We were in Seattle once, start of a 101-adventure, ending in San Francisco. One day is too short for getting familiar with a big city, but we enjoyed it. The weirdest part of the visit was the encounter with American gun culture. We entered a nice multicultural market under the Space Tower, with great food and interesting people. At the entrance we were struck by a sign prohibiting bearing fire arms on the premises. ‘Ah, we are in the US of Arms’, I remember saying. After that we haven’t seen one single weapon, apart from those of police officers in their holsters, and only met nice, interesting, peaceful people. During the magnificent journey I had 47 conversations with 65 people of divergent backgrounds, 64 white, one Chinese. It is very easy to talk with Americans. Two other memories attached to Seattle are the shop of the Sunrise Visitor Center near Mount Rainier where a man came to me while I was trying hats and said ‘you are definitely a hat guy’, and a terrible crash of a huge van-trailer combination on the 410, after loss of control caused by an exploding tire. It could have ended below in Death Valley, or at least in the trees. But no casualties.

Your description of your family reminds me of the novels by Anne Tyler, one of my favorite American novelists. She was particularly good in careful and loving sketches of ‘screwball families’. You probably know her books.

Canetti is of a totally different disposition, of Nobelprize stature. His autobiography encompasses the intellectual history of Europe, his monumental novel ‘Auto da fé’ has been judged as ‘grotesque, ludicrous, remarkable, one of the great novels of the century, savage, subtle, beautiful, mysterious, strange, eloquent and terrifying’. It has overwhelmed me, came back to me in nightmares for years, what confirms the high quality of the book.

After consultation of my holiday diary for the 410-accident I just now travelled back in time to the unforgettable Lost Coast, but that is another story.

As is the matter of spirituality. I am probably too pragmatic, level-headed, rationalistic and may be male too understand the attraction of the Pagan path. I hope it brings you everything you need in that domain. It is and will be platform 8 ½ for me.

Friend of life and beauty and foe of spoilers of life and beauty. Golden marriage. Grandfather. Pianist and micro poet. Dutch, European.

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