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April 23rd, 2008

Rivendell

I sent the first draft of Magic Mirror of the Mermaid Queen in to sdn yesterday.

We had to catch a plane, so there was little time for rejoicing. But we raised a glass to a milestone reached last evening, sitting on the gallery of an old stagecoach hotel in Boerne (pronounced "Burney") Texas with two old friends from Boston graduate student days who just moved here from Colorado.

It's a wonderful life.

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Sitting in the Airport. . . .

Watching all the planes go by. But not ours. Ours is (I hope) winging its way towards Cleveland from Dallas, so it can discharge its passengers and turn around and take us to Dallas/Ft.Worth, where the airline assures us there will be a connection (eventually) to San Antonio. At moment of writing, the plane is 3 hours late.

I've sat in airports before. It's actually no worse than it was back whenever the hub system was first instituted, and 2-3 hour layovers in Charlotte or Atlanta were not-uncommon features of my life. I had practice, from traveling with my mother, who became unbearably anxious if we weren't at the airport at least 2 hours before the plane was scheduled to take off. Since terminals in those days weren't really built for this kind of camping out, there weren't any shops and there wasn't much to eat, and I don't remember the seats being all that comfortable, either. My one-pump skim chai latte, padded individual seat, and choice of shops to browse while I'm waiting would have seemed unimaginable luxury to my 12-year-old self, possessing my soul in what patience I could muster while Mama went through her purse yet another time to make sure our tickets and passports hadn't made a break for freedom while she wasn't looking.

The Seders were lovely. Four women in a smallish kitchen, putting out a meal for 11 one night and 19 the next is bound to yield some moments of tension, but on the whole, everything went very well. Nothing got burned. The cakes rose magnificently. We forgot to put the stuffed cabbage on the table the first night, but they were excellent the second night, when we actually needed them more. The wine stains came right out of the tablecloth. At least 4 people prayed and sang through to the sweet last words of the final Seder. A new daughter-in-law-elect was welcomed into the family and given lots of good wedding-planning advice and help--which she asked for and seemed to enjoy. I'd say it was a good year.

Yesterday, we recruited nature with a road trip to Oberlin, where our dear friend Pat O'Connor teaches Latin American studies and Ellen's fairy god-son is about to graduate. He showed us around the campus, catching us up on Life and Plans, and then we met some students at a local cafe. What a smart bunch, and how much fun it was to talk about books and music and writing--the Great Triumvirate of Interests. Then dinner with Pat at a lovely Asian fusion restaurant good enough to make it into the Cleveland papers (I had salad and Ellen had duck and veggies--we're trying not to fall off the Passover wagon any sooner than we have to). And then back to Ellen's brother's house, where I packed and read P.G. Wodehouse until I fell over. They had one of those 5 novels in 1 volume compendia, focusing on the later novels.

The only Bertie/Jeeves novel in it is Bertie Sees it Through, which I think I read before. Vintage stuff, with many finely mangled quotations and metaphors of more than oriental splendor. There was a one paragraph aria, theme and variations, on the bounding habits of youthful roebucks and how they compared to Bertie's when caught in a compromising situation, which was nothing short of brilliant. The Return of Jeeves, on the other hand, was a bit of a disappointment. I don't know whether it was the third-person narrative voice, oddly like Bertie's, but somehow not as engaging, or the character of the protagonist (ditto), or the fact that the essentially 20's narrative did not translate comfortably (or particularly comically) to post-war Britain. Like the curate's egg, parts of it were excellent. The other parts were rather grey and rubbery.

Any Wodehouse enthusiasts out there with opinions on the later novels? Am I missing something? Or am I as shallow as a puddle in the Gobi? And is it just me, or is there a distinct flavor of Wodehouse in some of Terry Pratchett's flights of descriptive fancy? Not to mention some of his plotting?

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