May. 22nd, 2017

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I "slept in" to about 7:15 am, which made picking up the rental truck at 8 am somewhat problematical, so I called the company and rescheduled the pickup. I had to walk the dogs in the rain (which is the only way they will relieve themselves in the morning if it's raining), and it kept raining until almost noon.

There followed a blur of driving about, loading and unloading the truck with help, until it was late afternoon and I received a short rush translation that required fast turnaround.

I had intended to finish the edit this evening, but that turned out to be unnecessary. I will do it tomorrow, after I get some rest.

I have run into an interesting phenomenon associated with memory. As it turns out, I had forgotten a good chunk of The Cremation of Sam McGee (specifically, pretty much everything after "a corpse was all that was left of Sam McGee").

When I tried to "freshen up" my recollection a couple of days ago, it was like trying to stir cold molasses. Then yesterday, suddenly, stuff started to "stick," and I'm at a loss to explain what in my environment had changed to make that happen.

The poem is, if memory serves (that's a good one!), the second most recent of Robert W. Service's works that I've committed to memory. The most recent is The Ballad of Blasphemous Bill, and I think my lack of progress is that, past the words "...river and peak and plain / Passed like a dream I slept to lose and I waked to dream again" the poem really doesn't do much for me.

On the other hand, the first few stanzas are really a lot of fun. The opening line quickly gets the listener's attention:
I took a contract to bury the body of blasphemous Bill MacKie,
And one could almost create a series of loci for memorization from the various ways the narrator enumerates the ways his clients might die:
Whether he die in the light o’ day or under the peak-faced moon;
In cabin or dance-hall, camp or dive, mucklucks or patent shoon;
On velvet tundra or virgin peak, by glacier, drift or draw;
In muskeg hollow or canyon gloom, by avalanche, fang or claw;
By battle, murder or sudden wealth, by pestilence, hooch or lead—
Then there are the various aspects described of the "Yukon wild when it's sixty-nine below":
When the ice-worms wriggle their purple heads through the crust of the pale blue snow;
When the pine-trees crack like little guns in the silence of the wood,
And the icicles hang down like tusks under the parka hood;
When the stove-pipe smoke breaks sudden off, and the sky is weirdly lit,
And the careless feel of a bit of steel burns like a red-hot spit;
When the mercury is a frozen ball, and the frost-fiend stalks to kill—
Darn, but it's getting late. Time to hit the rack.



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