Wednesday, August 29, 2018

This humid heat has been nigh on unbearable, and my little free dehumidifier is working overtime: I needed to empty it three times yesterday. We have no air conditioning, so languid is the word of the hour. Today I might drag the boy to the bowling alley or the movies. Something must be better than sitting on a sultry couch beside the tepid breeze of a box fan and reading about 15th-century political machinations as dump trucks bang and the smell of boiling tar rises from the street holes.

For the next few days I will be traveling, so you are likely to hear from me only intermittently. Imagine that I am brisk and cheerful during the days and sleeping through the nights. Maybe our dreams will come true.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Today is shaping up to be a scorcher; and out on the street, workmen are backhoeing, paving, whipping around corners in their Bobcats, raising clouds of dust.

Last night, we went to another Sea Dogs game. Two Red Sox players were rehabbing, which was why we bought tickets; but the sultry night was reason enough. Summer is not releasing its grip.

I spent yesterday morning correcting Chestnut Ridge proofs, but today will mostly involve errands and collapsing in front of the fan with the boy. On Thursday he and I will head west--first, to dig my dad's potatoes, then onward to college move-in day. And then autumn will ascend, whether summer agrees or not.

I was pleased to see your list of angry poems. It seems that much resonant poetic anger arises from political conflict: the cold war, the world wars. I could have listed Milosz's poems about the German occupation of Poland, Whitman's Civil War angst, even this unattributed bit of 15th-century verse:
In every shire with jacks and sallets clean
Misrule does rise, and makes the neighbours war,
The weaker goes beneath, as oft is seen.
Of course poets also get angry about lovers, not to mention parents. None of you mentioned Plath's "Daddy," but that's at least as angry as some of these war poems are.

Monday, August 27, 2018

I'm still hobbling a bit, but I did manage to get the front-yard garden and grass mowed and tidied before this week's onslaught of road construction begins. At the moment all is quiet, but cones and parked backhoes loom ominously. For the past several months workers have been tearing up the neighboring streets to replace gas lines, and now, it seems, our time has come. Ugh.

Seward's The Wars of the Roses is turning out to be a well-written history. The author tells his tale from the point of view of five different men and women of the period, one of whom is a woman commoner--a rare figure in fifteenth-century annals. I did not expect to be gripped by this book, but that's the lovely thing about reading: you never know what might turn up.

Which reminds me: the other day a friend asked what my favorite angry poem was, and I immediately answered, "Carruth's 'Adolf Eichmann.'" It's a good question. What's yours?

Sunday, August 26, 2018

I spent Saturday correcting Chestnut Ridge proofs, reading about the Wars of the Roses, freezing beans, freezing sweet peppers, freezing kale, and, best of all, stringing up dozens of hot peppers for drying. The little garden continues to amaze me: I planted one hot pepper plant last spring, and yesterday I harvested about half of its crop. Now swags of little green peppers are looped comically above the kitchen window, looking exactly like those fake hot pepper lights people drape around Mexican restaurants. Later today I'm going to make a giant wonderful salsa with fresh hot peppers, fresh yellow and red tomatoes, lots of homegrown garlic, and a dishpan full of cilantro. Then I'm going to marinate beef for fajitas, and heat up the corn tortillas my older son sent us from the tortilla factory in his Chicago neighborhood, and we will have a glorious late summer meal. Eventually I'll probably pickle and can the rest of the hot pepper crop. Pickled peppers are wonderful in winter potato salads.

My back feels better but it's still stiff, so I woke up at 3 a.m. and couldn't get back to sleep, and of course my brain was fretting about all sorts of ridiculous things that aren't worth fretting over, and then the cat jumped on me and made me get up, so that accounts for why I'm writing to you at 5:30 on a Sunday morning.

But since I'm awake anyway, I might as well read and write, and now that you're awake too, you might like to see my favorite passage (so far) from Desmond Seward's The Wars of the Roses:
The legal system began to break down [in the mid-1400s]. Frequently judge and jury were intimidated by archers lounging menacingly at the back of a courtroom.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

This morning I am hobbling around like a 90-year-old. I have no idea how I yanked my back, but undoubtedly I was doing something dangerous like taking a saucepan off a shelf.

Otherwise, things are fine. To the annals of foraging (a honed skill that I sadly cannot use much in Portland), I am delighted to add "free working dehumidifier" after my neighbor dragged one out to the sidewalk and I pounced on it. The find may not seem as thrilling as chanterelles and fiddleheads, but then again there are few charms to a damp basement.

Yesterday my publisher sent me the first proofs of Chestnut Ridge, and I will print it out today and start combing through it for errors. I wish I didn't have to be my own copyeditor, but such is life in the small-press world. At first glance, I am really pleased with how the pages look. The manuscript has a number of challenging poems, design-wise, and Jeff's done an excellent job of figuring out how to manage them.

I've got a new poem draft on a back burner, and maybe I'll get a chance to work on it today. I've started reading a history of the War of the Roses, and I'd like to copy out some more Blake. If my back cooperates, I'll garden and vacuum and such, but we'll see what the ibuprofen says.

Here's a bit from the Blake piece I was copying out on earlier this week. It's from a section of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell titled "A Song of Liberty."
1. The Eternal Female groaned! it was heard over all the Earth: 
2. Albions coast is sick silent; the American meadows faint!

3. Shadows of Prophecy shiver along by the lakes and the rivers and mutter across the ocean? France rend down thy dungeon;

4. Golden Spain burst the barriers of old Rome;

5. Cast thy keys O Rome into the deep down falling, even to eternity down falling,

6. And weep

Thursday, August 23, 2018

I learned yesterday that the publisher is beginning to lay out the pages for Chestnut Ridge, so that was a cheerful surprise. Because several of the poems have odd formats, he's decided to use a boxier-than-normal trim size, which will give him more latitude with line length. So the book's shape will be a bit unusual . . . and maybe eye-catching because of it. We can only hope.

Otherwise, I passed the day reading friends' pieces, submitting work, writing some tardy letters. My quick foray into Blake has made me want to spend more time with him--maybe with one of the long strange poems.

By the way: I don't yet know when Chestnut Ridge will officially be available, but it's moving along faster than I'd anticipated. Thus, I ought to be finding some reading venues. If you have thoughts and suggestions, please let me know.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

I usually try to find some way into sympathy with my fellow humans, but I tell you: Trump's very bad news yesterday makes me entirely gleeful. He deserves to go down hard, and I hope he does.

I've been busy this morning finishing up an editing project, catching up on billing, etcetera, etcetera. Rain is drizzling down, slowly but steadily. The boy and I have exciting plans to go to the DMV later today, and maybe I'll take him out to lunch afterward, as recompense for his bureaucratic boredom. I also need to catch up on reading a few stories, poems, and essays in embryo, which various friends have sent me and which have been sitting in my inbox waiting for me to get to them.

Here is an announcement from our dear cranky William Blake, which I randomly read this morning and am now sending to you:
A Pretty Epigram for the Entertainment of those who have Paid Great Sums in the Venetian & Flemish Ooze
Nature & Art in this together Suit
What is Most Grand is always most Minute
Rubens thinks Tables Chairs & Stools are Grand
But Rafael thinks A Head a foot a hand

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Completely by accident, we watched two major-league pitchers at work last night--Eduardo Rodriguez of the Sox and Aaron Sanchez of the Blue Jays. Both happened to be making rehab appearances on an evening I happened to buy Sea Dogs tickets. For $11 apiece, we sat two rows up from the field, just beyond third base, and watched Eddie throw a beautiful four-inning start. What good fortune!

So we spent a sweet evening drinking Allagash and eating sausage sandwiches and chattering with our young people, and then suddenly we were accosted by old friends who happened to be in the park as well, and, altogether, it was an odd and serendipitous outing, followed by a peaceable walk home through the summer night air.

I hope to finish a batch of editing this morning, submit some poems to journals, hang towels on the line, and figure out how to cook quail on the grill. For the moment the house is quiet, though Tom will shortly fork himself out of bed and get ready for work. Heavy fog hangs over the neighborhood; someone's dog is barking to himself; I hear the distant pulse of the highway and the closer squeak of crickets in the trees and now a police siren rising and falling and fading away. Everything outdoors is soaked in dew.

Here's what Andrew Marvell has to say about it:
Such did the manna’s sacred dew distill,
White and entire, though congealed and chill,
Congealed on earth: but does, dissolving, run
Into the glories of th’ almighty sun.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Instead of baking, the boy and I decided to take an impromptu ferry ride to Peaks Island, and along with about five thousand other holiday-makers, we had a beautiful afternoon sightseeing on the busy, boat-filled bay, strolling down to the island beach, eating ice cream, and behaving like tourists in our own town. It was good to get out onto the water. My spirits always lift in a boat, though I can barely swim and would drown immediately in an accident. But I love the movement, the breeze, the hum of the engines, the churning wake, the flocks of sailboats, the broad sky.

And then, when we were done, we were ten minutes away from our house.

I still can't get over the strangeness of being so close to so many things. Few outings were impromptu in Harmony, unless they involved snowshoeing.

Today I need to get back to work. Tonight we're walking to a baseball game. The summertime life continues.

In the meantime I am reading Trollope's Framley Parsonage and Schnackenberg's poems; I still seem to be on hiatus from writing my own, but hanging out with my son is clearly more important. By Labor Day he'll be back at school, and life will dip into autumn, and maybe the poems will wait for me there.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

The boy has been a hurricane in the kitchen.  On Friday he made a chicken and mushroom pie. Last night he used the leftover pastry to make us crabmeat tarts. Today, he says, he's crossing to the sweet side to tackle creme patissiere. In the meantime, I spent my entire Alcott House anniversary day cleaning, and am feeling much better about things now. I do hate a grubby nest.

Today will be sunny and slightly cool, and I plan to work outside in the garden. I've got chard and beans to freeze, cucumbers to pickle, grass to mow, weeds to eliminate, and a fading sunflower patch to coax into blooming for another week or two. Also, I need to stand on the sidewalk and stare lovingly at the changes I've instigated on this little piece of land. There's much, much, much more to do; but when I remember the nothingness we bought last year--parched, weed-ridden, unnoticed--I feel so happy about how much life and beauty this postage-stamp garden exudes now.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

A gig on Thursday, rushing back to Portland on Friday, then coffee with a friend, and then a night out watching music with my boys: Tom bought us tickets to see the Brazilian samba singer Seu Jorge, who was completely wonderful. And afterward I came home and fell asleep like I was pole-axed.

Thus, this morning I am bleary and slow, barely able to prevent the cat from bringing a mostly dead bird into the house, though I did manage to slam the door in time. I've got all kinds of housework to do today. The air is heavy with wet, and torrential downpours are imminent. I need to write, but I'm not likely to find space to myself today. Oh, well. Other good things will happen.

Today is the first anniversary of Alcott House: last year, on this date, we closed on the house, drove straight to our new property, unlocked the door, stood around for a few moments staring at the magnitude of our undertaking, and then Tom demolished the kitchen and I demolished the front weed bed.

And now here we are, living comfortably in this mostly habitable place, harvesting from our front yard farm, cooking in our sweet unfinished kitchen. Considering what we had to work with--broken sewer pipe, collapsing walls and ceilings, and no usable kitchen--I can hardly believe we pulled it off.

Today is also my parents' 56th wedding anniversary. Needless to say, this is a sweet one for all of us.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Another dark and humid morning. Outside my window the dog owner who lives three doors down, who appears to have rolled straight out of bed, is standing in front of my house half-naked and half-asleep, watching his tiny pet bustle around at the end of a leash. I am still not used to having neighbors so close, but yesterday I did have a charming interaction with a man who was riding his bike slowly up my road.

"Good job!" he shouted at me, as I was wrestling the reel mower through the rain-fat grass.

He then halted his bike and introduced himself by name, street address, and number of children. Then he explained, "I talk to all United States women and men to improve my English."

I assured him that I would be delighted to talk to him any time he happened to ride by. We beamed at each other, shook hands, and he went on his way.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The boy is baking up a storm. Yesterday, he produced sesame-topped dinner rolls; today, he declares, he'll tackle herbed French bread. It's delightful to have him messing around at the stove . . . and also nostalgiac, as this is exactly how I learned to bake myself: as a way to while away long summer afternoons in my parents' kitchen.

Today I've got a student paper to read, and a batch of editing to tackle, and, if the garden ever dries out, mowing and weeding and harvesting and such. Tomorrow I'm on the road for my penultimate gig of the summer; Friday we've got tickets to see the Brazilian singer Seu Jorge; maybe we'll fit in a baseball game this weekend.

Lately, a friend has been writing to me about his experiences with my book The Conversation. He's been reading it but also doing the writing exercises, and his reactions have been so interesting to me. It's not often (by which I mean never) that I get this kind of follow-up to my writing and revision prompts, and it's helpful to discover that some little notion I had about comma experimentation or whatever turns out to be actually useful to someone. One never knows.

I hope to spend more time with Gjertrud Schnackenberg's poems. For some reason, a dose of formalism has been tonic, though at the moment I don't feel a particular urge to imitate it. Maybe it's the pacing that is drawing me--the way a metered line rolls out across the page.

Last week I dictated Richard Wilbur's beautiful rhymed lyric "The Barred Owl" to the high school kids at my environmental writing seminar. My prompt for the kids was to choose two words from Wilbur's poem and then use them to jumpstart their own drafts--but they could not use end rhymes. I wanted to make sure they weren't hamstringing themselves by focusing on rhyme at the expense of their full emotional engagement in the task at hand.

And like a miracle: that night, as we were in our tents, two barred owls settled in the trees over our heads and began a long duet: "'Who cooks for you?" and then 'Who cooks for you?'"

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

I spent some time yesterday with the early (1970s-era) poems of Gjertrud Schnackenberg, a formalist who has won all sorts of prizes yet seems to get almost no press. The poems I've been copying out appeared in print very soon after she graduated from college, so their tone and subject matter are young, yet her linear control is remarkable. Also notable is the delicacy of her end words: it's very easy to overlook the fact that these are rhyming poems.

During a long walk around Back Cove yesterday with my son, we were talking about the endings of works: how much he loves hearing an ending, or reaching one in his own creations; and I agreed: the endings of poems are one of the great pleasures of writing. I feel as if I must always be preparing for an ending yet I cannot preplan exactly what that ending will be. I need to balance awareness of the dramatic movement of a piece with a willing leap into ignorance and surprise. Otherwise, I tumble into Aesop--by which I mean that slam-shut moral tidiness that is so disheartening in a poem.

I was reading these Schnackenberg poems before I had the conversation with Paul, but I've been thinking since then of how she, too, prepares herself for the ending. Because she's writing formal poetry, she's constrained by that structure and expectation. So her approach to endings must be complex but cadenced: her ear needs to work toward a sonic resolution even as her drama must follow its own path.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Our gig was excellent yesterday afternoon--three hours beside a lake, alongside a cheerful and attentive crowd. It was worth driving 5 hours back and forth. And then I came home to a kitchen smelling of cinnamon buns, courtesy of the canoe boy, who was having fun with ingredients while I was gone.

The forecast is for showers, today, tomorrow, Wednesday, and I've got desk work, beans to pick, a son to play with, a lunch visit with a college friend I haven't seen for 30 years. . . . I'd like to get back to copying out some poems: maybe more Akhmatova, maybe something different. A poet friend has asked me if I'd like to do a podcast with him, so that's an intriguing maybe. What topics would you like to hear two very different but amicable poets discuss?

Sunday, August 12, 2018

After 36 hours in transit, Paul finally managed to get home, where we fed him lovingly on oysters, scallops, tuna, and peach pie. He has become an expert on upstate NY bus stations, should you have any curiosity about them.

So this morning my house is once again full of sleeping males, and the rain is coming down slowly and sweetly, and the cat is furious about the wet, and I am contentedly sitting on the couch and drinking black coffee in the dim living room. Later this morning I will head north for a gig, and everything will become hurried and hectic, but, for now, peace reigns (except for the cat, who is fretful).

I did nothing with poems yesterday because I was seized with harvest fever. I canned a jar of tomatoes--just one, but I have a small freezer and had to do something with them. I made a peach pie; I ground and froze two dishpans full of basil. I stacked some firewood and bagged up some brush and mowed some grass. I washed sheets and made beds.

Thankfully, the heat has finally let up. I slept all last night without a fan running, and with a comforter tugged up to my chin. And this morning the windows of Alcott House are closed and I am wearing a sweatshirt. Unfortunately I am also recovering from dreams involving Donald Trump and a community college classroom, which I cannot possibly explicate to you. But I do know that I outwitted him. Let us all be glad for that mercy.

The little street outside my front windows is glossy with wet, and the garden is heavy with rain and fruit. No cars are passing. The neighborhood is asleep. I am sitting inside in my dim living room, admiring my white cup and saucer, and my elderly paperback, and a fat stone from a Maine beach, and a burgeoning African violet. Simple items, without value. If I were to die, no one would treasure any of them. But what does that matter? The present tense has its jewels.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

My poor sons have had the worst luck with public transportation this year. Son #1 was two days' late getting home from our Vermont family emergency because of a series of canceled flights. And now Son #2 is cooling his heels for seven hours in an upstate New York bus station because his connection from Toronto was late.

I love that phrase "cooling his heels."

I think we're supposed to get some rain here in Portland today, which means that my tomato plants will be producing even more tomatoes, which means I'd better start thinking about what I want to do with this bounty. First, however, I will make a peach pie. In my experience, when a son comes home after spending 6 weeks in the woods, he tends to be ravenous for fruit, vegetables, sushi, and large helpings of dessert. I do my best to oblige.

Tomorrow I'll be on the road again: playing at the Lakeshore House in Monson, 3-6 p.m. Today I'd planned to be spending the afternoon with my son, but his bus travails mean he won't get into town till late. So maybe I'll do some writing instead, alongside that tomato planning. I'm fairly well caught up on house and garden work, there will be a baseball double-header on the radio, and I've got a stack of fresh poems to study and consider, even if I don't get anything new down on the page. I've found myself rereading, again, Dorothy Sayers's Hangman's Holiday, which is much less slight than its title suggests. I have yet to write about Sayers, but I ought to one of these days. Her detective novels evolved significantly from pap to complexity--not in terms of the crime, criminals, or detection but in the characterizations of Harriet Vane and Peter Wimsey, who may be one of my favorite happy couples in literature.

Friday, August 10, 2018

This is a sample of yesterday's harvest: the bounty of one cucumber plant, one eggplant, two tomato plants, and one artichoke plant. Not pictured: the baby bathtub full of chard, the dishpan full of string beans, and the overflow of herbs. I cannot believe how productive this tiny farm has been.

For dinner we had oven-braised artichokes; baked mashed eggplant with yogurt and mint; thick slices of tomato with olive oil and basil; new potatoes (my dad's) with chard, butter, olive oil, and parsley; and sliced cucumbers with wakame, tamari, sesame oil, and cilantro.

Most of yesterday's chard harvest and all of the beans went into the freezer, but I still have a mixing bowl full of tomatoes to use (plus any new ones that arise), so today I plan to make gazpacho (garden is also full of peppers and scallions), and perhaps buy something to grill, and maybe make a wild rice-based vegetable salad of some sort.

The dream of having enough tomatoes to can is fast becoming a reality. It's only early August, and already I have too many to eat. This never happened in Harmony, not even once.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

I'm home after two days in a very hot but surprisingly mosquito-free state park, where I hiked, camped, dashed through thundershowers, and wrote about the natural world with a group of remarkable high schoolers. We sat on a mountaintop and wrote. We marveled at mushrooms and granite and starfish. We imagined ourselves into other times and lives, and we tried to live inside questions that we had no answers for. These kids were game for it all, and I loved it. But I wrote some weird stuff, including a brief short story that turned out to be a romantic comedy. I will not be submitting that piece for publication.

And I need to acquire a better camping mat. Ugh. My hips felt like they were drilling postholes all night long.

Today, believe it or not, a plumber is scheduled to check out the possibility of actually doing some plumbing in this house. No guarantees, but some day soon we may no longer be storing the dishwasher in the living room. And, gosh, a kitchen-sink drain that doesn't involve a 5-gallon bucket: what an idea!

Monday, August 6, 2018

The heat wave continues, and tomorrow I'll be heading out to hike and camp in it with a bunch of high schoolers. Fortunately writing requires sitting in the shade . . . possibly even in a stream.

I'd like to sit in a stream today, too, but that's not going to happen. What will happen is a lot of early morning vacuuming and yard trimming, and then editing in front of a fan, and then running errands and packing for the aforesaid camping trip. Even the idea of a sleeping bag is making me sweat.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Yesterday was exhausting. I drove two hours, played a gig under a not-entirely-waterproof tent in the pouring rain, drove a half hour north, played another longer gig, this time in a garage while the rain continued to pour, then drove two and half hours home. My feet feel moldy, my hair is standing on end, and my violin pegs swelled so much in the humidity that I could barely tune the instrument.

However, the payday was good. And I ate fried clams and pulled pork. So that's something.

Today, thank goodness, will be dry, and I slept in till 7 a.m., so that was a novelty. I've mostly finished prepping for my two-day teaching excursion next week, but I'd like to spend some time with the poem I wrote on Friday, despite the considerable amount of house and garden work waiting for me. I'm know I'm procrastinating about deciding what I want to do with my sheaf of new writing: should I insert it into the existing manuscript, or use it as the seed for a future one? I'm also struggling to find a book I want to read, though for the moment I've settled on Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford. In other words, I've got something edgy going on in my mind as regards books, and I'm not sure how I'm going to solve it.

Friday, August 3, 2018

I think last night was our worst sleeping weather yet, but on the bright side the Red Sox were pounding the Yankees, so between that and the roaring fan I discovered a modicum of comfort. Also, Tom and I had just eaten a memorable dinner: classic hot-weather food--a fine bottle of cold wine, alongside scallop ceviche, smoked bluefish, beet and radish slaw, and a green bean and cucumber salad. Afterward we played Yahtzee, ate cannoli, and enjoyed the despair of the Yankees radio announcers. It was a good evening.

All of the vegetables and herbs in this meal were from my little front-yard farm. We are in high-summer glory here. Plus, I wrote another decent poem yesterday! Apparently my week of crisis has not smothered the muse: she came right back when I went looking for her.

Titles of new poems written since the end of June:

My Male Gaze
Love Song for a Tiny Husband
Ghost Story
How to Be a Coward
Average Land
The Regret of the Poet after Sending Work to a Magazine
Folk Tale
Respectable Woman
Sound Archive
How to Ask for Money

Tomorrow I'll be on the road all day, with a gig at noon and then another at four, so you probably won't hear from me. Wish me stamina.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Scattered showers were forecast for yesterday evening, but what we got was hours of steady, heavy, hot rain. Now the air is waterlogged, and all the wood surfaces feel like flypaper. Paperback covers are curling, my feet are sticking to my sandals, and cloud smothers the rooftops. Amid all of this dankness, the temperature is supposed to climb to the high 80s. It will be a miserable day to do any kind of work at all.

Still, I'm not sorry about the rain. Late in the day, I pulled the last of my radishes, a lingering kohlrabi, some bolted lettuce, and most of the beets, and then sowed a few more rows of fall greens: lettuce, arugula, rapini. Today I'll grate up some of that harvest and make a slaw. I'll venture out into the hot world and buy a mackerel or crabs or smoked whitefish or whatever looks irresistible at the fish market. I might try to acquire some cold rosé.

I've got a manuscript to edit today, but I finished my curriculum planning for next week's environmental writing seminar. So maybe, on this sweltering day, I'll have a chance to restart my poem-writing excitement. Try to picture me sitting on the couch next to a fan and a giant sweating glass of ice tea, and imagine I'm reading and writing and reading and writing. If we all pretend hard enough, maybe it will come true.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Millbank by Mary J. Holmes is the book I've been rereading during my father's health scare. If you don't know what Millbank is and what it means to me, you might like to read the essay I wrote about it. (The piece also appears in my reader's memoir The Vagabond's Bookshelf.) Suffice it to say that this nineteenth-century American novel was and is trash, but I have been rereading it all my life, and it gives me a particular kind of comfort.

The novel has a ridiculous plot, risible descriptions, and terrible prose . . . for instance, this line, meant to describe an excited 14-year-old boy:
"With a low, suppressed scream, Roger bounded to Hester's side."
It's a truly awful book, but I love it dearly and am probably the novel's only living fan. I found it in my grandfather's farmhouse when I was a child, and I've been rereading it ever since. My affection for Millbank is a regular family joke. So when my dad was in the ICU and I pulled it out to show him what I was carrying around with me, he rolled his eyes and shook his head and made the same face he always makes every time he sees me clutching that volume again. Personally, I think Millbank was part of his cure.