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Missive #202

The writing life at age 85.

In this collection of 14 autobiographical essays, former U.S. Poet Laureate Hall (Christmas at Eagle Pond, 2012, etc.) reflects on aging, death, the craft of writing and his beloved landscape of New Hampshire. Debilitated by health problems that have affected his balance and ability to walk, the author sees his life physically compromised, and “the days have narrowed as they must. I liked this book! Perhaps it is because I am of a like age and can empathize with the author’s writing. He wrote one more book that was published posthumously that I will read. Then perhaps read some of his earlier books but not his poetry although you may like that as well. I live on one floor eating frozen dinners.” He waits for the mail; a physical therapist visits twice a week; and an assistant patiently attends to typing, computer searches and money matters. “In the past I was often advised to live in the moment,” he recalls. “Now what else can I do? Days are the same, generic and speedy….” Happily, he is still able to write, although not poetry. “As I grew older,” he writes, “poetry abandoned me….For a male poet, imagination and tongue-sweetness require a blast of hormones.” Writing in longhand, Hall revels in revising, a process that can entail more than 80 drafts. “Because of multiple drafts I have been accused of self-discipline. Really I am self-indulgent, I cherish revising so much.” These essays circle back on a few memories: the illness and death of his wife, the poet Jane Kenyon, which sent him into the depths of grief; childhood recollections of his visits to his grandparents’ New Hampshire farm, where he helped his grandfather with haying; grateful portraits of the four women who tend to him: his physical therapist, assistant, housekeeper and companion; and giving up tenure “for forty joyous years of freelance writing.”

That sense of joy infuses these gentle essays. “Old age sits in a chair,” writes Hall, “writing a little and diminishing.” For the author, writing has been, and continues to be, his passionate revenge against diminishing. — Kirkus Reviews

We have had some winter here this past week. There have been three mornings when it was below freezing and there were some strong winds a couple of days. The forecast for early next week is for the lows to be in the 40s increasing to the lowers 50s by the end of the week. I hope the weather guesser get it right. No winds in the forecast which will also be good.

I have been adding apps to my Galaxy A7 Lite these past few days. Getting my Garmin watch to sync with the Garmin Connect apps was a real headache. If you know how to do it is very easy; that is why the instructions written by someone at Garmin that knows how to do it are not all that helpful for someone that does not know how. Adding Adobe Acrobat and ReadEra were a piece of cake in comparison. I then had some difficulty finding a mail app that worked and still not real happy with it. Everything is about the same as what I have been using on Fire 8 except for Contacts. I have been struggling to sync input them and have failed in all my attempts. Probably will manually get them set up. The new Mail also has a list of ‘recent’ contacts that does not seem very recent to me that synced over from somewhere(?). I would be just as happy to not have them but can’t find a way to delete them.

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