25 May 2009

Swing. Tire, Swing.

As I walked out one overcast Memorial Day afternoon…
I should first preface this anecdote by stating that Mac and I are so very fortunate to live near a not so very common Common. Commons are typically flat and large and green. Whilst this one is both large and green, it is a great big giant hill carved into all sizes of trails and dirtbike paths for enjoying the trees and general woodsyness pleasure. We take Murphy there most days of the week which he enjoys to his fullest potential. Today we walked a trail we sometimes take but came across an aptly placed tire swing that has not made its presence known before. Great oak, small precipice gently sloping. Popped one leg in and let one hang out and got a big helping hand from Mac. Oh Behold! The innocent freedom of moving so swimmingly through the air. Exhilarating and made all the more so at the unexpectedness of its presence. Like a Unicorn. A perfect hedonic pleasure which overtakes! Oh how for just one short moment I could laugh as if I was a child and truly feel so.

09 May 2009

Hello, old friend

Though you may be a small constituency of readers, many apologies for neglecting my duties of recording my thoughts and observations on this meager blog. What can I say? I haven't been busy in the slightest and spend my days loafing around Kenilworth in slippers and a tracksuit, pestering passersby for a lively bout on the nature of free will and customer service in England. I swear.

Mac and I returned from Christmas 08 to realise it was a waste of sillyness not to have a dog-why should we sanitise our lives for the good of our landlord?! So we went in search of a K-9 Companion. We found Murphy, a black labrador retriever (surprise!). He's a sweet and good-natured fellow who loves to play, and really loves to cuddle. We moved house in order to provide him with a back garden (of the multi-purpose variety). We read the books, took him to puppy kindergarden, and are now beginning to reap the benefits as he sits, stays and comes (when he's not eating dirt). What more could I say but that he's lovely to watch frolic in the creek and the woods, sharing his senseless joy with everyone he comes into contact with? For it is his nature, is it not?

15 August 2008

A quick trip

Sometimes, despite your best attempts at being reasonable and frugal, you need a break, and when an opportunity presents itself you must suppress these feelings buy your tickets and go. You’re going to be paying that loan back for years anyway.
Last week, that is precisely what Mac and I did. We went to Paris in August, which is a much better place to be than Paris in December. We met a good friend at our hotel, which I call a hotel because it was en suite and clean- which is all you need, and went to wander around the city. We stopped by a supermarket and grabbed what would come to be staples of the week: Baguette, Camembert or other squishy cheese with mold on, dried fruit, olives, meat slices and red wine X 2 lovely cheap bottles and plopped down by the Seine. We chatted and ate and watched a very fortunate little family ready their boat for what I am sure was a nice trip that certainly included cheese and wine and baguettes. From there it was indirectly to the Eiffel tower where we stocked up again, feelin’ fine. After twirling around a bit underneath the tower, we copped a plop again to watch the sky grow dark and the tower light up. Friend had never seen the tower do-its-thing so she squeaked in surprise as Eiffel majestically began sparkling all over- which is something, because it almost looked light a giant tacky x-mas tree that people with epilepsy avoid, but it’s French so it looked more like a tall lady in a shiny dress doing a turn to show off how beautiful she looks. God, the French are so vain. After drinking a hefty amount of wine and snapping what seemed at the time some very avant garde photos, we tuttled off to our hotel with en suite.
Next day, bright and not so early, the three of us headed to Versailles only to find that there was a queue of around 1000 people baking in the sun, waiting for tickets, though the Italians seemed to like it. We decided this was a ‘no’, and instead queued up for the toilet and consequently walked around the gardens for a half hour. Perhaps it was indicative of living in the UK, but the topiary was not up to snuff (think a business man in a nice suit, but hasn’t had his hair cut in 2 months) and I was quite disappointed by this lack of hedge-trimming. Later I was to find this (below) and realized the garden was best seen from afar, or alternatively, without your glasses on. From there we parked it on a shaded bench and ate our staple meal, substituting the wine with fruit drink for the Femmes and a giant can of Bier for Mac. Heading to Musee D’Orsay we saw lots of pretty art and some crazy art deco furniture, complete with a window that looks like a mirror- until you walk past and don’t see your reflection, oh-so-uncanny. Gave me a thrill. Our feet were pretty shot at this point so we headed to the Latin Quarter for some grub at an Irish-French pub, alas they only served things you imbibe, so we opted for pizza, with an awesomely crabby French waiter. His expression, this: ‘no, I wasn’t expecting so many customers, even though I own a cute little pizza joint that is reasonably priced in the most popular tourist neighborhood in Paris’. But I digress. From there it was a couple of snaps of Notre Dame, then supermarket and wine and olives by the Seine; a man played the saxophone, it’s lonely voice echoing under the bridge and mixing with the microphoned voice of the late night tour boat announcers. I felt like a Parisian. Being the pros that we are, we ambitiously awoke early to arrive at the Louvre before 9. Waited only 5 minutes and it was everything I expected it to be. We sort of hop-skipped our way through, going from paintings to sculpture to very elderly Jewelry and furniture- even Napoleons Apartments (making up for Versailles) and some wonderful artifacts- a Chalice made our of silver and carved and polished agate. Staple lunch under looking the Louvre, some very intimidating looking Military-guards and we were off to the catacombs, though we did not arrive in the nick of time. So we sought the replenishing powers of Bier and this took us forever to find and not for lack of opportunity- the lowlight of my trip in fact, but there’s always one. We made our way to the Luxembourg Gardens and took respite in a fountain to cool off a bit and had an unfortunate run-in with a public toilet (which happens more often than anyone likes to admit). Then Glace/Ice cream onwards to Champs-Elysees, very crowded indeed. We grabbed some grub and parked until closing to contemplate a long and satisfying day, ending our conversing headily discussing what happiness is and the fact that everyone is either selfish or self-centered. Thursday Friend had some business to attend and Mac and I returned to the catacombs to ‘get creepy’. The notion that you are staring down the skulls of people who lived and died long ago was cool, but fantastically hair-raising knowing that so many died of the plague. Their faces came alive in the dark and this was by far one of the coolest and uncanniest experiences of my life. Contrastingly, from the catacombs we hopped metro to Montmarte and Sacre Coeur where we drank our wine and ate our baguettes atop the peak, looking out at the city, though Mac succeeded in taking a gander at French ladies in short skirts and praying for gusts of wind, the perv. Down below, we kept with the theme of life and death and headed to the infamous Pere Lachaise. We made it in time to see Oscar Wilde’s grave before the rain came, but got caught up in it and, begrudgingly, unwillingly, unenthusiastically stopped in a brasserie for bier. After the rain, a scoot across town saw us make it to the Picasso musee, and take in 3 pieces before they closed- we didn’t pay, we just walked in. Then ‘bier residential’ and, as always happens, we got turned around and lost our way right at the time we both needed the loo. We made it. FYI Climbing five flights of stairs with your bladder full of pee is not something I recommend. Friend arrives back in Paris in time for dinner and we decide to live large and eat at a restaurant. Tibetan sounded nice and so Tibetan it was. We ate fresh dumplings in the summer air with not too spicy sauce and the mix, with a titch of wine, was simply intoxicating. Our Restaurateur was such a little man that when it came time to pay the bill, we could not find him, though he was there behind the desk. It was a wonderful meal I shall always remember.
In conclusion, it was a delightful trip that put me in my place when it comes to being reasonable- sometimes you just need to buy the tickets and go.

28 April 2008

The old man and the faery

You know, in Minnesota, spring is a strange thing. Its like a little faery that stays in hiding until the agonizingly last minute. You might catch a glimpse of her before then, peeping around a twig, or more likely, frozen dog poo. But then quick as a flash! She's gone and the snowy giant we all love to hate lumbers back again for one more round before toppling over into the Mississippi. I don't know why this little She-faery is so reluctant to return to our beautiful land. Perhaps she fears the competition with mosquitos. All I do know is that when she finally decides the time is right... poosh-whoosh-whomp-whee! Spring suddenly springs into action, blooming, singing, in a chorus of warm-weather-loving glee. We are so happy that she has finally arrived, we couldn't possibly be angry at her for taking so long. Clever faery.

Contrastingly, the springtime in England is a much more gradual event. Its more like an old man walking down a very long road and you are at the way way other end of this road. He is so far away, so small, you hardly take notice of him. Every day he gets a little bit closer, inching, scooting, stopping in at the pub. March only looks slightly less like February, April slightly less than March. Eventually, unsurprisingly and undramatically, spring is here- A steady old man who loves the birdsong and the purple flowers, quietly requesting that they stay on a little while longer. What's the rush, anyway?

27 February 2008

Shaken, not stirred

Mac and I were chatting in bed last night when we were startled to find the bed (and everything else) start shaking sideways and we heard the 'tinkle' of plaster in the walls and a grumbling noise- earthquake or poltergeist? It was weird, I was quite disoriented (being nearly alseep) and we both got up and looked outside- I though maybe a gas main exploded, as they have closed down most of the main road on campus to fix the gas main- but this was not so. After minor deliberation as to what it could be, we both realised our first instincts were correct and it was indeed an earthquake, the first for both of us. It was very exciting and a teensy bit scary.

20 February 2008

The dark & sleepy ages

So, I apologise for the long delay since last posting-- just keeping you on the edge of your seat. It appears that in England, some Americans, not all, mind you, become afflicted by this 'syndrome' whereby they go to sleep for about 2 months and then wake up sometime in February about the same time as crocuses and daffodils. This is why I have not posted, I have only just woken up! But all is well now, the sun sticks around for more than 2 hours a day and we get lovely sunsets Tahitians would be jealous of. See picture in top right hand corner... obviously.
Mac has been busy, and received the fellowship many sought, and few obtained, and we are very happy about this. Here are some ideas we've come up with as to how we will spend this money: Retire to Fiji and learn to carve driftwood and search for the survivors of LOST(They're not real, you say? A TV show you say? Poppycock!); Hire a private jet to travel around the world constantly with the on-board entertainment consisting of a troupe of Shakespearean actors performing the plays chronologically; Buy up a dilapidated castle in Ireland, refurbish it and live like, ah, people who live in castles; or...pay off our school loans. Take a guess. Shot in the dark, I know.

20 November 2007

The place-time continuum

Sometimes I think about returning to Duluth, but then I think, “well, it will never be the same as it was because the people there at the time were what made it so special-so home”. In 3 or 4 years, they will have likely moved on, or at least have changed (though our memory of them does not). We will be different too. A place in some ways, is also a time. And I love the Duluth we knew, but I know that when we left, if was gone forever. I think I felt it the last time MacMorris and I went sailing with J. We took one last look, and sailed away from the shore. And now, we slowly sail away from the memories, directed, but still at the mercy of the wind. The shore gets smaller every day- we get farther from who we were in Duluth. And so it goes. You know, its nothing profound its just risk, isn't it?

Or maybe it’s George Winstons’ piano-playin’ skillz.