Greek Helen and her family are still trapped on Mount Pelion. Helen crawled up the track to the road yesterday, where she found some wet locals on improvised snow shoes who had walked three hours from the nearest village to look for their ponies. They told her that the snow plow hadn't even reached the village yet. Later David dug a path along the track, a considerable distance, through snow sometimes chest deep. So now they will be able to reach their car, when the plow finally comes, and feel a bit calmer.
They are counting out the potatoes and wondering whether to eat the dog.
I find some encouragement in the fact that Helen says the local people were "wet" – not just cold and miserable. But it takes a while for that much snow to shift.
I made a good start on the income tax yesterday, and I've thought of a scheme. Lots of people give up drink for January to give the system a rest after the excesses of the holidays. I'm not too keen on that idea, as Lent starts in the middle of February. I have set myself, however, to give up Weston's Vintage Cider until I have filed the tax return. That should keep my nose to the grindstone.
Diana Cooper wrote her autobiography in old age, quoting extensively from her own letters. She was a brilliant and prolific letter-writer. That's where I'd recommend starting, if you want to get to know her. It's a fascinating look at a world which is now almost unimaginable: she was the daughter of a duke (Rutland) and grew up before the Great War. It doesn't sound to me as if she ever in her life cooked lunch, but she ran a smallholding during the WWII, cow, chickens, pigs, kale, and was thoroughly hands-on about that.
And then she went more or less straight from the pigsty to being the wife of the British ambassador in Paris in which role she was equally brilliant.
The other book I wanted to tell you about is Ros Chast's “Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” She is my favourite New Yorker cartoonist. Recently they printed several pages from the book, as they occasionally do with new books, so I knew there was such a thing. I haven't seen any reviews. I gave it both to Rachel and to Helen, and think perhaps James and Alexander ought to have it too. Christmas is why I couldn't tell you about it before.
It is about the extreme old age and death of her parents. She's Ros Chast, so a lot of it is funny. She makes the story general by making it utterly specific, and the result to my mind is a serious piece of writing, to be compared, I think, to Simone de Beauvoir's “A Very Easy Death”, about her mother's last month.
I tried counting stitches between where-I-am and the end of the edging of the Unst Bridal Shawl, but I keep getting different answers so I'll leave it for now. Each repeat of the edging takes in six stitches so the very worst that can happen (I think) is that I'll have three too many or three too few; a perfectly fudge-able number.
At two-scallops-per-session, there's about another week of knitting there. Finishing and blocking will have to wait until after the tax is done.
I flipped through Arne and Carlos but failed to find a scarf. They have every other item imaginable – draft excluders and a teddy bear and wrist warmers and ankle warmers. I'll have a look at Vibeke Lind.