Archive for the ‘Neighborhood’ Category

My county has not exactly covered itself with glory in its vaccination process–many different locations all vying with one another, each with its own form to fill out, and appointments VERY hard to come by.

But what of that! So the county can’t figure out these silly little details!
At least our LIBRARY shines! Not only does it give us free access to Acorn TV, it has a fine collection of books, movies, music! Allowing us to face infection and possible death without being bored!
The method for obtaining materials from the library is a miracle of elaborate device-

  1. Find it in the catalogue
  2. Reserve it
  3. Wait for the email announcing its arrival
  4. Set up an appointment to pick it up
  5. (And by the way, do you want it in a bag?)
  6. Go to the library and pick it up.

Thus I managed to obtain a copy of Topsy Turvy, that absolutely wonderful movie about Gilbert and Sullivan, and how they came to create the Mikado.

Jim Broadbent and Allan Corduner play the two brilliant men, and there are gorgeous presentations of Victorian stage productions–makeup and wigs as our forefathers would have seen when they went to the theater.

Gilbert had visited an exhibition of Japanese arts and crafts, and bought a Japanese sword. We watch him having some private fun mimicking the warrior moves and grunts he had witnessed–and then on to the creation of the Mikado, that beloved show which has remained popular ever since. Many weeks of work, deftly presented to us, and then the triumphant debut and the audience thundering its approval.
EVERYTHING is perfect in this movie, but I must particularly point out Corduner’s blissful smile as he conducts the orchestra. AND his delighted grin in a Parisian brothel, as a trio of half naked girls sing Olympia’s song from Tales of Hoffman.

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Good Taste R Us

I love my neighborhood, with its winding leafy streets and pleasing mix of houses–some tiny bungalows and some giant luxurious palaces, and many other options in between. The gardens are not showy, but many are lovely enough. We may not be trend setters, and our shoes may be more sensible than fashionable–but it is a pleasant place that I am pleased to walk through of an evening.
There is one house that is never satisfied with being part of the pack. This Halloween it had a ghastly assortment of blow-up figures, cosily clustered about the de rigeur BLM sign. Including a HALLOWEEN UNICORN. I tried to avert my eyes.
[NOTE: Last Christmas it had EIGHT festive blow up devices standing side by side on the lawn.]
So I was walking by the other day–and was horrified to find that we are already in a celebratory Christmas situation.

HO HO HO. $150 at Home Depot!

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Last night Aaron and Kip came over, and we ate outside–protected by a fan and anti-mosquito candles and bug spray. It was very pleasant out, hearing the birds and the cicadas, those doughty insects that fill the summer nights around here with harmony. At some point, Aaron was staring up into the big tulip poplar that stands behind the shed, and he said–there’s a racoon up there! And we looked and saw her–AND her baby. WAY WAY up the tree, it is very very tall, and they were up in a hole that must be 30 feet up–40 feet? I have no skill at measuring distances. But there they were, peeking out. VERY cute, if not very virtuous, little creatures. Back in 2017 (lordie how the time rockets by) I wrote about seeing a group of them sauntering by. Probably relatives, if not the same creatures. Google tells me that though they may live as many as 20 years in captivity, they live only two to three years in the wild. And I guess my backyard qualifies as the wild in this instance.

(NOTE: this is a picture stolen from Google, my photography skills failed me)

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I was sitting idly eating my breakfast and reading the paper when I sensed movement in the yard–and looked up to see a FOX! A FOX! Unhurried, just trotting through my garden and then up the little hill to jump over the fence into my neighbor’s yard.
Lovely creature. This morning is blessed.

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Yesterday was such a beautiful day–I walked my 2 miles, came home and fed the cats and then went to sit on the steps with my glass of wine. I watched my neighbors promenade–many of them regarding my cherry tree with great admiration (please note that I make this observation without unseemly pride but rather a respect for truth) and while the sun shone and the birds sang I thought, what a good world this is.
And then the sun went down and I had to make my dinner and I remembered that in fact things are not so great these days.
But possibly because I am an idiot, or because I was brought up happy, or because of who knows what, I can’t believe that things won’t work out somehow.
In the sci-fi series I am listening to, some villains drop huge boulders onto the earth, killing billions, and almost killing the earth. But, the earth doesn’t die. People manage, people learn, people keep living and somehow–the earth doesn’t die.
Yes, I know that no one lives forever, and people’s lives are cut short, people who should have lived–but here we are. Not dead yet!
So, well done us!

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The governor of my state has told us that after 8 pm tonight we must stay in our houses until he tells us everything is OK.

“People are allowed to leave their homes to exercise in accordance with social distancing guidelines; go grocery shopping; go to an educational institution to pick up food; work an essential job; care for a relative or friend; care for livestock or pets; visit their own businesses for minimal operations and go to government buildings for necessary purposes,…”

But otherwise, STAY HOME.

Instantly I realized there was one important task that MUST BE accomplished before the state shut down:
I had to go to the liquor store.

It turns out that MANY of my neighbors had the same great notion, and there was a line stretching around the store, all of us politely standing 6 feet apart, though occasionally darting in to get at a particularly desirable bottle. I prudently wore plastic gloves, but am not convinced that I escaped infection. Time will tell.
HOWEVER, I now have a case of wine, a large bottle of brandy, AND a bottle of spiced rum. So I believe I can call myself well prepared for the cruellest month, thank goodness.
See you in May, dear friends!

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We were chatting at work, me and the ladies I work with, and one of them said that if she could, she’d buy a home in that quirky diverse area called….POTOMAC.
I lived in Potomac for 18 years, a very pleasant era in my life during which we raised our 4 children. The one thing all of them were wild to do was LEAVE this soul-killing place their parents had doomed them to live in. Now, you will say that ALL kids think their home turf is soul killing–but really, I tended to agree with them about Potomac. Nice house, great garden, of course–but a little lacking in the charm and soul enhancement. Quirky is not a word I would ever have used to describe the neighborhood.
I gently made some sounds of protest–the neighborhood committee had solemn meetings on the ALLOWABLE DESIGN OF OUR MAILBOXES FOR GOD’S SAKE–but she insisted about how diverse the community, and I shut up.

Perhaps there is another Potomac in the area.

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This morning was RATHER BRISK so I kept my head down as I strode to the bus stop. Until I came to the house whose enthusiastic owners had placed EIGHT inflatable Christmas figures in the yard. EIGHT! There was of course a Jolly Saint Nick, a Reindeer, a Tree–and also, just for the hell of it, a UNICORN. With a mane and tail in all the colors of the rainbow! Last year they had a mere 5 figures, obviously 2019 has been a prosperous year for them.

Wrenching my horrified gaze from the tableau, I saw the bus zipping past my bus stop at the bottom of the hill.
Once at the stop, I sat on the freezing bench and got out my phone to check the bus app. The next bus due in 8 minutes!
Only of course, it didn’t come: the app is a shameless liar.
After 8 minutes passed, it blandly slid over to announce the next bus, due in 23 minutes. Which came, eventually.

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The pillory

This morning was so bright and clear–and there was a tree shining in the sun, each leaf glittering gold: Autumn is come! My neighbor’s front yard is finally cleared of those darling zombie flamingos

and his Halloween skeleton is finally released from the elegant hand made pillory.

My neighbor is an enthusiastic wood worker.

Seeing the pillory reminded me of that deeply moving scene in the Patrick O’Brian novels, when our hero Jack–through a series of terrible events–is sentenced to an hour in the pillory. Injury and even death could result from such punishment, and the entire Royal Navy was outraged that one of their own should be so treated.

“Jack was led out of the dark room into the strong light, and as they guided him up the steps he could see nothing for the glare. ‘Your head here sir, if you please,’ said the sheriff’s man in a low, nervous, conciliating voice, ‘and your hands just here.’
The man was slowly fumbling with the bolt, hinge and staple, and as Jack stood there with his hands in the lower half-rounds, his sight cleared: he saw that the broad street was filled with silent, attentive men, some in long togs, some in shore-going rig, some in plain frocks, but all perfectly recognizable as seamen. And officers, by the dozen, by the score: midshipmen and officers. Babbington was there, immediately in front of the pillory, facing him with his hat off, and Pullings, Stephen of course, Mowett, Dundas . . . He nodded to them, with almost no change in his iron expression, and his eye moved on: Parker, Rowan, Williamson, Hervey . . . and men from long, long ago, men he could scarcely name, lieutenants and commanders putting their promotion at risk, midshipmen and master’s mates their commissions, warrant-officers their advancement.
‘The head a trifle forward, if you please, sir,’ murmured the sheriff’s man, and the upper half of the wooden frame came down, imprisoning his defenseless face. He heard the click of the bolt and then in the dead silence a strong voice cry ‘Off hats’. With one movement hundreds of broad-brimmed tarpaulin-covered hats flew off and the cheering began, the fierce full-throated cheering he had so often heard in battle.”

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Washington Exults!

Washington is staggering about in stunned amazement–our baseball team won!
NOTE: there are those who might question the right of someone who only learned the name of the team last week to thus blandly take possession and call them “our” team.
But let us not be such fusspots, for heaven’s sake.

1. The reason I know that they won is that I asked a fellow commuter at my bus stop, who had mentioned yesterday that he planned to stay up all night watching the mighty warriors compete. Though he looked shattered this morning, that was the result of no sleep: he was THRILLED at the team’s triumph!
2. The reason I have any interest in a situation involving men hitting balls with a stick is that ONE of these men encouraged the playing of a particular song to honor his little child, a song which as it happens my grandson taught me: BABY SHARK. I understand that this is now the proud theme song of the team.

The lyrics are simple but not displeasing:

Mommy shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo
Mommy shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo
Mommy shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo
Mommy shark!

Daddy shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo
Daddy shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo
Daddy shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo
Daddy shark!

Grandma shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo
Grandma shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo
Grandma shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo
Grandma shark!

Grandpa shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo
Grandpa shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo
Grandpa shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo
Grandpa shark!

I will spare you the verses about hungry sharks, little fishes, little fishes swimming away, swimming faster, and finally safe at last. Touch and go there for the little fishes, but you will be relieved to hear that all ends well.

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