I Am the Walrus

I’m about a foot shorter and slightly less blubbery, and my tusks have not come in, but my habit of lolling on the couch is pronounced.

walrus face

I could be lying atop a Greenland ice floe. A tooth-walking seahorse (Odonus rosmarus) through and through, cast-footed variety. Basically sedentary. Shellfish savoring. Laughable? Don’t people sort of snicker at walruses?

My main function these days, when I’m resisting the urge to watch past episodes of Orange Is the New Black, is to absorb information. That and try to knit a mohair bandana with a pair of metal toothpicks, willing Oliver not to drag the tiny wound-up ball of pink fluff under the coffeetable.

oliver snout

(Not successful, and I nearly rebroke the bones in my foot retrieving it.)


Walruses show affection.


There’s more where that one came from, walrus fetishists.

Aside from walrus kiss-bombs, I sourced a few more of life’s interesting details today.

1. A California man named Jerry Gretzinger has spent 50 years drawing an enormous map of a world he invented.  Hmnh, you say, don’t people do this every day? Well, maybe brainy 3rd graders do something similar on a sheet of oaktag.  But his is just so much more carefully delineated than others, did I mention 2,000 feet long, and he uses a weird deck of cards he pasted up to determine next steps he will take on the thing. Including which neighborhoods get what he calls “voided,” or just suddenly blasted out of existance.


There is a great mini doc about him, and you might want to bring home some colored pencils when you’re out today. (Note the envy in that: when you’re out today.) For more great stuff on do it yourself cartography (and moving gigantic maps) try Making Maps.

2. I never knew what was in O magazine – lists upon lists of Oprah’s fave books that were going to earn more than my books ever would? But today I checked out the September issue because we got a subscription in error. And it turned out the issue was all about hair. Here is something so inutterably weird I reread it a few times. A timeline of how glamorous hair extensions come to be. It begins with Hindu pilgrims shaving their heads at the temple Tirumala in Tiraputi, India. (I did a little further research. As many as 10,000 pilgrims get their hair shaved by 500 temple barbers every single day.) The hair is fumigated and wrapped in bundles in Bangladore, then shipped by private courier to Rome to be bleached and dyed. Six weeks later it goes to U.S. salons. After 3 to 6 months use the repurposed locks get tossed in the trash. Footnote from the same O: 90 percent of celebrities at the Academy Awards are wearing extensions – everyone except, according to one expert, children and women with pixie cuts. I guess men, too, go unextended. But who knows.

3. A lot of people consider the Hudson to be “my river.” Me too. That’s why I was surprised not to have known before that the actual start of the estuary, the southern terminus that is, is deemed by scientists to occur precisely at Manhattan’s Battery.


I knew it began down there in the Harbor someplace, but everything seemed pretty watery and diffuse to me. Now I realize that you have Hudson River Mile 0 at the Battery, the George Washington Bridge at HRM 12, the Tappan Zee at 28, Bear Mountain at 47, Beacon-Newburgh Bridge at 62, the Mid-Hudson Bridge at 75, the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge at 95, the Rip Van Winkle 114, and the Federal Dam at Troy, the head of tidewater, at 153. The tidal section of the Hudson constitutes a bit less than half the total distance – 315 miles – from Lake Tear of the Clouds to the Battery. I learned this scrap and so many other things from the State Department of Environmental Conservation’s weekly easy–to subscribe to e-newsletter, Hudson River Almanac. If you want to know how many hummingbirds appeared in someone’s yard this May, and how that compared with last year’s count, or the story of a kingfisher riding the back of a hawk, or that Atlantic blue crabs are known to rivermen as “Jimmys,”(mature males) “Sooks,” (mature females) and “Sallys (immature females), this is the place for you. I find I want to know these things.


It’s amazing what you’re ignorant of as a walrus.


Filed under Art, Culture, Dogs, Fashion, History, Home, Jean Zimmerman, Knitting, Nature, Photography, Publishing, Writers, Writing

3 responses to “I Am the Walrus

  1. Sensitive whiskers help.

  2. I will declare here that it is a safe bet that you do not weigh as much nor swim as well as any walrus. Furthermore, you have more hair.

  3. Jennifer

    God, for a walrus, you are just a fount of information. I feel like I just swam into a giant new-learning vat and emerged drenching wet and transformed.

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