Wednesday, September 22, 2021


I got up around 4:30 a.m. for some water and found this shining in through the windows. Quite brightly, I might add! I was going to write a post about how cool it is that everyone on Earth sees the moon in exactly the same way, but apparently that's not quite true -- at least according to the highly authoritative website Primary Homework Help. In the Southern Hemisphere, people see the moon "upside down," at least relative to how we see it here.

If I ever learned that in school, I've forgotten it now. I'm not sure I understand why it's true, either, but thinking about it too much makes my head hurt.

I did finally get the lawn mowed yesterday, so that was my major accomplishment (besides going to work and earning a living). I mowed the area in the back that we've been leaving to grow all summer. I think whatever insects may have lived there are on their way out by now, and the Heath and other parks generally mow around this time, so I felt safe doing it. I left a couple of clumps of ragwort for next year.

I came across this on my way home a few days ago. It's apparently a brand of toilet paper! I think that name is what the British would call "cheeky."

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Aldwych Station

I think I've posted photos of the old Aldwych tube station off the Strand in the past, but I don't ever remember seeing this side entrance, which I discovered on a recent wander through that area. It's immediately recognizable as an old tube station, not just because of the signage but because of the maroon glazed brick. It was never very heavily used and it closed in 1994; there's a Wikipedia page that goes into more detail.

Work was pretty slow yesterday, so I was able to finish yet another Newbery book -- a graphic novel called "New Kid" that won a couple of years ago and didn't take long to read. It was really good! The kids love graphic novels. I'd say they're some of our most heavily-used books.

Dave and I have been watching "American Horror Story" on Netflix. I'm not really a horror person and I have mixed feelings about this show, but it's compelling enough that I want to keep watching. (Plus it has an excellent cast, including Jessica Lange, Denis O'Hare and Frances Conroy.) We've also started "Big Love," which I've been hearing about for years but never watched before. Entertaining, and again with an excellent cast (Bill Paxton, Chloe Sevigny, Jeanne Tripplehorn) but also weirdly beige and depressing.

I did manage to talk my way out of going to that concert this week. I told my friend Colin, who has the tickets, that I just don't want to expose myself to so many people in an enclosed environment and he was very understanding. He said his neighbor is going to go, so I'm off the hook for the ticket, too. Whew!

Monday, September 20, 2021

A Domestic Rainy Day

Remember how I said our zinnias were looking a bit sad? Well, this may be part of the reason!

When I got up yesterday I set three goals -- finish my Newbery book, mow the lawn, and make a banana pudding. Two out of three ain't bad. I finished the book and I made the pudding.

I'm still trying to use up the box of Nilla Wafers we bought ages ago -- they'd already been sitting around a while when I made my last banana pudding, way back in June. (And yes, they're stale, but when they go in a pudding it doesn't matter.) I think I have about one more pudding's worth.

The book, "Roller Skates," was a rather sunny tale about a privileged girl growing up in New York in the 1890s, hanging out with the working folks and traveling around the city on, yes, roller skates. There were a few tragic scenes but they weren't explored very fully. The whole thing reminded me of a Shirley Temple movie. (The book is from 1936.)

Some of you suggested yesterday that I not pressure myself to read. But I find that I have to deliberately set aside time to do it -- otherwise there are just too many daily distractions, and I really, really want to complete this Newbery project this school year. If I read one book a week I should finish up next spring, and I'd like it to be faster than that.
I did not get the lawn mowed. Right around lunchtime it started to rain, so that scotched my plans. I also didn't walk Olga, but it wasn't for lack of trying. She was excited to go until she went outside and felt dampness on her paws. Then she turned tail for the front door.

Here's some of what's happening in the garden. Outside the back door we've got a couple of geraniums, the coleus and, growing up between the paving stones, some purple asters (aka Michaelmas daisies). That geranium on the right needs a trim, but I'll wait until spring.

The sunflowers are opening, finally. Looks like one of them is a brownish variety.

And our wildflower bed is still going strong, with blue cornflowers, yellow crown daisies and admittedly not wild nasturtiums. The white flax has gone to seed -- you can see the little round pods. I'm just going to let them go. Flax next year, maybe?

I started to cut down the yellowing burdock plants, but then I found several of these guys on the stems -- can you see him, peeking out from behind a leaf? It's a green shield bug. So I guess I'll leave the plants for now!

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Early Fall Heath Excursion

I'm seeing more leaves like this one lying around. Is it a sign of the seasons changing, or am I simply noticing dying leaves that would be on the forest floor anyway? Let's call it early fall, because it feels that way.

I took Olga to the West Heath yesterday. She's still capable of walking that far and doing a smaller loop than we used to. But it tired her out and she's still in bed as I write (as is Dave, who, as usual, stayed home.) When I got up just now, neither one of them even lifted their heads!

As you can see, the leaves on the trees are still green.

There was plenty of activity on our walk, like back-scratching on an ivy-covered fallen log...

...and rolling in leaves...

...and rolling in mud. (She's about to bark at me for taking her picture.) When we got home she definitely needed a bath.

Otherwise, there's been no real excitement around here. Somehow I frittered away the day yesterday without cracking the cover of my latest Newbery book ("Roller Skates," by Ruth Sawyer), which I really need to sit down and just plow through. There's no reason I shouldn't be able to read these books in a few days, and instead it often takes me at least a week. Too many other distractions! At this rate I'm not going to finish this project until well into 2022. I still have about 20 books to go.

And I wasn't online, either. I am trying to limit my computer time, though I spent several hours in the morning organizing and archiving photos. Today I'm hoping to tackle some garden projects and YES I am going to READ THAT BOOK.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Old Zinnias

Our zinnias are starting to look a little peaked -- crusty and age-blotched. Not that there's anything wrong with that. They still attract bugs, as you can see above.

Meanwhile, this is our sunflower:

When I showed Dave this picture, he said, "Feed me, Seymour!" Which is just what it looks like -- our very own Audrey II!

Friday, September 17, 2021

Stokesia and Furious Foxes

Our Stokesia is blooming, finally. We bought this plant a couple of years ago, and it had flowers that first year, and then Dave put it in the ground and last year it did nothing. We weren't even sure it was going to survive. I guess it just needed to become acclimated, though, because this year it has not only this flower but lots of buds.

The charger problem was solved to everyone's satisfaction yesterday. It was decided that the library would not resume lending computer chargers (yay!), that kids would be expected to bring their own and we would send people to the technology office in an emergency. I also have a charger beneath my desk that I will use to charge student computers in a pinch. So we have a few solutions but I won't have to struggle with managing all those loaner chargers as I did before.

I'm sure this whole issue sounds whiny to anyone outside the library, but trust me -- it was a nightmare. I'm thrilled to be done with it so I can focus on books.

I'm getting some long-overdue tasks done. I ordered some new pillows for our bed online from John Lewis and found to my surprise that I could arrange to have them delivered for pickup at our neighborhood Waitrose. (John Lewis and Waitrose are the same company, I think, so that makes sense.) Dave went and picked them up yesterday and I was so happy to throw out our old pillows -- which we've had for more than a decade -- and put those new ones on the bed. They're softer than our previous ones and there's a bit of polyester off-gassing going on, which hopefully will subside in a few days!

I also ordered some new shoes, because mine are really worn. Dave and I had inadvertently bought the same style of shoe and we could never keep straight whose was whose, so this time I made sure to order a different style. I suppose it doesn't matter if we wear each other's shoes but I'd rather have my own.

Finally, I cleaned out some of our potted plants. I tossed three non-performing pelargoniums, a dead cyclamen, a past-its-prime sunflower and our horseradish, which was looking ratty and never again prospered the way it did years ago. Sometimes you just have to move on.

The foxes in our garden were a nightmare last night. At least, I assume those are foxes -- I can't imagine what else they would be. I was awakened around 1 a.m. by all that noise and took my iPhone to an open window to record it. They made such a racket that I fully expected to find blood all over the patio this morning, but no. Nothing. Were they playing? Mating? Who knows.

Olga perked up her ears but did not get out of bed -- another sign that she is taking life much more easily these days. A few years back she would have been throwing her body against the back door to get out and mix it up with those critters.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Cat in a Space Suit

Google Chrome is doing some very weird things this morning. For some reason I can't get it to upload my pictures, at least not the way I normally do. Usually I hit the photo icon above the draft post and select the pictures to upload, but now it won't let me choose them that way -- the browser freezes when the pop-up window appears. Same thing happens with Flickr, so it's not a Blogger problem. I can, however, drag the photos into the post. I don't know whether I need to update my browser or what. Very weird.

Anyway, I hope this isn't an indication of how my day is going to go. It's already been a bit challenging. I woke up at 1:30 a.m. and could not go back to sleep, thinking about a variety of work-related dramas -- mainly whether I'll be required to loan computer chargers again, and how that system should work. You may remember that aspect of my job went away with Covid, but now the school is thinking about bringing it back, and I'm dreading it. We were supposed to loan chargers only in emergencies, but by the time we stopped I was giving out dozens a day, and I had to create a system of policies and penalties that was exhausting to manage. I'd rather just not open the door again.

Remember that rock concert I was supposed to go to on Sept. 22? Well, I've been having second thoughts about that too. A co-worker and I planned this outing before the pandemic, and then the concert got postponed, but now it's been rescheduled. I've recently been in crowded venues like restaurants and movie theaters without any ill effects, but a rock concert -- where people are going to be yelling and singing and spraying respiratory droplets like Rainbird lawn sprinklers -- seems riskier. I told Colin, my co-worker, about my doubts, and he seems fine with me not going, but I feel guilty sticking him with an unused ticket. I told him yesterday he should try to find someone else, and if he can't I'll go. So we'll see what happens.

Someone found this lying on the floor of the library the other day. It's a pin (as in jewelry) made of wood. Do you recognize that cat? I don't, but a friend (who has small children) said it looked familiar and we spent lots of time trying to figure out its identity. (These are the kinds of crucial research questions that crop up in the life of a librarian.) You'd be amazed at the quantity and variety of images you get when you Google "cat in a space suit." Or even "astronaut cat pin." But none of them look quite like this particular cat.

I never knew astronaut cats were such a thing.

(Top photo: A sunny street near Piccadilly Circus, Sept. 5.)