Groceries in today. This is the one day of the week that Mike and I intersect reliably in the daytime. I like the process of grocery shopping. I like lugging the food home, propelling it up all those stairs, putting it away. I like the feeling of full cupboards, and thinking about what I will make out of everything. It is a little shameful to think about food. Kind of the way we used to look at sex, I think. Yes one does it, but thinking about a lot is kind of unacceptable. Well. I think about things.
I have been reading a wonderful book! It is a biography of James Fitzjames. He was the second under Franklin on Erebus that last horrible time. After Franklin's death he was CO of Erebus, and Crozier's opposite number. (Francis Crozier retained command of the Terror, until they were forced to leave her.
Nobody is exactly sure when Fitzjames died, or what became of his remains. Some of the bones found scattered around may be his. I have not gotten as far as the Arctic with him yet. Nobody is quite sure who his mother was, or where his family came from. He never said. He did not know his mother. He may have been a bastard. (which expalins the 'Fitz' thing.) His father may have been James Gambier. Fitzjames spoke fluent Portuguese as a child. He seems to have been born in the Bahamas. The author, who was diligent in research, seems puzzled by this. Fitzjames entered the Navy in 1825, just at the intersection of sail and steam. Fitzjames was rated mid without the requisite time served. He was on a very early steam vessel that made a hapless expedition up the Basra river. He fought in the first opium war and broke his leg. He got shot in the back at some point and then got malaria while he recovered from that. And he captained a sailing ship which had a pet cheetah that used to climb the rigging! Cheetah eventually attacked him from the back as stood on the Q-deck. It has such a good grip on him that it had to be removed with a crowbar! We know all this because Fitzjames wrote wonderful funny letters-- lots of them. And he illustrated them with pen and ink, or even watercolors.
He thought he was going to have the command of Erebus. But at the very last minute John Franklin was given the top spot. This seems to have been a favor from the elderly Barrow. We all know what happened after that. So regrettable. I can feel confident now, that Fitzjames faced it bravely, and did his best for those serving under him. The book has given me a peek into his personality. He would have done his best.
The book is called: 'James Fitzjames, the mystery man of the Franklin Expedition.'
I know you all have reading lists to the sky. But this one is amazing.
Well. the sun is going down. I am off to think about filling those ramekins.