April 2015

Posted by Ellen

Inspecting the graham crackers in the supermarket aisle with Audrey Hepburn is Ip the fawn, one of her costars from the 1959 film Green Mansions.

There are at least two versions of the story about Hepburn and the fawn. In one, the fawn's trainer suggested she take Ip home and hang out with it for a while so that she and the animal would not be shy around each other in front of the camera.

The other story has it that Hepburn, who was said to be unhappily married and had recently experienced two miscarriages, sought the companionship of sweet little Ip and adopted the fawn as a pet.

Whichever, Hepburn and Ip are said to have been inseparable on and off the set during the filming of Green Mansions, which took several months. The movie bombed, however, and so, eventually, did Hepburn's marriage to its director, Mel Ferrer, though the two did not finally divorce till 1968.

Posted by Ellen

For this fishy selfie, Al went to a fish spa in Singapore, where he soaked his feet in a tankful of Garra rufa, a species of toothless fish native to the Middle East that have long been used for medical and cosmetological purposes.

Garra rufa, sometimes called doctor fish, nibble away at dead skin to exfoliate people's feet. The nibbling is said to offer some temporary relief to people with certain skin conditions, including psoriasis. But mostly, people let the fish nibble on them as part of a pedicure, removing dry patches of dead cells and exposing fresh, new skin.

Al spent a week in Singapore recently as part of his work protecting the brick and mortar that surrounds the digital cloud. By coincidence, his New Zealand Aunt A. was in Singapore at the same time, and the two of them went together to get their feet nibbled.

Posted by Ellen

A surprise autumn cold snap attacked New Zealand's South Island this week, with deep snow burying the mountains and lighter snowfalls covering the ground at elevations as low as 100 meters above sea level. This scene was on the road between Mossburn and Te Anau, near New Zealand's southwestern coast.

According to MetService meteorologist Richard Finnie, the wintry storm was like a bit of June in April: "It's not an early winter," he said, "just an early taste of winter." The cold front was expected to sweep northward across the country and then give way to more normal fall conditions within a few days.

Posted by Ellen

This plexiglass Pontiac, from the very earliest days of plastics, was a big hit at the 1939 New York World's Fair; it is shown here doing its star turn in the General Motors pavilion at the 1940 International Columbian Exhibition in San Francisco.

In 2011, it was auctioned by Sotheby's for $308,000. It was still a working automobile at that time, though the plastic chassis (body by Fisher) obviously would not hold up under heavy use. The odometer reading was 86 miles.

Posted by Ellen

One week ago, on a chilly but sunny New York afternoon, this espaliered pear tree in the Cloisters medieval garden was trying really, really hard to leaf out.

Posted by Ellen

Ms. Angel, the hen at left, poses with a colleague atop our niece Jess's henhouse in Tempe, Arizona. These two are Jess's oldest layers, we're told, and perhaps the best behaved of her dozen or so chicks and hens.

"I tried really hard to get them all together and have them smile for me," she reports, "but it isn't easy to get them to do what I want."