Saturday, October 31, 2015

to Lane Morgan, 31 October 1972

Hi, Birthday Girl….

Rosa has been burning the midnight pugetpower as if a Nancy Bare special were to be on stage tomorrow, while I’ve been pondering the possibilities for a paternal type present for an anti-materialist of twenty-two. The result is a refurbished teeth from me, a poncho from Rosa, and we both hope they fit. 

It will be great if you can make it up for Thanksgiving. The beach last weekend was marvelous. Pete and Ellie were there; she was stringing morels and russellas on fishline leader to dry over the big stove, and Pete, whose handlebar has turned dark red in contrast to his pepper gray elsewhere, was saying of the blustery day, “this kind of day is what this place is all about.” Leslie was supposed to be about to tell her boyfriend that she wouldn’t go steady but they didn’t look like it walking the beach. Otto was in S.F. to see Johanna and the Wheelises and Fred Straus, and Phyllis stayed in Shelton, but Mary  had a beautiful specialist in lung diseases who is giving the Walker Ames lectures and admired Skid Road. Dorothy was bemoaning the fact that her biology teacher is an authority on the electricity of cells and specializes her lectures in that direction. Gene was contemplating the impending special session of the legislature with some equanimity: there’s nothing more they can take away from the U., he thinks: over-optimistically, I suspect.

We woke up Wednesday morning with the power off. Rosa said she’d been awake most of the night feeling something was odd but resisting the urge to wake me up to help her worry. When I looked out the window: snow.  Several inches of wet, heavy snow. It came with the leaves still on the trees and two of the three Chinese elms by the badminton area snapped off about half-way up, the poplars lost quite a few branches, the tulip tree and the flowering plum some more, and one of the three cottonwoods over by the old laundry tubs next to the paddock gate broke off. No damage to the house, but the yard looked like a stump ranch. I’ve been busy with the Swedish fiddle for the last couple days and most of the debris is cleared away now and we’re over the shock, but it rekindles awareness of impermanence. (I’ll think I’ll write a short story about a man who wants to build an absolutely secure house, and see what it gets me.) [Murray is referring to Allen Wheelis’s “The Illusionless Man and the Visionary Maid,” which is online at]

Otto and Phyllis and Lisa came by on Otto’s way home from the airport on Wednesday afternoon and we had a fine report. Otto quotes himself as turning to Fred, when they were all alone in a theater one afternoon watching Death in Venice and saying, “You know, Visconti didn’t read the book either.” I think I told you we saw Bergman’s The Touch while in Portland: it was godawful. We didn’t like the Rep’s first play either, “Ring Round the Moon,” but the UW students had a fine version of Albee’s “The American Dream,” and a broad by pleasant comedy by Chekov, “The Marriage Proposal.” Next Wednesday, “The Three Sisters” at the Showboat. 

School rocks along, taking time but not much mental effort. I’ve just graded the first set of book reports, 87 of them, mostly routine. There was one unusual one from a Fox Island Bircher (who likes me, I think) and who explained she finds in the class confirmation of her literal interpretation of the Bible. Education is a many-splendored thing.
We received a fine letter from Howard Daniel during the week. He retires in four weeks, and will stay in Geneva, and plans to write more art books. The Encyclopedia of Themes and Subjects in Painting is out and has been nicely reviewed…

Jim Faber (right) and Ivar Haglund, via historylink and Paul Dorpat

[Jim] Faber had his gall bladder out on Tuesday. We’re going to present him a plastic box in which to preserve it in case he ever runs out of gall and needs it. 
Rosa and I trimmed Balzac [their dog] on separate days and got somewhat carried away with the effort. He’s still shaggy but looks as if he’d stuck his head in a pencil sharpener.

The New Statesman’s current contact is: Write a letter from any prominent person declining an invitation to the Last Supper. I can’t wait for the answers. 

Seattle icons: Skid Road guy, Murray, the stolen Tlingit totem (actually a recreation, which was paid for this time), and Chief Seattle, taken by equally iconic Mary Randlett in Pioneer Square
The second printing of Skid Road is now on the stands. They’ve corrected the errors. It’s back up to 10th on the Seattle charts. Faber says all the young people in his office are enthusiasts: didn’t know Seattle had a sinful past, and look on Jim with new respect.

It’s Hallowe’en and the first of the little monsters have been here. I must go out and set the traps.

Have a good birthday, this year, every year,

Your doting father, 

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