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Friday, December 1, 2017

Musings--complete sentences/thoughts not required.
No comments--this is for me.

Thinking about moving/retiring

Students--mostly weak ones--handing in stuff late--too late--begging for "points." End of semester chaos. One of "best" students in class told me he hadn't read the work he wrote his paper on--just a few pages. Always "what's it all about." Have to slog though all this late work making little check marks. Then recording online. Lots of opportunities for error.


JF-old friend--pointed out a while ago that we had no need to live in town we live in. Educated and affluent (for poor and uneducated state)--decent schools which we augmented with enrichments (diy0. Heavily Republican area and I am not happy with day to day life. Katha Pollitt essay on "one year in": "I hate people."Me too. (Don't feel that way re students though). So if we retired we might have to move. One of Emma's friends called it a toxic environment.

Then--errand jaunt--mailed 15 books for Emma and deposited two checks--ran into beautiful tall Bonnie--"friend" from thrifting. Had not seen her for a few years. Artist/horse career. Husband also artist--worked for Blaine Kern designing Mardi Gras floats. Whispered--did you vote for T? She said No in horror. So one kindred spirit.

Things I like to do that I couldn't do if I retired: teach Paradise Lost, teach Donne's poetry, teach sonnets of various sorts...truly a transporting experience. Oh yeah--teach Araby and The Dead by Joyce. I teach lots of other things--but these put me in state of bliss.

Things we can do if we retired: live abroad for 3-4 months. But we can do that anyway--at least up to 10 weeks.

Friday, September 15, 2017

A Commercial Moment: We Heart Poshmark

I let this blog fall into a moribund state because I felt that whatever I had to say about frugality, I had said. But also--and this was a secret--because my daughter and I discovered Poshmark. Poshmark fulfilled one of my fashion/cheapitude fantasies: that all the people who lived near Eileen Fisher outlets, or found the stuff I wanted at thrift stores could get it to me at a not unreasonable price. We tried some of the others (Twice Clothing, Tradesy) but they either went out of biz or became outlets for large commercial concerns.

Poshmark worked for us. As usual with me, things got out of hand. Emma and I sold our stuff, and then....stuff for relatives and friends. And then we also bought things...mostly Eileen Fisher. My cravings for EF have finally subsided. I have enough. So does my daughter, who has a very snazzy wardrobe for someone who is at the beginning of an art career.

Also: I have stopped going to thrift stores and so--surprise--am finally making some headway with the clutter I have amassed.

HERE IS THE COMMERCIAL PITCH. If you use my referral code--marcelproust--after my husband's literary obsession, you get $5 off and WE GET $5 in credit. Other than my Paula's Choice (love!) hawking, this is my only toe-dip into commercialism.

With my usual ineptitude, I am doing  it at a point when I have ALMOST NO READERS.

But just in case you want to try: poshmark.com

Et moi, marcelproust!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Pillow Case

Ceci n'est pas a blog, folks.
I've been writing about various trivial things and will post here as I complete. They are for me.
Older posts remain.

Note to self and universe: I have had to give up thrift stores for the greater good of decluttering. It is tough. Approaching 6 months.


Another difficult part of my decluttering process is LINENS. I love percale sheets, the kind that used to be ordinary and are now impossible to find--200 or so thread count COMBED cotton percale. So I pick them up when I see them. Since they are white, they can be bleached. If one cares. I do not.

I have such linens bursting out of baskets in the few storage areas of my old house. I made a pile, Marie Kondo style.

Well, I didn't get rid of many. I have a lot. Everything sparked joy, sadly. Even the old Cannon twin sheets marked with a hospital laundry code. I figure I won't have to buy linens again for the rest of my life. I did separate by size and function.

My best surprise was at the bottom of a pile. It was a king size case (I don't have a king bed or pillow). Of course, I have no recollection of buying it. It was yellowed. It felt so good. I peered inside to see if there was a label. There was: D Porthault. A $200 pillow case. I imagine its mate was thrown out because of some minor damage and the orphan went to the thrift store where it was sold for 99 cents. 

I washed it and put it on my pillow, a down pillow that was likewise thrifted after I learned that you can wash down items in the machine in hot water. You can. There are loads of down pillows available because pillows have the "EWWWW" factor written about by many thrifting experts. The pillow case looked ridiculous as it is way too big for the pillow. My pillow will not be featured in Architectural Digest

Still, it felt delicious.


Sleep that knits up the raveled sleave of care,
The death of each day's life, sore labor's bath, 
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course, 
Chief nourisher in life's feast.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Paradise Lost, Book 7







though fallen on evil days,        25
On evil days though fallen, and evil tongues,
In darkness, and with dangers compassed round,
And solitude; yet not alone

Monday, March 27, 2017

Harder Books

I was perusing a post by the divine Duchesse; she discusses ways to keep your aging mind working. She mentioned a post she wrote a few years ago on reading harder books, so I took a look. There was my comment about just having read Louise Erdrich's "Round House."

I had no recollection of reading that book. So I looked at a plot summary on wikipedia. I still have no recollection. That is depressing.

Another reason to keep teaching. I teach "harder books" all the time. And I teach them over and over again. I know them quite well. So well that I could do all the quizzes on the Iliad and the Odyssey on a great Harvard mooc by classicist Gregory Nagy even though I haven't taught those works for many years.

I started teaching a Shakespeare course after the fellow who "owned" the course retired. I felt somewhat rusty at first, but I can now say--after 15 years--that I know the plays quite well.

I just completed the Neapolitan novels by Elena Ferrante. I do remember them (so far).

It turns out that I remember my reading of Proust (took me over a year). That might be because I listen to an audiobook on the way to work.

Two harder books that I have been unable to finish because they are so painful: The Radetsky March and Austerlitz. I keep returning to them. I can only read a little at a time.

Perhaps re-reading is the key. One Erdrich book I loved and remember quite well is The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse.  I read it several times in a short space because I loved it so much.

Ditto for the master of harder books Henry James: Wings of the Dove, Portrait of a Lady, The Golden Bowl. The harder the better as far as I'm concerned.  Same for his somewhat less-difficult friend Edith Wharton: Age of Innocence and House of Mirth.

And how can we forget Middlemarch and Mill on the Floss?

Does re-reading help keep one's mind at work? Or is it the book and the reader's mind? I remember some Trollope. But I REALLY remember lots of Dickens.  I read about eight books by Anita Brookner recently but barely remember anything--except a sense of melancholy.

What to read next?



Friday, March 24, 2017

Comfort Reading: Dashed

Is there no escape?????

From Laurie Colwin's "More Home Cooking" (1993). I've probably read this book, or parts of it, 100 times. Top 1% in the Comfort Reading Pantheon.

If I had a dollar for every time someone said to me, "I don't have time to bake bread anymore," I would be as rich as Donald Trump used to be.


No escape.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

More Comfort Reading: Some of the Books that Fell on the Floor


I have been much in need of comfort reading. It is difficult to find the right book. I like cookbooks with a personal sensibility (Diana Kennedy, John Thorne, many others); I like reading organization books (though it would be better if I actually followed some of the recommendations); I like Diana Phipps (a frugal countess!). Fiction is hard. I don't like reading most best sellers, even those of higher brow (sorry Ann Patchett; I do like your essays on owning a bookstore and I love that you spoke about my favorite clothing shop UAL, which has a branch in Nashville). 

So to continue the list I started a few days ago: my efforts were interrupted by the falling down of a teetering pile. 

John Mcmcgahern: The Leavetaking (a book I bought at a library sale, had never heard of author---WONDERFUL)

Coln Toibin: The Master (a fictionalized bio of one of my faves--Henry James. The book has a creepy sense of repression, perhaps appropriate to its subject)

Somerset Maugham: The Painted Veil (We saw the film based on this. The book is ok, but I got bored and skipped a lot--a privilege of age. What is so great about Maugham??? Not feeling it)

Maugham again: The Razor's Edge. (See above)

Lily King: Euphoria (a loan from a colleague. She said "Don't give it back." OK, but I can hardly believe that the main female character would submit to....spoiler. Must find someone to give it to.)

Deneice Schofield: Confessions of an Organized Housewife. (A Mormon mom of 5 who is super-organized. Worst tip: chop suey recipe containing canned mushroom soup and bean sprouts. Best tip: use dish pans for easy and cheap shelf storage--genius).

More on the floor, alas.