Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Annabelle and Sam

In August 2010 my family adopted the black-lab mix, Annabelle.  My family had just moved back from the Phillippines, our old faithful black lab from childhood had died in 2008, and in the midst of my family moving back, I wanted a dog.  Nevermind I was leaving the country in a month's time.  So my mother, being the most excellent woman that she is, prayed that if we were meant to have a dog, someone would ask us if we wanted one.  Lo and behold, a week later Andrew (owner of Annabelle's sandy-colored playmate, Sam) drove by and asked mama if we wanted a black lab.  We were told it was full-blood pedigree and was going to the pound and a puppy.

When we arrived, Annabelle was tied to a post and had obviously been tied there most of her life.  She was so eager for attention, she peed in her excitement for someone to pet her.  We expected a puppy-- she was 6 months old.  We expected a full-blood lab.  Mama, who nearly became a vet, could tell by looking at her, that certainly was not the case.  She was gangly, all legs.  And she was going to the pound.

She was named Annabelle when we took her home, and it just seemed to fit, though Prancer might have been more accurate.  When we got her, she would go to pieces the minute she wasn't with us.  I'm still not certain she thinks she is a dog, as whenever she is with us, she wants to be outside, and whenever she is outside, she wants to be with us.  We're not sure she realized she wasn't human.  But then, Sam came along, and they got on like a house on fire.

Sam and Annabelle are of similar height and weight, and most mornings, they go on walks together.  In the afternoons, Sam will come by for a play-romp with Annabelle, and they are rough! They play chase, Sam will gnash her teeth and try to get Annabelle's collar.  Annabelle will pin Sam down.  After a few minutes, both dogs will suddenly stop, and look up at us, as if to ask, "Is this okay? Is this what you want us to do?"

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Hadrian's Wall

Sunday we trekked to Hadrian's Wall on an excellent recommendation from someone at church.  This happens to be the only bit of the wall one is allowed to walk on-- and not just people! The wall itself isn't very high.  If you look at that last image, that's it. Five feet maybe. But what I failed to capture is the absolute precipe on the other side, making it quite an effective defence.  Fran kept jumping from one side of the wall to the other, singing, "Now I'm a barbarian, now I'm not. Now I'm a barbarian, now I'm not." I found this exceedingly ironic considering we've each lived for the past several years quite happily as "barbarians." We were meant to walk to a pub for lunch, but the conditions were about four feet of snow with a storm brewing on the horizon. Still, it did leave the thought of a potential back-packing trip across the wall, one day, ideally with dog and brother.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Odysseus and his Dog

[Setting: Odysseus has returned home disguised so as to test those loyal to him.]

"It was Argos, long-enduring Odysseus' dog
he trained as a puppy once, but little joy he got
since all too soon he shipped to sacred Troy.
But now with his master gone he lay there, castaway.
But the moment he sensed Odysseus standing by
he thumped his tail, nuzzling low, and his ears drooped,
though he had no strength to drag himself an inch
toward his master.  Odysseus glanced to the side
and flicked away a tear.
With that he entered the well-constructed palace,
strode through the halls and joined the proud suitors.
But the dark shadow of death closed down on Argos' eyes
the instant he saw Odysseus, twenty years away."

I've been rereading The Odyssey and this is my favorite bit in the entire text. So heart-wrenching. Sometimes I wonder if affection is ever truly better displayed than in a dog. xo


An Old-fashioned M&S

St James Park on Game Day

Newcastle Cathedral

Fran's Office

At the Baltic Gallery

Gateshead Millenim Bridge

Newcastle City View

A snowy exploration of Newcastle! The Baltic Art Gallery is in an old flour mill. The art exhibit was on Jim Shaw who was rubbish. I'm still having nightmares.  Favorite part was riding the elevator up and down.  And the city view.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dream Lover

When I was home, I went to visit my 90 year old grandmother.  Dementia has set in quite badly and though quite clever at disguising it, she doesn't really remember many people.  However, she does remember the highlights of her life which would seem to be skiing, music, and dance.  When we asked her questions, she couldn't tell us how many children she had, but she could tell us every place she had ever been skiing.  In the lull in the painful conversations, she'd move her head and feet to the songs playing (she had great rhythm, boy, I bet she could dance), and even sing songs.  When I mentioned Bing Crosby, she lit up and told me how much she liked him. This song played while we were there, and she knew it, so this reminds me of her.  I realize this edition isn't quite complete, but I loved the dancing of Bobby Darin so much, I couldn't resist! Enjoy xx

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

An Encounter with Flannery

Flannery O'Conner, 1947

Today I read several thousand lines of Middle English, and by the end of reading ME, my brain tends to wilt, I can no longer spell, and I need food.  I finished my quota for today, pushed back my chair, and did one of my favorite things: exploring the stacks.  As I climbed the steps, I kept thinking, Grief, I love American Fiction. I flippin' love American writers.  And I found this strange as this is not my primary research.  There were two whole aisles dedicated to these Americans and going past them was like meeting old friends.  I pulled down poetry of Yvor Winters, delighted to discover he was not only an academic, but also a poet.  I found Melville again and my heart swelled, and I was shocked that I didn't recognize any of the secondary texts, and was affirmed again, that your research is totally based on where you study.  I passed Hemmingway, and perused long at Faulkner, disappointed I could not find Light in August. (Nor Walker Percy's The Moviegoer.) I held Absalom, Absalom! in my hand, when I lit on O'Conner.  I read the first page of her biography "Flannery O'Conner was born in Savannah, Georgia on 25 March 1925" and I was home.

I knew Flannery was a beacon of Southern writers, but I had avoided her as I had mostly encountered her in sermons.  But on mentioning Savannah, Savannah!  My favorite city in the world (the entire world) and I had never run across her name on a plaque in the oak grove full of Spanish moss nor the graveyard full of revolutionaries and pirates.  I had come across lesser names-- the woman who founded the Girl Scouts, Edward Teach, even poet Conrad Aiken, but never, not even in the giftshops, found O'Conner.

After reading the introduction, the desire for homeland, the desire for roots, the desire to be extremely Southern and not this itinerant American abroad, welled. 

Thoughts, inspired by F.O.

- I am now adamant about getting peacocks one day. And other foul. Pheasants.
- Painting. We are learning to do this, self.
- An MFA. I have never had a desire to do an MFA. NEVER.
- Rewriting work.  She rewrote and rewrote and rewrote. I think all my work is rubbish and not worth the time of rewriting.
- Aloneness. She thought that characterized her work, and what made her and Thomas Merton such friends. I find that fascinating.
- Letters between editors and their authors.
- Her MFA professor could not understand her speech.  She had to write down what she said. The link between home and the primal desire to be understood.
- Land. The great American dream.

I'll spare you the details of all I love about the South, but it's especially lovely to open a page to find that someone else not only knew the same things you do, but could write, write beautifully of things you call home. Love xo

Monday, January 21, 2013

When at home (mostly home)

Over Christmas:

When I arrived home, these two drove me to Greenville,

in order to see this one.

Lots of quality time with the dog.

And lots of quality time with a cup of (real) eggnog.

Santa brought some killer presents.

We spent time with childhood friends (and neighbors).

We attended this wedding for church friends,

and celebrated with happy sisters.

We hosted a bachelorette party,

in honor of this one's wedding (!)

enjoyed with these wonderful siblings.

We drove to see this mema

And drove to see this mom-mom.

We drove through Amish countryside,

in order to see this cousin (among others!).

And drove to Georgia to see this cousin (among others!).

I trekked down to Greenville to see Abby and have a proper American burger,

and browsed record stores.

And of course delighted to see friends, long absent.

[photos taken by Abby, Mitchell, Mom, Jayne Zook, Eve McTurk, and Sharon Miller]

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Back in Durham

Monday evening I left good ol NC and journeyed to England yet again. I've been greeted by lots and lots of snow!The flight was unnervingly short.  On my way TO America, it took ages, but on my way back, I watched two films, and BOOM, we were there. I hardly had time to sleep. I am resolved, whether right or not, that it feels like you're travelling faster when going the same direction the earth turns.  So, if I had to fly to Singapore, I'd rather go through Abu Dhabi, than through LAX.

I spent four hours in Kings Cross looking at pigeons with mangled toes. Most of them were missing appendages on their right leg.  It was hard to look away. I boarded my train, and saw fields and fields dusted with snow flash past. I finally arrived and its nice to be back, esp. to Indy and Felix. It is now -10 C and I hope they aren't too cold!

I woke up this morning trying to get all, everything done, only to be hit by jet lag at 10 am. How does that happen after a full night's rest?! I'll hope to upload feasts of photos soon, of all the splendor of being home (and being back).

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Top Ten Books 2012

Favorite Books from 2012

1. War and Peace
2. Of Mice and Men
3. Dracula
4. Catcher in the Rye
4. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
5. Sir Perceval of Galles
6. Orthodoxy
7. Lolita
8. The Sound and Fury
9. Middlemarch
10. A Shropshire Lad

Perhaps these aren't the best books I read, but they were the ones that I enjoyed the most, that caused me to think the hardest, and most likely, made me cry. xo

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

NYR 2013

Okay 2013, here we go. A sampling. 

1. Learn to drive a stick-shift and get my UK driver's license. 
2. Learn how to draw
3. Consistently work 9-5, rather than my current haphazard schedule.
4. Attend a dance class
5. Journal often
6. Significant, significant strides in Phd. 
7. Read 30 books  
8. Learn to take proper rests from work
9. Explore the North East of England
10. Visit a place I read about in a medieval text
11. Attend evensong in Durham Cathedral each day for a week, and then once a week for a month. 
12. Achieve Grade 1 on the violin
13. Write Hannah Bonner often
14. Read all Tin Tins and watch all films
15. Attend a music festival. More live music.

Do you do resolutions? Do you have any for 2013? xo

Saturday, January 5, 2013

2012 Review

Here's the monthly highlights from 2012:


FEBRUARY: Flea Market, Edinburgh

MARCH: Siblings visit and we go to Iceland

APRIL: Get to see Sanna

MAY: See Abby Graduate

JUNE: See Mitchell Graduate

JULY: Camp in Lake District

AUGUST: Feed a Giraffe

SEPTEMBER: Move to Durham

OCTOBER: Visit Iona

NOVEMBER: Tour of Cathedral with Dean

DECEMBER: Visit Sophie

There seems to be so much I missed out compared to last year's extensive review. 2012 has been a doozy! These pictures have reminded me how much I miss Edinburgh and all the wonderful people there.  Here's to hoping 2013 in Durham will be just as good! xo