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Today I celebrate the change of the seasons! I have done Three Significant Things to mark the passing from winter to spring:
1. I threw off the plump winter quilt and reverently laid on the bed my charming summer quilt.

2. I removed and discarded the old brush head on my toothbrush, replacing it with a fresh new one.*

3. I replaced the shamefully grimy filter in my heating/AC system, replacing it with a snow white unsullied one.*

And then I set off to drive about and see the cherry trees, whose lovely pale pink blooms float like clouds in every neighborhood, set off by the valiant forsythia, shining brilliantly yellow in every corner. Spring, the sweet spring, the year’s pleasant king!

*Note that accepted advice in these matters recommends a more frequent change in both these items. But one need not be a SLAVE to society’s expectations for heaven’s sake.

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Three Shows

My entertainment portfolio this week has been mostly frivolous, as usual. But, as I may have said before (OH not more than a hundred times, Hope), the best in this kind are but shadows, and the worst are no worse if imagination amend them.

1)

Bride for Rent: a Philippine Rom-Com
You may well CRINGE. But the young man was so very beautiful–

and the grandmother is the star! So how could I not love it! The lad must get married so that he can receive the money from his trust fund. Adorable shenanigans ensue. His wise grandmother sees that the silly–but completely lovable and decent–girl he’s hired to pretend to be his bride is really WORTHY, not to mention her completely lovable and decent family. And, of course the young people fall in love eventually. Believable? No. Sort of fun? Yes.

2) Happy New Year: a Bollywood vehicle for Shah Rukh Khan, that silly charmer
OK, this one is something of a shamer. There is really no excuse for watching this kind of thing. But SRK is such fun! He is a street fighter, there was a betrayal, and now he must DANCE.

Lots of striding forward with his shirt opened down the front, displaying a VERY impressive set of abdominal muscles. Plus whirling about with lovely girl who also has an admirable torso. He and his team go about their business with great energy, and fun is had.
OK, on to next much worthier show:

3) La Rondine, by Puccini
The music from this wonderful opera has been singing in my mind all week. I LOVE this show. Yes, there is the heart-of-gold courtesan and her enraptured lover , ignorant of her sordid job–but also, there is the cynical poet in love with the lady’s maid, and the lady’s maid, so whimsical, so filled with passion! Oh my, this story is irresistible and the music is simply lovely. Here is Renee Fleming singing the Bel Sogno di Doretta, the take away song of the opera–but there are so many others. I have the Metropolitan Opera video, set in the Gay Paree of the 1920’s, with everyone dressed in very fetching frocks and suits as they frolic amidst those elaborate sets.

Here are the characters at a table in a Wild Paris Nightclub. That’s Magda on the right, in disguise as an innocent girl, instead of the TAINTED KEPT WOMAN she actually is. The tenor adores her! Bliss! They rush off to the Riviera! But when he ardently tells her that his parents have written to bless their marriage, she breaks his heart (and her own) by leaving him weeping on the floor of their love shack and going back with her Sugar Daddy. Because he must not marry a soiled creature like herself.
And really, he couldn’t afford her.

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I am getting old, dear friends, and it takes a day or so to recover from the excitement of a family party –well, well, it included dinner for 11 including my darling grandson, and even in my days of strength that was a catering feat. And in those days I didn’t have a demanding job! But I cooked up the viands for my dear family, and it was a lovely evening.

And the next day the lad, his mother and I went to the ZOO!
It turned out that we were not the only ones with this splendid idea, and the place was teeming.
First, the Great Apes House.
I had forgotten the sorrow and shame one feels at seeing these creatures imprisoned, shambling about behind bars. One of the gorillas seemed pleased with his toys, and that lightened our hearts a little.
But the orangutans! They leaned over, in attitudes of complete despair.

We left that place, but my grandson could not bear it. He wanted to go back, to make sure they were OK. He refused to continue our promenade, and had to be firmly strapped into his stroller. He was inconsolable, and we had to promise to return to the orangutans after the elephants. Of course, he couldn’t help but be charmed by the elephants, those huge peaceful beasts, radiating such calm dignity.
So then we returned to the Great Apes House, and were relieved to find that the orangutans had been given their lunch and were now looking fairly genial, supping on tiny green peas and other fare, seeming to accept their fate with a good will.
A quick visit to the lions and tigers gave us a thrill, and then we went home.
They left the next day and off I went to work: I had to pick up 3 visas from the Chinese Consulate, and submit the forms for 2 more.
It turns out that Monday is a BAD DAY for this sort of thing. The place was even more crowded than the zoo, and MUCH smaller. I was there for FOUR HOURS. The worst moment was when my first number was called, to pick up the 3 visas. At last! I rushed over to the window, handed the lady my 3 pink slips, and opened my back pack for my wallet .
Which was not there.
Sigh. Left it in the bag I took to the zoo. I am an IDIOT.
So, fine, sat down to wait for the visa application lady. Four hours, as I said, and when I finally confronted the lady with my meticulously completed forms and documents she said–BUT NO, we can’t do this, these people are from other places where they have other consulates.
GACK.
However, I made the noises of distress, and she looked again at the VERY OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS OF INVITATION. And said, I will ask my manager. Who apparently said YES, because she came back smiling, and gave me the precious pink slips, and tomorrow we will get all the visas and send them off to our travelers.
Who are leaving Friday.
So that’s OK!

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The day after celebrating my birthday with a festive morning at the Department of Motor Vehicles (so that I could continue to drive legally) I faced a large and complicated meeting: the RUSSIANS were coming! I will note that the volume of last minute changes was hair raising. This meeting was held at our other, very grand building which is filled with boffo historical items and charming paintings and rooms with windows, unlike the sleek modern building I work in.

Which sleek modern building however has state of the art meeting technology, so very helpful to those running the meetings.
Now it so happened that the presentations the Russians would be giving us were suspected of possibly harboring threats to our network–not anything our guests would do a-purpose of course, but things happen. So I was instructed to use one of our antique and clunky laptops to display these foreign files, which I dutifully did.
And then one of them brought in a CD.
Sigh. There was not of course a CD player on the laptop. We have several CD players at the other building, and could have brought one had we known. But courage! Somehow the file was safely transferred to the laptop, and we were able to watch a cheery video of some Russian spaceman addressing us from the Space Station. Such fun!
High points of the meeting:

  • Our scientific lady president made a little speech about our 2 great countries having so much in common, e.g. the mass of immigrants pounding on our doors. This was not a comparison I had heard before…
  • Despite our going to so much trouble and expense to set up the simultaneous translation booth, every Russian spoke only in English.
  • Including the eminent Russian who gave a long and detailed presentation about the physics of light. Even if he had spoken in the pure tones of John Gielgud, I would have been lost–but with that heavy accent, I could only catch the occasional "the" or "but".
  • Followed by a reception with treats and open bar!

And then I went home, quite exhausted.

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Back in September—MONTHS and MONTHS ago–I got a little notice from the state informing me that in six months my license would expire. SIX MONTHS! For heavens sake, I had better things to do than worry about things a HALF A YEAR AWAY!

  • Then came October: HALLOWEEN! And work stuff.
    Thinking about license expiration: NONE.
  • Then came November: My new grandson was born! AND Thanksgiving! And work stuff.
    Thinking about license expiration: NONE.
  • Then came December: CHRISTMAS! And work stuff.
    Thinking about license expiration: NONE.
  • Then came January: visiting new grandson! And work stuff.
    Thinking about license expiration: NONE.
  • Then came February. Valentine’s Day! And work stuff.
    OMG! The damn thing is due next month!

And it happens that my state now demands a vast assortment of documents to prove that I am who I am.
Which I am.
BUT, couldn’t find the birth certificate, and my passport had expired. I sent off for a new one but it turns out this is a procedure that takes 6 weeks if you don’t ask for chop chop service which I foolishly didn’t.
And this is why, dear friends, I spent the morning of my birthday driving to the local hangout of the Department of Motor Vehicles and humbly begging for an extension of my license so that I could continue driving legally until the passport ambles home.
Well, well, at least it didn’t take me 10 years. Odysseus still wins the prize in the procrastination sweepstakes.

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I know we are all glad that Pakistan released Wing Commander Abhinandan back to his cheering countrymen! With perhaps a few bruises—but, alive and free.

Particularly since war is thereby averted. AND the meeting my office has planned in Islamabad at the end of the month doesn’t have to be cancelled. NOTE: our last Pakistan meeting was cancelled when hordes of screaming men shut down the country in their ardent desire to have one of their countrywomen murdered for drinking from the wrong cup.
THIS time, reason prevailed.
But the MAIN take away from this affair is of course–Abhinandan’s absolutely fabulous facial hair fashion! The internet is AGOG, and there is non stop discussion of it: "It heavily resembles the gunslinger, but also has some characteristics of the horseshoe, the Hungarian, and the wild west moustache."

All over India, men are attempting to copy the bold commander’s style. And even beyond India.
Men, such cute!

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I have just returned from a bang up 3 day trip to New York, babysitting for my charming 2 and 1/2 year old grandson. The boy is an ANGEL (well, aside from some bedtime issues) and we had a grand time together. I have to say that a relaxation in the former rather strict nutrition rules–which now allows previously forbidden sweeties–has certainly made otherwise impossible procedures suddenly possible. Bribery, so effective. The lad has a magnificent mane of beautiful hair, which he completely forbids one to groom. BUT–when offered a tiny marzipan candy in the shape of a fruit (from a dainty box in the fridge) he was completely at his ease– engrossed in the confection–as I plied the brush. AND with a brilliantly blue lollipop at his disposal, he calmly waited for the bus to the zoo without the tiniest hint of impatience. Even when we found that the zoo was not yet open on our arrival, his mood continued sunny–and let me add that it was FREEZING COLD. Once allowed inside, we LOVED the aminals! And the fishies! And the peacocks! And the kitty! A Pallas’s cat, said the sign.

Who was politely coughing up a hairball as we watched.
Where did I fail in perfection you will ask. Well, I simply could NOT fasten the lad’s seat belt in his stroller so that TWICE he tumbled out. He came to no harm, but my granny stars of servitude–earned by changing so many diapers–have been stripped from my unworthy shoulders.
Still, what fun to spend time with this small–but passionate and fascinating–human being!

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