Friday, 25 February 2011

Food and Fairy Tales - Day 43

Two things I've learned in the last two days...

Today: It's been a munchy day. I've felt hungry almost every moment since I woke up no matter what I eat and its driving me to making poorly thought out decisions on snacks. I tried drinking water whenever I feel hungry because maybe that's what I need, but it didn't help. I finally stopped myself on a quick road to discouragement by asking myself "If you could have ANY snack you want right now, what would it be?" After a moment of though I said "String cheese and an apple with peanut butter." Now, we don't have that in the house, but after nailing down an idea of what my body is asking for I can proceed intentionally instead of just grabbing pieces of anything that's in sight and not being satisfied with any of it.
Yesterday: I have an aspiration to write a fairy tale or so before I die and yesterday I was reading from George Macdonald's (The Golden Key and The Shadows particularly). What makes a good fairy tale? What are the common themes in all the ones I like? Here are the things I thought of:

1. The best fairy tale characters are kids. They just handle it so much better than adults who usually over think the most simple things in fairyland. I think that's why the Hobbits made such good main characters in Lord of the Rings.
2. There has to be a moral to the story. A fairy tale with no moral is like a tootsie pop with no tootsie. It just doesn't have the substance that a reader wants. I don't even think WHAT the moral is really matters, just as long as it has one. I can currently recall morals ranging from "Don't care too much about how you look" all the way to "Laying your life down for another."
3. It has to have things that can't be explained, and that don't exist in our world. I've found that my favorite stories are the ones that have one common thing (the gem mine in The Silver Chair) that you can relate to, but then there really isn't anything common about that thing (you could smell and taste the gems there). It makes you think "Yes, it seems like that's the way it's really supposed to be!" or "I've always kinda had a feeling something like that was true."

Now I'm going to go eat some cheddar and a pear.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Walkabout - Day 41

It was a bitter-sweet day. But not like one of those gummy worms that make you pucker because the outside has alum/sugar on it with the gummy sugary goodness inside. No, not like that. More like an sugar coated alum gummy. This is how it went:

We started off strong. There was a slight detour after getting off the bus in Wolvercote from road to less muddy trail to more muddy, but correct trail. There is this public trail called the Oxford Green Belt that goes entirely around the city. We planned on doing a ten mile chunk of it from the north of Oxford, around the University forest (seen in the background of above picture), southward along the Thames river to wrap around the Farmoor resivor then back up the hill to Cumnor. I'm not going to try to explain all of the minute details that weren't even that exciting (though very beautiful) when we were living, breathing, experiencing them (especially because then Jenna REALLY wouldn't read this). Plus, I don't think I could explain them even if I tried.

Starting out there were pools in the fields that the path cuts through, but nothing too unavoidable. I was optomistic about my dry feet. We made fairly good time (about 2 something miles an hour) only stopping a couple times to explore/snack/trade Nathaniel carrying. Most of the time the path just wrapped along the river but at it's most magical point it pulled off into the woods and both sides of it were lined with black berry bushes. Every one of those bushes is noted in my brain for if we get to come back here during the Summer.
But as with most magical woods, this is also the place where the first challenge arose. The water was already somewhat sneaking into my socks, but nothing bad (thank you Smartwool) and at a particulary puddly area I decided to charge ahead boldly despite Jon's suggestion to cross to the more dry path a little ways over. I chose the far left rout and he followed, but on the right. This is what transpired:
There was apparently an invisible calf deep hole on the right side, but with my coaching he made it out safely. Walking up the hill from here I proclaimed it the "Low point" of the walk and regained my optimism, even though there was definite soakage on the entire sole of my foot. Little did I know, that was far from the low point, in terms of muddyness, and that my time would come to face the brown sticky beast.

Wrapping with the river, passing a few locks and detouring around a point in the trail that required traipsing through backyards and stepping precariously over fences that stretched out into the water, we quickened our pace to match the setting of the sun. Passing a small hill we come upon the north west side of the reservoir. We only went up to the rim shortly because it wasn't very pretty and there were cars up there, but we did get a view of this:
Pretty pretty. By now my legs were starting to fatigue and Jon had to take Nathaniel for the rest of the walk. Our end was in sight though, and I wasn't giving up. Finally, on the hill home, I met my adversary.

If it wasn't for the great desire to keep such a nasty substance off of my borrowed coat, I probably would have fallen. Alas, I made it out and the trip was more epic which was worth the muddy shoes inside and out. Once we got home we had nice warm showers and I said to Jonathan "You know it's bad when your feet get muddy even when you're wearing shoes and socks." We finished the night off with Tortellini and story swapping with Joelle who had taken an adventure day of her own, then laid our weary bones down to rest.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Dinner, In A Galaxy Far, Far Away - Day 42

Welcome to the Bespin Cloud City's favorite high class dining spot. Today on the menu we have an out of this world three course dinner sure to please all those space travelers out there.

For the starter we have a Gungan cooked cabbage salad garnished with Naboo berries and a light "Jar Jar" dressing that is sweet and tangy.
After you've finished off this nourishing and necessary course you can head on to the delectable entree. Today we are serving Skywalker Marinara with Lava sauce and mozzarella. The side is grilled and spiced Lightsab-asparagus. Then wash it all down with a glass of Tihaar, a strong Mandalorian spirit made with mixed fruit juices, and aged until it's clear.
 You might be tempted to go all Jabba on us and gorge yourself on this heroic main course, but be sure to leave room for your final conquest of our third course: The defeat of the Death Star Brownies and nourishing Blue Milk of Tatooine. Not only is this course a treat for your taste buds (if your race is blessed to have them) it is also a theatrical experience in and of itself.

This is what we came up with when Joelle asked me what the theme should be for the dinner we were preparing. I think she meant “Mexican” or “Breakfast” types of themes, but why not “Star Wars?” Why should we hold our creativity within the small confines of our planet? Our galaxy even? And if we hadn't, we never would have found the wealth of information that has to offer!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

iBrain on Shuffle - Day 36

For those of you who don't know "iBrain on Shuffle" is something a friend of mine from Tulsa, OK got me started on years ago when MySpace was the trendy blog place. Pretty much you just write the random one line thoughts that come to you. I'm doing the "Nano Touch" version (including a picture for some of them). Enjoy.

Dreaming every night and very realistically here.
 Smoked old man pipes yesterday with Joelle.
Took up watercolors.

Had my first leave the house "mom day" this morning.
Miss talking to my mom.

If the scale is right, lost somewhere in the realm of 10 pounds since we came.
Have been writing SO much.
So good to have a girl to hang out with so much, especially such an enjoyable one.
The Lord is teaching me about Himself again.
Homesick for Redding, SD and Kansas all at once.
 Nathaniel is standing alone and pushing things around rooms.

In other news that needs a few more words - I tried Marmite (a vegetarian yeast extract spread). I was so hungry for something savory on my toast that I just did it. It has such a strong smell and so I put it in a thin layer hoping that would dissipate the flavor some, but no! that stuff is punch in the mouth strong in it's smallest forms. It actually had a really familiar taste... I think because I've made bread quite a bit and always sample the raw dough. If you lack to opportunity or bravery to ever try it, just imagine that yeasty bread after taste - just really salty and 1,000 times stronger.

Now I'm off to peruse my old photo albums. Cheerio!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

St. Valentines - Day 34

I think I was cuter for this Valentines Day than anytime since our wedding. While in London this weekend Joelle and I found 5 pound dresses and she bought one for me which meant that for the first time ever I was wearing an dressy outfit that was entirely mine (except accessories). We then spent the afternoon yesterday making me over - Back combing hair, plucking eyebrows, eyeshadow, nail painting, and accessorizing. Also known as Primp Fest. I'm so glad to have another lady here.
After beautification we caught our uber late bus into town. We had to wait a while for Jon to be ready so we went and bought (read: Joelle bought) some posters and a meal for her which consisted of a beautiful basil, mozz, tomato panini, a disappointing cappuccino, and the best apple pie a la mode I've tasted in a while. I saved my stomach for Jon though.
Time spent, we walk to meet him at school. Nathaniel was all spiffy looking since he was Joelle's date for the night. He actually had two valentines, which I'm sure he didn't mind. We all felt pretty special.

Jonathan and I then adjourned for dinner. We headed over to the Eagle and Child which was, like the cappuccino, disappointing. I'm fairly certain that Lewis and Tolkien didn't listen to Shakira and Vanilla Ice while discussing their writings, and wouldn't have wanted to during a romantic dinner. Despite nostalgic value of the one, I have to say I think I like the Lamb and Flag better. The guess is that is because the E&C is chain owned and the L&F not. This is yet to be confirmed. Upon arrival there was an eccentric French woman who had planted herself at our reserved table and was insisting on ordering before she would move to another. We eventually got to sit and order. We started with Deep Fried Brie with a mixed seasonal salad and salsa (aka. jam) and a bottle of Wolf Blass Chardonnay. If I could stoop so low as to call them "cheese sticks" they were the best I've ever had and the wine was sweet and fruity without being too much so and a peachy/oaky finish.

For his main Jon ordered Apple Glazed Chicken with salad and chips. It was served with a slice of bacon and white cheddar on top. I don't usually like chicken, but this was tasty.

I had Grilled Salmon served on Roasted Root Vegetables with a Tomato and Herb Sauce. While the chicken was a smidgen richer in flavor, the fish was very moist and perfectly done and the roasted veg put the dish over the top.

For dessert we ordered a Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream, but were too excited to try its gooey fudgeyness that we forgot to take a picture.

All in all it was a wonderful day and I was so glad to have a couple hours to just sit with my husband and share life. He had to get up at 3 this morning make up for the time he gave me. I'm so proud of him.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Walk - Day 32

My hips are aching themselves into oblivion right now. I can't say today was a bad day per se.... but ouch!
 It really started yesterday when, after getting up early pearly to go into London with Jon's school, they tell us that the particular bus we are riding in is different than all of the other ones we've taken and that Nathaniel needs a car seat for it... and that even if we had a seat for him, there weren't any extra places to put it in so he couldn't come which equals none of us going. Hopes for fun day shot. But with Joelle (Auntie Money Bags) to the rescue, we got some bus tickets and just went ourselves. It turned out wonderfully.
Why are my hips hurting then you might ask? Well, after arriving in London we walked all over the place. Since we weren't with the school, we spent the (sleep frequently interrupted by child and phone) night with the Holiday's (some CA friends) so we could have church with them this morning. Before church Joelle and I had about 45 minutes of free time and chose to spend it walking around Hampstead Heath. Gorgeous! But mix together a bit of unfamiliarity, in depth conversation, and lack of preparation and our walk turned into a two hour trek around the proverbial Hundred Acre Woods (with me carrying Nathaniel the whole time). We finally get back to the house, have church, then walk (with slightly misinterpreted directions) to and around the underground, then walk/jog to the bus depot that we're late to. Once we got on the bus all four of us almost instantly fell asleep and arrive back in Oxford better rested. This is where it starts to break down. Its an hour till the next bus home so we walk to the grocery store for a snack... closed. Walk to the other store... closed. Walk to a coffee shop... closed. We finally found a sandwich store open (as did everyone else looking for food). It took ages so then Joelle and I leave Jon to his studies and run the half mile to the bus stop - still missing our bus - and carrying our bags + the boyo. The next bus is in 58 minutes so we opt for the bus that only goes half way home. We got out on the top of the hill with aching joints and muscles, drizzling rain, a cold breeze and two more miles to walk home. That my friends, is why my hips hurt.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Room With A View - Day 27

In the tree across the street from our house lives a partridge... Two in fact, but it is not a pear tree. While I was pondering those partridges that live in not pear trees it brought to mind all the other stereotypes that have not been true so far.
(A). The food here is not bad. Everything I heard about English food was negative and I've loved everything I've tried so far. Maybe it's just because I'm from the midwest, but the food here is homey and cozy and mouthwatering good. Even the regular milk that you buy at the store is ten times better than store bought milk in the states. Then on top of it, they use pumpkins and carrots and beets for coloring and all sorts of non-nasty food additives instead of chemically ones.
(B). The people here are not stuck up. I can count the times I've encountered rude people on one hand, and I'm out and about a lot. Every time I've needed help with anything the people have been more than willing to direct and help me. There is always someone on the bus that offers me their seat. It may just be that I grew up with my Dad's ironic dry humor and it conditioned me for here, but that is no excuse for the gigantic stereotype. If you ask someone how their day is 9 times out of 10 you'll get a real answer that involves some personal aspect of their life and not just a "good" like everyone stateside.
(C). The weather is not awful. I've been told that we haven't started the rainy season yet so this opinion may change, but we've been here a month now and there were only four or five days that really got cold (the twenties) and the sun comes out weekly. To top it off, when it's cloudy it stays much warmer so there's no reason to be depressed by the clouds. Just think of it as getting to stay under the covers all day long. Who doesn't like that thought? The only arguable point is the wind, but for me there's not much I like more than getting completely disheveled by some rowdy, wild wind; Makes me homesick.

The one thing that I've had a complaint about are the buses. While any mode of public transit would be better than the nonexistent/uber expensive expression of it in the states, there are many days I've waited nearly hours (accumulatively) for my bus. The schedule works well enough but it is fluid when it comes to punctuality. I'm a bad person to talk about this though because the village that we live in only has two buses come an hour and only once an hour after six.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Happenings - Day 22

Last week I was experiencing a return of the monthly hormonal influx common to most women. I however was not expecting this because of my recent child bearing break and was therefore caught off guard by the negative emotions inspired by said influx. Thus the absence of new posts since week before last. I had nothing good to write about. If I had tried, I would have gotten half way through a post composed of sadness and despair then just given up and never published it. I'm better this week so I'll catch you up on the important stuff:

Coldest weather yet (giving Jon and I a cold). Joelle arrives from the states. Warmest weather yet this coming week. I've seen most of the city now, highlighting the streets I've walked, my map is now almost completely blue. Nathaniel has invented his own language (I swear he says words). I was run into intentionally by a man in an electric wheelchair. I saw a blind man leading his friend around who was also blind.... aaannnnd I think that's about it. As I said, I was sad last week so I didn't really go out to do much. Now that I'm back on my adventure wagon I'll be posting again soon!