Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"One hand for the ship, one hand for yourself."

"We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads,our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects."
Herman Melville

Thank you, BB, for the kind words.

I have been more frugal lately as I have been grappling with the black dog. I have that old familiar feeling of the baseball bat across the shoulder blades, accompanied by the radiating pain down the arm; signs of a blockage. I have 3 stents in me, one for each heart attack. I know the signs. Tomorrow I see the sawbones: he will look at me like a Schnauzer that has heard a funny noise, and maybe run some tests. Tired of that. Tired of being tired.

"Tho' much is taken, much abides;"....so I try to have the guppy's outlook: each day is a new trip 'round the bowl for me. Inspired by my exchange with BB, today I picked up a new-to-me author, a good reason to get out of bed. Alexander Kent, a pseudonym of Douglas Reeman. I have passed over his work many a time, and thought I would take the plunge. By the time I get underway, The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea ( acquired for $7.98 instead of the SRP of $41.00, my Yankee ancestors would be proud) will have arrived, and it will help this 'lubber suss out the nomenclature. I enjoy that. BB mentions the theme of class as a possible block to my reading O'Brian's tales. Perhaps; it will need mulling over.

"I cannot rest from travel:"..... Missus RR loves to travel, she has been to more places than I. She lived in Iran, working at the American School, pre-Ayatollahs. She has seen Persepolis,a city dreamt of in my youth. Cleared to fly by my cardiologist last year, the Missus and I went to Italy. I would like to see France, not just Paris. I read an interesting book this spring about how France was assembled, sometimes unwillingly. Burgundy springs to mind. BB stayed in the land of, literally, the language of Oc: Languedoc. The very name trips lightly off the tongue. Cassoulet? Too heavy for this time of year, hot, by his report; perhaps some decent seafood a la languedocienne? French regional cooking, filtered through Canada and New England via my mother is truly my mother cuisine.I do not know of classmates in Weymouth MA who had boudin noir or pissenlit too. Lord knows where mother ever found the sausage in those days of the A&P. She got the dandelions right outside our door.

I have other,mistier, travel plans: to follow the Kidnapped trail of David Balfour and Alan Breck would be an adventure; to see Greek temples in Sicily; to see fiords and,oddly, to visit the North German coast ( I blame Buddenbrooks). And yes, after learning to sail, to sail the wine dark sea, even if it is just for a day:"that which we are, we are." It will do.


Barrett Bonden said...

Those parallel lines I referred to - as far as you and I are concerned they've gone to hell in a hack. Our lines seem inextricably conjoined and the knot gets tighter with each post. I did not think of my words as "kind" but rather as "earned", earned from the things I have learned about you. It seems we could sit down together and start chatting immediately; forgo the booze in view of your cruel limitation and talk about booze instead. Best of all (since it's been a long time now) I'd be reassured about why I went to live in America out of pure personal curiosity and why it all worked when I met real Americans. The subsequent poisonous fog, created by distance and the need to depend on the opinions of self-interested mediators, would be dispersed and I'd be back watching the Yugoslav Club (not a Yugo amongst them) playing softball followed by the creation of a cash pool ($1 from the losers, 50 c. from the winners) to buy jugs of beer and then to listen to robust raillery about my "foreign" accent.

I sympathise about your health and my next post will show that this is one of those intersecting parallels; up to now I've been luckier than you but I'm aware of the signs. My only suggestion, made in a post a month or so ago, is to use the sawbones. They're technical people and they have technical things to say. Not just about what's ailing you but about a wider, fascinating world. They like to talk and I for one like talking with people who know things.

Alexander Kent: don't want to discourage you but Forester is miles ahead.

As to your references to France it seems you already know enough to dispense with the guide-book. Go to Paris last, not first. The hell with the weather, eat cassoulet - provided it's the real item - even though you're sweating cobs. On this last holiday at a small, non-resortish Med port I deliberately chose the fish soup even though the temperature was in the mid-thirties. I'd urge you to despise convention but it seems you're quite capable of doing that on your own.

And there's sailing, and the Hanseatic ports, and Alan Breck ("Aye, he was a bonnie fechter.") and books and more books. And Charles Ives - which you mentioned when you first contacted my blog.

Resist the black dog. Churchill did it with brandy, champagne and cheering up Brits in dark times. But you have your own extensive set of tools.

Liked the Melville quote. Donne was more concise but given the necessary elbow room old Herman (so unjustifiably despised these days) knew which end was up. Slainte

Relucent Reader said...

Thank you. Perhaps one day we will be able to have that drink. It has been 36 years since I was in England. When I was there, the tallest building in London was the Post Office tower; now I see there is a honking huge Ferris wheel and many tall buildings. Progress. Edinburgh, another city I visited, has become a 'foodie' and lit'ry hotbed:Kitchin, a restaurant by the docks, is renowned even Over Here. When I was there, it was a gamey spot with pubs open 'ungodly' hours, presumably for the dock workers
My guide to France will be my stomach, Elizabeth David, and my curiosity.They will get a kick out of my foreign accent.

The Crow said...

Best wishes with the sawbones, RR.

(PS - the fridge has too many rust spots to make a smoker.)