Friday, November 29, 2019
It doesn't matter whether one looks up or down: it's unspeakably beautiful post rain. The top view is from our back garden, but the views of snow on the mountains have been spectacular from our living room, too. And the glass table top is always a picturesque treat. We had the strangest thing happen when we were taking (more) photos of the mountains outside our house this afternoon: a guy stopped his car (which, weirdly, had Pennsylvania plates) and said: "That's my house." "No," said I, in my very best English accent - the wither-an-ant-at-ten-paces-straight-out-of-The-Crown version - "it's not." "Yes it is," says he - slightly menacingly. So we decide the best thing to do is to laugh, as though it's all a big joke, and he drives off - but it was very weird.
Thursday, November 28, 2019
... to continue yesterday's theme: a different lemon tree (this one looks as though it might be a Meyer lemon), but no less wet; and another damp, dripping piece of foliage. This was pretty much the one moment of the day when we managed to escape for a walk, albeit dressed up in raincoats and hiking boots that last saw duty in the Lake District.
Wednesday, November 27, 2019
It has been wonderful to see it raining today - a slow, soaking rain (who knows what Biblical apocalypse will fall from the skies tomorrow - it's threatening an inch). It cleared enough this afternoon for us to go for a walk: there's not much that doesn't look damply special when there are raindrops clinging to it.
Tuesday, November 26, 2019
Fifteen years ago - or, more precisely, fifteen years and three days - we first set eyes on each other ... so tonight was by way of an anniversary dinner at Cliff's Edge, where we've been for important dates and occasions ever since early in 2005. Remarkably, though it's had some gastronomically rocky patches, it's still a magical place, and the food is back on form. And it's been a wonderful decade and a half!
Monday, November 25, 2019
I don't expect for a minute that anyone will realize how intensely poignant for me is this particular arrangement of New Mexican mat, William Morris willow-leaf napkin, Wedgewood plate, silver-plated knife, and marmalade pot shaped like a lemon: this is how the breakfast table is always laid in my father's house, before he heads off to bed - and this place-setting-for-one is what I said goodbye to early this morning. An age later, a Los Angeles evening has palm trees and the Goodyear Blimp. I'm not sure how two such incompatible scenes can be called "home," but so it goes.
Sunday, November 24, 2019
Shockingly, I'd never been to the Horniman Museum before! I went there because there was an art exhibit by Project Pressure called MELTDOWN: Visualizing Climate Change - which amounted to How Many Different Ways can one show a shrinking glacier? - some of which were terrific, especially a large series by Norfolk + Thymann (a Nigerian and a Dane) entitled Shroud, which shows a wrapped bit of a glacier - wrapped to preserve it as a tourist attraction - but deliberately shot to look like funereal drapery carved for a tomb from Carrara marble. The museum itself is extraordinarily lively (for which: read full, very full of lively kids) - but it also caters to them in a very imaginative way. Here are some hopping around on a projected fantasy of a map (periodically large fish swam across the blue).
Outside, the gardens were simply stunning in their rich but bleak winter glory.
They include a dye garden - with skeins of wool dyed from the plants that are grown there.
And then there's a farmer's market on Sundays, too. A stall like this suggests that one's not in California any more - though I don't know which local horticulturalist grew the clementines ...😊
Saturday, November 23, 2019
a dull grey dank day in Cambridge, but this view is good in any weather, and I'm sure the moisture did a lot to help both the lichen and the moss on the St John's College cobbles.
And then, back in Wimbledon, I got to pet Amy the Sheep (collecting, or at least her person was), for the Royal Marsden Cancer Hospital, and very woolly.
Friday, November 22, 2019
A view from the Bridge of Sighs, St John's - a few steps from my room;
a winter flower bed at St John's;
my incredulity that either I didn't realize before that Lloyds Bank is in a magnificent Waterhouse building - or (which might be equally shocking) that I'd entirely forgotten the fact;
and a view over Cambridge market - decidedly more cheerful-looking than when I first visited it - ouch - about forty-nine years ago - when visiting from school - and in the company of an undergraduate who was trying to track down the new Deep Purple album. That was a long time ago.
Thursday, November 21, 2019
To the Pre Raphaelite Sisters exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery today: here are (with a couple of exceptions coming up later) some details. I saw no lichen - or very little to speak of; no snails; only vaguely delineated dandelions - but plenty of other flowers;
cats very much needing to be fed;
musicians of various ethnicities;
plants wilting in their pots;
and a rather mischievous looking owl.
One of the real treats of the show are the number of pictures for which the Jamaica-born Fanny Eaton was the model, and the catalogue has an essay on her based on family history research.
And then quite the saddest thing was the register/log from the County Asylum in West Sussex, which is where Fanny Cornforth passed the last couple of years of her life, suffering from dementia: the model for Rossetti's Found and The Blue Bower; Spencer Stanhope's Thoughts of the Past; Burne-Jones's Sidonia von Bork 1560, and much more.
Just after the Cornforth room I overheard:
"They had very open relationships, you know. But they were artists, of course."
Wednesday, November 20, 2019
Tuesday, November 19, 2019
In all honesty, I could have done without a trip downtown today - in between admin, grad meetings, and catching a flight to London. But it was the time allocated for me for fingerprinting at the Immigration Center - the next step to getting a replacement green card (this one will have an image of me looking like a really depressed criminal on it, I fear) - so I had to go ... It was worth it (apart from the fingerprinting) for a dialogue that took place. They make you turn off your phone completely, so I was reading on a Kindle ...
Guard to me: why so sad?
Guard: why so sad? You reading ‘bout Boris Johnson?
KF: no! You don’t let people go on line in here - so I’m spared news of him for a bit!
Guard: [points to picture of Trump, and rolls his eyes, and shakes his head]
And it was worth it for this picture, of course, from Wilshire. I'm so sad to be missing the first rain of the season - even though I'll probably curse at it in the UK ...
Monday, November 18, 2019
Autumn in Los Angeles - hot and dry again today, but there's some chance that this leaf will be damp and soggy, under grey chilly skies, on Wednesday. Mind you, by then I should be in England, under colder and greyer skies, and I feel unreasonably cheated at the thought that I'll be missing out on the first of the season's rain...
Sunday, November 17, 2019
At 91 degrees today, it was unseasonable - even for Southern California - in mid-November. So it definitely was a good idea to water everything in the front yard - and in doing so, there was such a beautiful spray that I called to Alice to come and hold the hose, so that she could replicate my water effects and I could take a picture ...
Saturday, November 16, 2019
Friday, November 15, 2019
It's been a long week, with too much fraught admin. I was so grateful to have a reason to go to the Huntington today - a lunch reason - and even though the siren song of yet more work related emails was yowling to me after that, I was inordinately thankful that I managed to resist it for a while, and went for a restorative walk around the gardens instead ...
Thursday, November 14, 2019
I blame Google Maps: it told me, and doubtless countless other people, to turn left over this bridge. What it failed to register was that the left hand turn was entirely blocked off by road works. Indeed, there was a wonderful rearview mirror vista of downtown LA, but when one's trying to get to an appointment in Pasadena, that's a rather small consolation. The irony was that I'd consulted Google Maps at all, considering that I have a perfectly trusted usual route between USC and Pasadena. And yes, my mirror needs cleaning.
Wednesday, November 13, 2019
On the way back from Keck this afternoon (another good check-up for Alice!!) - and past this barber's shop. The model is strangely butch, but I think notionally male. And on the left ... clearly, this is a week in which I'm destined to come across men who are stuck behind bars of one sort or another, although this one doesn't especially look as though he needs rescuing - I hope.
Tuesday, November 12, 2019
I love these dank and chilly mornings, when the mist makes it look as though we live in the middle of the countryside (and then it lifts, and the temperature is a balmy 74 degrees).
But this isn't the mental image that will stay with me today. I was walking to buy a salad at Trader Joe's at lunchtime today - a route to the university village that tales me through the music school, and then past a little enclosure surrounded by wood palings - and inside that are recycling bins, where the university janitors dump stuff. I suddenly saw a thin brown hand that was reaching out from inside, rattling the bolt. I'll confess - my split-second reaction was "oh, that'd make an amazing picture" - but I'm glad to say that before I could act on the thought, I'd moved over to the fencing and wriggled the bolt open, and let out the poor guy who'd been stuck in there: a man, I'd say, between 60 and 70, very emaciated, probably South Asian, and foraging for recyclable cans and plastic bottles inside. He was very grateful: I kept saying how terrible that he was there, and that I hoped he'd not been there too long; he kept saying thank you, thank you - he didn't have very much English. I just can't get my head around the fact that someone must have locked him in there - and no one else seemed to have noticed.
The image of that hand reaching out will stick with me much more vividly than any photo I might have taken.
Monday, November 11, 2019
An extraordinary sight today - I walked into the USC "book"store (looking not for a book, but for a dongle to attach computer to a VGA) - and lo, there were Books! They've been banished to the basement the last couple of years: that is, you can go down there and get a text book, if you're a student - but if you just want a book to read, I guess you go to an Amazon locker in the University Village. Goodbye to browsing, etc.
But, indeed, BOOKS. But what books? Newt Gingrich's Trump Versus China. Admittedly, Gingrich spoke on campus - to an event hosted by Young American for Freedom - but that was on October 29th. We still have all of these books on display?? Who paid what, to whom?
I won't even start to speculate about the fact that they are flanked by two other volumes, A Man Walks Into a Hardware Store and Gloryous Dance Affair. Somehow they don't sound like real books.
At least this raised my blood pressure to a point that I forgot, temporarily, about all the other things that were chewing away at me today ...
Sunday, November 10, 2019
Saturday, November 9, 2019
... this was a particularly impressive spider in our front yard this morning. This photo also makes it look as though we live in an over-Gothicized graveyard: I promise you that this is only a large massy rosemary bush or three, and the railings at the top of our steps. But indeed, there are days when it doesn't (from certain angles) look like Sunny California, despite the temperatures reaching the high eighties today (with only two fires visible from our house ...).
Friday, November 8, 2019
Of course I know I shouldn't take a photo whilst driving, even when the traffic is only crawling along. But these piñatas were too amazing to resist. For a year or so, the production of the people in this house has been getting ever more ambitious - from large balls and stars, we now seem to have progressed to child-sized figures ...