Slow absorption of history with digressions

I’m still slowly reading In These Times: Living in Britain Through Napoleon’s Wars with forays into Wikipedia or pauses to read a book or two or six by people mentioned in the history. Last night I ended up trying to explain Lord Uxbridge’s leg to Danny who got interested and then read out loud to me from Mr. Dallas’s speech in court to defend Henry Paget (the Noble Lord). (Result: Paget paid 20,000 pounds to Wellesley for eloping with his wife Charlotte.) Readers of Regency romances take note, Paget was married at the time to one of Lady Jersey’s daughters.

Onward to some more Luddite riots centered in Bolton and Preston (land of my ancestors! at least one branch of them! Weavers and miners all, emigrating around 1900 to work in more mills but escaping the mines!) and a long chapter about Shelley and co.

One pause was for Life in the Sickroom by Harriet Martineau, which is AWESOME and which I’ll summarize soon. I liked it so much I found a (cheap!) first edition online – leather binding, marbled papers – Lovely.

I am probably going to pause to read the novel Patronage by Mrs. Edgeworth, but first, a complete departure since I need to recharge my Kindle, this morning in the sun on the porch with coffee, with a real life paper book in hand: From the Legend of Biel by Mary Staton, which I had never heard of till James Nicoll‘s mention of it in a review. So far it’s glorious, weird, trippy, one of those Freak Out in Space books a little like Solaris, as the head of the 4-person expedition to planet MC6 enters the pearl-like featureless dome trying to map the maze within and finally, the center, and some glass holograph floppies which, slotted in, OVERWHELM HIS MIND with story.

book cover with geometric buildings

Why, why, why, would you want to wear a jumpsuit uniform in space and as you explore another planet? They’re always unzipping their jumpsuits (but never to pee) What is wrong with just … what about pants and shirt, space explorer uniform designers? I guess the idea is that in zero-gee you don’t want your shirt floating up but that is why we have tailoring, knits, even perhaps Space Suspenders.

Other moments where someone enters the dome, or the ruins, of the past or the aliens or one’s ancestors: Pern on the Southern Continent (with bonus rocketships), I think one at least of the books by H.M. Hoover, an Andre Norton or two or five (especially the one where they jump around on the colored squares to get in, like Dance Dance Revolution). And so many more. I have to think it is from Lord Howard and the pyramid (The protagonist of Biel is even named Howard – subtle. )

Long reading journeys since I am still in enforced idleness of convalescence from surgery and can’t sit upright for very long and leaving the house (while possible) is unwise and painful. It’s amazing how beautiful the world is though when I do — the bus ride to the doctor yesterday & back again was as wild and ecstatic as the journey into the dome of MC6 — I was early, bought an It’s-It at a cart at the cable turnaround at Powell and sat in the sun in a clean bit of pavement (recently washed perhaps by the new mayor’s power-washing crew) providing entertainment to all as part of the San Francisco landscape. Purple haired woman with a leather jacket sits on the pavement next to her motorized tricycle (decorated with artificial flowers and a unicorn horn), eating ice cream and beaming — small children tagging along after their parents with rolly suitcases drop their jaws and their heads swivel as they walk past or sometimes stop dead in their tracks to stare. I wave like the Queen of Tricycles and try to convey my harmlessness to the parents. Sometimes I’ve been stopped in that area or by the Mint by tourists who want a photo with me. Colored hair is not that strange anymore so I have to lay blame on the unicorn horn. The people waiting in a long line for the cable car ride (where I always think of young Maya Angelou), the guy sleeping next to the railing, the band playing not-great but adequate steel drum, a sunny day…. Endless parade of people going places purposefully. I loved everyone.

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