Fun Stuff to Do During a Deluge

Dore’s Noah’s Flood, an illustration I first discovered in a volume called Illustrated Bible Stories for Children

Every once in a while, it’s fun to be cooped in a beach house during a bleak, dull, dark November day when clouds hang oppressively low in the heavens (and a storm from the ocean, aided and abetted by a king tide, pushes flood waters into the garage of the Airbnb next door – tee-hee). 

The Gothic grey weather practically demands you break out some Edgar Allan, peruse some of those exquisite Latinate sentences that provide delightful dead weight to so many of his tales, sentences like: 

We pored together over such works as the Ververt et Chartreuse of Gresset; the Belphegor of Machiavelli; the Heaven and Hell of Swedenborg; the Subterranean Voyage of Nicholas Klimm by Holberg; the Chiromancy of Robert Flud, of Jean D’Indaginé, and of De la Chambre; the Journey into the Blue Distance of Tieck; and the City of the Sun of Campanella. One favorite volume was a small octavo edition of the Directorium Inquisitorium , by the Dominican Eymeric de Gironne; and there were passages in Pomponius Mela, about the old African Satyrs and œgipans, over which Usher would sit dreaming for hours. His chief delight, however, was found in the perusal of an exceedingly rare and curious book in quarto Gothic — the manual of a forgotten church — the Vigiliae Mortuorum secundum Chorum Ecclesiae Maguntinae.

Still awake?

Or you, if you’re lucky enough to possess one, you can put together a jigsaw puzzle – literal recreation – or play a game of Scrabble, or, if you’re by yourself, a game of solitaire with an actual deck of cards, which make such delightful riffling sounds after you have scooped them up shuffling in preparation of losing once again. 

These activities, by the way, don’t require electricity.

Before the digital age, when I was a boy in Summerville, on a blustery autumn day like today, I’d sometimes put together model airplanes. I remember on one Saturday riding my bike in the rain to the Hobby Shop on North Main to buy a model of a Fokker Triplane, the plane that Baron von Richthofen flew. Oddly enough, he was one of my boyhood heroes, despite his being on the wrong side in a war that killed lovely poets like Wilfred Owen and Rupert Brooke.

By the way, did you know that Yeats’s poem “An Irish Airman Foresees His Death” is the first poem in English that places a person airborne in what they called back then an aeroplane? It occurs in the third stanza:

I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate
Those that I guard I do not love;

My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.

Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;

I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.[1]

That side trip prompted me to extract a collection of Blakes’ poems from the cliched voluminous library, the poems selected by Willie B himself, who wrote the introduction, which begins with this amusing snippet of biography:

“Early in the eighteenth century a certain John O’Neil got into debt and difficulties, these latter apparently political to some extent; and escaped both by marrying a woman named Ellen Blake, who kept a shebeen[2] at Rathmines Dublin and taking his name. He had a son James, I am told, by a previous wife or mistress, and this son took the name of Blake, and in due course married, settled in London as a hosier, and became the father of five children, one of whom was the subject of this memoir.”

So, it seems that Blake had a drop of Irish blood in his veins, which explains a lot.

At any rate, I’ve rambled enough. It’s time for me to reheat Thursday’s chili and check of the girls’ progress on that jigsaw puzzle.

Cheers! And check out Grandson Julian, happy in the golden age before screens. Cackle on, my lovely.


[1] Talking about balance: four rhyming quatrains written in iambic tetrameter.” Four cubed.  

[2] An Irish term for an illicit bar or club trafficking in excisable alcohol without a license.

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