I think that this book about Rangeley I’ve been reading, written by Julian, has made me too sentimental for my own damned good.
I also went for a short bike ride with my mother. It was pleasant enough, although she has a bum knee so we had to go at a snails pace (for the best anyway since I have a bum wheel.) The scenery up here is really spectacular and I am able to appreciate how glorious a quiet ride through a wooded path can be in a way that I never was when I was younger and did this sort of thing more regularly, and with much protesting.
Of course doing these things brought back memories of my father. He was the driving force in the family...especially up here where he would stock the days with activities that were sometimes fun, sometimes dreadful, but always something that could be remembered. He loved to bike ride and we took some really spectacular rides towards the end when I was getting big enough to go long distances. Arranging and doing these things without him feels...profoundly hollow. It’s sort of like trying to play tennis without any balls (another thing he loved which I haven’t done in forever...Tennis. I remember hours on the court, and better hours off it picking wild raspberries and trampolining while he played with other adults)
The whole vacation feels empty without him.
The day ended rather poorly...with dinner at Dick’s house. His new girlfriend and her sister were there and the sister was the most irritating, sexist, New Age woman I have ever met. From declaring women more adventurous than men because I declined her tofu (I’ve tried tofu...I don’t like tofu...what’s adventurous about eating something you don’t like?) to describing her profession as a “writing facilitator” (basically an unlicensed therapist/nanny for writers) to promoting books like “choicepoints” and “Financial Emotional Styles” she made the evening a mixture of bizzare and unpleasant. When my mother politely stated that she would consider purchasing one of the books I had to supress the urge to shout “over my dead body!”
I need to develop my own style of trip planning at some point but this trip is too short for that. I’d like to go camping on Student’s island again at some point though (so named because in 1850 a bunch of Yalies settled there to fish.)
Another thing I’ve been thinking about recently is just how genteel a family I actually came from. I’ve always been somewhat attracted to the idea of aristocracy, not from an intellectual “there should be an aristocracy” perspective but more of an emotional tie to the pagentry and most especially the manners of “civilized” society. Cocktail parties and dining with families preceded by “the” are associated with such attractive qualities as discourse on intellectual topics late into the night and gossiping/frowning about/upon those who violate social norms. It has been interesting, then, to note that my mother came from a family that used “summer” as a verb (always one of the signs of class.) The residents of this lake really were members of a Baltimorian upper class. From the state supreme court justice who ruled over his tennis court with an iron fist, to Julian himself who is prone to saying things like “Hey Ebbie, remember when I owned that little helicopter company?” and whose family only used to bring up three servants because they wanted to rough it, there is a scent of money and more importantly manners in the air. Of course these are not TRUE aristocrats, most of them were professionals and none were stupidly rich, but the way it worked could explain a good number of my attitudes, views, and my inability to truly hate the rich as is so very fashionable these days.
Of course I also recognize all the problems with anything resembling Aristocracy, from the two facedness of it all to the way that focusing on the surface allows what’s beneath it to rot...but I have a more blue collar background on my father’s side and I am certainly not opposed to hard work. It’s just an interesting thing to note...I guess my prominent grandfather liked playing with other prominent people. Nothing wrong with that.
Finally, completely off topic, I have recently come to the conclusion that if baseball does strike, all the pundits who stated they would never go back if it struck are going to be at least partially responsible. The more you read about Fehr the more sense you get that he’s the kind of guy who would do something merely because he had been told he couldn’t. Media pressure didn’t help anything in this case.