Leisure, old magazines, plus a sonnet

At certain points, my 4-year-old desperately wants me (think, middle of the night). However, there are other times when he is far more excited about Daddy. After dinner, and sometimes after a little playing outside, he wants nothing more than to play a video game with his father. This in no way, shape, or form, involves me.

So, when this happens, I am embracing the time. Last night the weather was lovely (high 70s, a little breezy) so I went and read a book on the hammock outside for 45 minutes until it was getting dark. Was it “tranquility by Tuesday?” Indeed, it was. Time can definitely open up as the kids get older.

Anyway, I also spent a few minutes yesterday flipping through an old copy of Time magazine I ordered. An early May issue from 1940 had a local character on the cover that I’ve been trying to learn more about, but beyond reading about him, it is fascinating to just see life in this week from 84 years ago.

There was a report about Germany and the allies (at that point not including the US) fighting in Trondheim, Norway. There were campaign stories about Roosevelt and Wilkie — and some general incredulity/fascination that Roosevelt was running for a third term (it wasn’t disallowed then!). There were a lot of questions of whether American was going to get pulled into a war — which is fascinating to see from the perspective of knowing what would happen over the next few years (also, it was definitely being called World War II by then…I guess I hadn’t really considered when the “Great War” got converted to World War I in the naming…). There is questionable medical advice; a round-up of the various forms of cancer mentions that the best protection against skin cancer is “soap, water and scrubbing.”

Then there was this fascinating little human interest anecdote from Princeton — apparently people used to steal the bell clapper from the tower in Nassau Hall all the time. A young man named John C. Seed shinnied up the drain pipe to get the bell clapper and then fell, breaking bones in the process. After treatment, he returned, in a cast, climbed a ladder and pried open a locked door with a crowbar and took the clapper. Normally, students were fined for this sort of thing, but apparently the university was so impressed with his persistence it waived the fine.

In the meantime… I was a guest on the Deliberate Day podcast this week. You can listen to me talk about the importance of back-up slots and such here.

And here’s a sonnet — this one called “Crabapple.”

Haphazard in the scrubby woods it grows,
right by the roadside, squeezed in other trees,
so unremarked, forgotten in the snows.
But in late April, suddenly the bees

can sense its scent, this fragrance in the rough —
a burst of blossoms, puffed and snowy white.
And for a week or two this tree, so tough,
is beautiful as roses. Watch the light

dance on the petals, fivefold; hear the hum
of insects drunk on sugared plenty; smell
perfume of springtime; feel the heat to come
in shade from where a single fruit once fell.

An accident, the main thing, tell me which —
is preening, basking, in this roadside ditch?

3 thoughts on “Leisure, old magazines, plus a sonnet

  1. I love the questionable medical advice! Of course without sunscreen how else would you prevent skin cancer.

  2. Yes, Ms. Laura Vanderkam, I also think it is great that you get discretionary time here and there throughout the day.
    I do think that there are many plants, such as crabapple trees, that are worth writing sonnets about.
    As I have mentioned in the comment section of the blog post “Miscellany + sonnet”, I am going to discuss the upcoming books that you write in the future blog posts, Ms. Laura Vanderkam. I have made mentions of the 1st book in the comment section of “Best of Both Worlds podcast: Negotiating well with Kathryn Valentine”. The 2nd book is about evening routines. To discuss whether or not I practice my evening routines, or whether I even have evening routines, we’ll need to examine my time-tracking sheets.
    Just for your info, Ms. Laura Vanderkam: After my dinner – which I will sometimes even refer to as just my “3rd meal” – I will have a workout session, and in the meantime, I will also control my breathing to breath for twice per minute. It is one of the ways through which I remain awake for the rest of the evening. Of course I don’t want to be awake at 11:00 p.m. But to feel awake right after dinner is a prerequisite for me to actually get anything done in the evening.

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