The guy sitting beside me was a talker, keen on engaging me as we sat there, waiting for the ground crew to sort out whatever issue had delayed us. A comment here, a question there. I was polite, but kept the discourse brief at the risk of initiating a five and a half hour back and forth complete with supporting pics of his kids and the recent family trip to the Grand Canyon. “Might be a while,”he said. I nodded thoughtfully and offered a non-committal “Hmmm” that could have been interpreted as agreement, distant rumination, or the onset of a stroke. According to the air hostess, we were delayed by “a minor mechanical problem”, something to do with the plane’s right engine. Minor? Engine? I remember reading somewhere that in the event of a catastrophic failure of an engine in flight – caused by, say, an errant flock of unfortunate geese – the other engine was more than capable of compensating for the loss. A plane only needed one engine. The other, it would seem, is just for show. Nevertheless, when the air hostess announced that the issue had been dealt with and we would be taking off soon, I couldn’t help but feel a tad uneasy. A feeling shared by a couple of my fellow passengers who stepped up to the front to voice their concerns. The pilot was on hand to reassure them however. “Believe me,”he said. “If there was something wrong with this plane and I thought it was dangerous to fly, I’d be the first one off.”
So we finally took off, an hour late. My chatty neighbor refocused his attention to the in-flight entertainment, spending the greater part of the trip coughing/chortling his way through Transformers. I read, finishing two books – Jed Mercurio’s incredibly engaging Ascent (described as “A Russian version of the Right Stuff”, it’s the type of book Stargate Exec. Producer Brad Wright would love), and Edmund Cooper’s The Overman Culture (an intriguing plot and an economy of language I enjoyed, but it suffers from acute blandis characteritis).
We, of course, got in late. Fortunately, I was able to skip the long wait at the baggage claim (last time I was in Montreal, I stood around for close to an hour), and head straight to Thrifty car rental where I was informed the car I’d reserved was unavailable but they could offer me either a hybrid (which would necessitate a twenty minute wait) or a Yaris (was this one of those cars that everyone in the old Soviet Union used to drive?) that was available immediately. I took the Yaris and motored off, winding my way through the perenially construction-plagued highway, the rain beating down on my economy glasnost sub-compact. I left sunny Vancouver for this? I rolled up my mother’s driveway some ten minutes later, parked, hopped out bags in tow, and was greeted by mom who warmly welcomed me back, then informed me: “You gained weight” before steering me into the kitchen for dinner: spare ribs, crab mousse, rapini, fried hot peppers, and two types of cheese. She made sure I had snapped a photo of everything before I could start eating.
After dinner, I walked around the house until I was able to pick up the faintest of wireless connections – my laptop has to be about chest-height and pressed up against a westward-facing window, which makes approving blog comments tricky and the prospect of uploading pictures a most daunting prospect. Still – Success!
We turned in for the night at about 11:00 p.m. – my usual bedtime. Except that I was still on West Coast time, which made it 8:00 p.m. So I spent a few hours reading Jeffrey Ford’s The Girl in the Glass. The novel, set in Depression era New York, focuses on a trio of con men who make a living running séance scams – until a seemingly supernatural development thrusts them headlong into a mystery involving a missing young girl, a fellow swindler, and an affluent community‘s dark past. Beautifully written, it’s peopled with joyously colorful characters negotiating their way through a veritable labyrinth of a plot filled with twists, turns, and, a fair sprinkling of Ford’s trademark humor. Regulars to this blog know that I’m a HUGE fan of Jeffrey Ford. Starting on one of his books is always a bittersweet experience for me. On the one hand, I look forward to the experience as he is one of very few authors who has never let me down. On the other hand, I’m somewhat saddened at the thought that one more book read means one less book to discover. I’ve yet to finish The Girl in the Glass, so I’ll hold off on a final review – but suffice it to say: So far, so excellent.
A quiet day today. Mom made polpettini –
Hey, when’re we hitting Au Pied de Cochon?
Happy 4th of July!