Great literature, as in real life can sometimes use some editing. Perhaps I am being a bit unfair as I, too, have been called verbose from time to time. However, I set a goal and met the goal, and in and of itself, I pat myself on the back because accomplishment of any sort is probably good, unless I am bank robber who is on the lam because of poor planning. Note to self…verbose run on sentence. I read all 452 pages in the span of fifteen days. Shorter than the voyage of the ill fated Pequod and Captain Ahab. Much shorter.
The most wonderful part of the book in my estimation, was the beautiful description of New Bedford, Massachusetts in the 1850s. The city’s rich history is described with such care. As this is my home, for the last forty plus years, to read Melville’s words provokes a lot of emotion of where the city has been and where it is now. To walk the cobblestone streets the narrator, Ishmael, walks, is to imagine the beauty as well as the seediness of the characters who become the actors in the story. I loved the names he gave the men onboard the ship, Queequeg, Daggoo and Mr. Starbuck. I could visualize them. I also researched where the company name of Starbuck came from and indeed it is a homage to Melville’s steady first mate but that was just serendipitous as the marketing team for the coffee company considered a town near Seattle called Starbo. The owner of the company remembered his high school book “Moby Dick” and the rest is history or something like that.
I laughed many times throughout the book at the interactions between Ishmael and Queequeg. There were a few times I wanted to poke my eyes out during the overly detailed description of sperm whales which spanned a great part of the midsection of the book. I plowed through the book with a dictionary nearby and I found many words whose meanings I had no idea of. I also found many expressions that were familiar to me that I never knew were connected with the novel. Of course many of the words are so antiquated and out of vogue that even if I tried to remember them (as elegant as many of them are/were), if I were to use them in a sentence I would sound ridiculous. The last seventy five pages or so pretty much wrapped it up in a gory little package.
I am a believer that books come to us when we need to read them. Living where I do gave the book a context that made me feel a strong and warm connection to the words and the times. New Bedford was known as the Whaling Capital of the world at one time and was also the home of many textile companies. It was a proud city then and though a bit threadworn and tired, it still has many people who are connected to the sea which is its lifeblood. The beauty of the city is apparent when you get off the highway and travel the streets that Melville walked. The mansions are still grand and more recently there has been significant effort on the part of many to revitalize the city and reinvent it in the 21st century. The pull of the ocean and the stability of the land are in constant flux.
The story of Moby Dick is the story of revenge on one level and determination and fitting in on many other levels. It is cooperation of a crew at the hands of an angry driven man. It is having a job to do, and the accomplishment of carrying on the mission of the group for the betterment of others, but being at the mercy of someone in power who has a singleminded task. Sound familiar. Everything changes and nothing changes.
Good evening…I am just doing a quick check in. School vacation is underway and if Day 1 is any indication, things are going to be pretty darn spectacular. I am just sitting on the couch in the loft with my FHB. A strawberry rhubarb pie is in the oven, brownies on the counter, and a blueberry tart made its way down the hall to a dear friend to celebrate a birthday. Probably doesn’t sound much like vacation to most folks but not having to get up at 5:45 a.m. and sleeping till 7:18 a.m. is pretty awesome. The morning included breakfast at a local restaurant with Norwegian pancakes and strawberries and some really mellow coffee. Then we headed to the library (my favorite place that doesn’t sell shoes) and picked up my copy of Moby Dick. I’ve gotten a hundred pages into it and I have laughed and loved thanks to Mr. Melville. The rest of the day went by with a little of this and some of that (and a few hours of work in job two, but hey, doing only one work related activity is easy). It’s time to get back into the book….the narrator is getting ready to get on the ship and ….well you can read it yourself. I’m wishing you all a weekend filled with things you want to do and little of what you have to do. See you soon. Monday I will report back about Lizzie Borden and the scene of that famous story….
Nine days and counting…to the last day of school, not including the weekends. As folks in my circle, both students and staff would say…but who’s counting?….WE ALL ARE! Love my job but knowing that it’s almost time to call it feels so good. I have this ritual as the weeks count down. I keep a list on my nightstand of the things I want to attempt, places I want to visit, and experiences I want to experience between the last day of school and the first day back. I still have some leftovers from last year but they actually don’t go bad and I roll them into this year’s list and my success rate of accomplishing is usually +/- 80%.
Most of the list involve solitary pursuits. It’s not to be unfriendly, as I consider myself to be social most of the time, but part of recharging my own batteries, is knowing that doing things on my own will make me far more pleasant to be around overall. In a helping profession, this is considered the “me first” remedy. Some of the things under consideration might seem off beat, but that is for others to judge and me to find out. I thought I would share some of them. Here goes and they are in no particular order:
- Find foods to turn into dyes to paint. I am curious about condiments and whether doing this will be disgusting or interesting. Dijon vs yellow?
- Try to find my pen pal from when I was ten. Elizabeth Feijoo of Manila, The Phillipines….if you’re reading this, you’ll save me a lot of research. Please write back.
- Getting my German Passport, since my parents were both born there and had to leave before WWII, I am entitled to have dual citizenship and my sister and I have decided to look into this as it is something we can pass down to our children. Unclear if my FHB would be able to access this through me. Could raise some interesting conversations.
- Read Moby Dick. Have avoided this for many years. Can’t live in New Bedford where it was written and not say you’ve read it. It’s time.
- Go to the JFK Presidential Library in Boston to celebrate his 100th birthday. You can go online and sign a card. Did that. Want to remember the good and not the tragedy.
- Want to go and see the St. Lawrence River and Seaway and see how the locks work. It’s probably dorky but I’ve been curious so time for a road trip.
- Try grilled tuna and/or swordfish. I’ve had swordfish a few times and I didn’t like it but something tells me it was supposed to taste better than it was. Never had tuna other than out of a can. Seems like an adult food to consider.
- See if my FHB and I can try a week of vegan clean eating. Not sure if that will be before or after #7.
- Try doing shibori, the Japanese art of tie dying. (hold over from last summer). Bought the supplies and they stare at me.
- Get my car detailed. Never buy a light color interior. Even water stains.
- Swim in the ocean. It has been too long and I want to remember how much I love to swim. Planning not to drown.
- Visit Lizzie Borden’s house. Fall River is just down the road. I want to see if I get creeped out.
- See a couple of sunrises.
I’ll keep you all in the loop. Enjoy your weekend. Make your own list.