Happy Friday, my dear friends! The sun is shining and tis a fantabulous day!

Had a fantastic time at the Bisexual Oxford Meet 'n' Greet last night... followed by some quality alone time with the wonderful [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth and then some more with the charming [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip. All in all, a pleasant way to spend an evening!

Today has been mostly centered on work -- a very busy day in which we outlined the goal that one of my students needs to reach for her PhD thesis and in which I made significant progress on a proposal draft. To wind down from this, I grabbed ice cream with the lovely [livejournal.com profile] pinkoi and finally met her spiffy partner, T!

Now I am off to Banbury for a weekend of boating with TH on the Walden III. This weekend last year, I joined him for two days of cruising along the Thames; this time around we will be making our way along the canal! Should be fun!

Don't have time for much more, gentle readers, as I have to catch my train! Back Sunday night -- have fun! In the meantime, I leave y'all with one more picture from our Scotland trip. Apart from the travelogues, this is the last one I inflict on you -- I promise! The picture below is of the Eilean Donan Castle, located in Loch Duich and home of the Clan Macrae. If the castle looks a touch familiar to you, there may be a reason for it -- this is the castle that was used in the filming of Highlander. Not sure how the Clan MacLeod feels about this... as their own home base is Dunvegan Castle, located on the Isle of Skye![*] Anyway, my friends, I give to you the last randomly inserted picture from my Scotland trip -- the Castle Eilean Donan:

[*] Although, to be fair, I am not at all sure how the MacLeods feel about Highlander at all!

And so nearly a fortnight of being back home in England draws to a close. Having returned from Japan nearly two weeks ago, my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I are off on holiday for the next ten days... during which we will be having a great big road trip exploring Scotland. I do have a name to live up to, after all! Wouldn't want the Naming Board to strip me of being Nomad -- I've gotten quite used to it in the past nine years since adopting the moniker as my own!

Technically speaking, we have already been to Scotland -- as documented here (and here). Somehow, though, I don't really think those "trips" count. Ever since moving across the pond four years ago, we have deliberately put off visiting Scotland until we could do it properly. That time has now arrived! With a bank holiday weekend falling so close to the Summer Solstice, the time is right to head up North and have ourselves a little adventure!

The last two weeks in England have been full of their own little adventures -- from exploring Magic Roundabouts in Swindon, Hemel Hempstead, and High Wycombe; to climbing Gloucester Cathedral; to visiting the Roman ruins of Verulamium; to jumping off of twenty-five foot bridge into a river! Alas, being a bad bad LiveJournaler, these tales have not been properly told -- and may never be!

One particular adventure from the past fortnight does deserve mention, though! My darling [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip and I had our first experience flying gliders last weekend! It was, in a word, awesometacular!!! Here are a few quick photographs to document the experience:

Bunnypip gets her first lesson in gliding!

Your friendly neighbourhood Nomad in the driver's seat!

The view from 2000 feet!

Self portrait -- Nomad surveys his domain!

We had such a fantastic time that plans are already in the works to take to the skies again! More on that later, though -- for now, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat is ready to roll... so, Scotland, here we come!
Today promises to be a long day. Thirty-two hours long, to be precise! This is, of course, due to the time change! I am still in Tokai... but four hours hence, I leave Masago -- the dormitory for foreign visitors at J-PARC[*] -- and start making my way back to Oxford. This afternoon, my darilng [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip and the lovely [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth will be meeting me at Heathrow; this evening, my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip and I will be going to the cinema; tomorrow, I shall be driving the Magic Roundabout in Swindon and visitng the tomb of Edward II in Gloucester Cathedral!

Although the volcano effect caused this trip to be shorter than originally planned, it has still been a fantastic experience! An excellent balance has been achieved between working in an old and familiar environment (i.e., Mozumi and Super-Kamiokande), taking time off to explore and sightsee (i.e., Kanazawa and Takayama), and working in a new and active environment (i.e., Tokai and J-PARC). I am feeling like this was a productive trip and -- even better -- I am feeling enthused and invigorated for continuing the work when I return to Merry Olde England!

Additionally, I have been invited to make yet another presentation. As already mentioned here, at the Oxford University Astronomy Weekend last month, I was invited to co-run the 2011 Oxford University Cosmology Day (in October 2011) and reprise my "Neutrino Astronomy" talk at the opening of the next weekend gathering of the British Astronomy Association (in April 2011). Combined with the request from the Cody Astronomy Society to return for a second lecture, I had already thought my speaking plate was rather full. However, as the saying goes: If you want something done, as a busy person! I have now also been asked to co-run the 2010 Oxford University Cosmology Day, which has the theme of "Particles and Cosmology". Four lectures -- two by me and two by my co-conspirator. This will be held in Oxford just six days before the start of P**T***, a Pagan festival with triple digit attendance that [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I are organising this year. Naturally, I accepted the invitation!

Must run now and start packing! Hope to see some of you very soon!

[*] The Japan Proton Accelerator Research Complex, which is where we make the neutrinos that are fired at Kamioka.

To borrow a phrase from the great Inigo Montoya: Let me 'splain. ..... No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

This weekend saw an extended visit from the beautiful [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip and L2; they arrived on Thursday evening and stayed until Monday afternoon -- ostensibly to see me off on my way to Japan.[*] It was good to get in a nice chunk of co-parenting time... and the four day visit made this possible, even with another major event going on.

Speaking of that major event -- the 32nd annual Oxford Univeristy Astronomy Weekend -- my presentation on "Neutrino Astronomy" went quite well. The physics-fu remains strong within me! When the talk ended, I received quite a number of questions at a wide range of sophistication -- all of which I feel I fielded quite well. After the formal question period ended for the tea break, I continued to have people approach me to ask more!

As a special treat, both my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip were in the audience for this lecture. We have a long-standing tradition that, whenever I speak, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat always attends if she can[**]; however, this was the first time that [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip has really seen me in a professional capacity. I believe that she was not disappointed.

This weekend was the third consecutive year that I had been invited to speak at the Astronomy Weekend... and I must confess to being more than a little pleased at being the only speaker ever to accomplish this! It was largely by popular demand -- after my talk on Cosmic Rays: Messengers from the Extreme Universe last year, many people wrote on their feedback forms that they wanted me to return! Several people were disappointed to learn that I will not be coming back next year.[***] However, I have already broken the record for presentations and, more importantly, I have nothing left to say! I have done research on three topics in particle astrophysics -- dark matter, cosmic rays, neutrino astronomy -- and now I have presented a lecture on all three of them!

Truth be told, I would be somewhat disappointed about not returning next year... were it not for two parallel developments. One is that I have been invited to reprise my "Neutrino Astronomy" presentation as the opening talk of the British Astronomy Association's next residential weekend. Previously, I have been invited to speak to the Newbury Astronomy Society and the Cody Astronomy Society... but this is a step up! The British Astronomy Association is Britain's leading organisation for observational astronomy![****]

The other interesting development is that, although RL -- the organiser for the Oxford Astronomy Weekend -- cannot invite me back for a fourth year... he did ask me if I would be interested in being the one of two organisers for the annual Oxford University Cosmology Day in 2011! Although this is very different than being asked to open the BAA's next weekend, this is also a very important step upwards -- just in a different direction![*****]

All of this is most excellent news and I am rather pleased. Besides doing research, I also feel called to present physics & astronomy to lay audiences -- and I believe that I have quite the talent for doing so!

If that were not enough, I stayed at the Oxford Astronomy Weekend for all of Saturday and Sunday -- as is usual for me. In doing so, I got to hear a wealth of other interesting talks on a variety of subjects: Searching for exoplanets, some of which may be like Earth; imaging the moon in unique ways; astrochemistry and the origins of life in space; and the next generation of research telescopes! Plus I got an up close look at rocks from both the moon and Mars! Spiffy!

Once again, the Oxford Astronomy Weekend was an excellent experience... and I am quite excited about the new experiences that this year's talk is going to lead me to!

Finally, as per a request from my dear friend [livejournal.com profile] xirpha, the slides to my "Neutrino Astronomy" lecture can be found here. Share and enjoy!

[*] More on this later, in Part Two of the series.

[**] And, of course, I do the same for her when she gives an academic presentation!

[***] At least to present. I am tempted to come along to hear the other talks, because they are always interesting!

[****] Indeed, they say so themselves!

[*****] "On a different staircase", if I may extend the metaphor...

The countdown to Japan continues apace. In preparation, I had a phone meeting on Friday afternoon with my partner-in-crime colleague RT. On finishing that call, my weekend officially began!

The weekend fun started off with the arrival of my beautiful [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip. We shared some quality alone time in the Flat With No Name before heading out to meet the charming [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat at Gloucester Green; once united we hit Angry Thai[1] for a yummy dinner! I find their pad thai to be particularly delicious!

After our heroes were properly nourished, they made their way to the Oxford Playhouse for the evening's entertainment. This week's show -- my ninth of the year -- was Sweet Charity[2]. Alas, we forgot to bring the crackers... which was quite a shame because they would have gone so well with all the cheese! I liked the show and am glad that I saw it -- several of the songs were quite good, Bob Fosse's choreography is always enjoyable[3], the corny humour made for some wonderful laughs... and the costumes made for some very delicious eye-candy! Still, having seen it once, I don't think that it is a piece that I need to see again; it was cute, but not terribly compelling. As I mentioned to my lovely companions afterward: "The list of my top five favourite musicals..... is completely unchanged."

Heading home after the theatre, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip and I read the final three acts of Kit Marlowe's Edward II[4], in preparation for seeing it at Oriel College on Thursday. I am still utterly amazed at how blatant the homosexuality[5] is in this piece! Quite different from Shakespeare, where characters like Antonio are probably gay[5]... but not explicitly so. Overall, the play shows off Marlowe's classical education quite extensively... though it is not as subtle as some of his other works. Nonetheless, I've not seen a Renaissance history play in some time, so I am quite looking forward to this production.

After finishing the play, it was after one o'clock in the morning. Thus, we all went off to bed and, eventually, sleep.

On Saturday morning, [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip and I woke at nine, then made our way to the Barton Pool. We hopped in and she swam the breast stroke for a new personal record whilst I front-crawled for my usual mile.

Back at home, we showered, ate breakfast, and packed. As we did so, we were joined by the marvelous [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth and the xtreme [livejournal.com profile] xmakina. Then off we went to the quaint little town of Hitchin, where [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth and [livejournal.com profile] xmakina went exploring whilst [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat, [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip,[6] and I attended a performance of Henry Purcell's British opera Dido & Aeneas. This was my tenth theatrical performance of 2010... and it made for a nice counterpart to seeing Sweet Charity the night before -- on Friday, we saw a 1960s musical; on Saturday, we saw a 1690s musical!

After the show, we all reconvened and made our way to Nottingham, to attend the birthday party of the fabulous [livejournal.com profile] fire_kitten![7] This was gangs of fun and involved good food, good company, good conversation, and many cuddles! I met many lovely new people, some of whom are newly added to my LJ f-list. Yes, I'm looking at you [livejournal.com profile] lost_house and [livejournal.com profile] dragonmamma. Of particular enjoyment was the musical theatre singalong that spontaneously erupted late Saturday night in the library![8] As we talked and sang, I watched the birth of a Totoro, crocheted by the talented [livejournal.com profile] lost_house! Hooray! It was well past three in the morning before we all finally passed out. There are far worse ways to end an evening than snuggled up between [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip in a king-sized bed!

On Sunday, I had a lie in until after ten o'clock. Then it was downstairs for breakfast and more fun! Some of that fun involved an Easter egg hunt in the backyard! Yay! Eventually, around half one, our tribe gathered into Peter II and we made our way back to Oxford, dropping [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth and [livejournal.com profile] xmakina off in Eynsham en route.

Back at the Flat With No Name, [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip and I snagged some quality alone time before we needed to leave -- her to London and me to St. Giles to ring bells for Sunday evening services. I managed to practice my Plain Bob Minor with a nice touch, as well as continue learning my Stedman Doubles.

Finally, I returned home once again and spent some lovely time reconnecting with my darling [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat. It was a wonderful way to end an excellent evening. After we finished, I curled up in bed with my current book -- Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair -- and read myself to sleep.

Overall, a most excellent few days -- a very nice mix of activities! Twas also a fantastic way to spend my last full weekend in Merry Olde England.[9]

[1] Okay, to be quite honest, the restaurant is called "Angrid Thai". However, it has quickly become rechristened in our circles...

[2] Bom bom BOM!

[3] Particularly the tap dancing. For some reason I find myself especially fond of his tap dancing.

[4] Technically, it is Marlowe's The Troublesome Reign and Lamentable Death of Edward the Second, King of England, with the Tragical Fall of Proud Mortimer... but, between friends, we will call it Edward II, yes?

[5] Or bisexual.

[6] Note the Oxford comma, those of you who clicked "What is it??" in my previous poll.

[7] Thus making six consecutive weekends of parties! Whilst it has been great fun, the warm weather and sun is calling me to get out and explore more. Thus, I am quite excited that I will be breaking the streak of party weekends when I fly out to Japan this coming Sunday.

[8] With the lead pipe.

[9] Until I return from Japan in mid-May, that is!

Live from the Flat With No Name.... iiiiit's Friday evening!

Okay, maybe that needs work.

In any case, before I head out for a date with my darling [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip, here is a quick review of the past week:

Saturday was the long-awaited Oxford BiFest! I believe that we can count it as a success -- eighty-three people attended, about half of whom were new. Looks like our outreach campaign paid off! Back in September, when we began planning for a BiFest, somebody told us that you just get the venue and the rest mainly runs itself. Hah -- I don't think so! It took an awful lot of work to pull this off... but pull it off we did!

We arrived about at ten o'clock, about an hour early, and had barely enough time to complete our set-up before BiFest opened for business. In the first workshop slot, I ran an icebreaking "Fun & Games" session that went very well. We played a name game, Bag of Nouns, and I love you, Honey. In the second session, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I co-facilitated a discussion of "Relationship Styles & Structures" that had to be very quickly modified when we realised that there was not a single monogamous person in the room! For the third workshop space, I took it easy and attended [livejournal.com profile] oilrig's "Allies & Friends" session -- it turned out to be quite a nice workshop when not being consistently derailed by one man with an attitude and an agenda[**].

In the evening, I coordinated a pizza run for fourteen people. Thanks to the Fat Boyz special -- buy one medium or large pizza, get one free -- we had a mountain of pizza! More than we could eat -- I bumped everyone requesting a small up to a medium as it would actually be cheaper for them -- and at a pretty reasonable price! Five pounds per person! Then I joined [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth's "Slow Dating" social session before making my way onto the disco floor.

The event wrapped up at eleven, though it was nearly midnight by the time we organiser-types were done with cleanup... and after one by the time I was done giving rides. Actually, after two -- as the clocks had just changed. Exhausted, I collapsed into bed to grab a few hours of sleep before.....

Sunday morning, I woke up early -- about eight -- and got ready to ring bells for Church services at St. Andrews. Then it was off to city centre to host two walking tours, unofficially offered as an extension of Oxford BiFest. The tours -- each three hours long -- were both better attended that I had thought. The first took place outside, showcasing the highlights of the City of Dreaming Spires. We passed Carfax, Christ Church, the Radcliffe Camera, the Bodleian Library, the Martyr Memorial, and much more. The second tour was a "museum crawl" that took in the Oxford University Natural History Museum, the Pitt Rivers Museum, and the Museum of the History of Science. It ended slightly earlier than planned, as most participants had gone on both tours and -- after nearly six hours of walking[***] -- folks were starting to get tired. So, just before five o'clock, I took of my Oxford BiFest organiser badge and considered the event to be officially over.

In the evening, we had a tribe pow-wow at the Flat With No Name for a couple of hours, then made our weekly pilgrimage to Atomic Burger for dinner. After this, it was about eleven o'clock in the evening, so people made their way home and I wound down for the night after a long and active weekend.

Monday's main accomplishment -- by far -- was completing the draft of my proposal to obtain some Super-Kamiokande data. Huzzah! Progress is being made!

In the evening, the Bisexual Oxford Organising Committee met for a debriefing of our BiFest. The group is definitely becoming more formal, with various roles and structures being more clearly defined. I see no problem in this, as our basic structure is still non-hierarchical. My new role is that of the group Treasurer -- a responsibility that plays nicely to my natural strengths. Seizing the momentum of our recent success, new projects have been launched... although I am deliberately staying in the background for now. My next big organising project is running P**T*** 2010 -- and I intend to do the best job possible with it! Having been part of the P**T*** community for thirteen years now, I am honoured to have been trusted with the role of President of the Institute... and, with Oxford BiFest completed, this will be a major focus for me from now through October!

Tuesday's main task was to write and deliver a half hour masterclass on neutrinos to about one hundred fifty high school students. Writing the talk on the same day was somewhat stressful; by waking at five o'clock in the morning, I managed to pull it off before I had to speak at 15:45. Indeed, I even had minutes to spare! Special mention of my thesis work on supernova relic neutrinos was made, of course! As a reward for a job well done, I had a lovely evening date with the delightful [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth in Winchester!

Wednesday saw me give a lecture to the Cody Astronomy Society, talking to an audience of about thirty educated laypeople on the mysteries of Ultra-High Energy Cosmic Rays. The talk was very well received, with a large number of questions. I impressed even myself by being able to field all of them quite handidly! Once the lecture ended, I was treated to a tour of their observatory facilities... including their crown jewel: a six inch Carl Zeiss refractor on an extremely solid equatorial mount in a lovely dome! Very nice, indeed!

Thursday involved a whirlwind of productivity, as I beat back the mountain of small tasks that had been piling up before BiFest. Fear my mighty skills for dealing with minutia. In the evening, my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I went to see Ibsen's Hedda Gabler at the Oxford Playhouse. This was the eighth play that we have seen this year... and it was an excellent production! Certainly provided a lot of food for thought -- I may need to see more of Ibsen's work in the near future! The only other piece by him that I am aware of currently is A Doll's House, which everyone knows!

Friday is today. Had a nice lie in, and have since been taking care of various and sundry. Finished watching season eight of Smallville with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat.[****] Found reasonably priced affordable tickets to Seoul for May. And, shortly after posting this, I am off to the Leveret Warren to spend a lovely evening with the even lovelier [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip!

On that note, I should run, gentle readers! I hope that the Week-in-Review -- never the most interesting genre of post -- did not bore too much. At least you have something to read in the evening, dear friends, if sleep does not come easily! Fare well... and a very merry Good Friday to all!

[*] Quick -- run! Hide!

[**] As happened at Brighton BiFest 2009.

[***] Each tour being three hours long. Thankfully, no one named Gilligan signed up.

[****] I found it very interesting to watch this today. Particularly when Clark Kent, worried about his upcoming battle with Doomsday, talks about how his father told him that it is his duty to sacrifice himself to save mankind. Sound familiar, anyone?

anarchist_nomad: (Mailbox Madness!)
( Mar. 26th, 2010 11:55 am)
Four years ago right now, my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I landing in London to begin our lives here in England.

Hard to believe it has been so long, really. I have lived in seven places; Oxford now ranks third, in terms of longevity. It has passed Phoenix, Arizona (2 years); Osawano, Japan (2 years); Chicago, Illinois (2.5 years); and Amherst, Massachusetts (just under 4 years). If I am still here in one more year, it will displace Long Island, New York (just under 5 years) and move into second place. Moving into the top slot would involve displacing New York City (17.5 years), where I grew up. That is not likely to happen any time soon...

Meanwhile, here in Oxford, I survived the Day O' Many MeetingsTM and am now doing my share of putting the final pieces into place for Oxford BiFest! One day more! How did that happen?? Anyway, it should be lots of great fun; we have a fantastic team and a most excellent venue -- our BiFest is going to rock! In between BiFest preparations, I also have a T2K document to finish today. Add to that a talk on neutrino physics to prepare for an audience of students at Imperial College London on Tuesday and a talk on ultra-high energy cosmic rays to present to the CODY Astronomy Society on Wednesday. All I can say is that I am glad next weekend is a long one! I'm going to need a day or two to recover... by which I don't mean "rest" so much as "catch up on my normal work."

It has been a pretty good week here. Since my previous update about the Life of Nomad, I have been doing my best to stay fairly active:

On Tuesday evening, I went to the pool and swam a mile, then had my monthly massage appointment. This was followed up with bell ringing at St. Andrew's Church, complete with more practice of Stedman Doubles. Finally, I ended the evening by driving to Northamptonshire for a lovely date with the even-lovelier [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip!

On Wednesday morning, I took the four youngest leverets through their morning routine and then dropped them off at school. Alas, when it was time to go in, L4 took my hand and said something that sounded to me like "cake and biscuit". Not knowing what he was talking about, I assured him that he could have cake and biscuits later... but now it was time for him to go to class and me to go to work. I was later made aware that, on Wednesday mornings, parents can go in for "Book & Biscuit", which involves reading to the children and eating... well, you get the idea. Had I known, I would have gone in with him. However, I know now... so I can do it next time.

On Wednesday evening, my darling [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I went to see Jean Anouilh's Antigone at the Oxford Playhouse. This makes the seventh theatre outing that we have had this year. We seem to be a touch behind, compared to the last two years. Ah, well -- the year is still young; we shall catch up! I enjoyed the show very much, although I had not quite realised before how utterly emo Antigone is! Oi! Also, I was amused that this is the second show I have seen this year featuring the character of King Creon of Thebes[*]. When the show ended, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I rounded out our theatre date by getting dinner at a relatively new Thai restaurant in the city centre.

On Thursday evening, I had a brief respite from the never-ending meetings by going to ring bells at St. Giles. The most significant thing about this practice was that I made my first (and second) attempt at ringing Stedman Triples. Since the triples method is not terribly different from the doubles, it went relatively well. My Stedman still needs quite a bit of work, of course, as I have only been ringing it for eight days now. Still, I am very much enjoying the process of learning a completely new method! As much as my Grandsire and Plain Bob need work -- and they very much do -- it is nice to try something different!

That brings us to the present once more, my dear friends. Which means that I should put the computer down... and get back to work and preparing for Oxford BiFest! I hope that all of you are having the most excellent of Fridays... and I am quite excited to see many of the UK portion of my f-list tomorrow!! HUZZAH!

[*] The first being a very different Creon in Medea

Oxford BiFest is now only four days away! After six months of planning and preparing, we throw open our doors in ninety-two more hours! Excellent! It looks like we will get a good turnout, and hopefully our focus on outreach to new people, rather than just the existing members of the community, will pay off! I am quite excited!

Meanwhile, there are also three point seven two bazillion things that need doing. For BiFest, for my upcoming trip to Japan next month, for the talk talks that I need to give next week (on neutrino oscillation physics on Tuesday and cosmic ray physics on Wednesday), for the neutrino astronomy lecture that I need to give in a couple of weeks. Never a dull moment... but, then again, that is the way I like things! Dull moments are... well... dull.

Speaking of non-dull moments, last night I rang bells at St. Aldates. It was an impressive practice -- fourteen people packed into that six bell tower! Besides some basics, like ringing a covering tenor, I got to practice my Plain Bob Minor in preparation for a quarter peal later this year... and I got a second chance to attempt Stedman Doubles.[*] Having looked it over a bit more by now, I understand much more. I know about the different types of front work, I know what a "whole turn" and a "half turn" are, et cetera. So I rang it much better than I had last week... though it is still quite rough and in need of more work. That will come in time. Right now, just seeing the progress on this new method is making me rather bouncy and happy!

I think that is all the news that is fit to print right now. Must run, as I will try to get in a swim before my afternoon appointments[**]... then, in the evening, it is off to spend the night with my darling [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip at the Leveret Warren!

[*] The first being at St. Giles last Thursday.

[**] This might be overly optimistic, given today's packed schedule. Still, there is always tomorrow afternoon if I cannot find the time today.

We interrupt this LJ entry[**] to bring you an important announcement that is only relevant for Oxonians. If you do not live in Oxford, feel free to skip the next paragraph.

Hear ye, here ye, fellow Oxfordians! I bring you tidings of great opportunity! On this Wednesday -- March 24th -- my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I shall be seeing the Oxford Theatre Guild perform a version of Sophocles's classic tale, Antigone. This particular version is a modern adaptation, written by Jean Anouilh and first performed in Nazi occupied Paris. We have excellent seats and, as chance would have it, we have one extra ticket. Free Wednesday evening? Fancy coming along? Just let me know and that ticket is yours!

As promised yesterday, here is the Official What I Did At The Weekend Post. Because all the cool kids are doing them... and I am always the first to conform![***]

Friday evening, my darling [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip drove down to join [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I for a production of Graham Greene's The Ministry of Fear at the Oxford Playhouse. The show itself was quite good... though [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip and I spent the first act trying to make sense of the plot. [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat was unfazed, explaining that it was film noir and would all become clear later. Which, to her credit, it did. Still, at one point in the first act, the main character confusedly exclaims: "I don't understand what's happening? I leaned in to [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip and murmured: "He's not the only one."

After the show ended, we made our way to Cowley to get food at the new Atomic Burger joint. This is our third visit in three weeks -- I think we may have a new addition to our list of favourite places to eat in Oxford! Huuzah!

Saturday morning, [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip and I enjoyed a nice lie-in. When we finally began moving, all three of us made our way into town again, as the Oxford Literary Festival was beginning. I swung by Christ Church to pick up our tickets, then met my two sweeties at Corpus Christi for a lecture on Shakespeare, Sex, and Love by the highly accomplished Professor Stanley Wells, CBE. The lecture itself was rather impressive, though his ability to answer questions afterward was less so. Case in point: I asked how one differentiates sexual subtext that Shakespeare deliberately wrote into his plays from subtext added after the fact by people interpreting his work. The answer? "It's difficult. You have to do research." Um, thanks for that elucidating response!

Saturday evening, my dear [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip and I made our way into London to attend this year's "God Is" Easter party. The theme was 80s music... so she dressed as Fade to Grey and I put on some red, white, and blue -- plus a star-shaped belt buckle -- to go as Born In The U.S.A. I also get automatic credit for being Walk Like an Egyptian... because I always do! It was good to see people, though the party itself was..... underwhelming. This was my second "God Is" party -- the first being two years ago -- and I remember that one as having more excitement and more going on. Ah, well. They can't all be spectacular. We left left around half one and returned to the Flat With No Name just before four... as a "can you give me a lift, it's on your way" request morphed into an hour's detour. Ooops!

Sunday, our coven celebrated Oestara with a ritual written by Darelle. I was quite proud of her, as this was only the second ritual that she has written... and the first for a group of more than two! It was well done, containing a narrative, a guided meditation, and some tarot work. So hooray for her on this significant spiritual milestone!

So that was the weekend that was. Time to go splat now, as tomorrow is shaping up to be a rather busy day. Somehow, my [infamous] to-do list has crept back up to 125 items[****]... with thirty of them for tomorrow! I'll need a full night of sleep -- and maybe a can of spinach -- to tackle all of that successfully!

[*] Or Wednesday.

[**] Before it has even begun! (Impressive, huh?)

[***] Or something.

[****] Not quite breaking the record of 141... but coming frighteningly close! Eeeep!

This coming Saturday is my birthday. As such, I have been planning a weekend of fun to celebrate. Apparently, my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat beat me to the punch.

Last Saturday was my surprise party. And what a surprise it was! Shortly after New Year's, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat told me to block off the entire weekend for something that she was organising. Very mys-TEEEER-ious! All I knew at first is that the lovely [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip would be coming along, too.

No problem. I blocked off the days and thought little about it. Until -- bit by bit -- it kept coming up. The adorable [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth mentioned knowing what was planned and assuring me that I would enjoy it. She would be at the Pride march in Brighton on that day, though. The ever-awesome [livejournal.com profile] xmakina asked if we could hang out, as [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth would be out of town; I told him he needed to consult with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat... as she was in charge of the scheduling for the weekend. In the end, it turned out that getting together in the morning would work... before the Cat and the Bunny and I had our evening plans.

Time passed and hints continued to come my way. [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip mentioned needing to do preparation. This meant "bake a cake"... but [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat covered it by saying that [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip needed to read the play -- making out like we had tickets to a special performance of something. This became odder on Friday, when [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip said: "Why is my kitchen a mess? I can't tell you." To borrow a phrase from Alice: Curiouser and curiouser!

Come Saturday morning, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat went to get crunched and the chiropractor and I went to meet [livejournal.com profile] xmakina in the city centre. He played his part -- that of the distraction -- beautifully! I had no clue what was going on. Texts from [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth convinced me that she was in Brighton -- not Oxford! [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat claimed to need a nap, requiring that I call before coming home. Very clever! Unwittingly, I held up [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip by calling to chat when she was on her way to Oxford. Ooops!

Eventually, [livejournal.com profile] xmakina and I returned to the Flat With No Name. [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat greeted us sleepily at the door in her bathrobe. [livejournal.com profile] xmakina requested a drink, which I went to fetch........ and -- of course -- was greeted with a rousing SURPRISE!!!

Well done, everyone!

The party was well set up for your friendly neighborhood Nomad: The helium balloons were red and black -- one of my two favourite colour combinations. The cake had an Iron Man head on it. Mini-rockets -- instead of candles -- were used to mark the decades on the cake! There was also a karaoke set ready to be hooked up to our telly. Excellent planning!

Giving me an early welcome to my thirty-sixth year was [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat, [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip, L2, [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth, [livejournal.com profile] xmakina, [livejournal.com profile] wolfpeach (with a small in tow), [livejournal.com profile] topbit, [livejournal.com profile] pinkoi, and [livejournal.com profile] hughe. This gave us enough people to bring out the party games -- hooray!

We started off with the awesometacular Bag o' Nouns[*]. With two teams of four, ours won... but barely! We then moved on to Apples to Apples which, amazingly enough, I won! I enjoy A2A... but am not usually very good at it! I ended with seven cards; apparently I am: obnoxious, insulting, depressing, miserable, unreal, philosophical... and colourful! Whee!

By popular demand, we then returned to Bag o' Nouns. This time, the teams were off balance -- five to four. Not surprisingly, our team -- with five -- won... but it doesn't really matter, as a great time was had by all! Next game was Saboteur, which [livejournal.com profile] hughe won. I ended up as a saboteur in two of the three rounds; I think I work best when I don't have to lie.

Afterward, we took a break from gaming to get some food and sing some karaoke. After L2 and I began with some solos -- I sang Billy Joel's Uptown Girl -- it evolved into a group sing-a-long. With [livejournal.com profile] da_pupdetz as the backup singers. And many excellent dance moves! Wunderbar!

In the evening, we broke out The Shinnin'[**]. [livejournal.com profile] topbit was eventually revealed as the traitor... and proceeded to kill me then marry off my ghost. Ooops! It was a close game, though! If the spectral wedding had not concluded when it did, [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth would have charged in to save the day!

Finally, too tired to game any further, we sat around and chatted until stupid o'clock in the morning. Then I drove the last guests home and snuggled into bed with my beautiful [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip. Truly an excellent early birthday celebration!

The originally planned party is still taking place this weekend... so watch this space for more details tomorrow! In the meantime, this was a most excellent start to my birthday season... so an enormous "thank you" to [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and everyone else who made it such a success! Y'all can pat yourselves on the back, knowing that you made this Nomad feel all special and tingly inside! I am quite, quite lucky to have such phenomenal friends and partners in my life!!

[*] Many thanks to the amazing [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup for teaching me this game!

[**] Also known as Betrayal at House on the Hill -- another excellent contribution from the spectacular [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup.

Time for the aforementioned "What I Did at the Weekend" post". After all, all the cool kids are doing it![1]

Friday evening, I mounted Peter II -- my trusty steed -- and made my way up to Northamptonshire for a date with the lovely [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip. It was a mellow evening in. We ate dinner -- the first time, in eighteen months together, that I have sampled her cooking[2]. We played games -- one of Dominion (she won), and three of Cathedral (I won two, she won one). And we enjoyed quite a bit of quality alone time.

Saturday afternoon, I made my way back to Oxford, picking up the charming [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth, and then returned home to the Flat With No Name... where we joined my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat, the ever-awesome [livejournal.com profile] xmakina, and the ever-adorable [livejournal.com profile] pinkoi for an afternoon of games[3], spiffy conversation, and ice cream. Always important not to forget ice cream! As an added bonus, I saw a poster at the ice cream parlour advertising a production of The Revenger's Tragedy that will be running this week. I am quite excited about this, as I have never seen this Renaissance classic.[4]

Saturday evening, after all the group social time had wound down, I had a date with the marvelous [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth. I must say, the more time I spend with this wonderful woman, the more she manages to surprise and impress me. Three months (and eight days) in, this trend shows no sign whatsoever of abating! This can be classified as a Very Good ThingTM.

Sunday -- today -- it was time for a date with my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat[5]. We made our way into London this morning for our annual pilgrimage to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum. This is a tradition that began very soon after we moved to England four years ago -- within weeks, actually! As always, there were some truly stunning photographs in the gallery this year. Tis quite difficult to choose... but I think that my favourite two may be this one and this one. After finishing with wildlife photos, we still had some time... so we perused the dinosaur galleries. Just because, well, they're dinosaurs! Everyone loves dinosaurs! Once they shooed us out of the museum to close, we returned to Oxford and wound down the evening together: a game of Dominion (I won), dinner, and then cuddling up on the sofa with the next episode of Smallvile.

All in all, a most excellent weekend! I only wish that I could do more with it but -- alas! -- tis very nearly over now! That's okay, though, as there is a most excellent week taking its place that I can look forward to.

Thus, let me say, Happy Sunday to all[5]... and to all a good night!

[1] And, as is common knowledge, I am nothing if not a strict conformist!

[2] Toast not included. Because, well, its toast. Anyone but Resourceress can make toast -- even me! (And I think that Resourceress could have done it, too, were I not in the room during the attempt!)

[3] One of Saboteur, in which [livejournal.com profile] xmakina and I tied, and one of Fluxx 4.0, which I won.

[4] I will definitely attempt to procure tickets -- probably for Tuesday or Thursday (maybe Friday) t 20:15. Anyone want to join me? Tickets are only five quid!

[5] Yes, we still go on dates! Yes, even after nearly sixteen years together. What's your point?

[6] In particular, I might add, a very happy Sunday to the wonderful [livejournal.com profile] theentwife... who sent me a lovely virtual gift two days ago to help me celebrate the Fridayness of Friday! You rock, my dear! Thank you!

Happy Solstice, gentle readers! I write this entry taking a break from packing -- in the early morning, I fly back to the States for Christmas and New Years. First, though, I spent yesterday and today celebrating Yule, the shortest day, and the return of the light!

Yule marked the tenth consecutive sabbat celebrated by the fledgling Oxford-based group that [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I founded last year. Chesh wrote the ritual which, as always, was excellent. This time, the theme was a guided meditation, with some tarot work as well. After the formal ritual ended, the five of us present kept vigil -- more or less[*] -- through the longest night.

At five o'clock in the morning, with the dawn just a few short hours away, we gathered in Peter II and I drove us all down to Stonehenge, with silly Christmas songs keeping us company en route. We arrived before they opened the site, so we were able to be present for the entirety of this open access period. This marks the fifth Solstice that I have spent at Stonehenge -- three Summers and two Winters. It also marks the fourth consecutive Solstice that I have been present at Stonehenge.

It really is amazing how different the two Solstice experiences are! At Midsummer, Stonehenge access starts before sunset and lasts through the whole of the shortest night. At the Winter Solstice, access to the Stones last less than two hours, starting about an hour before sunrise and going until a little after. Also, the attendance and energy is far different. Six months ago, there were 36,000 people there in what felt like an all-night rave. This morning, the official count was 689... and the tone was much more reverent. My darling [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip was quite clear about which of the two she prefers. Indeed, I may be the only person I have WORKed with who actually enjoys both Midsummer and Yule at Stonehenge.

One thing different for me this time is that there was snow on the ground... and on the Stones! I had never seen or touched the Stones like this before -- the glimmering snow was a beautiful addition! Besides the usual Druidic rituals, there was also drumming and dancing... plus an impromtu snowball fight! Now that was a fun way to celebrate the start of winter! I was in a snowball fight at the centre of Stonehenge! How cool is that?? I was bouncy about this for several hours afterward... and the energy probably helped me survive the drive home on nearly no sleep!

Here are a few pictures from this morning's revelry:

Approaching the circle, about an hour before dawn.

SNOW! On the Stones!!

Inside the Stone circle, shortly before dawn.

Looking from the outside, about half an hour after sunrise.

This little trip was loads of fun, and a fantastic way to start the Winter! Now, though, it is time to return to packing. Less than six hours before I take to the skies! Look out, my dear Stateside friends, the Nomad's coming home!![**]

[*] By which I mean that I do not think any one person stayed conscious for the entire night this year... but at least one person was awake at any given time.

[**] Speaking of which, if anyone in the Chicago area is free tomorrow afternoon, around three o'clock, would it be possible to get a ride from O'Hare to the Event Horizon? With all the frantic holiday craze going around, I may have forgotten to arrange transport! Reply to this comment, send me an e-mail, or call me tomorrow at half past two if you can give me a lift. It will earn my eternal gratitude -- and maybe more!

Riding home on Ye Olde Oxforde Tubee now, a little bird[*] informed me that it was time for another Week-in-Review post! So run! Hide! Flee whilst you can!

Monday: At work, one of my students had just returned from Japan. This was good and allowed us to get some progress on neutrino flux constraints made very quickly, in a face-to-face environment. After work, I rang bells at St. Aldates Church in the Oxford city centre. This is a new church for me -- my eighth in Oxford and ninth overall. The practice, on six very well-hung bells, was geared to learners at about my level, so that was very well. I shall ring there again!

Tuesday: At work, there were many meetings. So many, in fact, that two were at the same time... and I had to go late to one when the other ended! The most important meeting went well, which is a clear success! After work, I had a nice double date: First, I got to spend some quality alone time with my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat. That was very nice, indeed! Then the beautiful [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip arrived in Oxford and, after some nice group time together, she and I retreated for the night to -- what's the word? -- "reconnect".

Wednesday: After work, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I went to go see a production of My Fair Lady at the Oxford Playhouse. This was already written about in my previous entry. The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain. 'Nuff said.

Thursday: The main event on Thursday was a trip to the British Museum to see artifacts from the Staffordshire Hoard. Discovered in July, this collection of Anglo-Saxon treasure -- with the most A-S gold ever found in one place! -- is a bit of a mystery right now. Where did it come from? Why are there ornaments for weaponry... but not a single blade? Why are all the objects masculine, unlike at other finds (e.g., Sutton Hoo)? Only the day before, the assessment of the hoard had been completed; it is valued at £3,285,000. We also bought a book about the hoard, published that very day. This is all very new stuff! I took many photographs of the items on display, which I shall feature in an upcoming post. Of course, once we were done viewing the Staffordshire Hoard pieces, we had to pay a visit to the room with the Sutton Hoo artifacts, for comparison.[**] We stayed at the museum for an evening lecture about the treasure, given by the National Adviser for the Portable Antiquities Scheme. Being me, I had to ask a question of the speaker afterward, of course!

Friday: In the evening, I met the lovely [Bad username or site: miss_amaranth" @ livejournal.com] at the Oxford Rail Station. There, I was treated to nearly an hour of her undivided attention. It was, to say the least, a most pleasant experience! We walked and talked until we reached the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, where a parade was about to take place as part of Oxford's "Christmas Light Night" celebrations![***] The parade was fun and, along the way, we met up with the charming [livejournal.com profile] amuletts and the adorable [livejournal.com profile] pinkoi. There was also hot chocolate and donuts to be had! Huzzah!

The parade ended at the Oxford Castle, where I was accosted interviewed by the BBC about how horrible it had been to have the word "Christmas" omitted from the title of the event last year. Oi! Believing the whole matter to be a storm in a teacup -- and a year old storm, at that! -- I don't think I gave my interviewer what she wanted... and I doubt that the footage of me made it onto the air. Once that was done, we joined the dashing [livejournal.com profile] xmakina, my darling [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip (with three leverets in tow), and [livejournal.com profile] uberredfraggle at Cafe 1071. Together, the ten of us explored the events of the evening! We saw splendid ice sculptures, silly fake snow, and sweet bubbles. We went to the Ashmolean Museum, where the brass band Decibel returned for a second year... complete with their signature hit: YMCA. Somehow, though, their performance was not as fantastic as it had been last year. I horrified L5 and made her go screaming for Mummy when I told her that a stone she was looking at was 2500 years old.

Eventually, we ended the evening at the Brewery Gate, where I spent some time cuddling and talking to somebody who is becoming increasingly important to me. It was a very good evening, indeed!

Saturday: Shortly after waking up, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I made our way into London, where D&J were throwing their fourth annual Thanksgiving-for-expats feast! Oddly enough, circumstances force these two to move every year... so we were seeing their latest flat for the first time. It was lovely, with huge windows and a balcony overlooking the Thames, and views of the London Eye, the Millenium Dome, St. Paul's Cathedral, the Gherkin, and more! We were the first to arrive; when more people had accumulated, some of us went out to throw an "American football" around for a bit. Not sure I have ever played "American football" -- and I am certainly not a natural -- but it was fun! The feast, of course, was beyond words... with some very delicious faux turkey for the vegetarians in the crowd. I ended the evening believing that I would not eat for another week. TH was present, and we started planning another outing on his narrowboat for the Spring; I am already excited about the prospect, as we had such a good weekend back in June. People got a bit tipsy, leading to some very interesting conversations.[****] Eventually, folks started to leave and we had a nice chance to catch up with D&J before everyone passed out around one-something in the morning.

Sunday: Returned to the British Museum, where we met up with the lovable [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip to see the exhibition on Moctezuma. It was good! Not as good as the exhibition that we saw with [livejournal.com profile] darkfloweruk in February on Babylon... and certainly nowhere near as good as the First Emperor exhibition of Chinese terracotta statues that we saw in March 2008! But good, nonetheless.

And that, dear friends, is the news in brief! Tune in next time, when we hear Nomad say: "Of course the dolphin will be happy in the bathtub!" Till then, merry Monday to all... and to all, a good night!

[*] Or maybe it was [livejournal.com profile] da_pupdetz; I get the two confused sometimes!

[**] We had, of course, seen these before... but viewing the two in sequence was very interesting.

[***] Don't you dare call it "Winter Light" -- oh, no no!

[****] In the interests of good taste, I will not say more here.

So! What has everyone's favourite Nomad been up to in recent days? Good question! Here's the Reader's Digest version:

Recent days have contained some very lovely firsts! It began on Friday evening, when I launched the weekend by ringing bells with the Oxford University Society of Change Ringers. This was not ordinary ringing practice -- the OUS was hosting the annual Southern Universities Association. As such, we rang at Carfax tower, in the heart of Oxford. This tower -- the only remaining part of the 13the century St. Martin's Church -- is widely regarded as marking the very centre of Oxford. Before last week, though, I had never rung there before. I was a bit nervous to be ringing in a new place with visiting ringers all about... but it was also very exciting to be ringing to the crowds that fill Oxford's streets on a Friday night!

After ringing, I came home and spent the rest of the evening with my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat. We got in some quality alone time, as well as starting in on the season eight DVDs of Smallville. A quiet evening... but a nice one!

On Saturday, the firsts continued! The lovely [livejournal.com profile] sweetcyanide came down from Manchester for her first visit to my fair city. I took out my [metaphorical] tour guide hat and showed her some of the sights around town! Over the course of the weekend, we hit several museums, colleges, and more! We also learned that the local Holiday Inn has a very nice swimming pool, jacuzzi, and sauna! One of the [many] highlights was visiting the Museum of the History of Science, where there is currently a fascinating exhibition on Steampunk art! Twas most nifty -- and I shall have to visit again before it leaves in late February! At the very end of the exhibition, there is a room full of so-called "Steampunk originals" -- these are actual pieces of Victorian scientific equipment that inspired the whole "steampunk" style!

The Weather Gods were a bit petulant on Saturday, so we spend most of the day indoors... at the Museum of Natural History[*], the Pitt Rivers Museum[**], lunch at my favourite vegetarian pub[***], and the aforementioned Steampunk exhibition. I believe that our dip in the pool and jacuzzi on Saturday evening convinced said Gods that we were wet enough... so the rest of the weekend weather was absolutely splendid! We took advantage of that on Sunday, with a walking tour of the city, a climb up to the top of Carfax tower[****], and exploring Christ Church -- my favourite of the Oxford colleges.

In addition to all this running about, this was also a first in that I had never before spent this much time alone with [livejournal.com profile] sweetcyanide. Getting to know her better was quite, quite wonderful! At the end of the weekend, she accidentally left her umbrella in my car... which ensures that she will have to return to Oxford again to collect it!

On Monday evening, after work, the firsts continued. After months of dancing around travel schedules, I was finally able to meet [livejournal.com profile] cmcmck and her husband for the first time! We dined together at Daquise -- a delicious Polish restaurant in South Kensington... in the place where the Polish government-in-exile has been located during the Second World War! The food was delicious, the conversation fascinating, and the company excellent!

Moving on to Tuesday evening, I rang bells at Mary Mag -- also with the OUSCR -- and then met my darling [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip at the Flat With No Name for a date. There may have been some firsts involved... but listing what they are might not be suitable for this space! Suffice to say that the evening ended with many smiles!

Now I am riding Ye Olde Oxford Tubee back home, where I shall collect my dear [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and we shall make our way up to Stratford-upon-Avon. There we will see the Royal Shakespeare Company perform Twelfth Night. Perhaps the run of "firsts" is now ended, as I have seen productions of Twelfth Night before. Thus, this shall not advance me on my quest to see all thirty-eight of the Bard's plays performed on stage; my Shakespeare NumberTM will -- for now -- remain at twenty-seven. However, after tonight I will have seen the RSC perform twenty-three out of the thirty-eight... thus furthering me on my secondary goal to see an RSC production of every play![*****]

Nearly home now, so best to post this and get ready for the evening's entertainment!

[*] Including the current Darwin exhibition and pointing out the room where the famous Huxley-Wilberforce evolution debate took place in 1860.

[**] Including everybody's favourite -- the shrunken heads!

[***] The Gardener's Arms, on Plantation Road.

[****] Where I acted like an excited little kid, pointing out to [livejournal.com profile] sweetcyanide the ropes that I had been ringing on less than two days later as we ascended through the ringing chamber.

[*****] Obsessive-compulsive? Me?? Why would you ever think that?

[NOTE: This entry has been backdated by one day.]

My prediction from Thursday was accurate. Yesterday, my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat was able to walk up and down stairs once again... and so, last night, she was discharged from the hospital -- at last -- and I brought her home once again!

The discharge process took a very long time. First, the doctor who needed to sign the paperwork was called away. When she finally came back, the porter took a small eternity to show up. Eventually, we lost patience and walked out ourselves. It took some time, and we needed to pause and sit... but ultimately I think it was a lot more satisfying to walk out of the hospital on our own legs, rather than sitting in a wheelchair.

The beautiful [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip was waiting at the Flat With No Name when we arrived home. The rest of Friday evening was largely spent in mundane chores, getting the Flat into a state suitable for [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat's needs as she convalesces. This required more work than one might think... so I am quite grateful to [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip for her assistance.

Today's big event was the post-surgery UnParty. It began just before two, when [livejournal.com profile] topbit arrived... and lasted until just shy of midnight. In this time, we played games! We ate yummy food! There was talking! Cuddles! And an impromptu Oxford BiFest planning meeting. This was all much fun... and I want to thank everyone who came for helping to welcome [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat back into her life!

In terms of gaming, we started out playing Wise & Otherwise with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat, [livejournal.com profile] topbit, [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip, and myself. To everyone's surprise -- including my own -- I won by a considerable margin! Indeed, I ended the game with twenty-two points -- two more than the score required for victory. The karmic scales balanced during the next game, though! The amazing [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip and the astonishing [livejournal.com profile] oilrig and the awesome [livejournal.com profile] uberredfraggle and the adorable [livejournal.com profile] amuletts and I played Apples To Apples... and I managed to just barely tie for last place![2] The aforementioned adorable [livejournal.com profile] amuletts (alliteration, anyone?) ended up winning by a considerable margin... but [livejournal.com profile] oilrig had the best[3] assortment of adjectives! The final game of the evening was Betrayal at House on the Hill[4], played on the excellent homemade set that my darling [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup had given my for my birthday. We ended up playing the space alien scenario; [livejournal.com profile] amuletts played the mind controlling space aliens... and managed to quickly hypnotise us all into letting ourselves be abducted.

Overall, the day was lots of fun. My only regret is the number of people who showed up. We had a total of eight at this year's UnParty -- less than half the number that we had last year. I was absolutely delighted by the people who joined us... and [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat seemed pleased, so that is good. Additionally, some people who could not make it were lovely enough to phone and send their good wishes over the wires. That, too, was most excellent and happy-making! Still, I could not help being reminded of how -- three and a half years after moving to Oxford -- we still don't enjoy the level of close knit community here in England that we have in Chicago or in the NorthEastern United States[5]. This surgery was a major event, one that should radically change [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat's life. Yet this was the total number of people who wanted to join us to celebrate? Had this party been thrown at the Event Horizon, I know that we would have easily had four times as many guests -- maybe more -- dropping by to share this important occasion.

Ah, well. In the end, all of that is really just a detail. The important thing is that -- for the first time in her life -- [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat's right knee is sitting in the groove where knees are supposed to sit. The surgery opened the doors to a much brighter future! This is a cause for celebration... and celebrate we did, with some very lovely people! It was a blast, so thanks to all who joined us!!

Now, then, let the future begin!!!

[1] Actually, this time it took eight and a half days. But who's counting?

[2] I say "just barely" because, had the final round played out differently, I would have unequivocally taken last place all on my own! Go me!

[3] By which I mean the worst... as, by some odd coincidence, they were all negative!

[4] Affectionately referred to as The Shinnin'.

[5] By which I primarily mean the New York City area... but, really, we have community as far South as North Carolina and as far North as Maine. Y'all know who you are!

Reading my f-page this morning, I found an interesting quote that had been posted by the lovely [livejournal.com profile] prolificdiarist:

Do your best to keep yourself in balance. One of the first things that causes Energy misalignment is asking or demanding too much of yourself in terms of time and effort. In other words, you just cannot burn the candle at both ends, so that you are physically tired, and then expect yourself to have a cheerful attitude. So, the rule of thumb has to be: "I'm going to be very, very, very happy, and then do everything I have time to do after that."

On an intellectual level, I can see how this philosophy makes sense; however, it really doesn't fit my life at all. Take today, for instance. I am quite sleep-deprived, having only rested for three hours on Tuesday night[1] and for four hours last night[2]. Nonetheless, I am having quite an awesometacular day today!

Do you know the days where everything coincidentally lines up in one direction? Sometimes it means that one thing after another goes wrong, leading to a day that can feel "cursed". At other times, everything you touch -- no matter how unconnected -- turns to metaphorical gold. I am having the latter sort of day; perhaps somebody slipped a homeopathic strength dose of Felix Felicis into my water?
  • For starters, although I was up late, I managed to finish an important set of edits for an internal note at work. The note is on work that I have had my students doing for some time now... and it is about to come to fruition. Starting with the T2K SK meeting tonight! Exciting times!!

  • Because I was up late, I got to enjoy "watching"[3] my home team, the New York Yankees, win the World Series. I am not a sports fan and so, as an almost-absolute rule, I do not follow any teams. The one exception is Major League Baseball during the post-season playoffs. I don't pay any attention during the regular season but, afterward, I pay a little attention if one of the teams from a place that I have lived is playing. I don't care enough to actually watch the games -- oh, no! I just check the news to see who won. It was a nice way to end a long night... and it made me smile knowing the The Kiddo -- who is a huge Yankees fan -- would be very happy, indeed!

  • Waking up in the morning, I saw that the sky was blue and the sun was shining. Always a bonus in England, these days moments are particularly valuable in the long dark Winter months. A literal ray of sunlight is always likely to add a metaphorical ray of sunlight to my day!

  • When I went to the hospital for my morning visit to [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat, I was in for quite a shock. She was in the bathroom, on her own! This is major progress from last night! Indeed, after worrying that she would not be discharged in time for the UnParty on Saturday -- and that we would have to bring the UnParty to her during visiting hours -- it looks like she will be coming home tomorrow! Excellent! Her progress has been quite non-linear. Here is a timeline:

    • Day 0 (Thu Oct 29): Surgery. On morphine drip, saline drip, vitals monitored.
    • Day 1 (Fri Oct 30): Stay in bed. On morphine drip.
    • Day 2 (Sat Oct 31): Stay in bed. On morphine drip.
    • Day 3 (Sun Nov 01): Stand up briefly. On morphine drip.
    • Day 4 (Mon Nov 02): Stand up and take few steps with walker. On morphine drip.
    • Day 5 (Tue Nov 03): Stand up and take few steps with walker. Remove morphine drip.
    • Day 6 (Wed Nov 04): Walk around hospital room with walker.
    • Day 7 (Thu Nov 05): Get in and out of bed unaided. Walk with crutches.
    • Day 8 (Fri Nov 06): Walk up and down stairs?? Come home??????

    I arrived at the hospital shortly before eleven o'clock in the morning... and had apparently missed lots of action already! [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat had been brought to x-ray to have her knee imaged, her makeshift fixed leg brace had been discarded and replaced with the Robo-Brace[4] that she will be wearing for the next six to twelve weeks, the physiotherapists tested that she can already bend her knee 20° - 25° on her own[5,6], she can get in and out of both bed and chair unaided, and she can walk about with only crutches for support. Excellent! Far better than I would have expected when I left the hospital last night! If her progress keeps up at this rate, she will likely win the London Marathon next year!

  • Leaving the hospital, I brought Peter II in for a second attempt at his annual inspection. He had failed by the narrowest of margins yesterday; today, after taking advise from the person at the test centre, he managed to pass. Without the need for expensive work at the garage. Vunderbar! Not only does this save me money, it also saves me time... which is at a premium of late!

So that is my day, thus far. I realise that, with the exception of [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat's progress, none of this is exceptionally exciting or life-changing news. Still, it is good and it makes me happy -- regardless of the lack of sleep. Also, it is worth noting that all of this took place before one o'clock! With all my ducks lining up into such a convenient row, I am quite eager to see what the rest of today holds for me! In particular, I am hoping that this luck holds out until the big presentation that my students will be making at the T2K meeting that starts at ten o'clock tonight! Wish us [good] luck!!

[1] Because the beautiful [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip was visiting! Spending quality alone time with her trumps sleep each and every time!

[2] Because I was up until four o'clock in the morning editing a T2K technical note that I had my students write.

[3] I use the word "watching" loosely. I "watched" on-line via news updates, rather than actually spectating the game. Really, I just am not a sport(s) fan.

[4] Robo-Brace is my name for a very awesome leg brace. Not only does it look cool, but it is much spiffier than an ordinary fixed leg brace. There are dials on Robo-Brace that allow you to set how far it can bend -- in increments of ten degrees going from zero (fixed) to 120°. Right now, the brace is set to allow [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat's knee to bend up to thirty degrees. The plan is to increase the range every two weeks.

[5] Which, in their words, was "phenomenal" at this stage of the game.

[6] Going up to 30° will gentle help from the physiotherapists.

anarchist_nomad: (Guess who?)
( Nov. 4th, 2009 11:38 pm)
Welcome to the first ever FiR post in this journal. "What is FIR?" you may be fairly asking yourselves, dear friends. Good question! Long time readers of this journal may be aware of my recurring use of Week-in-Review (WiR) posts. As these went on, they evolved into the RotWiR post[*] and, later, into RotRotWiRP[**]. Now, however, due to nearly unprecedented levels of falling behind on my blogging, Nomad Production Studios brings you...... the Fortnight in Review post!

At this point, please feel free to run about like Kermit the Frog, waving your arms wildly and shouting "YAAAAAAAAY!"

Really, the FiR post is quite self-explanatory, I think. Having been back in Merry Olde England for half a month now, it really is high time that I say at least a little of what I have been up to since my return. It will likely not be interesting to anyone who is not named Nomad... but at least I will have made a record to refer to in posterity. Or something like that. Feel free to skip to tomorrow's [as yet unwritten] entry if you are bored. I won't hold it against you -- I promise!

So, without further ado, here goes:

Tue Oct 20: Return to the States via Madrid, finding work related texts starting almost immediately after I landed. Meet [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat, who had returned from the States via Dublin. Our reconnection at Heathrow went unbelievable smoothly -- this sort of thing doesn't happen in international travel! Return to Oxford in mid-afternoon and spend time unpacking and settling in. In the evening, ring bells at St. Andrew's Church in Headington. Close to midnight, [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip arrives and we spend some quality time alone together.

Wed Oct 21: Do productive stuff [that is not at all interesting to write about in detail] during the day. Attend the monthly Oxford Bi Meetup in the evening. Spend a lot of time talking to somebody that I find increasingly interesting.

Thu Oct 22: Imperial College T2K group meeting in the morning. Assorted productivity in the afternoon. Ringing practice -- on both handbells and tower bells -- at St. Giles Church in the evening. An international T2K SK video conference at night.

Fri Oct 23: Various productive tasks during the day. In the evening, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I went to see The Madness of King George III at the Oxford Playhouse, my 32nd play of the year. [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip arrived at the Flat With No Name whilst we were out, so she was studying and waiting for us when we returned! This is a Good ThingTM

Sat Oct 24: Our annual ancestor feast and toast for Samhain. Intense, as usual. I have written somewhat about this elsewhere. The ritual proper ran for about seven hours, from roughly 9pm BST until nearly 3am GMT.

Sun Oct 25: Sleep in to recover from the late night. Have a lazy morning with certain spiffy people. In the evening, the adorable [livejournal.com profile] weegoddess and her lovely husband, J, came to visit us as the last stop on their Leaving The UK tour. It was very good to see her again... and particularly enjoyable to meet him for the first time. We started their time in Oxford off by taking them to the Pink Giraffe for a delicious All You Can Eat RPG dinner!

Mon Oct 26: Spent the morning wearing my tour guide hat, bringing [livejournal.com profile] weegoddess and J on a one day whirlwind tour of Oxford. I do so love sharing the awesomeness that is my [adopted] city! I only wish that they had had more time to spend here, to properly appreciate it all. Still, they did seem to enjoy what we had time to take in! In the evening, we were joined by [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat for dinner at the French restaurant on North Parade. Yum!

Tue Oct 27: A very bizarre morning where nothing went as planned... thanks to an area power outage in the night that lasted until the afternoon. Thankfully, the crisis was manageable and the things that absolutely needed to happen were made to happen. All's well that ends well. In the evening, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I celebrated our 5555 day anniversary by going out for dinner then seeing the RSC's Days of Significance at the Oxford Playhouse -- my 33rd play of the year. Alas, the show was somewhat disappointing. Later in the evening, we also celebrated our eight million minute anniversary.[***]

Wed Oct 28: Had a productive day at work in London at Imperial College, including an interesting talk on recent measurements of the mass of the W boson at the D0 experiment in Fermilab. Returned to Oxford in the evening to have a pre-birthday dinner for [livejournal.com profile] dr_jen with [livejournal.com profile] wolfpeach and [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat.

Thu Oct 29: Brought [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat in for her surgery in the morning. Rang both handbells and tower bells at St. Giles Church in the evening, before visiting my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat in the hospital post-surgery.

Fri Oct 30: Visited [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat in the morning. Did stuff during the day. Returned in the evening with [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip and L2.

Sat Oct 31: Visited [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat in the morning. Brought L2 to a haunted farm for Halloween in the afternoon. Returned to the hospital in the evening to play Fluxx and Bohnanza with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat (and [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip and L2).

Sun Nov 01: Visited [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat in the morning -- getting to see her stand, post-surgery, for the first time. Spent time with L2 and my darling [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip during the day. Rang bells for Sunday services at St. Giles in the evening before returning to spend more time in the hospital with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat.

Mon Nov 02: Missed my morning visit to the hospital, due to a T2K phone meeting. After working at Oxford Uni with one of my students during the day, I returned to the hospital to spend evening time with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat. Before bed, I had my first conversation with my darling [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup since my return to England. As ever, it was very good to hear her lovely voice!

Tue Nov 03: Work at Oxford Uni, a seminar by one of my Imperial colleagues, a surprise win at chess, two more hospital visits (joined by [livejournal.com profile] uberredfraggle and [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip), and an evening of alone time with [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip. Written about in more detail here.

That brings us to the end of this historic FiR report! History has been made and you, gentle readers, were a part of it. Remember this moment fondly in years to come...

[*] "RotWiR" = "Return of the Week in Review"

[**] Whilst the eloquent [livejournal.com profile] dcseain has observed that this sounds an awful lot like a birdcall, "RotRotWiRP" is actually the "Return of the Return of the Week in Review Post".

[***] Yes, I am aware than "anniversary" comes from "annum" and literally can only refer to years. For the moment, though, I do not have a better word for "dayiversaries" (let alone minuteversaries!).

Below is the promised State of the Chesh health report. My beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat herself has already updated yesterday to her own journal[*] and various mailing lists. Her report is more detailed than mine own, methinks, so if you have seen that, feel free to skip to the bottom of this entry, in which I provide updates from today. That said, here we go:

On Thursday morning, I drove [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat to the orthopaedic clinic. We arrived when they opened at 7:30am and I waited with her until eleven, when they wheeled her bed off towards the operating theatre. That afternoon, she underwent a distal realignment procedure known as Elmslie-Trillat. In short, they realign the knee by cutting the bone underneath the tendon and screwing it in where it is supposed to be. Serious ouch! Luckily, the local orthopaedic clinic is excellent... and our surgeon is particularly outstanding, too! For the first time in her life, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat's right knee is now actually sitting in the grove where knees are supposed to reside.[**]

I went in to visit [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat on Thursday evening, but she was still quite groggy from the pain meds.[***] I went in on Friday morning and evening, when she was more lucid, which was a Good ThingTM. My dear [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip and L2 joined me for visits on Saturday morning and evening, and we played some games together -- Fluxx and Bohnanza. Sunday (i.e., yesterday), I went again in the morning and the evening... and was fortunate enough to be present when the physiotherapists got her out of bed for the first time, post-surgery! Progress is being made!

Said progress continued today. Due to a T2K meeting, I was not able to make it to the hospital this morning. In the afternoon, however, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat rang me to say that she had stood up again... and taken her first post-surgery steps.[****] Needless to say, the news added some extra smiles to my afternoon! Apparently, her rate of progress following such a major restructuring of her knee is also impressing the physios! Huzzah!

I went back in the evening to talk, discuss which RSC shows we should buy tickets to in 2010, et cetera. At this point, it doesn't look like [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat will be coming home tomorrow. Sometime between Wednesday and Friday seems to be the most likely. I gently teased her, saying that they had to let her go by Friday... or else she would miss her own UnParty this weekend! My, what an UnParty that would be, if we did not even have the guest of honour!

Speaking of the UnParty, I should use this opportunity to remind people that it will be happening this weekend -- November 7th and 8th -- at our home: the Flat With No Name in Oxford. As the "UnParty" name implies, we will not be doing a lot of fancy preparations, buying snack food, and so on.[*****] Right now, our efforts need to be directed in bringing [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat back to full mobility. The UnParty is simply this: We will be home all weekend and playing games, watching movies, chilling out.

If you are on my f-list, feel free to drop by and join us at any point! No need to RSVP and crash space is available for out-of-Oxford people! Your company would be quite welcome -- with one important caveat: If you are ill, please do stay away. As much as we would love to spend time with you, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat's immune system is already strained by the surgical intrusions into her body and the screws left behind there. Bringing germs and whatnot into our household would most definitely be Not A Good IdeaTM. If you are sick, please stay home and send your good wishes from afar!

If you are planning on coming and need an address or other contact info, leave a comment and let me know! Hope to see you soon!!

[*] F-locked.

[**] I used to say that knees were proof against "intelligent design" of humans. However, I later came to realise that knees only disprove "benevolent intelligent design." They say nothing contrary to evidence of a malignant designer.

[***] More than once that I have been visiting, I have heard reference to the "pain girls." Hmmm...

[****] I mean literal steps here! Not metaphoric ones!

[*****] With one exception -- there will be more homemade ice cream whipped up at some point on the Saturday of the UnParty.

Blessed Samhain, to all those on my f-list who celebrate it!

Samhain this year was meaningful[1] without being devastating[2]. It was also long. Rather than do our annual ancestor ritual on Samhain proper, as originally planned, we moved it a week earlier to accommodate [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat's surgery. Difficult to do ritual with a High Priestess who is confined to a hospital bed.

The ritual itself went quite well. I have been doing this particular WORK nearly every year since 1994 -- and my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat has been doing it for even longer. It is simple in design... yet extremely powerful. All the more so when you do the same remembrance WORK year after year.

As it turns out, doing our ancestor toast one week before Samhain turned out to fortuitous for several reasons. For one thing, it meant that the clocks changed back to GMT whilst we were in ritual space. This brought a practical benefit -- not ending quite as late as we would have otherwise -- as well as a symbolic one. To wit: for me, the Dark Period of the year begins when we change our clocks back, putting the sunset before five o'clock in the afternoon. Having this change coincide with our Samhain ritual seems rather appropriate.

For another thing, doing our WORK one week before Samhain effectively stretched the sabbat out to a week this year. That was good, as it gave me time to process a large number of endings -- and new beginnings -- that are going on right now. For instance, this ritual just completed one full turn of the Wheel of the Year where we had been working every sabbat with the same group of people. A very fitting ending. [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat's surgery was this week, too -- an end to one era and a beginning to a bright new one! Again, quite appropriate.

On the plus side, I managed to make it through October 27th without breaking up with anybody.[3] Though I will add that, after having been mostly quiet since July, my relationship velocity is picking up again. Whilst nothing is definite as yet, I can feel which way the winds may be blowing. I have a hunch that there are a couple of relationships that are naturally winding their way down right now... and I am cautiously optimistic about the potential that a couple of charming new people may hold. Some endings, some [possible] beginnings -- and it all feels rather good and healthy.

One other way that this Samhain is significant is that, for once, it really does feel like the new year to me. I have many different ways of ticking off the year -- at Samhain, at the start of the calendar, at my birthday, at Starwood, at P**T***, at the new academic year -- and Samhain is generally not the most important of these. However, this time around, it feels like the most natural place to start off the year. Much of time between this Samhain and next is mapped out reasonably well: I know which trips I want to take[4], I am helping to organise two large-ish events[5], my experiment will be turning on and publishing its first results, et cetera, et cetera. So, besides beginning the Dark Period, this Samhain really does kick off a year that promises to be busy, intense, and rewarding. I look forward to seeing what fruit it will bring.

Welcome Winter, waning season
Now with night the new year comes
All who honour elder kinsfolk
Dance the dead to earthly drums
Souls respected, save the living
Those with whole and hallowed hearts
Blessings be on those who bide here
Blessings be on those who bide here
And indeed on all the Earth!

Of course, besides being Samhain, October 31st is also Halloweeen[6]. Yesterday, on Halloween, I brought L2 -- who is nine -- to Millet's Farm, a short ride from Oxford, to do the corn mazes and haunted attractions there. Other than that, though I did not do much on Halloween proper... because I was preoccupied with visiting [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat, who is still in the hospital recovering from her surgery. The beautiful [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip came down to stay for the weekend, helping out around the house and spending time in the hospital with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I.

It would be a very sad thing to miss Halloween... so we made sure to do it early. Whilst in Michigan two weeks ago, my darling [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup threw a Halloween bash to kick off the season, as it were. Twas fantastic to see so many people in the Lansing crowd[7]... and the immensely talented [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup threw together a quick costume for me in under twenty-four hours. She had a Miss Piggy costume from previous years, so I wanted to go with her... as Kermit the Frog! Everyone always calls me a Muppet anyway -- for one night, I got to actually be one. Don't believe me? See for yourself:

Kermie & Piggy -- together again!

Alas, poor Kermit! I knew him, Horatio!

I hope that each and every one of my dear friends has had as excellent a holiday as I have. The Dark Period has begun.[8] May it hold joy and growth for us all...

[1] Unlike 2007.

[2] Unlike 2006.

[3] By odd coincidence, October 27th happens to be the day that I am most likely to end a relationship. Don't ask why -- it just is.

[4] One to Korea in May, one to Scotland in June, one to explore Japan with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat in August, and one to North Wales at some point in between.

[5] Oxford BiFest in March and P**T*** in October.

[6] And my father's birthday. But nevermind that.

[7] You know who you are, lovely people!

[8] Assuming that, like most of my f-list, you live in the North. If you do not... well, Happy Summer to you!!

Back in Oxford now. [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I returned to the Flat With No Name a few hours ago, following our respective overnight trans-Atlantic journeys.

My, my -- there does seem to be a bit of dust on this journal, doesn't there? I suppose I should not be too surprised that I did not have much chance to go online whilst I was Stateside. Not much point in travelling if one is going to sit with a computer everywhere, now is there?

My October US tour deserves at least one dedicated write up. However, such will have to wait until tomorrow. Right now, I am very sleepy from the overnight flight and trying to stay awake long enough to avoid having jetlag from this journey. I also have bell ringing practice in a little over an hour. So, for the nonce, here is just a simple summary of my trip...

Nomad's 2009 October US TourTM had five parts:
  1. Part One: Manhattan (1 day)
    In which your friendly neighborhood Nomad takes [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip on a whirlwind tour of some of his favourite Big Apple sights! Includes the Staten Island Ferry, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Empire State Building, and more!

  2. Part Two: P**T*** (4 days)
    In which everyone's favourite Nomad returns -- for the thirteenth consecutive year -- to the Sooper Sekrit October Pagan festival! Far too many people to mention all of them here! Highlights included running a main ritual based on Sondheim's Into The Woods musical, attempting to teach the art of change ringing on handbells, facilitating a very interesting discussion on polyamorous parenting... and being elected -- with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat -- to the presidency of the Institute Board. Which means, in plain language, that we are the "suckers" who have to organize the festival for next year!

  3. Part Three: Staten Island (2 days)
    In which the Nomad fills filial obligations by spending some quality time with his bio-family. Notable moments included an important conversation with Dad, as well as going with Mom to visit her friends M&I, who she recently re-established contact with after over two decades. M&I have five children... the oldest of which was my best friend when I was in elementary school! It was quite the Blast From The Past to see them again after nearly a quarter of a century! Very much looking forward to re-meeting their son, G, when I come back in December!

  4. Part Four: Michigan (3 days)
    In which [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat accompanies Nomad on a visit to the delightful [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup. Much fun was had by all, in the form of a Halloween party, a visit to a cider mill, Jack-o-lantern carving, a "haunted" hayride, pumpkin pancakes, Apples to Apples, a couple of games of Betrayal at House on the Hill, watching Where The Wild Things Are, a belly dance performance... and more! Not to mention, of course, time spent with my darling [livejournal.com profile] tawneypip -- which is time well spent even when we aren't filling it with a dozen other activities!

  5. Part Five: Chicago (1 days)
    In which Nomad and Chesh wind down their trip by spending one day at the Event Horizon. Although it was not a very long stay at my home, it was most excellent to get to see Stumpy and Chirp and lavish some attention on The Boy's sisters. We also shared a very delicious Indian dinner with [livejournal.com profile] gyades and a Mexican lunch on our own. The Weather Gods smiled upon us and allowed us an absolutely perfect day to escape to the Morton Arboretum to watch the trees resplendent in their Autumn colour.
More detailed write ups of each of these parts shall follow... with pictures to accompany parts one, two, and four! Meanwhile, though, tis time to to get ready to go out tonight!

ETA: Special thanks are due to the wonderful [livejournal.com profile] xirpha for getting me to O'Hare when a meeting prevented [livejournal.com profile] gyades from doing so, as planned. Thanks are also due to the fantastic [livejournal.com profile] winewiskeywomen for noticing my silence and checking in to make sure that all was well with me. I am quite lucky to have such excellent friends!!


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