Thursday, July 29, 2010

Doings, Washington Irving, and W. Somerset Maugham

Right now, I am sitting at my kitchen table, looking out onto the back garden, which is a riot of sunflowers and vining morning glories. I'm waiting for a chocloate beet cake to come out of the oven. I have made it to celebrate my imminent release from grading and class prep purgatory. Tomorrow is my last day of summer classes, and this morning, I have finished grading the last collection of research papers. Just two more batches of tests to grade, grades to calculate, and I am a free little birdie for two weeks.

IN THE PICTURE ABOVE: W. Somerset Maugham at his desk.
So, let's discuss what's been happening of late:

I have a review of the Fiberarts International 2010 show at Pittsburgh City Paper this week. Also, did I mention the review of the Mattress Factory's "Nothing is Impossible" that appeared a few weeks ago? Next stop on the art review train? Wood Street Galleries for this. I'll be heading there next week.

Library Journal has June's Reference Short Takes up, and July's should be appearing online soon.

It's canning season here, once again, and as I mentioned pictorially in a previous post, we are hard at it, making pickles, canning beans and pickling beets.
Etsy, too, has been doing us proud. Check out the store at the link below. If you are in the area of Bethany College in Bethany, WV on the last Saturday of August, stop by the Bethany Open Air Country Market. Savannah Guz Vintage will be selling all sorts of vintage goodies.

Now, what am I reading? Currently, a little bit of Washington Irving, since my parents (who have been traveling) recently sent me photos of his lovely cottage-turned-estate, pictured below. Moreover, harvest time makes me think of Washington Irving, even if it is a little early for headless men galloping around with pumpkins under their arms.

At an auction I attended a few weeks ago, in addition to getting this, I also got a box of books: a two-volume set of O. Henry, an Ann Marrow Lindbergh, and two books by W. Somerset Maugham. I just finished Cakes and Ale: Or a Skeleton in the Cupboard, which is purported to be a thinly veiled biography of Thomas Hardy and Hugh Walpole. And currently, I am dead in the middle of The Razor's Edge, which deals with a young man, who, on returning to America from WWI, is strong enough to defy the frowning dismay of his fiance and her family. He goes his own way. The young man, named Larry, has been rocked by the death of a fellow airman, and Irishman killed even after he saved Larry's life. Interestingly, Maugham deftly sketches the ways in which Larry's fiance Isabell has been conditioned to expect luxury and privledge, both of which have nothing to do with genuine wealth. Her foppish, meddling uncle, who has ingratiated his way into the aristocracy as a young man and orchestrates Isabell's life (as well as everyone else's) pays too much attention to social station and material circumstance, while Larry is interested in knowledge, the life of the mind and the state of his spirit. The war has changed him, and I would say for the better. Interesting things to think about. We'll see how things turn out for him.
IN THE PICTURE: a view of Washington Irving's home along the Hudson. (Photo: Marvin Schroll)

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