Saturday, August 4, 2007

Vacation Diary

Greetings after a long absence! I recently took a road trip to the East Coast [1 week vacation, plus one week of added work on either end. The vacation sandwich: a hazard of self-employment]. There were great times, and plenty of themes to reflect upon, plus a few literary discoveries along the way.

  • For entertainment in the car, I listened to a few of the CDs from this year's American Chesterton Society conference, which I was unable to attend. In particular, I listened to Dale Alquist's talk, "The Man Who Was Today," and Dr. Steven Safranek's outstanding lecture on Marriage and Divorce. Although the other CDs were tempting, Chesterton conversations are only suitable for the Ohio flatlands. One could, conceivably, drive off a West Virginia mountain listening to ruminations on the great abstractions. Better to save them for straight roads when wide awake!
  • I'm a big fan of channel surfing, and had the surreal experience of locating a French Canadian folk station radiating from Toronto across Lake Erie to the gray and rain-soaked highways around Cleveland. I listened to it, alone, for nearly an hour. It was as if I had escaped across the ocean to the plains of Normandy! How nearly so many of us came to living in French America; and what would have happened if the Louisiana Purchase had not taken place? Would I be writing bonjour, mes amis rather than Hi, everyone!?
  • Pittsburgh has great radio stations, esp. if you're from Indiana. Who would guess, however, that the tony suburb of Upper St. Clair would have a South Park Drive?
  • "Miss Potter" is a must-see movie for writers, artists, and singles. It details the marginalization of young Beatrix Potter before her "bunny books" became published. The movie also treats the theme of marrying for love rather than for social advantages. At a time when marriage is under attack, and men and women marry for monetary or prestige advantages, it is beautiful to see a film about two people in love who were willing to overcome the disapproval of a dying and snobbish society.
  • Caught up with many friends and relatives. In a kitchen conversation with four toddlers and infants hanging around, a few of us kicked around this idea. Young mothers who stay at home need to think like project managers. Each group of young women needs to function like a work team... dividing up the menial tasks, using flow charts and Gannt charts like they do at work until they quit and become moms [or work from home single writers like me], and really getting organized in order to save their time for more important things-- like having a life, going out on dates with their husbands, reading books, spending fun time with kids. Read "Women and the Common Life" by Christopher Lasch, and "The Way Home" by Mary Pride for more on the concept of the common life, "homeworking," and organic ways of living that were interrupted by the work-away-from-home model of the Industrial Revolution.
  • Caught up, on a different day, with a husband and wife professor team. The wife works part time-- also needing "a life of the mind." However, they are blessed to live about twenty five yards from their workplace. How can we foster communities of workers and scholars, as Dorothy Day would put it? The original Benedictine model was to work, pray and study. That's the life that most people reading this blog are seeking.

Would love to see your trip diary posted in the comments. Why not blog it?


Anonymous said...

Wow--lovin' this blog! Kudos, two thumbs UP!!

Keep the faith!
Mary Jo Anderson

Nârwen said...

Well, of course there's a South Park Drive - named for the very real Township of South Park. (

The township has existed since 1845, and was originally named "Snowden Township". It was renamed "South Park" by referendum in 1966.

All of which, of course, predates a certain crass animated TV show...