The Wedge of the San Rafael

The Wedge of the San Rafael
Someone has to live here, in the middle of desert beauty. Might as well be the Kellys.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year and all that

When I was a kid, Christmas Eve generally began with me flopped on the couch, reading Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. I'm not totally sure why. Perhaps it had something to do with the book, which began on Christmas Day, with Marmee delivering food to the huddled masses, yearning to eat free. I would usually finish it by New Year's Eve, and call it good. It's still a favorite book of mine, although now I filter it more through the Civil War, since I studied that a good bit in grad school. I also wonder what it was like growing up in Bronson Alcott's disordered household. Sheez, but he was a piece of work.

Ah, but there is Jo, writing her heart out, and homebody Meg, and doomed Beth, and frivolous Amy, and lovestruck Laurie, and wise (read stodgy) Prof Bhaer. They became my lifelong friends a lotta years ago, and remain so. I am reminded that I have excellent sisters of my own: Karen and Wanda Lynn. I'd have liked them even if I hadn't been related to them. I'll be in Orlando next week, visiting them, so count me fortunate.

On New Year's Eve, Robert Utley, that dean of American Indian Wars history, and his wife Melody Webb, like to bring in the new year with oyster stew and Casablanca. I usually e-mail Bob and wish him a happy new year. I remind him that he may not always have Paris, but he will have a whole slew of wonderful histories, and some fine national historic sites that he brought into the Park Service, when he was chief historian. (I got to know Bob better when he was the subject of my master's thesis. Prince of a fellow)

When our five kids were of a worthy age, we started watching favorite videos on New Year's. (That's about as exciting as it gets around our house.) We generally watched The Sting, or sometimes Trading Places. I believe we'll watch both tonight, and I'll make popcorn.  Woo hoo!

I have a new - well, sort of new - guilty DVD pleasure: The More the Merrier. This high-larious movie was made in 1943, when Washington, D.C. was in the middle of a monster housing shortage. The lovely Jean Arthur - she of the little-girl voice and impeccable comic timing - sublets a room in her apartment to a kindly old gentleman, who in turn sublets part of his room to a GI briefly in town and bound for North Africa. The GI is played by Joal McCrea, and he is beyond marvelous in this movie.

One of the funniest scenes in all moviedom is the scene when Joel and Jean (her character is engaged to someone else), sit on the front step and he pitches wonderful woo. His hands are everywhere, and she tries to continue a rational conversation by politely fending him off. I swear there is one place where I am certain he has three hands in motion. It's a marvel.

I used to ocasionally catch the movie on TCM. Imagine my delight when I found a copy in the DVD bin at my local supermarket for $5. I did a little happy dance in the aisle, pleased to own that national treasure, and tickled to know that someone else (whoever authorized that DVD) appreciates great comedy.

I think I'll watch it tonight, because this year needs to go out with a laugh and a high kick.

You have a good one, too.


  1. Happy New Year Carla!

  2. I remember that movie - it was great fun.
    And thanks for posting your blog at the librarian's page about your forthcoming book.

    Hope your having a great time in Florida
    Happy New Year!