Sunday, November 22, 2009

"The water is your friend. You don't have to fight with water, just share the same spirit as the water, and it will help you move. "

Our big old house is most decidedly not haunted. BUT: when we first moved in and I would wander about at night after the boys were asleep, I often felt a warm, benevolent presence. I assumed it was 1) my overactive imagination, or 2) the previous owner who had died a very modern and apparently pain-free death from old age at a local hospital and not in our master bedroom. Either way, it was, as I said, benevolent, and eventually, once it became clear that we were staying and taking good care of the house (far better care than he had been able to, for that matter) and seemed intent upon populating it with lots of raucous and messy little boys, the benevolent, warm presence dissipated. After all, with all the mess and chaos around here, who has time anymore to wander round the halls wallowing in a ghostly presence? Not I. I need my sleep. And apparently, so did Henry (the previous owner).

I FINALLY finished The Little Stranger after I resorted to carrying it with me all day and reading it in completely non-creepy places like my pediatrician’s waiting room and the lobby at the gym. Because I found if I read it at home, especially last week when H was out 4 of 5 nights, I kept hearing all sorts of noises – noises I couldn’t seem to just blame on the cats, and the boys were all asleep. I would hear footsteps and rattles and snorts and all sorts of deliciously, horrifyingly creepy odd noises. So I was forced to stop reading it by myself, in my old, drafty, shadowy house. Especially since Henry no longer was around to watch out for me.

So to banish the thought of wet gurgling voices from the laundry chute and wafting cold drafts, I dove quickly into some not so creepy reading.

I picked up Robertson Davies’ The Cunning Man one night last week, because it was handy in a stack by my bed. And the thing about Robertson Davies’ books are that they are so convoluted and dense with details and tangents that often by the time you’ve reached the end, you’ve forgotten all of the beginning and lots of the middle, so he’s perfect for rereading. I am currently three-quarters of the way through and enjoying it just as much as I did the first 2 times I read it.

I also am rereading (albeit unintentionally since I didn’t remember I’d already read it till about halfway though) Mary Kay Andrews’ Hissy Fit. Good, fluffy fun, often with a mild little mystery thrown in. Andrews’ characters are more often than not antique dealers, or at the very least, interior designers or other people who have good reason to frequent antique auctions and estate sales, and considering that the only new pieces of furniture in my entire house are the TV and the dining room table, I find myself sympathizing greatly with them and often wishing I could tag along to the garage sales and junk shops…

Speaking of, I picked up a bunch of books at the local thrift shop last Thursday and immediately immersed myself in Julian Fellowes’ Snobs, which is sort of funny in an abstracted, Thatcher-era England kind of way.

I bought a bunch of books for the boys, including Dave Pilkey’s first six Ricky Ricotta graphic novels, and a pile of Children’s Illustrated Classics.

And also, for me, a weirdly delightful illustrated picture book of the saints, with strange little crayon-y drawings of each saint and a cheerfully obtuse blurb about his or her life (and bloody, painful death, where applicable).
E.g., this lovely little story re: Saint Agnes: "When the emperor saw she was not afraid of pain, he had her clothes stripped off and she had to stand in the street before a pagan crowd."
Or this gem about St Cecilia:
"The judge condemned her to be smothered by steam. But God protected Cecilia. Then the judge ordered a soldier to kill her with a sword. He struck her three times but did not cut off her head. She fell down, badly wounded, and for three days she remained alive." (Does anyone else hear the voice from Austin Powers: "I'm badly wounded..." or is that just me?)
Peaceful little bedtime stories, no? (Of course, when I was a pre-teen, I was oddly obsessed with Foxe's Book of Martyrs, which was available in our church's library for all to read. But this was the same church that loved to detail the torments of hell to grade-schoolers, so take that for what it's worth...)
All in all, well worth the buck-fifty it cost me...

In other news, the dread Christmas shopping is upon us.
But first, Primo’s birthday.
A friend very kindly gave him a Game Boy this summer, but I am discovering that Game Boy games are obsolete and practically impossible to find. All the games Primo really wants are Gameboy Advance games. So I am currently torn between (among?) 1) buying a used Game Boy Advance and the attendant games, 2) buying a Nintendo DS with which all Game Boy Advance games are compatible as well as, obviously, all the DS games, and 3) refusing to buy any game or gaming consoles at all and hopelessly abandoning my children to the outdated 20th century.

* ~Aleksandr Popov


Bearette said...

I wish Robertson Davies wasn't dead.

Katy said...

Have you looked on eBay for old Gameboy games? But yes, regular Game Boy (as in, the portrait view oriented game system) is pretty obsolete. If you can fit it in the budget, I must say that the Nintendo DS is really quite awesome. I was not really in favor of Dan getting one, but even I like it for Zelda every now and then.

That said, your children will survive just fine without video games. Just make sure that they have access to computer games! =)

Kristin said...

I was also fascinated by stories about the saints as a pre-teen and teen. I think for me it was a combination of the crazy stories, gore, and the "off-limits" nature of the topic for a non-Catholic.

I hear you on the video game issue. Neither my husband nor I played games like that as kids and we have no interest in them as adults. We're barely computer literate. We just got cable this year. So our kids are pretty much going to be luddites like their sad sack parents. Recently my mother of all people, the woman who didn't even own a microwave until 2 years ago, expressed concern that her grandchildren would grow up at a technological disadvantage. Thanks, mom.

Anonymous said...

You can pick up used stuff at Gamestop. The guys who work at Water Works and Squirrel Hill are always really nice whenever we're in their stores.

Also, I remember when you read Hissy Fit the first time; I just saw a copy in Half-Price Books yesterday and thought of you.

sueeeus said...

What kind of games does he like? We have some... ...I don't recommend them for DS -- they don't work all that great (I have one) -- I tried the pacman and it was so tiny I could barely see it.