Every now and then you encounter a piece of music so jaw-droppingly awful, you can only sit there open-mouthed and incredulous–rather like the audience for “Springtime for Hitler” in The Producers.
This is the popular music (published 1913) that they had when my grandma was a girl–a parade of dead and dying mothers, mortally ill mothers with ungrateful children, hopeless mothers resigned to endless grief… Grandma had a whole store of them, which she sang to her daughters; and my mother, in her turn, sang them to us. I think the purpose of these ditties was to make people feel bad. In this they succeeded.
Laurel and Hardy once got a lot of laughs out of this song, The Curse of an Aching Heart. Then in 1961 Frank Sinatra came along and revived it, this time with a Las Vegas-style upbeat. It would not be possible to find less appropriate music to accompany these lyrics, as you will hear if you have the courage to play the video.
I had three slowworms once; I don’t think you can get them anymore. They were about the nicest lizards you could ever meet. They had these bright little faces, grew to be really tame in next to no time, and seemed very quick to learn. Honest, they’re not a bit like snakes.
My slowworms died because of stuff in the environment. I fed them worms and slugs and bugs that I caught outside, never suspecting the ground was tainted with assorted pesticides from years back. Their appetite for pests is why they’re so welcome in English gardens.
Yes, I miss my good little slowworms. If it seems strange to talk about lizards having personality–well, no one who really knows lizards would think that.
Look! This kid has a rhino horn! Popular culture has caught up to what my Grandma was doing in 1954.
Throughout my early childhood–right up to kindergarten, in fact–I wanted to be a zebra when I grew up. But for just a little while, I wanted to be a rhino.
I pestered Grandma about it, convinced that she was the wisest person in the world and would surely know how I could go about becoming a rhinoceros.
So she sat down at her sewing machine (every home I knew had one, back then) and made a rhino horn for me. It was made of white cloth and stuffed with lint, and it was soft and saggy–and I loved it! Out of the way, you pipsqueaks–here comes the rhino!
She also taught me that catalpa leaves make pretty good elephant ears.
You can’t buy grandparents, folks. You have to be blessed with them.
I do wish I could have persuaded my family members not to move so far away. But we were all younger when they did it, and of course no one anticipated getting old and not being up to four hours on the Parkway anymore.
Our cat, Robbie, has to get thyroid medicine. It’s an ointment that I rub into her ear. It’s not hot, not cold, doesn’t sting–but she’d still rather not have it, and circumambulates the whole apartment, staying just a step out of reach.
So we changed and had Patty try to corral this cat. That worked very well for a while, until last night. Patty followed the doggone cat three times (!) around the coffee table and quite lost her patience. And so did I.
“You’ve done it now!” I fumed. “We’re both mad at you!”
And waddaya know! Guess who made a beeline for the chair and hopped right up there to get her ointment.
She knew the jig was up. And took wise and appropriate action.
I don’t sleep very well; but I had almost pulled it off last night when my wife turned her light on suddenly–I find that painful!–and rummaging around for her glasses. Of course she didn’t find them and I had to get up and look, too.
Under the bed? Nope? Under the cabinet? No. Under the oxygen machine? Nope. I looked. I moved furniture. Crikey, waddaya do when your glasses disappear?
The reason I couldn’t find ’em was because they weren’t there. Send that one in to the Riddle Bureau. The glasses were on the bed. Somehow Peep the cat got blamed for that.
Also this morning I’ve been trying to help our friend “thewhiterabbit” get back onto this blog. He went on a little vacation and when he came back, he’d lost access to this site. The best I could do, in the long run, was to collect some advice from the WordPress Happiness Engineer and pass it on.
So I’m already beat. Don’t expect great things from me today.
I was all ready to announce a new comment contest today. We had just reached 78,500 comments, and I thought someone posting No. 80,000 would deserve a prize.
Then I noticed there’s only one comment here today.
Ah! But we’ve got three views from New Caledonia! That’s got to count for something! I mean, is that hyper-cool, or what? New Caledonia! I just barely know where that is. The Internet really does reach all around the world. Which does not explain why I don’t have any views from Liechtenstein or San Marino yet.
Sometimes blogging is like collecting foreign stamps or coins. I’m old enough to find it exotic. When I was a teenager, globetrotting would make you locally famous. My aunts used to do it. And they’d bring back stamps and coins that I would contemplate with awe. Believe me, people just weren’t traveling so much, back then.
I’d love to know who it is in New Caledonia who’s reading this blog today. Give us a shout-out if you’re still there!
(It’s in the South Pacific, by the way, some 750 miles from Australia.)
The spider that set up shop in our kitchen window is still there and still gobbling up flies at a truly admirable pace. Yesterday she caught and finished off a lantern fly, at least twice her size–but he’s just spider-dinny now.
Admittedly it’s a little bit disgusting. A lot of people would just vacuum away the whole business. But flies were really vexing us when this little spider came along, and it strikes us as deeply ungrateful to molest her. If all the spiders outdoors were like her, we wouldn’t be bothered by flies.
One of the glories of my childhood was The Golden Treasury of National History by Bertha Morris Parker, copyright 1952. That painting of the plesiosaur (above) is one of my all-time favorite pictures. Hours and hours and hours I spent in that book! And it left me with a lifelong fascination for animals past and present.
Patty got me a used copy for my birthday last year, and I resort to it sometimes when I’m feeling stressed, tired, or just hung out to dry. I did that today.
Okay, a lot of the science in the book–especially with regard to life in the distant prehistoric past–is hooey. Even as our science today will be tomorrow’s hooey. I don’t blame Bertha Morris Parker, whose work I admire very much. She had to go with the science that she had. But really, I doubt the giant ground sloths went extinct because they never found a comfortable place to rest their claws. Or that dinosaurs vanished because they just didn’t have enough sense to adapt to changing conditions. It was 1952 settled science.
What I love here is the vastness and the intricacy of God’s creation, the enduring mysteries of life on earth, and the overwhelming “Wow!” factor I find in giant prehistoric animals. And happy childhood memories are a plus–my Uncle Bernie reading to me from the book and having the devil’s own time trying to pronounce the dinosaurs’ name: and me not correcting him because I loved him and knew that he was reading to me because he loved his brother’s children.
And now I’m getting a little teary-eyed, so I guess I’d better stop.