Wednesday, December 02, 2020


The sourdough turned out well – at least, it had plenty of “oven spring” and looked suitably risen. I gave it to Helen when she came for my walk. She has promised a picture of the crumb. I took a picture of the loaf itself, with a cat, but it’s stuck in the iPad. I thought Archie had fixed that.


I am much encouraged, and mean to press on. One of my favourite sourdough writers, James Morton, offers a cure for a problem that worries me: why doesn’t my starter increase in volume when I feed it? It bubbles appreciatively. It tastes deliciously sour and vinegar-y. And it leavens a loaf of bread. Morton says to feed it every day for a while, and include some rye or wholemeal in the diet. I’ll keep you posted.


And, although I haven’t done much knitting since I was last here, I have switched from Magic Loop to Two Circulars, and I think they will see me through. I wish I had at least considered your solution, Shandy – knitting the sleeves flat and attaching them afterwards, although I fear that would have spoiled the flow of the stripes, at least in my clumsy hands. My previous experience with Two Circulars was like yours, Kristen, with all the stitches winding up on the same needle. So far, I am being very, very careful every time I change needles and all is well. I watched a video with Cat Bhordi, who seems to have unvented the system, but there’s really nothing to it. How right you are, Chloe, to marvel at our different brains.


I had a good time at my sister’s club in DC yesterday, listening to a talk about Il Gattopardo. Although the Zoom meeting cast its shadow before, nervous-tension-wise, and left me unfit even to write to you yesterday. I disagreed quite a lot with the speaker. She seemed to admire Visconti’s film more than Lampedusa’s  wonderful book, and even said that Visconti was right to lop the last two chapters off. She said it was all about Garibaldi and the Risorgimento, which is true, but that made it sound boring. The book is really about the Prince and his family. Everything else goes on in the background. Visconti has a whole battle scene -- in the streets of Palermo? -- but there is nothing like that in the book.


I’ve been re-reading it, as I often do. I wish I had realised, when Archie and I were last there, that it was in the railway station in Catania where the Prince first saw Death, in her elegant travelling costume, veiled and gloved. He had insisted on travelling back from Naples to Palermo by train, instead of taking the ferry. A mistake with which Archie and I can sympathise, although we were going right down to the toe of Italy to see the Riace bronzes so there was no escape from that tedious journey. The book is vague about how a train crossed the straits of Messina in those days – now, they put it on a ferry.


From there, the Prince travelled to Catania, down the right-hand edge of the island, and then overland to Palermo which is on the top edge. Now, you must choose at Messina and go to one or the other. But I wish I had taken more of a look at the station in Catania.


  1. For some reason Jean, I misread and thought you were presenting on Il Gattopardo! I thought you seemed quite relaxed about it. Perhaps you can issue a rebuttal. Haven't got past the first few pages of Scoop, I hope this evening.

  2. =Tamar6:40 PM

    The late Sir Terry Pratchett said that man is Pan narrans, the story-telling ape, and "being Homo sapiens" is one of the stories Pan narrans tells itself. Film is closer to storytelling than print, film being a story told in the dark with one source of light, like sitting at a fire. Books can be travelogues, lists of events, delicate descriptions of character... but stories require a plot and action. So, film makers will create an action plot, preferably using elements found within the book. If a film is made without one, it becomes an "art film" and generally will lose money. Film also has time limits, while books can go on for many hundreds of pages. Il Gattopardo would require a TV series.

    1. Really interesting, Tamar!

    2. Anonymous3:59 PM

      I agree.
      -- Gretchen (aka stashdragon)