My sense of time has been all messed up this week. All day Thursday I thought it was Wednesday. And my weekend plans were looking like a distant future. Yet, here we are. The day after Friday. Dark and snowing. I’m looking forward to December 21, when it starts getting light again.
The Winter Solstice. I am reminded of my trip to Ireland a few years back. We visited New Grange, a Neolithic period World Heritage Site. At New Grange there is one large mound built built 5,000 years ago, before the Pyramids of Egypt or Stonehenge in England. It is an incredible display of engineering, not to mention beautiful and kind of eerie. Everybody who visits is required to join a tour. We were led into the mound for a demonstration of how the Winter Solstice lights up the cave-like structure. It is something I would like to see for real sometime. It was very cool. I am not a fan of small tight spaces and almost didn’t go in but luckily we weren’t in there very long so I didn’t have time to panic.
I decided I was not going to watch Harry and Meghan on Netflix. But I gave in and watched it. I can’t resist some good gossip. Only the first three episodes are available. The rest come out next week. Such a tease. It hasn’t changed my opinion of them but it was well done. They spend a lot of time going into English history and the Commonwealth and the slave trade and diversity and unconscious bias and mixed race. And of course the relationship the Royal family have with the press. Rather dysfunctional. Bottom line really is “who cares” but interesting none the less. Rich people’s problems….
Years ago I read the Nero Wolfe mystery series by Rex Stout. Nero Wolfe is a private detective who lives in a brownstone in Manhattan. He has a greenhouse on the roof where he grows orchids. He drinks beer and has a private gourmet chef. He is very fat. His assistant Archie Goodwin does all the legwork for him. Nero mostly drinks beer and thinks. The meals Fritz, the chef, prepares are described in detail and in 1973, the Nero Wolfe Cookbook was published. Rex Stout wrote 33 Nero Wolfe novels. After his death in 1975, Robert Goldsborough continued the series and published as recently as 2021. Apparently Rene Magritte was a fan of Nero Wolfe and titled several of his paintings after the books. When the League of Frightened Men was published in French it became Les Compagnons de al Peur (the companions of fear). Magritte painted the Companions of Fear in response to the Nazi occupation of Brussels (1940). It is a very different painting than what I normally think of when I am thinking about Magritte.
Les Compagnons de la Peur, Renee Magritte, 1942
So the whole point of this long explanation is, I just started reading the first novel in the series again, The League of Frightened Men. It holds up surprisingly well.
The Promenades of Euclid, Renee Magritte, 1955 (one of my favorites)
In an Opinion piece in the New York Times this week the phrase “it is what it is” is described as: “It relieves you of coming to a conclusion, forming an opinion, developing an action plan — and even worse, tries to be cute about it.” “It marks an intellectual and moral surrender”. The writer loathes the expression even as he continues to use it. I, on the other hand, like the expression. For me it feels like something a good buddhist would say. Let it be. You can’t do anything about it. It is what it is. Let it go. Why do you need to form an opinion or develop an action plan about everything? Calm the f*** down!
Have a great week!