Sunday, September 25, 2022
Surviving the Revolution
Yesterday started out as one of those days where the more I did, the more I realized I had to do. Mostly this involved laundry, vacuuming and plant-watering, but there were other, smaller associated tasks like dusting here and scrubbing there. I wanted to carry our laundry rack out to the patio, so the clothes could dry outside, but we can't open the bedroom door because of that stupid scaffold that's been erected by the builder to fix the window and roof upstairs. Argh! Mrs. Russia told me that job was going to take four days. It's already been ten, and I'm not sure that guy has even started on the roof.
Anyway...I carried the rack the long way through the living room and out onto the lawn. So the clothes got more or less dry.
I finally got the house organized to my satisfaction around 11 a.m. and sat down to read John Irving's book "In One Person." I came across it while weeding the fiction section a couple of weeks ago and I've long meant to read it -- it's the one where Irving explores bisexuality and it made quite a splash when it came out about ten years ago. I'm about 75 pages in and it hasn't quite grabbed me yet but it's tolerable.
I also had to visit Mrs. Kravitz because all our yard waste bags vanished after they were emptied by the council on Friday morning. I looked over the fence and saw, on her patio, at least one bag with our house number on it. I knocked on her door, and although she denied picking up our bags, she let me reclaim that one, which she couldn't very well argue was hers. So now we're down to just three bags. I've placed an order to the council for a few new ones. (I took Mrs. K a cutting from our purple heart plant to soften the blow of accusing her of pilfering our property.)
Finally, in early afternoon, I took Olga to the cemetery.
She zeroed in on the squirrels right away...
...but they scampered up into the trees and taunted her from an unreachable branch.
She chased and gnawed her tennis ball, never mind that dental surgery, and seemed to have a great time.
While at the cemetery we came across this tomb, the final resting place of the Russian Grand Duke Michael Michaelovitch and his wife, Sophie, Countess de Torby. I'd heard they were buried in Hampstead Cemetery and always wondered where, and yesterday I finally happened to look at the inscriptions and so figured it out. I expected something grander, but apparently they were living in "reduced circumstances" (I love that phrase) at the end of their lives. Hence, perhaps, this minimalist box.
The duke had an interesting life. A grandson of Tsar Nicholas I, he was born in 1861 and eventually married the lower-ranked Sophie, a descendant of Russian writer Alexander Pushkin, without permission. This supposedly upset his mother so much that she fell ill and died, and the emperor banished them from Russia. As it turned out this was a good thing -- they survived the Russian revolution, which killed three of the duke's brothers.
He and Sophie spent their later years in London, living at Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath (which Dave and I visited several years ago). They had three children, one of whom became a Mountbatten through marriage and was thus closely related to the British royals.
And then they wound up here. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
Dave and I got Chinese takeaway last week. Here are our fortunes. I guess we need to buy a lottery ticket tomorrow!