28 June 2010

Of Birds, Buskers, and Books

I seem to have so many great ideas for blog posts running through my head these days, but the "new" house is really taking its toll on my free time. Between dealing with unpacking, cleaning, dying AC units, and just general moving mayhem, I haven't had a whole lot of time or energy to put pen to paper as it were.

But I thought I would give you some idea of the nicer things that are a part of my new routine up here in the wilds of Chevy Chase, DC.

Even though we just moved about four miles north of our previous home near Dupont Circle the difference is amazing. Our new neighborhood is so peaceful with nothing much other than lots and lots of song birds to break the quiet. It has been a marvel to watch and listen to the birds in our leafy, breezy back yard. My particular favorite is the Gray Catbird who seems to greet us every time we walk out back. He is a pretty little fellow with a beautiful song repertoire. (I didn't take this lovely picture, it is from a website for Bayberry Beach in New York.)

I have written here before about buskers and how magical they can be (and how maniacal they can be). One evening this week at my new Metro stop as I road the long, long escalator out of the station, I heard this wonderful music emanating from above. At the top of the escalator was a woman playing an acoustic guitar and singing. She was like Tracy Chapman, but her voice was stronger than Chapman's and seemed much more versatile. Would she sound good on a record? I am not sure, possibly, but in that setting she was wonderful and sang with such passion, it was a real performance. Thankfully I had about ten minutes to stand and listen. Five dollars didn't seem like much to give for what she gave me. Hopefully I will see her again.

The same evening I heard the great busker, a woman near me on the bus was reading Anita Brookner's Lewis Percy. Now I have toyed with the idea of posting what I see people reading on my commute like Karen does at Bookish NYC, but she does it so well, I have refrained from being a sad copycat. But it isn't every day one sees someone reading my beloved Anita Brookner. In fact, I am not sure I have ever seen anyone reading Anita Brookner. I took advantage of the opportunity to chat with her about Brookner. I took this to be a good omen for my new life. If even one person in my new neighborhood is reading AB, it makes up for the thousands on the Metro reading those Steig Larsson books that I have been avoiding because of their ubiquity. I guess it is the contrarian in me.

The Blog?
So, until we get a little more settled, the posts will be fewer than I would like. But at least in all the chaos there are lots of little things to be happy about.


  1. Thomas, I enjoyed this post! Its completely understandable that blogging has taken a backseat to the getting settled into your new home and discover the bits and bobs around your new place that put a smile on your face. I always love it whenever I see someone reading a book by one of my favorite authors - its rare where I live, because I swear it seems like no one reads here - but on the odd ocassion it happens, it puts a smile on my face. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Excellent news! I wonder why Lewis Percy, of all the Brookner's? I have only ever seen one stranger reading Brookner. It was in Melbourne, The Rules of Engagement and i had to have a few drinks afterwards.

  3. Enjoy your time of getting settled in. I love the picture of the bird and the description of your new neighborhood. The singing birds around us are one of the things that I love about my little spot in suburbia! I laughed out loud at your Steig Larrson comment, btw. :)

  4. We have a pair of catbirds in our yard, too. I love watching them.

  5. When I was a bookseller in an "upmarket" town (Richmond-upon-Thames), I sold a lot of Anita Brookners and naively assumed that she was universally popular. How wrong I was.

    The people who bought her books were, almost without exception, typical Anita Brookner heroines in appearance.

  6. happy new home owning Thomas! oh it does take over one's life. and yes, imagining posts does compensate for the mind numbing details of property ownership.

    loved the sinclair lewis post. he is of another era in much the same way as our recently departed sen. byrd. who has these sorts of conversations these days whether formally or not?

    and upside down book titles/spines. the french do that. what is that?

  7. Hi Thomas: Moving can be all-consuming; I'm impressed you're posting at all. Anita Brookner on the Metro, huh? I think that is certainly blog-worthy. Good luck with settling in to your new home!

  8. New beginnings are wonderful!

    Did you read the story in the paper about Joshua Bell playing his violin as a busker and nobody knew who he was? Later that night he was playing at a hall with some very expensive ticket prices. I love stories like that!

  9. Nadia: It is especially fun to bump into kindred reading spirits when you have less than blockbuster tastes like mine.

    Peta: She indicated that she is making her way through all of them.

    Susan: Glad you giggled at my dig at Steig.

    Darlene: I actually blogged about the Joshusa Bell story. He did that experiment at the stop I get off at every day. I was not there the day he was playing however.

    Jeanne: I noticed in this picture that they kind of have whiskers like a cat.

    Steerforth: My husband laughed at your Brookner fan profile. Although my outward appearance wouldn't peg me as a Brookner heroine, my soul has on comfy shoes and a cardigan.

    Mlle: One could easily see Senator Byrd walk through a Sinclair Lewis novel.

    Karen: You can imagine how I had to break the fourth wall and strike up a conversation with this anonymous reader.

  10. Good luck with your new home and settling in. I hope the AC is working now - my family has been telling me how hot VA has been recently.

    Have you ever read the blog People Reading? I just love seeing what strangers read. One of the other downsides of e-readers - harder to be nosy about others tastes!


  11. Lorin: What a great blog. Thanks for the link. I especially like the pictures of kids reading.

  12. : My favorite bus-reading experience some years ago when I sat down next to someone reading the current issue of The Journal of the American Musicological Society (and this no where near the campus). I had already read the issue, but didn't strike up a conversation.

  13. Hmm ... not sure how to get an & into a profile name, since neither "&" nor the appropriate HTML code works, so changing it.


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