elirrina: (tea)
My mother reminded me that I should actually write down and keep track of interesting things I notice around London, in addition to telling them to her. SO here we go:

It rained all day and felt very British. That's not a real observation, but this is- the flats at the study centre have central heating, but, as was the case in Ukraine and Russia, you don't get the benefit of that until the building turns the heat on. We don't get heat until October, and it's in the 50s. I live in a flat that's in what used to be the Mews, and I'm on a corner, so I don't have windows, just skylights. So there's never much sun, and what does make it into the flat doesn't help with the heating. As a result, everyone is freezing.

I went to Covent Garden yesterday to wander around the market stalls. There's an arts and crafts fair every weekend, and I'm thinking I may end up buying a pendant with dried flowers in it next time I go. There are also a bunch of street performers, and I saw one in front of St. Paul's Covent Garden who started off on the ground, managed to get a lace-less tennis racket up around his waist, and then got onto a 7-ft unicycle to pull it the rest of the way up and over his head, purposefully partially dislocating one of his shoulders in the process. Ick.

Speaking of entertainment, I don't understand British commercials at all. However, I do like the adverts with a bizarre Russian meerkat. I think it's for some sort of insurance company, and if you use their service, you collect meerkat dolls? It's strangely endearing. I do like this advert, though - the program assistants do as well.

I've been to church here twice so far, and both times, they've prayed for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, specifically regarding the invasion of their privacy. What interests me is that they haven't prayed for the Queen, the rest of the royal family, or the rest of the government. However it is rather nice that everyone seems to think the invasion of privacy is unacceptable - my mother thinks American audiences would expect something like that, rather than censure it.

The PAs and I have been watching London movies the last few days- Sherlock Holmes, because we knew we'd been to a few places where it was filmed - we didn't have any luck picking them out though. We decided we need to have a Sherlock Holmes tour now. Then The Mummy for fun, but also to get to The Mummy Returns, which we watched today, because they have to fight mummies in the British Museum and on a double-decker bus, which is all in our neighbourhood.

Speaking of the British Museum, I went there (again) on Friday afternoon and looked at the Egyptian and Chinese wings, and then looked around the Enlightenment room, which is set up like a kunstkammer. I found a fake mermaid from Japan on display: half dried monkey and half dried fish put together. Now S has decided she needs to go look at it. I also ran into the Lindow Man corner in the Roman Britain rooms. I went to find the Anglo-Saxon wing, and they'd moved it since the last time I was there - apparently it's being expanded, so only the highlights like the best of the Sutton Hoo hoard are on display.
elirrina: (bear)
I switched up my work schedule last week so that I could take Saturday off to go on a river canoeing trip with some of the people from the Sunday night Soup Group that I attend (soup, then book discussion, usually theology-related). Tangentially, the couple who organizes the group is about my parents' age, and have me over to their place for holidays when I'm in town instead of visiting my parents. I love them!

So, prior to the actual trip, I had my weekly phone conversation with my parents and told them about this river trip. Initially, they thought it sounded great. Then, as always happens in discussions about Florida with my parents, my father brought up alligators. Would there be alligators in this river? Well, I wasn't sure, but thought that it was possible. By the end of the conversation, my father decided that this trip was a terrible idea.

I thought he was half-joking.

Turns out, he wasn't.

The day of the river trip, we left town at 8:15am, arrived at the river at 9, and started canoeing. It was a really nice day for it, very sunny, but also, of course, very hot. However, we left around 12:30 in order to avoid the daily afternoon storm, so it worked out well. The river is spring-fed, so it's pretty chilly, and very clear. We went upstream a bit to see one of the spring openings, and that's a bit disconcerting - you can see the bottom of the river for most of the time, when you're not in the midst of river weed patches. But over the springs, the bottom just drops away into a deep, dark hole; I think Steve said it goes down at least 80 feet. Christy, who I was paddling with, is afraid of heights, and I'm not to fond of them either (which is a bit odd, considering I routinely dream about flying, never about falling). She says that she knows that water is coming UP out of the hole, but she always feels like if she was in the water, she'd be pulled DOWN.

We stopped for a snack/very early lunch at an inlet about a mile down the river, where there were two platforms fixed up near the opening of another spring. I jumped in and bobbed around a bit over the area where I could see the bottom; the water was refreshing after the canoeing, but very cold!

For the actual canoeing, it was a lot of fun to look around, there were a bunch of assorted birds, lots of turtles (I love turtles), and you could see the fish under the canoes. Less pleasantly, you could also see EYES peering at you out of the river weeds near the banks. There were one or two baby alligators sunning themselves on logs. Christy and I estimated that one alligator was something like 5 feet long, judging by what we could see from its head. That's pretty small for an alligator, but it IS pretty much my height, and although I'm sure that the river is generally safe (apparently it's one of the best for canoeing in the country), seeing all the alligators at close range was rather uncomfortable all the same.

NOTE: there were no alligators in the inlet where we swam. At least, none that I could see. I stayed close to the canoes.

Anyway, it was fun, I wasn't eaten, and I called my dad afterwards to let him know that I was still alive. Then I called my mother, who was visiting some of my aunts and told her that I was still alive, which is when I found out that my father actually had been seriously afraid for my safety, regarding alligators.

So in conclusion: it was a pretty river, and a good trip, but I haven't really decided if I would do it again, or canoe on other rivers where alligators live.

I like swimming better than canoeing, and I like oceans and lakes better than rivers anyway.

Arrival

May. 12th, 2010 09:07 pm
elirrina: (astronomy)
I made it to Kalamazoo alive, after a reallllly early morning flight to Memphis, Chicago, a misunderstanding of meeting places, and carpool up to Michigan. I've already had pizza at Bilbo's, where most of the food is named after Lord of the Rings characters, and which has a sign out saying "Welcome Medieval Fest" (that caused some murmurs in the car, of course. "It's not a renaissance festival! We don't get to wear costumes!") Apparently eating at Bilbo's is a tradition with the carpoolers, as was playing "spot the medievalist."

I present tomorrow afternoon! (Eeeeeeeek!)

And I can meet Geoffrey Chaucer! Hopefully that won't conflict with any of the other things I'm supposed to be attending!
elirrina: (luna)
It's close to the end of term, and so everyone in my department is getting close to having breakdowns, because we're all giving presentations and scrambling to write our papers. (I have presentations this Wednesday, next Monday, and the Thursday after that, and my papers are due April 19, 21, and 27).

Anyway, the point is that no one's really thinking too clearly right now.

So I came home after class and was talking to my flatmate about papers and presentations, and the fact that she decided to go grocery shopping and clean her room today.

Then I went to the kitchen to see what I could make for dinner.

me: UUUMMMMMMMMM! Is this library book supposed to be in the refrigerator? It's by Augustine, if that makes any difference!

I heard a "thunk" and looked around the corner to where my flatmate, N, was hitting her head against the wall.

me: I take it that's a "no." Here's the book.
N: I spent forty minutes looking for that book!
me: It was on top of your box of celery. You must have put it away with the groceries.
elirrina: (Default)
The important thing to know about today is that I had to chase a lizard around my room. I managed to catch it after much travail, and returned it to the wilds of outdoors. And then I had to put my room back together, because I pulled books off of my bookshelf, bins out from under my bed, moved houseplants, and displaced papers while in pursuit. The lizard wasn't anything to worry about - it was one of the tiny ones, only about two inches long, but I didn't want it taking up permanent residence in my room.

My flatmate thought it was hilarious, but helped by fetching containers with which to try and trap the lizard, and keeping an eye on where it was as I stumbled over my piles of books.

It's spring break for us this week! Which means lots of research that is uninterrupted by classes, but interrupted by things like socializing and movies. I'm a bit miffed with the weather right now, because I wanted to go to the beach for a day, and the weather can't decide if it wants to be sunny, or possibly rain. Oh well, I'll go this summer when it's hot. It would just be nice weather for walking up and down the beach at this point, which I would enjoy.

Also, my flatmate managed to explode another of my spoons. We still have no idea how. So I bought some more (inexpensive ones) and she has decided to restrict herself to the black-handled ones which have so far proved impervious to whatever it is that she does to make them explode.
elirrina: (Default)
Wouldn't that be so much fun? I was wondering if they were offered anywhere. If I were an English professor, I'd offer one. I just started reading Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan books, and am being very amused. But think: you could read the Tarzan books, Mark Twain, the books about Alan Quartermain (King Solomon's Mines, which I have yet to read), Dracula, Alexandre Dumas, The Prisoner of Zenda, I would have to read Three Men in a Boat, to Say Nothing of the Dog, maybe some Charles Dickens... I know there are more out there that I'm not thinking of right now. So much melodramatic fun to be had!

I was explaining this idea to my mother and brother, and as a result, here is my example of a Dumas passage:
"and then they ran to the inn, and then D'Artagnan swung through the window while Porthos knocked down the door and Aramis quoted the Bible while swashbuckling with the Cardinal Richlieu whose troops were trying to catch Athos and then...!"

I need unlimited access to books.

mood: Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting swashbuckling. and literary.
elirrina: (Default)
Since it's a Czech Independence day today, we didn't have school starting on Wednesday! So one of my fellow teachers and I decided to take advantage of our freedom and check out more of the Czech Republic. We took the train to Podebrady (it's not that far from Prague). It turned out to be a very good pre-Halloween trip. We ate at the restaurant Netopyr (the Batcave!), and wandered the town with some of our friends who live there. It turns out that one of their daughters loves black cats (she has one named Susan) and the other has skeleton dolls. (She also has normal ones, but really likes the skeletons. There is a long justification for this that I'm not going to take the time to include. While with them, Mindy and I also got a lot of Christmas shopping done! All I can say here is that I found some really stellar presents.

Then we went to Kolin, and Kutna Hora, where we saw the Bone Church. Apparently some monk was sent on a trip to the Holy Lands in the Middle Ages and brought back some dirt, which he sprinkled in the church yard. Suddenly, people from all over Europe wanted to be buried there, in hopes that more holy ground would give the a better chance of entrance to heaven. All went well, until the Plague hit. Then tons of bones were piled up against the charnel house walls in the churchyard. In the 1800s, someone decided it would be a good idea to do something with all of these bones, and gave the job to a half-blind monk, who managed to decorate the chapel with some really... interesting objects, including a chandelier comprised of every type of bone from the human body, pyramids of skulls and bones, and a coat of arms comprised of bones. It's all very fascinating, of course, but incredibly grotesque. There's some interesting reading material in the church about the symbolism of mortality, and the resurrection, but it all feels rather disrespectful to the 40,000 plus people whose bones are in the church. They were hoping their bones would rest in holy ground, and they've been turned into really weird decorations.

In any case, pictures from the trip are here.

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