Friday, June 30, 2006

Ummm...make that Arlington

Well, two similar names (sort of) in the DC area, it's easy to get confused -- like which branch of the interstate to take when one says North and North and one says North and East. Regardless, we're here, the fireflies are flying and we're full of tasty Indian food. And Mike and Gene are doing the geeky thing, so I thought I'd do my own geeking online (thanks for the wireless access, Mike!)

Kipper (after giving me a few deep scratches this morning) seems fine now. He's sitting beside me on the bed as I write this, grooming. A very different story from this morning when he would not come out of the box spring! Let's see what tomorrow brings -- one more long day of driving and we're in New York. Hurrah!

Onward to Alexandria

Many thanks to Susan and Ron (and Chelsea, Cassidy, Spike, Squeak, Hemi and Pigzilla) for making our relaxation stop so enjoyable (despite Susan being under the weather a bit). We really needed the break. Now if we can just coax Kipper out from under the bed...somehow that Superman tag hasn't quite helped him to be less timid.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Taking a Break in NC

We're here with Susan, Ron and the whole menagerie -- Kipper is, of course, hiding under the bed. It's a great respite from our long journey and we get to visit Colette, who is still in her spot in the backyard from the trip down. We're going to relax today and then get back on the road to Arlington, our next stop.

Random pictures from the trip so far: Gene finally saw his first armadillo -- somewhere in Alabama, by the side of the road, mostly intact, but no -- not breathing. Pat's martinis provided an enjoyable coda to two long days -- thanks! Tuesday is Shoes Day on one Mobile radio station (we did not win any shoes, though). Kipper does not like traveling, and when he's crying really really loudly, it means he couldn't hold it anymore. Red Roof Inn is a palace next to Motel 6 -- it's best to stay with friends. The Lousiana Welcome Rest Stop sets your expectations low -- dark, dingy, crummy. The piece de resistance: the mostly dead cricket still kicking one leg into the air. But it was across the line and out of Texas, so our first marker of progress. Since then, Lousiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and now North.

I had been thinking how much better it would have been to just jump on a plane and be there already, but as the miles have slipped by, I started to think that there was a usefulness in having this period of transition between the new and the old. We have time to appreciate the big change in our life. I can say that now that the horror of packing is over -- ugh, the very worst day. Unpacking, while still difficult and stressful, is no comparison. It will be a challenge to sort things out in the little house, but change is good.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Kipper, kanteles & Kuan yin

Hello from Mobile where Kipper is crying but calming down. 4 states today! Tired but happy. More when I'm not typing on the Treo...

Sunday, June 25, 2006

One Day to Go!

We slept a long time last night after take out from Thai Spice (mmmmm). Kipper is doing fine in the cattery (AKA Stephanie and Zoe's back room) although he hasn't made friends with Nick yet (Raphael, Sidney and Cookie have made no comment yet). He seems to have adjusted okay now, sitting in the window, eating and drinking a little. How the longer car ride will go, it's hard to say.

We had a lovely brunch at the Daily Grind with Stephanie, Zoe, Lauren, Jim, Ange and Nelson. So busy we had to sit outside -- as if we needed another reminder why we never quite took to the Houston climate! But at least it was shady.

We're trying to finish cleaning now. Thanks to Zoe and Stephanie for helping, although we couldn't get them to take very much of the food in the fridge (darn!), but they did take the big agave out front that's almost too big for its pot. Looks like we might have someone for the washer dryer, but we'll have to see. Then it's off to recycling for the second time and then back to Z&S's for a little Kipper time before we head over to Pat and Peter's for the night. We run a few errands Monday morning, then it's on the road again for us. So -- how much email access we'll have is uncertain (so keep those megafiles until later!)

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Truck Gone

Kate and Gene, tired, but relieved. We're staying with Zoe & Stephanie tonight -- and may well fall asleep at dinner!


7 am, Saturday. Oh many boxes.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Fare thee well, Honda!

Well, after sixteen years, I said good-bye to the best little car I have ever owned: my 1990 red hatchback Honda.

Over 200,00 miles and still running great, but she was a little worse for wear after all that time, and then there was the whole lack of air conditioning (a definite drawback down here in Houston). But a guy wanted it for his daughter -- one of the number of people who left notes on the car since we got down here asking to buy it. Made the selling fairly easy.

Lots of memories with that car! One year with Robert, and the rest with me, from Boston and Cambridge to Connecticut to Houston, with a few long drives to Michigan in between. I took some pictures to show things like my old Harvard Med parking sticker, the Whitby Dracula Experience sticker, and of course, Badtz Maru. And how about the old Carpe Noctem bumper sticker. And join me in singing the alma mater for Miskatonic U one last time. Gene even made a little film of them driving away (I was on campus trying to get packed, helped infinitely by the kindly Ann Diebel: thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!).

Change is inevitable -- there just seems to be a lot of it right now.

Kipper agrees. He's been hiding in little niches he has found, wondering what we're doing to his home. Here he is in calmer times. They'll be back soon -- just in another state.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Progress with a Hint of Panic

Packing packing packing -- and flooding today. Plans for first thing this morning had to change because so many things were shut down due to the excessive rain (including campus, our source of free boxes). Recording laserdiscs (The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao at the moment).

Have to remember what Gene says: it will get done.

It's not as bad as when we moved down here: packing at three in the morning, so tired that we'd forget to tape the bottom of the boxes before filling them.

The schedule: 24th = truck, 25th = cleaning, 26th = hit the road, stay in MS, 27th = Atlanta, 28th & 29th = Durham, 30th = Alexandria VA, 1st = NY. Assuming all goes well, and no disasters...(knock wood)

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Thanks (while taking a break with the Beatles)

We're busily multi-tasking, recording laserdiscs onto dvds (right now, The Compleat Beatles) while packing and sorting, and slowly going mad. Well, I am. Gene is doing much better. I had to lay down on the bed with Kipper for half an hour or so just to feel capable of packing more. Argh. Somehow it will all get done.

Thanks, big time, are due: Last night we had a sort of farewell dinner, hosted by Pat and Peter, with co-sponsors Zoe and Stephanie. They made the Indian dishes while Pat made Mexican. It was all yummy and we all had a good time, talking until late and eating far too much. And of course Pat wouldn't let anyone leave without a stack of leftovers, so the fridge is full today. I had the little Hello Kitty I-Zone camera which proved fun for everyone, even though some the film seemed to be past date and a little off. But the pictures were a lot of fun -- something about Hello Kitty smiling at your makes you smile back. Even little three year old Aaron took some pictures.

All right, long enough break -- time to get back to work. And the laserdisc is almost finished recording!

Friday, June 16, 2006


So...the most popular time of the summer to move is apparently the time we chose to move. Fourth of July falls on a long weekend, so everything is overpriced and overbooked. So the firm date we thought we had just got moved up two days.

June 24th.

Eeek! Time to get packing...

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Sticker Shock

After picking ourselves up off the floor, we're contemplating our moving costs. Sure, we picked the busiest time of year, are moving across the country, and yeah, we do have all those books. But we weren't expecting nearly twice what we paid last move four years ago. Fuel prices do play a role.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Grendel Review

Whoo hoo! Julie Taymor's production of Grendel opened after numerous delays. Here's a review by someone who actually knows the story. Yes, I plan to try to get tickets when both it and we are finally in New York! And here's some behind-the-scenes rehearsal footage from the L.A. opening.

A New Home!

Hurrah -- thanks to our network of friends, we finally signed a lease for a place in North Albany. You can see pictures of it here, thanks to Dan and Kaitlin, who actually checked out the house for us. It's small, but it is a house and not an apartment, which we were loathe to return to occupying. The landlords seem nice, the area quiet. There are just all kinds of auspicious signs.

We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Dan and to Robert, both of whom did yeoman work on our behalf.

Now there's just the whole packing, movers and traveling part...

Friday, June 09, 2006

Confessions of a Pack-Rat & Canterbury Closure

Okay, I knew it was bad when I cleaned out the files for shredding and there were still (paid!) bills from a couple years ago; then I started finding stuff from when I lived on Notre Dame -- in Cambridge! Have to clean out the files more often.

All right -- to belatedly finish up the account of Canterbury:

Morning proved to be just lovely. After feeling so ill, it was great to feel so much better. We made a walking tour of Canterbury (in part because several of the students complained about their lack of funds). We started out with the city walls, around since the Roman times, but most recently rebuilt for the Hundred Years' War (fourteenth century). We had a lot of fun too at the Norman castle (ruins from the twelfth century) and a couple of students had presentations to give. Then we walked along to St. Mildred's, the oldest church within the city walls; part of the Anglo-Saxon structure is still visible. It's got a lovely cemetery attached to it as well. We were lucky enough to have one of the staff members give us an impromptu tour while the organist practiced, pointing out historical bits and letting us into the chapel where the gentry would have sat, warming themselves by their private fire while the rest of the parishoners shivered.

Next we walked up to Grey Friars, the last remaining portion of a monastery founded by followers of St. Francis during his lifetime. Unfortunately, it's only open a couple of hours every day -- and not the hour we were there, although we could see much outside the fence of the bulding that stretches over the river Stour. I don't think the students were too upset -- they had much more fun watching the city workers pull debris out of the river and then help feed the ducks by hand. By then it was lunch time. I recommended some of the free museums and some of the not so free ones, and everyone headed off to lunch. Well, a few of us headed to the Chaucer Bookshop. By that point Sandi wasn't feeling well and went off to the hotel, while I went to the Roman Museum, where I ran into a bunch of our folks. The museum is a little cheesy, but some interesting artifacts from the Roman era.

After that, I ventured outside the city walls to see the ruins of St. Augustine's Abbey and the beautiful St. Martin's, the oldest parish church in England, where Queen bertha lies. Wonderful cemetery -- even had a dead bird (which I duly photographed -- don't forget, you can see all the pictures here). Afterward I did a litte shopping too, picking up a raspberry Kangol beret for a mere $5 at the Oxfam shop -- but no books. Then it was dinner at the Falstaff Hotel -- very good! if not Falstaffian -- and then the piece de resistance, The Canterbury Tales performed by the RSC. The students were very excited to attend the performance -- they even got lucky later because our coach was late, we go to chat with the actress playing the Wife of Bath as she waited for her cab. The performance was superbly presented, if a little odd at times. The hybridity of the opening, retaining a lot of the Middle English but giving it a modern pronunciation, probably helped the audience understand the historical aspects of the language, but was quite jarring to my ears. Who knew the Reeve's Tale would come off more funny than the Miller's Tale when dramatized (which just goes to show how literary it is despite the "misdirected kiss")?

One surprise: the inclusion of the Prioress' Tale. This anti-Semitic tale is in keeping with medieval propaganda against Jews, who had been expelled from England in 1290. However, performing it before a modern audience unaware of this tradition seems bizarre if not downright offensive, particularly when you put the actors playing the Jews in dark cowls and long beaked masks as they are led to murder by a bombastic Satan. One can argue that the Prioress, already lampooned in her portrait in the General Prologue, merely tells a tale that adds to that unflattering portrait, but the production doesn't bear out that argument. There was the slightest comment from the Chaucer character that her story was nonsense -- it was not enough to erase the vivid images that preceded it. If they wanted to do one of the religious tales, why not the Second Nun's? Sigh.

Back to the hotel, where my roomies insisted I take the private room for the night, then early morning coach ride to Gatwick, with less traffic than we feared, onto the plane and the seemingly endless flight back. Argh -- then back where I began this odyssey...and have finally found closure for the tale. Unlike Chaucer -- he didn't have time to complete the Canterbury Tales before his death in 1400. But he left an amazing legacy nonetheless, which will continue to draw pilgrims to the city for many years to come (as will Marlowe and Riddley Walker!).

Sunday, June 04, 2006

This is not a Post

All right -- I wrote up a long post and it disappeared, so nothing today. Too annoyed.

Gene is better, Maggie is not.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Peeps at London [4]

[Yesterday proved eventful, what with Gene on the radio in NY, Maggie requiring an emergency trip to the vet -- on medication, but still hanging in there -- then a belated birthday dinner for Pat at Houston landmark, Spanish Village.]

Sunday before Canterbury proved to be an exceedingly damp day. I ran around town picking up things I had promised to people and somehow not got around to buying, so I went everywhere from Gosh to the Tate Britain and got thoroughly soaked doing it (that will become important later). But I got my errrands done, read The Lieutenant of Inishmore and dried off enough to help lead a bunch of students to dinner at the Porterhouse in Covent Garden. Great beers! Terrific service -- even the latecomers (who had run off to places like Glastonbury (thanks for the water David!), Stonehenge and (my fave) Avebury) got their dinnera. The food was excellent and spirits were high. And yes, dared by the students I did do a tequila shot, which they made sure to immortalize in photos. We ended the evening late despite our early departure in the morning, singing and reciting poetry like a bunch of English professors or something.

Our Canterbury trip had a delayed start, as our drivers needed to take a mandated break before driving us. Oh well. We had a few students delivering presentations to entertain us and of course, the beautiful countryside to delight the eyes. We got to a blustery Canterbury and dropped our bags at the very American Holiday Inn Express and headed out to the city. People fanned out for lunch, and the first thing I ran across after lunch was the clock tower once part of the church where Marlowe was baptized. Ah! living history -- I can touch the very bricks that the greatest Elizabethan playwright touched, too. Then we met folks at the cathedral -- one of the main aims of our trip. What a cold wind was blowing! I was really feeling its chill for some reason (should have been dawning on me at that point, but it wasn't). Student gave presentations both inside and outside the cathedral. Many were quite in awe of the structure which offers an imposing figure over the city. We saw the site of Becket's martyrdom and, most important to me, the fifteenth century wall painting of the life of St. Eustace which plays a crucial role in Riddley Walker. But after walking aroudn the cathedral a while, I was starting to feel dizzy and sat down for a while. Sandi and I went to Debenham's cafe for a pot of tea and pain au chocolate, which made me feel a bit better. If I could just get warm...but by dinner time, I was feeling less than wonderful. Which was a pity -- we had our last full group dinner and the students produced a mock proclamation for Jim as, among other things. "The Earl of the Headcount" thanking him for organizing such a wonderful trip. Then Sandi gave a nice speecha bout how much she was going to miss me and the students joined in and a number stood and applauded. I think it was just a conspiracy to make me cry.

Fortunately by that point I was so dazed with fever it all seemed unreal. I rode back to the hotel in a taxi with a few other students who were caling ti an early night and skipping the "ghost tour" (which as it turned out, was a wise decision -- no Benny Hill for me!). I took a hot shower (alas, no bath in the American hotel) and went to bed, finally realizing I ached all over because I was shivering so much. My roommies came in later and were somewhat alarmed at my shivering. Thankfully, they got blankets from housekeeping and piled them on me. About 4am my fever broke and by the next morning, I was almost myself again.

But that will take another post to finish --

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Peeps at London [3]

[Continuing the saga -- Gene having a bit of relapse, sleeping; meeting with studentes tonight at the Red Lion, an approximation of pub life in the midst of Houston, while English weather continues...]

While a number of the students went to the Globe to see Coriolanus, others went off to their half price theatre adventures (we heard there was quite an enthusiastic response to Chicago which the cast much appreciated). Sandi, Jim and I stopped off for an Indian feast before Embers at the Duke of York. While chatting over dinner, I couldn't help noticing the pub across the street, The Greenman and French Horn. I finally located the titular character up above the doorway. That was no Greenman! That was Peter Pan with a hunting horn. Well, of course, as we find out later in the program, the Duke of York was where Pan premiered all those years ago. That's London for you -- a moment in history that still lives on. In that very theatre, on that very stage, all those years ago.

And yes, Jeremy Irons was wonderful in the play -- as was Patrick Malahide, who had by far the harder part, actively listening to Irons as he harangued him over wrongs done years before. Incredible lighting -- the gentle tones of late day, early morning an night were imagintively rendered, and the actors projected without microphones, the bane of Broadway. It's that incredible magic of words, gestures and movement that makes theatre the liveliest art. Afterward we went up to the Greenman and French Horn for a drink (shortly followed by most of the ushers from the theatre). We squeezed into a window seat and invented stories for the passers by, and enjoyed the luxury of London theatre-going.

It's a terrible addiction! It had Sandi and I running desperately to the Barbican the next day (after finding the Circle line out of service--d'oh!) to see the Cheek by Jowl production of Middleton and Rowley's The Changeling. A transformed Barbican greeted us in a stunning and inventive performance of the Jacobean play using the whole of the auditorium, with wild moments of giddy humor supplanted by violent acts of murder and sex. It was great! Worth the run to the theatre -- and the one afterward! We hadn't realized the play ran so long, so we had a bit of a jog to get to the Anchor that night for the first of our group dinners prior to seeing Titus Andronicus at the Globe. Where Peyps watched London burn during the Great Fire, the Anchor has lost a bit of its charm -- perhaps it didn't help to have a rather large group of people, many of whom were late, and all due to get to the Globe on time for curtain.

Well, dinner was redeemed the next night -- but more of that later...