Friday, July 29, 2016

Shampoo Time

This went on for quite some time. Harris is our "middle child" but he is also the baby.

Let's interrupt this cleansing ritual to consider a photo of Harris at 12 days old, taken by either his wonderful foster mom in Connecticut or our friend Robin of Kitten Associates, where we adopted him: 

I don't think Harris hasn't changed that much in four years.

Now, where were we?  Left ear . . . .

"Who said you could stop?"

Seen Around the Neighborhood

I loved watching this couple in the Public Garden:

On a beautiful spring afternoon we often see newlyweds posing y by the Lagoon.We often don't give them a second glance anymore. But this bride looked so simple and perfect that I had to snap a photo. After I saw her in that short, pretty dress and those classic pumps, with the flowers in her hair, every other bride seemed to be wearing a parade costume and trying too hard. This is style. 

I took this photo around the same time, in May:

It was early evening, and the Public Garden was filled with prom-goers from what seemed to be a very diverse and possibly international high school. This girl and that dress were made for each other. As I passed her, I noted that that jeweled back looked even better up close than at a distance. 

Keeping with this red/white theme, there was this:

We don't have Romans at the farmer's market every day. I never knew that Romans carried backpacks and stored produce in them.

We see plenty of gladiator sandals, of course, but not on men in tunics. And you probably didn't know that Romans had cell phones.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Girl Next Door( to the Sabines)

I was digging around online late the other night, looking for things relevant to the Sabine family, who lived at my address when it was still a single-family house, from 1909 until 1950. On eBay I searched for "Smith College," hoping I'd find something that mentioned Dr. Jane Sabine, class of 1888. I was imagining a bound volume of her class's annual letters but instead I found this photo:

This is Mary Chute, who grew up next-door to the Sabines and was a close friend of Janet, and perhaps Ruth, too. Here, Mary is throwing a baseball at Smith in June, 1926, shortly before she graduated. She did not throw like a girl. (I bet Janet and Ruth didn't, either. They rode horses "like Valkyries" and were good swimmers, sailers, and ice skaters.)

Mary's father, a urologist, had his office in their house, just as Dr. Sabine did. Mary and Janet were in the same class at the Winsor School for girls in Brookline. Both had been born in October, 1903. I like to imagine the three girls going back and forth to school together, but I'm not sure if they did this on foot, by carriage, or by automobile. Since the school was a mile and a half from their homes, they probably did it all three ways, depending on the year and the weather. (It's hard to imagine horses and cars driven simultaneously on Boston's streets but it went on for years. And I suppose bikers were as crazy then as they are now.)

At 18, Janet and Mary made their debut into Boston society, as almost all girls from prominent families did in those days. For many, it was a golden opportunity to find a suitable husband and marry soon after. For others, it was a rite of passage that occupied a "gap year" before college. It was common for girls to marry at 18 or 19, but many Proper Bostonians preferred to send their daughters to Radcliffe, Wellesley, and the other women's colleges, where they would meet college boys — especially Harvard boys, and ideally Harvard boys from good Boston families. 

Both Mary and Janet spent their year out of school traveling and being alluring, vivacious flapper social butterflies. How I would love to see their collections of party dresses. The 1920s were a great time to dress up. Clothing was beautiful and often ornately embellished, but teddies had replaced corsets and hemlines were rising to the knee. Young women could move freely and dance like maenads despite the shocked disapproval of their Victorian-era relatives.

On October 27, 1921, Janet was presented to her mother's friends a tea party, probably held in the room where I'm writing this. The house would have been filled with flowers (including many tributes sent by friends), musicians, and catering equipment in addition to the guests that afternoon. The next evening, Dr. Sabine and Dr. and Mrs. Chute hosted a dance for Janet and Mary at the Somerset Club on Beacon Hill, one of a few time-honored venues for such events. The dance must have been a popular success for both girls were invited to join the Junior League and the Vincent Club, the two chief, coveted measures of social triumph for Boston debs. 

In 1921, it was possible for even a nice girl to have a surprisingly good time drinking and dancing at the endless round of parties for fellow debs in private clubs and hotel ballrooms from autumn to spring. Teenagers then appear to have been identical to teenagers now, at least in terms of biological drives and aptitude for mayhem. There was plenty of kissing and so on in dark ballroom corners and Ford Model Ts. 

I know this because I recently had the pleasure of reading Upside Down in the Magnolia Tree, a memoir by Mary Bancroft, who lived on Beacon Street and was in Janet and Mary Chute's class at the Winsor School. Mary B. spilled a lot of beans in her book, not only about her strategies to become a popular deb but also her difficulties at the Winsor School, her tomboy childhood in Cambridge, and her rather sad family history. She was raised by her grandparents, who continually referred to her as "Precious Doll." If you ask me, that alone entitled her to do whatever she wanted.

I hope Janet and Mary C. had a swell time being flapper debs — as Mary B. most certainly did. I would love to know how well-behaved (or not) they were. Mary B. tells a few tales but never ratted about her friends by name. (She was so good at keeping secrets that she became a spy during World War II.)

In the fall of 1922, Mary Chute went to Smith, her mother's alma mater and also Dr. Sabine's. Mary played basketball and baseball, among other activities. In the picture above, she's the senior catcher for the team. 

Janet started her freshman year at Bryn Mawr in the fall of 1922, too, but she returned home after only three weeks because her 16-year-old sister Ruth had died unexpectedly on October 23 (Janet's 19th birthday). Janet didn't want her mother to be alone in their house, so she began commuting to Radcliffe in the fall of 1923. She graduated with a degree in French in January, 1927, and a few weeks later she and her mother embarked on a long, intrepid world tour. Other women would have joined a group tour, but Jane and Janet traveled everywhere by themselves, going wherever the spirit moved them for more than a year. They sailed to Europe, but much of that continent was familiar to them so they spent most of their time exploring in the Middle East ("Christmas in Cairo"), India, Japan, and other parts of Asia, returning to America via Hawaii, and then touring cross-country, visiting friends.

From reading Dr. Sabine's annual class letters from 1889 to 1949, it's clear she cherished her years at Smith and made many close, lifelong friends. I wondered why her daughters were expected to attend Bryn Mawr instead. At 15, Ruth had already been studying for Bryn Mawr's entrance exams, considered the most demanding of all the women's colleges. And I suppose that's the answer — Bryn Mawr was the most academically challenging, prestigious women's college in those days. Janet and Ruth were highly intelligent, studious girls, and their parents wanted only the best for them. From reading her Smith class letters, I know that Dr. Sabine imagined that Janet might follow in her footsteps and go to medical school, or become a scientist like her father. It wasn't to be. 

But Mary Chute went on to earn a master's degree in architecture from MIT. In 1932, she married a fellow architect and MIT grad, Samuel McMurtrie. They had an intimate wedding, witnessed only by family and a few friends, in the new and fashionable Leslie Lindsey Chapel* at Emmanuel Church on Newbury Street. The reception was held at home. I hope Dr. Sabine was at least invited to join the celebration from next door. 

Here's Mary leaving the chapel with a big fur coat over her wedding dress, her filmy veil blowing in the wind. Mr. McMurtrie looks like a millionaire from the Monopoly game in that hat. 

Janet met her future husband, Fred Ley, on her world tour. They'd had a similarly quiet service in the Leslie Lindsey Chapel, in September, 1929. (I hope someone took photos; I hope they still exist.) Both young women moved to Manhattan with their new husbands. 

I wonder if they saw anything of each other there; I suppose I could find out if I went digging.

* Leslie Lindsey Chapel was built for Emmanuel Church by William and Anne Lindsey between 1919 and 1924, in memory of their daughter Leslie Lindsey Mason, and her husband, newlyweds who drowned in the shipwreck of the Lusitania on their honeymoon in 1915. You can read about them and the chapel here. I've heard that Leslie's body washed up on the Irish coast still wearing her wedding jewels, which her father sold to purchase a memorial gift to the Museum of Fine Arts — the Lesley Lindsey Mason Collection of Musical Instruments. 
     A lovely Gothic Revival "lady chapel," the Lindsey Chapel is perfect for smaller weddings and I wonder how many brides today are aware of its history and the doomed couple for which it was named. My wedding and reception were at The Castle at Boston University — the Lindsey family's romantic, Tudor-style home on Bay State Road.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Current Craving: Raspberry Bursts

The Powers That Be are messing around with the grocery aisles at the Star Market at the Prudential, again, so we Back Bay residents are facing weeks of frustration and forced socializing, just as we endured exactly two years ago. I can't believe they are putting us through that again, just when I finally figured out where they had been hiding the salsa. And now the risotto is probably next to the toothpaste again. 

Thank god the bakery hasn't moved. That's the only place I really have to go.

Sometimes in the afternoon, the bakery staff will put an open tub of cookies on the counter for customers to help themselves. A couple of months ago, I took what I thought was a boring, hard sugar cookie and found that it was soft and filled in the center with dense raspberry jam, or maybe pie filling. The sweet-and-tangy combination was surprisingly perfect; it begged for a glass of cold milk back at my place. But there weren't any more of those cookies for sale in the store. 

So I went back a couple of days later (okay, it might have been the very next day), with no luck. And I kept going back. I also tried the markets in Chestnut Hill, Cambridge, Watertown, and Brookline. That cookie was even worth pilgrimages to stores where I am perpetually lost. I asked the staff about them at every bakery. Everyone knew what I meant; I learned they are called Raspberry Bursts. But nobody had any. 

About a month later, a few boxes finally turned up at my local Star and I snatched one and raced it to the register:

They were just as delicious as I remembered and well worth the hunt. They are many times better than the oatmeal-raisin cookies with big drips of vanilla icing, and the chocolate-dipped chocolate chip ones are always available in the little raffa-tied boxes. In the interest of empirical research,  tried them both while I was waiting for Raspberry Bursts to materialize. I don't need to tell you how I feel about chocolate, or icing, but those cookies taste store-bought, while the raspberry ones taste homemade.

There are eight cookies per box. It is possible to limit yourself to one cookie at a time, but feels so unsatisfying and stingy — why bother? Eat two, at least. Make someone else eat some, too. Besides their elusiveness, the only downside of these cookies is that they only stay at peak freshness for a couple of days, even if you transfer them to a zip-lock bag. Therefore you should eat them fast. Poor you . . . I suggest you consider it a challenge, as I do.

I humbly request that, if you are shopping at the Prudential Star, please don't take the last box. Please, please leave it for me. I will be there.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

As It Was Written

Here's a little collection of photos taken over the past year or so:

This car's owner (old enough to know better) was nearby as I snapped this, in Concord.
He asked with enthusiasm if I was into Ayn Rand, Rush, or both. Clearly wanted to talk.
Didn't pick up on the fact that I was horrified.
I replied vaguely but with similar enthusiasm, and quickly walked away. 

I have a new great-nephew, the first newborn in our family since ME. 
Shopping for baby stuff is a new world for me, and a blast. 
This onesie from Gifted was too hipster to make the cut but made me laugh.

We bought this one. The little guy isn't even four months old and is already
better dressed than I ever was or will be. His outfits feature coordinating bandanas, 
and colorful handmade booties and caps his mother sews and sells.

I consider these two of the greatest words in the English language.
But when you find them on a sticky, all alone on a granite wall, 
the effect is devastating. Where did they go? Why aren't they here??

A salon in the North End. I'd like to have a Walken closet someday.

A sign I saw in Brimfield a while ago. Shoulda bought it for my liver doctor. Truth.

Saturday, July 23, 2016


Go away, world. Harris naps under the ceiling fan.

I try not to complain about cold weather. I do not love sub-zero temps and icy sidewalks but I make a point of not whining and moaning. I try to act like a hardy New Englander because I ought to be one after all these years. In winter our apartment is often cold, so I make soup, and bake, and drink tea. I wear sweaters and socks and a hat to bed. When the butter sitting out on the kitchen counter is too hard to spread, I turn up the thermostat. Not that it helps.

But I save up all my whiny-moany energy for summer. It was sunny and in the 90s here today, again. I was miserable. Boston felt like a clothes dryer, while my appliance of choice is a freezer. We went out to see a couple of open houses (disappointing, as expected) and do errands, and by the time we were heading home, I was light-headed and sick (and soaked) despite drinking water and wearing a hat. Breathing was an effort. I was grateful to return to our roaring, inefficient air conditioner, blasting 24/7 in the living room. It has only a slight cooling effect on our bedroom, but the cats still like to sleep on the bed under the ceiling fan, also on 24/7. I can't say the same for me.

I could list all the things I hate about hot weather, but it would be dull. Any aspect of it that you can think of, I probably hate. I will just say that I really hate taking a shower to cool off only to be in need of another shower before I'm fully dressed.

If I had easy access to a nice pool, beach, or pond every day, my attitude would do a 180, but it's not to be. I used to love hot summer days as a kid even though we didn't have air conditioning. I had access to a garden hose, a couple of great city pools, and a creek. We had the mother of all window fans, which we cleverly used in exhaust mode at night. It sucked the hot air from our bedrooms and fresh, cool air breezed in through all the other windows. There doesn't seem to be any cool night air anymore. And that's another thing I . . . you know.

Still, I resolve to be less cranky. Hardy New Englanders put up with heat, too. At least it's November now in Old New Yorker land —  those five issues are taking me forever. I can't wait for the real thing.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Recent Adorableness: Possum

Possy has been learning a lot from my big pile of old New Yorkers. He doesn't pay much attention to the fiction or the cartoons (the feline sense of humor is very different from ours) but he likes the ads.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Happy 7th, Wendy and Possum

The babies, sleeping on an old sheet during the ringworm plague (thanks, Wendy!) of 2009–10.

Wendelina Pantherina and Possumus P. Passamaqoddy had their 7th birthdays over the weekend. We celebrated quietly at their request — they specifically asked for no fireworks. (There was cake.)

Wendy wanted to be an only cat.

Since we don't know exactly when they were born, their birthdays are estimates. Wendy was born in a fast-food parking lot in Swansea, Massachusetts, or thereabouts. (It was not a Wendy's.) Two kind women operating a small private shelter rescued her and her brother; a few months later, they saved her mother, too.

Possum was trapped by rescuers in Shrewsbury, twice. He was TNR'ed the first time. When he went into the trap again, his rescuers figured he and his siblings might be adoptable, so they landed in a foster home.

"Of course we were adoptable," says Possum." We'd been beautifully brought up. We'd had dancing lessons."

They got along so well before Wendy joined the Tea Party.

If you've been reading here for a while, you will remember that Possum has told long, fluffy tales about being a Norwegian aristocrat. He says his father, allegedly a baron, was on the hit list of the Norwegian mafia over a fishy fishing deal, and his family sailed to America to enter a witness protection program.

He doesn't talk about it much these days. Like me, Possum is way behind on his New Yorker reading.

Every July, we have a variation of this little conversation with Wendy:

Me: Happy birthday, Wendy! You're 7 years old now! Don't you think it's time for you to relax and feel safe here?

Wendy: .

Husband: Yes, Wendy, don't you think it might be time to start settling in? 

Wendy: .

Husband: Will you please think about unpacking?

Wendy: .

Some things take time. Still, it's hard to meet a strange cat on the street and get more affection and trust from him in five minutes than I do in a year from Wendy. I try to be grateful for what I do get these days:

1. She sits about a foot from me on the dinner table and stares at me.

2. I am permitted to rotate her dish under her chin at supper time to help her get every morsel.

My husband is permitted to pet her (one hand only) if he's settled in the leather armchair. Wendy has recently discovered the joys of his armpit, whatever they are, and buries her nose there with great pleasure. This is the only time she voluntarily has touched either of us. Let's hear it for armpits!

And let's hear it for everyone who rescues, fosters, shelters, and cares for homeless cats. Where would we be without you? It's too sad to contemplate. Thank you!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Local Color

Well, I tried. But it's still October here in Old New Yorker Land. Where did the weekend go?

We caught a great sunset along the Charles. I did nothing to alter the color of these photos but they remind me of an old trick I of mine — shooting a sunset through the lens of my sunglasses.

Yesterday we saw an amazing condo with a walled garden that would be ideal for the cats. The parlor floor had enough original 19th-century detail to satisfy me (although I missed the pocket doors and the wall that once held them). The basement level was less my style but was intelligently designed and overlooked the garden. Unfortunately, it's on Mass. Ave. and only a couple of blocks from the epicenter of "Methadone Mile." We found this timely Boston Globe feature on our laptops' home pages as soon as we came in from the open house. 

We've done reconnaissance on that block before; this isn't the first time we've loved an apartment there. We've gone there at different times of day and hung around, watching and listening. We've also checked the crime maps: there are enough shootings, robberies, and assaults in the vicinity for us to  know we wouldn't feel safe coming and going. There is also constant, noisy traffic — huge trucks heading to and from the Interstate, ambulances racing to the hospital — but it doesn't feel protective, just loud and wearing. I'm sure plenty of nice people live comfortably around there, but I guess we've lived in our relatively safe Back Bay bubble for too long to be up for that adventure.

Oh, well. At least we saw a lovely apartment. If it had been anywhere else, it would have been far out of our price range and we'd have missed it.

Friday, July 15, 2016

A Favorite Photo

This is one of those iPhone photos that surprised us with its pleasing, grainy quality and filtered color. My husband took this arty pose of Harris during one of their frequent mutual admiration sessions, where they get together to admire Harris.  

Have a great weekend — stay cool!  I plan to stay inside as much as possible and continue culling clothes from my closet in hopes that Second Time Around will consign them on Monday. I dread taking things there, imagining them laughing me out of the store as they reject my pathetic rags. I have friends who also go through this, which helps to know, but then they have much better clothing than I do. I keep reminding myself that the people I've encountered there have usually been tactful and nice, and that I have a decent record so far.

I'm still digging my way through my pile of old New Yorkers, aghast that I'm still about 30 issues behind, groaning every week when a new one arrives. It didn't help that there were two long, thoughtful articles in the October 19 issue, which took me almost a week of bedtime reading to finish and digest. One was about what a misguided, misanthropic . . . jerk Henry David Thoreau was, and the other was about Gloria Steinem, a person of tremendous grace and understanding, and an inspiration for all. For about four nights my husband had to listen to me exclaiming about what an ass HDT was. I mean, I always suspected it but now I know.  I managed to be quieter about Gloria.

I have a tall pile of library books sitting and waiting patiently, but it's going to be awhile before I can crack any of them. One is about how restaurants design menus and price items to subtly lure us into ordering just what they want us to order. Food, psychology, advertising, and graphic design are all part of the game, and that's my kind of game for sure. I can't wait to read it and. if I ever do, I'll tell you about it.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

You Get What You Pay For

Since we don't dare have a single toxic flower around here (Harris), I stick to roses and sunflowers, and I never pay a lot for them. My favorite deal is the $8 bunch of spray roses from Trader Joe's — they don't usually have them at our little Back Bay store, but when they do, it makes my day. There are so many flowers on each stem and they are so fragrant. If you choose wisely they'll open slowly and last a long time. (Gently pinch a few buds between your thumb and forefinger to be sure they are fresh and firm. If they feel soft and mushy, move on.)

Here's my current bouquet. I have to keep them on the bedroom mantel because it's one of  very few places the cats don't go, the other one being the top of our Japanese tansu, which is about as tall as I am and is already covered with glass items, etc., that Harris and Toffee would like to use for gravity experiments.

Some call this pitcher "hobnail" but my husband calls it "wartware." 

There is one problem with these inexpensive roses, however. There are always a couple of single flowers with very short, broken stems. Since there are often about 50 in the bunch, it hardly matters. I put them in a tiny bud vase and leave them in the kitchen by the sink. 

But then at night, they get restless and wander. 

Imagine this horrible scenario: you get up for a drink at 3 in the morning and discover an empty vase by the sink, which had previously held two roses. You go looking for the missing flowers and discover them doing a tarantella together in your living room. You'd probably faint dead away — unless you actually died dead away — from the terror and embarrassment of watching tiny flowers executing intricate dance steps you'd have trouble with yourself.

I am fortunate to have a posse of stalwart cats to protect me from such an ignominious end. They patrol the apartment at night and capture errant flowers, so that all I wake up to is this:

If you don't have any cats it would be prudent to get some for protection. Otherwise, don't buy any cheap roses.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Recent Adorableness: Lion

Once again, Lion has grown his plush winter coat and ruff to coincide with the hottest weather. I don't understand it and he hasn't provided an explanation. We keep the air conditioner running on low for all the cats when we go out, so he shouldn't be too miserable. And we enjoy stroking his extra silkiness and fluff while it lasts. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Test & Toffee

This is just a test to see whether a new post with some HTML tweaks makes my sidebar content go back where it belongs instead of lining up below the posts. I'm betting it will. (I know next to nothing about HTML except that deleting big chunks of it that show up on Blogger for no reason is often a good idea.)

In other news, Toffee has discovered the joys of the leather chair and stretches out there whenever he can.

If I had been shown this photo when I was toddler, I may not have grown up loving cats the way I do:

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Delivery Day

I order about 15 cases of cat food every four to five weeks. I wish we had room to make and freeze a homemade raw diet. I wish we had space to store a commercial frozen raw diet. We don't: our tiny kitchen is a joke and our freezer is the punchline. So I do the next best thing and buy the best canned food I can afford, which I special-order from our local pet store, Fish + Bone. (We never feed dry food; no one should. And I should feed raw food at least sometimes but I've gotten lazy. Wendy is right: I am Evil Mommy. I will try to do better but it will make no difference to Wendy.)

I choose the cats' food from among the grain-free, low-carb, low-starch options recommended on Liz Eastman's list at The Natural Cat Care Blog. This is the best list I've found; researching cat foods is an exhausting, confusing task and I'm grateful she's done it. While no commercial diet is 100% perfect, the foods on her list have the most nutritious, natural, and safe ingredients. They also come in BPA-free cans from safe (USA) sources and manufacturing sites.

Our food is always delivered early on a Thursday morning. When it arrives, I scramble to get it out of its cardboard and plastic packing so I can put all that in the alley before the trash and recycling trucks arrive.

Possum, Harris, and Toffee soon arrive to inspect everything and supervise me as I unpack and restock the cabinets. Lion often appears but he's less of a nuisance presence than the other boys. Wendy, of course, keeps a safe distance while hating me.

Possum stands guard over the stock. He also issues orders to me — short, sharp meows are meant to command my attention, obedience, and unswerving loyalty. (Which he gets, despite the fact that he spends way too much time sitting on my husband and adoring him. Since I chose Possum as a kitten while my husband wanted his two-eared sister, it's unfair — as I point out daily. I even wrote a book about it: for said husband's last birthday, I made a big, thick Apple hardcover photo book entitled, The Year You Stole My Cat. It was packed with documentary evidence.)

Anyway, Possum is still my cat and he can boss me around:

Harris loves to investigate stuff, especially hazardous items like scissors, and plastic, which he wants to lick.

Toffee went into the cabinet and refused to come out. Restocking takes longer when there's a cat occupying all the space. He was happy in there.

Possum is in charge, though, and must have said something to him:

The restocking proceeded. My work was approved, and we are all set for another five weeks.

Friday, July 8, 2016

An Evening Walk

Today we had Maine weather — almost chilly and breezy. I was shivering in my shorts and I loved it. It's been so hot and humid lately that I've stayed inside most of the day. I try to do errands early in the morning and we usually take a long walk around sunset.

Here are a few favorite local sights beyond the Esplanade.

I love the Public Garden in summer twilight. As the lamps come on, the sky shades to purple and everything green turns greener. (I love it even more in winter, at sunset, when there's a fresh snowfall and the shrubs along the bridge path have their Christmas lights.)

We often walk home on Newbury Street. I always check out the Chanel windows; there's usually an outfit or two that I admire. I also like the mannequins because they seem intelligent and somewhat melancholy. Their eyes have an appraising, sidelong gaze instead of the usual vacant stare. They look  as if they'd rather do something more interesting than modeling in a Boston shop window. Maybe they'd like to be Bond girls. Currently they are wearing Angelina Jolie wigs and black lace from neck to toe.

The newly renovated Johnson building of the Central Branch of the Boston Public Library opens officially tomorrow. Built in 1972 in a god-awful modern (Brutalist, I'd say) style, it looked like a Soviet painter's interpretation of drabness. Improvements have been desperately needed since about 1972. Excited as I am, I will probably avoid tomorrow's crowds (unless I hear there's cake). 

The library's 1896 McKim building can't be improved upon. The courtyard is a tranquil spot to cool off and read on a hot summer evening:

The former Prince School (now condos and shops) on Newbury Street by Exeter has several gorgeous, scented rose bushes:

Lit by street lamps, the roses glow, competing with the store displays on the lower floors of the old school building. Chanel mannequins aside, they are the prettiest things on the street.