We make our own entertainment out here.
While the less ambitious among us stage dung-beetle races and other pastimes which require little effort, others organize events. Tonight will be a potluck supper and ice cream “crank-off” at the Terlingua Ranch Lodge. Val surprised me by saying he would like us to attend it for a little while before doing another one of our movie nights.
Val has been surprising me quite a bit lately. He came by the house a couple times while our guests were here, joined us at the pool, and joined us for supper once when seven of us crowded around our small round table. I love the fact that Val has been spending so much time with us, and yet I am surprised because he is usually very shy and retiring. I had begun to flatter myself in thinking that maybe Val has been feeling more comfortable and trusting around us in particular, but now his suggestion that we attend the crank-off is telling me he’s becoming more open to being with people in general (and that we are the coincidental beneficiaries of this development).
Either way, Val is good company and is one of my best friends here, whyever or however it has come to pass.
This friendship extends to his family. A couple weeks ago, his mother Sigrid sent me The Wall, a 1962 novel by Austrian author Marlen Haushofer, a modern literary masterpiece few people know about that’s found its way onto lists of the “500 Greatest” novels written by women. Sigrid said the narrator of the story reminded her of me at Estrella Vista. Now that I have completed the book, I understand why Sigrid made the connection, and it is frankly rather flattering. If only I were up to the high standards of courage, resourcefulness, and perseverance modeled by the book’s narrator! (It is something to shoot for.)
The premise of The Wall is that some kind of catastrophe happens in the world which kills almost everyone, and the narrator—a middle-aged woman—becomes trapped in the mountains behind an invisible wall with only a dog, a cat, and a cow for companions. The story suggests the devastation and violence people inflict on each other and the landscape, and it shows how a quiet simple life in the middle of nowhere can be filled with complexity and beauty.
I finished the book yesterday afternoon after my guests had departed, and I have a feeling its aftertaste will color my life experiences hereafter for many years to come. I recommend it highly—if you can find an affordable copy. I looked it up on the Internet and it is out-of-print and, judging from the prices used booksellers are asking for it, even a paperbound copy of The Wall now definitely falls into the “rare book” category.
I ran out of power last night and, not wanting to start up the gasoline generator, decided to move on to another novel sent to me as a gift from another friend and reader of the Diary. The book is The Overton Window, a political thriller by (OMG, am I really saying this?) Glenn Beck. The friend who sent the book withheld all information about the book and its author knowing that had I been given too much of a heads-up, my attitude may have hardened and I might not have even opened the package.
But hey, it’s entertainment and out here beggars can’t be choosers. Anyway, the friend who sent it is himself the best story-teller I know, and if he says a book is a gripping read, it is definitely so.