I have been steadily plowing my way through writing the final exam for my French class. Steadily, but slowly. Today is easier than it was earlier in the week, as it is yet again raining and cool. Nothing like the sharp contrast between warm, sunny days, when all you want to do is be outside, letting the sun and the warmth soak into your skin, and rainy, cool days, when I come home from class, put on wool socks and a sweatshirt and brew up a strong cup of coffee for a day of indoor work. Even chores like cleaning the coop (which has been postponed due to rain) or weeding or hanging up laundry (the latter of which is actually one of my most favorite things to do, not really a chore) are enjoyable if the weather cooperates. Writing a final exam? Not exactly enjoyable, whatever the weather, but certainly easier to stomach when it's gloomy outside. The inside is just that much more cozy; the blanket on my lap accompanies me from desk to recliner to kitchen table; another cup of coffee brews.
However, the weather aside, I am still resisting getting the dang exam written in one fell swoop (as they say of knocking off dragons or giants). In fact, I hate to admit it but I am already raiding my summer Alaska reading pile, which means I will have to make another trip to the used bookstore soon.
In my ridiculously long career as a student, I developed a pavlovian response to the end of the quarter or semester that persists even now that I am the teacher. I run for the mystery section and thoroughly inhale as many novels as I can. But they have to be of a certain kind. I can't stand the gore, the twisted psychological stuff, the violence, the clinical breaking down of how the bullet entered x, y, or z. Rather, I am a fan of Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham, Ngaio Marsh, historical mysteries set in the Middle Ages, and generally anything that provides twists and turns and clever dialogue without making me think too hard about the fact that I'm reading about someone being killed. It's the search, the puzzle, the atmosphere that I like.
To that end, over my lunch break of left-over-yet-again enchiladas, I started another book off my Alaska pile: "The Veiled One" by Ruth Rendell. This is exciting for me because I haven't actually read that much Rendell. So far, though, it looks promising. Which means that I can go back to the bookstore and clean off the shelf where many of her books currently reside.
Here is the first paragraph of the book. I don't normally want to share the silly reading I'm doing, but you have to think about the comforting lunch, the rain falling outside, the exam about one quarter finished, classical music on the radio, kids at school. All come together to make a most wonderful experience.
The woman was lying dead on the floor when he came in. She was already dead and covered up from head to toe but Wexford only knew that afterwards, not at the time. He looked back and realized the chances he had missed but it was useless doing that--he hadn't known and that was all. He had been preoccupied, thinking of an assortment of things: his wife's birthday present that was in the bag he carried, modern architecture, yesterday's gale which had blown down his garden fence, this car park that he was entering from the descending lift.
And thus begins the tug of war this afternoon: write a little of the exam, read a little of the book. Maybe get to the store so I can feed the kids this afternoon. Maybe get that laundry into the dryer (since it is raining, right?). Maybe make some cookies because what goes better with writing an exam, reading a mystery novel, and a rainy afternoon?