Animal Planet

Last night I thought I might watch a little entertainment–having paid the bills, done the laundry, and spent the day in (basically) healthful activities.
So, I peered about Netflix looking for shows while Bertie sat in my lap (he is such a fan!)
What do you know, just about every show these days is Dark, Violent, Sublimely Creepy, Filled with Disturbing Revelations.
This was not exactly the note I was striving for last night.
So I clicked on Planet Earth II, and watched astonishing animals as Richard Attenborough narrated. He was talking about islands, and there were crabs, birds, monkeys, lizards–this is the show that gave us that brave iguana baby fleeing his natal sands for the shore chased by HUNDREDS OF HORRIBLE SNAKES, a little clip that will make your blood run cold. Talk about sublimely creepy!
The most lovely part focussed on Bullers Albatrosses, who spend half a year alone, winging over the vast southern ocean, and then fly thousands of miles home to rejoin their dear mates and raise one precious chick in the brief summer of the islands off New Zealand. They are odd birds, presenting a strangely unreal aspect, what with their dark brows, tri-colored beaks and white bodies.

We waited with one swain, who anxiously peered about looking for his wife–and finally she appeared. He modestly held back for a moment, but then the two birds cried aloud their joy, and did their dance of happiness. It is simply lovely, and so moving–here is a clip of Layser albatrosses dancing.
Then there was the odyssey of 50 million red crabs. Colorful, very. But not quite as moving, somehow.


Thieves and Dastards

The dire month of January is speeding by–February awaits with biting cold or possibly balmy warmth, but either way it will soon be past, making way for March. The older I get (and this year I turn 70) the faster the time goes by, and though I attempt to welcome each new day, it is more of an effort that it used to be.
But let us not whine and moan, for heaven’s sake! Here we are in this pleasant land–not living in some ghastly prison camp, not cowering while bombs drop, not held at the whim of dictators–and there are MONTHS before taxes are due.

So show a little respect.
The lame disgruntlement you may sense from the lines above derives from an unsuccessful attempt to disable my ancient computer before tossing it on the dustheap of history. Having left it in the corner as I triumphantly installed my SHINING NEW machine, I finally decided the old hulk was no longer needed, so plugged it in to remove the files.
It would not turn on, not if it was ever so.
Something of a blow.
HOkay, no problem, I would simply remove the hard drive and dispose of it! I readily removed the side of the machine, and was able to dabble in its innards–but as for removing anything, NOT HAPPENING. Welded in, it seemed. One could have smashed it with a hammer–which perhaps, come to think of it, I should have done. Instead, I had a pleasant time snipping all the cords and spraying water all over what remained. Then, I inserted what was left in a garbage bag and tossed it in the bin.
I am now feverishly changing all my passwords–and I have A LOT of passwords–in readiness for the thieves and dastards who troll garbage dumps for computers, who will dry out and rewire the ancient machine and RETRIEVE ALL MY DATA.
Though that does sound pretty unlikely, actually.

To those who claim I am impatient and intolerant let me just point out: I WATCHED THE ENTIRE MOVIE OF CLOUD ATLAS.

You will ask why on earth I should undertake such a thankless task.

Well, the alert movie watcher quickly understands that the actors have been persuaded to take many different parts in this large trundling drama, each one with its own particular makeup–some of which are so shockingly horrid as make one gasp with outrage! For instance, here is the actor who played Elrond in LotR, garishly tweaked into an oddly ghastly Asian.

So, so…wrong. ALL the actors have been similarly maltreated, but the process which turns westerners into pseudo-easterners is the most vicious. The parade of unbelievably bad transformations was mesmerizing, and it was the game of guessing who they were that kept me watching. For instance, Hugh Grant appears as Greedy Oil Tycoon—and then, as Gruesome Hawaiian Cannibal Chief!

The hours these actors spent being painted and glued—well, well, they get well paid for it, I suppose.

The worst trick is the one played on poor old Tom Hanks—oh my! He looks worse in every get up (SIX of them), and in the persona of a Simple Native sometime in the ghastly future, he not only looks terrible, but he speaks in an ineffably embarrassing sort of Peasant Slang, which a kindly watcher might wish to simply mute the sound on: “Oh, lonesome night. And babbits bawling, the wind biting the bone . . . The fangy devil, Old Georgie hisself. Mm. Now your ear up close, and I’ll yarn you about the first time we met, eye to eye.

Sigh. Still, I patiently watched the whole thing.

Thrift in the New Year


In all the excitement of Christmas preparation, it may have happened that I purchased a few more food items than were strictly necessary.

Or even, MUCH MORE than a few.

Adding an impetus to the problem, many of my family found themselves unable to relish their meals due to a superabundance of truly wicked Germs, which caused non-festive behavior and led to much time spent in the smallest room of the house. So that in making a current comprehensive assessment of available viands in the house, I find I could readily entertain as many people this weekend as I did during the festival itself.

However, my children are all fled to the far corners of the earth, and I own to a longing for quiet. Lucky thing there is the FREEZER, that seemly apartment for storing food. Mine is luckily quite capacious. There is also the fact that the current COLD temperatures keep any food items carelessly tossed into the garbage from making themselves known via heinous bad stinks.

So, mostly we are back to pre-holiday status here, aside from the lavishly arrayed freezer. There was however a large container of ricotta which had to either be tossed out or used. HA! There was also a large bag of dried figs (what MADNESS descended on me as I bustled through the bursting aisles at Costco, truly, I am baffled at such wild behavior) and suddenly I thought—FIG AND RICOTTA PIE!

Nice looking, no?

Though what the hell I am going to do with it, one wonders–my powers of eating are limited– but at least I have used up the pint of ricotta!

So there’s that.


I am making slow but deliberate promenade towards Back to Normal, after a fairly ghastly surgery on Tuesday.
So I there I was, carefully making my way to the Kennedy Center last night, to see American in Paris. It was BRUTALLY cold in the metropolis last night, dear friends–many degrees below freezing. My brain was not progressing at warp speed, but I gently and firmly made my way through the familiar streets to–WHAT FRESH HELL WAS THIS?? The street that led to the K Center was….CLOSED.
I would take another route. I inched up to the Circle, noticing many other cars taking a road before the circle, but too slow in the uptake to follow them. Which is why I shortly thereafter found myself BACK on the same track, coming up to the same turn, doomed to repeat my foolishness.
But not so! I had learned! Again inching forward in traffic, I turned on the correct road, proceeded in a slow but determined way and eventually found myself entering the K Center grounds!
AND SWIFTLY leaving them to rocket over into Virginia, having made an ill-considered move which put me onto the bridge and on my way to eternity.
But I foiled eternity, somehow hooking onto Route 50, crossing the Potomac on Key Bridge, and nipping back down Whitehurst Freeway. For the third time. THIS time, I made no mistakes and eventually found myself $23 poorer, car parked within those sacred walls, and myself soberly progressing to the Opera House.
For which, Hosanna!
The show was very nice, lots of color and verve. Probably more vervy with the original performers, but this was fine. I smiled, I applauded, and then I went home.
Success–I congratulate myself!

Next time I shall ask Google before I leave.

Scheduling, so demanding

When the painter said he couldn’t start until the 14th, I SHOULD have said, OK, we’ll have to wait until after Christmas. But instead, with that imbecilic fecklessness which is one of my (very few) flaws, I brightly bade him go ahead. Which is why instead of baking cookies, making casseroles, and wrapping gifts, I have spent the weekend dusting books and objets d’art –and they are VERY DUSTY INDEED, (for which I blame no one, least of all, myself) and putting them back on shelves. The shelves are now gleaming white and looking very well indeed, but possibly their former dilapidated and grubby aspect would not have materially depressed our holiday spirits.
SO–having not had time to do all the cooking and baking I usually task myself with, I steeled my nerves and set off for COSTCO to purchase food stuffs. And wine, of course. Getting there is slightly terrifying, a trip I could never make without Siri and her firm directions–horrifying high speed expressways intersecting in bewildering complexities. But, made it there, and as always was overwhelmed–it is a TEMPLE OF GREED–everything you could want is there, towering up to the ceiling in huge piles of luxurious amplitude. I spent quite an astonishing amount of money, filling up my little car, and am now back home and ready for lunch.

So said Scrooge, but as we know, he was persuaded to change his mind.
I own that the prospect of this mighty holiday–looming like one of those gigantic inflatable Santas over poor shrinking December–is always somewhat daunting. But one bravely perseveres!

SPEAKING of giant inflatable figures, one of my more exuberant neighbors has placed not one–not two–but FIVE of these festive items in his front yard. There is a Jovial Polar Bear, a Genial Snowman, a Cheery Santa, a Frisky Reindeer, a…uh, memory fails me…oh yes, A Festive Tree. With Colorful Presents under it! So there they are, lined up in military precision by the front porch, bestowing their celebratory beneficence on passers by, and enlivening my walk to the bus stop.

Thus inspired, I ​succumbed to the shameful allure of a ridiculous holiday trinket: Star Night Laser Shower Christmas Lights. This device, placed in the front yard and plugged into an electric outlet, will play an array of glittering lights over the house–ludicrous to one’s good sense but ineffably charming to the eye. The eye which, the instructions ominously warn, must NEVER be directly aimed into the beam of the laser –which beam must moreover, NEVER be aimed at the sky in case of blinding the pilot of an incoming airplane! Nothing ruins a festive holiday evening like a huge plane crash with hundreds of people dead, so I am very careful not to point the device at the sky.
And now, a pleasant perusal of holiday baking recipes! With eyes undimmed (as yet) by magical laser lights.

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