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The Pursuit of Love

Duty has compelled me to rise at 6 in the morning and drive to the office for THREE CONSECUTIVE DAYS. An in-person meeting required my assistance and of course I am happy to oblige. However, I will own that the long hours in my isolated little cubicle–no cats, no music, and no well-stocked kitchen to stroll into–have become a little tedious.
I have managed to sustain myself by reflecting on the fine show providing my evening entertainment this week: Amazon’s The Pursuit of Love, a very entertaining version of Nancy Mitford’s excellent book. Tarted up with modern pop songs and supported by world class acting, it is a lot of fun.

And I was pleased that two of the quotes I remember from the book are included! First was the rather desolate scene where the desperately bored young women are discussing the time–“What time do you think it is?” “5 o’clock?” “No, better than that!” “5:30?” No, not quite so good–5:15.”
Devastating.

And then the scene at the dinner table when Fanny is humiliated by her uncle who scorns her answer to his question about George III, and Linda pipes up with some factoid, ending with the completely irrelevant but charming “I am his highness’ dog at Kew, pray tell me sir whose dog are you?”
The naughty neighbor Lord Merlin–with his dyed pigeons, cadre of scandalous friends, and elegantly furnished estate– has some splendid scenes.

He and Uncle Davey are dependable fine characters, and it is always so amusing to understand they not only know each other well, they are very comfortable together. They are a part of that tightly knit group of peers who went to school together–and call each other by idiotic nicknames (Piggy, Snouty, etc–though actually that is more Wodehouse country than Mitford).
I have seen two of the three episodes–and have met Linda’s disastrous husbands 1 and 2, the tedious (but handsome) banker and the cold hearted (but handsome) communist.

I look forward to meeting her wonderful (and VERY handsome!) third tonight, the Duc de Sauveterre!

The other day I was NOT feeling 100 percent, and after work, I took a short nap. It was the sort of malaise that definitely proscribes the normal evening glass of wine, and it turned out that dinner was also not recommended. So after dozing for a bit, I turned to Roku for comfort. Did I wish to ‘continue watching’ asked Roku, displaying a long list of shows I’ve cast an eye over.
Well, there was Daniel Deronda, a very agreeable costumer, and based on a book I liked. The title character is played by Hugh Dancy, a very sweet faced young man.

Gwendolen was played by the ravishing Romola Garai, and the menacing Henleigh Grandcourt by Hugh Bonneville, long before before he charmed us all as the genial duke of Grantham

Really, what’s not to like?
But one thing about George Eliot, brilliant though she is–not very light hearted. VERY earnest.

And I thought, I need comfort, not inspiration.
So I turned to Blandings, supremely silly Blandings. Imbecilic Lord Emsworth worrying about his prize pig, the Empress, who is broken hearted when her keeper is arrested for idiotic drunken capers, and GOOD GOD, she may not win the Fattest Pig of Shropshire contest! Truly silly stuff, and when I add that James Norton struts in as Jimmy Belford, the British Cowboy (who knows the magical pig call “pig-hoo-o-o-o-ey” which no pig can resist), I think you can understand why I told Roku to make it so, and leaned back on the sofa to be entertained.
And was also much comforted.

I shall return to Mr. Deronda once I regain full strength.

Newsworthy

In Florida last Saturday, there was a man who suddenly needed candles–FRAGRANT candles. Perhaps a gift for his wife? Perhaps his house had a nasty stink and he thought that a draft of eucalyptus mint (pleasantly sharp, with a winter undertone), or perhaps lemongrass sage (a fresh herb garden combo) would bring it back to a more amiable freshness.
In any case, he went to the Bath and Bodyworks at the local mall and gathered up a collection of candles in a bag he had prudently brought along for the purpose.
Then he took out his can of bear mace and started spraying the other customers.
Why? Perhaps he was just in the mood for a little mayhem? Perhaps he felt disinclined to pay for the candles?–they are pricey items.

However, it was not because he couldn’t afford to pay, as he had funds enough to pay for the taxi in which he discreetly exited the mall.

https://nypost.com/2021/07/18/florida-man-steals-candles-sprays-everyone-with-bear-mace/

Entranced by the images, I have allowed MS Bing to display pictures on my screen every day. Today it was a Loepa oberthuri moth spreading its unbelievably gorgeous wings against dark green leaves–simply astonishing, that a little creature can casually sport such colors–yellow, coral, blue, purple–arranged in delightful symmetries and delicately inscribed with sinuous black lines.

Truly, this world is filled with treasures.

Amazon offered me this little treasure, and I snapped it up. London, fog (and more fog), horrid murders, ladies and gentlemen in splendid 1900 outfits–really, what more can you ask?
Rupert Everett makes a languorous Sherlock–very beautiful with all that eye makeup and smokey pallor. He is NOT a friendly soul, and is deeply resentful of Watson’s departure–we first see him in an opium den, pipe in mouth, dealing with boredom in the only way he knows how.

This movie did not win great reviews, but was well enough received. The plot involves a nasty and sordid series of murders–and ends with one of those K-K-KRAZY plot twists that many people despise. I find I am able to stand it, particularly as it concerns that astonishingly beautiful actor Michael Fassbender.

Such a pretty fellow–I particularly admired his Mr. Rochester in the 2011 Jane Eyre!
Though honesty constrains me to admit that in this movie he is NOT an admirable character. In fact he–well, WELL–let us not stoop to any heinous spoilers!
However, Sherlock unravels the puzzle, Watson marries his American, and all ends well. Though I fear that Holmes will return to his opium den.

Day of Excitement

This morning I stubbornly would not let Bertie out for his morning nap on the patio. WHY, why, cruel cat owner? Because Bertie had a 10 AM appointment with HELL (AKA the vet), that’s why. I didn’t show him the cat carrier until that fatal moment when I slipped him into it and zipped up the lid. Horrified, he cried out at my betrayal, and continued to make heartbreaking noises of blame and resentment all the way there.
NOTE: I had TOLD him that if he didn’t let me cut his nails, I’d have to get the vet to do it. But he merely answered with what I correctly interpreted as a threat to bite me if I continued. Result: trip to the vet.

However, it was not just the nails, but also an assortment of shots and examinations, and a RATHER STUNNING bill to be paid. To add to the fun, the vet gently pointed out that my other two cats also need their shots.
During the whole procedure I lounged in my car while Bertie faced the music alone. This arrangement has something to do with the pandemic, but I expect that not having to deal with pesky pet owners getting in the way is a pleasant little lagniappe for the team.
Once we were home Bertie settled down, though the other two cats were shocked to smell the ghastly vet stink on him. Little do they know that their own appointments are coming up!
But the day held yet more excitement!
Having exposed Bertie to trauma, it was now my turn to suffer it in my own person: I had a dentist appointment!
The last time I had my teeth cleaned it was in the pleasant old house where my dentist has been attending to teeth since he inherited the business from his father. But he has MOVED! Because why, I don’t know, but I’m going to guess that business was not going so well, and he’s getting old and dentistry these days is getting so techno–so anyway, he has moved into a big building down the street with a younger super trendy dentist. See, when you walk in the door you have to fill in a (not very well-designed) form on a (not very new) computer. And when you get to the bit about how you SWEAR you don’t have this or that fearsome disease, you have to sign each page using the mouse to jitteringly shape lines into a shape that sort of looks like your signature. This is a new one for me. But I persevered! I am strong!
And then, there was my dear familiar dentist (under an assortment of masks and disguises, but it was him) and we started on the procedure. The software Mr. Bleeding Edge Dentist uses is different from the one my old style guy uses, and there was a moment when he had to summon one of the young women (also masked and disguised, but definitely a young woman) to show him where were his x-rays hiding? Which she showed him the button to click and there they were. Then one of the super techno teeth cleaning devices started leaking water onto the floor and my guy again summoned the young woman who wiped it up with a towel. An exciting hour! And then I paid the (again rather stunning) bill and departed.
I am recuperating from all the excitement now with a glass of wine, thank you very much.

Perhaps two.

Tomorrow: NO PLANS.

Onwards to 2034!

I live in a city of trees; the roads are lined with gracious stands of tall trees–huge rustling curtains of green in the summer and intricate patterns of black branches in the winter. And recently, the discerning eye will have distinguished a pattern of brown spots in the foliage of some–but not all– of them. These dead patches are the result of mother cicadas cutting gashes in the twigs and laying their eggs in them. They prefer some trees to others, and totally eschew evergreens. Their favored trees have become nurseries to flocks of cicadas, who will shortly hatch from their eggs, and drop to the ground where they will tunnel down and feed on the sap from tree roots for SEVENTEEN YEARS.
As I drove to my class yesterday, I examined the brown patches, and thought, how modestly the hordes of cicadas have marked the trees. These few brown patches are all there is of a generation who toiled underground for SEVENTEEN YEARS in order to gloriously emerge for this very purpose! Who then carpeted the ground with their little corpses.

But of course, a new generation will emerge!
And I will be 90 then, should I be lucky enough to still live on this blessed earth.

Cadfael

Bravely continuing the effort to heave myself into more elegant territory and eschew COMPLETELY SILLY Disney shows (well, except Loki, which is irresistible) I am dipping into Britbox. MANY of these shows are not as you might say NEW, but my memory is not as keen as once it was, and I am able to rewatch them without distress.
And even with delight!
For, as I watched a tonsured and cowled Derek Jacob confronting a woman he had loved in his youth, I suddenly remembered what comes next. There they stand, the ageing couple, in Cadfael’s charming herbarium–and he tells her that he is sworn to God now. And she is regretful, as is he, but he perseveres and they are reconciled–and he says something and she laughs–and suddenly she is transformed; we can see the lovely girl in the old woman’s face. And he smiles, and they say goodbye, and she leaves–but as she walks down the garden path, the breeze stirs her white veil behind her in a completely graceful swaying motion. As Cadfael watches from the window, his heart heavy.

Almost 30 years ago, and I still remember being enchanted by the little scene and the veil, as I was last night.
Ladies, we gave up a powerful ally when we discarded veils. Just saying.
The OTHER thing about the Cadfael episodes is that they are peopled with all the darling actors that we know so well from subsequent BBC series–but they are young! Not famous yet! In this very episode (Monk’s Hood) the young man saved by Cadfael from being falsely executed for the murder looked very familiar.
Well YES! He played Edmund Bertram in Mansfield Park in 1999, and Mr. Knightley in Emma in 2009, and has been in many detectoring shows: Jonny Lee Miller.

He was only 22 when he played Edwin Gurney, saved from hanging by Cadfael.
And the lovely lass that Cadfael saves from forced marriage to the wicked count (in The Leper of Saint Giles) is played by Tara Fitzgerald, her pretty face so familiar from so many shows.

And all the others, so many beloved faces!
You know, actors are often self centered and selfish beings, and often thoughtless and foolish–but we thank them and bless them despite their flaws. They entertain us through the darkest moments of our lives, and give us joy and laughter when all else fails.

After much agonized consideration–it’s a LOT of money!–I agreed to a contract with a tree company, and even now a team of muscular young men is hoisting ladders and trimming dead branches off my trees. ALSO cutting down 3 monstrously overgrown junipers that have been casting their baleful shade over my back garden–and one that has been just as outrageous in the front garden. All four are the kind of bush that is dead at the heart with a deceptive green frill at the outer edges.
The growl of expensive electric tools fills the air blended with the happy chatter of the young men.
I feel I should reassure my trees–they will feel MUCH better after the work is done, more vigorous, more beautiful!
Except for the junipers. But they had a good life, all 4 were thriving when I moved in almost 25 years ago. Ave atque vale ancient junipers!

I WENT TO WORK TODAY! In person!
The drive was uneventful aside from the grim mess they’re making of Massachusetts Avenue: trucks everywhere and rows of bright orange barriers. Not to mention that every tree from Rock Creek to Dupont Circle is trapped inside a tight square of wire fencing–with barbed wire on top. What–did they try to escape? At least after I drove past the circle, the trees were free and unconfined once more. Arriving at the office, I parked (parking is free until the fall!) and showed proof of vaccination to the guard–thus winning the little green bracelet which provides freedom from mandatory masking. It was VERY quiet in the building, but there were a couple people to chat with. After lunch, I hastened back home in order to run a Zoom meeting scheduled for this afternoon. Because my office computer is innocent of camera OR microphone as required by Zoom.
The cats welcomed me home! Not realizing that the paradise they have been enjoying for the past year and a half is now OVER.

It was an EXHAUSTING DAY:

  1. I got up an hour earlier to allow for the 45 minute commute.
  2. I packed my lunch in a brown paper bag. It was not the best of lunches, but not the worst either.
  3. Not that I ever used it, but the coffee machine was GONE from our kitchen: a shock.
  4. I wore a dress, nylon stockings, and heeled shoes. They were not unbearably uncomfortable but I removed them the moment I got home.
  5. I am now ready for a nap.

IN OTHER NEWS, I have made a little video of a nursery school rhyme, here. It is only a minute or so and will not keep you from more important concerns for long.
Question: will I have time for such things now that I am returning to the office?
Well, as I am only planning to go in two days a week, I believe I MIGHT be able to keep up.

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