Saturday, 19 July 2008

A Man Named Pearl

I'm currently in New York doing some research at the Schomburg Center. And it is HOT. The Center is actually quite cool, but outside it is boiling. It was 29C at 10.30PM last night: yes, it was basically as hot as the hottest we ever get in London AT NIGHT! Crazy weather. However, I've not seen kids playing with fire hydrants yet, but I'm keeping an eye out!

I'm staying with my friend Janet in Brooklyn and last night, at the insistence of her sister, we went to see A Man Named Pearl. It's a lovely little film about a self-taught topiary artist, Pearl Fryar, from a tiny town in South Carolina. We got a chance to meet him before the screening and he was very charming and interesting. His work is incredibly elegant and beautiful, and a true testament to the value of finding what you do well and having fun with it. Also, it's amazing to learn that most of the plants in his garden were salvaged from the dump behind his local garden centre. It made me think of all those crafts people out there producing beautiful work in so many mediums. There's a nice post here about a visit to the gardens and some great pictures. If you get a chance to see the movie I recommend it - a real one-off.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

A Fishy Tale

So, on Friday night I was walking home from the tube station about 11.15 - I rounded the corner into our road and something caught my eye on the street. It was a small fish tank with one dead goldfish and one live one. It seemed that someone had just dumped the tank (maybe because they freaked out at the dead fish?). Anyway, I couldn't leave the poor surviving one, so I enlisted Miles' help, and he carried the tank home. We flushed the dead one down the toilet (the appropriate funeral method for goldfish, I believe) and cleaned out the tank for the remaining chap. We had no fish food (obviously) but I found out online that fish are meant to like lettuce so I tried some nice organic stuff but did not meet with success. Fish food from B&Q on Saturday morning proved more popular. I had been thinking of contacting the RSPCA but Miles had the inspired thought that our sister-in-law, Carolyn, had mentioned that she'd like to get a goldfish. And that if she had a fish she'd have to call him 'Ramesses', because a small fish could walk/swim taller with such a grand name! Anyway, we asked, and she and Dominic said they would take 'Ram O'Seas' (as Dominic excellently renamed him). Unfortunatley they couldn't come till today so we had to hide the fish from Emily for a while. I ended up putting him on our chest of drawers in the bedroom as Emily isn't normally allowed in there, but, given the tank had no filter, the water began to smell really quickly! Well, we managed to keep Emily at bay, although she'd worked out something fishy (sorry!) was going on by today (in an unguarded moment I found her sitting on Miles' pillow, smacking her lips...). Dominic and Carolyn bought a spiffing new tank for Ram O'Seas and came to collect him this evening. So there is a happy end to the story of the rescue fish, and here he is in his new home playing with his own reflection.