This week we’ve had several early morning low tides with a wide expanse of mud. Perfect for the birds. One day there was a flotilla of pelicans (white ones in a ring), the usual gulls, several groups of ibis with their heads and beaks mostly in the down position, and far out in the water a dense cluster of ducks. Other days, I’ve watched a lone great white egret or two just standing still or a great blue heron stalking the water’s edge. This morning it was a bright pink sherbet spoonbill by itself bobbing and darting its head into the water foraging for food.
Reactions to Asolo Theater’s Morning After Grace were mixed. Some didn’t like it much and others didn’t need to see the lead character’s “naked ass.” Actually, said actor was nicely toned. All that aside, I liked this play and thought it was funny and very well done. And it had a touching theme about all of us needing to be appreciated and loved, no matter our age.
It’s a three-character play with Angus, a new widower; Abigail, a grief counselor who has also been divorced for three years; and Ollie, a retired pro baseball player who also happens to be gay. Their ages are 70, 62, and 68, respectively, which is key to the actions of the play. It’s a bit slow at the start with a few too many racy jokes, but these are probably needed to set up the extended dialogue that follows. Overall, I recommend it!
The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish
I loved this 500+ page novel! And my librarian and archivist friends would find it fascinating too. It’s about being a female academic in the 21st century, about doing scholarly research using primary documents, and about the Portuguese Jews who left that country for Amsterdam in the late 17th century, some of whom then emigrated to London. One 17th century London resident is Ester, a young woman who, contrary to all the allowed roles for women, is tasked with being a scribe for a blind rabbi. She is very smart and begins to question the rabbi’s views of the faith.
I admired the level of detail and the elegant and nuanced portrayal of the three main characters: unmarried professor Helen Watt, soon to be retired; Aaron Levy, the somewhat conceited, but also confused doctoral student; and the accomplished and tortured Ester, who though ruled by her intellect, still contemplates passion and love. There is a mystery to solve about Ester and it is this which drives Helen and Aaron’s laborious journey through a newly discovered trove of letters and manuscripts.
In reading about Ms. Kadish, I discovered that she had an unusual speech impediment growing up that made it almost impossible for her to say certain letter combinations. She learned to be very deliberate in her speech and to think ahead about different words to use other than the ones that would trip her up. But, when she took pen to paper, she was liberated and could freely use any word she chose. Perhaps that’s partly why this novel is very long. I found it compelling, engrossing, and informative as I knew nothing about this aspect of Jewish history. (~JW Farrington)
Note: Spoonbill header photo from carolinabirdclub.org