Sunday, September 30, 2012

Doors of Notting Hill

Here it is, Hugh Grant fans: The door from the movie "Notting Hill."

Yes, the famous "blue door" really exists. At the time of filming, it apparently belonged to Richard Curtis, the movie's writer. Grant's character supposedly lived here and worked at a travel bookshop nearby -- a bookshop based on a real business that sadly closed last year. Until recently this door was painted black, but then someone clued in to the fact that the entire planet expects it to be blue, and obliged.

The bookshop scenes were filmed on Portobello Road, in a storefront that today is clearly labeled "Notting Hill" in the same typeface as the film's promotional materials, on a bright blue background. There's even a movie poster in the widow. Yet you'd be surprised how often I hear confused tourists trying to figure out which store it could be. (Strangely, it sells nondescript shoes.)

She's just a girl, standing in front of a boy, etc. etc. etc.

Here's another interesting show-biz related doorway. I just learned the other day that the former home of Dusty Springfield is within short walking distance of our flat! She lived here from 1968 to 1973, a time when she was already a big star and when she released "Dusty in Memphis," perhaps her best album.

And finally, this curious door is located on Princedale Road near Pottery Lane, named for the kilns that used to stand in that neighborhood back when it was a rough part of town. (Hard to believe now.) I'm not sure what's up with that face.

Does it mean something? Or is it just someone being goofy?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Gunnersbury Park

My workload lightened significantly this week, thank goodness. Unlike last week, I wasn't lying awake at night or pecking away on a keyboard all day. I just had a few tasks to stay on top of things, all quite manageable.

On Thursday, in fact, I was able to take a long, long walk westward through Chiswick and Ealing. I set out about 9 a.m. and got home again at about 3 p.m. In between I took lots of photos and explored Gunnersbury Park, a big grassy expanse that includes some 200-year-old mansions and other structures.

As you can see, it's starting to look like fall around here!

Here's a map of my route. I walked about 7.5 miles altogether. The map shows me circling the park, but only because I couldn't figure out how to plot my walk through it.

In Gunnersbury Park, I found some confused crocuses growing in the grass.

I also found what look like gothic ruins. I believe these used to be stables, built in the 18th century as a reproduction of a gothic structure -- what's known as a "folly." Inside the walls are garden plots, perhaps used by area residents.

The ruins are interesting. Nearby are a greenhouse and two large mansions, once occupied by members of the Rothschild family. One is apparently now a museum.

At the edge of the park's circular pond stands another "folly," a columned and pedimented structure dating from the 18th century -- reportedly the park's oldest building. When I walked past, a homeless-looking guy was sunning himself in the portico.

Gunnersbury was an interesting discovery. I'd like to go back sometime and check out the architecture and the landscaping a little more closely -- maybe when my feet aren't quite so sore!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Oh Yeah, That Zen Thing

Another thing I've been thinking about lately is my Zen practice -- such as it is. As many of you know, I was a member of a Zendo for about five years when I lived in New York. I took vows, got a Dharma name, attended regularly and did my best to practice diligently.

After I moved to New Jersey, I meditated less. And when we moved to London, I pretty much let go entirely. I've tried sitting here a handful of times. I went to a local Buddhist center once or twice, but it's not in the tradition I know and it didn't really click with me.

I've written before about my attempts to maintain my practice and continue sitting. Lately, I've been thinking that perhaps the Zen way to handle this is to simply realize that my practice has shifted. I don't mean to give up entirely, and the intention is important -- the spark that leads to a more mindful, gentle existence. I'm still practicing in small ways -- checking in with my breath as I sit on the tube, tuning in to each moment as I watch the streets around me for photographic opportunities, trying to be kind and keep my cool, even when slow knots of tourists block my path on the sidewalk. So maybe I'm not sitting for lengthy periods. Does  that mean I'm failing, or just that my life is in a different place now?

Maybe rather than wondering whether my practice lives up to my ideas, whether I'm "doing it right," and feeling guilty about the ways in which it falls short, it's enough to see the ways in which I am still practicing. I don't mean to justify laziness, but Zen is not an external thing that I have to achieve. It's here already. It's with me all the time. It is me.

(Photo: Brick Lane, on Saturday.)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fixing Windows, and Getting Older

A lot of things are running through my head today.

First of all, and worthy of note, I voted. My mail-in ballot arrived on Tuesday and I opened it up, marked my choices, walked it to the post office and mailed it back right away. Take that, Mitt Romney.

Second, I've been using the past couple of days to complete tasks that have been lingering. I ordered a handyman from the Kensington & Chelsea Council (which owns our apartment building) to come and fix a few of our windows, which had slid off the tracks or were otherwise wonky. (He had to order parts, naturally, so the windows still aren't fixed, but at least we're moving in that direction.) I descaled our tea kettle, removing a year of lime residue left behind by the mineral-laden London water. I initiated a couple of financial and business transactions that need to be completed.

I'm also thinking about Ms. Moon's recent post about becoming invisible with age. She experienced the feeling when some oblivious guy on a dock blocked her from walking past while carrying a heavy container -- a guy who might have noticed and shifted aside, she suspects, for a younger woman. My mom made similar complaints while I was growing up. I vividly remember her saying, "All those men who hold doors for you when you're 25 slam them in your face when you're 45."

I haven't really experienced this feeling -- partly because I'm a man, I suppose, although the standard of beauty in the world of gay men is probably every bit as demanding as it is for women. It's more that I was never all that conventionally attractive and so never got the attention in the first place. I don't mean that to sound at all self-pitying -- in fact, if anything, I'm happy about it. Being ordinary-looking, maybe even a little odd-looking, saved me from a lifetime of bullshit, and it's certainly saving me pain as I age. It's harder to let go of something you once had than to miss something you never had.

Having said that, I am at a time in my life when I have to let go of some physical things. I stopped going to the gym entirely when we moved to England. I didn't feel like we could afford it, for one thing. But I also felt like it was time. The gym was getting harder and harder, and maintaining muscles for the sake of vanity turns on you at some point -- your muscles start to look stringy and over-worked rather than bulgey and hot. I pretty much gave up on them. I still do sit ups and push ups every couple days, and I've been running, though I'm contemplating giving that up too -- at the ripe old age of (almost) 46, walking feels more my speed.

It's an interesting thing, aging. My right index finger has an achy middle joint that I'm almost certain is pre-arthritic. My lower back kills when I first wake up. A few days ago I had aches in my left hip, which came (I suspect) from some strained connective tissue and forced me to be careful about my posture when sitting and my gait when running. You always hear people talk about little aches and pains as they get older -- and by golly, there really are little aches and pains!

Anyway, there's more, but I'll stop here because otherwise this will be one of those overlong blog entries that drive me crazy. Things running through my be continued!

(Photo: Shoreditch, on Saturday.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Very Hungry Caterpillar

This is one of the creatures that's demolishing our horseradish plant. Could it be an offspring of the Cabbage White butterfly that I saw almost two weeks ago? If so, it grew really fast! It's the only caterpillar I can see on the plant, but as you can tell, it's going to town.

It may be the lone survivor, partly because I decided to intervene and kill off some of the eggs laid by the butterfly. The day after I watched it lay those eggs, I plucked many of them off with tweezers, which wasn't easy because they were incredibly tiny. I left some behind, too, but the poor plant just isn't very big and couldn't have sustained all those caterpillars if they'd all hatched. Call me a caterpillar murderer. I tried to walk the Middle Path.

(Besides, the Cabbage White came back later and laid some more. I left those alone. It was like fighting Niagara.)

We'll see what happens to this guy (and his siblings, if there are any). With the weather getting chilly, I can't imagine he'll have much more time to grow before he needs to crawl into the ground -- or wherever -- and pupate, or hibernate, or a combination of the two.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Gherkin, Salman and Dexter

This is the view looking south on Bishopsgate from Shoreditch, at Sir Norman Foster's famous 30 St. Mary Axe, better known as "The Gherkin." Isn't it a great building? I'd love to see it from the inside, but from what I understand there's no regular public access. Someone needs to open up a cafe in that nose cone.

The rainy weather continued yesterday, and I had a blessedly low-key day. I did the laundry and a few work-related tasks, but mostly caught up on my New Yorker magazines. I enjoyed Salman Rushdie's account of the changes in his life that followed the publication of "The Satanic Verses" in 1989 and the Iranian fatwa that followed. The article was especially appropriate given all the recent outrage and violence in the Muslim world over that terrible YouTube video. (Not that I am suggesting the video is culturally comparable to Rushdie's book.) I'm thinking now I should read "The Satanic Verses" -- I never tried it because some critics didn't take kindly to it, and the consensus seemed to be that it wasn't that good. But if I'm still curious more than 20 years later, that says something, doesn't it?

I also had a good long conversation with my mom via Skype, in which she filled me in on the neighborhood plane crash. Yes indeed, there is no end to the excitement in Pasco County, Florida. Turns out it wasn't much of a spectacle, though -- it happened way out in a pasture and even though Mom lives fairly close to the scene, she heard and saw nothing.

In the evening, Dave and I tried to watch "Dexter," having exhausted our supply of "Breaking Bad." I did not like "Dexter," not even a little bit. People have raved about it, but I found it way too bloody and creepy. Maybe I simply haven't cultivated the appropriate level of ironic detachment -- but at this point, I think I'll skip it.

Monday, September 24, 2012


Here is our windowsill avocado, which seems to be growing gangbusters since I freed it from its pot on the balcony a few weeks ago. I suppose it will have to go back in the dirt at some point. I'm surprised pulling it up didn't kill it, and I hope replanting it doesn't either. It's proven surprisingly resilient so far!

Although the trees are mostly still green, we're seeing signs of autumn here in London. Yesterday was chilly, gray and wonderfully rainy. (Wonderful for those of us who could spend the day inside, anyway. I'm not sure how Pat the Balcony Spider felt about it -- she spent the day huddled under a leaf.) Dave and I sat inside and spent a companionable, cozy, nearly silent morning reading (me) and watching YouTube (Dave) on our computers. We're such a modern couple.

I read a sobering article in The New York Times about the amount of energy it takes to run the Internet, and the illusion that all our technology is somehow green and wildly efficient. Seems that's not really the case. It made me wonder what would happen if we someday pull the plug on the Web, or at least on all the dark corners where old web pages hibernate, in order to save energy. And that made me wonder about the longevity of my own blog.

I really need to back up my blog. I haven't done it in years. But even when you back it up, you get an xtml file -- not anything you could easily open and read on your computer. We assume the web will always be capable of hosting xtml files. Somehow that's not as comforting as looking through my old spiral-bound notebooks! (Everything is impermanent, right?)

Prompted by a fellow enthusiast, I also watched an amusing 1976 video about graffiti on YouTube. That hair! Those clothes! (The teacher is especially awesome at about the 7.5-minute mark.) I gotta give the producers credit for distinguishing between artful graffiti and tagging. Even in those days there was some recognition that graffiti and street art could be positive in certain forms.

Finally, Dave and I made up for forgetting our dinner appointment with neighbors Chris and Linda last weekend -- we went to dinner with them in Soho. Poor Dave is still wrestling with the remnants of a cold, and that was bringing him down, but he persevered. After all, we couldn't back out again, could we?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Shoreditch Street Art

I went wandering in Shoreditch yesterday to check out all the new (and new-ish) street art. I hadn't been over there for a couple of months, so I found quite a bit I hadn't yet seen. Some of it was Olympics-themed, like James Cochran's portrait of runner Usain Bolt (above), high on a building overlooking a parking lot.

This corner was once occupied by a Roa squirrel, but lately it had been looking pretty ragged. Probs covered everything up with this mural of an Indian.

I don't know who's behind this. And what is it? Apparently a jellyfish with a cat on its head.

This rope heart/noose by Shok-1 has been up for a while. How about the guy walking beneath in a red outfit?! I couldn't have paid for better timing.

This Damien Hirst-ish unicorn comes to us from Nathan Bowen.

Here are some cool 3-D pieces by Cityzen Kane reminiscent of trilobites. In real life they're very shiny and sparkly; the picture doesn't really do them justice.

I get a big kick out of smaller artworks, too. Bortusk Leer always does amusing characters on newspaper pages.

Every once in a while you find something a little creepy.

Here's one of Mjar's sticker faces. I had to get on my hands and knees to get low enough for a picture. Maybe that's why he's laughing!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Herman and Hoover

Good grief. Someone teach that child some spelling and grammar! Yes, that's me, writing in my childhood diary on the day my brother and I got our dogs, Herman and Hoover.

I've always believed this occurred in 1976, but to the left of the date at the top of this page, it seems to say 1975 in reverse (from the preceding page). So maybe it was 1975, when I was 8 years old. I'm not sure.

Anyway, the back story is, Herman and Hoover were given to us by neighbors. They were part of a litter of four born to parents named Puppy (whom my mom called "the ugliest dog in the world") and Wagglebee. The neighbors named the puppies -- despite what I wrote above, "we" did not choose the names.

After we medicated them for their worm problems, Hoover and Herman became the source of a million family stories. They spent their years running free and trailing my brother and me all over our neighborhood, sometimes at the cost of being picked up by the dog catcher. We repeatedly had to drive down to the county pound and bail them out. But did we put a leash on them? No.

Herman, especially, got in some close scrapes -- she was attacked multiple times by bigger dogs, got her leg caught in someone's bicycle spokes, and I think she was even hit by a car. She was made of steel but dumb as a post, and she cost my parents hundreds in vet bills. Hoover was smarter, or at least more agile, and managed to more or less stay out of trouble.

We didn't try very hard to control those dogs. I suppose we should have, but things were different in those days in the palmettoed wilds of rural Florida. Fortunately they weren't biters.

They were also perpetually infested with fleas -- which for two outdoor dogs in Florida was hard to avoid. Now we have Advantage, where you put a few drops on the animal's neck and that's that. Back then, all we had were those terrible, smelly, poisonous, ineffective plastic flea collars. (Ineffective against vicious subtropical Florida fleas, anyway.)

Both dogs lived to a ripe old age -- I think Hoover died in 1991 and Herman the following year. (I could probably figure out exactly when if I were motivated to root around in more of my obsessive life documentation, but I'm not.) You can see Herman (with me) in her old age here, and Hoover (with my brother) here. Yes, those dogs really are sisters. Mind-blowing, right?

By the way -- that bit about moving was pretty much my imagination. My mom my have idly talked about it, but we never seriously considered moving anywhere, and I spent my entire childhood in the house where my mom still lives. Herman and Hoover are buried somewhere in the side yard.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Crowded Brain

Will this week ever end? Good lord.

I have been bogged down in a hellacious period at work, which I won't bother to bore you with. I will say that I wound up literally screaming in frustration on Monday night, right before I went to bed. Let me tell you, getting that hot under the collar right before bedtime wreaks havoc on your sleep patterns. Or lack thereof.

But the things that prompted me to scream seem to be getting addressed, so that's good, and the events that have produced my huge workload are almost over. I don't think this will be typical of the new job. I think this is just an unusually intense period.

Breathing. Breathing.

Despite all that, yesterday was actually a really good day. The weather was beautiful, so I put my new favorite band, Stornoway, on my iPod and went running, which did wonders for my outlook. I vacuumed the house, got caught up on some reading, repotted some bushy purple heather I bought at an overpriced housewares store at Notting Hill Gate.

We've been wrestling with Dave's medical insurance over some visits to the doctor he made in July and August. (Dave has a private insurance policy through his employer, which theoretically will allow him to get certain medical procedures more quickly than he would through the NHS.) We kept getting bills from the doctor, and we had to jump through some hoops to get doctors talking to one another and to the insurer, and now it looks like things are resolving. But yesterday we got a mysterious £20 check (or as the British would spell it, "cheque") from the insurance company, and we have no idea why. It's the strangest thing. I never expected the insurance company to send us money. That never happens!

(I'm sure it will bite us in the behind somehow.)

We've also committed a terrible social faux pas. A few weeks ago our neighbors, Chris and Linda, invited us to dinner at a posh London restaurant. We said sure, set a date, and then Dave and I promptly, inexplicably forgot all about it. We were supposed to go last Saturday, but we obliviously made other plans. Chris came over a few days prior and said something alluding to our upcoming night out, and I'm sure all the blood drained from our faces. He was very nice about it and we rescheduled for this weekend, but still, I feel terrible. There's just too much running through my head at the moment, you know?

(Photo: Worker with shopping cart, North Kensington, Sept. 7)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Spies, Blue Dogs and Back Hair

A collection of fun graffiti encountered on my wanderings over the past week or two!

First, remember "Spy vs. Spy," the Cold War cartoon from Mad magazine in which two weirdly birdlike spies continually try to off each other? Here's an homage by local street artist Diet, who sometimes spells his name Dyet.

And here's an apparent homage to back hair, of all things, signed (I believe) Bronson.

I really like this piece, which I found in a completely unexpected place during my recent walk along the Grand Union Canal. I have no idea who did it.

Yay for Mom!

A couple of shrunken heads and a fractured skeleton by Wilbo and Kesh.

And finally, to bring us full circle, another piece by Diet, the "Spy vs. Spy" artist -- this one featuring a blue dog. I've heard of yellow dogs, but never blue ones*!

* Actually, there appear to be blue ones too. Who knew?!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Neighborhood Funeral

We had some unusual goings-on in the neighborhood yesterday -- a funeral procession!

I'd heard more than a week ago from our next-door neighbors that a man in another part of our complex had died. He was no one I knew. I'm not sure I'd even seen him before. At any rate, I suppose that's who the services were for yesterday.

I was working in our flat when I heard the clop-clop of horse hooves. I thought maybe the horses were back -- but no, these were different horses, clop-clopping up the side street and turning into our parking area with a hearse in tow. They attracted a great deal of attention from the tourists on Portobello Road.

Behind the horse-drawn hearse, which already contained the casket, a line of empty black cars pulled up. A group of my neighbors, mostly in black, stood outside the building near a few dozen bouquets spread on the grass. The drivers collected the chrysanthemums and gladioli and loaded them onto the first car in the procession.

Meanwhile, everyone else climbed into the rest of the cars, and soon enough, off they all went, down Portobello Road. I suppose it's not much different from your average funeral procession in the U.S. -- except for the plumed horses and the carriage with its top-hatted drivers, which gave everything a sombre Victorian air.

In other news:

-- Hours after I posted my Star Trek entry, Mike, Sally and I also watched a few episodes of the old animated Star Trek series, which ran on Saturday mornings in the early '70s. I remember watching it as a kid, and in particular I've always remembered an episode in which the Enterprise flies into an alternate universe, where space is white and the stars are black. Neato! We found that 1974 episode and watched it again. It's a much better show than you'd think for a cartoon, with some of the same writers as the original series and all the original actors doing their characters' voices.

-- Little London Observationist posted a slew of my London storefront photos yesterday, and they're scheduled to use another of my photos tomorrow. Sweet!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Seeing vs. Believing

Dave and I watched a documentary yesterday afternoon called "Islam: The Untold Story." Unlike the recent crude hatchet-job "The Innocence of Muslims," which led to all the unrest across the Islamic world, "Islam: The Untold Story" tries to look at the origins of Islam from a historical, scholarly perspective. Where was Mohammed really from? Did Islam really inspire the expansion of Arab influence throughout the Middle East?

It was an interesting movie, but it made its creators nervous enough that they cancelled a planned screening in London -- and this was just before all hell broke loose in Libya.

In Western culture, it makes sense to question. We grow out of a tradition of inquiry and scholarship, reason and evidence. After all, during and after the Renaissance, reason diminished the influence of many of our own religious institutions. How many documentaries have been made questioning the historical authenticity of the Bible, of Christ's life? Countless.

In much of the Middle East and the rest of the Islamic world, though, you just don't ask. The belief is that Islam comes straight from God in the words of the Koran, and that's all there is to it. You either believe or you don't. Asking questions merely muddies the teachings with human perspectives and frailties. (It's not unlike the approach of Christian fundamentalists, who fervently believe in Biblical literalism and don't like to see the Bible challenged.)

Sometimes I think religion just messes up the world -- at least, religion of the "I'm-right-and-you're-wrong" variety, which sadly seems to be growing in influence. I wish we could all relax our grip on our tightly held beliefs just long enough to acknowledge that others exist with other, equally valid beliefs. Things get dangerous when people get so consumed by their ideas and beliefs that they lose sight of each other, of humanity. The ideas become more important than the people they serve.

This documentary was interesting because it illustrated so beautifully the clash in two approaches to religion -- a scholarly, secular approach of reason and inquiry, and the faith-based belief that supersedes reason. In this case, the secular approach ultimately resolved nothing, because aside from the religious texts, there are no written records to shed light on the origins of Islam. And besides, does that secular history even matter? Isn't what people believe really the issue that shapes the world today?

I didn't object to the movie at all -- not in the way I objected to "The Innocence of Muslims," which is so clearly a trashy piece of anti-Muslim propaganda. "Islam: The Untold Story" at least tries to be respectful, and personally, I find inquiry interesting. But ultimately I don't think it achieved much. I believe in reason and scholarship, but so far, it can't answer all of humanity's questions -- which is what believers have been saying all along.

(Photo: Tooting Bec, last week.)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Trekkie Weekend

I spent last night with my friend Sally and her family, in the south London neighborhood of Charlton, near Greenwich. Ever since Dave and I learned that her husband Mike is a big fan of Star Trek, we've intended to have a Trek-viewing evening. We finally pulled it together last night, and then Dave went and got sick on me at the last minute, so I came down by myself. Sally, Mike, their daughter Sorren and I watched four episodes while noshing on a yummy stew of rabbit and venison. (Not particularly Treklike, but then, what food would be?) I stayed over, and now I'm sitting in their quiet living room, typing away while one of their cats purs and rubs his cheeks on the corner of my computer screen. (Maybe he usually gets fed in the mornings? He's being annoyingly attentive.)

I won't bore you with the particulars of the Trek episodes we watched. I'm a fan of the original series, so we focused mainly on that. Indeed, if there's any upside to Dave's absence, it's that I only had to sit through one episode of Next Generation. (It was about the Borg, so that made it more or less OK -- and I kind of fell asleep anyway.)

Getting down to this part of town was interesting. For some reason, the London Underground people decided to shut down several of the tube lines this weekend. So I had to go a sort of roundabout way using a light rail network and buses, which took about an hour and 45 minutes. Then I had a manic bus driver who seemed to have overindulged in PCP, speeding through the streets, smashing the wheel into the curb at bus stops and visibly alarming the waiting passengers. I was glad I got off in one piece!

Today, brunch this morning and then back to Dave in good old Notting Hill.

(Photo: Fluffy waits patiently in Maida Vale.)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Narrow Boats

I never told you about my long walk on Wednesday. I walked west along the Grand Union Canal, which I've mentioned before and along which I often run. I went farther in that direction than I ever have -- about five miles -- through the industrial grit and cranes and tanks and faceless block buildings of North Acton.

Along the way I saw lots of narrow boats, the ubiquitous canal boats that are built for plying the man-made waterways of the British Isles. I always love seeing how people decorate their narrow boats. There seems to be an unspoken agreement that quirky is the way to go.

You gotta admire someone who uses an old hiking shoe as a planter. But why not?

People live on board their narrow boats, or at least use them as vacation retreats. I've often told Dave we should buy a narrow boat if we ever have to leave our rented flat. I'm kidding -- I think -- but it seems like it would be a cheaper alternative to London housing! (Dave hates the idea, insisting that a narrow boat would be small and damp. Which is probably true.)

Still, they are picturesque, aren't they?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Ravenous Wildlife on the Wing

Yesterday was another one of those crazy days where I worked all morning and barely left the house. But it was just as well, because I was worn out from a long walk the day before, as well as the meeting I mentioned in yesterday's post. Staying home was kind of a relief.

While I worked at the dining room table, my books and papers and computer spread in front of me, a white butterfly came and flitted around on our balcony. It was particularly taken with our horseradish plant, returning to it again and again. As I watched, I realized it was laying eggs.

I thought, Aha! This is the parent of our horseradish caterpillars! So I ran and got the camera and waited until I could snap this slightly blurry photo -- which was surprisingly hard to do because the silly butterfly just would not stop moving.

Finally I got enough of an image that I could try to identify it. And just my luck -- this appears to be a Large White, also known as the dreaded Cabbage White, "the bane of allotment holders all over the British Isles," according to this site. "The larvae of this species can reach pest proportions, and decimate cabbages to the point that they become mere skeletons of their former selves."


You know, here I am, trying to do all I can to let nature gently unfold on my balcony -- and I get a pestilential butterfly! What are the odds?!

(Remember last December's evil ladybug?)

In this case, I'm not certain about my identification -- there's a chance this butterfly is actually a Small White, but that's only marginally better. And I don't think it's the same butterfly that laid our earlier caterpillars, because they didn't look like the caterpillars of the Large or Small White.

I suppose all the classification is sort of silly. After all, it's just a bug, leading its bug life. It doesn't think it's a pest, you know? How can we blame it for liking to eat the same sorts of things we do?

Nonetheless, I'm debating whether I should remove the eggs from the plant. The butterfly laid approximately 53 million of them. (I'm reminded of that scene in Futurama where Richard Nixon asks Morbo, "How's the family?" Morbo replies, "Belligerent and numerous.") If I let them go our horseradish will be toast. Fortunately, the butterfly was utterly uninterested in any of our other plants, and hopefully the larvae will be too.

(Top photo: A blue, blue house against the blue, blue sky, Notting Hill.)