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Here is the next installment of Beatrice Allen Page’s unpublished manuscript, Landscape with Figures:

“Random notions and observations:

  • Ivory towers are sneered at these days. Actually, they not only give you a more panoramic view of the environment but a different and usually clearer perspective on the people in that environment, as well (perhaps) as a clearer view of oneself. Yes, an ivory tower is delightful as long as you know you can leave it at any time and rejoin the crowded world, but how intolerable to get imprisoned in one.
  • At long last someone has explained to me the meaning of ‘Robin Hood’s barn.’ The ‘barn’ was the great outdoors where he kept his horses. So naturally, to go all around Robin Hood’s barn is to take a very devious route toward a goal or a conclusion.
  • The young wife complains that her husband never notices how she looks. The aging wife counts it one of her blessings that he doesn’t.
  • Why do we speak of the ‘opposite’ sex as if male and female were irreconcilable? Why not the ‘complementary’ sex?
  • The few women I’ve known who do not drive a car are all artists of one kind or another. What is the correlation? A mistrust of things mechanical? Male artists may drive but in my experience they are usually poor drivers.
  • Sometimes when I might look through the window at a great open vista of sea and sky, my gaze is caught and riveted to a flyspeck on the glass.
  • Ann A. told me the other day she has been trying to breed her male Scotch terrier without much success. The vet explained to her that pet dogs who have received a lot of affection are usually not very much interested in mating. The good breeder, i.e., the sexually avid dog is one who lives in a kennel and does not receive much affection. I wonder what the ethologists make of that.
  • Etymological finds for the day: the word ‘muscle’ comes from the Latin musculus meaning ‘little mouse’ (diminutive of mus). When I think of the way a muscle moves under the skin, I am delighted with the aptness of the word.
  • Just after I’d closed the dictionary, my eye was caught by a gray blur of squirrel spiraling up a tree trunk so fast I lost sight of it, as if it had vanished into thin air. For the first time I wondered where the word ‘squirrel’ came from. So, back to the dictionary. The word derives from the Greek skia, ‘a shadow,’ and oura, ‘tail.’ A shadow with a tail! What an apt definition for that little animal!
  • Why are most people who are fond of cats either artists or elderly people who live alone?
  • In some instances hating may be a defense against loving. To love is a risky thing – we become vulnerable to hurts and are called upon to make sacrifices.
  • We often criticize people for having little sympathy for the unhappiness of others. Actually, it’s much easier to feel sad with someone in his misfortune than to rejoice with him in his good fortune. Unless we are very fond of another person, we resent someone’s being happier than we are.
  • There should always be a little madness in our methods.
  • I once knew a woman who stored up grudges as women use to store their home-made preserves. She had made them herself and it was a great satisfaction to go into her mental cupboard and look at the rows of them she’d stacked up. It’s curious that we should take pleasure in nursing a grudge (the phrase expresses our tender attitude). I suppose as long as we concentrate on how spitefully we’ve been used, it keeps our minds off our own malice.
  • Over and over again I have found that when some Bright Idea pops into my head, I come upon the same idea (usually expressed far better) within a few days in something I read in a newspaper or magazine or new book. Is it because certain ideas are loose in the air and are caught by several people at once or because we are alert to an idea which we might have passed over without really taking it in when we first came across it? Or have we already absorbed it unconsciously and then mistake it for our own original observation when it floats to the surface of our minds?
  • So much of the time we thrash about in life trying not to sink. If we’d just relax, perhaps life itself would keep us afloat.”
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