Sunday, September 24, 2023


Winter is rapidly approaching here, and I'm already turning on the heat. This house is cooler than the one in Middlebury, because it is at a 200-foot-higher elevation and is surrounded by woods rather than paved roads. I never turned on the air conditioning all summer. I've cleared out a lot of junk from the shed and it now has enough space for both the tractor and a snow blower. I will be buying a very fancy new Honda snow blower, because I didn't like the cheap one that we had in Middlebury. It was poorly designed and cumbersome to operate. I'm not completely finished with mouse-proofing, but have blocked at least four confirmed entrances. In the evening I walk around the outside of the house, and I've seen mice trying to get in. After I blocked the hole on the porch, they started to get in through unsealed openings in the eaves. They prefer ground-level openings, but are good climbers. Since this is a log cabin, they have plenty of traction. There is very little mouse activity in the house currently, and I may be down to the last mouse. The mice aren't making it into the inhabited parts of the house, so they must be finding their food outside. I haven't caught any in the last day, but there is still at least one behind a wall. At the point when the house is well-sealed, the last mice may become trapped inside. There is a one-way mouse exit door in the attic that was installed by exterminators, but I don't think that the mice have figured out how to use it. Eventually they'll be caught in a trap.

I'm doing somewhat better at self-entertainment now. I recently discovered the early films of Hal Hartley, whom I had never heard of, and enjoyed them a lot. Although he himself is a little dated now, he revived the alienated-male theme in the late 1980's. But, unlike the Marlon Brando and James Dean characters of the 1950's, Hartley's men are very smart and just dislike the life models with which they are expected to conform. I particularly enjoyed "The Unbelievable Truth," which features an ex-con's romance with a high school girl who has just been accepted at Harvard. There is a sort of hyperreality to the script, and the characters express themselves very clearly, warts and all. It comes closer to the family reality that I experienced when I was growing up than what you see in most films. You see family members with distinct personalities expressing themselves clearly. I also enjoyed "The Eight Mountains," which is a new Italian film. This is more specifically about males and their relationships with other males. Two boys meet in the Italian Alps and are separated but meet again as adults. They each have difficult relationships with their fathers. Pietro grows up in Turin and becomes a writer. Bruno prefers the mountains and attempts to live there. Later, Bruno ends up marrying Pietro's girlfriend, but they remain on good terms. Pietro travels to Nepal and meets a woman there. In the end, Bruno's mountain business fails and his wife leaves him. He stays at their cabin in the mountains over the winter and dies there. This is a much more nuanced film than the Hartley ones and explores male-male relationships carefully. The pace is very slow, and I watched it in several viewings. It has been refreshing for me to see depictions of the difficulties that men face. It isn't a popular theme, because men are just supposed to be tough and handle it. But men have emotional lives that can be just as complex as those of women, and the women always seem to drown them out with their self-pity. One other film that I just saw was "Gaslight," with Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman. The story line isn't all that exciting, but the acting is extremely good. The same economic and social evolution that has degraded the arts generally has equally affected film quality for the worse. I guess that there must be some good new independent films, but I don't want to sift through them all. Middlebury has a film festival every year, but I haven't checked it out.

It currently looks as if I will have some good reading material over the next few months, so I'll have things to discuss on the blog. In other respects, my life is relatively static, except I'll be attending my nephew's wedding in Connecticut in a few weeks.

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