The Rabbit Thing

UD and La Kid got home after dark last night (office hours; Tabata after work). Mr UD dropped them off and began backing out of the driveway to head to Chipotle.

Suddenly, in the snowy dark, UD spotted a small living thing sitting on one of the steps to the front door. What was it?

“Look.” She prodded La Kid.

“What is it?”

“A rat? A rabbit? A cat?”

“Why doesn’t it move? We’re inches away!”

“I don’t know.”

“Go away!” shouted La Kid. We moved closer, trying to scare it. It didn’t budge, and we still couldn’t figure out what it was.

“Call Daddy! Daddy!La Kid called. He’d already left.

“There’s too much wildlife here,” wailed UD. “What is it? Why won’t it move? MOVE,” she screamed.

Then, as the moonlight deepened, she saw an unmistakeable rabbit-shadow.

“Hop away! Hop hop hop hop away!” they yelled. The minutes ticked by, and UD and La Kid were cold. “No wonder the owls and the hawks and the foxes like it so much here,” grumbled UD. “Big open lawns full of motionless rabbits.” They edged closer, and finally the thing bounced off…

The latest Garrett Park Bugle, with UD’s thoughts on…

… government (“Boring is Good”).

Dave, a reader, sends UD a promotional video from the University of Moncton…

… – ou peut-être il serait mieux de dire Université de Moncton – which is generating controversy. Apparently some people on campus think it insults the dignity of the school by featuring students (actors, maybe) kissing passionately… uh, French kissing – in the library stacks…

It’s altogether a tonguey ad – lots of tongues hanging out of the mouths of students as they gambol about or play hockey or paihrfohrmuh zair wilduh enduh crayzee Franche roque moozeekuh…

But the ad – plus this morning’s metro ride to Foggy Bottom – has UD thinking about something else entirely. She notices that in this video everyone is beautiful. Some students are insanely beautiful, and some are merely somewhat beautiful, but everyone is beautiful. On the crowded metro this morning, she took a seat and her blazingly blond daughter stood near her; and near her daughter stood a staggeringly beautiful young man, the sort of person you kind of have to look at even though it’s a little impolite. The dude was chiseled: Closely cropped black hair, long elegant face with dramatic green eyes, aquiline nose, full lips, and cleft chin… UD thought Okay, the metro is the domain of the young and restless, the super-ambitious full-bodied hot-blooded denizens of DC … But these two are exceptionally beautiful…

But then La Kid and the guy left the train (UD had already, gazing at them, melded their DNA to produce a race of amazing specimens), off to their separate jobs, and now onto the train scrambled (see post immediately below) six random dudes, a group of friends, also in their twenties… And all of them were beautiful!

So is it just me? Am I seeing the world through rose-colored glasses? Or would turning on a camera anywhere at a place like the Moncton campus produce a steady array of beauties? Have I gotten to the point in life where the mere fact of being young makes you beautiful?

UD Finally Gets Around to…

soltanid15 001

… renewing her ID card.
She had to. One of her
classes meets in the library,
and you can’t get in without
a card.

The process was very quick
and easy, and essentially
involved listening to the
student who processed her
tell her how his writing
courses at GW were “my most
difficult. It is so hard
to write well.”

“Yes,” I said. “It is.”

Snow Day Chez Les UDs.


When UD was in Bali
(summer, 2000) she bought a
bunch of metal bird cages.
One she put outside in
her back woods.

(Taken at 8:00 AM
this morning.)

The latest dispatch from the Garrett Park Bugle…

“Garrett Park’s Garrett,” by UD.

Spectacular hot pink sunset…

… as our train winds through the woods of
Mystic Connecticut.

After a busy Christmas break during which
La Kid played with one of her cousins,


we’re heading home.

Soft, in the Cambridge drear…

… the illustrious back garden of John Kenneth Galbraith’s house on Professors’ Row comes into focus. UD walks around its big green square, stopping to check out the bones of various dogwoods and cherries. There’s a little brick amphitheater with curved urns; there’s a pergola on the way to the shed. The long balcony facing the garden also looks good for orations.

Inside and out, the enormous convoluted old house (there are big public rooms, but, in the way of old houses, many dark passageways with unexpected steps up and down) looks good for formal gatherings, and indeed Galbraith often met classes, held end-of-year celebrations, and hosted visiting dignitaries, here. The “large oak bookcase in John Kenneth Galbraith’s elegant sitting room in Cambridge” glimmers, in the day-long winter dusk, with title after title by and about him.

I remember his monumental physical presence in the chair just there, between two vast, sashed, windows; he sat amiably, almost without moving, rehearsing tales of Roosevelt and Kennedy.

“Ken and Kitty’s house on Francis Avenue was, for decades, Boston’s most glittering intellectual and political salon.” It is very quiet now, on a cold Christmas night. Underlit throughout, it whispers that history.


… says the elaborately decorated stained-glass window at the landing outside our bedroom in Cambridge.

UD thought: A nice thought for a house to which you retire each day after high-level government and academic battle. As did, I suppose, its last mucho-mucho-eminent owner.

(UD has visited the house a few times over the years, but had never been on the second floor, which is where the window is.)

The full couplet, from The Faerie Queen (Joseph Conrad put this version on his gravestone) goes like this:

Sleep after toyle, port after stormie seas,
Ease after warre, death after life, does greatly please.

Which gives it a less domestic, more cosmic, dusting…

Altogether, Maison des UDs (for a few days) seems to have functioned as Paul Fussell’s primary model for his chapter on houses of the upper classes. Fussell quotes Veblen on the main principle in play: “the veneration of the archaic.” The walls of most rooms retain the carefully preserved shells of some ancient servant-summoning technology; a circa 1950 refrigerator glimmers out of the darkness adjacent to an updated kitchen; the bones of those phones they use in old movies (Doc? You better get here on the double!) are strewn here and there.

I’m sure the views out of various windows are spectacular in the spring; but as usual UD is in Cambridge during its long dreary winter, so the setting is all about drab bushes and pale wasted lawns…

In a few minutes, Les UDs take a train to Cambridge, where….

… every year they spend their Christmas.

UD will of course blog from there.

Longtime readers know that every Christmas Les UDs go to Cambridge, Massachusetts…

…to be with family. This year, rather than stay with family or at a hotel (Les UDs have a house in Cambridge, but they rent it out), we’ll stay at a friend’s house on Professors’ Row, a line of beautiful places steps from Harvard.

The term Professors’ Row, Boston Curbed writes, “is used now only with the bitterest of irony, given the costs of housing near Harvard and the pay of most Harvard faculty.” Which is to say that even, for instance, a $400,000 a year salary probably isn’t enough. You have to be edging up toward hedge fund territory.

No wonder Sheriff Ben Edelman sets his consulting fee so high.

UD will of course blog from these privileged precincts. She has been stomping around Harvard for decades (ever since she and Mr UD, a Harvard professor’s son, became an item) and she has blogged, a bit, about her impressions of Cambridge and its university people. She will now do so again.

Giving both of my final exams back to back today…

… so haven’t been able to post. Will do so this evening.

From Munro Leaf’s House in Garrett Park, Maryland…


Ferdinand wishes
University Diaries readers
a bullish holiday season.

The President, The Rock, La Kid


She’s the blond to the right
of… uh… what’s his name.

I found the picture here.

Merry Christmas from La Kid…


… at the post-performance party
for Christmas in Washington,
National Building Museum,
last night.

Broadcast time and date.

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