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I’m sure you will all be STRUCK DUMB when you learn that I defied fate and traveled on an airplane! To Los Angeles and back! This terrifying voyage–which I have in fact taken many times before, now I come to think of it–allowed me to visit my darling grandson and his family.
I’m sure you’re bursting with questions about traveling in these perilous times!

Question 1: Any changes in the airport routine?
Answer: Driving to the Washington DC airport is now much more picturesque, as thoughtful officials have removed all those vulgar signs indicating the route to the airport. Luckily everyone already knows the way!

Question 2: How do we eat those delicious airline snacks while wearing masks?
Answer: We remove our masks! See, it turns out that the covid germs politely refrain from infecting us when we eat or drink.

Question 3: What if by some totally UNLIKELY quirk, I don’t set my alarm and thus awaken much later than planned for my flight home?
Answer: Not to worry! By dint of heart stopping exertion and frantic endeavour, You CAN make it to the airport in time! And in only a very few days, you will have recovered from the fright.

Question 4: Was it worth it?
Answer: YES! I loved every minute of it! Already thinking about my next trip.

Having received my magical vaccinations, I have now begun to cautiously dip a toe into the exciting activities available to a lady of courage and high heart.
There was a story in the paper about such experiences: “I sat inside a restaurant. Incredible. I nearly wept when they brought me the menu.” YES! These once quotidien moments are now brilliant ceremonies to be noted in our diaries!
Dear friends, I went SHOE SHOPPING!

This humble pursuit used to be a standard part of my life. “I’m in the mood for SHOES,” I would warble as I sped to the shoe shop, “Long as I have this money–funny but with this money, I’m in the mood for shoes!”
For the past year I have not entered a shoe shop.
Nor any other kind of shop, excepting the grocery store and the hardware store.
Well, OK–and the liquor store.
So on Saturday I ventured into DSW. Everyone was masked–we are decent folk here in Maryland–but otherwise, it seemed pretty much the same as ever.
Except for one MAJOR change: serried ranks of sport shoes now held sway in the area once dedicated to deliriously modish confections–those adorable items with their ridiculous 5 inch heels, precious sparkles, and cunning ornamentation.

As I had come for sport shoes, I could not fault DSW, but in my heart I mourned the exile of those fabulous creatures. Which I used to try on but never bought. Just like all the other ladies, I guess.

I tried on a selection of sensible shoes, but none exactly worked, so I went home empty handed. But very pleased with having spent a pleasant half hour in the shoe shop, just as I used to.

For the last couple of nights I have been captivated by one of the most wonderful movies in the world: My Fair Lady. The songs are all deeply familiar: when I was a child, we had the album of the 1956 show, and played it OFTEN.

The movie was faithful to the show, except that Eliza was played by Audrey Hepburn instead of Julie Andrews –who was pregnant and turned down the role, according to one account. Another said that the studio wanted a bigger star. WHATEVER. Audrey is very beautiful, though her singing was all dubbed.
Cecil Beaton’s famous costumes are AB FAB: Eliza’s magnificent Ascot outfit, bought by Debbie Reynolds for $100,000 back in the 1970’s, recently sold for 4.4 MILLION DOLLARS.

Which does seem rather dear for a DRESS. Of course, there’s the hat and parasol too…
But the whole Ascot scene is simply priceless–the stunning black and white costumes, and Eliza’s beautifully pronounced and completely outrageous Small Talk in which she frankly admits that “gin was mother’s milk” for her aunt. Thus she bewitches the ridiculously handsome Freddy Eynsford-Hill.
And this infatuated fellow is played by none other than JEREMY BRETT, AKA Sherlock Holmes.

He was considerably younger when he walked down the street where she lived.

And best of them all is Rex Harrison as Professor Higgins, with his hooded eyes and magnificent arrogance. WHAT A JERK the man is, and yet, we can’t help but join Eliza in loving him.

I LOVED his delightfully malicious imagining of her comeuppance–when she hammers at his door in tears and rags:
“Poor Eliza. How simply frightful!
How humiliating! …….How…. DELIGHTFUL!”

He’d grown accustomed to her face, you see.

8 years today

Today marks the eighth anniversary of my beloved Lawrence’s death. Eight years ago today we gathered around his bed and waited with him while his life drained away, second by second. It was a terrible miserable day, which I will never forget.
And today I laid flowers on his grave, as I have each year. Military Road, the way to the cemetery (a vision of peace and prosperity despite its name) winds through pleasant neighborhoods and then through Rock Creek park–the trees so tall and proud with their brand new lime green leaves. This is the time of year when the redbud trees bless our city, clouds of tiny blooms the color of delicious raspberry mousse–you could just faint with how lovely they are.
The cemetery is quiet and green, with only the sounds of birdsong and wind.
One day I will lie there beside my darling.

Coco

Once again I resolutely decided to cancel my subscription to Grim Overlord Disney, who so casually fired an actress for her political opinions.
But then–once again….there was Pixar. Such brilliant movies, such dazzling technical virtuosity and bright intelligence. AND such a loving heart.
So, I watched Coco again. It is a simply splendid movie about a little Mexican boy and the Día de los Muertos–WHAT an opportunity for the artists to go KRAZY with elaborately clothed and decorated skeletons.

Which apparently forced Pixar to completely revamp their software so that the clothes worked on bones instead of flesh.
The opening credits are cleverly created through papel picado, those decorative Mexican cutouts that we have all seen in restaurants and bars. While sipping a margarita–or possibly, a refreshing horchata.

On that one precious day of the year, Miguel can enter the wild world of the dead–a booming and colorful metropolis. Plot happens, all skillfully designed and charming to watch. We learn the terrible truth that when someone is forgotten on earth, that person fades to nothing in the world of the dead. That person NO LONGER EXISTS.

But thanks to Miguel, this doesn’t happen to his great great grandfather. And though we weep for the death of Coco, his beloved great grandmother, yet we rejoice that Miguel was able to comfort her.

And how wonderful to live, however briefly, in a world where our beloved dead can visit us, on that one blessed day of the year.

Sigh.
Well friends, I will allow that rampaging monster to continue to collect my $6.99 a month. For the sake of Pixar.

Prince Philip

Rest in peace Prince Philip. You have been part of my world ever since I was born, married to the good queen. It is a sad thing to think of her weeping into her pillow.

These days I am in thrall to the Discovery of Witches series, watching it every night and LISTENING TO the book on my evening walks. If I’m not on the sofa by 8 or so, Sophy comes looking for me. And then I pour myself a tiny wee dram, and settle down. Bertie hastens in to take his place beside me.
SO, what does it begin with, I ask the cats–?

OH YES, it begins with absence and desire.

And then? Well, it ALSO begins with blood and fear.

AND AFTER THAT?
It begins with A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES!
Yay! Onto the excellent opening sequence, with drops of blood falling into a bowl, and fabulous microscopes and horses galloping across a beach–whew.
I LOVE this show.
Honesty compels me to admit that this is not my first viewing. I am now onto the 8th episode in the second season, and there are only two more. Season three has been filmed but will not be available to the ardent fans till the end of the year.
The handsome vampire and his lovely witch TIME TRAVEL! Into 16th century England! I learned that the actress who plays the witch had just had a baby before filming on the second series began, and somehow the costume designers managed to fashion the elaborate Elizabethan outfits in a way that allowed her to nurse her baby in between scenes.

The handsome vampire and his colleagues mostly wear tight trousers and high boots–not historically correct perhaps but VERY popular with the ladies.
As I said, I LOVE this show.

The play’s the thing

I am proud to report that I resisted the shaming impulse to watch a gazillion dollar comic book extravaganza last night–and managed to persuade my proud spirit to relish a Shakespeare play instead!
It was an ancient BBC Comedy of Errors, which addressed the constant audience whinging about the two sets of twins not looking alike by having each set played by the same person. However this ploy was unfortunately not successful, as the never satisfied audiences NOW complained that they couldn’t tell which character he was portraying, the Syracusan or the Ephesian. And as each set of twins is dressed alike, I have to agree.
However, the young master(s) had a familiar look–and by golly, it was Michael Kitchen, well known to us as Mr. Foyle of Foyle’s War–but heavens, he is a youthful 35 in this show!
And guess who played his servant(s)–?
Why, ROGER DALTRY! Yes, the lead singer of the Who disported himself on stage as a youth.

Thus was virtue rewarded!

Recalled to Life!

Friends, I have received my second inoculation against horrid Covid! I am now certified PROTECTED AGAINST INFECTION!
I will own however that the day didn’t quite come up to my expectations.

For instance, were there…CHOIRS OF ANGELS?

There were not.

Was there a grand celebration with cake and champagne?

There was not.

In fact, life seems almost exactly the same.
Well, with one exception: one begins to toy with the idea of TRAVEL!

Loveliest of Trees

Yesterday I saw it –that miraculous mist of pale green where before there were just bare black branches. Every year I see it and every year my heart rises at the sight. Brave new life! In the morning I hear a brilliant chorus of bird song, and there are blossoms everywhere. Spring, the sweet spring! To celebrate, I have illustrated Housman’s lovely poem about cherry trees, see this. My father made us memorize this poem, and every spring it comes to my mind.

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