Saturday: Off to Hilton Head! With dogs in tow - Max restless early and often. “Paced” in his seat, and was omni-alert. Luckily not much squeaking from him.
Listened to Brian Lamb interview Gorbachev biographer William Taubman. Man those C-Span interviews are like no other. Interesting, informative and never cloying. Lamb “wears well”.
11 hrs 45 min ride due to longish stops (Steph briefly lost trying to find bathroom in outdoor mall) and later Wendy’s drivethru was dog-slow. Within five minutes of arrival Max left a steaming dump on the wood floor, and Maris returned the favor with a dump in the upstairs bedroom. Oh joy. This despite having walked them several times along the way, including giving Max an opportunity just 30 minutes before getting to the house. Go figure.
No 9:30 Mass due it no longer being summer, so planned on 11:15. Let Max out of crate and within a minute he peed in three places (two downstairs and one upstairs). Needless to say he’s been keyed up and highly charged. Practically feral, with the manners of a black bear. Took him and Maris out for a walk, obviously closing the barn door after the horse was out.
Nice walk on warm, cloudy day around ritzy neighbor and then to beach. “Moody and atmospheric” is my best spin on the weather. Sometimes the weatherman is right. Got the gates up to keep the dogs secure on the back patio and pool area. Noise from pool filter is loud; “harmless white noise” is my best spin on it.
Love the look of that tall white book case that handsomely wraps around the corner. There’s something so gentlemanly about a tall bookcase with a sliding ladder. This room helped inspire our sunroom decor, both in the white shelving and the blue art objects.
Much entertained by Maris’s obsession with getting into the pool. She wanted to so much but was afraid, and so she circled it a couple dozen times and eventually made the big leap and got in the first step (about three inches in depth). Eventually she graduated to the second step, about a foot and a half in depth. Baby steps for "baby danger".
Later ran three miles with the dogs down through Sea Pines. Saw a couple gators, one a baby we scared away. Biker came by and said, “Looks like you’re working a lot harder than they are” and I verily assented.
Woke up middle of the night with bad sore throat, probably due to a/c chill combined with fan. Hard jog likely contributed. Turned fan off and took zicam and it helped; by morning less pain. And I have an excuse for no workout today.
Total noise this morning. Pool pump, and then noise pollution in form of neighbors spray-washing their fence. Used a lot of ear protection and going outside almost a non-starter.
Later, sweet relief by 3:30pm. The neighbor’s motorized spray-washing is long over and just now I cut the electrical supply to the pool filter via outdoor breaker (not sure what other electricity I cut off) and silence, sweet silence reigns. What a difference! I feel empowered. Like I freed up a lot of previously unusable space and made this place our own. I feel like the owner the week and given the actual owner didn’t offer to do anything in response to my email, it’s a no-brainer. And it’s good for him since now I don’t have to give him a negative review, although wifi so pathetic it’s bathetic. Have to reboot the router nightly.
The brief afternoon sun gave way to clouds and eventually spitting rain. We called up Hilton Head delivery service (“Hilton Head Delivers” I think) and through them ordered off the Black Marlin restaurant menu. Oh. so. good. Came promptly in 45 minutes: the most delectable bread, steak, baked potato, salad and chicken bites. And that was just for me. Steph got a fish dinner. Dang it was good to get some good quality food in me given the incipient cold virus. Read some of history of Nantucket in book on the tragedy of the 19th century whaler Essex.
Coolish morn, 60 degrees, at least when coupled with the common cold. Remarkably susceptible to colds this year for reasons that escape. Perhaps not enough germ-killing beer on Saturday. I’m guessing I had it then sans symptoms (the latter came late Sunday afternoon). Made it to 8am mass despite leaving at 8:02. Got there in time for first reading - they really are maximalist at Holy Family, starting mass with Angelus and prayers for vocations. 45 minute weekday mass!
Then an earthly divine breakfast: French toast (the only worthwhile thing besides fries and wines they gave us, ha), bacon, cereal, orange juice. Feed a cold.
Lazy time extended infinitely. “King” chair next to front door is ridiculously comfortable, so I read and slept there. Amazed by the richness of the Cardinal Sarah book on silence. It reads like lectia divina. Made it out in the “quiet forest” (back deck) by noon for a cigar. Took dogs on walk past some multi-million dollar homes, then looked them up online to see pictures of interior.
Max has been 100% better today and yesterday. Really calmed down, maybe in part due to long run I gave him Sunday afternoon. First full sun day; normally we’d have a day and a half of sun under our belt by now. But today was forecast as cloudy so we’re fortunate. 73 and sunny here now, 53 and cloudy in C-bus. I’d take that trade all day.
So a goodly beach time, 1:30 till 4:30; from 4:30 till 5:30 I unleashed the hounds - picked up Maris and Max and they frolicked the beach scene for ten minutes - on the walk back they actually pooped in unison, which was a first.
Read more of Essex story, some National Review. Really great day despite the head cold. When you’re just laying around reading, a virus (short of fever) doesn’t impede much. And I did a ton of laying around. I can feel my fitness level diminishing.
Only two days left already, Wed and Thurs given we’re thinking of rolling on Friday morning. Five day vacation is pretty decent length, and there’s the big benefit of having some decompression time at home before back to work.
(Later): Steph cooked up a delicious late dinner of spaghetti and fake meatballs, only they weren’t fake. They were as real as meatballs can be. Vegetarianism never tasted so good. Also had salad and Brussels sprouts. And they say nothing good ever came from Brussels - fake news!
I think it’s really hard for Steph to go from 100mph to 0mph in terms of busyness.
Much easier night of sleep due to the cold breaking up already. Seems like it really helped to just take two complete days off workout-wise. Now the trick is not to overdo the next workout and re-ignite it.
Great hunger to read. Got some wisdom literature, more Cardinal Sarah, more Russell Kirk biography. Reading is best part of this vacation.
This morning was cool and loud: 53 degrees (60 now, at 11am). Leaf-blower man destroyed the peace for an hour. Not exactly a monastic retreat, ha.
Reading Steph’s book Y in the Workplace. A couple of interesting quotes:
“Work ethic needs to be judged relative to a generation and a culture not relative to the way another generation was raised. Work ethic is developed from the upbringing, lifestyle, and the cultural pulse of a generation...The philosophies between Boomers and Gen Y in the workplace are clearly different and clearly influenced by the differences in child-rearing philosophies and school philosophies established in each generation… Every generation develops their idea of what work is based on the reaction and experiences of those who raised them. Gen Y learned that working hard, long hours and saving your money leads to getting laid off or not being able to retire due to the stock market crash of 2008 or the loss of all of your hard-earned money when your company filed for bankruptcy... So to sum up the formula that Gen Y witnessed: work hard + work hard + be obedient + save money = get screwed… Gen Y has shown us that work still gets done when integrated into life, rather than when it is forced into the confines of a 9 to 5 work day that supposedly creates ‘balance’... Perhaps if more of us adopted this philosophy, the zombie-like culture of the overworked, stressed out, and irritable would benefit."*
Interesting quotes from article in Catholic mag:
“I [visited] Gaudí’s La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Gaudí, Benedict XVI said at that very spot in 2010, “accomplished one of the most important tasks of our times: overcoming the division between human consciousness and Christian consciousness, between living in this temporal world and being open to eternal life, between the beauty of things and God as beauty.”
And from Russell Kirk biography concerning Ray Bradbury:
“ [Bradbury said in a letter] each person hides ‘a private keep somewhere in the upper part of the head, where from time to time, of midnights, the beast can be heard raving... To control that, to the end of life, to stay contemplative, sane, good humored is our entire work, in the midst of the cities that tempt us to inhumanity, and passions that threaten to drive through the skin with invisible spikes.’ Clearly, a Stoic speaking to a Stoic.”
“Not just the ‘greatest science fiction writer in the world,’ Kirk claimed, Bradbury is ‘a master of style and of the high ancient art of parable and allegory.’ He made it a point to buy and read every single one of Bradbury’s books, believing the author possessed a singular power to demonstrate that ‘grim truths are lovely.’
Wow, surely that’s what we need these days, to make “grim truths lovely.”
This neighborhood is sweet. I love walking the path to the ocean past the rapturous multi-million dollar homes. One of the houses on rents for $10k a week. And I much enjoy the jungle foliage of the place; some of the palm fronds remind me nostalgically of Gilligan’s Island.
I checked my Yahoo account and got a blast email from Bai M., the abandoned spouse of Bud M., and I thought about how this case feels like mercy versus justice and how hard it feels to square the two.
I checked out Bud’s site and he has two new posts up, one about how he has found time to exercise in smaller increments (12-15 minutes) and recommends that to busy folks. The other is how he quit smoking after 30+ years via reading a book on how to quit smoking painlessly. But the post was far more self-revealing than that, talking about how he hasn’t gone to a big Catholic media event in 13 years (since the divorce perhaps, which he doesn’t mention) and how he finally went to this year’s. How he began going to daily Mass 13-years ago during “a time of trouble” (again the divorce). How he was at Medjugorje in 1987 and asked the visionary to answer his plea to stop smoking and it was answered 30 years later only after he had given his full trust and assent to the veracity of the apparition.
A lady remarked to me after church how chilly it was but that it was “refreshing” after so much recent “heat and humidity”. Drats.
The problem with the last day of vacation is that it gets really hard to suspend disbelief that you won’t be here forever.
I was taken by the fact there’s a 360-400 year old oak tree, perhaps planted by Native Americans, here in Sea Pines. So I headed out on bike and think I found it in Six Oaks park inside Six Oaks cemetery near the stables. It was shrouded with Spanish moss - is that why Low Country cemeteries look creepy, because the moss looks like shrouds? Or maybe like big living cobwebs?
Anyway, amazing to think of something so old and yet alive. The pines and live oaks of Hilton Head too oft get overshadowed by the beach and sunshine.
And taken again by surprise by how starry the skies look here. Definitely not used to so many star lights at night.
(I suspect I could read Dick and Jane in these soaring natural surroundings of Hilton Head and find it a delightfully lyrical caper... Context matters: except to dentists perhaps, beautiful teeth on a pretty girl provoke a different reaction than beautiful teeth on a skeleton.)
Shocked to hear one of my favorite TV journalists, Mark Halperin, has allegations that he groped women and pressed his member against female co-workers. Shocking inasmuch as he always seems so under control, so un-slaved to appetites. It looks like his problem years for this was ‘95 to ‘05, or when he was 30 to 40 years old.
Got to thinking about how early memories can be so elusive.
The Ebbs of Memory
The blue light of the bug zapper
Near a lake - or not
There was music - or not
On a black summer night.
The creosote scent of a timbered hall
George Washington slept here (or not)
History smelt of creosote and
Looked of long old planks
With knots and notches and iron fixings.
Memory melts into the imagination and back.
They had a drive-in, not for movies,
But you parked your car
Near trays attached to swinging bars
And a waitress appeared and you ordered
Root beers or lemonades in frosted mugs
That looked to hold five or six ounces
With a good pour, in my mind’s eye
And never before or since have I longed for anything more than a second root beer
On a sweaty day when I was nine.
The city next door had old world grace
But no prophet is welcome in his own land.
There was an ancient Tower called “Power house”,
Medieval stone bridges ovalled
Over a grand Rhine river.
They had a store just for cigars,
A dam, century-old churches,
A library named Lane (but not on a Lane Avenue).
They had biblical floods while
our road’s sewer overflowed,
They had a gallant soldier atop a courtly courthouse,
We had a Mac’s steakhouse.
They had trains and German towns,
Restaurants and ghostly haunts,
Winding roads and scary slums
But we, alas, lived in Fairfield...
So we left our place a day early; we were on pace for a long while for 7:15pm finish but made it back by 8:30 due to a stop at beloved Camp Creek. Steph got emotional there, spurred by memories of taking Buddy right after his cancer operation.
It was just otherworldly beautiful - I’d wanted to get home but glad Steph prodded me to do it. Well worth the half-hour or more to walk down to the waterfall. Dogs had a ball, at one point climbing a sheer wall of dirt like it was nothing - it looked like about a 75 degree angle. Scampered up after some wildlife and then came down the eight feet or so, fortunately not hurting themselves. It’s the coming down that worries.
The dogs were giddy with the return and if there’s ever a chance to see who can run faster it’s as they’re released after a trip. Maximum speed to the fence-line. Maris lit out and Max second since they couldn’t exit door at same time. Max gained on Maris eventually but I’m not sure that’s because Maris wasn’t slowing down as she entered area close to fence.
Back in Hilliard, a snowy morning, big flakes like a long girl’s lashes falling like tufted graces. I feel the earthly lift of being in the familiar.
From novelist Joan Didion:
“I grew up in a dangerous landscape. I think people are more affected than they know by landscapes and weather. Sacramento was a very extreme place. It was very flat, flatter than most people can imagine, and I still favor flat horizons. The weather in Sacramento was as extreme as the landscape. There were two rivers, and these rivers would flood in the winter and run dry in the summer. Winter was cold rain and tulle fog. Summer was 100 degrees, 105 degrees, 110 degrees. Those extremes affect the way you deal with the world. It so happens that if you're a writer the extremes show up. They don't if you sell insurance.”