Thursday, December 3, 2020

Hug a Rat


I love this little apartment building near the tube station in West Hampstead. Isn't it beautiful? In fact, I've probably blogged pictures of it before. I want to know what those round rooms look like in the turrets. They'd be a great place for a reading chair, and some houseplants, but you probably couldn't hang a picture.

The cabinet guy was a no-show yesterday. Dave and I were home all late afternoon and evening and never got so much as a phone call. Finally, around 6 p.m., the management company sent an e-mail saying our appointment had been rescheduled to Dec. 10. Argh! They act like we have nothing better to do than sit around the house.

(Which frankly, because of the lockdown, is true. But that's not the point.)


Our library Christmas tree has been decorated. We got a group of students to do it, and they completed the task in record time. It's a pretty conventional tree, as trees go, but at least it's finished, and I didn't have to hang all the baubles for a change.

See the crime-scene tape over the bookcase to the right? We've had to tape off all our shelves to remind people not to touch the books -- which is just sad for a library. They can look but they can't touch, because of Covid. (Even though now there's some suggestion that the virus isn't spread effectively by surfaces.) If they want a book they have to come to me and I'll get it for them with my gloves on.


I passed this little display yesterday in the Middle School office. Apparently some kids decorated pebbles in their homeroom class. I got a kick out of the messages -- the little one at the top says, "Just keep swimming," with a picture of a fish. My favorite is undoubtedly the one at left: "Hug a rat. They are great."


Some of you asked what I did with the antiquated Florida driving manuals that were donated to the library along with that 35-year-old issue of the Miami Herald I mentioned a few days ago. I still have them, for now, but they're not very interesting. A driving manual is boring even when it's brand new and pertinent. An old driving manual is even more boring. I'll probably recycle them.

Finally, I have to link this fascinating article from The New York Times about insects that mimic leaves. Apparently scientists know little about them, and recently, they realized that two different species of insect were, in fact, the same species. The males and females looked so dramatically different that scientists were confused for years. It's wild, and the accompanying photos are very cool -- particularly the one showing the insects in their native environment, concealed in a tree. Nature is amazing!

42 comments:

  1. St├ęphane Le Tirant looks happy in his work at The Montreal Insectarium. I wonder if in translation that means Stephen The Tyrant - which is probably how the youngsters in your school secretly refer to you!

    P.S. I knew the handyman would not turn up.

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    1. I never thought about his name, but you're probably right about the translation! (And the way kids in school think of me.) I was so optimistic about the handyman, but I should have known better.

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  2. Nature IS amazing.

    I'd love to see inside those West Hampstead Studios.

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  3. And I thought my blog subject line today was alarming, but you have done better.
    The tree decorated by the children is quite good. Kids don't always do so well with a task like that.
    It is a beautiful building and I love the curved rooms, where I would imagine you would sit on a built in cushioned bench and read with the light flooding in.

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  4. Do you mean rat's are great or the stones are great, got confused, lol
    Briony
    x

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    1. I think the kid means RATS are great. He must have a pet rat.

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  5. That article about the insects is a great read. It reminds me of the summer we had to look after the school's stick insects in their large escape-proof cages (my man is/was a biology teacher) and for one week left them in the care of our then 18 year old daughter (and her assorted visitors) only to get a frantic phone call after three days telling us that they were "everywhere". After we had recaptured what we thought was all of them, I would find more and more over the coming weeks and months. I admit that I just hoovered them up. Bad Karma follows me everywhere since.

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    1. I feel like I've heard many stories like this from various people. The moral is, never volunteer to care for classroom pets over the holidays! LOL

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  6. There's been no mention of Christmas decorations at my school yet, but I'll bet the librarians have put one up...I'll go check today. I'll also show them yours--they get a kick out of hearing about "my friend Steve, the school librarian in London". :)

    Hug a rat! Ha!

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    1. It's only a matter of time! I wouldn't hold our tree up as anything very innovative. We just didn't have it in us this year to be more creative. :)

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  7. Should I ever hug find myself hugging a rat I shall know that I have been incarcerated for at least thirty years, in solitary confinement and in need of touch.

    Tell your students that the baubles are all very well. Where is the tree (buried underneath)?. Sometimes less is more. Only joking. 10/10 for exertion. One day I shall tell you the (long) story of the first English Christmas tree I encountered. Post traumatic stress syndrome and snow on my heel. I fought both of them off.

    Manual on motorcycle maintenance? Have you read Robert M. Pirsig's "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"? Whilst some grease is involved it's largely an excursion into the philosophical.

    Your maintenance guy? No surprises there then. I don't know how long you have lived in England. The English can be relied upon to be unreliable. No offence to those English on time.

    U

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    1. We have lots of baubles because we usually get a bigger tree. It's a small one this year because of Covid-related cost concerns, I suspect. I did read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle" maintenance years ago, and I loved it, but as I recall it didn't have much to do with maintaining motorcycles.

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  8. I'd toss those manuals into the bin immediately. How in the world did they find themselves across the ocean?
    "Hug a rat. They are great." I think Lily's family would agree. They love their little ratty pets.
    And yes, yes, YES! Those apartments charm me to pieces. I would gladly live there. Well, you know.

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    1. My brother says he wants the manuals! You just never know what will appeal to people. LOL

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  9. My first thought, at that first picture, was: I wonder what the turret rooms are like.

    And the pebbles? Kids give good advice, though I may not actually hug a rat.

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    1. "Keep on swimming" seems pretty pertinent, at least in a metaphorical sense!

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  10. Those apartments do look so quaint & charming. I started to say that I wondered if I would get tired of a round room, but really once you've set it up it should work just fine. I'd just make someone ELSE set it up for me :)

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    1. Yeah, seems like it would be a bit tricky for furniture! I guess you'd put a table or a chair in the center of the room, as opposed to having stuff against the walls.

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  11. I saw a similar article about the insects in the NY Times. Fascinating.
    The library tree is looking very festive and those rocks are funny. However, I'll pass on hugging any rats.

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    1. There are other rocks elsewhere in the school. I should take a picture of all of them. The messages can be pretty funny.

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  12. The apartment building is so lovely. I wish we all lived in such beautiful, artful structures like that. Love the pebbles. Not sure I'd hug a rat though. Actually, I'm pretty sure I would not. LOL. I love that NY Times article. What a beautiful look at leafy looking insects.

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    1. I'd really like to see what those apartments look like inside. I need to befriend someone in that building!

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  13. The insect that mimics a leaf is unbelievable. Great camouflage.

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  14. Those insects are pretty cool.

    From what I understand rats are very smart. I'm guessing that one kid has a pet rat. I don't mind rodents; I think they have sweet faces.

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    1. I don't mind them either, unless they're in my kitchen. When I was growing up we had gerbils and they were pretty cute.

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  15. Yes, lovely apartment building; sweet Christmas tree; clever rocks; old manuals; fascinating bugs! You covered quite a few interesting topics in today's post. My favorite was the article about the bugs!
    Thanks so much, Steve.

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    1. That bug article was amazing, wasn't it? I never knew such creatures existed.

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  16. The apartments resemble the mental institution down yonder, cute but comes with baggage. We have had rats for pets and they are quite the cuddlers, Very sweet.

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    1. I've heard that about rats. They're supposedly very smart, too.

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  17. Just think of the light in a turret room, marvellous for working

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    1. The British long ago mastered the use of windows to maximize natural light, that's for sure.

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  18. In Old houses it’s that attention to detail that impresses
    The victorians knew how to guild a lily

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    1. They really did. The craftsmanship required to build such a structure nowadays would be prohibitively expensive.

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  19. That is a gorgeous building! I've read that surfaces aren't as dangerous as they thought at first, but the air more so. :( Cute tree!

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  20. I love that building. My aunt who died long ago had a house with a turret. Some of the walls were flat enough to hang small things. It had a curved window seat, and they kept their stereo and records there. As a child, I wished for such a room.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. It does seem like the kind of space that would particularly captivate a child.

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  21. Just keep swimming. I'm going to make that my mantra.

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