Monday, June 8, 2020

The Activist and the Aliens

Our foxgloves yesterday morning, in the aftermath of the previous evening's rainstorm. Look at all that moisture! Some of our plants got a bit knocked around by the wind, and I had to stake some of them up, but overall the garden is much happier.

I summoned up my courage and went to the Royal Free Hospital for my medical appointments on Friday. You may remember that I'd put them off because they were fairly routine and I was nervous about stepping into the coronavirus-ridden maw of our health care system. But I decided to just go ahead and get them done, and indeed, everything went fine. (As far as I know -- ask again in a week or two, when the incubation period is over!)

I was surprised that even in the hospital, many people -- both patients and clerical and support workers -- weren't masked. As I've mentioned before, this country takes a fairly low-key approach to masking. We've never been publicly advised to wear one (other than on public transport, where they're now required) and although I do see them on the streets, most people forgo them. I must admit I have still never worn one myself. I am diligent about hand-washing and keeping my distance, though.

Anyway, thank goodness those tests are done. I have one more to do at my doctor's office.

I took Olga to the cemetery yesterday afternoon, where I sat for a while and called our friend Chris, who complained about the tedium of this lockdown. (Chris is over 70 and not in the greatest of health, so he's pretty much staying home. I told him he needs a hobby!) While sitting on a bench where I don't usually sit, I happened to notice this headstone with a peace sign on it. How groovy! The woman buried there, Peggy Duff, who died in 1981 at age 71, was a well known activist who "inspired and organized so many in the struggle against injustice, oppression and war," according to the headstone. If she were still with us (and of a younger generation) she'd be out on the streets now, wouldn't she? It really is an endless struggle.

I also heard the turaco calling from one of the trees, but try as I might I could not see that darned bird.

I'm reading a book called "Swallows and Amazons." Have any of you heard of it? I hadn't before my library job -- I don't think kids in the states read it much -- but in the UK it's considered a classic. It's from 1930, about four kids who sail and camp out on an island in the Lake District.  I must admit I am finding it tedious. There's a lot of talk about masts and halyards and keels and whatnot. I think its appeal to children may be rooted in the fact that the kids are on their own, having an adventure with no adults around, but I wonder how many parents would allow their children (as young as seven) to be out on a lake for days at a time with no supervision.

Dave and I recently watched an Amazon movie called "The Vast of Night," about UFOs visiting a small New Mexico town in the 1950s. Clearly inspired by Roswell, it was really enjoyable. It made me think about Betty and Barney Hill -- do you remember them? When I was a kid, the Hills were famous for their assertions that they were abducted and experimented upon by aliens. I remember hearing about them and being a bit freaked out about whether something was going to descend from the sky and take me away. (They also made an impression because, of course, they have the same first names as the Rubbles.) Apparently a TV movie was made about them in the mid-'70s, which is probably why they were on my radar at that time. People in the '70s loved their UFO stories!


  1. I heard the turaco calling...

    Sounds like a line from a poem about hope in the middle of a deadly pandemic. Like COVID19, that turaco is also an invader from far away. And like the virus, it is hard to see - hidden by trees. I wonder if George Floyd also heard the turaco as he breathed his last breath there at the intersection of Chicago Avenue and E. 38th Street.

  2. Arthur Ransome wrote quite a few Swallows and Amazons books. Of their time indeed, and to be read with that in mind.

  3. A hobby would really help your friend, I don't know where we would be without our hobbies or even a jigsaw, time flies and the serotonin increases with a hobby so good all round.
    I remember back in the 60's having a big 'ban the bomb' sticker in my window. lol

  4. Olga Girl Laughing, Thats All I Needed To See


  5. Swallows and amazons

    How we used to be

  6. People truly did used to be far more sanguine about letting their children roam. I read a book by a local author (Robb White) who described how every year families from south Georgia would spend weeks and months at the coast and the children were completely unsupervised from morning to dusk. Even as young as diaper baby age. They'd actually cross the bay in a little boat and explore Dog Island.
    Different times indeed.
    You were brave to go get your medical stuff done. Good for you, Steve!

  7. I am really surprised that the hospital there doesn't require masks. Roger has been to the hospital here recently and everyone was wearing masks. Still seems like a good thing to do these days.
    Love that photo of Olga and the peace sign.

  8. We have no cases of covid here but I'm still wary about going out unless it's to a natural area.

  9. I also went to the doctor last Friday and I have to admit I was very nervous about it. However, it looked like they lowered the number of patients they were seeing because the waiting room only had 4 people in including me. So, same as you, I think I survived unscathed. We'll see.
    Back in the early and mid 90's, I read a couple of books by Whitley Strieber about his perceived abductions by aliens. I have to admit, those books gave me a few sleepless nights.

  10. Your Foxglove is beautiful. I love photographing the flowers when they are covered with raindrops. It's good that your doctor visit is taken care of. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

  11. Oh, I had forgotten about Betty and Barney. I was already in my cynical phase when their TV thing came out. Should watch it again now... and also look up whatever happened to them. Maybe they went back to Ork. Never heard of Swallows and Amazons and, given your review, won't bother. I'm currently reading "Manhattan Beach" by Jennifer Egan and I'm really enjoying it.

  12. That foxglove quite obviously loved your rain yesterday. Beautiful photo. I showed your video to Judy and she loved it and your "secret garden". She asked me if I'd ever read that book and I haven't. She also urged me to send your post to my friend Tom's wife, Lana, who is a fantastic gardener in California. She said Lana would love your garden. I'll let you know.

  13. A bench in a cemetery with natural surroundings sounds like a good place to have a long phone call that might otherwise be tiring. Did Olga stay close by the whole time? Good girl!

  14. Kudos on your medical stuff. I hope you will both be fine. Nice shot of Olga and yes, during my childhood and before, kids were encouraged to roam on their own and would have done as the kids in the book. Foxgloves are beautiful. How is your mother?

  15. YP: Maybe more a visitor than an invader?

    GZ: Yes, they're definitely a product of their time period! I can't imagine reading more than one, but we do indeed have the whole series.

    Briony: Chris likes photography, but of course when he's stuck at home he can't take pictures of much!

    Padre: At any given moment she's either laughing at me or barking at me.

    John: Yeah, the nostalgia factor is pretty strong with this book. I can see why that appeals to people. No TV, no video games, just being outside and having adventures.

    Ms Moon: It's true. When we used to go to the beach with our parents, we were allowed to go out swimming and wandering on our own. But these kids are on the lake for DAYS and one of them can't even swim! Seems a little extreme even to me!

    Robin: I'm surprised too! And I'd think employees would want to wear them as a matter of course. The medical staff all had them, but not the people who check us in or work in the cafe, that kind of thing.

    Red: I agree. I much prefer being outdoors where it's safer.

    Sharon: Oh, I don't remember Whitley Strieber. I'll have to look him up! I always like stories like that, even though I'm pretty sure they're bunk. Glad you got your medical stuff out of the way!

    Edna: Flowers just seem happier with rain on them!

    Mitchell: I'll have to look up "Manhattan Beach." Barney Hill apparently died quite young, and was always less certain about his experiences than Betty. She sounds like she was the driving force behind their perceived memories. (From what I read online.)

    Catalyst: Thanks for helping our garden to go viral! (In the good way.) I told Dave that our video was being shared far and wide. :) Oh, and I've never read "The Secret Garden" either, but we do have it in the library. A graphic-novel version was published a couple of years ago.

    Jenny-O: It was a good place to hang out! Yeah, Olga always stays nearby. She's not a wanderer.

    E: Kids were certainly permitted to roam when I was a kid, too, and generally I think it's a good thing. But the kids in this book roam to excess!

  16. Isn't a foxglove just one of the most hilarious flowers? I adore them and had many when I lived up north. I have a photo of one wherein the flowering stalk had both white and pink flowers on it. A wonder. I'll have to post it for you on my photo blog.

  17. I read the whole Swallows and Amazon series with great avidity back in the 50's in (landlocked) Butte, Montana. "We didn't Mean to go to Sea" (I think that's the title), where they accidentally sail across the English Channel, seemed very scary and possibly unrealistic. But otherwise perfectly plausible. You went out the door into the street and had to come back by mealtime, or dark, and I guess you were supposed to tell someone if you were going far away, but I don't remember doing so.
    Still very readable tho also clearly of their time are the books by E. Nesbit, who is considered the inventor of modern children's literature. I hope your library has them.

  18. Colette: I adore them too, though I'm not sure I've ever thought of them as "hilarious." LOL

    Sally: Yes, we do have E. Nesbit in our library, as well as Enid Blyton and some of the other classic old-time kids' authors. I certainly remember being allowed to wander our neighborhood as a kid during the day, but these kids were camped out alone on an island for a WEEK!