The mailman left a note in my home mailbox this week -- and I presume in the building's other mailboxes as well -- reminding us to keep the paths to the mailbox clear of ice and snow at this time of year.
We're trying, we really are -- but the ice, in particular, seems inescapable.
Today's high temperature will reach 28F, which would feel quite warm if it weren't so windy. But it's a bright, sunny day, which means that the snow plowed into a giant bank at the edge of our parking lot is melting... into water that flows into the area in front of our mailboxes, where it freezes to ice in the shade.
Seriously, I think we need an engineer to come in and design a gutter system for the snowmelt. I'm guessing my landlords won't volunteer to pay for that. But it might be a good school project for someone ... anybody interested? I'd bake you some muffins and give you some free books.
What I Read This Week
When you read three or four books at a time, you tend to finish them in batches.
Francine Prose, THE LIVES OF THE MUSES. A look at nine women who inspired the prominent artists for their day, starting with Samuel Johnson's friend and biographer Hester Thrale and concluding with Yoko Ono. Prose avoids cliches and obvious choices (Alma Mahler is not here, nor is Dora Maar), and discusses the whole problematic idea of muses with sharp humor and insight.
Antonia Fraser, ed.; THE LIVES OF THE KINGS AND QUEENS OF ENGLAND. This was an audiobook, condensing 1,000 years of history into about eight hours of narration. Through portraits of individual monarchs, the book provides a comprehensive look at how the British idea of monarchy itself has changed, and makes a subtextual argument for its continued value.
Lisa Lutz, REVENGE OF THE SPELLMANS. The third in this series, and just as much fun as the first two -- that rarity of rarities, a thoroughly satisfying mystery in which no one gets killed, no one even gets badly hurt, and things end pretty well for everyone. I read an advance copy; it'll be out in March.
Robert Lacey and Danny Danziger, THE YEAR 1000. A short, fascinating look at life in England at the turn of the last millennium. People were taller then than in later years, but the average life expectancy was only around 40. Temperatures were warmer, it being part of a time called "The Little Optimum," which makes me wonder how much of our current global warming trend is actually manmade.