January 31st/20 Correspondences

What is it with this notice that appears when I try to log in, covering the ‘enter’ bar, saying it is not secure? Clickbait? I can barely edge my arrow into the blue to get a hand and open. Grrr. Clickbait, viruses, who knows.

Letters! Handwritten!







Just heard from an old friend (by email), Michael Brown, who writes that he and his wife Eva are having their 50th anniversary this year! Half a century has slipped by me! Yikes.

Also from my friend in Australia, the wonderful Daphne Murray, who is in her mid-nineties and whose letters I value greatly, one of the best correspondents I have ever had. She is bright and funny and extremely well-read, thanks to a classic education in England. She was a Land Girl during WW2 —young women of the cities who volunteered to go out to English farms to work, making up for all the men being drafted by the military. She was assigned to one of the royal tenant farms and met the young Princess Elizabeth, and stayed in contact, met the Queen Elizabeth several times in later years, invited to dinner, QE remembered her from the farm. She married an Australian who later become governor of New South Wales, traveled the world.

December 30th

“Years ago I read Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Castlebridge, it was a paperback. I have a set of old authors and they are all covered in the same cloth — red…(but) I had already devoured it. I love his work…Have you read his works? I am trying to get the bookshop here to get Middlemarch for me as I read it is a beautiful story…

“As to reading Dickens again was it Dotheboys headmaster who had a great jar of pickles? ‘Boys need pickles’ he said. So do old ladies as I have just had a plate of Christmas ham and some of my home-made pickles. A bit of vinegar does you good.”

“I was friendly with one of the boys who flew the planes to Germany. Walking back to the dairy one day I saw a plane over my head wobbling about and I thought it would crash, it was only just off the runway, but it righted itself and flew off. At the weekend I saw Mike and he said, ‘Did you see me on Thursday? I waggled my wings.’  The most romantic thing that ever happened to me!”

(Recent fires) “The terrible fires continue and we have months of hot weather to go. the Gov. are paying volunteers to be firemen, all are exhausted. Because of the lack of rain everything is tinder dry and of course the old gum trees and Eucalyptus are full of oil, and they just explode into fireballs. So many are homeless, it is not a happy Xmas. …We are not in a timber area and there sure is no grass to burn.”

“I often think of things to tel you and then I forget. I am usually awake about 3 a.m. to dawn —then I sleep some more. …All part of aging. My friend Helen gets up and does the ironing if she can’t sleep. I’d rather cut my throat.”

I have urged her (and her daughter Paula) to write all this down to be kept for the family, and she says she is, but i needs a concerted effort and Paula is a nurse, working hard, and taking down memoirs by tape or hand is a very demanding job, but I keep all her letters and if the family there wants them I will have them all for them.

And so in the picture that wall looks awful but it is glossy white paint that I slapped on, trying to cover some marks, and it shows up dark, eww, got to fix that.

Trip to Baltimore ABA Winter Institute was fun, Jen and I went on a long walking tour of Baltimore, visited the USS Constellation, the waterfront, the Flag House where Mrs. Pickersgill and helpers sewed the Star-Spangled Banner, it was actually bigger than their house! Jen was quite intrepid with her tour map, we had a great time. Jen is much fun, good company, truly a friend.

Signed books for two hours for lines of people carrying their ARE’s, got back exhausted and a bit shaky as always, took time to calm down, get my head straight, rode with Evelyn, her horse Anna is recovering from sarcoma in the ear, it looks good, healing, Jackson was a dream as always.