Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Naked, and a Starling Squabble

When Dave, Olga and I walked in the cemetery over the weekend, we came across this rather peculiar tableau on a gravestone. I like how one of the middle doll's high heels is in the little plastic plant. It's like they've all had a wild night out and have only just awakened in the street, naked.

Perhaps the person in that grave was known for being a partier.

Yesterday was the tenth anniversary of our civil union, but we've deferred our celebration until we can figure out what we want to do. Dave is still wary of going out to restaurants, which would be our first choice. We're looking at options for having dinner delivered or finding a swanky place where we can eat outside.

Instead, we had a pretty quiet day, spent mostly reading, both online and not. I'm reading a novel called "The Overstory," focused on humanity's relationship with trees, and it's very good. I also noodled around online with the Wayback Machine -- an internet archive that stores old web pages. Have you ever experimented with it? If you ever want to find an old web site that has been removed or no longer exists, or an old version of an existing web site, it may well be stored on the Wayback Machine.

For example, here is an archived version of my blog from 2007, showing the old minimalist page design, my old blog links and the posts I was blogging at the time. Such a time warp! If you have a blog, you can look yours up as well using this link. Just enter your blog's (or any site's) URL on that page.

Francisco, Olga's dog walker, has been away for the past week but he returned yesterday. I'd like to say that Olga was excited to see him again, but honestly, she always leaves us reluctantly to go on her walks. She would much prefer to stay with "her pack." It's kind of embarrassing. Francisco tries so hard to win her over.

I made a little video to show you the starling madness that has descended on our bird feeder and bird bath. They are squabbly little birds! (I zoomed in on them about halfway through so you could see them better.)

Last May, Dave and I went over to our friend Lisa's house to help her and her fiance Xan clean up their new garden. At the time I brought them some hollyhock seedlings. Well, Lisa sent us a photo a week or two ago:

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Why do their hollyhocks grow and prosper when ours are still runty little things with four leaves?!

(Actually, I think I know the answer to that question. I think it's sun. All ours are planted in places that are partially shady, and I think hollyhocks would prefer to bake. Lisa's garden is sunnier than ours.)

In any case, at least I know the plants are capable of producing flowers. I'm planning to relocate a few of ours and we'll see if we can do better next year.


  1. Those dolls are a bit weird/scary! The 2 on the right look as if they are gossiping about someone.

  2. PS. Congratulations on your 10 yrs union. I think my brother and Mike must be at least that long since theirs! (Don't see enough of them to know. !!)

  3. Those girls look like their up to something to me, someone had a sense of humour to put them there, I like it.
    One think I learned about Hollyhocks is that the bees love them. Next year I have to fathom out some method to keep the snails off them until they are larger, they took a while to get going this year due to being nibbled.
    Ass for starlings, I like them a lot. When we had the allotment I was always refilling the bird bath due to them splashing and emptying it out. lol

  4. Congrats on your tenth anniversary. Every consider getting married? I feel so bad for Francisco. He needs comforting. My blog is annually archived by our State Library and it is scary to see it in its earlier appearances.

  5. Friends on Cape Cod always had huge hollyhocks and did nothing but let them reseed themselves. They were on the south side of the cottage in full sun all day. Guess that's what you need.
    Cheers Petet

  6. "I like transience: shadows, reflections, graffiti. I like lines, textures and patterns in architecture." Mmm...that's so NYC! I think this is better: "I'm an American living in London with my partner, Dave, and our dog, Olga. My idea of the perfect day is taking a long walk and bringing the camera." But this would be best "I'm a grumpy school librarian and I give out computer chargers. There's nothing I like better than squirrel hunting, finding crap in the street and lurking in graveyards".

  7. Congratulations on your anniversary, especially since it is Ten Years!

  8. Zoom In Was A Good Move - Flipping Gorgeous Backyard - Well Done - And A Special Congrats On The First Decade - Sending Virtual Flowers


  9. Congratulations on 10 years. Wishing you many more.

    Feel the same way about some Dahlias I planted as you do about those Hollyhocks. The directions said they could take partial sun but that was clearly untrue. Planted half of them in containers on our deck and the rest out front. More suntime on the deck. The plants in containers are covered in flowers and 10 times the size of the ones out front--which have barely grown with virtually no flowers, even though fed and watered. Probably just as well or the neighborhood deer would have eaten them--as it did all my nearby Impatiens--roots and all.

  10. Woo-hoo! TEN years of marriage!
    I enjoyed reading the blog post about it, ten years ago.

    Congratulations to you and Dave, and I raise my glass (well, my coffee mug) to many happy years ahead for you two.

    The traditional present for a 10th wedding anniversary is tin & aluminum.
    Maybe you can find some objects made of these metals on a walk sometime soon.
    Like an Apple product (aluminum)? Or an old tin toy!

  11. Congratulations on your anniversary. Here's wishing you many more wonderful years together. Maybe a delivered dinner served in that beautiful backyard of yours would be nice. Those hollyhocks are gorgeous! Some plants do need more sun. I love your bird video, but naked dollies, tut tut tut. You have a great day, hugs, Edna B.

  12. Your garden is just heaven! And those starlings are a feisty bunch, aren’t they? Birds are so territorial. My hummingbirds are constantly fighting over being the only one at the feeder.
    Congratulations on this anniversary!
    And the little naked dolls charm me and make me sad at the same time.

  13. Happy tenth and I wish you many more.

  14. Congratulations on the anniversary! I loved seeing the birds in the garden. I watched a bit of a bird squabble yesterday evening too. The people who live on the ground floor directly below me evidently put food out for the birds and last night they were having a big fight over it. There was a lot of wing flapping going on.

  15. Happy Anniversary to you and Dave!
    I'm looking forward to reading your review of The Overstory. My older brother has been reminding me to read it, but I haven't gotten around to it yet.
    Love seeing your garden.

  16. Congratulations on your 10-year anniversary. It is so great that you've blogged about your life over the years as you have recorded history to look back upon. I am a late-comer to your blog and I've enjoyed reading your posts.

  17. Starlings are crabby little guys, aren't they? I remember my mother never had a nice thing to say about them. But they do provide some entertainment value.
    And Happy Anniversary!

  18. weird little nekkid dolls with heads as big as their torsos and toothpick arms and legs. tiny feet! nice little slice of the garden.

  19. Happy anniversary! Re those starlings, I'm always amazed that birds drink their bath water. Love the hollyhocks.

  20. Ooo - your garden is so lovely! And I love the hollyhocks!

    Happy Anniversary! I googled what kind of 10th anniversary gift to give your husband & here's a partial list - ha!

    Personalized Ammo Can Whiskey Gift Set.
    A Handsome Whiskey Decanter Set for Him.
    Personalized Cutting Board.
    A New Diamond Wedding Band.
    Anniversary Date Whiskey Set.
    Beer Mugs for Two.
    Unique Silver Whiskey Set.
    Beer Growler Set for the Home Brewer.

  21. My God, your garden is a delight. It's so lush. You and Dave are to be congratulated twice--once for your ten-year anniversary, and a second time for the superb tending of your garden; something that gorgeous must take hours of work.

  22. I hate to keep putting this on your comments but just trying to keep you up to date with that orange thing in the white house.(laughing hard) Would you believe this man has shut down the Chinese consulate in the Houston, Texas area. It came on breaking news last night that there was a fire at the Chinese consulate because they were burning files in the court yard. The city fire department rushed over to take care of it but they wouldn't let them in. Our mayor couldn't do anything because it is Federal property. It was noted that Donald Trump is in some kind of disagreement with China and he had it shut down. We have many Chinese americans living here. I live in the surburbs (country) of Houston Texas. This is one cold hearted man. This consulate have been here for over 40 years or more. I assume he is getting rid of china because he asked china to help him win the election. I assume they tried to and got caught and then he was exposed . The CIA went to the white house a few months back to let him know China was trying to interfere in our election and he fired the guy for telling him.

  23. The last thing I expected to see was dolls! Curious how they have no clothes. I would love to know their story. Happy anniversary to you and Dave!

  24. Freaky little dolls. More sunshine for the hollyhocks, if sun is limited in your garden, then you will have to make some big decisions...
    Ten years seems like a very good reason for eating outside at a swanky (posh?) Restaurant on a warm summers evening.

  25. Congrats on your ten year anniversary! I enjoyed reading about your New York life on the old version of your blog. I found you right after you left the NY Times and moved in with Dave in New Jersey.

  26. Congratulations! I wish we knew the story about the three dolls.

  27. Frances: They definitely look like they're plotting.

    Briony: I think we're going to try growing ours in pots. That way we can set them on the sunny side of the house (which is all concrete) and also it will keep the slugs away.

    Andrew: We actually ARE married -- we got married in 2015, five years after our civil union, once it became legal. But the civil union is our real "anniversary." It's funny how our blogs change and progress (hopefully) over time, isn't it?

    Peter: Yeah, my impression is they like full sun and minimal care!

    YP: Ha! Sometimes LITERALLY crap in the street.

    David: Thank you!

    Padre: Yeah, I should have zoomed it from the beginning. I thought it would ruin the resolution, like it does for photos, but the video seemed to work fine even zoomed.

    Mary: Well, at least now you know! When you replant them next year you know they all need to go on the deck! We keep all ours in full sun.

    Fresca: Thank you! Does anything get made of tin any more, I wonder? Seems like that metal got left behind entirely.

    Edna: I think we're leaning in that direction -- some kind of a special delivered meal.

    Ms Moon: We always marvel that the birds get any benefit at all from being at the feeder. It seems like expend a lot of calories fighting with each other!

    Red: Thank you!

    Sharon: It's funny how they'll be so aggressive with each other. Survival of the fittest, I guess.

    Robin: Knowing your affinity for nature and the natural world, I think you would LOVE it. I'm only about 150 pages in, but I'm liking it a lot.

    Michael: Thanks! I actually kept a journal even before blogging -- I have a record of my life going all the way back to 1979, with a few breaks in the mid-'80s when I was in college.

    Marty: They have a bad reputation in North America, where I believe they're an introduced species, but here they're natural and I like their frenzied activity.

    Ellen: Aren't those dolls weird? They're like bargain-basement Bratz.

    Catalyst: Not only do the birds drink it -- Olga does too!

    Bug: HA! That list CRACKS ME UP. So definitely NOT Dave. LOL

    BethB: Thanks! It keeps us busy, that's for sure. It's been six years in the making. (Well, longer than that, obviously, for some of the plants and trees that were here before we arrived.)

    Angelicastar: Lord, what will it be next?! That guy is such a nightmare. I think he's trying to make China the universal bad guy. That's why he calls coronavirus the "China virus."

    Sarah: Yeah, it was very strange! I wonder if they have anything to do with the person in the grave (a 40-something man), or if they were just randomly abandoned there.

    Alphie: We can get them into a sunnier spot if we put them on the side patio in pots. I don't know how well hollyhocks like pots but we'll try it.

  28. 37P: I think we were reading each other even while I was still at the Times. I remember when Sally A. came to NYC and she was going to meet up with you, and I was still at the Times then. It's been a long time!

    Colette: Thanks, and me too!

  29. I’m sending you very civil anniversary wishes. Hollyhocks. SG loves them. We discovered they were in our garden near our pool in Connecticut. So excited. The woodchucks lived them too. Mowed down every one just before the buds opened!

  30. Seems tin is not really used on its own anymore--but it's a component of bronze---maybe you could find something bronze on the Heath instead... Some old Roman thing! Wouldn't that be cool?