It’s Tuesday – Where Am I?

Fodor recently ran an article about Disney World in the time of the pandemic, with visitors needing to be more organized and more patient. Disney is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this year, and I remember my advance planning years ago with two children anxious to see it all. I had maps, diagrams, routes from one park to another, places to eat with reservations at the Disney version of fast food places. Back then, no Fast Pass existed, but staying at a hotel in the park gave the customer an extra early hour to start queuing up. Each hour brought more frantic hurry to get through and get it done. Later in life I joined European tours with each day preplanned, hour by hour, popular tourist spots carefully timed, each hour strategically organized to see the most, the best, the fastest.

I don’t remember not having a schedule, and not being in a hurry, so now I dream of going back alone – strolling quiet streets in Provence, wandering the outdoor market to pick up some herbs, stopping to pick up a baguette and some cheese, or wandering down the steps of Portofino to my favorite small bakery for a breakfast of almond cake and an espresso before checking on the ferry to Capri with no worry about germs spreading and attacking me as I breathe in the air. Will it ever happen?

Capri

Tours seem too full of people to be safe; I often caught a cold on a packed bus traveling from one attraction to the next. Maybe with a mask, disinfectant, cleaning spray, and whatever other mitigation efforts the tour companies are hawking these days, it would be safer, but I would be no less anxious. Maybe this will all pass and be remembered only as a nightmare, someday. It’s hard to know how many years we can endure the strain – has it been almost two years now? Patience has never been my forte.

In the meantime, I dream about walking isolated streets and beaches, and try to read about whatever will help me escape, but it isn’t easy. Lately, some of the books I’ve finished include:

Bewilderment by Richard Powers – good writing never goes out of style, and the Pulitzer Prize winner returns with a heavy tome examining Artificial Intelligence, grief, and our brains. The hope of new worlds and a better environment seem timely. Not for everyone, but I’m glad I read it. If you want more, try the review by NPR’s Heller McAlpin – https://www.npr.org/2021/09/21/1039090479/richard-powers-bewilderment-review

The Stranger Behind You by Carol Goodman – a Gothic mystery thriller from one of my favorite authors

Apples Never Fall by Lianne Moriarty – this author never disappoints with her unexpected plot twists and surprise ending. The story reminded me of Maria Semple’s “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” but with a touch of “Gone Girl.” The ending seems to be a little too long after the big reveal but my friend tells me it has already been optioned for a TV movie/series.

I am almost finished reading the new Anthony Doerr book – Cloud Cuckoo Land and it is a faster read than I expected. Actually, cloud cuckoo land sounds like a good place to be right now.

What are you reading to escape?

Mary Poppins and Saving Mr. Banks

9780152058104_p0_v1_s260x420After watching Emma Thompson’s portrayal of author P.L. Travers in Disney’s “Saving Mr. Banks,” I researched the truth of the story in articles by the New Yorker – Becoming Mary Poppins – and in the New York Times.  Satisfied that Hollywood had not strayed too much from the truth – except that Walt Disney never escorted Travers to Disneyland, nor bonded with her over their fathers, nor sweet-talked her through the rights to the story – and he conveniently omitted Jane and Michael’s younger siblings.

When I looked for the children’s books in our library system, I found a series and started with the first, appropriately named “Mary Poppins.”  Each chapter offers another adventure – many mirrored by Julie Andrews in the Disney movie: Mary Poppins gliding up the bannister, Mary and Bert jumping into the chalk drawing for a wonderful adventure, Mary’s laughing uncle serving tea on the ceiling, the bird woman with her chant – “Feed the birds. Tuppence a bag.”  Other adventures were new, but no less endearing and fun to read: the talking dog, the sauntering Red Cow who met the King who advised her to jump over the moon – and beautiful illustrations by Mary Shepard.

No singing in the book, and, of course, no animation of the talking animals, but sweet sayings that sounded familiar: “spit-spot, don’t dawdle, that is as it may be…”  And, that good feeling from reading a lovely children’s story full of adventure and fantasy.  Mary Poppins does leave in the end of this book, flying away under her umbrella, just as she does in the movie.  But she comes back; Travers followed this first book with several more.  Three are waiting for me at the library, and I can’t wait to read them.

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Leaving on a Jet Plane…Disney Update

I’d seen the movie; it was a long flight, with little hope of sleep, so I started the paperback. Eric van Lustbader’s “Last Snow.”

McClure, the President’s old friend, trusted confidante, and special assistant – who saved the President’s daughter in a previous book ( I did not read) – finds himself in the middle of murder, espionage, and intrigue with, of course, a beautiful Russian spy. Got me through the night.

At Disney, I found books in my room – but not what I expected – pictures of Moby Dick, Pride and Prejudice, Alice in Wonderland, and The Wind in the Willows.

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