“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”
~ Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady
I think an afternoon nap might be even more agreeable than afternoon tea. The sky is gray but doesn’t promise rain. I’ve started dinner—cooked the pasta, made the salad dressing, pulled apart the rotisserie chicken—and later—after my nap—I’ll chop the cucumber and slice the grape tomatoes, chop up the carrot and celery, slice the avocado, and so on—for my sister’s pasta salad.
I’m reading two books right now and listening to one. The audiobook is Frog Music by Emma Donoghue. I’m not sure yet if I like it. I’m a third of the way through Barbara Pym’s Excellent Women, and that one is a blast to read. Very old-school, like reading Trollope but set in 1952 when women were considered spinsters if they weren’t married by 30. Then there’s The Four Last Things, a mystery by Timothy Hallinan—on my Kindle. I just started that one and am already reminded of Raymond Chandler—Los Angles noir, fast-moving and a sarcastic voice. We’ll see.
I just finished reading Roz Chast’s wonderful graphic memoir about her parents’ last years: Why Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant. Funny, irreverent, touching, and so much fun to look at the drawings. Now I want to read Alison Bechdel’s memoir, Are you My Mother?: A Comic Drama, also graphic—or what we used to call “comic books.” But I have a stack of books next to my bed and a couple of shelves worth of unread fiction and non-fiction in the blue room. I’ve put three books on hold at the library and can’t remember what they are except that they sounded good. What a nice surprise I’ll get when they arrive.
Like the TV shows I watch, my books take me into a different world, sometimes fantastical—like the Game of Thrones books—and sometimes historical—like Wolf Hall—and sometimes just plain fun—like Excellent Women. I love getting comfortable in this world—good chair, soft bed, strong light—and then drifting into another world. During the times I’m not reading, I can feel that other world tugging at me. I get curious about what the characters are up to and I look forward to spending time with them again. Best of all is having that “afternoon tea” while I take an afternoon nap, which really means reading an afternoon book. The only thing that could make such an experience even better is to do it on a rainy day.
“Her reputation for reading a great deal hung about her like the cloudy envelope of a goddess in an epic.”