Monday, March 8, 2021

Mud and Crows


Actress Gracie Fields built this oddly shaped house in Hampstead back in 1934. (Well, that black plaque on the wall says she built it for herself, but I'm guessing she had it built.) Olga and I pass it every time we go to the main Heath, and we did so again yesterday.

It's a cute place, unusual but not palatial. I especially like the lintels above the windows -- you can't really tell but they look like they're decorated with little clusters of parading parentheses. Maybe they're supposed to be blades of grass?


It turned out to be a nice day -- chilly but more or less sunny and bright. Remember what I said yesterday about the increased foot traffic on the Heath during our lockdowns, and how it's churned up the sod? You can see what I mean in this photo. This happens when a path gets muddy, and people try to go around the mud and trample the grass on either side, which creates more mud for people to go around -- and pretty soon there's no grass left at all. Social distancing makes the problems worse because people also have to walk widely around each other. Experts are saying the Heath will take years to recover.


The mud made Olga look like she was wearing a brown sock.


Fortunately, not everything is muddy. That's a particularly extreme area above. There are still plenty of wooded copses and grassy fields, and places for dogs to roll in dry fallen leaves.

There were loads of crows in the trees above this leafy spot, all cawing and making a racket.


It sounded like a scene out of Hitchcock.


We came across this odd artwork (?) featuring wooden blocks affixed to an old dead tree. 


And also this artwork, which is less sophisticated but perhaps more immediately enjoyable.

Back home again, the Russians continued with their demolition project. Actually I think the demolition is done now and they're doing some construction, but it's no less noisy. It sounds like an extra-loud dental drill, or maybe the world's largest murder hornet. Fortunately school reopens today and Dave and I are going back to work -- can you imagine if they were doing this while Dave was trying to teach from home via Zoom?

On Saturday evening we watched a '70s disaster movie that I don't think I'd ever seen before -- "The Cassandra Crossing," starring Sophia Loren, Burt Lancaster, O.J. Simpson and the doyenne of '70s disaster, Ava Gardner. It had to do with the release of a deadly pathogen (!) on a luxury train across Europe. As people start getting sick from this organism, evil deep-state military and health officials direct the train toward a disused, unstable World War II-era bridge that they know isn't safe. Fortunately a heroic team of passengers take matters into their own hands. It was both cheesy and surprisingly good! If you like cheesy movies, that is.

47 comments:

  1. That's a hilarious shot of Olga's brown socks! I looked out my dining room window today and saw a murder of crows hogging all the bird seed that's fallen on the ground. I dislike crows, to tell you the truth. They creep me out. And, yes, I know how smart they are. There's something very very human about them, and they bother me.

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    1. I forgot a group of crows is called a murder. Such a great use of that word. They are forbidding, in a way -- hence the Poe poem! (That was a raven, but close enough.)

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  2. The mud on the Heath reminds of why I am a city dweller.
    Olga with 'mud boots' is funny, as is she rolling in leaves, preferable to rolling in mud.
    Does the house of Gracie have a rood that looks a bit saggy?
    I like the sound of that movie. I remember the name of it.

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    1. Olga loves to roll in mud, too, but only in warm weather! The roof doesn't look saggy to me -- but the front of the house is curved which creates a weird effect.

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  3. I like the way that the front of Gracie Fields's house curves round. As for cheesy films, I am quite partial to a nice bit of cheese - my favourite films include "Gouda Will Hunting", "The Edam Busters" and "The Grated Gatsby".

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  4. A nice looking house..and looks as if it was built asymetrical too.
    It is sad seeing all the mud..but it is surprising how quickly it will recover, if it is left alone.

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    1. Yes, it's very asymmetrical -- a curved front wall and a side wall at the right that goes off at about a 75-degree angle.

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  5. Thanks for the crows Steve, I love that sound. Reminded me of a walk we took once on the Downs, there were so many of them, it was lovely.
    Briony
    x

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  6. Played the crows audio, ended up with two very excited cats for company. I should know better. Olga and mud. A match made in heaven. I'm going to see if there are interior shots of that house!

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    1. Ha! I would love to have seen Moose and Dudo's reactions!

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  7. Does Gracie Field's garden still have the biggest aspidestra in the world?

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    1. Ha! Maybe those grass-like designs above the windows are aspidistra leaves?!

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  8. What a great photo of Olga rolling in the dry leaves! That's a happy doggie! Enjoy your day, hugs, Edna B.

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    1. She loves rolling around on leaves and long grass.

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  9. I can't believe that your neighbors commenced this project without even notifying you that it would be happening. So, so thoughtless and rude.
    The crows! Beth Coyote wrote of crows today too.
    The Heath looks terrible! What a mess. Brown socks for all.
    But that house has a charm, doesn't it? It's odd but it's sweet.

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    1. It's a cute house. I guess it's such a weird shape because of the shape of the lot? That's all I can figure. I'm just glad that I'm now at work during the day so we don't have to listen to the pounding and sawing!

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  10. I'm rather fond of the Wood Block Tree because it asks so many questions... starting with 'Why?'
    And Gracie's house is kind of whimsical. i like the curve.
    I have recorded several movies this past year to watch during lockdown and several have been about a global pandemic are eerily similar to what actually happened. Those are TRUE horror films!

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    1. As someone pointed out below, the tree/block sculpture looks a bit like Minecraft, or a digitized version of a real tree.

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  11. Love Olga's muddy brown sock. She's always so cute.
    That tree with the wood blocks is beautiful piece of art. I see an interesting environmental statement there.

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    1. It is somewhat thought-provoking, isn't it?

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  12. that's a great shot of Olga rolling in the leaves. and yeah, wet ground and people is not a good combination. I do like the tree trunk with the wood blocks.

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    1. I took about 20 pictures of her rolling before I got one I liked. I wanted to show the leaves stuck to her body along with at least a hint of her face and head, but not too much "down below."

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  13. That tree with the blocks reminds me of the video game "Minecraft" which I actually know nothing about except that my granddaughters play it!
    I just couldn't walk through that mud!

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    1. I think you're onto something with that "Minecraft" idea -- those blocks probably ARE meant to show a semblance of a digitized version of the tree.

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  14. Yes, I hate it when you walk around a mud hole and make the mudhole bigger. The grass will come back.

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    1. I hope so! It gets worn and muddy every year but I don't think I've ever seen it this bad.

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  15. What a cute house. I love it. The mud, on the other hand is not so pleasant. I could hear some human sounds mixed in with those crows.
    I watched the Harry and Meghan interview last night. Very interesting.

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    1. Yeah, there were some people nearby. The Heath is still quite crowded given that everything else is closed!

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  16. Speaking of cheesy entertaining movies, we watched Mortdecai the other night for a few chuckles. Cute. -Kate

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    1. I've never seen "Mortdecai"! I think we need to add it to our list. I like so many of those performers.

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  17. Too bad you could not see inside the house...I love happy dog photos and crows and you and your picks for movies never fail to surprise...

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    1. Yeah, I wouldn't want to be nabbed by the cops for peering in Gracie's windows!

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  18. I love cheesy disaster movies! I might have to check that one out (if I ever actually decide to watch a movie). Boy, your demolition story makes me extra glad we no longer live in an apartment!

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    1. Expect it to be good only in a cheesy sense. It's not a good movie by any means. The ending is quite dramatic, though.

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  19. Brown socks! Do you have to wash her paws before you bring her inside? I've watched a few cheesy disaster movies in my time, but not recently. (never heard of that one) When I had a new roof put on my house 6 years ago, I thought I would lose my mind from the pounding and noise.

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    1. Oh yes, after a Heath walk Olga almost always gets a bath -- at least of her legs and belly.

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  20. That Gracie Fields house looks haunted to me. And then there's the mud and the crows and the Russians' construction (or destruction) project and finally that spookie movie. Sounds to me like a perfect day. If your name was Dracula. 😮

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    1. Hmmmm...is the world trying to tell me something, or just SCARE me?

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  21. The Cassandra crossing 1977
    Oh Ava Gardner what possessed u

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    1. You gotta wonder what some of these people were thinking. Maybe they got paid a lot?

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  22. Gracie's house could do with a face-lift.
    Alphie

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    1. Maybe it's being deliberately allowed to weather!

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  23. Maybe Gracie built the house herself. We'll probably never know all of her talents, which were many. Olga looks happy in the leaves.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. I can just imagine her laying bricks and pounding nails while singing about giant aspidistras.

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    2. Now I have that image in my brain.

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