Before diving into today’s post, a reminder that International Turn Signal Observance Day is fast approaching. As you know, the US has pulled out of the ITSO agreement, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go ahead and use your turn signals anyway.
Now, where I live, there are alleys behind the houses, only here they call them lanes. The other day, I overheard several of my neighbors chatting about landscaping, and other neighborhood matters like the regrettable incident during Halloween.
When suddenly from the west a loud bang, followed moments later by a cold wind.
“What was that?” neighbor one confuddled?
“Could have been a nuke,” neighbor two suggested.
“No, too far west. It would be more to the south, right, where DC is?” a passerby walking a charming Newfie mix said.
“Besides, that cold gust would have been a hot wind that melts the skin right off the bone,” neighbor one concluded, a note of cheeriness in her voice.
Then it started raining and all said in unison, “Thunder! It was thunder! Of course.”
Then, and this was beautiful – and to be honest, I started to feel particularly bad about squatting and hiding behind a bush observing all this – they put their arms around each other and began singing folk songs in what sounded like ancient Gaelic.
Now stop worrying and get out there and use those turn signals!
Day 2 came and went, and still, news crept into my life. This time, the old fashioned way, by word of mouth.
Half of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, they say, is to be sold off to the highest bidder. This most recent September, a guide led us through that strange, parched, changing landscape for 10 hours, from high perches above dry river beds, through a slot canyon, and past centuries-old petroglyphs. During that time, we went four hours without seeing another person. As we entered the slot canyon, we came across someone lost, and later, a party of four trekking the other way.
My good friend Alfonse sent me a sound remedy, to soften the silence. WXPN, a university radio station in Philadelphia, PA, US of A, is playing the songs of the seventies from A to Z. For your enjoyment, I place here the link. After nine days, they’re up to the letter M.
It’s a disappearing natural world and if you pay too much attention, you’ll draw some grim conclusions. I subscribe to a daily email from ScienceDaily which gets me the latest science news. Sometimes it’s sparks the day’s writing, and sometimes…
“Dahl’s toad-headed turtle threatened by fragmented habitat, shrinking forests.”
“Tigers cling to survival in Sumatra’s increasingly fragmented forests.”
“Fish exposed to treated wastewater have altered behavior.”
Technically, the numbering should be backwards, but that’s incalculable. After a TV-free day, fell asleep and slept the night through. I would have slept later, but, per usual, the dog woke me as soon as the first light of day crept through the curtains.
As you know or don’t know, I haven’t been sleeping well for months, wondering if we are experiencing something like what Europeans did in the 1930s, a rising anxiety as a dark veil descends upon our civilization.
Since the start of the year, I’d scaled back my media intake, mostly news, and that worked for awhile. But it wasn’t enough. So yesterday, after determining that sleeping was more important than being well-informed, I began not watching TV (except an episode from series 3 of Broadchurch which is unavoidable). I gave up my morning NPR fix while scrambling the eggs. I ran from the room when my soulmate turned on cable news. I even skipped my daily dose of sportscenter.
No TV. No NPR. No evening news. No Facebook or Twitter feed. I turned off all the notifications my phone gets except actual phone calls. Now before me lies the daunting task of getting accustomed to the sound of thoughts that are my own.
One other thing, all media intake at this point must be by intent, not by beep, ding, flash, or habit, and must serve the purpose of reminding me that people can work together, expand knowledge, and solve problems. So last night, before episode six of series 3, Broadchurch – have I mentioned that it’s excellent – watched the documentary, The Farthest: Voyager in Space. It did the job. For now.
“One day, young man, Philadelphia Pants will be yours.” Of course, I ran it into the ground, foolishly expanding into custom-made bandanas, of all things. If only I’d listened…
We made pants. Good pants that fit well. Philadelphia Pants closed in 1989, after the ill-fated bandana venture which, if I’m to be completely honest, was just one in a series of my missteps. All that remains is this Philadelphia Pants, the one with the dot com. And though I don’t have an assembly line at my disposal, skilled tailors, seamstresses, and pressers, I can do with it what I please. Except make pants. I’m not going to make pants.
Today, a photo. This is Little Pete’s, an institution for 40 years at 17th and Locust in Philadelphia, which closed this spring. It was, they say, beloved. I ate there once, the day of this photo, unaware of its reputation and its…
Thanks so much for coming ahead of the storm. It’s only a category three; I don’t know why they even bother to call it a hurricane.
When you first enter the house, be certain to ignore our darling dog, Schatzi, who has a multiple personality disorder. He’s suitably medicated, but, if disturbed will most certainly engage in antics that some find unsettling given his mammoth size.
As I told Big Al on the phone, the upright piano in the dining room needs to be moved into one of three upstairs rooms. I refer, of course, to the Steinway, not the Baldwin, which is an inferior instrument and scheduled for destruction early next week. The demolition team may have already rigged it with explosives, so please stay away from it.
The first and best option for the Steinway upright – please do not move the Steinway grand – is the bedroom in the southwest corner of the west wing of the second floor. You must take precise measurements of the hallway before you start. Of immediate concern is the sharp left zig-zag leading to the small second staircase. Remove the handrail but under no circumstances are you to destroy it – nothing should be destroyed unless you receive instructions from me to the contrary. Once you’ve navigated the piano through the west wing stairs, hallways, and turns, place it along the south wall. As always, before moving the piano, check inside for dead animals.
Should this location prove inaccessible, try the north tower. Again: measure, measure, measure. You may use my husband Derek’s surveying instruments so long as you wipe your fingerprints from them when you return them to cold storage. He doesn’t like it when people handle his tools, but what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.
Some movers have had difficulties with the round stairway leading to the north tower – it was only recently that the Louis XIV Armoire was at long last extricated. It was so… cathartic splintering it with an axe. Of course, Derek wanted to blow it up, but for safety reasons, we ignite explosives only outdoors. However, I do have every confidence in your abilities.
If needed, you may construct and install a suitable winch which should be removed when you complete your task. Place the piano in the exact center of the tower facing west so that my daughter Ezmerine can play her mournful little concertos at sunset, her only real joy. If you see Ezmerine, please do not comment on or make notice of her nudity. Though she is a free spirit, she is very prickly on the subject.
Now that I think about it, the tower really is the first and best choice.
If you fail at options one or two, then, as a last resort, use the east by northeast drawing room. No explanation is needed here as I’m sure you will manage either of the first two options, especially the second, which is now to be considered first. However, if fail you do, at one or two, contact me on my fourth mobile phone. Big Al should have briefed you, but phone #1 is for my husband and family; #2 is for my agent, attorneys, and artisanal medication emergencies. #3 is for my current lover, Geoffrey, although Antoine and Gertie may still have that number. Just in case. It’s been so long since they’ve called. As you can imagine, I do so miss them. So, cell phone #4 only.
Anyway, it’s a small job and I expect you’ll finish in under an hour, well before the storm is at full force. The storm will almost certainly rouse Schatzi and you don’t want to be in the house when that happens. Help yourself to the special brownies as you leave. Should the access road to the house be under water due to the hurricane, Derek and I invite you to wait it out in your truck.
So we were back in hot, smelly, tasty New York over the weekend where it was too uncomfortable to stand outside and wait for a cab or an Uber. Forget the subway platform with its superheated unventilated barely breathable sludge that passes for air. Forget walking on the sunny side of the street. Always check the air conditioning of that restaurant before the menu.
I do love New York though, even when it’s like this. You can walk around with a camera and take pictures of people posing on one of the Whitney’s terraces, and see avant-garde Fringe Festival shows. Which is why we went – to see a friend’s poignant and hilarious production of Gorges Motel at Players Theatre, which made Huff Post’s curated Fringe Festival list. See it.
Anyway, pluses and minuses regarding New York City.
Minuses: It costs a lot of money to get there, stay there, eat there, drink there and entertain yourself there. There are unidentifiable odors mixed with some unfortunately recognizable ones. Tourist destinations waste your valuable time. The city is not what it once was.
Pluses: New York City is still more unlike anywhere else than anywhere else. It is strange, electrified, multicultural, demanding, ecstatic, entertaining, stimulating, exhausting. No matter how great the thing is that you’re doing, you always have the feeling that there’s something else even better. You can order Indian food and have it delivered just about any time of day or night.
Today, we’re on a break from the detective story. That doesn’t mean that the writing team has no idea where the story is going. Just that something urgent popped into the inbox this morning. See below for details:
A few years ago I purchased a DropCam mostly so the family could observe our then new dog when she was home alone, and scare the bejeezus out of her through the remote mic whenever she got into something she shouldn’t.
Anyway, Nest acquired DropCam awhile ago… and while that isn’t too much of a big deal, every now and then they try some shenanigans like this here email which arrived today:
I was almost lulled into inaction by the cheerful, apologetic, chatty tone of the email. “What a nice note,” I thought. “They’ve given me the option of ignoring it. How thoughtful. I love ignoring things…”
Then the caffeine kicked in and the sense that I was being wronged by a faceless entity started rising up from deep within. Error or no error, I want my free Video History. I paid for it and it’s mine. Right is right.
Essentially, they were telling me that they “accidentally” provided a free service and now that service was no longer free. Well… I sent the following email response:
That should clear things up! Questions for you, the above average* reader: Is this an overreaction? An underreaction? A just right reaction? I don’t know, but justice must be served.