Sunday, December 4, 2016

Fashion Flash Mob

After French class yesterday (and thank god THAT's over) I went walking in Marylebone and Soho, looking for good photo opportunities. I came across some interesting characters in Soho, dressed to the nines.

Turns out they were with an outfit called Live Fashion, which takes fashion shows to the street -- more about that here. They have a YouTube channel and an Instagram page, too. They paused in front of this boutique and attracted a spontaneous gaggle of photographers. We were popping off frames while their ringleader took photos of us.

(The woman in the beige coat is doling out vodka, BTW.)

There was some vamping and vogueing for the cameras...

...and some brief lounging on a passing sportscar. (I hope the driver was in on the joke. He did furiously rev his engine at one point.)

It was a hoot! As I told another guy there taking pictures, you just never know what you'll find walking around London.

(I do love that blue suit on the left...)

Saturday, December 3, 2016

More Dog Care Drama

I took this photo on my Wimbledon walk a couple of weeks ago. These plastic rings were clipped to a big metal gate behind some shops -- they're clothing size tags, normally attached to coat hangers. I like how someone turned them into a little art project!

So I don't remember how much I've updated you on the Olga dog-sitting saga. We need to have a dog-sitter for Olga while we go to the states for Christmas. We asked a friend of a work colleague, and she initially said yes, and then she said no, and then she said yes again. Well, early this week, she said no again. (And as I wrote earlier, our back-up dog-boarder has died.) So I've been scrambling to find another sitter.

We've talked to someone else, also recommended by a work colleague, and she came to the house on Thursday and met Olga. That seemed to go well -- though Olga huddled by my leg, certain that something was up. Today the new sitter is going to take Olga for a walk and keep her overnight to see how it goes with her dogs and her 5-year-old kid. I'm sure Olga will be fine, given her history with dogs and children, but of course I'm also a little nervous about her being in a new place with new people.

I'm also bummed that I won't get to walk her on the Heath today, because I was looking forward to that. Maybe she'll be back for a walk tomorrow. I'm not sure yet.

Today is my last French class of the term! Woo hoo! Despite my recent promise to rededicate myself to learning the language, I'm on the fence about signing up for the spring term. Maybe I know enough French? I find that I do less photography and have much less time for myself when I'm in class half the day every Saturday. So I don't know. Something to think about.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Crossing and Climbing

The other day, as I was walking past the Beatles crosswalk on Abbey Road, these folks were doing the famous John-Paul-George-Ringo pose so someone could take their picture. I love this. Is there any better testament to the universal appeal of the Beatles, and of music in general?

I only wish they'd been facing my direction. But I can't have everything.

So let's see -- what's going on around here? Winter, mostly.

We've run out of nuts and seeds for the bird and squirrel feeding saucer in the back of the garden, and I'd really rather not buy a huge new bag of it -- especially since I'm not sure it's a good idea to be feeding those critters at all. Most recommendations discourage pigeon feeding, and they are by far the predominant bird at the feeder dish -- though we get crows, too. We still have a gigantic, disgusting bag of dried mealworms, so I've been putting those out in the mornings, and they get eaten. But when they're gone we'll have to reevaluate the feeding saucer. It may be best to just use the hanging feeders, which attract smaller, more interesting birds.

I don't want things to starve out there, but I also don't want to encourage a pigeon population explosion. It's a delicate balance.

Yesterday I moved our sorry-looking marigolds off the front porch and onto the patio. Dave intends to do a garden cleanup this weekend, so they'll probably become mulch. It is time.

Apropos of nothing, I came across this certificate in one of my boxes of papers. I got it in third grade, when I and my classmates not only visited but climbed the Florida forestry lookout tower near Gowers Corner, in Pasco County. These towers were all over the state, used to monitor forest fires. I'm not sure this one even exists anymore. Can you imagine having a bunch of third graders traipsing up those stairs? Something tells me lawyers would frown on it nowadays! Anyway, it's kind of a cool certificate, even though they misspelled my name. (I'm a Stephen, not a Steven. It was a common mistake.)

I have very dim memories of that trip, and the experience of being up in the tower. But memory is a funny thing. Sometimes I wonder if I just think I remember it -- if every time I looked at this certificate I imagined what it would be like, and the imagination gradually became the memory. Know what I mean?

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Frosty the Dog Walkers

Temperatures were below freezing yesterday morning when Dave and I got up. The garden plants were silvery with frost, and the windows of our neighbors' cars were covered with criss-crossed patterns like trails left by tiny ice skaters.

Dave didn't work yesterday because he had some follow-up medical appointments related to his hospitalization earlier this year. (No great surprises, fortunately; just more tests and monitoring.) One side effect of his staying home is that both of us could walk Olga in the morning, which we never get to do together.

This was the sunrise view over the nearby tennis club. Those houses on the right are actually on our street; they're the back side of the ones across the street from us. If you can picture that.

Anyway, we had a good walk and I got to show Dave the morning routine that Olga and I share, which was kind of fun. Then I was off to work, where later in the morning I got another walk -- to the bank, to get change for our lost-book cash drawer.

In the evenings, having finished "The Crown," Dave and I have moved on to "Eyewitness," a crime drama from the USA network featuring a gay subplot. I read about it on another blog and I like the show, but Dave is a little lukewarm about it. (He's a tough critic.) So last night we tried "Firefly," the science fiction show from about 15 years ago that's most famous for having been prematurely canceled. We'll probably be watching those shows for the foreseeable future! (And hopefully I can continue to squeeze in episodes of "The Wire," but Dave really doesn't like that, so I have to wait for nights when he's not around or otherwise occupied!)

Marriage -- it's mainly about compromise on TV viewing and food!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

George Harrison Canal Boat

As we were coming back in a taxi from the train station on Sunday, Dave and I rode along the canal in Maida Vale and I spotted this interesting houseboat. I never walk along the south side of the canal -- I'm always on the north side, for some reason -- so maybe that's why I'd never seen it before. Anyway, I went back the next day on my lunch break for a closer look.

It turns out to be a little homage to George Harrison. On the back, next to the Hindu god Hanuman, are lyrics including "All you need is love" and "While my guitar gently weeps."

It's a really unusual houseboat -- not long and narrow like most canal boats. And those windows! Does it even have an engine?

Monday was a beautiful day, so I walked farther and found this gilded chaise longue atop someone else's boat. A novel way to store and/or transport fancy furniture!

And nearby, a pink flamingo frolicked in a very tiny houseboat garden.

I have been having a crazy couple of days at work. I came home looking like the trolls again last night (at least in my mind)! Just crazy, crazy busy.

I did solve one major library mystery. For a couple of weeks now, our copy of "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" has repeatedly migrated from the German history shelf into the art corner. I kept finding it on the art shelf and putting it back where it belonged, only to find it in art again later. I figured some kid was reading it and leaving it back there, and I'd never been able to figure out who. But yesterday I caught him red-handed moving the book. Turns out he wasn't reading it at all -- just playing tricks on me. Busted!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


You may think, from the title, that this post is about Internet trolls. But no, it's about actual trolls -- the toy kind, with the wild hair. Remember them, from the '70s? I guess they're still around, because while Olga and I were walking yesterday morning, we came across this blue-haired guy lying on the ground.

Olga gave him a sniff but didn't seem otherwise interested. I set him up on a planter where whoever dropped him will hopefully see him more easily.

Nearby, we found his Cousin It-like friend. I put him on the planter, too.

As I often say, you never know what you'll find while walking the dog.

I had an incredibly busy day yesterday. Tons of stuff coming back to the library after the break, and tons of people stopping by my desk to chat. I'm one of those very public people at school, always sitting out in the open, and I consider it part of my job to make time for people who stop by to talk. Consequently I felt like I was getting pulled all day in this direction or that. I was frazzled by the time I got home. If I had hair, I would have looked like one of those trolls.

I haven't mentioned politics lately, but of course that's at the back of my mind, too -- my lingering sense of dread regarding our world leadership. I don't know about you, but I have friends who have been seriously incapacitated by the American election. A couple of my colleagues can barely function. They're prone to crying in the hallways.

My personal coping mechanism is to clearly recognize what I can and cannot do and/or change. The election outcome is awful, but under the American system, Donald Trump is (almost certainly, despite recount efforts) the legitimate winner. Lots and lots of Americans wanted him -- a winning assortment of Americans, under our system. There is nothing for those of us on the losing side of history to do but bite the bullet and live with him, and respect, if not the candidate himself, then the wishes of our fellow countrymen and -women. That's democracy, right?

People say we can't normalize him, but the fact is, we have to -- to some degree, if only just to move on with our lives. We don't have to roll over completely. We can guard against the darker impulses that helped fuel his rise -- the racism, the xenophobia. I'm seriously weighing some Christmas donations to organizations that will fight for causes I believe in, now possibly under threat. That's something I can do.

Meanwhile, as I've written before, I'm also trying to remain open-minded. We really don't know much about how all this will unfold. I'm trying to make room for the possibility that it won't be terrible. The system itself is built to protect us from an inept leader. I'm not sure it's healthy to prematurely expect or anticipate disaster.

Admittedly, I do shudder every time Donald Trump issues another tweet. (I don't use Twitter, but I do read about his tweets in the paper.)

And hey, look at that -- this post did turn out to be about an Internet troll!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Death of a Tennis Ball

One last Copenhagen photo. This is from a cafe where we had breakfast yesterday, overlooking a public square and the Stork Fountain. (Our guidebook says the birds on the fountain are actually herons, but whatever.) The sun was shining brilliantly and I was sorry to leave, but Olga awaited!

Traveling home was unremarkable, which is probably a good thing. When we got to the Copenhagen airport, I had a bunch of random Danish change in my pocket, enough to buy a bottle of inexpensive sparkling wine at the duty-free shop. We were going to give it to our dog-sitter, but by the time we got home she was already gone.

Olga was thrilled to see us, but her Kong toy was missing. I'm guessing she took it on a walk and dropped it somewhere, which she is prone to do -- you gotta keep an eye on her at all times! A lesson for the dog-sitter. Fortunately, thanks to my former boss Susan -- who brought a Kong to Olga on her recent visit -- we had a spare.

Meanwhile, in her excitement at our arrival, Olga demolished a tennis ball on the living room rug. Scraps of rubber and damp green fuzz everywhere!