catching up


Last Friday, on Eileen’s actual birthday, we all went out to eat.

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The Inn where we ate was named after a Roman street: Akeman Street. Then we came home and had some of Sarah’s cake that she made for Eileen’s birthday. It was amazing.

Yesterday, Sarah picked us up at our B & B and took us to Stratford.

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First stop was the Butterfly Farm.

It was a bit warm in the rooms where they were housed, but there were an amazing number of butterflies.

Afterwards, we took some timeout on a bench.

Next,  we went looking for Trinity Church to see Shakespeare’s grave.

Directly in front of us were the graves of William and Anne Shakespeare. To our left was the font where William Shakespeare was baptized.


Last night, I finished reading Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life. 

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The main character, Ursula, keeps dying and being reborn on the same day in history and living a different version of her life. I was initially intrigued because the first chapter in the book describes her killing Hitler before he does any damage. But the many (and I mean many) lives that Ursula lives end up feeling a bit circular, repetitive, and ultimately directionless to me.

I was gratified to see that at least one review mentioned “those interactive “hypertext” novels whose computer-savvy readers can determine the direction of the story.” I thought of the old “choose your own adventure” books as I read it.

I think Atkinson has fallen in love with her characters. There are apparently more books where she writes about some of the characters introduced in this novel. Ursula, herself, is unusual, but I didn’t find her or the rest of the cast that compelling. Certainly not enough to pick up another book with them in it.

I guess Life After Life  ends up being  a decent summer escape read.


Warning: a vacation blog mostly about my reading


Today is Eileen’s 67th birthday. I believe her when she says she is having a good day sitting on Sarah’s couch in England waiting to go out to eat to celebrate.

At our B&B, we continue to have to walk across the drive to the barn facility to get good wifi reception. This is kind of a pain and we probably won’t return to these facilities in the future, but at least we can get access when we want it. Two days ago the door to the barn was locked when I went to do my Greek. I sat  on a stoop and did it Then yesterday I noticed there was a key in the door, but it was so nice I didn’t bother going inside. Today, when Eileen and I went in, there was an alarm sounding.  I thought maybe we had tripped something coming in, but the control panel said something about a smoke alarm somewhere in the building. We couldn’t smell anything. It was so annoying that I figured out how to shut it off. I then reported it to the owners when they walked by.

Right now I’m sitting in Sarah’s backyard using their Wifi. It’s a beautiful, windy day here.

Image result for i think i am a verb sebeok

I am interesting in semiotics and have been reading Sebeok’s book on it today. Here’s the OED definition that obtains.

Notice that the fourth quote is attributed to T.Sebeok, et al.   This is the guy who wrote the book I am reading. I think that is very cool.

While I was checking out terminology in his book, I ran across another quote from Sebeok.


Notice this time Sebeok’s quote is first. I think this means this is the first documented use of the term. How cool is that? By the way, Sebeok doesn’t limit his understanding of semiotics to humans or even animals.

“…[P]lants communicate complex messages, including tree-to-tree pheromonal warnings about caterpillar predators…. and cell-to-cell memory within cotton seedlings providing increased resisitance to mite predation.” Sebeok, I Think I am Verb, p. 20

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I picked up a collection of Seamus Heaney when I was in Ireland. I have liked him for a while but have mostly read his translations (am I repeating myself?). When I get more serious about a poet I begin looking more closely at how the poems are constructed. Heaney’s work is exemplary in this way so far. I also ran across a very interesting web site with much background on specific poems.

Connecting with Seamus Heaney – Connecting with Seamus Heaney

This web site seems to be the work of the son of a Heaney expert making his father’s insights available to everyone on the web. There are videos of him reading his father’s comments which are quite charming. I find the background on specific poems invaluable.