Friday, January 27, 2023


Besuteria: here's a new word for my vocabulary.  I was coming home on the bus - in impossibly slow-to-stationary traffic because of a large fire a couple of streets over - and enjoying the views of the little botegas - and then - "besuetria"?  I could guess the general field, because of bijouterie, but "besuteria" is something else yet again.  Rather than signifying "jewellery" - or jeweller - this is, precisely, somewhere that sells mock jewellery, made from fake precious stones snd the like.  Who knew?


Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Gramsci the Needy

Poor Grammy.  As if it wasn't bad enough that I went away for five whole weeks, there are people with pneumatic drills tearing up the terrace outside his house.  So he finds it hard to stay away from my shoulders for long - except, as here, when he moves to hug Alice's neck for a few moments so that I can take his picture.  He has a very particular "I want to get on your shoulder - NOW" miaow - distinct from the "I want kibble" one (although that's pretty preremptory, too) - and then he lands.  Even Moth responded to his being upset, today: we saw her licking him in a surprisingly maternal way.


Tuesday, January 24, 2023

an incomprehensible water feature

Decidedly weird.  This bed/planter at USC - about two feet off the ground - has a couple of inches of water on top of the soil (hence the reflections).  Is this still the rain from last week, draining lethargically?  Is the sprinkler coming on and not draining? - no, that surely can't be.  It shouldn't be like this, surely.

How grateful I am, after the last five weeks, to be taking photos and writing about miscellaneous corners of USC that just happen to take my fancy, and have no emotional weight to them ...


Monday, January 23, 2023

a little yard work

So maybe the timing hasn't been brilliant, and maybe the noise of a pneumatic drill breaking up concrete isn't exactly conducive to work, but today saw the beginning of work on our back yard that's been in the planning stages for years.  I don't think we ever genuinely believed this would happen.  The back terrace has been slowly sinking since well before we bought the house; the cracks in the concrete slowly widening - or not so slowly recently: the heavy rains have made the subsidence even more obvious.  We're now looking at ten weeks' worth of construction - and then landscaping work after that, but this is exciting ... 

As you can see, the crew made extraordinary progress today.  The netting rather prevents us going down the garden, so one would have to take a circuitous route to reach the area in which I've temporarily rehomed some plants, but I rather like this little reading oasis.


Sunday, January 22, 2023


Yes, that's a metaphor for how I feel ... thanks to the smaller of the two Silver Lake lakes for providing it.  What should have been a quiet day of re-entry and re-assimilation was a marathon of clearing the whole back terrace of plants in heavy pots, and garden furniture, and the barbecue (happily on wheels, but heavy) ready for demolition and re-construction work to start tomorrow - and then more clearing of a whole chunk of the garage (luckily nothing like the one at 20 ...) so that they can store a generator in it.  Somewhere in all of this I realised that I'd left my US wallet (with such minor things as my driver's license in it) back in a Safe Place in Wimbledon.  Could I start the last 36 hours over again, please?  But at least it was good to go for a lake walk, this morning ...


Saturday, January 21, 2023

both ends

It's been a long, long day, and bow I keep falling asleep even as I'm writing this .. But ... home.


Friday, January 20, 2023


A little frost-bedraggled, but unmistakably harbingers of spring.  Snowdrops were always my mother's flower - even in Cumberland one could be pretty certain that they'd be out by her birthday, February 3rd, and these stuck their white heads up through the earth last week. I find it hard, and not very comfortable, to think that this is almost certainly the last year that I'll see these particular snowdrops blooming: I wish it wasn't illegal to import them into the US, at least as a private individual.  It seems hard to get my head around the fact that I'll be leaving tomorrow, at all, even if I'll be back in seven weeks ...