Thursday, December 31, 2009

Snow in the north

Home again after a whirlwind expedition in the frozen north to my other home.  Even though I frequently complain of feeling "cold as death," I truly enjoy snow and winter air.  The night sky is breathtaking in the fierce clarity of winter cold--how the stars pierce the heart!  The trees are transformed into lumbering white beasts, and the cardinal's bright spark pops against the snowy canvas: nature's haiku.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Whistler in the snow

Driving to the airport this morning was like entering one of Whistler's Nocturnes paintings: the sky was a quiet vast blue and the snow-covered landscape blue like shadows.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Elinor and Marianne*

Today I'm thankful for my friend Jenni.

I distinctly remember the day we realized we would be good friends.  In the college cafeteria during dinner, I was talking with Ethan, a mutual friend of ours.  At some point in the conversation, I mentioned how much I liked Pride and Prejudice.  Ethan grinned and looked down the table at Jenni, who was seated a few people down, and said, "You and Jenni have a lot in common, then."  And that's how our friendship began.

We both love reading and Jane Austen, art and cheese, the fall season and tea.  We're both very curious about a lot of things, especially anything British (Harry Potter, the Regency Era, high tea, you name it), and explore this curiosity together. We've done some silly things in the past, such as construct a fort out of blankets, chairs, and tables in the common room of our dorm.  We've dressed up for the first Lord of the Rings movie premiere, the Jane Austen Festival, and the Ladies' Historical Tea Society Halloween tea.  We've tripped our way through some Regency era dances and tried treacle tart (she made it, I helped her eat it).  And now we're sharing in the joy of planning trips to Great Britain, even if we're not going together (someday, though).

If that isn't a kindred soul, I don't know what is.

*It should be clear which one I am.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Friends through words

I'm continuing with the theme of thanksgiving, even if Thanksgiving is come and gone. 

Today I'm thankful for my friend Dwain.  I met him my freshman year in college.  I'm not really sure how our paths crossed, or why he even put up with me that year (I was still adjusting to life in college hours from home and family and rather melancholy about it), but I'm glad he did.

We share a common interest in literature and a rather ironic cynical view of life.  While we get along quite well in person, I would say that our friendship has largely been one of letters, even in this internet saturated world that we live in.  When we were first getting to know each other, we used IM a lot.  Now we keep up with each other in our blogs, responding to each other's posts and comments.  We're both writers at heart, and this is part of what has fueled our friendship: the exchange of ideas through words.

We also have one of those different kinds of friendships: the friendly agreement to disagree.  I don't always realize how nice this is: to have a friend who will listen, really listen to you, even if he may disagree with you. How else do you grow?

Some random memories:
  • staying up late on IM, when we probably should have been resting up for classes the next day, excitedly discussing the recent announcement that Lord of the Rings would soon begin filming.  We shot messages back and forth, debating Sean Connery as Gandalf or Mel Gibson as Aragorn.
  • Sitting on the green in the middle of the college grounds, hotly debating Jane Austen (I was pro and he was con, if I remember correctly), during which Dwain told me that I reminded him of Emma.  To this day, I have no idea why.  But, anyways, I very recently had the last laugh when he admitted that he liked Pride and Prejudice.
  • When I saw him a couple months ago, when he and his family were in the states, he complimented my writing, calling it organic and imbued with nature and said he enjoyed reading my blog very much.  A very nice encouragement, and one that made quite plain to me how I write, and perhaps a direction I should make sure I follow.
These memories are all rather me-centered, but illustrate how good a friend Dwain is. 

Monday, December 07, 2009

Vikings and ancestral land

I've made the executive decision* to replace Lechlade Manor with a day and a night in York instead.  For the past several weeks, I've been wondering whether one house (even if it's William Morris's house) is worth all the effort of getting there (bus from Lacock to Chippenham, train to Swindon, bus to Lechlade, walk 3 miles along the Thames River), as well as the fact that we'd be sacrificing a day to just one point of interest.  If you're unsure whether you'll ever return to a place, you want to make sure you've gotten your money's worth.  And I'm not sure one house (where we'd probably only spend 1-2 hours wandering) is worth it.

So why York?  I was swayed when I read about the Shambles, a rather well-preserved street from the medieval era, complete with leaning upper stories that look as if they're straining to kiss.

Some of my ancestors are from North Yorkshire (they emigrated from Marrick, a former lead mining village), and York is as close as I can get.  I was also intrigued to discover that, during the 9th century, Vikings actually set up house in the area during one of their repetitive invasions, establishing the Kingdom of Jorvik

I just keep finding more and more things in Great Britain that I want to see.

*J. is ambivalent about travel planning As long as we get to stay in mountains, he doesn't care one way or the other. I'm pretending this was an executive decision.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

We went to Alabama to spend Thanksgiving with J.'s sister and her brood of animals (3 dogs and 2 cats).  J.'s mother and sister are excellent cooks, so the thanksgiving feast was a  pleasure to eat.  I never liked (and couldn't really stand the sight of) green bean casserole, which was usually composed of a variety of canned items (limp green beans, gelatinous cream of mushroom, sickly looking crunchy onions) until J.'s sister transformed my opinion.  She makes things from scratch, and I got to observe as she personally carmelized the onions down to sweet brown yumminess, simmered mushrooms in real cream, and combined the whole lot with fresh green beans into one pot where, under the powers of her alchemical cooking prowess, they somehow transformed into a dish with a complex, richly layered taste.

Our time in Alabama was a lazy conglomeration of sleeping in late (or, in my case, trying to), chatting, eating, cooing over Walter, J.'s sister's sweet King Charles spaniel (and the rest of the animals, of course), playing video games, eating and more eating, losing dogs and regaining them, chatting, and more eating.  The ladies tried our hand at embroidering, and the results didn't turn out too bad. J.'s mother felt inspired by this post at Posie Gets Cozy and wanted us to try it out.

A good time was had by all.