I just can't stop with these animated gifs, either making them or watching them, hypnotized, once they're made. It is, as they say, a sickness. Next I would like someone to invent a way to print them out and paste them into albums.
We met some new people this weekend! I'm sure they'll be eager to hang out with us again. How not, with conversations like this?
"I heard something about how grey squirrels are killing off all the European red squirrels by taking over their habitats."
"Yeah, I was just reading about that. Apparently it's partly because they carry some disease that doesn't harm them but kills the red squirrels, and partly because they're bigger and greedier and start eating the nuts earlier."
"That's what she said!"
"Sorry, I couldn't help myself."
"No, I understand. It would be a crime to let it go by, really."
"Anyway, Steve and I sometimes pretend that I'm a big oblivious grey squirrel and he's a little meek red squirrel."
"Not in bed."
"No, I think it's great that you're so open about it."
Antonia has me thinking about how to write about the things I don't write about. The big one, of course, is stories that aren't mine to tell. It turns out that life is littered with these, and that in fact many of one's own stories are only lesser adjuncts to someone else's more important and private ones. Leaving these out can feel disingenuous, but what can you do? Imagine if I were feeling utterly wretched because, say (NOT REAL EXAMPLES):
Our best friend had stopped talking to us because his wife claimed to have fallen in love with Steve, or
Steve's brother had racked up horrible gambling debts and his parents were bankrupting themselves to pay them off, or
We were disinvited from Christmas dinner because my niece had a terrible wasting disease and it made my sister too unhappy to see us and our happy, healthy baby.
There is no such person as our best friend's wife, Steve's brother, or my sister, but things like this sometimes happen. When they do, it would be impossible for me to write about it here. I would feel like an ass dropping cryptic little allusions, even. So there the things sit, in invisible lumps between posts about young adult novels and gardening, or whatever.
Happy things, too. It seems presumptuous to treat the innocent people in my everyday life as blog material. Steve and Jane less so, poor suckers, but still. I generally don't write in much detail about my work life, either. What the fuck do I write about? This is why it's nice to have what are called "outside interests," I believe.
We watched High Plains Drifter last week. I like how clearly it is the product of having watched High Noon and thought, "This is great, but wouldn't it be greater if everyone were way more repugnant?"
"And if the town were punished with a lot more than the sheriff's scorn and being shown up by Grace Kelly?"
"And if Gary Cooper weren't Gary Cooper but instead an avenging revenant from Hell back to ruin the lives of everyone who had abandoned him*?"
"And if there were a gun-toting dwarf?"
The scene early on in the barbershop is amusing for how precisely Clint Eastwood's sweeping aside of the sheet around his neck reproduces his usual business with a serape:
It's a pity that the movie is apparently incapable of resisting the hoary old chestnut in which a woman being raped ends up hot for it. It would have made a lot more sense in the internal logic of the film itself, too, not to have gone there, but oh well, it was 1973, I suppose.
*Patricia Neal might argue that Gary Cooper himself was a revenant from Hell intent on ruining the lives of those around him, given his super-classy behavior during their long affair. It culminated in his forcing her to get an abortion, despite her Catholicism, lest she embarrass him by having his child. He was mighty handsome, though.
I have been playing at being the dilettante I have always wanted to be, swanning about town and loitering around cafes. I realize there is a term for this other than "dilettante" when you are doing it with a child, and are filling in the spaces between swanning with breastfeeding, asswiping, and wishing you could put her down long enough to take a shower. But it is nonetheless far from unpleasant that the baby finds accompanying me as I wander around buying cheese and coffee the most soothing activity possible. Long may this state of affairs carry on.
And soon I will have an extra-discounted bus pass to go to campus with when I'm not doing any of the above. Paradisiacal.
The vegetables are good too.
The local library does charge fifty cents for interlibrary loan, to which I say Boo to you, California.
Steve: On the other hand, they have multiple copies of Wolf Hall available.
Me: That's because NOBODY READS THEM. Because it's TOO EXPENSIVE.
Especially if you have spent all your money on baby-fueled cheese-buying sprees. I suppose I can find a couple of quarters to rub together for more doses of light fiction. I suppose. I continue to find Angela Thirkell a very satisfactory source of a little something to have read aloud to me, and they cannot bring her out-of-print titles back into print quickly enough.
Someone is in fact putting out some reprint editions, but the order in which they have chosen to bestow their largess is not intuitive. Good thing I can pay my fifty cents and get The Brandons whisked into town at my command. In the meantime I am re-reading Love in a Cold Climate, which is of course excellent as always, but not the same thing.
Also we have watched some movies. Expect a post stuffed full of screenshots shortly.
(1) We have a refrigerator! Our long national nightmare is finally at an end. You may not have known we were having a long national nightmare, but we were. Sorry about that, America. You can start feeling better now.
(2) Because (a) we could not until now keep milk cold, and (b) the water here is so very hard that we have been afraid to make coffee until we get a Brita filter, because the machine is likely to crust over with scale after just one use, we we have gone from zero to (ostensibly) beloved regulars at TWO local coffee vendors in truly record time. Possibly the super-friendly and extroverted local culture is also to blame. We are all now on a first-name basis, a state of affairs that I find both charming and disconcerting.
In fact, the whole week and a half has been a complete social whirl. We went out to dinner with local friends and their baby, and had the fun of letting the babies flap their little hands at one another "just like a hobo fight!" as Steve said. We got invited to a lovely potluck full of nice academics who tell good funny stories, and saw them again at happy hour. A friend visiting his parents in LA drove up for the day and we all happily talked our heads off. Then we lost our car after dinner and walked around and around and around and AROUND in circles before finding it, making our friend and his friend horribly late for their drive back to LA. Oops. Sorry, friends. And now another friend is arriving this afternoon. Apparently we too are extroverts, now, whether we mean to be or not.
This is sadly completely unillustrative, because I haven't taken pictures of any of the really most chaotic vistas, like for example the one I am looking at right now. You'll just have to use your imagination. This week our trash and recycling pickup should be turned back on, so that should help matters a bit. (Sigh.) (Update: they told us to put the old recycling containers out to be replaced with new ones, because I guess the serial numbers on the side are how they can tell whether you've paid your trash bill. They did not replace them. Better luck next week?)
In other news, you'll be happy to know that hair is still with us. The flow has abated slightly, perhaps, but it is still a force to be reckoned with. I have spent an absurd amount of money on a vacuum cleaner, however, in the hopes that it will solve my two primary objections to vacuums I have known in the past. To wit: they are no match for hair, and I loathe using them, so they sit in the corner gathering dust anyhow, rather than hoovering it up. It remains to be seen whether this gambit will succeed.
It's nice, though, that my hairs have teamed up to make the new place feel like home. It's the little things, you know, that make all the difference.