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We are an ingenious species and every day there is a little story on the WSJ front page, taking note of our fascinating ways.
For instance, some extremely rich people are enhancing their home lives with a so very chic pet SHARK. The tanks are enormous, and other fish in the aquariums have a difficult time of it–like fleeting shadows, they do not endure. Neither, always, do the sharks–they are finicky about water temperature and space. And the experienced shark handler recommends using TONGS to feed them, and thus averting any disagreeable loss of fingers or hands.
I am quite content with my cats, actually.


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I am proud to take my place in the Blessed Association of Responsible Homeowners! Mark me well, comrades–I have REPLACED THE ROOF ON MY HOUSE!
This is an undertaking that fills the heart with fear and dread, and deals a mighty blow to the state of one’s personal finances.
But I have persevered!
When I moved into this wee cottage 20 years ago, the roof was sound, if not a thing of beauty.
I own that roofs are not generally accounted things of beauty. But oh my, how very important they are to the comfort of those dwelling beneath them.
So as the tiles disintegrated more and more over the years, and as the horrid covering of moss grew more and more importunate, my resolve to do this mighty task grew also.
It was on my To Do List!
For months! For YEARS!
Eventually, I contacted Roofing Purveyors, and took time off from work to hear their persuasive stories–THREE of them. They smiled and gave me brilliant printouts explaining their fine and steadfast vision and excellent expertise. I chose the one in the middle: not cheapest, not most expensive.
Paid the deposit.
Time went by.
Last week I came home to find a crowd of young men finishing the task–complicated, expensive work, involving climbing about on high ladders (NOTE: not the sort of thing a fond mother would like to see her son doing). But these men braved the heights, pulled up the old rotten stuff, put down the tiles, the flashing–and now I have a new roof, clean and fresh. A smooth gray surface pleasing as a dove’s wing.
And I await the swingeing bill….

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An amusing article in the Journal this morning, about the little changes the grocery stores are making to please their new customers:

Lowes Foods, a chain in North and South Carolina, introduced gourmet sausage stations and “beer dens,” where customers can drink while they shop or get a half-gallon jug filled with a craft beer, in 14 locations four years ago. After they were launched, “there was an immediate, noticeable increase in the number of men shopping in our stores,” says Heather George, senior vice president of brand strategy. The male-focused amenities are now featured in 61 stores.

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Wagner and Me

A friend I respect recommended Stephen Fry’s odd little ode to Wagner, called Wagner and Me, and so I dutifully got it out of the library and watched it.
But, I just couldn’t love it.
Partly because I am not a Wagnerite, have not the strength to sit through those 5 hour operas, beautiful though some of the music is.
But also because, for heavens sake what is he DOING, wearing those dorky clothes, looking so apologetic, sitting on the steps at Nuremburg, saying but what about Hitler–COME ON, Mr. Fry! We don’t have to apologize for loving what we love even if horrible monsters also love it.
It may be that Wagner was personally something of a shit–but his music had nothing to do with that. Art exists outside of the artists who created it. They were who they were, and of course their experiences shaped them. But their art has a separate existence.
Well, OK, except for writers of course, whose experiences speak through them.
But I can see no reason for Stephen Fry to apologize for loving Wagner’s music. It didn’t cause the Holocaust.
But he SHOULD apologize for those dreadful raspberry trousers. THOSE were truly shameful.

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The news this morning is that the American Library Association has removed the name of Laura Ingalls Wilder from their children’s book award, changing it to a title undefiled by the horrid racism so notable in the Little House series. It is now called The Children’s Literature Legacy Award.
This announcement was greeted with cheers at the Association meeting this weekend. Virtue prevails! Hosannah!
At least they are not stripping the books off the shelves.

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As I made the bed this morning I found myself singing "A strolling minstrel I, a thing of shreds and patches"–once downstairs I asked my music service to play me some Mikado please–the D’oyly Carte product of course.
Oh MY! Such wonderful stuff, incredibly charming music, wonderfully witty lyrics.
And still so completely entertaining–a hundred years and more later.

One of the poems my dad used to quote was in fact a verse from Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience:

If you’re anxious for to shine in the high aesthetic line
as a man of culture rare,
You must get up all the germs of the transcendental terms,
and plant them ev’rywhere.
You must lie upon the daisies and discourse in novel phrases
of your complicated state of mind,
The meaning doesn’t matter if it’s only idle chatter
of a transcendental kind.

And ev’ry one will say,
As you walk your mystic way,
"If this young man expresses himself in terms too deep for me,
Why, what a very singularly deep young man
this deep young man must be!"

Grand shows, all of them! They all end happy, too.

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I was trudging about Giant,

consulting the list,

doing the shopping–when suddenly I heard heavenly voices singing in heart lifting harmony: "CHERRIES, CHERRIES, CHERRIES!"
I suppose it was advertising—not actually angels from the realms of glory.
Nice, though.

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