Thursday, October 8, 2015

Straight and Curvy

Another photo from my recent walk through Leyton. I took it partly for the repeated vertical rhythm of the poles and the trees, and partly because the ArcelorMittal Orbit tower -- the centerpiece of the site of the 2012 Olympics -- is visible in the distance. Apparently that tower is now open to the public. One of these days I'll have to go check it out.

I've never thought of it as particularly beautiful but it certainly is unusual.

Otherwise, what's going on around here? Well, not much. Yesterday I finished my shelf-reading and organizing in the non-fiction section of our library. I found many mis-shelved (is that a word?) books, so I was happy about that.

As I mentioned before, I'm working with the Royal Photographic Society on another project, this one about barber shops and hair salons in London. I chose and submitted a set of 13 photos, which will be published in a book along with those of other photographers doing other urban-themed projects. I recently saw digital versions of the page layouts and it looks like it will be a nice book. There's also going to be a small exhibit opening in early November.

Oh, and Olga's going to be in the book, too! Remember when my photographer friend Susi visited in May and photographed Olga in our back garden and on Hampstead Heath? (The day her Kong was stolen -- argh!) Well, Susi's project is focused on dogs of London -- and this shot of Olga will be included. Our famous girl!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

More Bethnal Green Street Art

I barely left the house yesterday, so there's not much to blog about. It was supposed to be rainy so I rented "Giant," with Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean and Rock Hudson, and Dave and I watched that. It's three and a half hours long. Not a bad movie, but one feels that some judicious editing may have been in order.

It came from a novel written by Edna Ferber. Does anyone read Edna Ferber anymore? All I know about her is that line from Auntie Mame: "Oh, look, I'm in print, just like Edna Ferber!"

As it turned out, the weather was better than predicted, and we even got some sun in the afternoon. But Olga was out with her dog walker and I had no plan or incentive to go anywhere. So "Giant" it was.

Anyway, I thought you might like to see a few more pieces of street art from my quick trip to Bethnal Green on Saturday.

An artist named Zabou did the guy in the box (immediately above) and part of the couple, along with Sr. X. The pigeon is the work of Boe + Irony. I have no idea who is responsible for the fish.

Dave and I got our Lisbon accommodations sorted out for Thanksgiving, and we began figuring out food for our wedding party in December. Today we're back at work!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Reading Our Fortunes

Dave and I got some take-away Chinese food last week, after a particularly trying workday. As usual, the meal came with complimentary fortune cookies. Now, normally -- and this may be a terrible confession -- I throw away fortune cookies unopened. The cookies are always awful and I just can't be bothered. But this time I opened them, fed the cookie parts to Olga, and read our fortunes.

This was Dave's:

So the rest of him may shrivel and deteriorate, but at least he'll have one good hand.

And this was mine:

It's not really a fortune, but it would make my family members laugh. My brother complains about how I "always have to be doing something" or going somewhere. He blames coffee. It's true that I am not particularly good at sitting around, but I only have three cups of coffee a day, which seems perfectly reasonable to me.

Anyway, let's revisit some older news.

-- I decided not to repair our squirrel feeder. I just pour the food in the top hatch and let it spill out the side onto the platform. It still holds the food well enough and the squirrels still love it.

-- After numerous blossoms, we finally cut the flower stalk off our venus flytrap. It apparently drains a lot of energy from the plant, and indeed, ours is looking pretty sad. There are a few tiny new leaves coming up, though, so maybe it will pull through.

-- On Sunday morning, as I was cleaning out my camera bag before my outing to Tottenham, I realized some coins had slipped behind the lining. They were rattling around inside the bag's inner walls. I found a tiny tear in the lining and made it larger to get to the coins, and out came £2.25 and the keys to my luggage lock, which I thought I'd lost on my last trip to Florida. Woo hoo! I knew I'd put those keys in my camera bag. (Fortunately the suitcase itself wasn't locked at the time, so I could still get to my clothes.)

(Photo: A street in Marylebone, last June.)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Out and About in Tottenham

Yesterday I set out on another clean-up day for Bleeding London. I was assigned about 50 streets to photograph in Tottenham, north London.

The day got off to a rocky start when I was passing through the Green Park tube station and stopped to take the photo above. I realized I'd left my camera battery at home, sitting in the charger. Let's all say it together: Sacre bleu! All I could do was turn around and go back home, and then set out again. So I killed an hour in unnecessary travel, but I took my picture as I passed through Green Park the second time.

I had a pretty good photo day in Tottenham. The weather was nice and lots of people were out and about, including Captain America, sunning himself on someone's washline.

These two were out walking their dogs. The man had a dog too, a little brown one, but it refused to get in the picture.

Some little girl's very springtime handbag wound up in this tree enclosure.

This guy was hooking up a horse and buggy. Not something you see every day!

And finally, I found some fall color in an always reliable sumac tree in someone's front yard. Happy fall from Tottenham!

I polished off all 50 or so streets, and got back home around 2 p.m. Dave, bless him, took Olga to Fortune Green so I could rest. Today and tomorrow are supposed to be rainy, and Olga has her dog-walker, so I'll be spending time inside catching up on a few things. (We're off work both days for October break.)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A Cat, and Sugar Man

Well, I did get my French homework done yesterday. I had to write a short biography of a celebrity. I chose Joni Mitchell, naturally. This is the first time we've ever been required to write our own composition -- rather than simply doing exercises in a workbook -- and the first "paper" we've had to turn in. So we'll see how that goes.

After yesterday's post, I was amused to see this huge poster hanging on a wall at the Alliance Francaise. I asked the receptionist about it when I took the photo, and she agreed that despite its use on the poster, French people don't really say Sacre bleu! anymore. "My grandfather might have said it," she said. I guess the French know that English speakers think they say it, and hence used it to catch our eye. Clever!

Anyway, this is all probably far more than you ever wanted to know about Sacre bleu! (And is it one word, or two? That's a whole 'nother kettle of fish -- or un autre boilloire des poissons, peut etre?)

After class I made a quick trip out to Bethnal Green to shoot some street art I saw when I passed through on my interminable bus trip last weekend. The winking cat above, by Irony, is one of the pieces. There was another one, a wonderful lizard head, but it was painted over sometime this past week. Gotta move fast on street art photography.

Last night Dave and I watched "Searching for Sugar Man," a fascinating documentary about the search for a mysterious musician named Rodriguez, who recorded a couple of albums in the early '70s before dropping out of sight. He was never a hit in the states, but his recordings became famous in South Africa, of all places -- on a superstar scale, like Bob Dylan or the Beatles. Rumors swirled there about his possible demise, until a couple of fans undertook an Internet search to find him. A great movie! I remember it being talked about when it came out a couple of years ago, but we missed it at the time. I downloaded Rodriguez's albums afterwards -- because naturally now you can get them on iTunes -- and they do seem promising.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Cursing in French

I've got French class this morning, and I haven't done my homework yet. Sacre bleu! So I'm going to keep this short...

Speaking of Sacre bleu!, I was once told that the French never really use that phrase. Having written it here, I just looked it up. Here is what I found, courtesy of the French news website The Local:

Sacrebleu is a stereotypical and very old fashioned French curse, which is rarely used by the French these days. An English equivalent would be "My Goodness!" or "Golly Gosh!" It was once considered very offensive. 
It literally means "sacred blue," but it comes from "sacré Dieu" or "sacred God." "Bleu" was used by people to replace "Dieu" in order to avoid the blasphemy of explicitly using the name of God. 
Even grand-parents don’t really say it anymore, but you will probably find it used in French novels from the 19th and early 20th century. 
The reason the English presume all the French say sacrebleu! can perhaps be blamed on Agatha Christie’s fictional Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, who was very fond of the phrase.

Interesting, no? And by the way, click on that link above, because it also includes the funniest picture of a cow I have ever seen.

Anyway, I have to go do my homework. Merde!

(Photo: Marylebone, last weekend.)

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Queue-Jumper

Well, I wish I could tell you I have a lot of news, but I don't. It's been a very quiet week. Dave got back from Paris last night but we still won't have any students today, and we're all off the first part of next week for October break. School won't fully resume until next Thursday.

Unlike many of our coworkers, we're not traveling anywhere, though. We have Olga to think about, and Dave, having just returned home, isn't eager to set out again right away. I have several projects that I want to work on -- transcribing my journals, finishing more Bleeding London, ordering the food for our wedding party in December, finding a place to stay in Lisbon in November. (We're going to Lisbon for Thanksgiving -- did I tell you that?)

I've been cranking away on my shelf-reading in the library and I've finished probably 2/3 of the nonfiction section. I did find a lot of stray books that had migrated to the wrong shelves, which is oddly satisfying. We'd never have found them if someone wanted them.

I had a minor altercation with a woman in Tesco last night. I was standing in line waiting to buy a box of cereal, when she stepped in front of me to the self-checkout machines. "Excuse me," I said politely, "but there's a queue." She looked at me but didn't move, and when a machine opened she hopped on it. I was furious. I walked up to her and said, "What did I just tell you?" (Probably not the best approach, but it was my Teacher Voice coming out.) She looked at me and said, "I don't care what you just told me," and continued checking out her groceries.

So, you know, I couldn't really respond to that. All I could do was call her rude, which I did, and wait for the next machine. Naturally no one from Tesco did anything, and surprisingly no one else in the queue said anything either. I don't know why it infuriated me so much. I think it was her insouciance, her complete indifference to the rest of us. (I don't know where she was from, but she had an accent -- she was not English. The English are typically very careful about queueing.)

It still makes me mad, writing about it.

(Photo: Competition in Leyton.)