We’re going there together

Published 6:26 am Wednesday, November 18, 2009

“Franz Kafka is for me one of the last, and therefore perhaps one of the greatest, because closest to us, of mankind’s religious and ethical teachers.” — Gustav Janouch

Patricia Hampl was in Austin not that long ago. Some of you may remember her white dog that accompanied her. The dog spent most his or her time with the gentleman who joined her.

She signed my book and wrote inside the cover, “All things good to know are difficult to learn.” — A Greek Proverb or possibly I borrowed it from somewhere.

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The lettering of her signature doesn’t quite match the lettering of the proverb.

She first traveled to Prague in 1975 while it was still in the “arms” of the Soviets. This came to an end with the help of the dissident Vaclav Havel.

Hampl’s friend Jaromil says, “You know the Czechs have a different sense of humor. I went to a movie here, and there was a scene that takes place in a new suburb. The apartment buildings are all tall and modern and everything is finished. But there are no sidewalks anywhere. Everything is mud. The people in the film just put on galoshes to walk from their cars to the apartments then they must pull off the galoshes and put their shoes back on. Every time they go anywhere this happens. In Prague during the film, everyone is laughing so hard — they’re on the floor. It’s so funny, you can’t hear what the actors are saying — everyone is laughing. Then later, I saw this same movie in London at a film festival. And nobody laughs. It’s not funny. I laughed, but nobody else thinks it’s funny. It’s Kafka.”

So much for Hampl, she did give me a new addition of A Romantic Education that night, and you suppose I can find it.

Friday night we attended the fundraiser for the nature center at the Corcoran Center. I couldn’t believe all the people. The food was delicious, and the service was excellent. Wine was included, white wine. I tried to balance the spending, purchasing the tickets, with Jeanne bidding on the items.

Leo Reding’s tackle box and tackle was a sight to behold, at least to my eyes and others. It contained the fishing gear I grew up with. With the fishing gear in the box a person could be content for the remainder of one’s years. While dreaming of what these plugs could do on Prairie Lake, I overheard an observer saying the baits could be hung up on a wall, like a decoration. This was alarming to me, but I suspect that was an option.

Some highlights for me visiting with Skyler, and Casey’s seventh-grade retired English teacher, was visiting. And then there was the Prairie Chicken “dance” that was quite intriguing.

Sunday afternoon, I accompanied Jeanne to Richard Knowlton’s Points of Difference, Transforming Hormel book launch celebration. All the proceeds of the book will be dedicated to support Austin Public Education. Mr. Knowlton was signing books Monday at the SPAM museum and at the Coffee House on Main Tuesday.

Obama ends his events in China today and will be traveling to Seoul, South Korea and will continue on Thursday before returning to Washington. According to the Star Tribune, Obama was forced to acknowledge that a comprehensive climate deal was beyond reach this year.

Now we will have to see what happens with the health care issue. I wonder how many legislators have read the 1,999-page bill the House presented.

I talked to a “regular” Monday in the Coffee House on Main on my way out after turning in my coffee cup and reading more of Hampl’s A Romantic Education. She questioned the complexity kids face today growing up and how they are caught up with the high tech equipment that is swallowing the joy of nature or the adventure of reading a book or sitting on a bank of the Turtle Creek with a fishing pole and a can of worms.

Charlie Rose had on Linda Gates as a guest the other night, Bill Gates’ wife, and she talked about what a great teacher is. She also described a time they were traveling somewhere by car, and she expressed concern about the route they was taking when Bill said, “Wherever we’re going, we’re going there together.”

That’s who they are.