anarchist_nomad: (A Crown of Flowers)
( May. 4th, 2009 09:29 pm)
When last we left our intrepid Nomad, he was writing during the tail end of an international T2K SK video conference, following a day of theatre that kicked off a holiday weekend.

The story continues.....

After said video conference ended, certain other activities -- all in line with the spirit of the season -- kept me preoccupied. No complaints per se, but said activities resulted in this Nomad getting only about an hour of sleep before needing to wake up at 4:30am to partake in the May Morning festivities here in Oxford. We left the Flat With No Name shortly after five and, despite the closure of the Magdalen Bridge[*], we made it into the city centre by half five. Walking to the Magdalen College chapel tower, we passed the usual array of drunken college students -- some in very colourful attire. We made it to Magdalen with plenty of time before the college choir sang the Hymnus Eucharisticus from the rooftops -- a tradition dating back more than five centuries.

Once the singing had ended, we wandered through the city centre, taking in the Morris dancers, and the people dressed as trees or bushes, and the other street performers. At half six, I broke away from the group to transition from spectator to part of the entertainment. I joined a band of ringers from the OUSCR and we rang the bells at the University Church of Saint Mary the Virgin. This is only the second time that I have rung at SMV -- the first being May Morning last year -- and it is good to get some practice on heavier bells. Also good to ring for such a festive crowd and, best of all, the aerial vantage point from SMV provides some of the best views of the May Morning excitement! Looking out from the tower, one can simultaneously see the Rad Cam, the campuses of Brasenose College and All Souls College, the crowds, the Morris dancers... and more!

By half seven, I was done ringing. Our group reformed and we made our way to the Queen's Lane Coffee House for breakfast. We were home again by nine, at which point I collapsed into bed instantly, grabbing another two hours of sleep before needing to wake at eleven for a T2K UK analysis meeting. When the meeting ended at noon, I promptly fell back into bed, to collect another three hours of sleep. At that point, I was up for the rest of the day and proceeded to cook for [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip and the two eldest leverets.

Once fed, we left Oxford and made our way back to [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip's home. During the journey, I introduced her to a number of my favourite David Rovics songs. I may not have done much to celebrate May Day as an Anarchist this year -- something that I plan to make up for in 2010 -- but it was good to get in a sampling of my favourite Anarchist holiday.

After arriving in Northampton and bringing the children to their fathers, [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip and I were able to have a date night to ourselves, in which we were able to celebrate Beltane properly. Again, Not Enough Sleep ensued -- I estimate five hours on Friday night.[**]

On Saturday morning, we had a failed attempt to bake bread and a successful attempt to hold a private Beltane ritual[***]. Afterward, we made our way back to Oxford to collect [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and [livejournal.com profile] dr_jen. Together, we all headed to Leicester, specifically to the home of [livejournal.com profile] thehalibutkid and [livejournal.com profile] sanjibabes. As always, it was nice to see the lovely [livejournal.com profile] sanjibabes and, for that matter, [livejournal.com profile] skibbley. However, our main purpose in making the trip was to hold our group Beltane ritual. Ever since Samhain, a group of us have been working together regularly, with organisation done by yours truly and High Priestessing done by [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat. I don't think that I have ever formally worked all the sabbats in a single turning of the Wheel of the Year before; the experience is turning out to be quite the positive one... not just for me, but for everyone in the group. These are not closed rituals -- most have had "guests" in addition to the regulars -- but the same five people have been at all five rituals thus far, which makes for a nice flow of continuity.

For Beltane, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat had organised a fairly traditional ritual: We did a Maypole, we jumped over a bonfire, we feasted, et cetera. Nothing terribly esoteric, but the way that Chesh had assembled the usual elements was excellent -- everything flowed together powerfully. It did not hurt in the least that the weather was good and so this became our first outdoor ritual in this sequence[****]. Flowery head dresses were assembled -- mostly with nimble expertise by [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip, though the talented and charming [livejournal.com profile] dr_jen made quite a lovely one on her own. Here are a couple of photos from just before we started the ritual )

After the ritual was done, we all sat around the bonfire and talked for a bit... just enjoying the energy and the warmth and the flames. Then we hugged [livejournal.com profile] thehalibutkid and [livejournal.com profile] parallelgirl goodbye and returned to Oxford. Not quite sure how much sleep I got on Saturday night, but I estimate that it was another five hours.[*****]

Sunday morning, I spent a little more time with [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip before sending her on her way and spending the day with my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat. I finished the first Sandman trade paperback -- Preludes and Nocturnes -- and then she re-read it so that we could discuss. We got in a fair bit of cuddling. And we managed to spend a bit of quality alone time together.

Today, Monday, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I took a day trip to the Stowe Landscape Gardens, a National Trust property about twenty-five miles from Oxford. The gardens were founded in the 18th century by Sir Richard Temple, also known as Lord Cobham. The site takes up 750 acres, though much of it is parkland. The gardens themselves are quite beautiful, with several lakes and valleys and fields. It is then further enhanced by forty-two monuments scattered about the grounds. There are sculptures and temples and columns and bridges (oh my!), so that our map became a sort of checklist guiding us around the gardens today. We spend most of the day at Stowe and managed to take in the entirety of the garden, much to our pleasure! At the end of the day, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I wound down with cream teas before heading back to Oxford and home.

Overall, it has been quite an excellent weekend! Happy Beltane! Happy Spring!

Now then, time to end the weekend by ringing up my darling [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup, who has also been away. Cannot properly claim to have celebrated Beltane without including her!


[*] To prevent drunk students from jumping off and breaking their legs in the very shallow water below.

[**] Bringing the running total for the two nights to eleven hours thus far.

[***] As distinct from the celebration of the night before.

[****] Not counting our Yule ritual, where the circle did remain open through the longest night... which included our trip to Stonehenge to welcome in the dawn.

[*****] Raising the running total for three nights to sixteen hours. Not serious Sleep Deprivation -- certainly nothing like what I pulled last Decemberween -- but definitely not running on a full tank, either!


Today was a surprisingly good day. Not surprising because I had expected anything bad to happen -- I hadn't and it didn't. Just surprising because not very much at all happened... and yet a number of small but positive things contributed to making it a good day.

It actually started last night, when I was ringing at Mary Mag during the first OUSCR practice of Trinity Term. Right after walking in, the master asked me if I wanted to ring a touch of Plain Bob Triples. Now nobody actually rings Plain Bob Triples. They ring Plain Bob Doubles (five bells), Plain Bob Minor (six bells), or Plain Bob Major (eight bells). No one rings Plain Bob Triples (seven bells). Indeed, the standard book of methods that I use doesn't even have PBT in there!

As such, I am not at all practiced in this method. I do consider myself quite adept at Plain Bob Doubles, though, and getting skilled at Minor. Sometimes I can do Major, but not reliably. On the fly, I pieced together what I know from Major -- since eight is close to seven -- and Doubles -- since five is also an odd number of bells -- and gave it my best shot. Amazingly enough, my best shot was quite good! I kept the method consistently for quite some time... and I could even hear that my striking was well placed. Very nice, if I do say so myself!

I have been doing a fair bit of ringing lately, and I feel I am making more progress. So that put me into a happy mood that continued into today. From there, things just got better.

For one thing, the weather today continued its recent trend of being incredible! By and large, one of the things that I dislike most about living in England is the weather[*]. Of late, though, that complaint is baseless. Good! Coupled with the fact that the days are now nearly fifteen hours long -- and still growing -- it is positively a joy to be outside! On my way into work this morning, I had a lovely bicycle ride across Kensington Gardens, taking in the weather and the lake and the greenery!

Work itself continues to go reasonably well. I still have more to do than I can get done. But what else is new? Progress is happening, and I am getting excited about the upcoming trip to Japan. Not as excited as I will be about the September Japan trip -- where, at long last, I get to return to my "home" area of Gifu and Toyama after six years away -- but excited
nonetheless!

It goes on from there, though: Our flat was inspected today, and passed with flying colours. As a nice side-effect of this, the Flat With No Name is now quite, quite tidy. Just the way I like it! When I got home from work, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat was in a cheery mood. No matter what else is going on, that always brightens my day. And if it is an already-bright day? Well, so much the better! And brighter! I arrived home just as her music -- set to shuffle play -- switched onto Another Day (from Rent). With no discussion, we naturally slipped into a very energetic version of this duet. We had a blast... though I think that we may have startled both kitties!

After eating dinner, I had a delightful "phone date" with the terrific [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup. She has only been gone for a couple of weeks, but I definitely miss her. Ah well -- at least it will be May very soon[**], at which point I can say that I am seeing her again in the month after next!

Finally, the day is almost done... but I have an excellent weekend to look forward to! Tomorrow, [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip is coming down to join [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I for a two-part theatrical rendition of Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy at -- you guessed it! -- the Oxford Playhouse. Then there is a weekend of Beltane fun to follow! Huzzah!


[*] In contrast, one of the things that I miss most -- aside from certain special Anarchists -- about living in Phoenix is the delightful weather there!

[**] In just over twenty-four hours!


Hwaet!

Tis the Friday of our content, marry sir:
Didst thou talketh like a Shakespeare anon?
For yesterday, by the hairs of my beard
Twas all to speak merrily as the Bard.

It is indeed Friday and, whether you spoke like a Shakespeare or no, gentle readers, it is time for an entry highlighting the, um, highlights of this week. First, though, we have a word from our sponsors a poll!

Last week, I asked YOU when you could come to play games at the Flat With No Name[*]. The winner from that poll appears to be Saturday May 9th. So it is likely that there shall be a games party anon on that date. Before confirming, though, let me make sure that there really are enough people who can attend to make it worth our while:

[Poll #1389214]

In particular, there will be an emphasis on teaching and playing Betrayal at House on the Hill, using the awesome new set made for me by the adorable [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup. Other games are also on hand, though, and much fun shall be had by all who can attend!


Right. That said, what has everybody's favourite Nomad been up to this week? I will not bore you with the details go into full descriptions, but here are some notable happenings from the week now ending:

  • One of the attendees from the Oxford University Astronomy Weekend is a member of the Newbury Astronomy Society, about thirty miles from here. Apparently, she liked my talk so much that she e-mailed me and asked if I could deliver the opening lecture to the Society's next season, in September. I was very flattered to be asked and I agreed, of course. The talk on cosmic rays is already written, and that is the part that I hate about giving a lecture. The actual delivery is fun, as are the questions afterward. So there is no reason at all not to give my talk again, to a different audience!

  • Whilst at St. Giles on Sunday to ring for the evening services, somebody looked at the mail... and noted that there was an envelope for me there. Well, that came as a bit of a surprise! I have never received mail at the church before! Turns out, it was from the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Change Ringers. I was inducted into the Guild at the start of the year[**] and this envelope contained my certificate of membership and some information about the Guild. I know that I am only a learner, even after two and a half years of ringing, but it is nice to be part of some ringing societies now. It feels validating, as it were.

  • Speaking of ringing, I have made it to both handbell practice and tower bell practice at St. Giles for two Thursdays in a row. Given the London commute, this is no longer a given... nor is it trivial to accomplish. However, the benefits are tangible. On handbells, I have brushed the dust off of my Plain Bob Major -- last week, I assured myself that I could still ring the trebles and tenors; this week, I went back to what I was learning before: the 3/4 pair and the 5/6 pair. Coming along nicely, if I do say so myself. On tower bells, I practiced trebling to a long touch of Grandsire Triples. Also, I extensively practiced my inside bell work on Grandsire Doubles last week, and this week I got in some work on a touch of Plain Bob Minor.

  • Unlike Skullcrusher Mountain, the Flat With No Name is managed by a letting agency. Overall, this is a good thing, as our previous landlady[***] did absolutely nothing ever. However, one disadvantage is that the agent makes semi-annual inspections of the property. Joy and rapture. Wednesday was to be the first such inspection, so I stayed home from work on Tuesday and spent the entire day cleaning like mad. To be honest, our flat needed it. When I began, it was an utter mess; when I ended, it was spotless. However, on Wednesday afternoon, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat gets an e-mail saying that they are putting off the inspection for a week. Oi! I had her call to chew them out, and to explicitly state that the flat was currently immaculate and that we would not be cleaning it so thoroughly for them again. The situation is irksome... but at least, with that incentive, we now have a clean place to live once again!

  • For some odd reason, it seems to be the season for old girlfriends to hunt down Nomad on Facebook. I do not have a Facebook account, nor do I intend to ever get one[****]. But a couple of former partners -- who have never met -- recently contacted me asking if I was there. No, that is not quite true. One previous partner asked me if I was on Facebook, as she had been looking for me. The other correctly concluded that I was not there... so she sent me a letter demanding that I get a Facebook account. Indeed, she was adamant and would not take LiveJournal for an answer.[*****] I do consider myself to be on good terms with most of my ex-girlfriends -- indeed, I am rather proud of this fact -- but it is still a tad odd for two to ping me at once because they were searching for me on Facebook! Ah, well. Tis good to be wanted, I suppose!

  • Over the past few years, I have been starting to fill in certain gaps in my education. My cultural education, that is. In 2005, after seventeen years of comic book collecting, I finally read the Crisis on Infinite Earths. In 2007, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I became two of the last people I know to watch Babylon 5. Now, at long last, I have begun to read Neil Gaiman's Sandman series. No spoilers, please! I have successfully avoided any for close to two decades now! [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat has all the issues in trade paperback form and I have only read the first three thus far. I have been looking forward to this for ages and am quite excited as I begin to finally see what all the fuss is about!

...and that is about all the news from the week, dear friends!

Now tis time to rush off, as the weekend looks to be fairly full, as well. Tonight, I have a date with the lovely [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip. Tomorrow, the Oxford Society of Change Ringers is having a celebration for its 275th anniversary -- plus, I may sneak away for a bit in the afternoon to see an exhibition in the Bodleian Library -- and then tomorrow evening, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I have tickets to see Fiddler on the Roof at the Oxford Playhouse[******]. Then, on Sunday, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and [livejournal.com profile] dr_jen and I will be going to the Harcourt Arboretum to see the bluebell meadows. They only bloom for about two weeks per year... but when they do, they are a phenomenal sight to behold! And, gentle readers, they are in bloom right now!

So...

I go, I go; look how I go,
Swifter than arrow from the Tartar's bow.


[*] It will feel good to get out of the rain!

[**] Making it the second ringing society that I am a member of, as I am also a life member of the Oxford University Society of Change Ringers (and the only person with an identifiable photograph on their home page!).

[***] The irony does not escape me that [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I each co-own a house in the States... and yet we find ourselves renting our primary residence in Oxford.

[****] Similarly, I have never been on MySpace. I spend more than enough time online as it is, and that is not enough for me to keep up with my e-mail and LiveJournal. As such, I do not need additional online distractions, even those that I might enjoy (as opposed to things like Twitter, that I just find annoying). I may get myself a Dream Width account -- just because everybody seems to be migrating in that direction -- but that would be as far as I would be willing to go.

[*****] Somehow this particular partner has always had a way of presenting her demands in such a fashion that they came across as rather sexy, instead of whiny.

[******] Which will be the fourteenth theatrical production that I have seen, thus far, in 2009.

Some things are just too big to be kept from the world. One of those things makes its public debut now! Gentle readers, I give you.....

The Silly Cheese Song Project!

The SCSP grew out of humble origins. Some of you may know that my beloved [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup and I have so many esoteric things in common that we have taken to referring to ourselves as the Good Twin and the Evil Twin[**]. One of these commonalities is that, in both of our homes, the saying "Cheese is love" has been a household phrase for some time. For me, I use it to explain to [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat why there is more cheese than she wanted on her food. After all, if I love her, how could I not give her bountiful cheese? I am not sure of the origin of this phrase for [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup and [livejournal.com profile] plasmonicgrid, but I am assured that it has been in use for quite some time.

In any case, if cheese is love then love is cheese. And, during [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup's recent visit to Merry Olde England, I realised that this could revolutionise the way that we listen to music. Just substitute cheese for love in a given song, and see how much better[***] it gets!

Well, this idea could not be kept to ourselves, so we let [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat in on it the very next day. Indeed, this led to a long cuddle-and-giggle session at the Flat With No Name that was gangs of fun! A few days later, my darling [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip was introduced to the concept. And now, it is ready for THE WORLD!!![****]

Below are just a few examples of how the SCSP improves music[*****]:
  • The Beatles:
    All you need is cheese,
    All you need is cheese,
    All you need is cheese, cheese, cheese is all you need.


  • Foreigner:
    I want to know what cheese is
    I want you to show me
    I want to feel what cheese is
    I know you can show me


  • Heart:
    What about cheese?
    Don't you want someone to care about you?
    What about cheese?
    Dont let it slip away
    What about cheese?
    I only want to share it with you
    You might need it someday


  • Meatloaf:
    I would do anything for cheese
    Yes, I would do anything for cheese
    I would do anything for cheese...
    but I won't do that. Oh no, I won't do that.


  • Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes:
    Cheese lifts us up where we belong.


  • Whitney Houston:
    The greatest cheese of all is happening to me.
    I found the greatest cheese of all inside of me.


  • Pat Benetar:
    We are young, heartache to heartache we stand
    No promises, no demands
    Both of us knowing: Cheese is a battlefield


  • The Supremes:
    You can't hurry cheese
    No, you just have to wait
    She said cheese don't come easy
    It's a game of give and take


  • Belinda Carlisle:
    Ooh, Baby, do you know what that's worth?
    Oooh, heaven is a place on Earth.
    They say in heaven, cheese comes first
    We'll make heaven a place on earth.


  • Jackie DeShannon:
    Think of your fellow man
    Lend him a helping hand
    Put a little cheese in your heart

    You see it's getting late
    Oh please don't hesitate
    Put a little cheese in your heart


  • Air Supply:
    I don't know how to leave you
    And I'll never let you fall
    And I don't know how you do it,
    Making cheese out of nothing at all


  • White Snake:
    Is this cheese that I'm feeling?
    Is this the cheese that I've been searching for?
    Is this cheese or am I dreaming?
    This must be cheese


    And, to conclude, one of my favourites:

  • The B-52s:
    If you see a faded sign by the side of the road that says
    Fifteen miles to the... Cheeeeeese Shack! Cheese Shack yeah
    I'm headin' down the Atlanta highway,
    Lookin' for the cheese getaway
    Heading for the cheese getaway
    I got me a car, it's as big as a whale
    And we're headin' on down
    To the Cheese Shack
    I got me a Chrysler, it seats about 20
    So hurry up and bring your jukebox money

    The Cheese Shack is a little old place
    Where we can get together
    Cheese Shack baby, Cheese Shack bay-bee.
    Cheese baby, that's where it's at,
    Ooo cheese baby, that's where it's at

    Sign says.. Woo... stay away fools,
    'cause cheese rules at the Che-e-ese Shack!

There are some of the best that I've heard so far -- but they are far from the only good ones out there. Get into the Silly Cheese Song Project... and you will never listen to music in quite the same way again! Got any good cheese songs that you want to share? Post them as a comment and I shall award fifty points for each one that makes me laugh!


[*] And what's wrong with that?

[**] Somehow I ended up as the Evil Twin! Go figure!

[***] Or at least funnier.

[****] Cue maniacal laughter!

[*****] I present these without credit to the person that thought of them, as several have been independently suggested by more than one person.


Just got back from bringing [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup to the airport bus. I waited with her until the bus came, then put her on board and waved as the bus drove off. Then I watched for a minute until the bus was out of sight[*] before turning and walking back to the flat.

It was wonderful having her here and, by and large, it was a really good visit. Yes, there were a couple of unforeseen happenings[**] that were not so great, but overall the week was fantastic. Much as I love being Nomadic -- and the opportunities that it has offered -- one of the hardest things to do, even after all these years, is parting with a loved one. One would think that, with all the experience I have, the separation of long distance relationships would be easier, yes?

On returning to the flat, I saw Giles sitting in the bedroom window. He stood up when he saw me to stretch and meow lovingly. Looking at my baby -- now nearly full grown! -- reminded me that I should not get too maudlin; there are many blessings to be counted. This visit very nicely split up the three months since I last saw [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup and the three months until I will see her again at Starwood. We had a lovely visit and did many nifty things. She and [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat get along swimmingly. Et cetera, et cetera, and so forth.

I have to get ready for work now, as we have a big T2K UK meeting in Oxford starting in about an hour. And, with some luck, I may be able to procure my car from Kent today, too.[***] So, as usual, a busy day ahead. I will be fine and shall rise to the challenges it presents. I will also just be a little sad inside, whilst I miss my tawney girl.


[*] I tend to be sappy and romantic like that.

[**] Like, oh, the car story that I have not yet told.

[***] We shall see about this, as I have no confirmed ride yet. But I am going to do my best.


Tags:
Today has been an... interesting day. Started off with high plans, followed by a comedy of errors and salvaged into a fun evening.

That is not what this post is about. This post is about my birthday gift from [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup. Just opened it now... and, holy cow, it is incredible!

Since the Betrayal at House on the Hill game is out of print -- and online copies cost a couple of hundred dollars -- she made me a version of the game. And it is fantastic!!!

Wowza. Am busy being floored now. This is a pretty incredible woman. Wow.
Writing this entry from the Oxford Tube. In and of itself, this is not uncommon these days. However, there are a couple of unusual bits to this journey. One is that I am sitting on top, in the front, with a lovely view of the road and the setting sun. I usually sit downstairs at one of the tables, to accommodate my laptop. The other difference is that there is a tantalizing [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup sitting next to me, gently dozing. Indeed, she is the reason for the first change, too. And the fact that she is asleep gives me time to write this entry.

There has been much going on this week, and I don't have time to write about it all in detail. Here, though, is a snapshot:

Monday: Had a very busy day at work, in that I needed to produce a number of plots and distributions to send to a colleague in the States, then I had volunteered to do a question & answer session with high school students... all before leaving at five o'clock. The early departure from work[*] was because my dear [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I were going to attend a drum class and jam session at the Lake Street Community Centre in Oxford. I had learned about these back in November, quite by accident. However, the conflict with ice skating lessons and whatnot had kept us from going until now. It was really great to play, once again, on the beautiful djembe that [livejournal.com profile] resourceress and [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat had bought for me for Yule 2005. It had been far too long! Methinks that [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I will be going back for more of these classes in the future...

Tuesday: Woke up early -- 6am -- Hand drove to Heathrow to pick up the charming [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup, who is visiting for the week. The airport pickup went without hitch and I was so very happy to see her again! We made our return to Oxford without incident, where I introduced her to the Headington Shark and then to [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat. To my delight, they seem to be getting along quite swimmingly![**] After driving [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat to work, we grabbed pasties for breakfast. Then I took [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup on a tour of Oxford. Most of it was a simple walking tour, showing off my city. We went by Carfax, the Martyrs' Memorial, Oxford University Press, the Eagle and Child, and more. We stopped in the University Museum of Natural History and lingered there until it was time to meet [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat for lunch. We all ate together at an Indian restaurant; afterward, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat went back to work whilst [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup and I went home to nap. We got up when [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat left work to shower and prepare for the evening.

The evening's entertainment was a trip to Stratford-on-Avon to meet up with the beauteous [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip and see the Royal Shakespeare Company perform The Winter's Tale. This is the third time that I have seen this play on stage... and it was, by far, the best! The first time was an amateur production in Oxford in December 2007, the second was last August -- also in Oxford -- by a touring company from Shakespeare's Globe. The Globe does good work, but they are just not in the same league as the RSC. This production was fantastic... and it managed to increase my appreciate of the play by a couple of notches! After the show, we all hung out and chatted for a bit before [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip needed to go to her home and we needed to go back to ours.

Wednesday: Slept in with [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup who was somewhat sleepy from several days of insufficient rest. Once awake, we headed into Oxford to explore my home city for a second day. We had lunch at the Eagle & Child, in the Rabbit Room where J.R.R. Tolkein and C.S. Lewis used to meet every week. We climbed the last publicly accessible tower in Oxford that I had not yet ascended: the old Saxon tower (c.1040) of St. Michael's at the North Gate. Whilst atop the tower, we heard the buskers down below playing a variety of songs. When they reached "Dancing in the Moonlight" we couldn't resist breaking out into a dance of our own, together on top of this nearly-a-millennium-old building! Loads of fun! After leaving the tower, and the attached church, we took a break from crepes in Bonn Square, then climbed the Oxford Castle Mound. On our descent, we took a stroll through the grounds of Christ Church, entering on St. Aldates and emerging at the botanic garden. Then it was a walk across the Magdalen Bridge and up to Headington Hill Park before catching a bus home. In the evening, we went out for dinner with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat at G&D's so that we could have bagel sandwiches and ice cream!

Thursday: Today, I had to go to work. There was no way around it. We had our usual group meeting, and preparation needed to be done for a meeting in Oxford on Monday. Plus we have an international video conference at 11pm tonight and I am introducing my students to the global T2K SK group. [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup joined me for the trip into London, showing me how to play Settlers of Catan online along the way. Then we walked across Kensington Gardens together and I showed her where I work before sending her on to the Natural History Museum and the V&A whilst I got down to work. We met up again after my meeting ended and are now making our way back to Oxford -- very nearly there -- where I shall bring her to St. Giles Church and show her what all this change ringing stuff is about! Then dinner at the Noodle Bar Nation and home in time for my late night meeting!

And that, gentle readers, is the news of the week. So far! The only thing I really have time to add before the coach gets into Oxford is a comment about how very wonderful it is to have my dear [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup visiting here with me this week. I'm looking over at her sleeping in the seat next to me as I type this -- and simultaneously watching the bright red sun set below the clear horizon -- and I can't help but feeling like I'm a pretty lucky guy!


[*] The week before I had not left before seven o'clock on any night, and sometimes stayed as late as ten.

[**] Possibly because [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat is [usually] much less frightening than a shark?


To sleep, perchance to dream. Or, on the other hand, to be jetlagged... and do neither! Tis well and truly the middle of the night, yet I am still not asleep. Not for lack of trying, either. I wound down the evening many hours ago by having a lovely phone date with the even-lovelier [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup[1]. During the phone call, my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat proved once again how sweet and thoughtful she is by bringing me a cup of hot cocoa to help me relax. At the end of the call, I made a valiant effort to sleep. I hopped under the covers to cuddle with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat, and was joined by both Giles and The Boy.

Alas, despite all these accoutrements and preparations, sleep was ever elusive and evaded capture.

So. As long as I am to be awake in the wee hours of the night, I may as well put it to good use, yes? It seems like now is as good a time as any to write the final instalment of my holiday adventures in the States[2]. Perhaps I can write myself into at least half a night's sleep[3]...

Thursday January 1st 2009 I started the day off by checking out of the hotel where the O'hana party had been held. [livejournal.com profile] gyades and I played a game of Go, which he won... though not be all that much. Either I am improving, or his skills are atrophying. Not sure which, but our recent matches have not been nearly the slaughter that they once were.

In the afternoon, I did some mundane things, like tidying the house and seting up my 2009 SlingShot organizer. I also spend quite a bit of time with Stumpy and Chirp; Stumpy, in particular, remains as sweetly slutty as ever! I miss my little furry black girls when I am in England. I still hope to bring them over someday, to reunite them with their brother, The Boy.

After a relatively mellow day, things got more exciting in the late afternoon. "Why is that?" you may fairly ask, gentle readers. It is because the terrific and tantalizing [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup arrived from Michigan for a visit![4] Having not seen my delightful darling since October, it was all thrilled and bouncy to be with her again. After suitable greetings were made, I introduced her to [livejournal.com profile] gyades. It was not in the least surprising that the two of them took to each other quite readily. There was really no question in my mind that these two would get along swimmingly -- after all, [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup is basically a female version of me[5]. The only real risk was that having two of me in one place might fry [livejournal.com profile] gyades's brain!

Before [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup arrived, [livejournal.com profile] gyades had been cooking dinner. In recent years, he has specialised in Indian cooking. Had he and [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup not bonded instantly, I suspect that this would have closed the deal. Ever since her trip to India last year, my darling Tawney has been quite the fan of Indian food. And [livejournal.com profile] gyades cooks it quite well!

Following dinner, we broke out Ticket To Ride. I had never played the U.S./Canadia version of the game before. However, it is similar enough to the European version that I settled into it quite easily. It was a very close game, but I managed to win. Final scores: 152 points (me) to 120 points ([livejournal.com profile] gyades) to 110 points ([livejournal.com profile] tawneypup). This doesn't seem all that close. However, on my final turn, with my final card, I bought my final train... for a total of sixty-four points. If anything in that delicate situation had not lined up, I would have been -- what is the technical term? -- completely hosed!

We followed up Ticket To Ride with a game called Quelf. [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup had brought it with her -- I had neither played it before nor even heard of it. It is a very silly nonsense game, with a bizarre set of rules. The sort of thing to play when you want to game, but not think very hard. In the end, I won... again by the proverbial skin of my non-proverbial teeth. [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup and I made it to the final square at the same time... but I won the challenge on the final card drawn.

When we were done gaming, we bid a good night to [livejournal.com profile] gyades, then went upstairs to reacquaint ourselves and catch up on some long overdue quality alone time.


Friday January 2nd 2009 On Friday morning, [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup and I lounged in bed decadently for a very long time. When we finally arose, we showered and then I took her out to Butterfields for breakfast. Butterfields is my favourite breakfast place; since [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup had taken me to breakfast at her favourite place, it seemed only fair to return the favour. It took quite some time to choose only one item from the menu. However, we finally did manage to order -- I had a spinach, feta, and mushroom omelet with hash browns and pancakes. When the food arrived it was, as expected, superb!

After breakfast, [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup was extremely patient and accommodating, as I needed to pay a visit to the Illinois Secretary of State's office to renew my driver's license. Alas, this was the sole day during my Chicago trip that it would be possible to do so. Whilst there, she got to witness the egocentricity of Jesse White, our SoS. We also got to entertain ourselves by sitting on the "Group W" bench[6].

Once that errand was done, we met up with [livejournal.com profile] gyades and went to go play Laser Tag! This was only my second time playing laser tag -- the first was with [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup in Michigan last October. I am really enjoying it though! Quite a shame that the Oxford Laser Tag shut down a couple of years ago! I could see myself getting seriously addicted otherwise! Unlike the October games, which were divided into three teams, this was a free-for-all. When all was said and done, I had done... okay. Out of thirty-two players, I was ranked number thirteen. [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup was not far behind me, at number sixteen. [livejournal.com profile] gyades may need a little more practice -- he came in at number twenty-five.

We dropped [livejournal.com profile] gyades off at home and made our way into downtown Chicago. Our destination was a Middle Eastern restaurant where one of [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup's friends was performing. This made for quite an excellent evening -- both the food and the dancing were exemplary! When she was done dancing, we all sat and chatted for quite some time before [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup and I made our way back to the Event Horizon.


Saturday January 3rd 2009 Slept in once again! Really, it is hard not to with such company! When we finally managed to pull ourselves out of bed, we joined [livejournal.com profile] gyades, who made breakfast for all. Then it was time for a rematch at Ticket To Ride. This time, I started with a terrible hand of route cards. In Thursday's game, I had built all of my routes, drew more, then built them, too. This time, I adopted a different strategy: Built what I had been dealt, then end the game as quickly as possible, making sure to take the "longest road" bonus with me. Although not as satisfying a strategy, it did work. I forced an end to the game whilst both of my dear opponents still had several unfinished routes underway. Final scores: 120 points (me) to 102 points ([livejournal.com profile] tawneypup) to 58 points ([livejournal.com profile] gyades).

Since the weather was nice, we all hopped in the car and drove half a mile to the Morton Arboretum. One of the many things that I love about the Event Horizon is that it is situation so close to such a wonderful place. I try to visit there every time that I am in Chicago. However, I think that I had not actually had a Winter visit before! It was really nice, seeing the place partially covered in snow! It was great to share this special place with a very special person! We started off in the children's section, climbing the adventure playground equipment. Then we did a "Gnome Hunt"[7] and successfully tracked down all twenty-four gnomes. Sneaky little buggers, those gnomes are! Afterwards, we drove about the site, stopping at times to do a bit of hiking -- for instance, we made our way down the Big Rock trail to see (what else?) the Big Rock!

We stayed at the arboretum until it closed. After that, I took [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup out for dinner at a Mexican place in Glen Ellyn. I had not been there before, nor had I known of the place. [livejournal.com profile] gyades uncovered it by doing some web research... and I can now highly recommend it!

After dinner, [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup and I headed into Chicago once again. Our destination was Sidekick's, the karaoke bar that I used to frequent when I called the Event Horizon my primary residence. It is the site of the monthly Poly Chicago get-togethers, so I have quite a few happy memories there. In contrast, [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup had never been to a karaoke bar... so taking her there to lose her karaoke-virginity was not optional! By the end of the evening, I had sang alone twice (Billy Joel's Still Rock & Roll To Me and Scandal's Goodbye To You), she sang alone once, and we sang together once (Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart). It was gangs of fun, and next time we are planning to do a duet of Sweet Caroline. Mainly just for the fun of the bah-BAH-bahs! However, seeing as this was our last evening together for some time, we did not want to stay at Sidekick's until we were ready to fall over for the evening!

Instead, we left around 10:30pm, made it back to the Event Horizon by about eleven, and celebrated the rest of the evening by ourselves.


Sunday January 4th 2009 Started the day with a return trip to Butterfields, this time with [livejournal.com profile] gyades in tow, too. It had been so difficult for [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup and I to choose only one item from the menu last time that we decided a return visit was in order! This time, I got an apple and caramel waffle with some very creamy cheese, to boot!

After breakfast, [livejournal.com profile] xirpha joined us at the Event Horizon for gaming! We started with Settlers of Catan. Once again, it was a very tight game. I made the mistake of building a settlement too soon, allowing [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup to beat me in a race to a valuable port. This set me back significantly, though I finally managed to eke out a win. Final scores: 10 points (me) to 8 points ([livejournal.com profile] gyades) to 7 points (both [livejournal.com profile] xirpha and [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup).

Next game was Betrayal at House on the Hill[8]. This is where my winning streak came to an end. As luck would have it, I was fated to be the traitor in this game. However, some bad dice rolls kept me from doing anything more than killing [livejournal.com profile] gyades before I was taken down by the others. There was also a bit of Fluxx played after me and my army of demons went down in flames.

Around half five, [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup and I bid an all-too-soon farewell. Then she embarked on the drive back to Michigan whilst I drove to the Lisle train station to pick up the enchanting [livejournal.com profile] iamthesphinx.

I won't say much about the date with [livejournal.com profile] iamthesphinx here. For one thing, although she is almost never on LiveJournal anymore, she has a habit of popping in and checking up on me when I least expect it. Which is just after I have said something about her in these pages[9]. For another thing, my relationship with the lovely Sphinx is, without a doubt, the most unusual relationship that I have ever had. There have been quite a few ups and downs in the nearly three years that we have been together. I have learned that, whatever my expectations are for when we go out together, they are almost certainly wrong[10].

Case in point: This date went nothing like how I had expected it to go. Indeed, it exceeded my expectations by a wide margin! Blew them all to smithereens -- wherever that is -- one might say. It was a very, very good date. And that is all that I will say in a public forum.


Monday January 5th 2009 After not nearly enough sleep, I brought the enchanting [livejournal.com profile] iamthesphinx back to the train station. I waited with her until her train arrived, then bid her a most fond farewell.

After that, there was the usual barrage of last minute errands to tend to. Mainly hitting several stores for items that I cannot procure in England. Also, giving poor Lucretia II a good wash to recover from over twenty-five hundred miles of driving before putting her away until Spring. And packing. Lots of packing. Nothing really exciting there.

When [livejournal.com profile] gyades came home from work at lunchtime, he and I exchanged our holiday presents. Then he drove me to the airport, where I had a nice boring flight back to England.



And that, dear friends, is what I did on my Winter vacation...


[1] Said conversation was particularly welcome, due to the fact that we have not spoken in nearly two weeks. Ordinarily, we have a standing weekly phone date. However, we each went travelling for a week... and the two trips were timed just right so as to be serial, rather than parallel.

[2] Actually, given that the trip ended three weeks ago, I would say that two and a half weeks ago would have been a better time. However, that time machine is still in the pipeline. Have to perfect the transporter first, then get started building the invisible aeroplane.

[3] In which case I will finish this composition tomorrow.

[4] Were I Kermit the Frog, this would be an appropriate place to run about, waving my head wildly and shouting "Yaaaaaaaaaaay!!!!!!"

[5] Except slightly younger and slightly cuter.

[6] Alongside the mother-rapers... father-stabbers.... and father-rapers!

[7] Very similar to the "ghost hunt" that I did with Darelle and company in November, or the pumpkin hunt that I did with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat at Blenheim Palace in October.

[8] Affectionately known as The Shinning.

[9] See here for an example.

[10] Unless she is in a monogamous relationship at the time we go out. In which case my expectation -- that we are going out as friends only -- is always right. And I would not have that any other way. I am polyamourous; I do not cheat.


Back in England now... riding the airline coach from Gatwick to Oxford as I write this entry. From a travel point of view, this year is off to a more normal start for me. Less than one week into the year and I have already flown; unlike 2008 when I was grounded for over six months -- my first flight was not until mid-July! Now I am back in England for twelve days, then I am flying off to Japan for a week!

Alas, the return flight was less than what could have been desired. For one thing, it involved a stopover -- never a good thing. Even worse, the stopover was in Philadelphia. In my experience, the PHL airport is something to be avoided whenever possible! This time was no exception. Thanks to a hydraulic leak, we left (and landed) over two hours late. They also managed to lose one of my two pieces of checked luggage. Whee!

Still, the flight itself was good. I managed to sleep for much of the journey, I was lucky enough to have a remarkably friendly (and cute) neighbour to chat with, and I started reading Twilight -- getting through about one third of the book.

Also keeping my mood up are the fresh memories of a wonderful time in Chicagoland. I will try to write about the whole of my US trip soon, at least in summary, but for now I just want to say that the five days I spent at the Event Horizon (and vicinity) were fantastic! Particular thanks go out to [livejournal.com profile] gyades, the terrific [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup, the incredible [livejournal.com profile] iamthesphinx, and [livejournal.com profile] xirpha for making this trip into such a good time!

Finally, as a PSA, I should say that I intend to venture into the virtual swamp of my InBox and LJ backlog in the not-too-distant future -- either today or tomorrow. I have not touched either my e-mail or my f-list in two weeks whilst travelling, so it may take some time to clear everything. Indeed, it remains to be seen whether I ever catch up with my f-list or write it off as a lost cause! Still, if you have sent me something recently and have been waiting for a reply, rest assured that it should be coming soon!
...to [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup and [livejournal.com profile] resourceress and Darelle.

Y'all rock! Just saying...
The past thirty-six hours -- from Monday evening until this morning -- have been really good! There hasn't been any one single Major Good Thing... but there have been loads of little things conspiring to put me in an excellent mood!

It started with quite a nice ice skating lesson on Monday evening. I had a couple of breakthrough moments where various and sundry maneuvers seemed to click into place. I still can't reliably do an inside three-turn[*], but my backwards crossovers are looking good and my continuous curves -- both inside and outside edge -- are nice, too!

After skating on Monday, I had a lovely phone date with the even lovelier [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup! It is always good to hear her voice... and it will be even better to see here again next month! It was also a good way to end my evening; after getting off the phone, I collapsed into bed with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat.

Tuesday began with the perfect commute, as I wrote about yesterday... and the day just got better from there. Apparently, I was right about the perfect commute being a good omen![**] For one thing, the weather was clear and sunny -- at this time of year, I will take all the daylight that I can get! Also, over the course of Tuesday, I received word of various and sundry bits of good news -- much of it I cannot repeat in the public domain -- which left me feeling bouncy and happy. Indeed, the bouncy happiness threatened to bubble over... so I went up to the level eight terrace and had a phone chat with Darelle so that I could bounce at her from the roof for a bit!

Tuesday evening was bell ringing practice with the OUSCR at Mary Mag. The return commute was nearly as smooth as the morning's -- only a three minute wait for the Oxford Tube -- and the ringing was quite nice. In particular, I fell into a groove whilst ringing the treble to St. Simons Triples and was ringing impressively well (for me)! These days, I am working on improving my ropesight and my listening skills. Also my bell handling, so that I can make more natural distinctions between a slow stroke, a steady stroke, and a quick stroke.

When practice ended, I picked up noodles for [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I for dinner, then met her at Skullcrusher Mountain. We ate, then removed the last bits of our things from the old flat. With all of our stuff gone, the last task was to get the kitties moved. We had left them to the end, visiting daily with food when we came to pack. The idea -- which seems to have worked -- was to set the new place up reasonably well before unleashing them to destroy it! Before moving the kitties, we bathed them. We do this once or twice a year with our cats, using baby shampoo with conditioner to clean them up. So long as you start them on it young, they tolerate it. They never like it... but they tolerate it. For Giles, who was six months old yesterday, this was his first bath ever! He squirms like a wild thing when we so much as try to clip his claws... so both Chesh and I had anticipated the bath as being quite a challenge. Giles surprised us by taking it remarkably well -- mainly he just went limp and let us get on with it! Good kitty!

Once Giles and The Boy were clean, we put them in the car and left Skullcrusher Mountain. We need to return for cleaning and to do a farewell ritual for the space... but we are now officially moved out! Nice! Indeed, this has been one of the easiest moves I have ever done[***]. We did it all in eleven days, all by ourselves[****] and using only my Red Rover for transport. The new place is not fully set up set... but by spreading the packing over eleven days, we have had time to get a good fraction of our things into place as we went along.[*****]

The poor kitties didn't quite know what hit them! First, Mommy and Daddy take away all the things that they are used to! And go away each night! Then they get shoved into water!! And put in a carrier!! In the car!!! Then taken to a strange place!!!! Poor The Boy, he was very clingy and vocal as he explored the new place -- I made sure to lavish tonnes of attention on him! Giles, being a kitten, was less traumatised and happily explored his new home. Even though it was late, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I stayed up with them for some time, helping to acclimate them.

Finally, Chesh fell into bed and I hopped into the shower to wash the yuck of the old flat off of me. Then a "quick" hop online to check for mail from one or two certain someones... and into bed myself!

All in all, quite a nice day and a half!

The one downside to it all has been that, amongst all the activity of the past few days, I really have not enjoyed a full night's sleep since Saturday! I will endeavour to rectify this tonight. This evening, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I have theatre plans at the Oxford Playhouse. I don't know what show we are seeing yet -- this is the second-to-last of the "surprise theatre" tickets that she bought back in August -- but their shows usually let out shortly after ten pm. With any luck, I can grab a quick dinner and be in bed by shortly after eleven o'clock, thus luxuriating in the luxury of eight hours rest!


[*] But that's okay as the term is only half over. I have three more weeks to learn how!

[**] Certain good wishes from certain special people probably didn't hurt with this, either!

[***] Not counting those rare times that we have had professional movers, like when I moved from Arizona to Chicago to start work at Fermilab and the lab paid for the relocation costs.

[****] I believe that this alone is a first!

[*****] We were also able to re-use boxes after unpacking them, which is a nice eco-bonus!


I am taking a page out of the tantalizing [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup's book and organising a museum outing! Or, at least, putting out feelers to see if setting one up is a reasonable endeavour!

So..... here goes!

Click here if you are in the UK-based portion of my f-list )

We now return you to your regularly schedule LiveJournal. (And me to my regularly schedule ice skating lesson...)
That's right! It's time for the dreaded "Week In Review" post![*] What has your Friendly Neighbourhood Nomad been up to this week?

Monday: After work, I had a tight commute, but got back into Oxford just in time for my ice skating lesson. Actually, I had thought that I would be late for the first time ever -- very glad to have been wrong on that count! This was the first week of the Level Seven class. We are learning inside edge three-turns[**], backwards crossovers, continuous circles on the inside edges, and continuous circles on the outside edges. The first two seem a bit tricky, but I have a fair bit of confidence that I can manage to learn them all in the remaining five weeks of the class. Eventually, I know that I will have to re-take a Level... but it hasn't happened yet, and I'd like to put that off for as long as possible!

Tuesday: Missed the Oxford Tube in the evening by about two minutes, so I had to wait fifteen for the next one. This made me late for bell ringing practice with the OUSCR at Mary Mag. Thankfully, I was only seven minutes late to a seventy-five minute practice, so it all worked out. Indeed, it is quite likely that I didn't actually miss out on any ringing. There were twenty-two people there, so I only rang every third or fourth go. I also stayed up far too late watching the election results come in.

Wednesday: This was a free evening -- a rarity during term time. Since I skate on Mondays and ring on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Wednesday evening is the only one that is potentially open... and often [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I fill it with theatre dates (like we did last week and like we will do in two and three weeks time). I used the opportunity stay late at Imperial College. This seemed like a good idea, especially since I had arrived late, thanks to the long election night on Tuesday. Once I arrived home, I ate dinner quickly, then had a phone date with the tremendously terrific [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup! It had only been about a week since we had last talked -- which is normal for us -- but it was still quite lovely to hear her voice! Before the evening was out, I also got to catch up with [livejournal.com profile] frogcastle for the first time in awhile, and speak to the delightfully delicious Darelle, too.

Thursday: Today has turned out to be very different than planned. In fact, it has been a bit of an annoying day. Nothing serious has gone wrong, but I am non-plussed. I'm going to rant about my day, just to get the annoyance off of my chest. However, it really is just griping, so I will place it behind a cut, and please feel free to skip it! )

Friday: Tomorrow, we pick up the keys to our new flat! At which point, we officially start moving! Looking forward to this -- I like the new place, and it will make the commute a bit easier in a couple of different ways! Then there is a very busy weekend ahead... but I will write about that as it unfolds.


[*] Or, to be more specific, the slightly-less dreaded "Week In Review So Far" post.

[**] These involve skating forward, then pivoting on one foot, and ending up backward in a one-foot glide. We did them on the outside edge of our skates in Level Six.

[***] As anyone who knows me will attest, waiting is not my strong suit.

[****] Three cheers for mobile broadband!


Tonight's meeting was shorter than expected -- only about fifteen minutes long. When it ended, I was a touch shaken, but fundamentally okay. Decided that, rather than head straight home, I would take a walk along the Thames to ground myself.

Some say that things come in threes[1]. I am not sure that I believe this[2], but tonight the Universe gave me three things in a row -- all of which helped me to gather my inner strength, focus, and balance. The first happened as I crossed the Blackfriar's Bridge, just before commencing my walk. I am not sure where it emanated from -- possibly St. Pauls, or maybe the Southwark Cathedral -- but the music of change bell ringing filled the air. It was an unexpected surprise, and the beloved music helped me to find my center once again. Next was the stroll along the waterfront. This was not a surprise; being a water elemental, I knew that a walk alongside water would do me good. I walked until I felt calm and balanced once again. Before that happened, my walk led me to the lion statues near Cleopatra's Needle. Two years ago, [livejournal.com profile] resourceress and I walked by these lions -- indeed, I took a photograph of her that has become one of her LJ icons. Upon reaching the lions, I curled up between the paws of one of them and sat for awhile, looking out over the water. I remembered the strength and the longevity of the bond between [livejournal.com profile] resourceress and myself. I drew strength from this bond. I also remembered an important metaphor about lions that my dear [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup recently shared with me. This, too, warmed the heart. While sitting with the lions, I called on that strength to make an important phone call. Eventually, I left the lions and walked further, until I was ready to come home. I am doing so now, writing this entry from the Oxford Tube[3] on my way back to Skullcrusher Mountain.

Tonight's meeting concerned an ending, and was part of this year's Samhain. My Samhain began last Saturday night at sunset. For one thing, that was the final sunset before we changed the clocks back here in Merry Olde England[4]. Since then, the clocks have been changed and the sun sets before five o'clock. This large increment of lost daylight is an essential part of my Samhain experience, and it signals the coming of Winter. Saturday evening was also when my first Samhain ritual of the year took place; [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I did a small private ritual to honour some who are newly amongst the ranks of the Beloved Dead.

Samhain is the start of Winter, and the turning of the year. This year has certainly been all about Change[5]. Compared to this time last year, I have a new job in a new city, working on a new experiment in a new country. [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat has a new job, too. Her health is also in a new, and potentially better, place. Together, we have a new car, a new cat, and are about to have a new flat. With one exception, all of the significant romantic relationships in my life have changed, too. I won't pretend that it has been an easy year; most of these changes were quite painful when they were happening -- the period from December 17th to April th hurt like hell![6] However, I find that I am in a strong and positive headspace this Samhain season.

Indeed, I find that my current energy makes for an interesting contrast with Samhains of the past two years. In 2006, somebody turned up the Samhain volume too much; that year, the Samhain energy was particularly intense as the Universe chose to beat the crap out of not just me, but also many other people that I know. Samhain 2007 was quite different; possibly due to a cold, or maybe due to the intensity of Samhain 2006, I felt very little connection with the Samhain energy last year. We did a small ritual and went to WitchFest in London, but it all felt very distant. To use the Three Bears as a metaphor, Samhain 2006 was too much, Samhain 2007 was too little, and Samhain 2008 feels just right. I am wrapping up the last loose ends of the year and moving forward into next year from a place of strength and grounding.

In addition to doing our private ritual on Saturday, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I celebrated the season on Sunday with a visit to Blenheim Palace to attend their "Very Victorian Halloween" festivities. These included haunted ghost stories, a show from a nineteenth century magic lantern, and a pumpkin train... as well as a more generic stroll in the formal gardens and past the waterfall.

Plans for upcoming Samhain and Halloween events include running our traditional Ancestor Ritual for a group of good friends on Friday (Samhain proper), followed by a visit to a haunted farm, and a walk in Salcey Forest to watch the leaves changing colour over the weekend. Backup plans, in the event of rain, could include the Halloween festivities at the Oxford Castle, a ghost tour of Oxford, or a performance of Sweeney Todd at the Old Fire Station Theatre in Oxford[7].

To all those on my f-list who celebrate this holiday, I wish you a very Blessed Samhain! To everyone else, I wish a Happy Halloween[8]!


[1] Which may come as a surprise to the lovely [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup, given her Halloween costume this year.

[2] Indeed, I probably don't.

[3] Where I seem to write most of my LJ entries of late.

[4] A side effect is that, for this week only, I am a mere four hours ahead of the East Coast and a scant five hours ahead of Chicago. If anyone wants a phone call from their favourite Nomad, this is probably a good week to arrange one!

[5] And not the sort a certain politician likes to talk about, either!

[6] The first date is when [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat's knee got injured, starting the period where the Universe decided to use us as a punchingbag. The second date is when we laid our beloved Foxy to rest, which was the last of the large traumas. Much rebuilding work remained -- indeed, it is not yet all over -- but the continuous volley of tragedies finally stopped raining down on us at that point. Which gave me the breathing room to stop doing triage and start on the rebuilding.

[7] I am somewhat torn about this. On the one hand, it is Sweeney Todd. On the other hand, it is OFS -- a venue for [very] amateurish productions. Just out of curiosity, would anyone be interested in joining us for this if we were to procure tickets for Saturday night (Nov 1)? It probably won't happen, as we already have plans if the weather is good... but I am just putting out some exceedingly tentative feelers to evaluate the potential of this as a backup plan.

[8] And, to my dad, I wish a happy 65th birthday! That's right -- my father was born on Halloween and my mother was born on 9/11.


Heading back to Oxford after my first day back at work. Seems like an ideal time to finish blogging my latest US trip... )
I was made aware of this hysterical video by the lovely [livejournal.com profile] kat1031 earlier today. Despite the fact that I am rapidly running out of time to finish packing, I had to re-post it for the enjoyment of anyone who either (a) shares my sense of humour, or (b) enjoyed this video waaaaay back in the 1980s. In particular, I am confident that the delicious [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup will be cracking up when she sees it...


Right. Back to packing now...

anarchist_nomad: (The cape as red as blood)
( Oct. 9th, 2008 07:49 am)
Last night, I went out to dinner with AB, one of the graduate students from the CRESST group at Oxford. At the end of the meal, we received fortune cookies. My fortune read: "You are about to depart for a land of sunshine."

This was very good news for me, as I leave in six hours for the States, and shall be spending the weekend in the woods at P**T***! The gathering is always fun... but eleven years of experience have taught me that it is usually more enjoyable when one can hike in the woods, rather than when one can paddle a canoe in the firepit[*]! It looks like those fortune tellers may be right on the mark, too! The weather report for the site calls for sun and clear skies all weekend; highs in the 70s and lows in the 40s. I don't think that I could ask for better P**T*** weather! Very much looking forward to seeing many of you there tomorrow, my dear friends!!!

Goodness -- this will be my twelfth year in a row at P**T***. My, how the time flies!

I will be back in Oxford late on Monday the 20th. Until then, however, I will be largely out of electronic contact. Whilst at P**T***, I will effectively be in a different world and, thus, virtually impossible to reach. After the gathering ends, I will be travelling and largely away from a computer. For anyone who might need or want to know, here is my tentative schedule )

Okay, six hours to go. Time to pack and do all those other last minute things that need doing at the last minute[**]...


[*] This did happen one year when the rain was particularly heavy!

[**] Apropos to absolutely nothing, I want to note that I have recently seen two plays. On September 24th, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat went to see The Woman In Black. And this past Saturday, October 4th, we saw a production of one of my absolute favourite comedies, Noises Off at the Oxford Playhouse. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the rest of this entry. However, I do like to keep track of the theatre I see and have been rubbish about updating this journal for the past couple of weeks. So I figured if I did not mention these plays now, before I fly away, it was never going to happen. Hence this somewhat incongruous footnote...


First day on the new job went well. There are pros and cons to the switch, but overall I think that this is going to be a good thing.

Main disadvantage, of course, is the commute -- I just barely got back to Oxford in time for my ice skating lesson tonight! However, I have some ideas for helping with that. Tomorrow I bring my bicycle on the Oxford Tube, which should make the London side of the journey shorter. The eventual relocation to east Oxford should shorten the overall commute somewhat. And there are a couple of purchases that I could make to enhance the productivity of the journey.

As for the new job itself... well, that requires a longer post than I want to make tonight. Something to really go into the physics that I will be working on. Can't do that now, as I am particularly knackered and about to go collapse into bed with my dear [livejournal.com profile] cheshcati

Before I do, though, I want to publicly thank [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup and Darelle... all of whom were quite encouraging today. On my [sleepy] way to work this morning, Darelle sent a very sweet text message for my first day. If I had not been on the bus when I received it, I might have even started skipping! [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup sent multiple cheery e-mails to bolster my spirits. And those spirits weren't even low -- so that is saying something about the bouncy and beautiful goodness that is [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup! Sometime in the afternoon, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat sent me a "first day" e-card that nearly brought a tear to my eye. It reminded me that this woman has shared my life since I was a mere slip of an undergraduate, scarcely a year after I decided that I had wanted to pursue a career in physics. She has been here for the trials and tribulations of my early courses, the insane stress of my first year in graduate school, and watched me in each and every experiment that I have collaborated on. Plus she (and [livejournal.com profile] resourceress edited my doctoral disseration -- all two hundred pages of it[*]! If all that weren't enough... she had dinner waiting when I got home from my first day.

Pardon the incoherency, gentle readers. I did warn that I was knackered. However, eloquent or no, I felt it important to write this entry and acknowledge that I am lucky enough to have some very special people in my life!

[*] Indeed, the dedication in my PhD -- crafted back in 2003 -- is to [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat.

Just got home from driving the last of the UnGuests home as the second day of the Cheshcat Convalescent UnParty draws to a close!

Weekend report: The UnParty -- both days -- was an unmitigated success!

We had twelve people drop by on Saturday and six come around on Sunday. There were games and good food and good company and good conversation! Giles the kitten was exposed to more people than ever before, and admired by many. There was a tour of the cryo-detector lab and two batches of ice cream were made! At least one person told me that the ice cream was the best that she had ever eaten!! Indeed, even the weather cooperated to make for an utterly fantastic weekend!

More details to follow[*], but for now I think it is best to give a call to the delightful [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup and then wind down for bed. Busy week ahead!


[*] I hope!

Quickie Updates On The Life Of Me:


Monday: Went ice skating after work -- my first lesson in nearly two months. After my pitiful performance ice skating in Birmingham last month, I was afraid that I had forgotten everything that I ever knew. But, no, the lesson went well and I am already taking to several of the Level Six skills!

Tuesday: During the day, I volunteered to help out with the open day at St. Giles Church, I was unexpectedly hit really hard with a brick, I freecycled Peter I, and I had a most excellent conversation with the adorable [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup[*]. In the evening, I went to partake of the St. Giles Fair with the lovely [livejournal.com profile] dr_jen. We went on several rides -- generic spinning rides, bumper cars, a [cheesy!] haunted house, and a roller coaster! I absolutely love the fact that, right in the heart of Oxford, I was on a roller coaster! It almost looked like we were going to smash into one of the statues of a Saint high above the entrance to St. John's College! We also indulged in the traditional enjoyments of such a fair -- candy floss, carnival games, et cetera. Good fun and good company!

Wednesday: (World failed to end. Try harder next time.) Driving [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat to work, I marvelled at how ordinary St. Giles looked. No one would know that, eleven hours later, this major street had been functioning as a carnival! After work, C came over and taught me how to perform various and sundry pieces of maintenance on Peter II. Ever since before I got Bruce[**], I had wanted to learn how to do automotive repair and maintenance. However, fourteen years later, I must admit with some embarrassment that I know next to nothing. Last night, we took steps to change this... along with change the oil, oil filter, and air filter on Peter. Next lesson coming up is the spark plugs. Once C had left, I settled down to an excellent dinner -- cooked by [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat. After dinner, we spent the rest of the evening having some quality alone time together.

Today: What do you want to do tonight, Nomad? The same thing we do every Thursday night, Pinky! Ring bells at St. Giles! Handbell practice starts in about two hours -- I am currently studying the 5/6 part[***] for Plain Bob Major and the trebles for Little Bob Major. If I have time, I will also look at Grandsire Doubles for the tower bell practice that will follow.

Meanwhile, it looks like another fun weekend is fast approaching, with lots to look forward to! Tomorrow evening, I will be seeing the delightful Darelle again -- which I am very eagerly anticipating!! -- and then it will be time for PolyDay in London!!!

Hurm. I think that I may have exhausted my daily ration of exclamation marks in that paragraph... so perhaps I had best end this now.

[*] Thank you.

[**] Bruce was my first car -- a 1994 Hyundai Excel bought straight out of the dealers room on June 6th
1994 for the grand total of $8700.

[***] The only part that I am not yet familiar with.

.

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