Thursday, May 31, 2012


It was great, and now it's done.  The Publication Boot Camp, that is. I left the building today and felt light light light.

This morning when I left the house, this is what I saw:

What a beautiful world.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Megastore Recommends.

This was good.
1. Validation. For instance, when your daughter checks in with you about how to roast little red potatoes, and later you find out she roasted some green beans alongside, which happens to be a dish you often have made yourself. Or you see your messy perennial garden in full hullaballoo. Or when your Publication Boot Camp goes, if not smashingly, at least swimmingly. Validation is good.

Devastation lies ahead.
2. Watching catch-up episodes of your shows. I hear I have a devastating episode of Mad Men to watch, the one from this past Sunday. But before I can watch that episode, I have to watch the prior two that we also missed while we were in Scotland. One of which we did, tonight. Very satisfying. Also, last night I watched the double episode of Glee, the one where they go to Nationals; and this afternoon after the Publication Boot Camp, I came home and watched the final episode of the season (spoiler alert: they graduate!) and cried my DayQuil eyes out.

King of Clutch.
3. Watching a little Conference Championship basketball. It's not like you have any skin in the game. Might as well enjoy watching several terrific teams, all with terrific players, get into it. I am particularly enjoying the clutchy mc-clutchness of Dwyane Wade at the moment, although I cannot and will not root for the Heat. It's, like, against the laws of nature.

4. The flowers OMG.

Actual flowers.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Big Planning, Inc.

I am a victim of my own plans.

No, let me explain. But first, let me back up.

I have always--and by "always," I mean all the way back to high school, at least--I have always felt that I lack the big picture in terms of my own life. The girls I knew who were picking out baby names and thinking about what kind of house they'd live in, or else who knew what they wanted to major in in college and what careers they wanted--at that point in time, I was thinking, quite seriously, that I was going to be a concert pianist. (Before that, in my childhood aspiration-list, was "stewardess" and "secretary." All equally lofty, I'm sure you'll agree.) When I was the camp director in my Mormon ward (stop laughing. No, seriously. Stop.), I literally took making handmade paper (so that the girls could write notes to each other on it in the camp "post office") as my first priority. This, while more practical people were planning the meals around me. I shudder to remember this. Also, while shuddering, I have shaken loose about a dozen more similar memories of myself acting dreamy while other people did the list-making.

ANYWAY. Obviously, I am capable of planning plenty of things, since I go to work, collect a pay check, write proposals, buy a lot of shoes, etc. But lately, I feel my plans and good ideas just keep sneaking up, tagging me from behind and snickering at me. Here's an example.

We planned our trip to Scotland, which is now over and done with and is a faint whisper in the annals of time. Not really, but we're not there anymore. Sometime about the same time as we were planning that trip, the Publication Center Steering Committee and I came up with the idea of a Publication Boot Camp, to which we would invite all and sundry, and at which we would teach everything we know to all comers, and would also take a stab at a bunch of stuff we only sort of know. 

We sorted through possible dates. Right before the beginning of the fall semester? But then people wouldn't use the knowledge in their fall courses--it would be too late. The middle of the summer: right out, since people would either be teaching in the summer, or lost in a lemonade-soaked haze. Ergo, right before the summer semester started seemed like the best timeframe possible.

Well, right before the summer semester starts is right now. Right now, as in the jet-lagged, DayQuil'd present. What was I thinking? 

I am uploading Creative Commons licensed photos, videos, and sounds as we speak, so our attendees can practice on them. Wish us all luck and lucidity. Speaking for myself, I know I will need it.

Monday, May 28, 2012


First, you go to the store for cereal and bread and juice, because you have none. You eat, which makes you tired enough to lie down again, because you need to. About halfway through the day, you discover that the slightly crappy way you feel seems to be turning into a little cold. The kind of cold that is made out of lousy airport food, not enough sleep, and a crowded last flight that makes you feel like you might have to crawl right out of your skin.

Nonetheless, you can make it 75% of the way through a midday outing to buy more food--how can you have thought about broccoli and apples when you had no cereal and therefore no breakfast? The remaining 25% of the outing is constructed out of sheer gritty, upright character and also the fact that you have to complete your transactions and drive home--otherwise, you will have to wander the aisles of the grocery store forever.

You get home, throw the fresh food into your newly clean refrigerator (thanks sons and son-in-law and friends of son!) and fall back into bed. You complete a deep perusal of the catalogs that arrived while you were gone. You drift.

If you calculate, you may have spent 50% of your waking hours supine and drowsy. And sniffing.

You pull up 0.5% of the morning glory in the flower bed. You note that the weather in Utah is slightly less warm than the weather you left in Scotland. Weird. You talk to almost all the kids, you eat a boca burger at a lowkey family barbecue, you deliver some of the candy you brought back for grandkids. You take note of how many things are blooming in the yard. Roses upon roses upon roses.'re back in bed.

(So glad to have gone. So glad to be back.)

Sunday, May 27, 2012


Heathrow, my men and my women.

It's that special form of numb that's the result of being awake forever. Airline/port food. Cramped muscle madness. It is so choice.

But we will sleep in our own bed tonight, and see the Bruise, and tomorrow we can think about everything else.

For now, it's just a few more hours of Houston. That's right: HOUSTON. Over and out.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The very last.


"It's coming to an end," said Miriam, turning away from the middle of the Eurovision final competition.

"Let's not say that, not yet," said I.

And thus you see, in this single interchange, both the melancholy and the denial. Ta da!

It goes without saying, I suppose, that there are so many more things I could write about here than I have. For instance, the Queen's 60th Jubilee is happening right now, and in all the shops there are special, limited editions of all sorts of products, particularly cakes and fizzy drinks. Today, I had a diamond sparkle berry drink, just such a limited edition. The juice was filled with food grade sparkle, which, I must say, dramatically enhanced my juice-drinking experience.

"You could replicate it at home, if you were able to put your hands on some food-grade glitter," my daughter pointed out.


"See, there you go. I wasn't even aware that there was such a thing," said I. Well, I wasn't. And somehow, I don't think it would have the same effect in America, where we have no queen and no jubilee, among a number of other things and people that America lacks.

But let's not say that, not yet. Instead, I will tell you what we did today.


In the little village of Daviot (same village that has the Loanhead of Daviot, recumbent stone circle, that I wrote about a few posts ago), there was a summer fair today. We all went, including another set of grandparents, and observed feats of strength and skill:


There was a village church.



There was face-painting.


When we came home, we had a swell party. This was Miriam's idea from a few nights ago. We barbecued and had candles and flowers and we made special cookies and watched a pile of Eurovision. I combed out the girls' hair after the hair-washing. We had prayers and good night hugs and kisses.

Hugs and kisses, prayers and good night.


Friday, May 25, 2012

Another really old thing.



This beautiful class II Pictish cross slab, carved in pink granite, is thought to date from the second half of the 9th century AD.

On one side is a very damaged carving consisting of: a circular knot work and spiral pattern at the base; a ringed cross in the centre panel; a man with "sea monsters" to either side of him at the top - possibly Jonah and two whales...a not uncommon theme.

The other side has splendidly carved Pictish symbols: at the bottom is a mirror and comb; above this, a Pictish beast; then a notched rectangle and Z-rod; and at the top is a damaged panel with a centaur and other less clear beasts.

Down either side of the stone are interlace patterns.

The stone stands about ten feet tall, three feet broad, and six inches thick.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Feats of great courage and derring-do.

The other night as we got into bed, I said to the historian, in the dark, "I'm already thinking about leaving. " Meaning, by "thinking," "feeling sad."

"Don't," he said. "There's no point."

I laughed.

"I mean," he continued, "if there were a point to thinking about it, it would be fine. But since there's no point..."

"Right," I said.

Well, the people, it is not over. But we are drawing nigh to the end of this visit which has been splendid in every, every way.

A visit this long means you can be more than an event, you can be part of the day-to-day. For instance, the village of Inverurie is highly walkable. We've walked the girls to school almost every day, and then we've met them at the end of the school day and walked them home. We went to a park yesterday after school; today, we met them for home lunch, which meant that we brought a picnic and ate it in the park, getting them back before the bell to assemble for afternoon lessons rang. We've eaten breakfast and dinner together. We've done projects. We've read an entire chapter book together before bedtime.

Of course, it's enchanting to fall into daily life with children, to see their beauty, their willfulness, their flights of fancy; to watch them play, to play with them, to see them run and climb and bounce on the trampoline. And this life of theirs will go on when we leave. Once we get home, we too will fall into our own life together, its comforts and joys. But still, it will be hard to leave them.

We have a few more days to celebrate being here. Tonight there were many forward rolls, aka somersaults, performed in the back garden. Homework done. Dinner made. And both yesterday and today, the children showed great bravery in scaling and grappling with the most challinging of the playground equipment, and conquering it at both of the two parks.











Wednesday, May 23, 2012


I have been thinking about how things last.

Sometimes, things just stick around for a long time. The Romans, for instance, evidently knew how to build, since so many of their inventions and constructions persist through the centuries and millennia.


But I'm interested by the fact that some of the old places we've visited--medieval castles, Roman ruins and remnants--get picked up piece by piece, stones carried off, used for other things.



I remember being struck by this, that artists were recyclers, both metaphorically in terms of aesthetic ideas, and literally, in their materials. I saw a painting by Toulouse-Lautrec, I think, that had a whole other painting underneath it. These pieces by Andy Goldsworthy, installed in the National Museum of Scotland, use scrap wood salvaged from the construction of the museum, and slates rescued from demolished buildings in Edinburgh.




Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Horse, rooster, pig.

Last Friday, we visited an historic farm near Newcastle, where my son-in-law's mother and stepdad have worked (this is where we stayed in the eighteenth century farmhouse, which they occupy). We renewed our acquaintance with Prince, and met a fine rooster and a young pig:



Lake Windemere, yo.

[note: making up posts from our trip to The NORTH of England...several others to follow! ...and see post from Stirling Castle directly below this one.]


Continuous as the stars that shine
and twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
in such a jocund company:
I gazed - and gazed - but little thought
what wealth the show to me had brought:









Related Posts with Thumbnails