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Sunday, February 6, 2000

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Stay at home Sunday

I spent the day at home, which is unusual for a weekend. I rearranged a bookcase and did laundry, and spent the rest of the day watching television and reading. I kept thinking of things I needed to get at the grocery store or places it would be nice to visit, but never wanted to badly enough to actually do it.

Friday evening I decided that I did want to go to Rick's wedding, then on Saturday my father said we could drive up there together. We had talked my father out of driving up by himself since Nebraska in early March can have nasty weather, but with both of us it wouldn't be bad and it would save a lot of money and give us transportation while we were there.

I got a little depressed today as I always am at the thought of family get togethers as I still have the feeling that I'm not quite what I was supposed to be. None of us are and I don't know why it always worry about it. It's the same old feeling of not being good enough or not living up to what is expected of me.

I've been reading old mysteries tonight. The first was "Detection Unlimited" by Georgette Heyer. She writes such good and humorous mysteries. I still love the old British mysteries the best. There is such an undercurrent of human frailty covered over (and smoothed over) by propriety. There is something to be said for propriety. It can be used to bludgeon people but, it can also be used to cover up embarrassments.

Heyer's books are written with a wry look at people and this is no exception. She makes no bones about the social distinctions which seem so quaint until we realize that we have the same social distinctions, we just don't call it "class distinctions". I was on my own, working, before the fact that someone who could afford only one maid could be said to be poor, because in Mexico we always had a maid and we were poor. The triumph of the American dream is that we can't afford maids, because they make too much. Her books are set right after the First World War so her characters are always moaning about the difficulty of keeping a good maid.

In "Detection Unlimited" a social upstart, hated by all, is killed and all the social leaders of the village come under suspicion, and a fine bunch of characters they are. The best thing about her books is the great conversations they all have. I admire anyone who can write great dialogue, and she does. Her detective, Inspector Hemingway, is from Scotland Yard who can talk with anyone, and does, to great effect.

The second book was "Black as He's Painted" by Ngaio Marsh. She sets her books around the Second World War and after. Her books are still very British but with the same problems as other countries. She writes about another Scotland Yard detective, Inspector Alleyn, who is one of my favorite detectives.

This books is about the attempted assassination of the leader of one of the emerging African countries and brings in characters from embittered former British colonials to African presidents who attended upper class British schools. It's very well plotted and even though I've read it several times before, I still found myself drawn into the story.

One reason I enjoy the old English murder mysteries is that everything is so orderly and neat. A place for everyone and everyone in their place. Sometimes it is tiring to have to make your own place, or even to know what you want to be. This is probably why cults are so powerful, because they tell you what to be. I know the order and tranquility was just on the surface, the mysteries make this one of their main points, but it still sounds so nice.

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(c) Rachel Aschmann 2000.
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