The Spawn is back in Terpville, having headed back yesterday. Mrs. M is at the Y, and I’m tending to a little laundry. Meanwhile. . .
It was nice having the Spawn with us for a week, but of course, it didn’t feel long enough. And now it’s time for Mrs. M and me to take down the Christmas decorations. I’ve already put away the tree’s ornaments — I enjoy looking at them as I put them up and as I take them down. Most of them are inherited from my parents, and they include silk-threaded globes my father remembered from when he lived in Germany in the mid-50s. We have some bells of that vintage as well. Many of the others are wooden figures — gingerbread men, toys, Santas and such — that Mom handpainted in the 1970s. A few have the names of family members on them, mom having labeled those in felt-tip pen, depending on who or what she had painted. For example. one figure is a little boy in union-suit-style pajamas carrying a candle. Mom painted the hair red, and my name is on that one. There are also some of my dad, Mike, and even herself.
Other decorations are of more recent vintage, some that Mrs. M and I acquired over the years, one or two that the Spawn made in various crafty-type school activities, and one I received from a Mondoville sorority when I was named Prof of the Month one December.
There are other decorations in addition to the tree, of course. We have a couple of creches, one in ceramic and another in terra cotta; a ceramic Santa with reindeer and sleigh, all rendered in high-gloss and traces of gilt; and one of those small ceramic Christmas trees with glass birds that shine from an interior light.
Over the course of the next day or so, it’ll all find its way to the attic for the year, and I’ll get to work on putting my syllabi together for Spring. Of such small rituals we measure the passage of time.
As I had brought the Spawn down from Charlotte, Mrs. M took her back yesterday, and got a small adventure in the bargain. When she returned to her car from the terminal, she found a cell phone lying on the pavement in the otherwise empty adjacent space. As it happened, the phone wasn’t locked, which likely would have ended the story right there. Instead, Mrs. M searched the call list and rang the most recently dialed number.
“Oh! You found your phone!” the voice on the other end said.
“No, but I found a phone.” The woman on the other end explained that the phone belonged to a friend of hers, who was celebrating her fiftieth birthday and had been at the airport to pick up some celebrants from out of town. She then suggested that Mrs. M call the birthday girl’s sister (conveniently in the phone’s directory) and arrange a meetup.
She did, and that’s how Mrs. M wound up waiting in the parking lot of a nearby Goodwill store until Joy (the phone’s owner) and Crystal (her sister) showed up. They offered a reward, but Mrs. M declined — she was just glad to help. They talked a few more minutes, and the sisters headed off for the rest of the weekend’s celebration. It worked out well for everyone — Mrs. M loves a good thrift store, and everyone likes a happy ending.
Meanwhile, I find myself reading Scott Donaldson’s 2007 biography of Edwin Arlington Robinson. I’m about halfway through, as I’m reading an electronic copy from the library, and I read dead tree much more quickly than I do pixels-and-plasma. I was aware of some of his biographical details including the fact that he didn’t have a name until he was six months old — his mother suffered from what appears to be severe post-partum depression, and just let it slide until the family was on a holiday, at which point other guests made suggestions, with the winning handle being drawn from a hat. I guess we should be grateful that he wasn’t named 7 and 5/8ths.
Another bit that I read yesterday was that he was propositioned by Isadora Duncan. He politely declined, and said that he was married to poetry. (And although he seems to have fallen passionately in love on at least two occasions, neither woman accepted him. There is reason to believe that one of them — who he adored all his life, both before she married his brother and after said brother essentially wastreled himself to death, turned him down because she feared marriage would distract him from his art.) During the same section of the book, we learn that Duncan had also suggested an affair to George Bernard Shaw, saying that they should breed because he had the world’s most beautiful mind and she had the world’s most beautiful body. Shaw replied, “But what is the child were to have my body and your mind?”
In any case, the impression we receive of E.A.R. (his preferred identification — he didn’t like all the /n/ sounds in his name) is of a remarkably shy, kind man with an almost religious vocation for poetry, and an equally voluminous capacity for disappointment. From time to time, he tried other kinds of writing, most notably drama, but it seems as though he heard his calling as he was meant to. I’ll let you know what I think about the rest as I get there. (And there are hints that Robert Frost will not come off well in what is to come. I’ll let you know about that as well.)
Speaking of writing, I’m looking forward to having a Pinocchio moment in about 10 days when I take part in the launch for LB’s From Sea to Stormy Sea antho. A couple of my friends have been kind enough to tell me that they really liked my contribution to this one, and that pleases me even more than usual. Because of the family connections in this one, I wanted to get it right.
Anyway, if you’re in the vicinity of the Mysterious Bookshop on Wednesday, 8 January at 6:30, please drop by — I’d love to see you, either again or for the first time. And if you happen to see a large, awkward guy lumbering around the Big Apple that week, please treat him kindly; he’s not in Mondoville and may be nervous.
I’ll go ahead and wrap things up here, with an odd little number from the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band. I’ve told their story before — creepy old guy seeks teen groupies and buys his way into a garage band — but I think their music rises above that, and Bob Markley (the creepy old guy) has a certain. . . style. In any case, you can recognize his vocals from a mile away. This is “1906”, a couple of minutes of twitchy weirdness. Enjoy!
See you soon!