So how was our vacation? It was pretty good, I think. Here’s where we went:
Not here, exactly. Farther back:
Almost there. Here:
Wow! In that log mansion? Not exactly — that’s the owner’s house, and they were only there for the first weekend. We rented their guest cottage next door:
Two bedrooms, 30 feet or so from the Au Sable River, which meant Alan was in pig heaven and so was I, because in addition to the woods and the quiet and the tolerable level of bugs and the screened porch and the nothing-to-do-ness of it all, there was also this:
Lately, a key element to full enjoyment of one’s time off. No internet — and no kid, Kate having been deposited at camp on day one — meant I was free to loaf about and do pretty much exactly what I wanted, and that was: Loaf about. And read. I plowed through five novels, none of them particularly good, but it reminded me of how much I’ve missed this, and maybe I should stop trying to read the whole internet every single day and carve out an hour or so for the printed word. Did the world stop turning in my absence? No, and I still missed only four on the Slate News Quiz, and I hardly heard any news last week. So maybe I should stop trying so hard to keep up. This three-week break from Miss Kate might be a good time to try to make some adjustments. She’s already in France, and left a Father’s Day message stating that she was fed quail and goat cheese, and tonight’s menu was to include escargot, so it sounds like she’s getting a crash course in life adjustments herself.
We did get a little bit of exercise, but downstream? Not that much:
Back to the books I read. It included one Loren Estleman title, “American Detective,” which should have been a clue — when the book has such a generic title, beware. It’s one of his Amos Walker series, a classic gumshoe who works in Detroit. I read them because, duh, Detroit, and to be sure, they have some wonderful rat-a-tat dialogue here and there, but I think this will be the last. Maybe someone has asked Laura Lippman her thoughts on the novelist’s duty to a place, once they’ve decided to set a story in an existing city. What can you change? I think you can make up streets, and you can adjust some details via poetic license, but there have to be some rules. Can you make up entire suburbs? I say no. (Estleman does it all the time.) Can you change geography in significant ways? This is the second of his books that has featured a throwaway line about the Detroit River “widening into Lake St. Clair,” which has the entire continental flow of water going in the wrong direction, and this just makes me nuts. He also spelled “gunwales” wrong, which makes me wonder about fiction editors — weren’t they English majors?
He’s not alone, either. I never picked up a second book by a particular author, after his first featured a scene set in a nighttime jungle, and he mentions the screaming of the birds. I’ve never been to a jungle, but I’m 99 percent sure birds don’t scream at night, even there. You might have a few hoots from a nocturnal avian predator here and there, but if you want the birds to scream, it has to be daytime.
Later in the same book, a character watches the sun rise over the water in a place where such a view is impossible, because the sun rises in the east. Hey, mistakes happen. Books are hard. But I don’t think you get to move the damn sun around.
Rant over. I’m feeling pretty mellow, all things considered. I’m glad so many of you enjoyed the ancient archives, and am still working my way through the comments. I’m also reading up on Edward Snowden, and am glad I don’t have to have instant opinions anymore, because the picture keeps changing. I’ll leave you with this short video, the only job we had last week. The owners of the property dammed a small creek and stocked it with rainbow trout, which they enjoy almost entirely as pets — I think they said they’ve eaten one over the years, but none recently. Every other day we were instructed to toss them half a bucket of trout chow, which made for some amusement:
May your week be filled with something similar. Trout chow, or amusement, or a guy throwing food at you.