Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Courtly love

Well today has been all about Wimbledon - things are pretty tense on Centre Court right now, but here's my mom earlier this afternoon, waiting for it all to start...

Okay, back to the telly for me. Stress-a-rama!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Stars by any other name

Among her many many volumes, Sara has the same edition of Louis MacNeice's Poems that I used to have - I took it out today and leafed through, gazing at words and couplets like old friends. I stopped to reread one that I used to have on my desk at work in Exeter. These days, there are probably different words that I would keep close to me in an office environment, but that's where I was, then: treasuring the stand-still quality of the last lines...

What is truth? says Pilate,
Waits for no answer;
Double your stakes, says the clock
To the ageing dancer;
Double the guard, says Authority,
Treble the bars;
Holes in the sky, says the child
Scanning the stars.

After some beautiful cooling rain this morning, the world has heated up once more. I must divine the secret to a good iced coffee...

Monday, June 28, 2010

The weekend round-up

Lovely weekend, kicking off with drinks under the arches of London Bridge (but in an actual pub; we weren't just camped out with tinnies), then on to catch Skatroniks Jamaica in the Jazz Cafe, Camden. Fabulous night.

As the main summer sales opened in London, I spent Saturday morning with the 'Heart of London' sangha: meditation with a most welcoming group in Thich Nhat Hanh's tradition. Then I made a beeline for home (shall brave the sales on a quiet morning). Sunday, I headed out to Greenwich and caught up with friends over a pint while the world watched football (over several pints). Before we parted, we-the-laydees got matching bracelets and the Blood-Sister ceremony was complete :-)

Struggling to get stuck back into work today; trying to engage my brain calls to mind the Bagpuss mice... heeeeeeave!!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Medley

Piccies from the British Museum last night: we got to see a good selection of what was on, though I think we'd have both gazed at the islamic calligraphy demonstration for the entire two hours. While we were there, the calligrapher wrote out a verse from Rumi:

“When I am with you, we stay up all night.
When you're not here, I can't go to sleep.
Praise God for those two insomnias!
And the difference between them.”

It was fresh in my mind because, coincidentally, someone had tweeted that verse the day before :-)

Anyhoo, a fun night, which continued down in Chinatown for food and several much-needed refreshing beers. For it was, as the song goes, hot in the city.

Forgot to mention - last Friday's 'Sorry I Haven't A Clue' session at the South Bank Centre was just great. Lots of sexual puns (which I did my best to keep up with). The highlight of the evening was Festival Hall brimming with the audience's interpretation of 'Bohemian Rhapsody' on wazoo. Yes, wazoo. Great musical moment. And the wazoo is not as easy as it appears...

Have a great weekend, folks X

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A world of delights

Scribble scribble scribble. Thus went the day, happily :-)

Off to the British Museum later for their 'Belief and Faith' evening. The programme has oodles of things running simultaneously: lectures, performances, demonstrations and storytelling. I'm thinking a little gospel music, islamic calligraphy, Easter Island statue-making, and maybe finish up listening to a storyteller conjure up some Hindu myths. It seems a lot to squodge in to two hours; we can but try!

In Kitty News: they are gradually getting introduced to the local wildlife. They encountered their first squirrel yesterday; they were duly psyched. And although the Cat of the House regularly faces down the adult foxes that frequent these parts, the little munchkins have not yet had the pleasure...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Worlds within worlds

I feel like I'm coming up to the surface, after a day of writing.

Then again, writing feels like coming up to the surface too :-)

Out to sit in the sunshine and savour the cool breeze. In the meanwhile, here's an image of one of the mermaids at Weeki Wachee that I seem to post every year or so... Just the right level of 'cool' suggested:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

time to refresh

Blazing sunshiney day: the miniature waterfall is gurgling into the koi pond, the kitties are napping in the cool shade, an occasional wind chime tings...

In a garden somewhere close by, a mother struggles to subdue her children's exuberance: she tries to convince them that a paddling pool filled with imaginary water will be just as much fun as one splashing with real water.

No-one believes her words, not even she :-)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Midsummer Night

Yawwwwwnn! One of the lovely laydees of this house decided that there should be fire to honour the Solstice, and so a BBQ was duly arranged.

I didn't know about it until later: my email was acting up in the British Library, and I couldn't open emails but could only read their titles. And so, when I saw the email exchange between the House Folk entitled 'Fire!' I paused a moment. Then I reasoned that in an emergency, they'd be using phones, surely...

So, I stayed at my research, and when the Manuscripts reading room closed, I moved to Rare Books, reading of unicorn tapestries until that room too closed at 8pm. Then homeward bound, to what I hoped was a welcome fire.

Anyhoo, it all worked out beautifully!

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Great Unknown

Wimbledon tickets arrived safely :-) Yet another treaty outing in place...

I'm off this evening to a live recording of the BBC's I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue. I first listened to the (slightly loopy) panel show in Grand Haven many moons ago; to get to see it live is a big treat.

My camera's finally recharged, so photos of everyday life shall resume shortly. In the meantime, here's one my brother prepared earlier. It was my second last night in Baltimore: before heading in for dinner at The Glebe, we nipped in the gardens to glimpse the irises before their all-too-brief flowering faded. Glorious colour.

Of all the events people have organised for Aung San Suu Kyi’s 65th birthday tomorrow, my favourite is the NLD Youth Members' planting of 20,000 trees in townships across her country. As a symbolic act, it resonates on oodles of levels, but for me, it's as a gesture to future generations that packs a punch. The foresight, the long-view it takes to plant these little saplings through the troubled land, in forests and on barren hilltops, where they will help to restore life; the willpower and sense of trust, that what the saplings represent will reach fruition, even if it is beyond our lifetime's reach. And to those future generations, those trees will say 'We believed'.

Have a great weekend, all X

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Golden Moments

Sneakily logging on from the Rare Books Reading Room, where I've been trawling through museum-ey stuff for the afternoon.

I did the BL's Conservation Centre tour today, which was an absolute treat. A batch of conservators took our small group through aspects of their role, and we got a glimpse of several works in progress. One book had been taken part, each page washed (that's right, they wash paper), strengthened and painstakingly spot-healed with japanese tissue paper; after that the pages would be remounted and finally rebound. To get that one book stabilised, ready for next generations, would take about 250 hours.

The BL holds 14 million books.

Now, I'm not saying that all of them need looking at, yet, but you get the impression that there are no 'down' times where the staff twiddle their thumbs, waiting for paper to degenerate or a spine to break.

We finished up, appropriately, in the Finishing Room. Book Finishers are the rock stars of the book conservation world - those who stamp lettering on spines in gold leaf. It's a thing that you're either excellent at or not, irrespective of training. By all accounts, scientists will identify a Finisher gene marker some decade.

Our guide asked us to pass around a sheet of gold leaf, which of course crumbled in our hands. And left several of us with sparkley fingers, which we perhaps delighted over while sitting out in the sunshine, eating popcorn with care :-)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mapping out your space

Yesterday whirled by in the British Library. I was able to get my Reader's Pass renewed (yippee), so I shall base myself in there two or three days a week. That done, off I went on a guided tour of their 'Magnificent Maps' exhibition, whose basic premise is that maps were only hijacked by geography in recent centuries; they were wielded to denote power and disseminate propoganda.

Fab, eclectic choice of maps, well laid out, and the curator kept us joining the dots across centuries. The medieval world maps are a personal favourite, featuring the known world, stretching across to the Garden of Eden and filled with all the wonderful creatures that populate faroff oceans and lands (such as the upsidedowney Mandrake Man, left).

Leaving the BL and returning to regular city street traffic was a jolt: I'm still adjusting to the sheer number of people here, and the different etiquette of interaction.

The kitties however, are in seventh heaven. Koi carp to play with, oodles of buzzing flying creatures to chase through the garden, myriad places to lounge. They're living in their own map of wonders.

Monday, June 14, 2010

London Calling...

So far so fabulous!

Before anything else, know this: Sara is a patient, generous, wonderful host.

Okay, I was a smidge exhausted for a few days: 'normal' until an attack of the Flumps would have me napping on the sofa quicker than you could say 'beer o'clock'. But mojo was gradually restored. Treaty food; beers out (peroni and staropramen on tap - luxury!); much catch-up. On Saturday, after lunch and a farmer's-in-bunny-ears [= "farmer's"] market, where we finished with a rum punch [note to the folk at Casey's :-)] we meandered on to the V&A to visit Grace Kelly's purdy dresses and unfurl some stories of the quilted kind. And there were fairies, yes indeedey. Even a West Cork varietal.

Flash back to Ferry Night: I had bought a book for the crossing - The Sun-Fish by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin. (In college, Eiléan was my lecturer, then colleague and internal examiner for my PhD.) I was curled up, shattered; feeling... at sea, quite frankly. And I read the first poem in her collection, which was about setting out: 'Leave behind the places that you knew: All that you leave behind you will find once more...'

There's a storytelling cat in the poem (naturally). The final stanza is:

The story the cat does not know is the Book of Ruth
And I have no time to tell you how she fared
When she went out at night and was afraid,
In the beginning of the barley harvest,
Or how she trusted to strangers and stood by her word:

You will have to trust me, she lived happily ever after.

Obviously, I read the words like they were written just for me. If Eiléan had appeared and repeated these words in person - direct, half-smiling - they couldn't have felt more personal.

It was always going to be a leap of faith :-)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Farewell Photos

After much trawling, here's a selection from Monday night's bash. Arrival at the Glebe was marked with me going 'Awww that's so sweeeeeeeet....'

Bubbley flowed; friends caught up, or were introduced...

And we feasted :-)

And then the Queen of the Dance walked amongst us...

...and the night progressed, with some goodbyes, and yet more friends arriving, and the dancing going to a whole new level :-)

And finally, all goodbyes. On the way home we stopped in to say goodnight to the ever lovely Sharon Rose (who had to leave Cinderella-Early), and so to rest.

Have a lovely weekend, folks X

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Kitties on Parade

I'm in London: unpacked, fed, warm in the company of the very lovely Sara. Still tired, but that's getting better. Thanks to all for your good wishes over the last few days - they meant the world to me.

The drive from the ferry went well - I took a brief detour to Bath, where the kitties went for a wander in a very dinky Queen's Parade and got to glimpse the Royal Crescent.

Yes, I know how loopy it is to let out cats en route anywhere. I'm not sure why I trust them to return, but there you go. On arrival in London, the vet's advice was to keep them in for a full week. We worked a little ahead of schedule (11am this morning).

Introducing the kitties to the Lovely Cat of the House has been... colourful, but getting better. All napping peacefully now :-)

Anyhoo, I am doing photos in reverse order, so here's the kitties on their Road Trip.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

She's Leaving Home...

Best quote of last night, amid much laughter and dancing: "You should leave more often!" Oh, Tessa...

First then: my heartfelt thanks to the ever-fabulous Perrys for their outstanding hospitality last night. It was a gorgeous send-off. We met in Jacobs Bar, headed over to Bushes, and made our way up the hill from Algiers to Caseys (bolstered by the Fabulous Baking Lady's double espresso and cappuccino cupcakes - thank you Sarah). Obviously there weren't enough establishments en route, and prosecco appeared from a home along the way (thank you, Petra). And then to the Glebe.

I'm certain that I can't do justice to the myriad elements: the Glebe courtyard by candlelight, delicious food, DJ Dev keeping us on the floor for the night... Sharon Rose's serious skirt action; John M holding court by the bar; Allie revising so many lyrics "Cheveley's off to London... Big Mistake..."; Paula leading us in a reprise of All the Single Ladies; me reuniting with the Shakespeare ladies for one last moment together in the garden; and throughout the night, friends old and new dropping in to chat, and dance, and laugh.

And cry a little.

Thank to everyone for the support and cards and advice and gifts and good wishes - and super-special thanks to Tom G for all the help with the move - but most of all, and most simply, thank you for sharing last night, and so many other soulful and sparkling and treasured days and nights. I found more than I ever dreamed of in this precious community, and to paraphrase e e cummings, I will carry your heart with me.


Friday, June 4, 2010

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Wooden Boat wrap-up

I keep bumping into folk wanting posters or t-shirts from the Wooden Boat - there are plenty of loyal customers in the vicinity, who have something from each year of the festival.

I was lucky enough to sail on both days (thanks, Sheelagh). There were challenges on both Saturday and Sunday: much wind, and no wind, respectively. On the Much Wind day, a rope snapped while I was tacking, which added to the drama (and the bruisedness) of the day. Despite the intense sailing, our crew all managed to jump up by the mast and Wiggle It, Just a Little Bit...

Sunday morning was all about the No Wind: the Lobster Pot Challenge (how excited was I!!) had to be restricted to rowers only; by the Parade of Sail in the afternoon, we were just willing the Mary Ann to heeeeave her way past the pier :-)

The Carbery boats were a highlight of this year's festival: everyone gets a batch of timber & basic tools, and they have one day to build a boat. They were all launched on Sunday, and raced until each sank one by one (some with a little help). Fabulous tradition.

And, for those deprived folk out there who don't have access to the Cork County section of the Examiner, sure weren't we were even in da papers!!

The front page of the County section was given over to the Kerry Slug, so you can understand the stiff competition we faced...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Wednesday the last

Glorious day here: spent a few hours this morning test-driving the new Nosey Rosie book (so far so good!). And then it was up to the lovely Glebe, featuring the lovely Glebe ladies, for a fresh delicious breakfast.

It shall be a wrapping-up-loose-ends kinda afternoon, followed by a little hairdressing for a friend, and some wine (once the scissors have been put away).

Some pics from our impromptu Sea Safari expedition last week as we pulled in around Sherkin, with cormorants and gannets and seals and porpoises.

I didn't get any photos of the basking sharks, but others have done more, better :-)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

One week to go...

Dividing time between Nosey Rosie Sequelling and sorting garden things... and the countdown conversations continue - laughing along with the breezy ones; trying not to blub with the heartfelt ones.

And in other news: