Monday, 9 February 2009

Raindrops keep falling on my head, messing up my travel plans, getting in my shoes and generally being annoying.

Look at me, but a few days ago, full of optimism! What a fool I was... no sooner do I suggest that the worst may be over, that February has redeeming features and that hibernation is not the only sensible option, than this happens - biblical-style lashings of rain, that's what. I have been thwarted in my attempts to reach the class I should have been teaching tonight due to rail and road links being severed, and without waterproof trousers too.

If this continues I shall, as usual, contemplate building an ark to save myself, Mr Listingslightly and sydthecat, as well as any other creatures we pass by (lemurs or goats preferably, and in pairs if possible). However, I have also considered the fact that sydthecat may secretly be a Turkish swimming cat, as I have always hoped. He does look rather like he might be, as you can see by comparing these pictures with this one.

I met his mothercat, and she didn't look much like a swimming cat, but I like to think that his fathercat swam to Brighton from distant shores.

Intriguingly, there is a story linking Noah (of ark fame) and swimming cats here.

Hmmm.... I see I have not managed to contrive a list into this post, although there are interesting facts and links to pictures of swimming cats as consolation. I have been working on a cat-based theory, though, and will soon share it.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

So Long, Miss Havisham....

There's a great collection of lists at McSweeney's. This is the most recent one (Fortune Cookie Messages Appropriate for Dickens Characters), and what reminded me to post the link.

Right, the sun is shining and there are things to do - I need to stop listening to Leonard Cohen and go and read about the nature of time in the laundrette.

Friday, 6 February 2009

More grumbling about the cold

You may have gathered that I do not like January. It is cold, dark, and awash with "flu-like viruses" (i.e. "it's worse than a cold, it's not flu, your guess is as good as mine but I feel grim").

With the exception of some birthdays of lovely people, it's been a month best spent indoors, with a supply of DVDs, hearty food and a cat. Hibernation is also a good way to save £££, as noted previously, which is useful in the lean post-Christmas, post-early-pay-cheque wilderness of the end of a long month.

Still, February dawns, and although also cold, dark and pestilent, it at least has the decency to be short. And at the end of it: Spring (by my reckoning at least). My favourite fact (from this site) - "the Anglo-Saxons called February "Sol-monath" (cake-month) because cakes were offered to the gods during that month". Good plan. Cake-month it is then.

Meanwhile here are some notable February-themed events:

1. Candlemas - 2nd February
Notable for being the mid point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, so we are 1/4 way towards midsummer already...... that was supposed to be a good thing, but now I read this and feel looming guilt at my lack of resolution progress. Tsk.

2. Groundhog Day - 2nd February also
In which a small mammal predicts an early spring or six more weeks of winter. According to the 13 groundhogs listed on Wikipedia, only five predict an early spring this year. Pants.

3. Valentine's Day
On which more another time.

4. Pancake Day
Which as a secular celebration is extra fun. Whereas in the past (or a stricter present) people would eat up all the fatty stuff before giving it up for Lent, now people (well, me anyway) eat all the fatty stuff and think "I'd forgotten how great pancakes are - let's do this again next week..."

5. New clothes in the shops
Are there blue and white clothes in the shops? Are some of them stripy? Do you look at them and think "Classic French resort wear, to be accessorised with a red handbag and a background of yachts", or even "Hmmm, perhaps it's time to stop wearing a duvet"? Then soon it will be Spring.

Monday, 2 February 2009

"Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes...."

....are quite annoying and also no-one pronounces it eyeLAshes.

It is snowing. It has been snowing for some time and there is a lot of snow out there. Here are some things to play with (indoors) until it thaws:

1. Make A Flake
You could do this with paper, but you'd need to find where you put it, and some scissors and tidy up afterwards. There's no glitter option with this online version though.

2. Make Another Flake and Watch It Twirl in 2 or 3D

3. Make a Snowball
If you have a well-stocked drinks cabinet. And if you like advocaat-based cocktails. And if you don't have anything going on later for which you need to be sober.

4. Dream of a White Christmas
Get out some tinsel, crack open the sherry (or advocaat-based cocktail) and settle down in front of an old film.

5. Rewrite the lyrics to "My favourite things"
Brown paper packages tied up with string - yes. Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes - no. Plus, I haven't been bitten by a dog or stung by a bee [grabs wooden table supersitiously], but remembering bright copper kettles would, I think, be unlikely to make it all better. Still, Maria the nun was much tougher than me, what with grouchy naval captains, 3 million children to look after and nazis to escape from. Lemurs, Alvin the Lobster, victoria sponge cake, Cary Grant - that's much more like it.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Lemurs are great

Since last week I have become mildly obsessed with lemurs. They are truly marvellous, and interestingly varied. I intend to visit some - not, sadly, in Madagascar, although actually that's probably just as well as that's where they live free and can probably do without me stalking them. I shall make a plan.

Here are places where you can learn more about them:

1. The Lemur Centre at Duke University (Durham, North Carolina)
Which has lots of information about lemurs, their habits and their relation to humans, as they are also primates.

2. National Geographic
As linked to previously. But here is a video about catching a wee mouse lemur in order to study it and then return it to its tree.

3. Lemur Health
A graduate research student studies lemurs in Madagascar. Good photos and pictures, including some good ones of mouse lemurs. She's going back to Madagascar this year to study bigger lemurs.