Further Musings

Beauty smote his heart, he looked up from the forsaken land & hope returned to him

Archive for May 2010

Safely Home

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We’re home and finally caught up on sleep.  It was nice to be wide awake at 6am. Charity and I spent the time working our photos down from 950 to around 630 from our trip. Any takers?

In sum, the trip was great.

A week in London was highlighted with stunning Kew Gardens, the ancient colleges of Oxford, and museums filled with art and artifacts.

A week in Normandy had huge stone cathedrals, beautiful beaches and cliffs, and many, many WWII cemeteries.

A week in Paris with my parents cruising the Seine at twilight, eating wonderful food, and seeing some great museums (including, but not limited to the famed Paris Sewer Tour :-).

In the end we would take a bit more countryside and a bit less city next time.  We’re grateful to have seen so many great things in the cities but we loved the restful, beautiful peace of the Normandy countryside.  It filled us with a peace that we rarely get elsewhere.

I don’t yet know how if I want to put together some thoughtful posts or just drop beautiful pictures from time to time but I thought I’d post this photo as it’s one of my very favorites from our time.

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May 30, 2010 at 11:01 am

Posted in Travel

At the Eagle and Child

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For many years the Inklings met at the Eagle and Child to read and review each other’s works.   You readers know that I’m a Tolkien nut and a Lewis fan as well.  It was pretty special to raise a glass to them in their old haunt. 

It’s amazing to think about what influential narratives were penned there, how their stories shape our imaginations. 

Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings is a study in eu-tastrophe where there is an unexpected salvation (as opposed to catastrophe where there is an unexpected terrible event).   I love the gospel message that salvation is unexpected and beyond hope. 

I loved raising a glass to a man who has so shaped my thinking.

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May 17, 2010 at 7:06 pm

Posted in Travel

Amongst the Oxford Spires

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Despite coming off the worst argument of our marriage earlier in the day I still think it was a beautiful view and a nice shot.

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May 16, 2010 at 7:15 pm

Posted in Travel

Self Portrait at the British Museum

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What a fantastic space. 

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May 15, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Posted in Travel

At Les Miserables

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On Wednesday we staid home through most of the day and ventured into the city for a quick tour of the British Library before eating dinner at an industrial/monastic Belgian resturant and heading down to a show of Les Miserables.  The theather was intimate, our seats wonderful, and the story still has me thinking.  Now if only the songs would get out of my head when I try to sleep . . .  

Our days here have been a nice blend rest and adventure though we keep feeling crazed.  Though we don’t want to be we’ve noticed we feel tense and are always running for our next stop when we’re in the heart of town. 

We’re trying hard to be observant about how we feel after our adventures and have concluded that leaving more space to get places and scheduling time to put our feet up between sights would improve our sight seeing days. 

I think we’re both ready to have less internet access and more empty country spaces to wander. 

Normandy’s just around the corner . . .

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May 14, 2010 at 7:29 pm

Posted in Travel

What the Bird Said Earlier in the Year

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So I did manage to download a few photos.  Am too tired to do more but here’s the one from yesterday. 

Off to France in the morning with little internet expected until our return.  More photos to follow then. 

G&P,  Andy

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May 14, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Posted in Travel

On Addison’s Walk

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Today I walked round Addison’s Walk, a footpath that encircles an island on the grounds of Magdalen College in Oxford.  The grounds were a lovely green oasis surrounded by stone walls providing a bit of peace after many a day in hectic London.  It was wonderful to tread the favorite haunt of C.S. Lewis and to see such beauty. 

As I rounded the home stretch I crossed the river to peer into the deer park and there, beside the locked gate, I found a poem (see below) etched into circular stone plaque, gray with lichen and age blending into the vast gray stonewall on which it is mounted.  Improbably, growing out of the top was a lone buttercup, perfectly formed, yellow and full of spring, and of hope, and of promise. 

I teared up as I read the words aloud under the gray Oxford sky.  The perfect, impossibly perfect, match of the buttercup to the poem still makes me teary on this day when hope was needed. 

Since then I’ve been wondering what it means, for me to hope . . . during this spring . . . about this year. 

What the Bird Said Early in the Year

I heard in Addison’s Walk a bird sing clear:
This year the summer will come true. This year. This year.

Winds will not strip the blossom from the apple trees
This year nor want of rain destroy the peas.

This year time’s nature will no more defeat you.
Nor all the promised moments in their passing cheat you.

This time they will not lead you round and back
To Autumn, one year older, by the well worn track.

This year, this year, as all these flowers foretell,
We shall escape the circle and undo the spell.

Often deceived, yet open once again your heart,
Quick, quick, quick, quick! – the gates are drawn apart.

Written by furthermusings

May 13, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Posted in Reflections, Travel

In London

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It’s day four here in London and today we’re lying low after three days of hard charging.   We’re super blessed to be staying at a friend’s flat while we’re here.  That proved especially handy last night when there was peptobismol in the medicine cabinet at 3am. 

A brief bit about our adventures thus far:

The flights were largely uneventful (tis the best kind of flight).  Saturday we rested up and showered for a bit before heading to Kew Gardens for the afternoon.  I think for anyone Kew in the spring would be a wonderland but for a gardener like me it was fantastic.  Most people would be stunned by the flowers and the gorgeous Victorian glass houses.  I got my picture taken with a 225 year old houseplant.  🙂

Sunday we took a ferry ride up the Thames to Hampton Courts Palace.  It was wonderful to be out on the water and to peer down the hundreds of English gardens that opened up onto the Thames.  I loved looking down the well-kept lawns leading up to beautiful houses, both ancient and modern.  Upon arrival we toured the palace and the very formal grounds.  This last year Charity has sent me to the Henry the VIII section of the library again and again and I think she enjoyed being amongst the Tudors.

Monday we ventured downtown on the tube and sprinted up the stairs and down the sidewalk to  just barely made the London Walks tour of Westminster Abby.  It was a magnificent place both in terms of history and art.  Some of the sculptures were stunning and I dearly wished I could have taken photos.  The building is also a compendium of English culture.  I stood between the graves of Issac Newton on my left and Charles Darwin on my right.  Just down the way I passed the grave of William Wilberforce

Charity wasn’t feeling well so she went home and I ventured out to the British Museum.  The lobby (pictured right) was worth the tube fare.  It was also pretty amazing to walk through 3,000 years of history amongst the mummies and sarcophaguses of the Egyptians, the lions of the Assyrians, and Parthenon friezes of Greeks.  So many people . . . for so many years . . . living in such different worlds with such different worldviews . . .

Our computer here is a bit slow to be uploading our huge photos so I pulled a few off the web.  Our photos will have to wait till we return stateside. 

Off to read and sip tea as I stare out at bundeled Brits walk up and down our leafy British street under the cold gray sky.

Written by furthermusings

May 11, 2010 at 9:02 am

Posted in Travel

Wachovia Exchange Rate

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Just to vent . . .

Charity and I have been carefully considering our options to get foreign currency: ATMs? Cash here? So yesterday the Euro was the lowest in recent memory 1.30 dollars for a Euro. I went to Wachovia, understanding I’d have to pay a $15 fee but excited to get the 1.30 rate.

then surprise! Wachovia’s rate was pretty different than the actual rate. 1.379 in fact, a full 5% higher than the actual exchange rate. The poor woman at the counter had to stare shiftily at the floor and say “that’s the exchange rate” while I had Charity on the line looking at the actual rate.

Had they been upfront about it I would have been less angry but it was a pretty unpleasant surprise. Gotcha capitalism at work.

Lesson being that you should shop around for exchange rates. Even if the bank is saying they won’t charge a premium they may very well do it anyway.

Blerg.

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May 5, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Posted in Travel

How not to impress your TA

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Never a good sign when first words I read on a final exam are “please don’t fail me.”

Later came this bit, “This isn’t a very good example, but if you use your imagination and apply it to other, more pertinent things, you get the idea.”

Asking the TA to do the thinking for you is not good.

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May 3, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Posted in Political Science

Groundhog!

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This morning I was mostly dressed and in the bathroom when I peeked through the blinds into the backyard and discovered a groundhog brunching on my lettuce.  My response was was as follows.

First, I ran out of the bathroom (still just mostly dressed) yelling for Charity to “Look look at what’s been eating your tomato plants!”  While this was successful in getting Charity to see the groundhog it might not have been the best decision to run around . . . er . . . not so completely clothed with house guests around who we barely know.

Second, I dearly wanted to slap a groundhog but instead settled for dashing out the back door and screaming at him as he hurriedly waddled into the bushes.

Third, it made me think, “this is unfair.  We have a homeless guy camping just behind our fence and a groundhog in our lettuce.  Most places in the world have one or the other.  Do we really have both?”

I guess that’s both the blessing and the curse of living downtown and in the garden.

. . . .

(Hat tip to Matthew for a great blogpost and to Katie for pointing it out.)

Written by furthermusings

May 1, 2010 at 11:04 am

Posted in At the House