March 21, 2011

Diaristic Wanderings

Went into work for the half-day Friday and a finer half-day off one could scarcely have written for mid-March. The sun is warm to the touch, and only when a light cloud rolls in is it possible to see the netbook screen. Oh but how sitting on the back porch, notebook & Kindle at the ready, reminds me of my days in San Juan back in November or Florida in January. The same little thrill attends though no ocean or pool (surprising how much I liked that pool) sits in the mid-distance.

The clouds have rolled in and funny but I don't mind. I rather like the contemplative air they afford. It's not clouds that I mind so much as the sort of unrelenting variety that stick around for days.

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Isn't it funny how often I remember someone for something as superficial as their habits, such as the way Uncle Ed smoked a pipe, or Grandpa C. smoked cigars? When you're a kid, you're a sponge for incidentals. You notice things that are slightly unusual: "Grandpa always has a fully-smoked cigar in his mouth." Or "Uncle Ed smokes a pleasant-smelling pipe." Of Grandpa S. I remember him bringing Sports Illustrateds and wondering if he'd really read them. At that time in life I'd divided people into readers and non-readers and Grandpa S. seemed puzzling as he didn't seem to fit in either category completely.

The sun out Sunday and wiled it away while reading some Christopher Hitchens. It quite reminded me of Florida in January. There are usually a few days in March in Ohio, maybe four of them, that can approximate Florida in January, but there's no real way to approximate an ocean in Central Ohio.

Finished the Willie Mays bio. Really liked it. It's what I wish the Mantle biography was but perhaps couldn't be given how different the subjects were. Mays was perfect because he has that mysterious aura about him. I definitely feel I know him better now and appreciate his skills much more. I think too much was made of the fact that he had a poor ending to his career. You have to make sure you're done, I think, rather than just quit when you still might have a good half-season or more left. Mays is like this sort of iceberg where all I'd seen was the top 10%. I'd followed baseball avidly only 2 or 3 years of his career (1971-1973) and his last great year was when I was 2 years old, in '65. He was pretty much a contemporary of Hank Aaron, and yet those three extra years Aaron played made him feel much more "modern". There's something about Clemente and Mays, those old war horses who finished their careers just as I started following baseball, that make them disproportionately interesting; they are accessible given that they were around when I first became aware of things and yet they were both suddenly gone, which perhaps gave them an enticing air of mystery that say a Frank Robinson or Hank Aaron didn't have.

Also read some of GK Chesterton's "Generally Speaking". Looking forward to the release of "new" Chesterton in the form of the Ignatius Press vol. 36 of his collected works. The release date is Friday. One of the fun things about GK is that you can read great things that everyone has read (Orthodoxy, Heretics, Father Brown) or things that nearly no one has read (like some of the Illustrated News columns that are in this volume 36). Of course the quality varies, but it's still cool to feel as though you're wading in an ocean. I'm amazed anyone could write as much as Chesterton and still have time to have read widely. If I were rich I'm sure I'd buy all 36 volumes. That may cost, what, $720-ish? But I'd never have time to read them all of course.

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Liturgy today at St. John's ("part of the liturgy is the coffee and donuts over at the social hall afterwards," the priest said, to my disbelief and chagrin. He has an unfailing way of making me feel guilty in his post-Communion asides). The Byzantine liturgy was powerful as always, if only to hear a miracle story as the gospel (instead of a didactic one) and to see, in the stained glass window, the scene of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. One needs as many miracle stories as possible in my opinion. I also liked Fr's mentioning how Sunday you get to start over, wipe the slate clean. Fr. loves - LOVES - the Beatitudes, which is why we say them every Sunday unlike many Byzantine parishes. I'm less fond of them, seeing them as a general indictment of me, but he says it reminds him that we can start fresh, anew. "Christ's first homily begins with the words, 'Blessed are you'."

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