Friday, November 30, 2012

Edinburgh and Durham and some Christmas

In Edinburgh:

St Giles Cathedral

George Street

Illegal Crack.

View of city from Fran's apartment window.

Yes, please.

View from rooftop terrace.

Edinburgh, Waverly Station and all.

In Durham:

The rain caught in the lights.
Christmas lights in Durham City Center

View from my college kitchen window.

 I'm daily reminded what a joy it is to live, and have lived, in such beautiful cities.  And it's Christmas soon and I'm shocked at all I have to do and how little time there is. I was about to write that I'm feeling slightly guilty that I'm not in the Christmas mood. At home they've already gotten their tree, taken out the Christmas china, building fires, and done the majority of the Christmas shopping. The lights are out in Durham. I've already had mulled wine and mince pies. And I'm thinking, I have twelve days to finish a major body of work for my supervisor. Holy cow! [AND. I'm also trying to figure out how I can achieve all of my New Years Resolutions (which let's be honest, I probably won't) and which ones I want to do for next year.] But I look at the calendar, that it's only November 30th. November 30th! Plenty of time, especially with all the Christmas fairs, cookie baking, wassail-consuming events that will come between now and my flight home.

Happy End of November, my friends! Especially those who can now see their smooth-reflections again in the mirror. This weekend is the first of the Christmas 'ents begin! Enjoy yours xox

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My sister-- video

Check out this video my sister did with her local church. When she graduated, she wanted to save the world and move to Haiti (and definitely has the courage to do so), but when she spent a summer in SC, she found something that changed her mind. NB That scarf? Totally mine.

On letters

What are your thoughts on letters? Any quote you favor? Happy Monday, amigos xx

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How to read Russian lit

All of these are recent gifts from my immediate family.  I can't help but think how well they know and take care of me.  Not only have they provided me with some of the best books of Russian literature, but also the means to cope with them. Nostrovia, tovarishch!

Monday, November 26, 2012

How we spent Thanksgiving

This is how I spent Thanksgiving: 

Fran was up in Edinburgh, assigned there for his job. Somehow he had a half-day off work, and rather than sleeping (he worked a 18-hour day at the office the day before!) he grabbed my family recipes and cooked. Very impressive.

Jimmy [and Carrie and Fran in the glass!] in the suite

 This is how my family spent Thanksgiving:


Dad and I built these cornholes over the summer.  Ah, there's no place like home! xx

Thursday, November 22, 2012

With Thanks

[click for course]

I am grateful for life, for beauty, for the chance to see, to hear, to comprehend, to understand.  I am thankful for Durham. For the University, for the academic department, for my advisor, for the opportunity to live here, for the medieval grandeur, for the river, for daily evensong, for colleges, for cobbled streets.  For St Chad's College, for the opportunity to be a member, for the room of the MCR, for the MCR body itself, for formals, for their libraries, for their bar, for their garden, for their croquet set and unlimited amounts of tea, for the people that daily populate the premise and continue to enrich life. For old connections, for old aquaintances, for new faces, for old flatmates, for new ones, for a place that will let me keep bunnies.  For Indy and Felix, (and Annabelle), for animals that broaden life, and force one to live, directly in the moment, for their soft fur, for their habits of not-biting people, for their playful and curious natures, for their independent personalities.

I am thankful for the Church Universal, for the medieval church that set forth so many beautiful buildings and cultural practices, enriching a nation's heritage and one's view of life, for the members, past and present, who make up that body, transformed and transforming into a divine likeness.  For the Church local in Durham present in the community of the Cathedral, and the local bodies that have so warmly invited me in. For the Church in Singapore, ORPC that first showed me beauty of traditional worship and true fellowship.  For the Church in Edinburgh, Holyrood Abbey, whose insistence on practical loving grace changed me forever.  And for the great tradition of Christianity in America that resoultely and defiantly seeks truth.

I am thankful for the great love of people. For the friendships that have built, affirmed, and directed me, for those that have lasted many long years and across many countries. For the loving kindness generously bestowed upon a stranger in a foreign land.  For families that have taken me under their wing and grafted me in, for the many many meals shared under those welcome roofs, for their extravagant kindness that continually humbles me.  For the nearness and immediacy of my own family, though separated by oceans. For the inside jokes we possess, for the ability to easily laugh, and for the great desire we have to continually show love to each other.  For family traditions and for exasperating pets. For fire places and spiced tea and creakily played piano tunes. For their honesty and ability to forgive.  For all the countries we've visited together as a collective whole and for the fact that we are better for each other and better together than we are apart. I am thankful that I will see them in twenty-four days.

And I don't have time to mention all I am thankful for in Edinburgh, in North Carolina, in Georgia, Pennsylvania and beyond, for all the food that daily nourishes, for sports, for great books, for train rides, music and ideas. But. I am most thankful for hope, for in that I live daily, that which keeps all near, even that which is far away and intangible, and makes visible that which is only dimly seen. May you all be possessed by great hope this Thanksgiving day! LOVE xo

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Moby Dick!

I can't embed this video and put it on le blog, but OH HOW I WANT TO. Moby Dick has been spotted near Norway, and Ahab is in my thoughts all the time now and I want to go on a ship.


Monday, November 19, 2012

A tour of Durham Cathedral

The dean himself, far right, with cat

Last week, Chad's MCR was awarded the privilege of a private tour of the dean of the Cathedral.  It was one of those hushed, after-hours gifts, where the bustle of the Cathedral was all quiet with everyone else away.  We say the Venerable Bede, who wrote The Eccelesiastical History of the English Speaking People, a text so important to British medieval-ism.  We also saw the tomb of St Cuthbert and were told the story of how Cuthbert lived in Lindisfarne and died there.  At the time Dutch (Saxon) invaders were coming into Britain, and the route they normally used passed right through Lindisfarne.  Not very well protected, the monks took the body of Cuthbert and the book, the Lindisfarne Gospels, and travelled for years and years until they found a fortified place.  They came to Durham, with its high hill, protected by the river on three sides, and thought this sufficient, so buried Cuthbert here.  He was such a popular saint, many people began making pilgrimages from here and a church was built here. When the Normans invaded, they liked Durham as a buffer to the Scots and Cuthbert, and so built not only the Cathedral, but the Castle as well to host the Prince-Bishops. And it is because of St Cuthbert a community arose around the shrined saint and have a University here today.

Of course we weren't allowed photography inside the Cathedral, but here some of the beautiful interior of other parts of the Cathedral, namely where the Dean took us to have drinks afterwards.  A very old, but perky cat even joined us which made it all the merrier.  The dean asked us how we were adjusting to Durham.  Very well considering that these are the sorts of things granted us! 

The Bishop of Durham has been in the news lately because he has recently been appointed as the Archbishop of Canterbury.  Will have to be sure to see him in action at Durham before he leaves us.  I went to evensong last week and it was just glorious, simply wonderful. I like the thought of ending each day with evensong, when possible.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Things this week

Things this week:

1. I have an ear infection. I feel like I'm about two and swimming underwater.  Words are much harder to hear, but noises like car's zooming by or kettles boiling become enormously amplified. It's a bit hilarious and hysterical and very sad.

2. I love my students. They are just so smart and talk and I'm sure they're smarter than I am, and I know it's because they're "Durham" students, but ah! I just love them.

3. I've just gotten back from a private tour of the Cathedral for St Chads MCR. The dean is the nicest man I have ever met. So lovely and kind, and when he asked you about yourself he actually listened and cared.  He even said NC was his favorite state, so he won great kudo points there. I just may post pictures of his house later.

4. I keep getting birthday mail. I feel so loved. Thank you.

5. I set myself a ridiculous reading challenge this year. It has broadened me and challenged me and I'm flagging towards the end. And all I want to do is sit and read Anna Karenina. Or listen to it while cooking.

6. I have booked flights for Amsterdam. Sophie, I am coming to see you! I will watch Alle is Leifde everyday in preparation for coming.

7. t-33 days until I see my family. Heck yes.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Flights and faulkner

Newcastle Upon Tyne
Hello! This last week the memories that stick out is going to Newcastle.  Once to see Fran and once to go onwards and upwards as we flew to Southampton for the weekend.  We were meant to see the Civil Wars, but when the cancelled, we decided to go down anyway. It was such a good weekend. Changing cities is slow and arduous, and going back to Southampton was familiar and reassuring.  When we walked in the door, the chocolate lab Fly yelped and ran right to me, and my heart might have welled a little bit. After all, we did spend all summer together.  It was relaxing, spent with may cups of tea, fall walks, memorizing poetry, fires, and reading.  On Saturday night, we all went out for dinner which was good fun and good eats. But somehow I now have an ear infection and last night I spent most of it awake in excruciating pain debating whether or not to go to A&E. But the night soon turned to day and nothing is as bleak in the day, especially when there's a Sunday roast in the oven for a Sunday lunch. I love the tradition of Sunday lunch. The flight home proved treacherous (but not fatal) to my ear and tomorrow will go for round two to the doctors to see if I can wrestle some anti-biotics from them.

I finished some Faulkner this weekend, and missed so much my UNC course in American Literature. Or someone from the South to discuss it with.  The weekends have proved easy breathing space, but the weeks-- in facing them I usually feel like I leap up for one large gulp of air and hold my breath until the week is out.  Hope you're weekend was flipping fabulous and you're weeks just as good! xo

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

how I (h)ate lunch

Last night I really wanted to see the president elected. I kept thinking, I just have to stay awake until Ohio, because Ohio always decides elections. But no. I was fated to get a fever at 9.03 and by 10.12 I was asleep.  I woke up to the news and facebook statuses of elated and disappointed citizens. It made me feel I spend too much time on the computer. I want to spend less there. Here's to one-hour a day, pal. And having a fever all day has made me a bit delirious and I keep thinking I'm not actually in my body. I also went to the nurse and she gave my inhalers, and she was really lovely.  Her name was Jane, and I like the name Jane. It made being sick better. I also am aware I need to read more. Much more and work harder than I am.  Knowing someone who works an 8-5 each day makes me feel pretty lazy, and makes me want to be a better person.  Here's to that. Here's to reading well and making the most of my time. Here's to finding lunches that I don't despise so I can go into the library each day and work like a pro. I hate lunches. Well not lunches, sandwiches.  Sandwiches are the bane of my existence. Only if I make them. If someone else makes them, I'm alright. Usually.  I also think PhD students at one of the top three universities in the UK should get an office space that at least has a microwave. My tuition I'm sure would cover that and a person to monitor it to make sure no other humanities students came in to use the room. And food blogs. Those are just gross. No, I don't like looking at pictures of food in my spare time. Hello, lunch, why yes, I think I will skip you today. Yes, I probably will take up smoking instead. I need a few more vices, anyway. Cheers.

Sandwhiches: yes or no? XO

Monday, November 5, 2012

Fireworks and Fall

Hello! Fran's sister was here this past weekend, which was lovely! We went out to dinner in Newcastle, watched Fran's hockey match, enjoyed a gorgeous fall afternoon, attended Grey College's Fireworks, hung out in my college, and watched Return of the King. Pretty fab.  Grey had fireworks to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day which is arguably one of the best nights of the year as they toss a scarecrow into a bonfire.

We're all a bit sad as we were supposed to see the Civil Wars and Lumineers this Saturday, but they've cancelled, which is a bummer since we got the tickets back in April. But, we shall rally as there are many lovely things going on this week and in the next month leading up to Christmas to look forward to. Besides, Durham is a small city, but it's new, and they're still so much I don't know which is exciting. The weather here is cold. I'm surprised it hasn't snowed as it's below freezing at night. Stay warm, amigos! xo

Friday, November 2, 2012

Farm Deliveries

Close Farm Veg Box

Last night, my order arrived from Close Farm: an entire bag of vegetables (covered in dirt!), select fruits, local milk, eggs, and butter.  The butter was even wrapped in brown paper. It felt like Christmas. Looking up vegetable recipes, but can already feel a soup brewing in my bones.

This week has been much calmer than last, and yet the doldrums compared to next, which includes Guy Fawkes, the US elections, formals, fancy- dress dinners, and a flight to Southampton.  Fran's sister is in town this weekend and some fireworks for pre-Guy Fawkes are on the menu, and maybe even a cheeky trip to Newcastle.  I hope this means plenty of time to read as Faulkner is on my list.

Indy and Felix are as cute as can be.  I found Felix in a flower pot the other day and Indy, get this, on top of the shed. Not too pleased about that one. They love parsley (must be truly Scottish!) but I think miss fields of grass they used to have, as few plants in my garden are just to their liking.

I've gotten back into the swing of Middle English and just read one of the best romances I've ever come across.  Some days I just can't believe I get to do what I do. A very grateful, Natalie, right here.

Happy weekend! I hope you're enjoying the fall weather and it's not too cold for your liking. Keeping those affected by Sandy close in my thoughts. xo