More driving, The same 250 miles up and then my husband wants to drive right back. I hope to change his mind on this and come back tomorrow, but we shall see.

We are going to #2 daughter’s senior recital, and I am very excited about that. Her junior recital was very good, and the senior recital is a bigger deal. I am taking her a really beautiful dress, and lots of good wishes from her old friends here, and I think she will knock ’em dead.

The driving is another matter. While I am not feeling as bad about it as in the past — I am, for example, quite sure that I will be able to get there and back, and will not have to look for a job in Joplin because I cannot drive over the freeway off ramp — I am still rather stressed.

Here is what I have done as a result of that stress: eaten ice cream, snapped at my kids, awakened in the middle of the night in a panic, worried at length over numerous improbable dangers to myself and family members (I don’t recommend any of these responses to stress), prayed, reminded myself that I have actually timed the scary bits of the road and even the dread Exit 11A in Joplin only lasts 57 seconds, and gotten well prepared. Partygirl offered me a St. Christopher medal, and assured me that angels will be with me.

#2 daughter thinks I will get over the stress by constantly driving over long distances with scary roads. “Immersion!” she cackled last weekend as she drove over entirely unnecessary bridges, while I held the map up and said crossly that there were no bridges between us and our destination. But she could be right.

With any luck, my husband will do most of the driving, and I can just keep my eyes on my knitting.

This book is a Victorian travel guide. My all-time favorite travel guides — Three Men in a Boat and Three Men on the Bummel — are also examples of this genre. In fact, the Victorian era was in many ways the heyday of the travel guide. It was a time when you could expect, if you wrote a travel guide, that many people would be able to buy and read your book, but few would be able to go to the places you were describing. Nor would they have cameras or TV to see those places with, so you had better make it thorough and interesting.

However, this is not the usual Victorian record of adventures and exotic sights. Rather, it was written for children, with the evident intention of making them as insular and xenophobic as possible.  As the introduction says, “No matter where your ancestors had the misfortune of living… Mrs. Mortimer had something nasty to say about them.” I have only read a few pages of this book so far, but I did check out the Welsh, and found that they were musical and knitted on their way to the market, and the French, who are apparently clever and witty and fond of company, so I am feeling okay about my ancestors so far. Well, she doesn’t approve of the way the French bring up their children, and she says the Welsh are stout, but I will not let this bother me. In fact, I expect to enjoy this book a great deal.

I am also prepared to enjoy my knitting. I have completed the ribbing, and switched to my #2s, and now have 15 inches of unbroken stockinette to do while traveling. #2 daughter remembers — and so do I now that she reminds me — reading about a woman who was knitting with metal needles in a car and they exploded from a build-up of static electricity.

I do not intend to worry about that.

Mrs. Mortimer says that my husband’s people are cruel, cowardly, deceitful, and ugly, but points out in their favor that they do not kill their infants or shut up their wives. It appears that, as an Englishwoman, she disapproved of people in inverse proportion to their proximity to England.