Another friendly letter

Deland's study in Bostonnote the daffodils
This is the blessed time of year that I get to keep daffodils on my desk. They’re angels is what they are. If there’s anything on earth that makes me think that a deity might by some small stretch of the imagination be possible, it’s the seemingly superfluous beauty of daffodils. I’ve loved them since boyhood because I despised winter even then, and when they appeared, I knew that the worst was over. The same is true now. It’s a crappy gray day, but at least I have daffodils, and to tell you the truth, I had just as soon have a gray day with daffodils than a sunny day without. When they stop blooming, it’s as if my best friend died.

 I had to take Brewsky back to the vet bright and early this morning for his bladder problems. It was a sad occasion, my regret being that I couldn’t tell him why I was causing him such misery, and my fear being that he will have to have surgery after all. I’ve since gotten a call from the vet saying his urinary tract isn’t blocked, but that further tests will be necessary.

I listened to the news as I drove and learned that Sanders won Michigan, so I’m wondering if it’s time to give him some more money. Like most people, I don’t want to donate to a candidate who can’t win, but if thousands of optimists hadn’t given him money when it was widely believed that he had no chance, he wouldn’t be where he is. If Clinton should beat Sanders, I’ll vote Green because I so dislike and distrust Clinton that I can’t see voting for her even if it means that an insane billionaire might become president.

Brewsky’s vet trip was my first time to leave home in days, so it felt strange to be out in the heavy morning traffic, driving all the way to Santa Clara. I don’t remember why we chose an across-town vet all those 25-years  ago, but it seems a bit late to change. We’ve had two dogs euthanized in that clinic, and now our pets consist of two cats. I just wish we had someone to euthanize us someday.

There was roadwork along the route making it necessary for people to slow down to let other people merge. I never see such an event without reflecting upon how helpful most people are, at least when it’s cheap and easy. Fortunately, the cost of doing good is usually low in proportion to how much encouragement it can bring. Imagine how you would feel if no one ever let you merge. But why is it that some jerk always speeds ahead of everyone else to the head of the merge line? I block such people religiously, but not everyone is as hard as I, and it is true that the offender might really be in a desperate hurry.

I spent yesterday in bed. I’ve gotten to where every few weeks, I feel so low that I can’t seem to stay up. It’s hard getting old, and it’s hard being in pain. My latest problem is that I ripped the nail on my right thumb back while doing dishes (yes, I know that sounds strange) two nights ago. This is the thumb that I crushed in a door a few weeks after breaking my back in November, 2013. I was so loaded on Fentanyl when I crushed it that it took me a moment to register that I was standing there with my thumb in a shut door (good stuff, Fentanyl—way stronger than morphine), and it has remained swollen ever since (I narrowly missed having to have it amputated). The swelling keeps the nail pushed up, so I’ve been anticipating tearing it off eventually, and although it’s still there, I’m wearing a glove to protect it. I see a hand surgeon tomorrow.

Last week, I bought my fifth Margaret Deland letter. When I started collecting Deland, I was pleased to find that first editions of her books were so cheap, but now that I have all but two of them, I want to upgrade to copies that are pristine, signed, and have dust jackets, although such books are rare and expensive. I’m also looking into having a book conservator repair any defects in the signed copies I already own—I own many. My inventory of antique books is now 27-pages long, and I’ve filled nine feet of shelf space, partly because I’ve started collecting another author—Lebbeus Mitchell.

I feel a bit old to start seriously collecting antique books, but if I had started when young, there would have been no Internet to make it easy to find them, and I wouldn’t have wanted to spend the money. As it is, Peggy and I live so cheaply that we’ve yet to dip into our retirement savings (in other words, we live entirely on Social Security), so it seems silly to deny myself something that, no matter how much I spend, isn’t going to break the bank.

I also have the thought that my collection could be somewhat of a blessing to scholarship if I leave it to a university, to which end I’m already making plans. Even if my every book isn’t wanted, the letters surely will be. I’ve thus far been able to buy every significant letter that has come up, and the few that I passed on weren’t worthwhile because of their brevity or, as in the case of one, because only a fragment remained. Why anyone would take scissors and cut away all but a few lines of a letter is beyond me, but that’s what they did.

I find it exceedingly strange to have my life so intimately linked with a person who died four years before I was born. Just by holding something that she touched, I feel connected, not just to her, but to her era, her experiences, her point of view, and even to her ancestor who was burned at the stake for taking a stand against organized religion. I feel such intimacy with Deland that it’s as if she’s alive through me. Surely, if I had my schooling to do over, I would major in history because an era is like a life in that it’s best understood when it’s over. While Deland could only observe her existence as it occurred, I can see its themes in their entirety. Through her writings, she tried hard to tell people who she was, and I’m honored to listen.