This will mainly be about books.  But first…

Things to see:

Things to hear:

All Things Wise and Wonderful is James Herriot’s third book recounting his adventures as a veterinarian in Yorkshire, England.  His books are always amusing, but some of the stories in this one had me tearing up, I was laughing so hard.  This is not the book to be reading surreptitiously under your desk at work, let me tell you.  I snicker every time I think of the story of Mrs. Beck and her holy terror of a cat, and I’ve told it to every friend who will sit still long enough to hear it.

I picked up a lot of cheap Louis L’Amour books at the Wake County Library sale, and I’m slowly working through them.  Down the Long Hills isn’t quite the usual western fare; instead of a hard-bitten, tough-as-nails protagonist combating ruffians,  living off the land, and winning over fair maidens with his beard stubble, the hero of the story is a seven-year-old.  A seven-year-old who could probably eat you for breakfast.  I thoroughly enjoyed the story, even if the concluding action (in true L’Amour fashion) whips by in the last couple pages so fast you’d miss it if you blinked.

I’m working on With These Hands, a collection of stories also by L’Amour.  The book opens with a rough-and-tumble boxing story.  (I’ll make a confession right now: what little I know of boxing and street fighting, I learned as a very young girl from L’Amour.  “Haymaker” and “Liverpool kiss”are probably not in the vocabulary of most eight-year-olds.)  I like L’Amours books because in spite of themselves they feel plausible, probably because L’Amour drew from personal experience and his biography reads like one of his own novels.  To summarize: He grew up in North Dakota and left home at 15, getting jobs as a seaman, lumberjack, elephant handler, and miner, among other things.  He served in WWII, circled the world on a freighter, sailed a dhow on the Red Sea, was shipwrecked in the West Indies, and was stranded in the Mojave Desert.  He won 51 out of 59 professional boxing matches, and he was a journalist and lecturer.  Somewhere in there he found the time to amass a 10,000-book library, do extensive historical research, and write more than 100 books.  He was every bit as colorful as one of his characters, and I can’t offhand think of anyone who lived a fuller life.  In some ways I envy the people who lived just as history was turning the corner into modernity.  They grew up with horses and buggies and died with space rockets; what must that have been like?  But I think it must also have been sad, to see things that you loved changing and going away forever.  Life was altering so quickly during that time, sometimes it must have felt as if there was nothing recognizable from your childhood at all.   Adventure seemed so much easier to find back then; but perhaps I just haven’t been looking hard enough. : )

Even though our Latin/literary discussion group had given up on Ovid’s Metamorphoses,  I decided to get back to it.  I hate leaving a book unfinished, and I kind of missed my weekly dose of mythology.  The concluding lines gave me a bit of a shiver because suddenly it seemed like Ovid turned his head and looked right at me:

Now I have done my work.  It will endure,
I trust, beyond Jove’s anger, fire and sword,
Beyond Time’s hunger.  The day will come, I know,
So let it come, that day which has no power
Save over my body, to end my span of life
Whatever it may be.  Still, part of me,
The better part, immortal, will be borne
Above the stars; my name will be remembered
Wherever Roman power rules conquered lands,
I shall be read, and through all centuries,
If prophecies of bards are ever truthful,
I shall be living, always.