of wardrobe and makeup personnel to look after them. I know they do these British series on a very low budget, but surely they could spend enough to keep their stars from looking like homeless people. I'm convinced the real Scotland Yard doesn't let its inspectors go around looking that scruffy – even in the provinces. Adam Dalgleish and his team are always very attractively turned out.

Friday, September 07, 2007

I ♥ a Book Sale

Finally made it to the Daedalus Warehouse sale last weekend. Daedalus Books, the discount book seller, has a big warehouse in Columbia, Maryland, as well as a new store (well, relatively new) in Baltimore. And in all the many years I've been getting their catalogue, I've intended to drive over and check out the warehouse, but never managed to get around to it until last Saturday.

It's quite a trek from our part of Northern Virginia, and with all the Labor Day weekend traffic, and missing cut-offs and exits, it took about an hour to get there. But it was worth all the travel. Seemed like just about everything in the building was on sale for $4.98 (or less).

Appropriately enough, I bought Penelope Fitzgerald's The Book Shop, which always sounded interesting to me. Haven't read any of her books yet, but I have to admire such a late-bloomer. She published her first work at age 58, which gives us all hope.

Also picked up several "literary nonfiction" works.

Nicolas Basbanes' A Splendor of Letters: The Permanence of Books in an Impermanent World. I'm about halfway through his A Gentle Madness, and really enjoying it.

The Friar and the Cipher, by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone, about the mysterious Voynich manuscript. The Goldstones have written a slew of books about books and book-collecting, but this is the first one for me.

Book Row, by Marvin Mondlin and Roy Meador: an "anecdotal historical memoir" about the antiquarian book trade in New York City, from the 1890s to the 1960s. Most of that world is gone now, of course, and I really only got to glimpse just the very end of it back in the mid-1970s. So I'm looking forward to finding out more about it.

And finally, Thomas Mallon's A Book of One's Own: People and Their Diaries. Well, what blogger wouldn't be intrigued by a book about the many ways people document their everyday lives? Of course, it was published just before the blog phenomenon got started. Maybe Mr. Mallon needs to bring out a revised edition.

So, all in all, it was a pretty successful and very enjoyable field trip. M. didn't buy anything. But that's not too surprising, since he's a man and really doesn't understand the whole concept of shopping.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Random Notes

Spent most of yesterday evening watching the U.S. Open Quarter Finals on TV. Jelena Jankovic worrying Venus Williams a bit, and looking very pretty in pink while doing it. But Venus was just too strong in the end (no pun intended – but those short shorts were really awful). Then Andy Roddick against Roger Federer. Jimmy Connors there – still coaching Roddick – all dressed up with a tie and everything. Andy looked very good – he's learned a lot from Jimbo. But "the Fed" made short work of him – finished him off in straight sets, while barely breaking a sweat. Well, I always pull for the Americans in the Open, so I was hoping this might be Roddick's year. But Federer may be the greatest player ever, and I guess it's silly to expect anyone to beat him this year. He's certainly a treat to watch.
"I was a fantastic student until ten, and then my mind began to wander."
Grace Paley (1922-2007)

"Money is like manure, it should be spread around."
Brooke Astor (1902-2007)

"Geez, I coulda sworn that ball was outta here!"
Phil Rizzuto (1917-2007)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Wednesday After Labor Day

You drop your guard for an instant and first thing you know, the seasons have gone and changed. There doesn't seem to be any way to adjust the default on the way the system works.

After growing up in south Texas, and living in that part of the world for many years, it seems very odd to me when people up here in THE NORTH are stricken with this autumn fever at the end of August and beginning of September every year. Back home, the summer season is so long and fades so gradually into fall – really there's little difference between the weather in August and the weather in late September – you hardly notice the change.

But you certainly notice it here. Everybody goes on vacation in August – gets out of town. And after Labor Day, everybody comes back and gets back to work and the new season begins.

Just like that.

And this year, it's especially irritating because we're still having lovely warm summer weather, even though Labor Day has come and gone. Still, you can see fall coming on. The pace has picked up. The crowds of tourists are thinning out in DC. Fashions are changing. And when he got back from his walk today, M. said the leaves on the maple trees are already beginning to turn from green to pink and gold.

Traffic around here definitely increases after the August break. The Washington Post reported yesterday that the Virginia Department of Transportation calls the day after Labor Day "Terrible Tuesday." People are back from vacation, schools are back in session. Thousands of school buses hit the roads, and so do thousands of parents in their cars.

Ah, to think that this time just last week, I was basking in the sun and dipping my toes in the surf on the Delaware coast. And here I am this week, already leafing through the Fall 2007 L.L. Bean catalog. Oh, and another Rite of Autumn has occurred. I picked up the September issues of Vogue and Harper's Bazaar the other day at Border's, and regretted I hadn't brought along a wheelbarrow to help get them out to the car – they get more massive and more ridiculous every year. But fun to read, if you don't take the fashion silliness too seriously.

What else? Well, our outdoor pool is closed now - the lounge chairs all neatly stacked, awaiting storage - the bikini-clad lifeguards all returned to Charlottesville and Pittsburgh and Dubrovnik. Most years, our condo association gets talked into stretching the season a bit and leaving the pool open for "just one more week" after its official day-after-Labor Day closing date. And every year, it always turns cool and rainy and nobody gets to enjoy the pool during those extra days. This year, of course, they were adamant about closing on time, and naturally we're having gorgeous summer weather this week – perfect for swimming and sunbathing. Go figure.

Monday, September 03, 2007

After the Beach

And we got what we were hoping for - an absolutely perfect beach week!

Morning on the Beach
Delaware Seashore
Late summer 2007