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This week Autumn has been making its descent. Last year had a bit of an indian summer. It was beautiful - uncharacteristically so, we were told. It is mid-August and getting colder and wetter by the day. In fact it is so cold today that I have worn two sweater. I just cannot bring myself to turn the heat on in August. Tonight the wind and rain and grey tap at the windows. It's a soothing sound that I love very much.

But pregnant me, living at the top of a hill, with a toddler, sighs heavily. It's interesting to me how having a child can change my perspective toward something I normally love.
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Poor B. Mon and Tues he was running a fever but seemed otherwise fine. After the fever broke on Tues evening he's been a pill. The cold is in full force and he's miserable in attitude. The littlest thing sets him off. I've never seen so many tantrums and out of the blue tears. It's rough. And I'm wrecked.

But for a little while this afternoon we sat out in the back garden nursing and reading and just happy in the grass. I listened to the birds chirping, watched a huge buzzard swirling in the sky, looked at the green green hills. I got hit with the thought that this land desperately wants to tell its stories and secrets. In fact, this land will offer it all up to the first ear that will sit and listen. This is not a shy nor even picky land. Whereas when I was in Australia I really felt like the land would not easily reveal itself at all. Australia is beautiful, but it is cautious. I know none of that makes sense. But there it is.

Last thing before I go zone out in front of some telly. Adam just spent an hour getting a cute little brown mouse out of his office. I'm pretty sure the cats brought it in. We didn't want to kill it and finally Adam was able to scoop it up (in gloved hands) and take it outside.
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Most of my days are filled with thoughts about religion/spirituality/theology/practice/the Divine/etc/what have you. If I'm not reading about theology and the Virgin Mary, I'm reading about yoga or devotion or magic or some such. Or I'm doing yoga, or walking and praying and noticing and being. One of the many things that has been a blessing about being a mother is having to integrate my spiritual practice into my life in a more holistic way. I no longer have the luxury of huge blocks of time where I can do yoga for an hour and then seamlessly move into 30 minutes of meditation (I'm not sure I am physically able of that anymore!). Instead, I get ten minutes here, 5 minutes there, maybe 20 minutes if I'm lucky.

This carving up of my focus is as frustrating as it has been transformative. With all the esoteric and theoretical reading I do it's good to focus on practice. The practice reminds me that in many ways all the theory and fine details don't mean as much as we academics and theoreticians believe. At the end of the day no matter what our beliefs most of us have to pay our bills, feed our kids, clean the kitchen, answer the phone. I'm reminded of the book title "After the ecstasy, the laundry." Most days I barely touch the ecstasy. Or at least, it's the kind of ecstasy that I might miss if I wasn't paying attention. The sweet, quiet kiss of warm breeze, the hum of the bees, the soaring of the red kites high above the houses, a little boy who is so excited by the rumbling of the loriau, the peace that surpasses understanding. Most days these are the things that open me up to the divinity that I know is present in our world. It makes me think that all our spiritual differences aren't as big we make them. When it comes down to it we all want clean water and happy children; we all need to pay our bills and be loved. Sometimes a smile and thank you feels more holy than all the prayers I've ever said.

I think of the Buddhists who are out there praying for us, that we all might be free of suffering - and I am grateful that my frustrations and fears are being prayed for. I think about my Jewish friends who light candles on Shabbat. I think of my friends singing in church on Sundays. I think of my non-religious friends who make art or pursue the science of this amazing world we live in. May we all be free, may we all be loved, may real transformation come to this world and each and every one of us, that we may no longer live in fear or pollution or discrimination or exile.

London!

May. 17th, 2010 09:54 pm
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This post/question session is for those who know London at all.

In three weeks I'm back to Roehampton. This time I'll have Friday evening to myself, which I plan to fill with a movie and dinner (either in Putney or in Richmond), Saturday is an all day conference and then I think I'm going out to dinner with my advisers and fellow scholars. Sunday is an entire day free. I will be back in the area two weeks later and then three weeks after that. What do I do with myself on my Sundays?? There are SO MANY choices! I don't know where to begin. The Tates, the British Museum, the National Gallery, the British National Library, the different Castles, the different gardens and parks, various bookshops. And on and on. What's reasonable to fit into a single day? I have no idea where to start. Do I go into the city? Or do I stay near the Roehampton area and explore Richmond, Mortlake (John Dee's house!), Richmond Park? I'm overwhelmed by choice. I plan on getting an oyster card to facilitate public transport.

Lastly, does anyone know if you can walk the Thames? Like, is there a path that I could just meander on, or is it broken up by sections that don't allow pedestrians? I fell in love with the Thames on the last trip and want to explore it more. I even picked up Peter Ackroyd's book, Thames: Sacred River (same guy who wrote London: the biography) today at the library.

Thanks for any and all suggestions!

Happiness

Apr. 15th, 2010 01:29 pm
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The other night Adam and I started gleefully giggling. We had just crawled into bed (well, me into bed and him onto the air mattress on the floor) and I said in a whisper "Every day here is like a vacation." That phrase sunk in and we laughed with joy. It's true! I'm not sure we've ever been happier. It's not like this place is exciting. Honestly, it's pretty damn dull. The only museum is a Welsh quilt museum. No cinema or theatre, no bands, only a small handful of restaurants to eat at if you want to go out for dinner (and really only two if you want to eat good food). But since we have a small child those things don't matter. There's nothing to spend money on here, so we can live frugally. Adam really only has to work part-time hours for us to pay our bills (though more money and work is always a good thing!). Adam loves what he does. I love what I do. We both get ample time with Bennett. It's clean and fresh and safe. We are outside all the time. The people here are friendly and things move at much slower pace than the city. The fact that we get to do what we love, that's there no rush: it's really truly like a vacation every single day.

And it's getting EVEN MORE so, since Bennett is night weaned. Last night was night 5 and he slept through the night. I discount to the two quiet requests for water. No nightmarish freakouts like the previous nights. No trying to nurse. He just slept, curled up tight in the crook of my arm, one hand on a boob at all times, but hey! It's a victory! It has had unintended consequences: I think it has sped up his daytime weaning. That's not a bad thing. As much as I'll miss the intimacy of it, it feels like it's time. My guess? By his second birthday (end of May) he'll be done. And to think: when I was pregnant I thought extended nursing was weird.

I wonder if this is contributing to my fading urge to get pregnant. I don't know if it's the return of more bodily autonomy, more sleep, or the fact that spring is here and I want to get moving, that has nulled the ovarian cry for another baby. I definitely want another child. If I was pregnant I wouldn't be sad. But I'm not in a rush anymore. I'm also losing weight. The jiggly tummy fat seems pretty damn permanent, but in general I'm getting more exercise and I'm almost back into my smallest pair of pants. Which means I need yet more pants. SIGH. It would be nice to have at least a few months of a fit, relatively svelte body again before I go back to work that is being pregnant. There are a few ladies that I interact with in town that are pregnant and I've been watching them swell. I'm so short that I just look like an oompa-loompa when I'm pregnant. My already substantial boobs grew to an enormous size. That I do not miss!

* entry

Mar. 29th, 2010 06:31 pm
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*Keypikian? Keypikite? Keypiker? I think I like the first choice.

Weather: It's wet and grey here. But the birds are chirping happily. It's neither cold nor warm.

Dinner tonight: roast chicken, carrots, and potatoes with garlicky salad

Currently reading: a collection of essays called Archaeologies of Consciousness: Essays in Experimental Prehistory by a guy known only as Gyrus. It's neat stuff.

It's a full moon tonight. I don't think we'll be able to see it.

Spring

Mar. 22nd, 2010 04:30 pm
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Spring is here in full force! This past weekend was the equinox. Most of the ideas I had for its observance fell by the wayside in the face of my continued queasiness. However, Sunday was better and the beautiful sunny morning drew me out. I picked up the litter from our hedge (people walk past and litter ALL THE TIME, despite us keeping our trash can open out front in hope that they'll deposit litter there. SIGH) and then walked to the 'fairy tree' in the big open field just past the housing estate. As I approached, a red kite took flight from the tree. I really need to take a picture of this tree. It is magnificent - half dead, half alive, huge, beautiful. I picked up trash around the tree, mostly old broken beer bottles, and sat on one of the limbs in the sun listening to the wind and the birds.

Today the day started wet, windy and cold, but by 3pm the sun came out, warm and inviting. Walking through the cemetery today I noticed that almost all of the graves have fresh flowers. Clearly it was the weekend for remembering loved ones. The daffodils are popping up and the trees and bushes are budding. I am filled with joy at these small things.

In delicious food news, Adam is squeeing with glee at his new found cooking abilities. When I met him he could make pasta and jarred sauce. These days he cooks breakfast for everyone, he makes the most amazing turkey melts, the most amazing burgers, and now.... he makes french fries/chips. They're delicious. He's so proud of himself, as well he should be!

Tonight for dinner we're having 'nachos' with the left over burger meat. The butcher here raises his own beef. So many things about this place leave me happily shaking my head. There are so many things I prefer about this place to the US.
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In the spirit of gratitude.

*Spring. It is here. There is red growth on the tree branches, the faintest of buds on some. The snow drops have been bloomed for weeks. The daffodils have had their green out but yesterday I saw the yellow bits all enclosed waiting to bloom. I saw some purple crocuses over the weekend too. Birds are building nests and chirping like mad. The sun is warm. Today I hung my laundry out on the line for the first time since November! Ah, sun, miracle elixir, you take away the stains of the world.

*My homemade chicken noodle soup. Lately, I've been nailing the broth. Bennett drinks it down.

*Mutliculturalism. Adam, B and I went to a birthday party yesterday. It was one of the the most diverse parties I've ever been to. It was the first birthday of a little boy that goes to one of B's playgroups. The little boy was asleep through most of it. He is Nigerian. His father is a student here. Aunts and uncles from London came. There was a Polish couple. Locals, though mainly of English extraction. Two Muslim families from Libya were there too - the hosts are also Muslim. And one little boy who is half Bengali. Languages heard: English, Spanish (thanks to Adam), Polish, Yoruba, Arabic. Amazing.

*Friends. We have friends here! Not really close friends, yet, but friends nonetheless. It's wonderful. It's like we live here.

*Best of all, Bennett goes to sleep at 8pm. Cut for those who couldn't care less )

ETA: How could I forget?! Adam got a great gig today. So we will have money for bills one month in advance. This is a great step toward getting back on our feet!
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I love living here. I love it so much that I don't like to think of leaving. The only thing that would make it better would be if you all moved here. And brought good Californian wine with you.
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(Btw, what does keypike reference?)

This morning the fog was so thick I could barely see across the field in front of my house. It didn’t clear until close to noon. The spring day is delicious. I appreciate the lift in my mood and bounce in my step that spring brings. Eventually summer will set in and I really won’t want to spend anymore time than I have to in my office. For now, though, it is working to my benefit.

I’ve started meeting some of the other postgrad students here for a coffee a few mornings a week. They are mostly anthropology and archeology students. The men seem far more socially awkward and stereotypically nerdy than the women. It is nice to chat with other students and learn a little something about fields outside of my own. In theology and religious studies here there are mainly Koreans studying Biblical studies and Malaysians doing Islam studies. 90% seem to have families and keep to themselves. Honestly, I don’t mind not talking with the Biblical studies students. I really don’t understand how there can possibly be anything new to say about the Book of Mark or 2 Corinthians, etc. Unless one approaches the books with a modern, cutting edge ideology, I just don’t care. I try to avoid the bible as much as I possibly can.

In general I feel clueless about my own work. I cannot speak intelligently about my topic, ideas or methodology. I was asked at one of these coffee mornings what my methodology was and I replied, “read a lot, do some thinking, write some stuff down, read some more.” That elicited a blank look. Not quite what the guy had in mind.

Adam is meeting some of the Islamic mothers and kids at the Family Centre, which I think is neat. Next week we are going to a birthday party at Nigerian Muslim family’s house. The mum is really bright and cheery, and beautiful. We discovered first hand the racial difference in visa applications: Her husband is a student and they have to apply every year. She was shocked that I was given a three-year visa. I felt bad for a second or two – ashamed a little for myself and how my whiteness benefits me, frustrated for her and her family, who are upstanding and hard working and have to deal with the Home Office every single year, and angry that we live in a racist world. And then I got over it. It is beyond my control.

So reading. I am currently reading Sergius Bulgakov’s ‘The Burning Bush: on the Orthodox Veneration of the Mother of God.’ I was just loaned ‘Introducing Thealogy: Discourse on the Goddess’ so I’ll dive into that next. At home I’m reading a poetry volume, Victor Anderson’s ‘Thorns of the Blood Rose.’

Dinner tonight is lasagne and wine. I’m also making refried beans for Sunday brunch: we’re having friends up for heuvos rancheros. YUM.

Field trip!

Mar. 5th, 2010 09:43 am
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I am going to St. David's Cathedral tomorrow. The chapel and one of the church history classes is taking a 'pilgrimage' there, so of course I signed up! We're getting a tour, a lecture from the professor going with us, walking to St. Non's Well, and then our choir is singing the evensong. Yay! I am excited.

And I may even get to see [livejournal.com profile] riva_asherah.
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Spring is here. I feel it in my blood. I feel it in the warmth of the sun, despite the cold air. I feel it in the lengthening days. I hear it in the bird song. I see it in the daffodil shoots. It's wonderful.

I'm embracing the irrational more and more. I'm finding the best things in life, the things that I'm most passionate about, the things that put me in touch with the sublime, are not rational things.
Except for maybe really good wine and food and conversation, but even then there's something more in that, because even good food and wine can be less than sublime. The best things in life are greater than the sum of their parts.

And speaking of irrational and spring, I continue to want another child. Could this month be the month?
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I feel like I've been bitching a lot lately. Bennett is a handful at bedtimes and Adam and I aren't on the same page. Of course, I'm wishy-washy about I want at bedtime too, which makes things worse. We're poor. We have colds. I'm waffling on my research ideas. I'm bored with the paper I'm (not) writing. My hair is just ok.

We all know what that means: it's time for some gratitude.

I am grateful for:
*flexible schedules
*great neighborhood boys
*Adam - in spite of my wanting to throttle him every now and again, he makes my flexible, scholarly life possible by paying our bills and being an amazing father. He makes me laugh and in general, is the greatest partner. It doesn't hurt that we make cute offspring together.
*Bennett makes me happy beyond anything I have known
*the weather - we have some. Every day is just a little different from the one before. Wind, rain, snow, sun, warmth, chill, hail, slush. All, some or none. It's beautiful every time I leave the house
*I get to read and ponder theology, religion and spirituality all day long
*I don't have to look at my hair! Neither do I have to brush it or wash it more than once a week
*I've lost weight. I'm guessing I'm easily back at pre-pregnancy weight. Although my shape is not, I fit into things and can see my collarbones again
*my peaceful life
*a new sweater

Lastly, tonight's dinner menu: (grass fed, local) stir fried beef with red quinoa, broccoli and baby rainbow chard, with ginger, tamari and lime! And wine.
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It's only Sunday afternoon but it's been a great weekend. I took Friday off studying and spent it with B and Adam. I can't really remember what we did, but I know the pacing was perfect. We received a new sweater each from MM, which made me feel glamorous. Adam bought some wine in a spirit of generosity.

But the best part has got to be making friends with the neighborhood boys. A group of boys play football/soccer in the little yard between our house and the cemetery. Their goal is the wall of our house. Bennett loves to hear them play so Friday afternoon I took him out to watch. The boys, about 5 of them, aged 10, asked B to play. B was in heaven. He just chased after the boys, laughing, falling down and getting filthy muddy. For the last two days the boys have knocked on our door and asked if Bennett wanted to come out and play with them. The boys are really nice kids.

And to think that we were warned that this neighborhood was 'rough.'
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syzygy.

Inspired by [livejournal.com profile] keypike
Today Adam is generally irritable and I seem to be triggering it. I seem to do this regularly. Bennett is napping. I read for 4 hours straight today. I finished this, read this for fun, read about 100 more pages from this, and some other stuff.

Then I tried to look for good quality blankets in this town and couldn't find any. But a friend is going to loan us a nice wool blanket. I'm tired of freezing all night long and spending a fortune on heating the bedroom all night long when it doesn't do much good. Grumble grumble. The weather can't decide if it wants to snow properly or not.

For dinner tonight I am making mac n cheese, but we're going to add some jalepenos and see what happens.

I'm not doing too well on this no tea or coffee Lenten thingy.
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I think spring is on its way. There have been three spider sightings in our house. Two have been whisper thin daddy-long-legs type of spiders. But this morning there was a nice black spider on the front door. In spite of the cold temperatures I think spring is making an effort. I certainly notice the lengthening days. I feel the surge of energy from the sun, the spring in my step, it's easier to get up in the mornings - all welcome signs of spring for me.

I made my own refried beans! They aren't excellent yet, but they're good. And my recipe made TONS all for the low low price of a fiver. Massive win. Will post the recipe later, if any one is interested.

This afternoon I'm going to Bristol to hear Ronald Hutton, author of the book on modern paganism. I'm looking forward to getting out of the region, seeing something new, and hearing this man speak. Will report back tomorrow!
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Night three of horrible sleep. Night one: the Puking. Night two: fever and snot and massive squirming and crying. Night three: all of us were exhausted, B passed out straight away only to wake in the wee hours squirming and crying. Twice. UGH. Teething? Sleep regression? General unwellness? Who can say? But Adam and I slept through our alarm and I was 15 minutes late to a meeting with the financial director at school. No big - I am so grateful for Welsh country time! Paying a bill late? No big deal.

I was chatting with a friend yesterday about how quiet my life is here. Outside of the drama of money (I think there is only one other time in my adult life when I've been this poor) and the general drama of having a toddler, there isn't anything else to discuss. I don't follow the news. There's no gossip. No trauma in the community (that I can see or know about). Life is peaceful here. There's space for all the thoughts in my head. It's conducive to navel gazing and spiritual work, if you're into that sort of thing. And Adam and I are, quite a bit. Every day as I walk down the hill, taking in the trees, birds, smell of earth, fresh air and green, I am grateful for being here. I love that there is space to be. That Adam and I have space and time to be with Bennett. It is a gift and absolutely worth the financial stress.

I do miss friends though. I've been dreaming about three things I'm not getting enough of these days: sex, exercise, and social gatherings. But this morning I was reminded of the blessing of friends far away. [livejournal.com profile] keypike sent us a surprise! The postman put the package inside our door (obviously we slept through his knocking!) - I love that it's not weird that the postman would just open the front door and lay a package inside. In the package were bright, cheery, stripey, fleecey footie pajamas for Bennett and socks with grips on the bottom. YAY!!! I cannot wait to put B in his new jammies. So thank you, Ms Keypike! I look forward to having money once again and being able to do the same for you and others. The reminder of love from afar was the brightest and best way to start my zombie-rific day.
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I was going to take the day off the internet but I've only been out of bed for not quite two hours and I already feel defeated. It was a hard night. Very very cold (remember our house has no insulation). B nursed all night long, and squirmed. The water main in the neighborhood froze yesterday so we have to ration the water. Maybe I can take a shower? I only shower every other day, less when it's dry and cold like this, so this morning I really need a shower. If I attempt I know it won't be a warm shower. Ugh. The dishes are piled high in the kitchen. And of course, because of the snow and ice the washing machine repairman hasn't been able to make it out so we have piles of laundry too. Adam received a pay check this morning, which would be great and a huge relief, except he forgot to tell the clients to make the check out to him and not his business. So frustrating. I'm feeling the tickle of a sore throat. And..... Bennett is hitting full on toddler mode. He's discovered 'No' and whinging. Ay yi yi.

In good news (because I really need to perk myself up), B also said Mama last night for the first time. I just about melted. It's also stunningly beautiful here. We have plenty of heat. I made delicious veggie lasagne last night. Tomorrow we are having some new friends over for Adam's amazing cheeseburgers.

No. That didn't help. Still feeling exhausted. It just might be one of those days.

But this picture is incredibly beautiful.
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I just watched Whip It, Drew Barrymore's movie about roller derby, starring Ellen Page (Juno). It was an okay film. But, wow, do I miss Oakland now. It featured much of what I rolled my eyes at and what I loved about living in Oakland/Bay Area. I loved the DIY sass of the East Bay. I went to the Bay Area roller derby not too long after they started up. It was fab! I loved it. ....and then I got married and then pregnant.

Or burlesque. I would have loved to do that too.

The movie made me wish I was 5 years younger and starting over again in the Bay Area. I would totally join roller derby. I think it'd be a good outlet for my bitchiness and my love of hitting people. I want to be a badass. I want to be the sort of girl who wears lots of eyeliner and has tats and doesn't give a fuck. Ya know, Alternative. Except I don't want to live in shitty apartment in West Oakland (hipster but sketchy), working at Mama's Royal (or other waitressing gigs at dingy cafes), dating skinny emo guys in bands, drinking PBR, and being poor.

Instead I'm poor, drinking crap wine, living in a cold concrete bungalow, married to an awesome guy who sings along to the Number and Play cd with our son, in rural Wales.

*Mary Contrary?

Gratitude

Dec. 20th, 2009 01:10 pm
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Today I'm feeling slow, a little crusty and achey (I ran into the bathroom door), but mostly I'm feeling happy. It's a good time write a gratitude post.

I am grateful for:
*Snow? Frost? It doesn't matter. This morning the outside was crispy and white!
*A good night's sleep
*Our new clothes dryer. OMG, clothes and diapers that are soft and not crispy! And dry in less than two days!
*Playdates for Bennett. Really nice family people and their little kids that love Bennett
*Winter! Christmas! Solstice!
*A truly amazing and happy little boy
*Living in Wales, a healthy, green, magical place - this makes me happy every day I wake up here
*The Family Centre - basically it's a parent particpation preschool. That's my best description. It's been a sanity-saver for us and Bennett loves it there. Plus, it's great to feel like we're a part of the community

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