A Puzzlement

A Puzzlement

Last night we watched the HBO season finale of Perry Mason. Before the final episode dropped, we re-watched the show’s penultimate episode, just to refresh our memories of all that had happened so far. This show has been a departure from the 1950s Raymond Burr rendition of this courtroom drama. First, it is set in the 1930s, at the height of the Depression and in the middle of Prohibition. It is still set in LA at the same iconic city hall, only then the building was brand new. In addition to Perry, this incarnation still hosts the other staple characters, such as Della Street, Paul Drake and Hamilton Burger. Although, other than their names, they are all completely different people.

No one is more different than Perry himself. He begins the season as a washed-up private detective, who has made a mess of everything in his life and only rises midway through the season to Perry Mason attorney-at-law out of sheer necessity. He passes the bar, which has been set laughably low, with the aid of Hamilton Burger. I wonder how long it will take Burger to regret this help?

Instead of springing like clockwork one client per episode, in this rendition the entire season is devoted to just one case. A mother is on trial for the murder of her baby boy, who was snatched in a kidnapping that went south. She and her husband are wrapped up in a tele-evangel church, except this being the thirties services are broadcast via the radio. Same story though, long on showbusiness, but short on religion and peopled with enough seedy characters to muddy the chances of any amateur audience sleuth. 

Not to worry though, because by the time that the final episode aired the cat had been already let out of the bag. We all knew who did it, the particulars of what they did and why they did it. Mystery solved! Except for, how is it all going to turn out? There is a sendup of the Perry Mason cliché courtroom-confession, but like everything else in this reboot, nothing is the same as before. This twisting of the genre has become an unexpected pleasure of watching this drama, seemingly all so familiar, yet new and different at every turn and always beautiful to watch.

In the end, after everything has been settled and most of the chess pieces have been removed from the board and the few that remain have also been moved, we meet Perry’s new client for next season. HBO has already green-lit this series for a second season. She is a blonde bombshell straight out of film-noir central casting, who introduces herself by saying, “I’m in trouble.” Della adds that she can pay the retainer and Perry answers her, “You’ve come to the right place.” 

Home Again

Stilt Sandpiper

Yesterday, we drove home. We got a late start leaving Ann Arbor, but still made good time and with the time change working in our favor, got home at six. A bit of rain greeted us as we crossed the Mississippi. Its only real effect was to pump up the humidity though. Welcome back to Sweat Louis! The lawn didn’t look as bad as I had feared, so no rush there. As Joanie reported, the city had removed our last Silver maple on the parking strip. I’m sure the squirrels who inhabited it thought, “What about the foreclosure moratorium?” The stump still remains and I can see that the squirrels had hollowed the heartwood down to the ground. The city should be back eventually to grind the stump away, like it did the first two.

Last night, was a dark and stormy night. Thunder and lighting were out all night long and have extended their display into today. Moments after the first rain began, I could hear the sirens wind up their wails at the nearby fire station. This occurs every time it rains. Nobody drives carefully on the highway until it’s too late. Is it just me? But the first few fat raindrops sounded like squirrel scratching when they hit the back porch. Anyway, I kept being awakened with each new round of storms.  We were rewarded in the morning with flash flood warning boxes blanketing the city. Our sump pump even got into the act.

Joanie takes in our mail while we are gone and there were a few surprises. My absentee ballot for last week’s election had eventually arrived. I had to go to the election commission to cast my ballot, because it had not shown. Surprisingly, a second ballot arrived for Anne. When I asked her, what about the other 9,998? She said that she had had China handle all of those. Our bill for the Toyota never arrived, so I’ll have to go online and try to fix that, along with straightening out many of our other bills. Most of them are already online and normally, I have no problem paying them remotely, but unfortunately I really need the laptop to do that. The bank’s iPhone app doesn’t really distinguish between the multiple accounts that we have with the same payee and I’m not about to put a ton of money down, thinking I’m paying off a credit card, when what I’m really doing is paying thirty years of rent on the safety deposit box. I’ve already done that.

My final must accomplish chore for today is to restock the larder. To that end, I placed and received grocery orders through both Instacart and Shipt. I used Shipt to backfill some of the items that Instacart couldn’t fulfill. Now our once empty icebox is reasonably filled again. There is still laundry, cooking and cleaning and it might even clear off enough for a walk. Oh and don’t forget the blog either.

Ann Arbor Interlude

Fly Fishing the Huron

For a rest day, a lot happened on Friday. Apparently too much to blog about then. We did a small hike in the next door Dolph Nature Area, read trolling for ticks. Cruised the old family homestead on Lincolnshire. Drove out Huron River Drive first to Delhi. Snuck in for lunch with Bluebirds, but got scoped by the park police. Not a problem. Snapped the pictured fly fisherman before beating feet. Cruised Dexter in our AWD PPE. Then headed back to the ranch for siesta.

Dinner at Chez Harry’s for his 93rd birthday. The menu included Jane’s signature enchiladas, Harry’s delightful salad and Anne’s angel food cake topped with strawberries and cabin blueberries. Jay hosted a zoom meeting and the boys offered their well wishes. There were presents, but Anne stole the show with the presentation of her memory, remembrance, clan Farqhuarson quilt. One half tartan and one half family photo gallery. Harry loved it! It was a big hit.

Harry Admires the Quilt

Serendipity intruded when the first friends that we made, after we first moved to Saint Louis from Ann Arbor commented on the blog last week that they now live in Ann Arbor. They live quite close to where we are staying and we arranged to meet for breakfast at nearby Zimmerman’s Roadhouse. We had a delightful conversation over coffee and pastries, catching up on old times.

In Ann Arbor, Anne read Carsick by John Waters, director of the movies Pink Flamingos and Hairspray. It was on the bookshelf at our Air B&B. In it was a gift receipt indicating that the book was to our hostess from Jane. The book recounts tale of hitchhiking across America. The story is divided into three parts, “the best that could happen”, “the worst that could happen” and “the real thing.” Anne liked the first part, found the second part disturbing (that’s Waters), but it was an episode from the third part that piqued my interest. Waters was hitching through Saint Louis and while crossing the Mississippi River was marveling at the Arch, his favorite public sculpture. He knew that he had caught a good ride, when the couple giving him the lift, told him that they had had sex in the Arch. More particularly in one of the tram cars that carry people to the top and back. These tram cars normally seat five, but on off hours it is easy to believe that a couple could get there own private car. The rub is that it only takes four minutes to get to the top. The return run is even faster, three minutes. No time for foreplay!

On our way home now. Headed back to the Lou. Looking forward to sleeping in our own bed again tonight. It’s been a great trip.