Sunday, May 26, 2013

A movie mystery solved!

Like all right-thinking people, I believe that Alastair Sim's version of  "A Christmas Carol" is the best version of the story on film.

There's one mystery fans of the film have long wondered about:  who played the maid who takes Scrooge's coat when he comes to Fred's house for Christmas dinner?

She has no lines, but everyone who watches this scene is charmed by her sweet expression and the way she momentarily steps into the action, encouraging Scrooge, who hesitates on the doorstep.  There's always that second where we think that his courage might fail him, and he could go away without opening the door.  She gives him this little smile and nod, to say, "Go on, it'll be alright."

Well, the mystery is solved!  A blogger named Dickensblog discovered that her name at that time was Theresa Derrington, and "A Christmas Carol" was her last movie role before she retired to marry and raise a family.

It was interesting to read her memories of the 1-day shoot; Sim was a bit of a jerk to her, but I've read his biography and he WAS demanding when it came to acting, so that doesn't really surprise me much.  He had no patience with anything second-rate; his daughter once blew a scene and came over to him after to apologize.  He told her he didn't want to hear apologies; he just wanted it never to happen again.  That's the way he was when it came to acting, but in other respects he was a charming, easy-going man.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Garden pictures

I finally got around to taking some pictures of the garden.  It's early in the season, but later on the contrast will be striking.

First, the potato patch:

I've planted 120 potato plants, and today I covered the entire area with bio-degradable  mulch.  It looks like plastic, but it's made of corn products.  I've used it before, among my tomato plants, but this is the first time I've tried it with the potatoes.  When the plants start to come up, I'll cut holes for them to emerge, and poke some holes for water to get down to the plants.  Mostly, I want to block all the weeds that constantly form in the lanes between the rows.  I've got bags of shredded dry leaves in the shed, and they help a lot, but the weeds still find their way into the garden.  Plus, I don't apply the leaves until the potato plants get to be about a foot high.  Now I hope that the dry leaves on top of the black mulch will block the weeds AND protect the potatoes from exposure to the sun.

Way at the back are also two hills, where I've planted canteloup and butternut squash.  Later on, at the very back, I'm going to plant garden huckleberries.

This is the "old" garden; I'm going to plant tomatoes and jalapeno peppers here, but the plants are still too small.  The rhubarb is at the end, and that's an apple tree at the back.  The teepee is for pole beans; must get those seeds planted soon.

This is my pink currant bush.  Doing very well this year!  The red and black currants are behind it, and the raspberries are hidden on the right hand side - they're still only about a foot high.

Another currant bush, propagated from the main one, which I transplanted up among the flowers.  Those are columbines and forget-me-nots growing in front of it.

The deck, with the lilac bush in full bloom behind it.


The first produce from the garden for this year: rhubarb!

 My two rhubarb plants in the old garden are doing very well. Unfortunately, I lost the third plant, which is up by the shed.

 Last winter, I dug it up, intending to take it to the greenhouse at the school so we could try forcing it in the spring. However, the walk-in fridge in the greenhouse wasn't working, so we didn't have the cold, dark conditions necessary. I figured I'd take it back home again (in the plastic tub in which I'd planted it) and put it in our cold cellar. However, the tub was too heavy for me to move, so once I'd hauled it out of the back of my van, I left it sitting on the driveway, and it FROZE to the ground! I couldn't budge it and so it sat there all winter! When spring finally came, I discovered that it had died. This year I'm planting a rose in its place. Two rhubarb plants are enough for us, anyway.

Yesterday I picked some rhubarb and made a pie:

We watched The Thirty-Nine Steps, the 1978 version with Robert Powell and David Warner. A very good adaptation. Dean has never liked the Hitchcock version because it departs too far from the original novel. This one is much more faithful, though even it changes the ending to make it more visually dramatic.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Cheery animal videos

This is the sort of day when you need some cheering up, so here are a few animal videos: A squirrel interrupts a college baseball game. Squirrel Man to the rescue!

And my sister sent me this one; it's by the same guys who did the great Dog Tease video a year ago or so. Different dog, but you can tell the voices are the same:

"Snakes? Blech!"

Spring Fever

Literally.  James came down with some kind of 24-hour flu bug last night.  Starting at 8:00 PM, he vomited at one-hour intervals until about 6:30 this morning.  Dean and I were shattered this morning - we must have gotten about 3 hours' sleep altogether.  Pretty near every towel in the house was soiled, along with sheets, blankets, pillows and me.

I got up with him around 4:50 this morning, because I could tell there was little chance of him actually being able to stay in bed.  I figured I might as well do some laundry, because the weather outside is beautiful this week and it's a perfect opportunity to dry towels on the clothesline.  I think he vomited once or twice more - and he doesn't bother waiting until he gets to the toilet either, by the way.  It was all over the floor, the bed, anywhere he happened to standing or lying.

He finally conked out at about 7:30, and slept nearly all day.  I think he's over the worst of it, and hope he'll be OK tomorrow.

Of course, he couldn't go to school, so that meant I couldn't do my WAVE program composting today.  I'd warned them before I started that James was always the weak link in the plan; if he has to stay home, then so do I, because Emma can't possibly look after him for a whole day.  But I took Thomas out for his day program - better to have him out of the house, and hopefully he and the rest of us won't catch this bug. UPDATE: Thomas came down with the flu Saturday morning, and I got it Saturday evening. Feeling OK now, though my muscles are sore. Don't know if it's because of the flu or because I rototilled the garden during the day. This flu sneaks up on you with no warning - I was working in the garden in the afternoon, feeling fine, then it knocked me off my feet at 5:00.