Ash Lawn Highland
James Monroe at Ash Lawn Highland, recently.

This morning, while I waited for water to boil for tea, I watched a tremendous current of starlings fly just above the tree line in our backyard. Pyrrha stood on the back deck and seemed to be watching them too. They flew in a seemingly endless stream from the west. I imagined they were all communicating to each other about the hurricane, cheerfully fleeing en masse, and I wondered where they were going. What refuge do hundreds of starlings seek?

. . .

Even though we will see some flooding and minor wind and nothing much worse, the hurricane has produced this low level of dread in me. We will be completely fine, unlike many in our beloved home state of North Carolina, and so it feels almost callous to worry, when we have so little to worry about. But my hum of anxiety serves to reinforce the main thing I have learned from the past year: Never, ever read the news. The news is engineered to ratchet up your anxiety. This is the only thing to remember.

. . .

I am finally tackling David Copperfield, which I want to talk about because I harbor such a general distaste for Dickens. (Bleak House was pretty good, but I can hardly stand the rest of it.) To my surprise, I am 200 pages in and quite enjoying myself. It’s pleasant to read something that isn’t my typical moody, postmodern fictional fare; it’s nice to meet a character and read the author’s description of his face and know instantly, Oh, this is a villain because he has a dark brow and cleft chin! Or oh, this is an angel! She has glossy blonde hair! It’s pleasing to feel like you can predict almost everything that is about to happen. You shall shortly be orphaned! Your stepfather will continue to terrorize you! You shall be beaten by the headmaster! You will work full-time in a dismal place even though you are only 10 years old! It’s fun. I admit it.

. . .

I have also felt a revival of interest in poetry. I think it’s because of the anticipation of fall; I always want to read poetry in the fall. I have started Passing Through by Stanley Kunitz, and I can already tell I’m going to be a fan.

. . .

“I felt sorry for us, for both, for all of us, such odd organisms under the sun. Large minds, abutting too close on swelling souls. And banished souls at that, longing for their home-world. Everyone alive mourned the loss of his home-world.” — Humboldt’s Gift, Saul Bellow

Tuesday Snax, again

Whoops. Totally forgot about Monday Snax. Yesterday was a super-busy day around here. My apologies! I was still recovering from our crazy and fun weekend at Topsail Beach for Rose and Kemp’s wedding. (A few photos on Flickr, to your right or here.) Really, really thrilled for both of them.

Continuing my total binge on BBC miniseries based on classic novels (thanks, Hylton sisters!), I’ve been watching “Our Mutual Friend,” Dickens’ final novel. Observations: Bella is very unusual for a Dickens heroine, in the fact that she seems to possess a brain! Also, all of the men are totally crazy stalkers, and it does not seem to be a big deal to anyone. And, finally, Dickens just can’t get over unbelievable coincidence, spontaneous resurrection, and rich people with insane wills.

Most of this week’s links are not very serious. I seem to have gravitated toward the absurd and hilarious this week, for whatever reason. Enjoy!

Basil, the Australian Shepherd. DIES A LITTLE INSIDE. MUST. HAVE. (Yeah, I subscribe to The Daily Puppy. So?) (The Daily Puppy)

The 10 Most Overpaid Jobs. Some of these were surprising. Some of them were not, i.e., there’s a reason why there’s a glut of law school students. (Len Penzo)

The 11 Worst Memoir Covers. Of course, Hasselhoff made it on here twice. Even more surprising: The guy’s written two memoirs?? And people have published them? (The Huffington Post)

A Week of Hair. I’m proud of Grace for carrying on our tradition of weekly/monthly challenges. This past week, she chronicled her hairstyles every day. Fun! I miss her. (Como Say What?)

John Muir, the Brontes, and Frida Kahlo. Depiction of Teddy Roosevelt probably totally accurate. (Hark, a Vagrant!)

What Other Everyday Relationship Issues Should Be Romantic Comedies? Haha. Making fun of the film “Going the Distance,” which I have not seen and have no real desire to. I love their movie pitches, with actor choices and everything. The sad thing is that Hollywood may indeed find these ideas feasible one day… (NY Mag)

They’re All Going to Laugh at Me. I feel like this happened a lot in our own family. Sorry, Sam. We do still love you! (Awkward Family Photos)

Man to Divorce Bride for Not Actually Dying. Seriously! How long did she think she was going to be able to pull this off? (Daily Intel)

The Devolution from Hipster to Hippie in Six Steps. I think I’ve seen this happen to people. (Flavorwire)