Monday, October 25, 2021

Watercolor Orchid

Dave and I walked Olga to the cemetery yesterday afternoon beneath a sunny autumnal sky, complete with vapor trails. That sunshine felt great. Olga chased pigeons on West End Green and found a wrecked soccer ball in the cemetery that she determinedly carried around for a while, until she got tired of it.

Still no word on why that mysterious police helicopter was buzzing around over our house. I suppose we'll never know. Lots of people complained on Twitter, including some with much better video than me and even a route map of the copter's flight path, but no one had any answers.

I finished another Newbery -- "Flora & Ulysses" by Kate DiCamillo. It was very cute. That's not a word I often use to describe a book, but it definitely applies to this story of a "cynical" girl who rescues a squirrel after a household accident that seems to give the squirrel mysterious powers.

I also cleaned the house and watered all the plants. I discovered this:

Those are buds on a Cambria orchid that I rescued from Homebase when they gave away all their plants just before lockdown in spring 2020. The flowers had already faded by that time so we've never seen it bloom. I know they'll be red but that's all I know. Stay tuned!

I painstakingly painted that watercolor (ha!) using the Waterlogue app on my phone, because my original picture wasn't that good. Photo processing conceals a multitude of ills.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Lockbox and Helicopter

This may be an all-time record for sleeping late and, hence, posting late. But that's what Sunday morning is for, right?

We've had a busy weekend around here already. I took the dog out for a couple of walks yesterday, including a short outing to the cemetery where we found some autumnal leaves. This is how well-behaved Olga is -- I told her to stay put, and she allowed me to cover her eye with a leaf for a picture. She does trust me, that dog.

I found this mysterious lockbox, set out with some rubbish on the sidewalk. I'm really trying not to bring stuff home, because enough is enough, but I couldn't resist this. I was mostly curious about whether I could get it open (and the answer is no). It doesn't have a key. The paper label says it contained a marriage certificate and an MOT certificate (which is what you get in Britain when your car is inspected). I assume it's probably empty now, but it's surprisingly heavy and I might take it to a locksmith just to see if he can get into it and maybe even give me a key for it.

Or is that insane? I haven't decided.

Anyway, after walking the dog, Dave and I met up at the cinema with our friend Chris to see "Dune." It's a visually spectacular movie and much better than the '80s version, and I think seeing it on a big screen was worth it. I wasn't entirely clear on all the plot points, but fortunately Chris had read Frank Herbert's book three times (and it's a GIGANTIC book, so that's quite an accomplishment). He filled me in afterwards on a few things I didn't understand -- for example, how do those gigantic sand worms survive on a planet that seems otherwise devoid of almost any life? What do they eat? (I won't spoil it for you.)

I tried to read "Dune" as a teenager but it didn't do it for me. I liked light science fiction of the "Star Trek" and Ray Bradbury variety, but I could never get into classic sci-fi by Isaac Asimov or Arthur C. Clarke or Robert Heinlein. Maybe it was just too complicated. I could never do Tolkien either, aside from "The Hobbit."

Anyway, after the movie, we came back here and had pizza and gossiped about work. It was a fun evening and I didn't go to bed until midnight or so, which is why I slept so late.

And I slept soundly, except between 4:30 and 5:15 in the morning, when this thing was hovering over our neighborhood. It's a police helicopter and it was loud. I have no idea what was going on, but they were clearly looking for someone.

I made possibly the worst-quality video ever so you could experience the sound. You won't be able to see much, though, because capturing a flashing object in a dark sky was beyond the capacity of my iPhone. If I ever figure out what that thing was doing up there, I'll let you know.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

GMO Pumpkin

Some of the Michaelmas daisies are still going strong, as you can see, but others have passed their peak and I'm starting to cut them down. As much as I like these flowers I don't want them to re-seed too much. They're prolific and they'd take over if I let them.

More shelf-reading at work yesterday. I found a few more out-of-place books and realized another one, an old volume about American musical traditions, is missing entirely. I think it's one we weeded and somehow failed to remove from the catalog. I love tying up little loose ends like this!

Some of you wondered yesterday why I use a list when I'm shelf-reading, rather than simply going down the line and making sure everything's in Dewey decimal numeric order. The fact is, a list makes the job much easier and faster. When you're just looking at the shelf you've got to calculate integers and alphabetize, but with a list, you simply match. Plus it prevents mistakes. Know what I mean?

Also, one of you mentioned kids who would hide a book in the library so that only they could find it. We had that happen earlier this year -- we could not locate a particular book ("Race to the Sun" by Rebecca Roanhorse) that a boy had requested. I told him that it wasn't where it should be on the shelf and we'd keep an eye out for it. Well, a day or two later, the same boy came into the library and said, "I know where the book is." He took us to a completely different shelf et voila -- there it was. Now, he MUST have put it there. Otherwise, how would he know where it was? I don't know why he then requested it unless he was simply testing our abilities as librarians!

My brother sent this picture of what he calls his "GMO pumpkin." His family bought it at the local pumpkin patch before Halloween LAST YEAR, and it's been sitting on their front steps in Jacksonville ever since. It refuses to degrade, even in the muggy heat of a Florida summer. Apparently they had two of them, but the larger one -- which was orange -- succumbed last April. Squashes and gourds are renowned for their longevity, but this is ridiculous!

Friday, October 22, 2021

Pith Helmet

I've slept a little later than usual this morning. I looked at the clock and it was 3:30, and then I dozed and looked again and it was 4:30, and then suddenly it was 6:30! Fortunately, I can be a little more leisurely about getting to work today, since the kids aren't in school and the teachers are all having parent conferences.

I spent yesterday shelf-reading. Dave asked me last night what that means, so I'll tell you too, just in case you're not sure. It means running a report in our library system that lists all the books in the order in which they should be shelved, and then going down each shelf -- carrying an iPad displaying the list -- making sure they're all in order and none are misplaced. It may sound tedious, but I think it's fun.

I did find a few books that were nowhere near where they were supposed to be, and identified two that seem to be missing -- so I feel like I'm achieving something. As I told Dave last night, one needs a certain kind of personality to enjoy a task like that, and fortunately for me, I have it.

I also weeded some books that seem old or out of date. To wit:

"The Present Day," in this case, means 1979, when this book was published.

It's full of these strangely awkward drawings. I meant to capture the woman with the turned-up hat brim, but I decided I had to show you the other woman too. Did people really wear pith helmets with head scarves in 1970? Maybe in Rhodesia.

Every time I find a book like this, I wonder how it escaped all our previous weeding. Last spring, when we packed up and reorganized the entire library and moved all the books, we got rid of hundreds and hundreds of old volumes. How did we miss this one? It's a mystery. Anyway, it's in the charity box now.

When I came home, I cleaned up some stuff in the garden. We finally took out the lavender bush that I found several years ago -- half of it had died and it had flopped over so that it was lying on some other plants, and although we staked it up nothing seemed to work very well. Dave's been wanting to get rid of it for ages and I resisted but I finally gave in. We got five years out of it, and now I can use that space for foxgloves.

(Top photo: A fallen leaf on Abbey Road, a few days ago.)

Thursday, October 21, 2021

The Screaming Hand

Walking with Olga back from Wormwood Scrubs on Sunday, I passed these vivid posters. This is the "Screaming Hand," a well-known trademark for Santa Cruz skateboards. Kind of an interesting image to find in northwest London, but I guess skate culture is everywhere.

Here's the story of the creation of the hand, by artist Jim Phillips, in 1985. I was once in Santa Cruz myself, way back in 1991 (when the hand was only six years old!). Unfortunately I don't remember much about it. I drove through with a friend from San Francisco on the way to Big Sur. Here's what I wrote in my journal afterwards: "The drive to Santa Cruz was hell. All kinds of traffic and road blockage -- it was really irritating and my temper was short. But after Santa Cruz things opened up as we drove south through Monterey and Carmel, past vegetable fields, pastures on the coast and stylish beach homes."

That's my sole exposure to Santa Cruz -- traffic. I have even less experience with skateboarding.

Speaking of obscure sports references, take a look again at yesterday's post. Do you see on the ceramics shop window the creature at lower left saying "COYS"? I wondered what on Earth that meant. Well, through the magic of Google, I learned that it's a football (soccer) reference that means "Come on You Spurs!" It's a reference to the Tottenham Hotspur football club. Apparently our ceramics dealers are fans.

Today and tomorrow are going to be fairly low-key days at work. The teachers are all having parent-teacher conferences, which used to happen in massive face-to-face gatherings in the school gym but are now held entirely on Zoom, much to everyone's satisfaction. There are no kids around, so for me it's time to work on catch-up projects in the library. I think I'll just do some shelf organizing and weeding.

Remember how I said Dave got his Covid booster shot not too long ago? Well, after the fact, he got a very peculiar letter from the NHS saying he needed a third shot -- and that it should not be considered a booster but part of his original set of vaccinations. (This is because his Crohn's medication leaves him somewhat immunocompromised.) He was told if he'd already had a third shot, he could ignore the letter. And if he'd already had a booster, he could likewise ignore it. So we ignored it, but he's still scratching his head about whether the shot he got counts as a booster or not, and what the difference might be, if any. Mystifying!

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Spooky Ceramics

The ceramics shop on the high street has adopted a Halloween decorating theme.

I've never been in this place. It's a paint-it-yourself establishment where you buy the blank and the glazes, sit at a table and decorate your piece, and then they fire it for you and you pick it up when it's done. I see tons of people there, so it seems pretty popular.

I doubt that anything I painted would turn out this well!

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Slugs and Space Aliens

Today, a random collection of photos from my iPhone.

First, an exotic fowl seen perched on a wall on our street. I am forever finding these little toys from baby strollers littering the sidewalks. I don't know why the manufacturers can't make them so they don't fall off. (I guess that guarantees parents will buy more?)

Look! It's the Donald Trump smiley-face shopping bag!

A poem (you know it's dubious when it has to TELL you it's a poem) on the side of some discarded furniture near Willesden Junction. (Nowhere near Abbey Road, incidentally.)

Remember my shot of Olga in the tiled shop entrance? Well, the entrance has since become littered with fallen leaves, so I thought I'd do a follow-up picture. She's still not thrilled about being asked to stand there.

Some scary-looking graffiti on Billy Fury Way, just in time for Halloween.

This is an interstellar brand of "cosmic corn snacks." I would totally have eaten these a kid.

Here's another over-a-wall picture of a construction site. This used to be an old pub, and not only has it been torn down but they've excavated a gigantic pit in its place. What's going in here, next to the Finchley Road and Frognal overground station, I have no idea. I suppose I could look it up if I get motivated.

(Addendum: I got motivated. A block of flats was announced several years ago for the site, but it was supposed to be finished in 2019. So either there have been significant delays or perhaps the project has evolved into something else, or been sold to another owner. Who knows.)

A mischievous doodle some kids left on a whiteboard at work -- an astronaut, I believe, noting that there is indeed life on Mars. (Funny how life on Mars continues to be a myth that haunts our imaginations, even though we've pretty much proven there's nothing there but rocks.)

And finally, I once again came upon a parade of slugs (a dozen in this photo alone) descending this tree and crawling along the sidewalk, all in the same direction. This is the second time I've witnessed this phenomenon at this location. Do these slugs live or breed in that tree? What makes them come down to the ground? Where do they go from there? (It's mostly paved in the immediate vicinity.)

Very mysterious!

Monday, October 18, 2021

Latimer and Wormwood

A couple of nights ago, Dave and I were watching "Ted Lasso," like the rest of the planet, and suddenly I recognized where they were filming. "Hey, that's the Westway!" I exclaimed -- the soccer fields under the elevated highway known as the Westway, near a large sports center. I used to walk Olga there all the time when we lived in Notting Hill. I'd go to photograph the omnipresent and ever-changing graffiti.

Olga and I hadn't been back to the Westway since we moved, but we could get there easily by taking the tube to the Latimer Road stop. So that was our outing yesterday.

It's hard to tell with dogs, but I would swear Olga remembered the place. She seemed so comfortable there.

The area has been transformed by the Grenfell Tower disaster of 2017 -- the fire that swept up the side of a newly refurbished council-owned high-rise, killing 72 people. The Westway Sports Centre is practically in the shadow of Grenfell, and there are memorials and murals everywhere. (The criminal inquiry into the fire, incidentally, is still dragging on. The government is considering tearing down the remains of the building, over the objections of some survivors and relatives of victims.)

After that, we walked up Latimer and North Pole roads to Wormwood Scrubs, one of Olga's favorite spots to run wild and chase squirrels.

You might remember the last time we were at Wormwood, back in April, a massive utilities construction project had begun that required the clearance of some of the woodlands. There was a protest camp near the area being cleared. Well, that's gone now.

All we found at the site of the camp were some stacks of old debris and, weirdly, a grimy unicorn hobby horse.

Oh, and not too far away, some very autumnal mushrooms.

We walked through the Scrubs, enjoying the wilderness around the construction zones, and then made our way back to West Hampstead via the overground railroad from Willesden Junction. It was quite a walk for Olga at this stage of her life and she's still asleep as I write. But she had a good time and I enjoyed being able to take her to once-familiar places she knew as a young dog.

I finished "Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze," which was better than I thought it might be. Given that it was written in the 1930s I feared it would contain outdated Asian stereotypes, and it kind of does -- the author refers to workers as "coolies," for example. Still, it wasn't as scary as I thought it might be.

Whenever I hear the term "coolie" I think back to a woman my brother and I knew when we were kids in Florida who had a shrub in her yard that produced flowers she called "coolie hats." (I see that Wikipedia gives it the more acceptable names "Chinese hat" or "Mandarin hat.") I remember collecting some while visiting her and drying them for display in our house. Those things were kicking around for ages.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Begonia and Teenage Celebrity Crushes

Dave bought a begonia several months ago, and to our surprise it's now blooming. I don't know why we're surprised, exactly, because I know begonias bloom. I guess we bought it primarily for the leaves so we forgot to even consider flowers.

Dave is working part of each day this weekend, recording students who want to audition for Honor Band. This was an annual event before the pandemic, but there hasn't been an Honor Band for the past year or two -- a band composed of auditioning students from many different international schools, assembled through this organization. So it's nice that they're finally able to put one together again.

I, meanwhile, am working my way through yet another Newbery book -- "Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze," from 1932, which is OK but isn't exactly knocking my socks off. I'm about two-thirds of the way through and my goal is to finish it today. We'll see.

I also took the dog to the cemetery, where we saw:

...lots of dew on the grass...

...and the bright berries of wild arum blazing up like flaming, poisonous candles...

...and hawkweed still in bloom.

And then, while walking home, I found this (below).

It's a curious little drawing. I think it's a masked woman? Anyway, it's very small, and I'm not sure how I noticed it lying on the sidewalk, but I did.

Once home again, I watched "The Blue Lagoon," which we recorded from TV months ago. I hadn't seen it in many, many years and I remember it being quite controversial when it was first released -- Brooke Shields being 14 at the time. At least she had a body double for the nude scenes. (Her co-star Christopher Atkins was already 18.) It seems harmless enough -- mostly it made me want to visit Fiji -- but I wonder if it would be made in the same way nowadays. I suspect they'd cast an older actress, and rightly so.

I had quite a crush on Christopher Atkins when I was in high school (as did plenty of other people at that time). I remember sneaking off to the theater one afternoon in 1983 to see "A Night in Heaven," in which he played a male stripper -- it was a terrible movie but he made the ticket price worthwhile. (Plus it took place in my home state, Florida, on the so-called "Space Coast" near Titusville.) I wasn't out to anyone else back then and the whole excursion felt quite illicit. It's hard to believe he's 60 years old now. To employ a clichéd phrase, where does the time go?

I also had a teenage crush on Lance Kerwin. Remember him? And then he became an evangelical minister and had some legal problems. Can I pick 'em, or what?

Now he's also 60.


Saturday, October 16, 2021

Bright Leaves and Dark News

I can't resist another post featuring our coleus plants. They're so colorful and lush. I don't know why I don't grow these all the time.

I'm sure you've seen the news about the UK lawmaker who was murdered yesterday while meeting with constituents in an apparent act of terrorism. That's certainly the big news in the UK at the moment. Shocking, and coming not too many years after the murder of another MP by a right-wing extremist, it has shown that these representatives need better security. It's a shame that they can no longer safely meet with the people they represent without a posse of police alongside them, but that seems to be where we are these days.

I've said it before and I'll say it again -- the world has gone crazy. Or maybe it was always crazy. I imagine people in the late 1960s must have felt the same, amid the assassinations and the Vietnam War and the fallout from the Civil Rights era in the USA, as well as the Prague Spring and Biafran War and all the other world conflicts of the time. Whenever I start despairing about current events I try to remember that we've been here before. We've even had pandemics before. None of this is really new, except that now we have the added power of the Internet stirred into the mix.

Our mask policy at work is still scheduled to change as of Monday, to one of voluntary rather than mandatory masking. This is interesting given that England is apparently experiencing "sky-high Covid rates" (in the words of The Guardian) and boosters are still rolling out, as well as vaccines for young people. I still plan to remove my mask when I'm alone at my desk but I think I'll wear it when I'm around people -- although how effective is that when exhaled droplets can stay suspended in the air for long periods of time, as has been reported? I know some of my co-workers are nervous about the kids no longer masking, particularly, and I wonder if I owe it to them, especially, to keep my mask on. I want to be sensitive to their concerns but I really feel like I must get that thing off my face for at least part of the day. Aaaaaargh! Mask ethics!

Anyway, I did not intend for this post to be so somber. Sorry about that.

On a more positive note, I'm hoping to do some gardening this weekend, getting some foxgloves into the ground and doing some more autumn pruning and trimming. I have to ration the trimming because the council will only pick up two bags of garden waste per week. Any more than that and they leave it behind!

Friday, October 15, 2021

Autumn Colors

It's that time of year again. I took Olga for a walk yesterday morning before work, and we found evidence of autumn all around us.

This tree is always one of the first on the street to change. I've photographed it several times (most recently here and here). And it always has that same blue car parked beneath it! I don't know how, with on-street parking, that person is able to maintain their possession of that same space so consistently.

The Maw is looking even more autumnal, the vine surrounding it getting redder and redder. I'm just realizing the foliage has been quite dramatically trimmed since that last post.

I managed to survive work yesterday. I was afraid I might start to feel bad in the afternoon, and I had Lemsip at the ready, but no -- I was fine. Maybe this cold really is behind me, knock on wood.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Spice World

This was Olga in the garden yesterday morning. I know she appreciates having me home during the day, partly so I can let her into the garden if the sun is shining. There's nothing that dog likes more than lying in the sun.

Unfortunately, I'm going back to work this morning, so she'll have to lie on the carpet and make do with the patches of sun coming through the dining room windows.

It was good to have one more day to take it easy. I read some, and then watched a Brazilian movie called "Nova Dubai" about overdevelopment and urban alienation with some very explicit sex scenes. I was a little paranoid that Mrs. Russia might be able to look down from upstairs and see our TV screen. "It's not porn, I swear!" (Well, it kind of is. But hey, it was screened at Lincoln Center.)

I also did laundry and discovered that our newly repaired boiler was leaking. Drops of water were falling on the kitchen counter. So, following my mom's dictum -- "everything has to be done at least twice" -- I called British Gas back and had an engineer return. Fortunately I had a different (and less talkative) engineer this time, and he corrected the problem. I told him I felt stupid calling him back for such a small thing, and asked if there was something I could easily adjust to stop the drips should they return -- but he assured me that he didn't mind an easy call and said I shouldn't try to adjust the boiler myself. Which was my instinct too.

Oh, and remember our spicy situation? That shelf of spices below the boiler that I set out a few years ago, hoping that Dave would be encouraged by their greater visibility to use them and stop buying more? Well, we did a massive clean-out there and in the spice cabinet, and threw away a lot of stuff that had expired. Some of it was very, very expired -- like, anywhere from five to ten years ago.

This is what it looks like now.

Incidentally, for the past few years I've been working my way through our oversupply of cinnamon by using it in my coffee, and we're now down to two bottles and a little box -- from six containers, originally! (Dave has used some too, obviously. I didn't consume three bottles of cinnamon by myself.)

I'm sure that some of these "expired" spices were fine, but honestly, we just don't need poppy seeds or fennel seeds or some of the other stuff we had. Some of them I don't think we even bought -- I think they were given to us here and there by departing school families who were moving back to the states.

I did not throw away this sealed container of bicarbonate of soda, even though it expired in March 2013. I mean, does bicarbonate of soda really go bad? I hate to throw it away when it's never even been opened. What do you think?

Dave, meanwhile, got his Covid vaccine booster yesterday, at the invitation of the NHS, as well as a flu shot. I'm still waiting to hear from them, but supposedly I'll be able to get my booster fairly soon.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

La Blanche Neige

I was feeling well enough yesterday that I did manage to get the lawn mowed. (As I said, it's a small lawn.) Our electric mower was acting up -- even though it was plugged in correctly, I had a terrible time getting the power switch to work. Not sure what's going on there. I suppose I'll have to deal with that problem eventually.

As I mowed and trimmed I was trailed by this little robin, snatching bugs from the new-mown grass. English robins are amazingly curious and social. They'll come within a few feet and trill their little warbling songs in anticipation of an insect or worm.

Whenever a robin is fluttering around me, I always feel like seven dwarfs will come marching out of the underbrush. (Do we still say "dwarfs"? I guess we must, at least when referring to 84-year-old Disney animation.)

About this time the repair guy showed up to fix our boiler. He showed me the part he was replacing and although I am sure he'd used the word diaphragm to describe it, it looked more like a big metal Frisbee -- a hollow disc-shaped thing that apparently had something inside meant to expand when filled with hot water. Ours was leaking and thus not expanding properly blah blah blah. (This guy talked my ear off. I not only heard about this part but also about him buying his house in Acton 30 years ago, when he met his "second missus," and how he sold it to a couple of rich city types despite all its problems with damp and poor construction, which the inspections revealed but the buyers decided to ignore, and how he's now living in a one-bedroom apartment that he's hired a decorator to repaint and the guy keeps flaking out on him and not showing up. I didn't ask where the second missus is these days -- not to mention the first one -- but I did wonder.)

Our plectranthus is blooming, trying desperately to reproduce before winter comes. These plants are sold as annuals here, and you may remember I pulled one through last winter by keeping it indoors, but it was very messy and it still looked desperate by the time spring arrived. It leafed out again in summer and it's been nice to have around but I'm not saving it again this winter. So it better bloom while it can.

Here's a Blogger question. I recently updated the list of blogs I follow, in the sidebar to the right. But now I only see the first five blogs on the list, unless I hit the tiny "show all" button below them. I used to see the complete list by default. I looked in my settings to see if I could make a change that would show the full list automatically, but I don't see anything like that. Does anyone know if there's a way to toggle that on or off? It's no big deal -- I can hit "show all" easily enough -- but it's another weird change that just seemed to happen with no warning and that I could do without.

Blogger! Oh well -- you get what you pay for, I suppose.

Dave and I have been watching an Apple TV show called "Mr. Corman," starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a fifth-grade teacher. It's a very bizarre show and we're only four episodes in, but I really like it. I literally never know what to expect. We've had episodes with musical numbers and computer-game animation and allusions to Harry Nilsson's obscure children's TV special "The Point." Unfortunately, I hear the show has been cancelled, which is a shame because I'm digging the variety. Maybe it was a little too wild for some people.

Although I am feeling better, I'm not 100 percent and I'm staying home from work because I'm still coughing and snorting like crazy. Hopefully by tomorrow I'll be ready to face the world again.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Bread Week

The bees are still out doing their thing, despite the cooling October temperatures.  They especially seem to love the Michaelmas daisies. We have a big clump of these daisies off the back patio, both white ones and purple ones, and it's humming at this time of year.

I spent yesterday in bed and on the couch, mostly reading. I hesitate to say it, but I might be feeling a little better. It's hard to tell because I've also been taking Lemsip, a cold remedy containing paracetamol, and that might be giving me a false sense of wellness. Lemsip, a powder mixed into hot water to make a lemony drink, is the absolute nectar of the gods to a sick person.

I did get up the energy to vacuum the house yesterday, so that's something. And the lawn really needs to be mowed. I might do it today if I feel up to it. (It's a small lawn!)

Dave, meanwhile, made bread from scratch yesterday. I don't think he's ever done this, at least not as long as I've known him, but he turned out a very well-formed and well-baked loaf:

Even Paul Hollywood would be impressed. If not Paul, then at least Prue. Dave has made pan bread several times before, but I really think this is the first time I've seen him bake a loaf with yeast.

In fact Dave has been on a baking binge -- he also made an apple pie on Sunday. I have pretty much restricted my food intake to soup, which is what really appeals to me now. Anything with a thin broth or anything acidic and I'm all over it. Before Dave made soup I was eating canned tomatoes with toast, and they tasted fabulous. Must be the Vitamin C? It's funny how the body knows what it needs.

Oh, but I don't mean to imply I didn't eat Dave's pie. Of course I did, and it's yummy.

The boiler inspector came yesterday and found a fault in our boiler -- nothing dangerous, just a leaky diaphragm that allows water to seep out of the system. He's coming back today to replace it. No one wants a leaky diaphragm.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Attack of the Pot-Scrubbers

This cold has laid me low. It really took hold yesterday and I felt terrible. It feels like someone has scoured the inside of my nose and throat with a plastic pot scrubber. I tried to take Olga on her afternoon walk to the cemetery but I had to cut it short and come home, I felt so fatigued. My temperature was slightly elevated -- 99.6º, not really enough to be called a fever -- but I took another Covid test just in case and it was negative. So whatever it is, it's definitely not that.

On Saturday, when I felt a little better, I did some minor work in the garden, pulling weeds, cutting down the cardoon and some old globe thistles, and propping up some leaning Michaelmas daisies, which get very top-heavy when they flower. Of course I took a few more photos of things that are still blooming, like the few sunflowers that survived the squirrel offensive (top)...

...and our yellow dahlia, which I moved from the patio out to the lawn so we could see it better. The other dahlias have passed their peak, but this new one is still going strong.

The beautyberries look like brightly colored pharmaceuticals (no doubt psychedelics)...

...and though the zinnias, like the dahlias, are past their prime, they still have a few nice flowers.

This is a penstemon, which we planted a couple of years ago, and to be honest I thought it was long dead. My weeding revealed it deep in a flower bed, lanky and sun-starved but blooming. Persistent little devil! We used to have two of them, but I'm sure the other one is gone.

I finished a Newbery book, "Crispin and the Cross of Lead," which I really liked. And I watched a fantastic old English horror movie from the '60s called "Island of Terror," starring Peter Cushing, in which a village on a remote island is terrorized by silica-based life forms created (of course) by a wayward scientist in his laboratory. They looked like giant starfish (or maybe plastic pot scrubbers) with a single tentacle, so obviously made of latex that the attack scenes were completely laughable -- especially when the poles controlling the tentacles were visible! But terrible effects are all part of the charm of old horror movies.

When I was a kid our local TV station used to broadcast an old horror movie every Saturday afternoon, on a weekly show called "Creature Feature." I wrote about it here. "Island of Terror" would have been the perfect "Creature Feature" movie, and in fact I'd bet money that it aired there at some point.

Today, fortunately, Olga's dog walker is back on duty, so I won't have to manage the dog. (Dave would do it in a pinch, but to get him to walk her I have to overcome his belief that she doesn't need a daily walk. That's an extra psychological task that I find it easier to avoid.) We also have a guy coming over to do our annual gas inspection. I'm going to let Dave deal with him so as not to give him the plague.