It has been a day full of recalcitrances, various: rusted-in bolts; institutional forms that nothing human could complete without error; the Great Document Hunt of 2019; the sheer physical resistance of damp grass.
So yes; the advantage of a familiar film – knowing what the pops, whoops, scratching noises, clicks, and occasional explosions mean without having to actually look. I took to the recliner and duly reclined.
That should be “eaglet” but never mind. A minor obsession with slow television probably hints at psychic disturbance; but how soothing when the wobbly progression backward and subsequent evacuation is the most dramatic moment of the day, while uploading to a VLE, doing paperwork and packing a bag are being wilfully ignored. Why don’t the chicks on loo duty fall out when their motor control is so erratic? Or maybe they sometimes do.
Popecatepetl also counts as slow television, with the added benefit of the occasional Mexican pigeon peering fuzzily through to England. It has the potential to turn very suddenly into fast television, of course, but let’s not think about that.
And: Sorry; parody unintentional. I’ve just identified the source. Oops.
Eyes ahead past the nefarious persons standing sentry at each end of the underpass.
The yellows are fine this year, picking up luminously as the small torch passed,
accumulating into drifts here and there.
Death always draws a line, and, with spectacular symbolic timing, Fluffers’ death has drawn a long one.
Returning from the home patch to find a peculiar and unsettling incident going on in Salisbury, of all unlikely places. Apart from the usual sticky-beaks, most people are going about their business, though at times with rather raised eyebrows, as indeed I am doing myself.
Nest building continues. I love charity shops.
Meantime I am reading the story of Judith in the Middle English Metrical Paraphrase of the Old Testament. Spelling Nebuchadnezzar as ‘Nabogodhonosour’ is genius. And ‘pupplysch’ is an excellent word. And it was written by a proto-feminist, which can’t necessarily be said of the biblical source:
Thei say, “We wott we have yt wun
with wyll of God and wyt of thee.”
Enough to think about for now.
lxxiii : Watch silly things to do
The Winter Olympics are coming in handy for insomnia. Ice dancing … and chocolate. Yep; it was a long one.
I found a very useful lightning map, and watched the storms come trogging up the Channel long before they reached my part of the world. Thus I was sitting up ready in bed, curtains drawn back, watching for the first flashes when they began. It was a good storm, though not a classic; lightning in profusion, often every second or two, mostly glowing weirdly in the clouds, sometimes rushing like rivers horizontally across the sky, occasionally laying itself out in archetypal dendritic patterns. We were on the skirts of the action, so much of this happened in silence, with just a few of the nearer bolts banging and rumbling – nothing to frighten the horses – and the excitement was over in about 90 minutes.
Bit sleepy today, though.
Emerging dicot seedlings have a habit of looking very like one another, but this soon wears off. (Click a thumbnail for the gallery)
Gaillardia are supposed to be surface sown, but they look miserable, the feeble rootlets crawling over the soil to make a way;
even these older gaillardia still seem uncomfortable. I have grave doubts about pricking them out.
By contrast, the catananche’s first true leaves shoot up into the air like a class of confident seven-year-olds vying for attention.
After the first seed leaves, rudbeckia dress themselves up like microscopic cactuses
while harebells are so tiny and delicate it is difficult to imagine raising them to maturity,
and brachycombe are enthusiastic and sprawly.
Verbascum look tidy and brisk as seedlings, but they are telling porkies.
Approaching maturity they can throw a wilt with thespian virtuosity for the merest nothing: too damp, dry, sunny or shady, warm or cold, wind in the east or wind in the west, or possibly because someone said an unkind word to them (that would be me).
They are also maddeningly vulnerable to slugs and snails, and, it turns out, a choice food plant for some dratted lepidoptera. I don’t think this fusspot will be getting any second chances around here …
It all started so promisingly.
The baby 5″ is quick to set up and I took a couple of snaps for the fun of it, before the sky was properly dark.
I even managed to catch a little of the earthshine, though it needed a time long enough to over-expose the lit crescent of the moon.
The 5″ was, however, not giving a good image of Jupiter, and I lugged out the 10″. Given that we’re talking astronomy here, no surprise that the clouds came up in a moment, and wiped the sky like a sponge across a blackboard. At this point everything began to go wrong, a maddening saga involving collimators, flat batteries, lost screws, and the impending disintegration of the whole primary mirror assembly on the 10″. And it wasn’t even April Fools yet. I secured the primary before sulking off to bed, but it’s going to be a vile job to realign everything.
This afternoon was bright but it was the mist in the downs which was making me happy.
Driving home, I could see four complicated sky layers, all apparently doing different things. By the time I could photograph, only two of the layers were obvious: the low grey layer which was the one sitting on the hills, moving quickly to the right, though there was almost no breeze at ground level; and the high white cumulus, drifting almost imperceptibly to the left.
Made me think of Jupiter all over again.
Watching Suffragette gave me time to contemplate how my own feminism is getting on, how male interpretations sneak into everything (yes still), and how small girls are indoctrinated with pink and dollies and make-up (the pages of any toy catalogue are a perfect horror show).
One seasonal example: Mary is the only woman appearing in the vast majority of Nativity scenes displayed at this time of year. And I don’t believe it. Quite apart from female solidarity, women buzz round new babies like wasps round jam. So when I knitted up Jean Greenhowe’s crib scene a few years back, it acquired an improvised figure: the innkeeper’s wife, who has looked out a blanket left over from her own babies, and is about to give it to the infant Jesus.
Maybe this year I could knit the bossy WRVS lady who lives in Bethlehem and has just heard about Mary. I can practically hear her rushing up the road, full of good advice for a first time mother (possibly rather more advice than Mary actually wants), and bringing a pot full of nourishing stew, which will, of course, be incubating efficiently in a hay box.
Pacific campaigns: one of the big ones. Since this was written the internet has happened along, giving access to photographs, maps, Pathé snippets, reminiscences, obituaries, and modern documentary films with truly dreadful moronic American chauvinist narrators who make the Pathé commentators look restrained and unsentimental (yes I am thinking of one in particular). These are all useful supplements, but the value of a systematic and dispassionate account becomes even more obvious as you google.
The tone is mostly dry and academic, preoccupied with numbers (which are in themselves shocking) and dates. The occasional concession to human interest is made, for example restrained thumbnail sketches of the senior commanders:
“Nimitz had had a varied career … bold and skilful … accessibility, regard for his subordinates and his quiet strength of character … ”
“Spruance was an intellectual, retiring man not given to seeking publicity …”
“Fraser, a gunnery specialist … a relaxed and easy-going style … ”
One description breaks the pattern:
“Described as ‘an awkward bastard’, Vian believed people could take him as they found him.” I did have a little chuckle; having heard Admiral Sir Philip Vian’s character assassinated in highly coloured navyspeak, I’m guessing this thumbnail still counts as academic understatement.
But I’m afraid one detail took my attention above all. Shangri-La? An aircraft carrier called Shangri-La?? Sorry, people over the water, a joke is all very well, but how on earth could you do it to her, poor thing?