Saturday, August 18, 2018

The Cat that Shat

Back in the '90s and aughts, before Olga was a twinkle in anyone's eye, I had cats. This was before Dave, when I lived in Florida and then in New York, and my cats were named Howard and Armenia, after two busy parallel streets in South Tampa.

Well, Howard died a very old cat in the spring of 2004. That left Armenia, who was about half Howard's age, all alone. I decided later that year to adopt a kitten to give Armenia some company.

The plan went disastrously wrong. Armenia, always a bit high strung and feisty, hated that kitten. And the kitten, being young and energetic and insane like all kittens, was in Armenia's face all the time. Georgia (as I named her) chased Armenia, pounced on her, ate her food and pestered her incessantly. Most adult cats would simply lay the smackdown on the kitten and thus establish dominance, but Armenia, for some reason, could never bring herself to do so.

Georgia quickly came to rule the roost, and Armenia basically had a nervous breakdown. She stopped using the litter box and -- to put it delicately -- began relieving her bowels on my couch. And not just once, either. She did it over and over and over again.

(Fortunately, she continued peeing in the litter box. Why she could do that and not poop there, I have no idea. Cats!)

The couch (which of course was WHITE) remained relatively unscathed because after the first two times, I wrapped it in a layer of Hefty bags topped by towels and a bedsheet. It wasn't particularly pleasant to sit on -- even with me promptly doing laundry whenever needed -- but I figured it was all temporary, just an adjustment while Armenia worked through her kitten hatred and her revenge pooping.

But no. Armenia never adapted to the kitten. After several weeks, I returned Georgia to her original owners (who thankfully wanted her back anyway) and spent the next several months trying to get PTSD-stricken Armenia reacquainted with her litter box.

During this trying time, I joked that I was going to write a children's book called "The Cat that Shat." In a Seussian vein, of course. I even made a playful stab at it, which I faithfully recorded in my journal at the time:

The cat sat
Not thin and not fat.
Just the right size, this cat.

Suddenly wild,
It leapt and flew like a bat.
And then, it shat.

It hopped on the couch,
Went into a crouch
And out came its lunch.

Who needs litter?
Boxes don't matter
With a fine couch to splatter!

So the cat that shat
Sought more food like a rat,
Saying, "I'll have some of that!"

Thus fueling the engine,
She hissed and she spat,
Ran to the sofa,
Uncoiled her sphincter

"It'll make millions!" I wrote optimistically.

At the peak of the crisis, I was seriously afraid I might have to put Armenia to sleep. I lived in a studio apartment and I could not cope with a busy urban life, a full-time job and an incontinent cat.

But fortunately, "The Cat that Shat" has a happy ending! Over a period of months, Armenia gradually calmed down, her PTSD subsided, she renewed her relationship with her litter box and I was able to take all the protective layers off the couch except the bedsheet (just in case). She lived another four years before dying at age 14 in November 2009. (The couch lasted a few more years, until 2011, when we ditched it to move to London.)

So what do you think of my foray into children's literature? Should I hire an illustrator?

(Photo: Armenia by my side on the sheet-covered couch, May 2007.)

Friday, August 17, 2018


Six years ago, in August 2012, I walked past this pair of shopfronts up in Cricklewood. I liked Hair by San-Monique, with its retro beauty shop look and coordinating pink flowers and front door, so I took the photo above.

Well, I came across the same shops again the other day, and was saddened to see they now look like this:

Apparently that whole strip of storefronts has been emptied in preparation for demolition and rebuilding. Some residents aren't happy about it. Too bad San-Monique is no more. According to that linked newspaper article, it had been there for 50 years!

I finally figured out how to edit and splice together the fox videos I wrote about yesterday. I had to buy a video conversion program to change the format before I could edit them in iMovie, and weirdly, the conversion stripped out the date and time stamps.

So here's an edited version, for my truly dedicated fox fans, that shows more fox and less dead air! There are four clips, taken between 9:45 p.m. Wednesday and 4:30 a.m. Thursday, in that video.

I tried to film the fox again last night in a different part of the garden and got nada. I guess he/she isn't always around.

Work was fine yesterday. It's good to see everybody again, and I got to meet our new middle school librarian. Weirdly, my desk, which used to be a gigantic semicircular Starship Enterprise kind of thing, has been cut in half, and fifty percent of it was taken away and demolished. The bosses want to create more flexible space, I guess. I'm not convinced this is a good idea, because we stored a lot of stuff behind that desk and my colleagues did occasionally sit there, behind the now-demolished portion. But I'm rolling with it!

We had some drama when the workers were tearing the old desk apart and a piece of it crashed down on one guy's head. He had a gash that required medical attention, so we called the school nurses and eventually sent him to the hospital. The desk strikes back!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

More Nosy Foxes

Yesterday I got the bright idea to finally figure out the clock and video functions on our automated garden cam. So now, when I get nighttime photos of the foxes and other wildlife, they will be correctly time-stamped -- and I can make videos of the critters walking around. Woo hoo!

I even got a few video clips last night -- but for some reason I can't make them load into iMovie so I can edit them. Here's one:


If I can ever figure out how to splice them together and get rid of the dead time, we'll have an interesting little movie. They are .avi clips but iMovie won't recognize them. I have no idea why. Technology -- argh!

Meanwhile, above you'll find another bug-and-flower photo for a splash of color -- a hoverfly on one of our zinnias.

I spent yesterday mostly reading, a book called "Why I No Longer Talk to White People About Race" by Reni Eddo-Lodge. It's our "community read" for work, meaning all the faculty and staff are reading it and we'll be discussing it in the next week or so. It's good and very interesting, making me think about the ways in which many of the world's roadways are paved for me, a white man, while others find them rocky and even impassable. I may write more about this after I've finished the book and given it some more thought.

I am off to work today. It seems a bit strange and surreal for summer to be over, but our Japanese anemones are blooming -- they're the garden alarm clocks for back-to-school time!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018


This business, a fitness studio in West Hampstead, has one of the most perfectly reflective windows I've seen in a while. Olga and I got a nice portrait out of it the other day when we walked past!

I haven't had too much trouble with jet lag after my Florida trip -- at least, not yet. Despite my overnight flight -- where I dozed but didn't really sleep much -- I stayed awake all day yesterday and then got a good solid night's sleep last night. I feel pretty normal this morning. After Vietnam, making the short hop to Florida seems like going next door to borrow a cup of sugar.

I did some laundry, cleaned the house a bit, and took the dog on her morning walk. She insisted on going down to Billy Fury Way and walking its graffitied length, and I noticed that a big derelict pub next to the overground station on Finchley Road has been demolished. I'm not sure when that happened. I turn my back for a second and the neighborhood changes! Anyway, it feels good to get back to routines, especially with work beginning tomorrow. Hard to believe it's that time already.

Did you see the essay by Stephen Miller's uncle in Politico? It directly addresses a question I've wondered about many times myself -- how could someone descended from immigrants and refugees be so hostile to immigration? "I have watched with dismay and increasing horror as my nephew, an educated man who is well aware of his heritage, has become the architect of immigration policies that repudiate the very foundation of our family’s life in this country," writes Miller's uncle, David Glosser. It's an excellent piece. I wonder if Miller will respond to it.

There was also a fascinating article in The New Yorker (I know, I say that all the time) about the Dutch criminal underground, and one crime family in particular. If, like me, you think Amsterdam is a land of quaint canals, bicycles and scrupulously law-abiding citizens, well -- think again. Like any large city it has its murderers, drug runners and other criminal elements!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Back Home Again

Well, I'm back in London safe and sound. I barely had a chance to set my bag down before Dave was excitedly giving me a tour of the garden, showing me what's happened in my absence. On the plus side, remember those cosmos seeds I planted in the spring? We finally have our first flower!

And our milk parsley, part of the wildflower garden, is blooming too.

On the minus side, the squirrels completely demolished one of the calendulas -- it was gnawed down to a raw stem sticking out of the ground. Who knows why those critters do what they do.

Here's Olga's reaction to my being home: "Play with me!"

Before I left Jacksonville yesterday, my brother and I made our obligatory pilgrimage to Waffle House. One of our waitresses -- her name was Jerkisha -- wore a sparkly rhinestone choker with her uniform, which gave my waffle a bit of blingy glamor. I appreciated that.

My flights were uneventful, except that the Danish men's flag football team was on my plane from Miami to Heathrow, having apparently won third place in an international tournament. They were carrying a huge trophy (apparently you can carry on a huge trophy, just FYI) and I must say they improved the scenery on the plane quite a bit.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Bugs and Snakes

Mom and I took our walk again yesterday morning. We saw lots of interesting insects, like the lubber grasshopper above. They're all over the place at this time of year, flopping around in the woods like big clumsy drunkards.

We saw this eastern amberwing dragonfly, which cocked its twitchy head to keep both eyes on me...

...and this tiny orange butterfly, which I think is known as a pearl crescent.

But yesterday's most exciting insect sighting was...

...a hummingbird moth, which I don't think I've ever seen before. Sorry the picture is so terrible -- we saw it on the way back from lunch and all I had with me was my iPhone, and that little moth was not slowing down. (A reminder, once again, why I should ALWAYS CARRY MY CAMERA even though it weighs almost as much as Olga.)

In flight, this amazing little creature really does look like a tiny hummingbird -- maybe two inches long.

And finally -- because I'm in Florida and I couldn't leave without bringing you a picture of at least one snake -- Mom and I watched this black racer climb a maple tree. This is another sight that I'm not sure I've ever seen, though I know snakes DO climb trees. It went almost to the top before executing a somewhat hasty turnaround and descent. Maybe it was looking for a lubber grasshopper?

I'll be taking off today to return to London. It's been a good visit, and we got a lot done, but now I have to get ready to go back to work on Thursday!

Oh, and remember my Goodwill finds from yesterday's post? Well, I went back for the West Virginia Penitentiary shirt. I just couldn't let that one get past me. Maybe if I wear it while walking Olga we'll look intimidating?

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Camera Geeks and Seacamp

Why do so many older guys love to talk about cameras?

I love taking pictures, but I am completely indifferent to the technology. The beauty of photography for me is in choosing and framing the images. Yes, I know how to set the camera and get the shot, but I've never understood these guys who want to sit around and talk about F-stops and camera speeds and megapixels and essentially reduce all of photography to numbers.

And then they want to talk about camera gear, lenses and tripods and filters and how much they spent for each item, which also makes my eyes roll back in my head.

Last night, Mom and I went down to the dock on Julington Creek, a tributary of the St. John's River, to watch the sunset. We found that some of her neighbors, an older man and his wife, had colonized the end of the dock with a tripod and were taking pictures. Of course I pulled out my own camera, and the man proceeded to quiz me about how I was shooting, on what settings, etc. He was nice enough but LORD.

It was a good hour for that golden evening light. I got several shots of my mom as she sat chatting with the neighbors. The sunlight really was that color. I haven't adjusted it at all.

We hung around the house most of the day yesterday. In fact, after we took our morning walk and sat on her balcony hoping the hummingbird would return (it didn't) and had lunch, I decided I had to get out of there. So I announced that we were going to Goodwill and then to Starbucks.

My mom is not at all a thrift store person, but she tagged along obligingly. I had to make my Goodwill sweep pretty quickly, but I did find a couple of prizes. I got a nice shirt for work and also this:

It's a t-shirt from an educational center in the Florida Keys that I attended in the eighth grade!

In fact, here's a really terrible picture of me at Seacamp in 1980, hoisting a conch shell that I'd found while snorkeling. If I remember correctly it had something living in it -- a crab, maybe. I didn't try to take it home.

Anyway, I was pretty psyched by that t-shirt. I also found one from the West Virginia Penitentiary that gave us a good laugh -- even the people browsing near us thought it was a hoot. I kind of wish I'd bought it too. It would have given me a reputation in London.

After Goodwill and Starbucks we came home and watched a funny Tina Fey and Amy Pohler movie called "Sisters." Watching it with Mom was kind of mind-blowing -- there were a fair number of penis jokes and that sort of thing -- but she laughed up a storm so, hey, no harm done. It's not like she doesn't know how the world works.

Speaking of which, I think her Algerian pornography problem on Facebook may be getting slightly better. I've been reporting and blocking dozens of accounts that have been recommended to her as "friends," and I'm hoping the Facebook algorithm is beginning to recognize that those are not the kind of friends she wants.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Condo Wildlife

Mom and I aren't spending a whole lot of time outside in this heat, but in the mornings we walk around the condo complex just to get some exercise. Yesterday we came across this big ol' softshell turtle swimming in the pond. Talk about a dinosaur!

In the woodsy swamp below Mom's balcony, these little red flowers are growing. I don't remember ever seeing them before. The plant is a wild bush bean (Macroptilium lathyroides), and although it's naturalized in Florida apparently it's not a native -- it comes from Mexico and the Caribbean.

But the birds like them, or at least the hummingbirds do! This tiny ruby-throated hummingbird buzzed around the bush beans for several minutes, sipping nectar, before landing in a tree.

We also saw this delicate, neon-bright orchard spider (Leucauge venusta).

And finally, an anhinga, doing its bizarre ballet on a dead branch in the turtle pond. It was sitting normally until I walked nearby, when it began doing a lot of dramatic stretching. I think I stressed it out!

Friday, August 10, 2018

The Heavenly Hot Rod

My mom and I went to Publix yesterday to do a little grocery shopping, and when we came out of the store, this was parked next to her car. Not your ordinary Toyota or Nissan!

(That's my mom in the background, waiting patiently for me to stop taking pictures.)

The car was a curious mix of religious ministry, political advocacy and fun. It had the words "Heavenly Hot Rods" painted on it in several places, along with Bible verses and the Christian fish, and was adorned with several plastic rats and lizards, a license plate declaring it a "Welfare Cadilac" and an orange "Remove Before Flight" tag, among other things. The interior was carpeted and upholstered in faux leopard.

And up top...

...a bobblehead of Donald Trump. Although doesn't it look more like Dan Quayle?

It was a peculiar and entertaining find, but needless to say, if I had a conversation with this person I'm pretty sure we'd be arguing fairly quickly.

Aside from the Heavenly Hot Rod, our day was uneventful. I tidied up a few things around my mom's condo, but the place is in pretty good shape after my top-down cleaning in February, so there's not a lot of work required on this trip. We watched our newly digitized home movies, and about four episodes of a Tom Selleck show called "Blue Bloods" which isn't bad. American television is taxing -- a lot of VERY LOUD commercials.

I've also been trying to clean up my mom's Facebook account. I've discovered a serious flaw with Facebook. Somehow, my mom -- who only has about a dozen friends -- got on the radar of some people with frankly pornographic Arabic-language profiles. I don't know whether they're real people or just bots. But anyway, now all of her suggested friends are these same sorts of accounts, complete with pictures of various anatomical parts and sex acts. My mother is 81 years old and doesn't need this aggravation, but you CANNOT TURN OFF Facebook's friend-suggestion function, nor can I figure out how to reset it so she no longer gets this content. Based on what I've read online from people with identical problems, my only option seems to be to report each individual suggested friend for inappropriate content, and that's ridiculous given that fifty new ones appear every day. So apparently my poor mother just has to live with Algerian pornography, or we have to delete her account and set up a new one. What a ridiculous situation! (Fortunately, I don't think her real friends see the list of people being suggested to her by Facebook -- I think this is a private annoyance rather than a public embarrassment.)

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Mexican Wrestlers in the Men's Room

I suppose it's inevitable that I join the national chorus of people complaining about the heat. But August and Florida have never been a good combination, so I'm not surprised. We're pretty limited in what we can do outdoors in this kind of weather -- we take little early-morning walks around the neighborhood that leave us feeling as limp and faded as this flag.

My brother, mom and I went to lunch yesterday at a taco place near Jacksonville Beach with this amazing mural on the side of the building. I got a taco salad because I feel like I haven't had any vegetables in a couple of days, but of course a taco salad isn't exactly nutritious. There was romaine lettuce and a few tomatoes, and I got some "Mexican street corn" on the side -- but it had a cheese topping.

So basically, I'm living a life of no exercise and dubiously nutritious food. Welcome to America!

The bathrooms in the taco restaurant were painted with images of Mexican wrestlers. Or at least the men's room was. I can't vouch for what was going on in the women's. I should have asked my mom.

I'm sure you don't remember -- and why would you? -- but this glassware was the subject of one of the first photos that I took with my first serious camera back in 1983. It used to belong to my grandmother, and then I owned it for several years, and now my brother keeps it on a windowsill in his kitchen. The blue pieces are very lightweight "carnival glass" that I think came from Cape Cod back in the 1930s. The red one may have come from there, too, but it's better quality Anchor-Hocking in a color called ruby red -- vases like that are omnipresent on eBay, or at least were the last time I looked.

Last night we started out watching more Harry Potter, until my brother basically demanded that my niece turn it off so we could watch something else. (We switched to an old episode of "Miami Vice.") My older niece seems to be going through a Harry Potter phase at the moment -- she's very artistic, and she's been making wands and spell books and writing quills all sorts of Potteresque items. She still has a thing for dragons, too, and she uses the iPad to draw dragons and gryphons and other mythical beasts sitting in the palm of her hand. It's pretty cool -- I watched her produce one yesterday. She can work that iPad like nobody's business, and she's very imaginative in determining what the beasts should look like (why not a snow leopard?) and what they should be doing (blowing smoke?).

Today I'm moving from my brother's to my mom's, where I'll stay the next few nights on her couch. I don't want to stay too long in any one place and wear out my welcome! At least I had the good sense to replace the wine I drank at my brother's, which as far as I'm concerned is pretty much the cardinal rule of visiting anyone.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Trailer Park Chicken

This plastic chicken lives in my brother's front yard, where it stays tucked behind a hedge plant, invisible from the street. We know it's a ridiculous and tacky lawn ornament, but there's a story behind it.

My brother, like me and many other people, went through a period as a teenager when he'd occasionally steal small and inexpensive or odd items as a prank. The chicken was one of his heists. It came from someone's yard in a trailer park across from the Wal-Mart in our hometown.

It lived in my mother's garage for years, and after JM went out on his own, the chicken went with him. We laughed about it last night, agreeing that the chicken has lived a much longer life (30 years at this point!) than it probably would have if it had stayed in front of that trailer.

JM is a saver. While I tend to pass things along or throw them out, keeping my load of possessions relatively light, JM holds onto them. Not to say that he is a pack rat or a hoarder -- he's very organized and everything is meticulously preserved and in its proper place. Coming over to his house is always fun for me because it's like browsing our childhoods once again -- he's got paperback books we both read, pictures that used to hang in his bedroom, and all kinds of Volkswagen paraphernalia from my dad's garage.

Yesterday we went to my Mom's in the morning and spent some time with her. We ran a few errands and took her to lunch. (I had an avocado veggie wrap, which sounds healthy, but given how big it was and how many fries came with it and how much dressing it contained, I'm pretty sure health was an illusion.) We got her DVD player functioning -- it's been out of commission since the last visit from her cable TV guy, who apparently unplugged everything except the cable. Now she can watch those home movies I had digitized, if she's at all motivated.

Then we came back to my brother's and I watched (kind of) a couple of Harry Potter movies with my nieces, and wrestled with my brother's dog, Queens:

(Queens used to have a sister named Brooklyn, but they were a bit too rambunctious together, so Brooklyn went to live elsewhere.)

Look at those beady dog eyes!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Optimism and Pessimism While in Transit

Well, here I am in wacky Florida, as you can tell by this artwork I photographed in the Miami airport. It's a darn good thing I took this picture, because it's the only one I have from my adventures so far and without it I'd have nothing to blog.

In fact, let's jazz it up with various permutations of the Waterlogue app:

All my travel went pretty well, fortunately. On my flight to the states, I sat next to a very skinny man who face-timed with his lady friend all the way through cabin preparation, gate departure and taxiing to the runway, patently ignoring announcements from the cabin crew to turn off personal electronic devices. For some reason this really annoyed me. Why does he think he's special? I really thought he might just stay on that phone all the way through liftoff -- but no, he switched it off just in time for us to rumble down the runway.

Still, I decided I didn't like him, and I continued to silently not like him for the next nine hours.

I read a very entertaining book, "The Lost City of the Monkey God" by Douglas Preston, who was part of an expedition a few years ago to find a mythical ruined city in the jungles of Honduras. He'd written about this "lost city" for The New Yorker and other publications, and I really enjoyed his account of using modern technology (lasers!) as well as good old-fashioned insect-infested, machete-whacking exploration to reveal the jungle's secrets.

I also caught up on several New Yorkers, including one featuring an article about whether the world is better or worse off now than in previous years. I don't know about you, but I often read the news and conclude that everything's going to hell in a handbasket. But the article (citing several books and authors) points out that by many measurements, life is better now than it ever has been -- humans are better at fighting disease and hunger, crime is down, life spans are increasing and more and more people worldwide are living better lives. (That's not to say there aren't trouble spots, obviously, and big problems like climate change will be ongoing challenges.)

Reading the news can lead to despair because news -- usually -- is about what goes wrong. That's just the nature of the beast. So CNN or Fox News or the newspaper turns into a long list of daily missteps and mistakes and accidents and lies and deceit, and wouldn't that bring anyone down? Perhaps it is helpful to see things in the broader context -- the arc of the universe bending toward justice, even despite Donald Trump.

I still wonder about the resource consumption required to lift us all up, and the environmental damage we're seeing as a result. I'm not convinced it's sustainable in the long term, even with all our human ingenuity. But in any case, it was an interesting article.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Brent Cross

Yesterday morning I took Olga on a long walk up to Brent Cross, an area north of us where there's a big shopping center.

We didn't need to go shopping, but I wanted to shoot some photos in the area. It's a fairly gritty urban environment, at least along the main roads -- you know I like that kind of thing.

Among the curious finds of the day -- two chandeliers and two bags of apples, all discarded on the same corner.

Olga was very patient during this urban exploration, trudging pantingly beside me and waiting while I took my photos. As a reward I took her to Gladstone Park, where we've been a few times before.

This was clearly the best part of the day, as far as she was concerned. Love that high summer grass!

Afterwards we walked back to West Hampstead and met Dave at a cafe for brunch. We sat out on the sidewalk (because dog), and I had Dave bring the sunblock because it was baking out there, at least by British standards. (It was in the mid-80s -- which I know is nothing compared to many American locales.)

Oh, remember our continuing mouse-control saga, and how each time we catch a mouse in a trap, I put the tiny carcass out in the back garden for the critters to take? Well, that system has worked well. The mice always disappear overnight. I've been curious about what's taking them -- a fox? A neighborhood cat?

So a few nights ago I put out our wildlife cam...

... and now we have an answer! Definitely NOT a cat, at least not in this case.

(Yes, I know the time and date on the picture are completely wrong. I just haven't set the camera correctly.)

This morning, I'm off to Florida! I'm planning to leave momentarily for Heathrow and my flight to Miami and then Jacksonville. Coming to you next from the Sunshine State!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Here Be Dragons

This is Inglewood Road, a street not far from our flat. It's a little older than the street where we live, probably Victorian, lined with terraced houses on each side. I often walk Olga there, and the other day I took a stroll looking (just out of curiosity) for the site of a big neighborhood fire that occurred while Dave and I were away in Vietnam.

I found the fire-damaged building, but that's not the most interesting thing I noticed. There's something odd about these houses.

Most of them are topped with a finial. That in itself isn't odd -- many houses of that era have a little touch of decoration on the roof, usually a spire. (Houses on our street have pointy spires, in fact.) Along this street, the finial of choice seems to be a flower.

But two houses...

...have dragons on the roof!

They're right across the street from each other, and the only two houses (from what I can tell) to be so adorned. I wonder what the story is? Were the owners of these houses Welsh? Did they have to pay extra for their dragons? Inquiring minds want to know!

Saturday, August 4, 2018

The Neighborhood Meerkat

A few random photos from our early-morning dog walks...

First, someone set these four perfectly good chairs out on the street. I'm not sure whether they're meant to be trash or they're just being stored outside that garage. Olga seemed perplexed, too.

(That garage, by the way, is crammed with stuff. We've occasionally been walking past when the doors have been open, and holy cow, it's like a used-furniture dealership in there.)

The rare and exotic Orange Peel Butterfly!

This concerns me greatly, but I don't want to think about it too much.

And finally, one of our neighbors down the street keeps this bright yellow meerkat in the front window, guarding the household. (In parts of London, the meerkat is the symbol of the neighborhood watch program.) They've also done the reverse of what most homeowners on our street have done -- they removed the paved parking area in front of their house and installed grass! Most of our front gardens have been vanishing to make room for more cars. I'm glad they bucked the trend.

I barely left the house yesterday. Aside from Olga's early-morning walk, I stayed home and read most of an Ian Rankin novel and took care of some small tasks. I woke up in the morning thinking, "What day is my flight to Florida? It's not today, is it?" I keep having this strange feeling that I'm going to simply forget to go. But no, my flight is Monday.

Friday, August 3, 2018

A Jersey Tiger, and Cuteness

It's time for my nearly annual garden sighting of a Jersey Tiger moth. On Wednesday, this one flew past in a blur of color (its underwings are orange) and landed in a tree near our patio. I've seen Jersey Tigers at this time of year in four of the last five years -- supposedly they're only established in the southernmost parts of England, including London.

I am happy to report that my four-year project to transcribe all my handwritten journals (from 1989 to 2010) into a private online blog is FINISHED! Woo hoo! I realize this means nothing to anyone except me, but it's a huge relief to have it done. I've edited them to remove the embarrassing or super-private stuff that I probably shouldn't have written down anyway, while striving to keep them honest. Also, I used to glue all my old ticket stubs from movies, shows and events into the pages of my journal, and I even scanned all that stuff and included it with the transcriptions. So now I really could destroy the paper ones, which is probably the next step. I'm not even sure how to go about it. How does one destroy a big box of spiral notebooks? Burning or shredding would take ages.

On Wednesday's post, some of you asked how old our avocado tree is. I think I first blogged a picture of it here, when it was just a wee sprout. (Apparently I've turned it into a Scottish avocado.) So it's six years old now.

When Dave and I were in Cambodia and Vietnam, I picked up this plastic bag somewhere along the way. (I mean I literally picked it up, though I can't remember where.) I kept it because I thought it was amusing, illustrating that Asian obsession with cuteness.

Oh, and I mailed in my overseas ballot for the Florida primary elections in late August. (I still vote in Florida, as it's my family home.) These aren't the crucial elections, which come later, but this first round helps narrow the field by selecting the Democratic candidates for each office, and I try to participate in every step of the process. I had to do some reading to decide who to support, but the trusty Tampa Bay Times helped me out. My world view is certainly consistent with that newspaper's!