Archive for the ‘Such people’ Category

This evening I was making my way down the escalator to the Metro when I had a glimpse of –a lady in a bridal gown hastening down the stairs before me! And a tall fellow in a suit with a flower in his button hole pursuing her. Arrived at the bottom, I peered around and saw them–a plump little girl, dark and shy in her white dress, embraced by her proud groom as another fellow aimed his camera at them.
The darling couple! I smiled at them and wished them well and continued on my way.

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As I readied myself for ballet class in the dressing room yesterday, I noted the pretty but low heeled shoes of another lady as she came in, and remarked that her usual footwear had heels of astonishing height, which I had always admired. She responded that even she had to rest her feet from time to time, and told me about her treasure house of shoes, each tenderly wrapped and stored in a fine box, stacked in rows in her closet. She is a robust creature–Russian, I think, though I can’t remember why–and dresses in a style that accentuates her charms. This learned exposition on shoes was the longest speech I have ever heard from her. I was pleased to hear that women continue to love their shoes, as I used to when I was young.

After the class–excellent as always–there was another discussion in the dressing room, but this time, about the care of cat litter boxes. I shared the gasper about washing out the litter box once a month–which I have never done, and neither had any of the other ladies. There should be one more cat box than there are cats in the house (2 cats=>3 boxes), said another lady. Hmm. But then another lady was floored by my mentioning the clumping litter that absorbs cat peepee. WHAT? She had never heard of such a thing. She used –uh, some kind of Magic Crystal litter, and the pee sits on the bottom of the box. The lady with the many cat boxes said she uses a DIFFERENT KIND OF LITTER IN EACH BOX. Good lord, I thought, such bounty for her cats. We didn’t even BEGIN to talk about cat food–or at least, I finished dressing and bade them goodbye. Perhaps they continued onto cat food and even cat toys after my departure.

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Pig in the Snow

Peppa Pig–a fairly innocuous if somewhat lame cartoon (“Peppa lives with her mummy and daddy and her little brother, George. Her adventures are fun”) has been embraced by the Chinese, and inspired a pleasing story: a loving dad in Inner Mongolia took his little broom and MADE A GIANT DRAWING OF PEPPA in the snow outside his daughter’s window. Such a thrill for the little girl! Youtube and Google are awash in images of his artwork.

As I contemplated this charming story I had TWO revelations.

  1. Somehow my image of Mongolians has them drinking fermented mare’s milk and hunting with golden eagles. Stern warriors! But even stern warriors love their little girls, and let us not be so dismissive of other places and cultures for all love. Genghis Khan is long gone.
  2. Dads are so wonderful, these big men with their tiny children. I see them at the ballet school, humbly struggling to put the ballet shoes on their wiggly little girls–at the supermarket in the cake mix aisle, bravely trying to make a birthday cake happen–on the road, biking so very slowly with the children whose training wheels have just come off.

Such good guys!
And I know that my grandsons’ daddies would totally draw pigs in the snow for them–well, if there were snow, and if it would make those little boys happy.

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My new job is keeping me from you, dear friends! No time to dash off a note or two at the office, and when I come home it’s dinner and collapse.
But I wanted to tell you about our latest endeavor, planning a mighty meeting over in that vast northern kingdom where vodka and caviar cheer the heart. Half of our company already had visas, but 6 did not, and for weeks, I have striven to collect all the necessaries. Yesterday we were ready to make our visit to the consulate! The cost of the visas: unknown, to be discovered upon arrival. Payment CAN ONLY BE BY MONEY ORDER, by the way.
The embassy is open for visas from 10 to 12. It was getting past 11, but the place is close by, pas de probleme! Except, yesterday was the grand funeral of a past president, many streets of this fine city closed to make way for the magnificent cortege. Sigh. We drove north, not quite to Alaska but a very long way and then dropped down to the embassy from above. It was now 11:55. The guard was not pleased to see us, but my charming boss–who speaks Russian like a native–soon had him beaming, and we entered the room with the various windows for conducting business.
We had the wrong kind of documents inviting us to the country! The kindly lady explained that it would take 10 days to create the kind of visa our documents would give us.
As it happens, the group has tickets for flying out on Saturday. In 3 days.
But not to worry! We could get a different kind of invitation from the hotel! So, back to the office (again, a very circuitous route) and my boss contacted the hotel–and this morning, we got the new improved invitations!
So, back to the embassy–no funeral cortege today!
No, instead of that there was the obligatory office holiday party! Lots of festive food, and then the EO delighted us with an amusing topical version of the TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS. We merrily sang ALL TWELVE verses. HA ha ha! Such fun!

Then we darted off to the embassy once more and once again presented ourselves, together with lovely new invites AND 6 money orders in the correct amount.
It turned out the visa forms were wrong for this kind of invite, and the invite itself should have said “Tourist Aim” , not “Tourist”. So, back to the office where I corrected the visas, and my boss contacted the hotel for the corrected invite. They were all abed by then, however so it will have to wait until tomorrow. Which is Friday, and the group is leaving Saturday.
I’m sure it will all work out!

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For those of you planning weddings (a vanishingly small group, I fear), the paper had a fascinating account of an enterprising movement to supplant the traditional bridal entourage with…Star Wars Characters.
See, you have CHEWBACCA ambling down the aisle scattering flower petals in the path of the bride–who is being led to her groom by DARTH VADER!!!
And the Storm Troopers are meanwhile making sure that the guests are seated properly.
This does not, I must own, appeal to me. But there are people prepared to spend the big bucks to make it happen.

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North Platte

A couple days ago I came across a story about a little town in Nebraska, nothing dramatic, but just so very sweet that it brought tears to my eyes–I had to close the paper and put it away in order to maintain the correct commuter aspect of blank impassivity.
And then, I forgot about it, and then I couldn’t remember the name of the town–but today I remembered, and found the piece.
North Platte, a little town in Nebraska, had a grand tradition of welcoming and providing good cheer to the vast groups of soldiers who passed through on the way to the front during the second world war. It was a simply astonishing display of loving kindness, all privately donated, no government funding accepted–except, as the article notes, the $5 sent by President Franklin Roosevelt. Then, the war ended, and the tradition ended.
Except, this month, a brigade of the Arkansas National Guard had been on a deployment exercise, and all 700 of them were to be be bused back to Arkansas–and they needed to stop in North Platte for snacks, a quick rest. And the whole town rushed into action! Baking cakes and pies, making sandwiches, grilling steaks, painting welcome signs–each bus was so warmly greeted, each young soldier made to feel so loved.

“When it became time to settle up—the Army, after all, had that money budgeted for snacks—the 142nd Field Artillery was told: Nope. You’re not spending a penny here. This is on us.
This is on North Platte.”

I find it so moving, this simple openhanded human goodness. Yes, there is evil in the world; probably even North Platte residents are not all angelically good–and yes, the world continues in wickedness. But blessings on kindly North Platte for its joyful welcome to the weary soldiers!

WSJ story is here

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I am glad to see that Waterhouse’s charming painting of Hylas and the Nymphs has been returned to the Manchester Art Gallery!
After having been removed by stern feminists, who had vowed it would never return.
Heavens, what a bunch of kill-joys. No more cakes and ale! It turned out that the public was outraged, and made their views very clear to the city, which sulkily put it back.
Years and years ago, I wrote a thesis about the Pre Raphaelites–not a very learned one, this was art school after all. But how I loved those paintings, and what a thrill to see some of them on the wall at the Tate, years later.
Lovely things, if not perhaps number one in the taste department.

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