Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Henry, King (died 1024). Today is also the birthday of my daughter’s friend Ashley (1988).
Born in 972 at Albach, Hildesheim, Bavaria, Germany, today’s Saint was the son of Gisella of Burgundy and Henry II the Quarrelsome, Duke of Bavaria. Educated at the cathedral school in Hildesheim by bishop Wolfgang of Regensburg, he became Duke of Bavaria himself in 995 upon his father’s death, which ended Henry’s thoughts of becoming a priest. He ascended to the throne of Germany as King Henry II in 1002, and was crowned King of Pavia, Italy on May 15, 1004. He married Cunigunde of Luxembourg (later a Saint in her own right), but was never a father; some sources claim the two lived celibately, but there is no evidence either way. Henry’s brother rebelled against his power, and Henry was forced to defeat him on the battlefield, but later forgave him, and the two reconciled. Henry was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1014 by Pope Benedict VIII; he was the last of the Saxon dynasty of emperors. He founded schools, quelled rebellions, protected the frontiers, worked to establish a stable peace in Europe, and reformed the Church while respecting its independence. He fostered missions, and established Bamberg, Germany as a center for missions to Slavic countries. Started the construction of the cathedral at Basel, Switzerland; it took nearly 400 years to complete. Both Henry and Saint Cunigunde were prayerful people, and generous to the poor. Following his wife’s death, he considered becoming a monk, but the abbot of Saint-Vanne at Verdun, France refused his application, and told him to keep his place in the world where he could do much good for people and the advancement of God’s kingdom. He is the Patron Saint of kings, of childless people, and of people rejected by religious orders. And today is the birthday of my daughter’s friend Ashley (1988).
I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, and Richard gathered up the trash and wheeled the trash bin out to the curb. On our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading, and said the Seventh Day of my Novena to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Once at the casino I called the pharmacy and renewed two prescriptions, one of which requires a doctor’s approval (that’s one from my Ob/Gyn; I have an appointment with him in two weeks for my yearly). After clocking in, Richard was at first on Let It Ride; after his table closed he changed Blackjack cards, then was on Mississippi Stud for the rest of the day. I was on Three Card Blackjack, and once I closed that table I was on Macau Mini Baccarat. (We only had one Mini Baccarat table open, and due to a request from a guest, it was Macau Mini Baccarat all day.) On my breaks I purchased my plane tickets and my car rental, and sent a text message to Nedra advising her of my travel plans. (She did not answer, but I plan to call her on Wednesday, in honor of St. Swithin’s Day and her birthday.) And on my last break of the day I addressed a birthday card to her.
On our way home we stopped at the pharmacy, and I picked up one prescription. (If the other one has not been called in by my Ob/Gyn’s office by Thursday, I will stop by the office and ask them to call in the prescription.) I also rescheduled my next appointment with the Health Coach from August 3rd to August 10th. When we got home I put the birthday card for Nedra out in the mail, Richard tried using the pump in the back of the truck to pump up the flat tire, and I read the morning paper. I then took a nap; while I slept Richard called our auto garage (more anon) and mowed the grass. (I would not protest at all if Richard was to pay someone to do the mowing; right now, my radio thermometer (the sensor for which lives outside the back door) says it is 99°, while my Galaxy Note 4 says it is 93° with 53% humidity.) I woke up at 4:15 pm, and watched Jeopardy!; then Richard went to get burgers and fries for our dinner, while I got on the computer to do today’s Daily Update.
Tomorrow is the Memorial of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, Virgin (died 1680), and is also Bastille Day, which celebrates the storming of the Bastille Prison in Paris in 1789 (commonly held to be the beginning of the French Revolution) and the first Fête de la Fédération, a celebration to commemorate the first anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille and the unity of the French Nation during the French Revolution, in 1790. We will leave for work half an hour early and sign the Early Out list at the casino. (Today the so-called Breakfast Club of people waiting to sign the List was quite full; one of our dual pits arrived at 2:00 am to find twelve people ahead of her.) On my breaks I will start making my list of stuff to pack for my trip to see Nedra in three weeks. In the afternoon Richard will be waiting on the guys from the garage; they will come get the truck (and him), take the truck to the garage, and put four new tires on the truck, with the best of the old tires will be kept on a locked cable in the back of the truck for a spare. Meanwhile, I will head down to Lafayette; I have books to return to the library and a book to pick up, and I need to see if the government (in its infinite wisdom) will let me purchase some 12-hour pseudoephedrine for Liz Ellen. I will then put in some comfy chair time at Barnes and Noble, and at some point listen to “Bastille Day” by Rush in honor of the holiday. In the evening I will work on Advance Daily Update Drafts for this weblog.
Our Parting Quote on this Monday afternoon is from Nadine Gordimer, South African writer and activist. Born in 1923 near Springs, Gauteng, an East Rand mining town outside Johannesburg, her father was a Jewish immigrant watchmaker from Žagarė (then Russian Empire, now Lithuania), was from an assimilated family of Jewish origins in London. Her father’s experience as a refugee in tsarist Russia helped form Gordimer’s political identity, but he was neither an activist nor particularly sympathetic toward the experiences of black people under apartheid. Conversely, Gordimer saw activism by her mother, whose concern about the poverty and discrimination faced by black people in South Africa ostensibly led her to found a crèche for black children. Gordimer also witnessed government repression first-hand when yet a teenager; the police raided her family home, confiscating letters and diaries from a servant’s room. She was largely home-bound as a child because her mother feared that her daughter had heart trouble. Often isolated, she began writing at an early age, and published her first stories in 1937 at the age of 15. Her first published work was a short story for children, “The Quest for Seen Gold,” which appeared in the Children’s Sunday Express in 1937; “Come Again Tomorrow,” another children’s story, appeared in Forum around the same time. At the age of 16, she had her first adult fiction published. Gordimer studied for a year at the University of the Witwatersrand, where she mixed for the first time with fellow professionals across the colour bar. She also became involved in the Sophiatown renaissance. She did not complete her degree, but moved to Johannesburg in 1948, where she lived thereafter. While taking classes in Johannesburg, she continued to write, publishing mostly in local South African magazines. She collected many of these early stories in Face to Face, published in 1949. In 1951 the New Yorker accepted Gordimer’s story “A Watcher of the Dead”, beginning a long relationship, and bringing Gordimer’s work to a much larger public. Her first publisher, Lulu Friedman, was the wife of the Parliamentarian Bernard Friedman and it was at their house, “Tall Trees” in First Avenue, Lower Houghton, Johannesburg, that Gordimer met other anti-apartheid writers. In 1949 she married Gerald Gavron, a local dentist, and gave birth to a daughter in 1950; she and Gavron divorced in 1952. Her first novel, The Lying Days, was published in 1953. In 1954 she married Reinhold Cassirer, a highly respected art dealer who established the South African Sotheby’s and later ran his own gallery. The arrest of her best friend, Bettie du Toit, in 1960 and the Sharpeville massacre spurred Gordimer’s entry into the anti-apartheid movement. Thereafter, she quickly became active in South African politics. She joined the African National Congress when it was still listed as an illegal organization by the South African government. While never blindly loyal to any organization, Gordimer saw the ANC as the best hope for reversing South Africa’s treatment of black citizens. Rather than simply criticizing the organization for its perceived flaws, she advocated joining it to address them. She hid ANC leaders in her own home to aid their escape from arrest by the government, and was close friends with Nelson Mandela’s defence attorneys (Bram Fischer and George Bizos) during his 1962 trial. She also helped Mandela edit his famous speech “I Am Prepared To Die”, given from the defendant’s dock at the trial. During the 1960s and 1970s, she continued to live in Johannesburg, although she occasionally left for short periods of time to teach at several universities in the United States. She had begun to achieve international literary recognition, receiving her first major award in 1961. Throughout this time, Gordimer continued to demand through both her writing and her activism that South Africa re-examine and replace its long held policy of apartheid. She achieved lasting international recognition for her works, most of which dealt with political issues, as well as the “moral and psychological tensions of her racially divided home country.” Virtually all of Gordimer’s works dealt with themes of love and politics, particularly concerning race in South Africa. Always questioning power relations and truth, Gordimer told stories of ordinary people, revealing moral ambiguities and choices. Her characterization was nuanced, revealed more through the choices her characters made than through their claimed identities and beliefs. She also weaved in subtle details within the characters’ names. Gordimer collected the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for A Guest of Honour in 1971. The Booker Prize was awarded to Gordimer for her 1974 novel, The Conservationist, and was a co-winner with Stanley Middleton’s novel Holiday. During this time, the South African government banned several of her works, two for lengthy periods of time. The Late Bourgeois World was Gordimer’s first personal experience with censorship; it was banned in 1976 for a decade by the South African government. A World of Strangers (1958) was banned for twelve years. Other works were censored for lesser amounts of time. Burger’s Daughter, published in June 1979, was banned one month later; the Publications Committee’s Appeal Board reversed the censorship of Burger’s Daughter six months later, determining that the book was too one-sided to be subversive. Gordimer responded to this decision in Essential Gesture (1988), pointing out that the board banned two books by black authors at the same time it unbanned her own work. July’s People (1981) was also banned under apartheid, and faced censorship under the post-apartheid government as well. When Mandela was released from prison in 1990, Gordimer was one of the first people he wanted to see. In 2001 a provincial education department temporarily removed July’s People from the school reading list, along with works by other anti-apartheid writers, describing July’s People as “deeply racist, superior and patronizing”—a characterization that Gordimer took as a grave insult, and that many literary and political figures protested. She said that the proudest day of her life was when she testified at the 1986 Delmas Treason Trial on behalf of 22 South African anti-apartheid activists. Throughout these years she also regularly took part in anti-apartheid demonstrations in South Africa, and traveled internationally speaking out against South African apartheid and discrimination and political repression. Gordimer’s activism was not limited to the struggle against apartheid. She resisted censorship and state control of information, and fostered the literary arts. She refused to let her work be aired by the South African Broadcasting Corporation because it was controlled by the apartheid government. Her works began achieving literary recognition early in her career, with her first international recognition in 1961, followed by numerous literary awards throughout the ensuing decades. Literary recognition for her accomplishments culminated with the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991, which noted that Gordimer “through her magnificent epic writing has—in the words of Alfred Nobel—been of very great benefit to humanity”. Gordimer also served on the steering committee of South Africa’s Anti-Censorship Action Group. A founding member of the Congress of South African Writers, Gordimer was also active in South African letters and international literary organizations. She was Vice President of International PEN. Gordimer’s resistance to discrimination extended to her even refusing to accept “shortlisting” in 1998 for the Orange Prize, because the award recognizes only women writers.In the post-apartheid 1990s and 21st century, Gordimer was active in the HIV/AIDS movement, addressing a significant public health crisis in South Africa. Her 2002 novel won the Pickup Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for the Best Book from Africa and was on the Booker Prize longlist. In 2004, she organized about 20 major writers to contribute short fiction for Telling Tales, a fundraising book for South Africa’s Treatment Action Campaign, which lobbied for government funding for HIV/AIDS prevention and care. On this matter, she was critical of the South African government, noting in 2004 that she approved of everything President Thabo Mbeki had done except his stance on AIDS. While on lecture tours, she spoke on matters of foreign policy and discrimination beyond South Africa. In 2005, when Fidel Castro fell ill, Gordimer joined six other Nobel prizewinners in a public letter to the United States warning it not to seek to destabilize Cuba’s communist government. Get a Life, written in 2005 after the death of her long-time spouse, Reinhold Cassirer, is the story of a man undergoing treatment for a life-threatening disease. While clearly drawn from personal life experiences, the novel also continues Gordimer’s exploration of political themes. In 2006 Gordimer was attacked in her home by robbers, sparking outrage in the country. Gordimer apparently refused to move into a gated complex, against the advice of some friends. That same year Robert Suresh Roberts published No Cold Kitchen, an unauthorized biography of Gordimer; she had granted him interviews and access to her personal papers, but they disagreed on his treatment of various incidents in her past and her politics. Her last book, No Time Like the Present, was published in 2012; besides her novels, she published nonfiction, essays, and several collections of her short stories (died 2014): “The gap between the committed and the indifferent is a Sahara whose faint trails, followed by the mind’s eye only, fade out in sand.”