Thursday, January 21, 2021


1706 steps so far today. It snowed in the night, and looked icy and treacherous this morning, so I have been walking in the house, and it seems to take longer. I’ll keep at it, however, until I reach at least 2000.


The knitting of edging onto Gudrun’s hap seemed to continue well, until….


I saw the marker for the first corner creeping into view, and so I counted the remaining stitches between me and it. There were far too many. I went back to the border chart, multiplied the 18 stitches of the pattern repeat by 6 (because that’s how often it was repeated, at the end) and counted the squares at either end of the repeats and added the 24 stitches thus obtained. The answer coincided with the number of stitches in fact present. So, why…


When I finished knitting the borders, I turned back in the pattern to the section called Edging. The pattern is written out line by line, as well as being available on a chart, so there is a certain amount of to’ing and fro’ing. This morning, turning it back and forth in bewilderment, I discovered a paragraph, at the end of the written instructions, called Decrease rnd. I should have removed 20 stitches per side: that’s quite a few. Two and a half scallops.


I have decided to forge ahead. Here is a slightly blurry picture of a section of edging. It looks acceptable. I’ve got an abundance of yarn, for some reason. There’ll still be plenty for a parental hat, even with an extra 80 stitches to eliminate. And I remember that last time I was slightly disappointed with the smallness of the shawl, despite vigorous blocking. This might help.


And here is a picture of Perdita, sleeping on the Evandoon on the adjacent chair. I shouldn’t have let her do that.


So that was today’s excitement.


There was a message today from Arne and Carlos. Carlos is in a lung hospital being treated for “long Covid”. It sounds incredibly luxurious – four delicious meals a day and (in normal circumstances; not now) a swimming pool. All free, part of Norwegian health care. He thinks he’s getting better. Some of us have been worrying about their finances, but Carlos says that they are fine and that we should send any such money to Andrew and Andrea. That was a generous thought, on his part.




My sister and her husband, in Maryland just outside DC, have vaccination appts for the 30th. Pfizer. Rachel says her arm is slightly sore, after having hers yesterday.


I think I’m a bit sceptical about whether vaccination is going to make any difference. But surely we should know soon. The vaccine is being given to the most vulnerable – that is, to those statistically most likely to need hospitalisation, and to die. So if vaccination “works”, those numbers should start going down fairly steeply within a month or so. Shouldn’t they? Hospitals here are getting pretty desperate.




I enjoyed Nabokov on “Mansfield Park”. I’ll read the beginning and the end essays, as you suggest, Kristen. Shandy, I think an episode of great importance, often overlooked, is the way Mary Crawford, believing – because he told her so – that her brother Henry is trying to get Fanny in love with him as an adventure to amuse himself; and knowing Fanny well for the timid and retiring soul she is; nevertheless encourages Fanny to take Henry seriously. She is what I think can be called a traitor to her sex. Maybe it’s even Jane Austen’s fault for not underlining Mary's wickedness a bit more.


I’ve been reading Dante today, to steal a march on Saturday’s lesson.


  1. Do read the opening paragraphs of Nabokov's piece on "Bleak House" where he gives us his real opinion of Austen. In the Introductory piece he suggests that she knew only the parsons parlour with no real knowledge of the baronet's drawing-room. In fact her brother having been adopted by the Knights at an early age she had visited in grand houses with large families. What is more mystifying is that she knows so much about the chaos of a house such as the Prices at Portsmouth. But "Egg-shells in cottonwool"? Really?

  2. Was it on this blog that someone recommended Fay Weldon's book with a title along the lines of 'Letters to Alice on reading Jane Austen'? I read it and am now adding it to my re-reading pile.

    1. Anonymous2:46 AM

      Yes, I recommended Letters to Alice, here. Not for everyone - Jean, for one, didn't care for Fay Weldon's approach. I don't get on well with Weldon's fiction but did really like the Letters. At the time I found it there were many copies in the second-hand bookstores in downtown Toronto, so I concluded someone at the university must have had it on a course reading list.

  3. Mary Crawford is a . a not very nice person!

  4. I know I am in the minority here, but I found the ‘drawing room’ books, like Austen’, very shallow and a waste of time.

    1. What can I say? Could you share with us authors whose work you find deep and worthwhile?

  5. Anonymous1:30 AM

    So glad you have a vaccine appointment!
    My understanding is that yes -
    1) those who are vaccinated but still catch the virus, perhaps before the second shot, should have a much less serious case
    2) vaccinating those in long-term-care, over 80 (then 75, then 70 etc), otherwise vulnerable should have a strong effect on the death rate. Canada has had an extremely high death rate of over 70 years old - maybe 80% of our cases?
    I was listening to a talk from infectious disease specialists who felt the vaccinations would have a noticeable effect - but maybe in 4 to 6 weeks yet.
    Hope our Ontario politicians can listen to the scientists and get vaccinating!
    Lisa RR

  6. I have an appointment for my first vaccine tomorrow!! I was contacted by a hospital where I have a doctor.

  7. Anonymous11:00 AM

    Despite the overall statistics regarding the vulnerablability of is older and/or health-compromised people, the capriciousness of this virus is stunning. A healthy 60-something friend recently had a nasty (though not hospitalized) case of it while her diabetic friend sailed right through her case. They presumably got the same strain, one from the other. How do scientists account for that? Our medical team is expecting doses soon. Can't come soon enough. Now I don't know which to read first, Mansfield Park or Persuasion. Have read all the others long ago. Chloe

  8. =Tamar4:26 PM

    I just reread Mansfield Park very closely. Chloe, I think you should read Persuasion first. it is shorter and will make an interesting comparison for treatment of Navy personnel. Austen had two brothers in the Navy.
    Shandy, Austen's father was clergy. She would have visited the poor and observed their homes, on Boxing Day at least.
    Jean, I agree; the motivation Austen gives Mary Crawford is that she wants the connection, however slight, to a titled family that she would gain if Henry married into the Bertram family. She and Henry were influenced by their uncle, an Admiral who hates his wife and is an epitome of vice. The hero's final decision against her is that Mary thought Maria's only mistake was getting caught, which proved she had tainted principles.
    One thing to look for is where Austen's Narrator betrays her sardonic view of even the heroine.