Thursday, October 11, 2018

adventures in contentment

Treats today - another sunny mild day (yesterday Jean-Marc and Richard rode their bikes to the island and had a picnic and a swim!), a wonderful class at U of T, coffee with a colleague who wants to encourage a group at his church to tell their stories and wanted advice and my how-to book, then coming home to find a letter from Nick in my mailbox and a gift on the doorstep - friend and neighbour Duncan Fremlin's memoir "My good times with Stompin' Tom," about touring with the famed Canuck musician. Duncan still plays banjo with his band Whiskey Jack, though he is also a very good real estate salesman. If I ever sell my house, it's Duncan who'll do the deed. Am looking forward to his book.

And then I found out that a student from last term at Ryerson has a beautiful, very moving piece in today's Globe. Brava, Vivian.

There are at least three things I should go to tonight - an all-candidates meeting, something delicious at the Toronto Reference Library, the launch of "Best Canadian Essays 2018." But I don't want to leave this kitchen and this chair. So I won't.

E. B. is at his best when he writes about his famous dachshund Fred. Here he is, with more Fred tomorrow:

November 1940
There is a book out called Dog Training Made Easy and it was sent to me the other day by the publisher, who rightly guessed that it would catch my eye. I like to read books on dog training. Being the owner of dachshunds, to me a book on dog discipline becomes a volume of inspired humor. Every sentence is a riot. Some day, if I ever get the chance, I shall write a book, or warning, on the character and temperament of the Dachshund and why he can’t be trained and shouldn’t be. I would rather train a striped zebra to balance an Indian club than induce a dachshund to heed my slightest command. For a number of years past I have been agreeably encumbered by a very large and dissolute dachshund named Fred. Of all the dogs whom I have served I’ve never known one who understood so much of what I say or held it in such deep contempt. When I address Fred I never have to raise either my voice or my hopes. He even disobeys me when I instruct him in something that he wants to do. And when I answer his peremptory scratch at the door and hold the door open for him to walk through, he stops in the middle and lights a cigarette, just to hold me up.

April 1941
Whenever I tell about spring, or any delights that I experience, or the pleasant country, I think of a conversation I had with a friend in the city shortly before I left. “I trust,” he said with an ugly leer, “that you will spare the reading public your little adventures in contentment.”

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