Jabberwocky for 2002 December

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: Back from London. I taught my class in the morning and then Jonell Amundsen drove me to LAX. This whole thing was a real pain, but it was going to be $400 more to fly out of Bakersfield. I caught a puddlejumper to San Francisco. SFO has been jerryrigged to add anti-terrorist security and I ended up having to go through the checkpoint twice because the worker pointed me the wrong way. I met Leonard at the gate and we boarded our all nighter to Heathrow.

I read a novel on the way over. Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman. It's a British novel that will be published Spring 2003; Sumana got an advance proof copy for me at a book fair. The plot has to do with a wife, married 25 years, whose husband announces one day that he has found someone else and is leaving her. The someone else turns out to be the woman's secretary. She goes to work the next day to sack the hussy and finds that the girl has not only grabbed her husband but also her job. This shakes up the comfortable world, and the novel is about her putting her life back together. It's beautifully written, and I ended up reading it twice.

The plane was full of Brits who had gone to Hawaii to attend a wedding. The bride and groom were on board as well. They were noisy and fairly obnoxious, especially the children. How sane is that, I ask you--to fly from the UK to Hawaii just to get married? Just to watch someone else get married?

I enjoyed the sight of Heathrow because when I read Mormonism in Germany I was very touched by the description of the members gathering in the dark on the tarmack during WWII as they watched the last of the General Authorities leave. They flew dark--no lights, no radar-- for fear of bombs; what made it more poignant is that nobody knew at that time what was going to happen, but the future didn't look good. As Leonard remarked, "The Blitz was no fun."

We found our flat--five floors up, and no elevator. Gasp, pant. It was just ideal for our purposes-- bedroom, kitchen, living room, bathroom, and a little washer/dryer machine we finally figured out how to use. The one thing we needed that it didn't have was an answering machine; this broke my heart because I couldn't get ahold of Sue and there was no way for her to leave a message for me. So I missed meeting Sue. Oh well, I guess I'll have to go back!

The location of our flatwas ideal, except that our tube stop was shut down by the firefighters' strike. It is on Gower Street, right in the neighborhood of the Bloomsbury Group, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and Lady Ottoline Morrell's literary salon. Walking distance to the British Museum, to which we hied ourselves early the next day.

We had budgeted two days for the British Museum, but even so didn't see the half of it. We were very careful to see the Elgin marbles, the Rosetta Stone, and the mummies. Actually we almost missed the Rosetta Stone because we were so overwhelmed by a granite fist belonging to a statue of Ramses II which was next to it. I got all excited to find Cleopatra's mummy, but Leonard pointed out to me that the dates were wrong and it couldn't be THE Cleopatra, but another girl of that name.

Rachel took us to Camden Town, where I bought two pair of Doc Martens in the street stall. We really enjoyed the used bookstores here. I bought Forster's A Passage to India and a biography of Ottoline Morrell, which I had the unique experience of reading on the very street where she lived.

Leonard came down with a sinus infection and stayed home one day, and Rachel and I went shopping. We looked at every single baby outfit at Herrod's trying to decided on one for Sara Langley's baby. Finally we settled on a pink Peter Rabbit jumper, striped turtleneck, and socks with Peter on them. We bought a coffee cup for Grandpa, and Rachel took my picture by the Diana/Dodi memorial (which features the last wine glass she ever drank from--unwashed-- yeeeechhh!)

One day Leonard and I went to Cambridge, where I bought some woolen sweaters. I ripped the price tags off one while still standing at the cash register, and put it on. It was COLD! We walked miles and miles, seeing the colleges. We also "saw" a toy store, and I got a British Monopoly set.

The main purpose for visiting the Tate was to view Richard Dadd's "The Fairy Feller's Masterstroke", which I have wanted to see since I was in high school. When I couldn't find it on display, I inquired, and they told me it's not on display. I did buy the poster in the gift shop, and the fellow there told me that one can call two days in advance and arrange to see it. Leonard said, "That sounds like a snooty painting to me."

I came away from the Tate with a newfound adoration for John Constable. After the Tate, we walked past Westminister Abbey. The line was too long to try to go in. We met Rachel at the London Eye and went for a ride on that, and then we went to the Council War Rooms--interesting, and restoration very much a work in progress.

Leonard was reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, so after Lady Morrell's biography I started it too, but didn't finish. We left the book there since it was so big and heavy.

Rachel insisted on having Thanksgiving dinner but we couldn't oblige her because all the turkeys were frozen solid. We bought potatoes, gravy, stuffing, and cranberry sauce and Leonard cooked them for the poor homesick girls.

One of the highlights of my trip was seeing my baby perform the role of Portia (The Merchant of Venice) at Shakespeare's Globe theater. The production--a student production-- was really bad overall, but Rachel was wonderful. For an English teacher, this was a once in a lifetime high.

Too soon, too soon, our time was up--still never reached Sue, and never did a bunch of things we wanted to. I guess I'll have to go back!

In San Francisco, as I was waiting for my flight to Los Angeles, they asked for volunteers to be bumped in exchange for a free ticket. I volunteered, thinking I can use the ticket to go to Washington DC in the spring. They put us up in a hotel, where I collapsed. I skipped a shower in the morning so I could sleep longer. Unfortunately, the shuttle to the airport wasn't running quite early enough to get us to our flight on time. I picked up some men and we split a cab--the three of us got to SFO, but I never saw the rest of our bumped group again.

: I went back to the Goodwill to rescue the decapitated caroler and he (she?) was gone. I did make rounds of all the thrift stores again looking for more baskets, and I found figurines of Maria Von Trapp in a nun's habit, a Qaalude snowman, a Santa who is getting told off by the Bluebird of Happiness, a mean looking mallard, and a baby who is throwing off his swaddlings and just about to jump out of the manger.

I also found a stable. It's more of a pigsty actually, I guess, with cartoonish piggies peeking out of every window and a nonfunctioning clock in the eves.

: Xochitl the little hooker. I took her in to get spayed, and they told me she's already pregnant. She's barely four months old, and small. Lucky I took her in in time. It probably would have killed her to have that litter.

: So I let United bump me in exchange for a free ticket, and I spent the night in San Francisco (with no meals!) and got up at an obscene hour to catch my replacement flight, and now they are about to file Chapter 11. Hope my free ticket voucher will still stay good for spring, but suppose it goes the way of the House & Home gift certificate I got stuck with?

: Today I caved in to peer pressure and let Hillary and Marlene talk me into eating a Krispy Kreme. I explained to them that I never eat doughnuts because I don't like them and I don't like the way they make me feel. They told me I haven't lived.

OK, so now I've lived.

However, it put my blood sugar into orbit and filled my stomach with grease. I couldn't eat much of my lunch and eight hours later I'm still feeling "effects." I will never eat another doughnut again as long as I live.

: I bought a disposable aluminum cake pan which purports to be "embossed for an elegant effect." I examined it closely and it is indeed embossed--in a kind of paisley pattern. But elegant? An aluminum cake pan? Embossing or no, it doesn't go on much past utilitarian.

: I have to drink a whole gallon of radioactive slime tonight so I can get a biopsy done in the morning. It is not going down well.

: Yesterday, devoted to medical science. What can I say. I feel much better today. Lynette Smith and I went to Food4Less and bought 200 pounds of tri tip. The bags dripped blood all over the store. "Lynette, you need a hysterectomy," I said. People who are not from Bakersfield don't know what tri tip is. It's a cut of meat that usually, in other, more reasonable, locations on the globe, is made into hamburger. We trimmed off the fat and weighed it on Lynette's bathroom scale--it came out to about 50 pounds. That is 25%. Lean ground beef is 22% fat; regular is 30%.

We spent five hours trimming the meat and wrapping it in foil to deep pit. Thank goodness that is done!

I invited the fellow who is doing the back yard to the ward Christmas party.

The back yard is looking very nice. There are blocks around the garden beds and new sidewalks poured. Tomorrow we go out to price grass. It was kind of tough to get Gretel's footprints in the concrete because she didn't want to put her paw on it. Xochitl and Jellybean were impossible.

I set two cents into the sidewalk, like in Toni Morrison's novel. (Was it Sula, or another one?) This means I will never be broke. I'll always have the two cents in the sidewalk.

: I was listening to the news this morning. The Iraquis are denying and obfuscating--they didn't do this and so, they don't have any thus and such. The Koreans are making excuses and blaming everyone else, including the Americans and the weather. It sounded just like what I hear every day from students.

It's good to know the future of the world is in good hands.

: When my children were babies and getting their vaccinations I inquired about smallpox. The pediatrician told me not to worry about it; smallpox has been eradicated. I told him I was worried anyhow and I wanted my kids vaccinated. He couldn't do it--no vaccine. I was convinced at the time that some terrorist would somewhere find live virus and infect everyone, wiping out the entire population.

I don't know if it's good to be correct in my predictions or not. Apparently His Bushness is going to give the vaccine supply to the military first. As it should be I guess.

: link to another pagehttp://bakersfield.com/local/story/2308876p-2367427c.html Everyone is in a swivet over this. How do people get this kind of time on their hands?

: Christmas party. We survived. As we were putting the final touches on the decorations, Leonard and Martha Ross walked in and suggested that they would like us to leave the room set up for their party the following night. I said, "Which foot would you like me to kiss first?" It gave us a new lease on life to know we wouldn't have to take the whole thing down after spending the evening feeding and entertaining three hundred people.

We got a lot of compliments on the social, and the good news is the Activities Committee only went over budget by 5% this year.

When it was over, I came home and went to bed and didn't move for 24 hours. I read Rudyard Kipling's Kim.

: Gretel went with me to White Forest Nursery for the Christmas tree run. She was glad to see Jerome but didn't get out of the car as it was pouring rain.

Marcus Bean is doing service for his Gospel In Action award, so he brought his family over to help the poor sick widow decorate for Christmas. Xochitl was demoralized by all the little kids in the house.

That's the way to go, invite people over to do your decorating for you. I baked brownies for them.

: This morning I went to the annual Christmas breakfast at EBHS and saw everyone. I miss working there so much!

I have decked the halls with boughs of holly.

: The kids are all home and we are doing Christmassy things like baking cookies. The girls sat around the piano and sang carols--it was like being in heaven.

Yesterday I spent most of the day taking Ernestine Boonstoppel to the doctor. My good deed for the week, I suppose. We did okay except when she had to go down to the lab for blood draw. Here's a woman nearly 90 years old, been through two world wars and a revolution and a concentration camp, has eight children and wore out five husbands and she's scared of a little blood draw needle.

The kids and I went to The Lord of the Rings. I loved it and was ready to draw sword for Rohan. I was amused by the way they bridled Shadowfax for the distance shots--as if we would not notice! I also enjoyed the take in various scenes on "The Arming of the Hero"--one of the hallmarks of worldwide epic literature. LOTR is after all an epic and must comply with the tropes.

: We wen to see the Star Trek movie. A steamy scene, unusual for Star Trek. The question of the hour is whether or not Martina Sirtis has had breast implants since the last movie. We'll have to get Uncle Justin to go see it and evaluate her "body language."

: I finished reading Brands's biography of Benjamin Franklin. Very interesting to see his perspective on one of my personal heroes. One thing I learned from reading the book: I had always heard that Franklin wanted the turkey for the national bird instead of the bald eagle and had even read his statement to the effect that the eagle has a bad moral character. It turns out, according to Brands, that the question was not the selection of a national bird, but the choice of a mascot for a men's club some of Franklin's associates were forming.

Jabberwocky for 2002 December

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© 2001-2006 Frances Whitney.