While cleaning out the office recently Dom found a couple of twenty-year-old issues of Exotic Cars magazine. They immediately became Ben’s special property and he loves pouring over the pictures of all the race cars. Tonight he requested Exotic Cars as his bedtime reading. So I started to flip through and point to all the cars. But Oh no that wasn’t what he wanted at all, “Read it!” And so I had to read the entirety of the In This Issue summary as well as a good chunk of one article before he was satisfied and ran off to listen to the book that Dom was reading to Sophie (Caps for Sale). It was very funny to read the framing narrative about Operation Desert Storm that introduced American Cars as the theme of this issue. And very funny to be declaiming sentences that included phrases such as: “4.0 liter, double overhead camshaft V-8 rated at 250 bhp at 6000 rpm.”

Another cute moment was when at dinner he pointed to one of the race cars in the magazine and declared that it was a “Madagascar.”

Anthony is walking more than crawling these days. So much so that I think it is fair to call him a toddler. In the past week he’s developed a new habit of sticking out his tongue, which is just adorable cute. He has finally decided that he likes eating solid foods and that most things on my plate are fair game. Though he does have a bit of a texture issue and will not eat chicken as a finger food but will eat it if is is mashed up with vegetables in a soup or sauce. He adores soup and I’ve started keeping aside some soup leftovers just for him. He even ate some of my disappointingly mild chicken vindaloo recently. The other night he ate beets off my plate.

The other day Sophie was very upset and Anthony climbed down off my lap (he’d been nursing) and found Sophie’s favorite blankie and brought it to her, recalling a similar moment when Ben did the same when he was about the same age. Anthony loves hugging Ben and Sophie and Bella and Dom and myself. He is certainly the most cuddly of all my children and it is so sweet how he buries his head on your shoulder when you pick him up.

The other day Anthony was trying to hug Ben, who had just got up from a nap and was therefore cranky. He accidentally bowled poor Ben over and Ben began to throw the biggest tantrum. We could not entice him out of it until finally I realized that Ben was angry because of the injustice. When Ben knocks Anthony over we always make him apologize. So I told Ben that Anthony was sorry and that it was an accident and then I told Anthony that he needed to go give Ben a hug to let Ben know he was sorry. Amiable Anthony toddled over and gave Ben a hug and Ben hugged him back and then was immediately all smiles and chatter.

I love the way Sophie “reads” picture books. It is so very different from Bella. Bella always used to make us read them again and again until she had the memorized practically word for word. Sophie prefers to look at the pictures and make up her own stories that often have very little to do with the actual story in the book.

Sometimes at dinner time Bella will finish first or will move to sit next to Dom, then Sophie is left sitting by herself on that side of the table. Immediately she begins to fuss: “I’m lonely!” Even if there are still five other people at the table, if none of them is immediately next to her she is distressed. Sophie has always had Bella. And probably she doesn’t remember a time before Ben either.

Ben is really starting to join in with Sophie and Bella’s imaginative play. He was doing dress up today; he told me he was being a silly railroad conductor and playing with wearing his hat backwards. He often grabs the animals and figures and plays with them along with his cars and trucks. “I be the baby and you be the mama,” I heard him say.

Today Ben wanted to go to the playground. Even though it was 30 degrees out, I decided he really needed time outside to run around. Plus I’d bribed him to go to bed last night by promising a trip to the playground. This morning he announced that he wanted to go to “the other playground” because there are “too many kids” at the one we usually go to. So we went to the playground near the lake where we were almost guaranteed that there would be no other kids. Especially on a day like today. I wonder if it’s because he’s realized Bella is more likely to play with him if there are no other kids or just because he hates feeling crowded and trampled.

Bella decided that for Lent she was going to give up playing with the cars and trucks. I thought it was a bit odd, but she seems to be taking it very seriously. Today she was bemoaning the fact that neither Ben nor Sophie wanted to play with her. When it became clear that they didn’t like the game she wanted them to play, I suggested she play along with what they wer playing. She didn’t like the game Sophie was playing for some reason and she lamented that Ben was playing with the cars and trucks and she had given them up for Jesus. 

Today Anthony was playing peek-a-boo with me, holding a board book up in front of his face and then moving it away and giggling.

Bella constructed this groom paper doll all on her own. I was very impressed at the immediately recognizable tuxedo she created.


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  • I would love to speculate, but I am one of those people who has to grasp the whole before going back and thinking about each part in turn.  Which is to say, I need the picture on the front of the jigsaw puzzle box, and the first thing I always do is put together all the edges.  smile

    So I am inclined to wait till you have gotten all the way through the poem and then come back and leave comments on the bits. 

    But I love this series!  Please keep it up!

  • Katherine, you’re right properly these lines should properly be read as a whole with the next 5 lines. I’m breaking the poem up into very small chunks for the sake of manageable blog posts and while I’m trying to keep them in coherent units, following Eliot’s organization, some of Eliot’s passages are just a bit longer than I can manage in one go.

    I think the impression of young love is an interesting one. The lines never really struck me that way; but it seems a very plausible reading.

    I agree that it is hard to read “arch-duke” without thinking of Ferdinand and given that the poem was published in 1922, just four years after the end of the First World War, it is very plausible that that is the association that Eliot means. The poem as a whole doesn’t seem to be very concerned with contemporary world events—though later in the first section there is the reference to a soldier who is “demobbed” that is demobilized from the British Army. And of course Eliot does reference the World Wars in his Four Quartets, speaking of the time between the wars, so the War is definitely a part of his poetic consciousness.

    I wonder if I tend to underestimate how important World War I is as a backdrop to the Waste Land. For us it tends to be so overshadowed by the Second War but for Eliot and his contemporaries it was The Great War and it’s effects were devastating for an entire generation. To what extent is the Waste Land of the poem’s title the waste created by the war? I’m going to try to keep the question of the War in mind as I re-read. The idea of the arch-duke figure as a foreshadowing of the war appeals to me.

    Bearing, and I suppose Katherine speaks to this point as well, I am very much the same way. I have to see the whole picture before I can start to examine the individual pieces. (Nice to see you picking up on my puzzle metaphor from the other post.) I am definitely approaching this series having read and written about and thought about the poem several times over the years. As I mentioned in a previous post I first read the poem as a college freshman and I wrote a paper about the Grail legends. Then my sophomore year I did an intensive project on Eliot and read his complete works multiple times as well as volumes and volumes of scholarly commentary. These post have been percolating on the back burner for a decade and a half.

    I’m liking how this project is helping me to see the familiar poem with new eyes.

    I very much welcome the idea of your coming back to comment on the bits. It seems to me that is one of the great benefits of this kind of blogging project is that there can be multiple threads of conversations on the various bits and that we don’t have to lose sight of one bit when we move on to the next. In some ways that is a distinct advantage over a classroom situation where the conversation must tend to press on to the conclusion and some interesting side conversations get left in the dust in the interest of time.

    Thanks for your encouragement. It is good to know people are following along.

  • It is funny, but I think watching Downton Abbey has helped me get a bit of a better idea of the impact WWI had, at least on Britain. As you say, we think of WWII so much more but WWI was a horror all its own, and, perhaps, at a time when most people could not fathom the horrors that our generations have studied or read about or watched films of

  • Not being familiar with The Waste Land, I had to read ahead to see just what was written about Marie and the Arch-Duke. So, forgive me if this references more than just the lines in this post.

    My first impression is that he is writing nostalgically of early love, those beautiful, wonderful golden years when a couple courts and so many moments suddenly take on a romantic lining – when getting caught in the rain meant taking shelter together. They walk through a garden and enjoy just talking together for an hour.

    Now, I don’t know about anyone else, but the first thing I think of when I hear the words “arch-duke” is Archduke Ferdinand and WWI. Yet his words referring to the “arch-duke” are about children playing and happy, carefree memories. Yet, if the first thing the reader thinks of when he reads “arch-duke” is WWI, there is a natural foreboding. It is impossible to think of these pretty pictures and not know that it won’t end well, or at least will have difficult times ahead. It makes the happy memories all the more precious and painful knowing just how fleeting they are and how lost they will seem amidst the horrors of WWI.

    It seems to me like the lines in this post and the following 5 lines might go together.

  • It occurs to me just now that the summer shower connects back to the spring rain in lines 3 and 4.

    Also, thinking of Bearing’s point in next section that reading all night and going south in the winter signal a disconnect with time and seasons, it occurs to me that being surprised by summer and taking shelter from the rain in the colonnade is a similar instance of a divorce from the seasons.

    A primary characteristic of the wasteland mentality is a certain unnatural barrenness, a chosen sterility and shying away from anything that carries a whiff of fecundity and new life. The disconnect from the seasons begins with an abhorrence for spring in the first line.

  • I have never understood this passage myself.  It seems to come out of nowhere and doesn’t seem to connect.  Perhaps it just evokes a group of people, an effete culture, perhaps.  Not sure.