Eileen and I are safely back in Holland. The trip yesterday was long. The person driving us from the airport to our car parked in a motel parking lot guessed correctly that we had been going for 24 hours. Even though both of our flights to China to and fro were the same airline, the experience was very different returning. The seats were less comfortable and there was less space. The food was lousy.
That’s not unusual. Airline food can be lousy. But on the trip over it was okay. Or maybe I was less critical. I have had some tasty airline meals and they are definitely unusual ones.
I was very glad to spend time with my family members who live in Beijing. I am surprised that being with them and my family in the UK was so viscerally important to me this time. The wonderful ability to connect with people around the world online does not include touching them and being with them in the same room. I especially appreciated the opportunity to do that this year.
I enjoyed reading long passages of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass to Alex. For a five year old she seemed to follow the wonderful stories closely and like them.
She also likes to make pictures, of course. The picture above is a portrait of herself, her mom, and her dad that she made specifically for us to take home with us.
I do love the way kids make pictures.
These are all pictures by Alex that I took photos of.
So we’re back. Life is good if a little jet lagged.
Today we went to “Music” street and searched for a piano. It turns out to be much cheaper to buy a piano than to rent one. So we bought a new Yamaha full keyboard electric piano for about $350. Elizabeth hired a van to drive us and it back to her apartment. I was relieved when the driver agreed to carry it up the six floors for an extra fee.
The late afternoons are the worse time for jet lag.
I have been reading to Alex. Yesterday I read to her from Harold Bloom’s Stories for Intelligent Children of All Ages. Some Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear, and Aesop. It holds her attention well. Today I offered to read picture books to her instead. She seemed surprised that I would do that as well as read from books with no pictures.
Unfortunately we spent some time in her bedroom on the floor and my back is now aching.
But of course it was worth it.
This morning I purchased an audio book version of Snyder’s The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America. I plan to read it anyway, but it holds my attention well as I exercise.
I find it interesting that Snyder points out that Thucydides wrote the History of the Pelloponnesian War while it was still happening. This contradicts the idea that history is something that is written about the distant past. Likewise, Snyder is bringing historical insights into the dystopian present.
Did you know that there are cave paintings like the ones in the Lascaux caves on every continent except Antarctica? Ehrenreich has an insight that the people who painted these paintings did so with a sense of humor and an awareness of their own mortality and possibly sardonically musing about their place in the food chain as “thinking meat” for the larger animals they eluded.
The animals are treated in detail, but the humans are stick-like.
She talks about how the paintings had to have been a group project and even mentions the necessity to build scaffolds to do them.
She imagines the sounds that must have happened in the caves including singing.