Tuesday, December 24, 2019

it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

When I heard that song on some commercial sound system a while ago, I thought, "beginning??" But in fact there's a difference between the "holiday season" and the actual imminence of Christmas, even for a non-Christian like myself, when that person is married into Christmas-celebrating.

For one thing, there's presents. B. likes books, but these days prefers electronic ones: easier to carry around, take up less room. The problem I've found in the past is that specific books, as opposed to gift cards, are hard to arrange to give as gifts. However, Amazon's Kindle - the platform B. finds easiest to use - has introduced a gift function into their online purchase system. You enter the recipient's e-mail and a delivery date, and on that date they send the person a pick-up link. (And, it turns out, they send you, the sender, a note when it's been picked up.)

This was perfect because the last time I was in a physical store I saw a book that was ideal for B., except that its physical form was larger and heavier than she'd have liked even before e-books. She's been reading a lot of popular medieval history, especially English, of late - Alison Weir and authors like that - and this was an ideal book in that category: Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts: Twelve Journeys into the Medieval World by Christopher de Hamel, who is the manuscripts and rare books librarian of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (two points for the Tolkien connection here, though it isn't mentioned in the book). It's a detailed account of the making, physical form, and contents of a dozen varied and colorful medieval mss., most of them of course religious, with the aim of giving the reader a sense of what it would be like to sit down with them and physically turn their pages, since few of us will ever have that opportunity. De Hamel writes that his aim is to bring "a well-informed but non-specialist reader into intimate contact with major medieval manuscripts," and I thought: perfect, since that's exactly the level B. is reading at, and this will be a gateway to further exploration, and in just the fields of study that most interest her. And: lots of photos of mss. pages.

Since we'll be busy Christmas morning - B. with mass, I with cooking - I set the delivery date of the e-book for today, and it made a good present. She found another one on getting home from work at noon (because there's another mass this afternoon). I went shopping early this morning for ingredients for my contribution to the family Christmas dinner, and I had another geas on my list: kale. This is B's favorite green for lunch, but the packages she's been getting from Safeway recently have all been spoiled, even if supposedly not past expiration date, and she's asked me if I go shopping to find her some more. Having found earlier that Lucky's didn't have it in a convenient package, for my shopping today I decided to try a higher-end store, and went up the road to Draeger's, where I found an entirely different brand of baby kale, with eleven days remaining on its shelf life, so I hope it'll be good. It was expensive, but this was Draeger's.

So that's what we have so far.

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