Thursday, September 23, 2010

In Honor of Angela's Visit . . .

Fountains. Vine-covered bridges. Monuments. Handsome old churches. Plazas and shady walking paths.

Thanks to Angela's recent visit, these are all some things I got to see in my home city, things I had forgotten about, things I never visit on my own.

After our tour, we returned home. David showed up soon. He practiced his medical skills on Skooby, and told me all about adjusting to his ward in Philadelphia ("Lots of West Africans. Now that we've gotten to know them, we love them") while I chopped vegetables for:

Summer Garden Pasta

We ate it with grilled chicken and a frothy, frozen dessert of pulverized strawberries and cream.

Over on the Finished Book Pile, we have Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann.

I wasn't sure I would stick with this one. It started with a dinner party of merchant-class Germans, set back in the time when gout was fashionable. As the party guests laughed at jokes I didn't get, and as I felt the 600-page heft of the book in my hands, I promised myself I could ditch it another 20 pages or so if it didn't get better.

Then I met Antonie Buddenbrooks. A young daughter of privilege, she goes around town mocking those beneath her, particularly an up-and-coming businessman whose beard is so yellow it looks painted. And he wants to marry her! And her parents push the marriage because he is obviously headed for great prosperity. It would be so fitting to unite the house of Buddenbrooks with Herr Yellow-Beard, would it not? But Antonie still feels nothing but disdain for him. What will she do?

Antonie, from age 16 to age 50, proved to be quite the drama queen, pulling me through these 600 pages, this fat feast of fortunes rising and falling. Oh, the trials God sends her! she exclaims as she dabs her hanky to her eyes, then recovers just enough to modestly say that she wouldn't dream of telling anybody how to run the funeral/the dinner party/the family business, then goes ahead and tells them how to do it anyway.

Every book needs a good drama queen.

Thomas Mann's most famous book is probably Dr. Faustus.