It has been a very long time since Miz Shoes turned in a book report, but here goes.
I just finished The Book of Life
, the (per the web site) long-awaited finale to a trilogy. That's true. The release date was set back many times, and the book was languishing in my Amazon basket, waiting. I got it, dragged it home and sat down to read. What a freaking disappointment.
The first two thirds of the book are back story for anyone who hasn't read the first two books. Characters are rehashed and highlighted, relationships briefly noted and idiosyncrasies duly recounted and beaten to death by repetition. The protagonist's house, which spent the first two books becoming its own sentient character is left dangling. The plot line is brought up to the present and once all the pieces are in place for the climactic and violent resolution, the author handles it thusly: Well, that happened, and everyone got hurt and needed time to recover and then, happily ever after, with enough loose ends to write another three books.
No, really. You slog through three volumes of diminishing interest and writing quality to get to the big battle between the good witches and the vampires who love them and the dark, evil, string-pulling psycho army of darkness, and what you get is a long chapter of lead up, with lots of gory nastiness that turns out to be illusion only, and then a battle that isn't written at all. It's just: and then they fought and the good guys won, but not without pain, but we aren't going to get into that either, just imagine it for yourself, and the hero is badly hurt, but we'll let him heal in privacy and come back to him when he's better.
It feels like the publishers wanted another block-buster series, and talked an author writing her story spread out over three books, when all she had in her was one long volume. I spent the summer re-reading some other romantical/fantasy/historical series (Dorothy Dunnett's House of Nicolo
, which is absolutely exquisite) and the entire Outlander up to and including Gabaldon's latest volume, and not only is Ms Harkness not in the same league as those authors, she isn't even ready for the minors.
So here's my latest get rich quick scheme: First, own a sports bar. Second, get STARZ on your digital. Then, make the night that Outlander airs Ladies Night, turn every screen on to the show, and give any man in a kilt his first shot of scotch free.
You are welcome. Let me know how it works out for you.
Today in the studio (hey, just because it's only a spare, very small, bedroom crammed with art supplies and three desktop surfaces doesn't mean I can't give it a grandiose name), I spun up a very pink batt and plied it with a magenta metallic commercial thread. It is very, very fluffy and may need to become a long, very skinny scarf. Just under 200 yards of Batts in the Belfry spun rough and plied with a commercial metallic thread, I call it Strawberry Letter 22.
This morning I floated in the pool. As I was drifting and considering the luxury of time and idleness, I pondered the old chestnut about youth being wasted on the young and came to the conclusion that it is uttered as truth only by those whose own youths were misspent in a manner far less amusing than my own.
Looking back at those years between high school and marrying the Renowned Local Artist, there are episodes of hair-raising stupidity, randomly located habitations, jobs and attention-spans that were lucky to last as long as two years, and absolutely no qualms about trying anything once. I do not consider that time wasted. At the same time, there were close to 40 years spent slaving away for the man, in one form or another. Forty years of keeping my nature tamped down, money seeping slowly into my retirement accounts and stock-piling art supplies. Neither were those years wasted.
Now, in this year of turning 60, all of that is coming to fruition. Time to go use some of those art supplies.
The other week I bought a pair of Fluevogs. When they arrived, and I opened the box, the smell was so familiar: it was the smell of new Hush Puppies. I held my new shoes, closed my eyes and I was back in the Stuart Department Store.
This is a photo of my dad, standing in his office in the back of the store. I wish I had more pictures of the store and the back rooms. The store was my playground when I would go with Daddy at night or on Sundays. I climbed the shoe cases. I explored the dead stock. I tried on everything. I rearranged the showcases. I'd take a nap on the stacks of pillows in the bedding section. My uncle and grandfather shared an office with a glass wall that overlooked the store. It was a short flight of steps up had a view of the entire sales floor and both entrances. There were sewing machines and an ironing station and this really horrible, gnarly thing that always looked like a half-chewed cigar, but was a bundle of scraps from shortening mens' trousers, and Grandpa used it to dampen stuff he was pressing. It was light and airy. My father's office space was behind and below theirs, and had no windows. It was full of boxes and papers and the store safe and a table for unpacking and tagging stock, another table where he did the dyeing of matchable shoes. There were shelves of stock and rafters full of stuff. The cabinet he is leaning on in this photo held catalogs and fabric swatches and paperwork of all sorts.
Maybe because I was such a tiny child, I was always drawn to miniatures. I collected them from the time I first plucked a blown glass vial from a collection of dusty bottles in an antique store in Newport. The store owner gave it to me with a laugh, when he asked if I'd found something I couldn't live without and I showed him this inch-long thing and pointed to the pontil mark on the base and said, "it's really blown glass".
It was no different on the beach, where I collected operculums. They were tiny, hard to spot and unlike other shells, probably because they aren't really shells. In our teens, my friend John and I would spend summer days at the beach competing with each other to find the most. He kept his in a little tin box. I kept mine in a medicine bottle. In our 20s, we moved to different parts of the country, and I gave him my entire collection of operculums. In our 30s, I went to visit him in Texas, and took this photo of him reviewing our collection.
It is the last photo of have of John. Within two years, he and his lover Robert were both dead of AIDS, but not before John's sisters disowned him for being gay and being sick. He died alone in a hospice, his last wishes that I have the little tin box full of shells.
His sisters being assholes, they kept the box and threw away the shells and told me never to call them again.
Every time I go to the beach, I look for operculums, and every time, I find at least one. I know that John is with me there on the shore. This summer on the Gulf, I found more than a dozen during my week stay. I thought it meant it was time to share John's story.