When I could not go to school during one or another of conflicts in Shanghai, I stayed home and read. Shanghai had thousands of refugees from other conflicts in Europe and one, a Russian emigre, ran an English-language lending library. When the British and Americans departed Shanghai, Mihail found himself with a houseful of books and no borrowers. I forget how I knew him, but I wound up benefiting from his misfortune. He allowed me to take out any number of books I wanted and as often as I wanted, all free of charge.
Ray Bradbury was one of my discoveries. My nose was so deeply buried in his stories that whenever the American warplanes roared overhead to bomb parts of the city, I had to be dragged to the family’s improvised air raid shelter. As soon as the All Clear sounded, I was back at Ray Bradbury. The month of October belonged to him. He summoned up autumnal scenarios and spirit wraiths and windblown leaves that changed colors as they scuttered along the earth, and I remained immersed in the strange lands he conjured up until I was fully grown and then beyond.
Imagine, then, my awe at actually seeing and hearing the man himself at the Asilomar Writers Conference! A mild-appearing man with more than a hint of blarney in him, he recounted a visit to Ireland, where he heard (he swore) a banshee’s eerie call, which he delivered with suitable Gaelic theatrics. I could not stop smiling. He might have noticed, I don’t know.
Bijou is bundled up on my lap asleep after his bath with special (“For Dogs, Cats and Horses”) shampoo. His treatment for ringworm continues for another three weeks. The boy is growing fast, eats so much his belly is the biggest part of him. He will eat only wet food but I have begun seeding it with kibble. This kitten so far refuses to be weaned though the vet tells me it should be accomplished at eight weeks. But this little guys wants his milk when he wants it. Ray Bradbury, help!