Oh, Irene

Aug. 27th, 2011 07:44 pm
jmc_bks: (Default)
First, [livejournal.com profile] why_me_why_not is having a Hurricane comment party.  



Cape Cod was awesome and relaxing and I loved all of it except the drive (more on that in a bit). The house is a little bungalow near the Sea Street beach, on a cul de sac.  Less than a hundred yards to the 30 steps down to the beach, which is on the Nantucket Sound.  If I left the sliding doors open, I could hear the crash of the waves on the beach as I fell asleep.  And the beach was never too crowded, even though it was right next to the public lot with beach parking.  The water was still and calm on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, but higher and much windier on Wednesday and Thursday.  There's an osprey that nests nearby and I got to watch it dive for fish and pluck up a crab.  And the little birds that pick at whatever lives in the sand at the edge of the water, they were hilarious.   Two of them "owned" that little stretch of beach, and they patrolled vigorously, puffing up and running intruders off their territory.
Early morning view looking east toward South Monomoy Island, a long, narrow barrier island hanging off the eastern elbow of the cape that hosts the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge.

On Tuesday, while sitting on the beach and chatting with my neighbors, I felt my chair shift.  It was a little odd, because I hadn't moved or adjusted the chair, but I chalked it up to shifting sand.  A while later I went to the house for a drink and the phone happened to ring while I was there -- there'd been an earthquake in VA/DC/MD and my mom was calling to make sure I was safe (she'd forgotten I was on vacation).  In retrospect, I wonder if it was shifting sand or aftershocks of the earthquake, which were felt all the way to Boston and as far west as Cleveland.  Checked with my neighbor -- no major damage, nothing leaking, no gas smells, don't come home early for this.  So I didn't.  When I got home, I found a few books on the floor -- they weren't wedged into the shelves tightly enough, I suppose, maybe I should buy more? ;)

I used sunblock assiduously but still managed to get a few odd streaks of sunburn -- across the tops of my thighs, and that little tender spot where my arm meets my torso -- the outer part of the armpit, I guess.  And oddly, despite remembering to put sunscreen on them, my feet are the brownest part of my body, an odd reverse of the usual sock-tan-lines :P

Ate a lot of fresh seafood, yum.  I feel like I'm about to confess to something terrible: as much as I love seafood, I don't really *love* lobster.  I mean, I ate a lobster roll and it was good (although why are the rolls always stale?), but the clams and scallops were more to my taste.  And the fish and chips.  And the clam chowder.  And Cape Cod Creamery's ice cream?  Delicious, especially their Dennis Double Chocolate, which is a dark chocolate ice cream with small chunks of dark chocolate and cinnamon.  Marion's Pies in Chatham does great savory and sweet pies, and the orange citrus rolls were out of this world.  Think cinnamon roll in texture and size, but lose the cinnamon and add a lemon and orange flavored sugar glaze with bits of zest mixed in.
Lounging at the sea wall at the top of the stairs down to the beach.

Remembered (at last) to take the 1,000 piece puzzle along, but didn't get very far since puzzling required too much time indoors and too much concentration.  Did very little reading, at least compared to what I expected to accomplish.  Visited The Book Rack, a used book store in South Yarmouth with a huge collection of historical romance books.  Picked up several Harlequin Romances from the 60s that I plan on reading and posting about over at WordPress.  I'll post a book report over there in the next day or so, too.

Ended up coming back a day early because I didn't want to be driving down the east coast as Irene was hitting MD, NJ, NY.  Which has turned out to be a good thing.  Traffic was pretty easy yesterday (except through NYC), since no one had evacuated yet.  C ended up not coming, which was not a huge surprise, given the weather and other things.

As relaxing as the trip was, I'm not sure I'll go back any time soon for a couple of reasons.  First, the drive.  It was 8.5 - 9 hours with no major delays or backups, and frankly the Outer Banks is a closer and easier drive (plus fewer tolls, which I think totalled about $45, must check my EZPass).  The Cross Bronx Expressway is miserable -- yesterday we crept along going 10mph or less from the entrance to the GW Bridge.  No lane closures, no road work, just volume and drivers who couldn't figure out which lane they needed to be in.  And it was just as bad on Saturday, plus the bipolar driving through Connecticut.  I've mapped out other routes, but they all add 2 or more hours to the trip, which is already long to begin with.  Second, although the bungalow's location was excellent, it needs some cosmetic work -- nothing that couldn't be fixed with elbow grease and $1,000 or less, but there are a lot of other rentals out there in the same price range that are better.  Still, the rental agency was very good and Essential Rentals (bike, linens, grocery delivery) was excellent.  

ETA: why is LJ ignoring my paragraph breaks and multiple returns?
jmc_bks: (Default)
 Originally posted here.

+ Went to the Outer Banks for the first time, just for a few days, Thursday – Saturday. Some friends from work who go annually invited me to stay with them in Nags Head. Took the scenic route (301 to 17) rather than 95/64, which was what Google Maps kept trying to make me drive. The scenic route probably added a half hour to the trip, but the landscape was gorgeous and the road was empty for the most part. The house had four bedrooms, plenty of space. Enjoyed the beach in the morning, followed by a walk to Sonic for Cherry-Limeade, then lunch at the house and playing in the pool all the afternoon. On Friday, the wind was up and the surf was high; right in front of us, a guy was knocked over and out by the waves. It took five people to drag him to shore, and he didn’t regain consciousness before the EMTs arrived and strapped him to a back board and took off for the hospital. It didn’t look like he was breathing at first. I hope he’s okay. Other than that, I enjoyed the trip and the company, and would absolutely go back.

+ Went to the Legg Mason Tennis Classic today to see the singles and doubles final. The doubles team I was rooting for (Michael Llodra and Nenad Zimonjic) came back to force a tie break in the second set and then won the match in a super tie break \o/. On the singles front, I didn’t really care who won. Radek Stepanek is kind of a spoiler, I think — he hangs around and surprises people. And Gael Monfils (#1 seed) is kind of flaky — he’s got loads of talent but you never know who’ll show up, the serious player or the circus clown who’s more interested in trick shots and acrobatics than the game. I bailed during the (first?) rain delay, when Stepanek was up 4-2; I’d been out in the sun and heat for 4+ hours and was feeling dizzy and disoriented despite drinking 2 liters of water during that period, needed shade and AC.

+ Have not read much in the last week. Just “Prove It” by Chris Owen, which I’ll probably blog about tomorrow for SBD.

+ Do I need to see Patrick Stump next week? I want to, but is it necessary?

+ I’ve gotten my assignment for the fandom fic exchange I signed up for. The prompt belongs to the person whose fan fiction sets the bar for my OTP, so I’m feeling somewhat intimidated.

uh, what?

May. 17th, 2011 10:00 pm
jmc_bks: (meninas)
~  Fandom, why are you making me read George R.R. Martin?  I had managed to *not* pick up the behemoth books he writes.  But no, tumbleblogs and fic writers I follow are writing AUs and crossovers, so I must read Game of Thrones and understand the north wall and the appeal of Jon Snow.

~  WTAF, Hawaii 50 writers?  That season finale was a hot mess.  Steve arrested and broken hearted?  Danno maybe going back to New Jersey with his pregnant ex?  Kono arrested and Chin off being disloyal, which is totally contrary to his Hufflepuffish character?  The only thing that might explain this is an opening sequence next season a la Dallas in which it turns out that the entire episode was just a dream or nightmare induced by too many malasadas and Longboards.

~  Another romance blogger has posted a review of an urban fantasy novel that confuses me.  It's urban fantasy: the relationship is not the focus, and complaining about the protagonist getting her HFN midway through the series arc implies (to me) a lack of understanding of genre differences.  The series arc isn't about the relationship, it's about the larger conflict.  Asking what more can happen between them and lamenting the lack of tension now that the question of their relationship has been resolved makes me wonder what genre the reader/reviewer thought the book/series was.

~  It's months off, but I'm torturing myself, trying to decide if I want to go stay in Barcelona for a week, or if I want to rent a car and drive around the south, maybe stay in Granada and do day trips or just do a big, looping, coastal tour.  As much as I want to go north and do the camino de Santiago, that's a spring/summer trip, not a middle of winter trip.
jmc_bks: (meninas)
Coming soon:  a review of Hello Kitty Must Die by Angela S.Gina Choi.  In short: it was awesome.  Longer version later.

Check out Steve Tignor's love letter to Madrid.  Between that and FortyDeuce's tweets, I've been wishing I was in Madrid this week, enjoying the tennis and Retiro Park and stopping for a tart or sweet from La Mallorquina in the Puerta del Sol.

The Dairy Queen commercial for ice cream cakes for Mother's Day seriously squicks me -- it's the bubbles filled with kittens.  They remind me of a scene in Bujold's Cetaganda, in which that idiot Ivan plucks fruit from a kitten tree, only to realize that since it wasn't ripe, he'd essentially killed a fetal kitten.  Ick ick ick.  There's a lot of subtext and ethical undercurrents to the Cetagandan genetic manipulation and scientific experiments, but that image of a dead kitten made me ill when I first read it.  I have to skip that scene when I re-read the book.

Have I mentioned how much I like Panic's The Ballad of Mona Lisa?  Also, I have a ticket (via The Biochemist) for their show as part of the DC101 cook-off/festival at RFK in a couple of weeks...but it turns out I have a graduation party at the same time :(
jmc_bks: (Nadal at French 2010)
My thoughts on Indian Wells, the first weekend of the tournament.

Read more... )
jmc_bks: (star fort kinsale)
My passport has expired.  I've got the application for a new one and just need to get the standard photos taken.  Which is fine, I just keep forgetting.  Well, not really, I just hate having my picture taken.  Although I can't imagine that however the new photo turns out that it could be any worse than the old photo.  Anyway, I'm not in a rush to renew it, since I don't have any international trips planned for this year.

Today one of my colleagues asked me if I have any exciting new travels planned.  For a moment I was all "huh?"  Do I travel a lot?  I don't think so, since I'd like to travel more.  But maybe comparatively it seems like I do?   
jmc_bks: (Icicle)
On the reading front, very little progress.

1.  The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell, YA gothic/paranormal, written about here.
2.  One True Thing by Anah Crow & Dianne Fox, gay BDSM, written about here.
3.  Mercy Kill by Lori G. Armstrong, mystery, written about here.
4.  Lord Carew's Bride by Mary Balogh.  Trad Regency.  Meh, written about here.
5.  Caught by A.B. Gayle, gay romance.  I tweeted a little about this, plan on writing a short post later this week.
6.  What Child is This? by ZA Maxfield, gay romance.  This holiday novella failed for me: it was too busy trying to catch readers up on older characters and also have a plot that was almost completely unrelated to them.  Plus it was ridiculously expensive for its length, which often seems to be the case for Loose Id books.


Work is kicking my ass, as I mentioned the other day.  Am spending 60+ hours a week at work.  I left private practice because I didn't want that.  Plus, I'm fairly confident that I'm just going to get grief about this project, and any good that comes out of it is going to be credited elsewhere.

Leisure:  went to New York last weekend to hang out with The Biochemist.  We clung, and went to the theater together.  I saw The Imporance of Being Earnest:  Brian Bedford was excellent as Lady Bracknell, and the set design was gorgeous.  She saw one of the last shows of Time Stands Still.  Together we saw Driving Miss Daisy and American Idiot (again).  Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones have surprisingly good comedic chemistry and timing.  And Billie Joe Armstrong as St. Jimmy is a coked up Calvin who comes across like a cheerful little perv.  Visited the American Museum of Natural History, which I enjoyed, although I had forgotten the cardinal rule of museum cafes:  the more kid oriented the museum, the worse the food offered.  After the museums, I wandered around for a bit, then we met on Amsterdam for dinner at a French place.  Can't remember the name, but it was on the corner of 79th.  Great potato leek tart appetizer.  All that was fun, but the best part was the company; I wish we could see each other more often.  [And yet I've made no effort to relocate to Texas.  Hmmm.]
jmc_bks: (bashful)
...but not too personal.

Firstly: booked hotel and transpo to New York for later in the month.  Hadn't planned on going specifically, was contemplating dates generally, but The Biochemist will be in town then, so we can cling.

B:  Yesterday I removed from Google Reader what was for me, as a genre romance reader and occasional blogger, a foundational romance reading blog.  There's nothing wrong with the blog; like everything, it has changed as it has grown, and it just doesn't interest me any longer.  I hung out there for reviews, but now it does mostly videos and contests that I'm not interested in.  Am sure the blog owner neither knows nor cares.  Eh.

Nextly:  I slept 12 hours last night.  I never do that.  But apparently my body needed it.  The low grade headache I've had all week is finally gone.

Lastly:  I should be doing work, including disaster testing for remote login and work continuity for the office...but I don't wanna.  I also should head to the cleaner, the cobbler, and the post office before they close.  And yet my bum is still planted on the couch.
jmc_bks: (GK - layers)
Despite a great deal of advice to the contrary and against my own common sense, I went to New York for the blizzard a holiday weekend of theater and window shopping and the Met.  (It was that or a family holiday in Texas; I love visiting my sister in Texas, but have a low tolerance for large family trips or togetherness, so I skipped it.  Will visit separately, thanks.)

It was perfectly clear when I left Baltimore and on up through Philadelphia.  About half way through New Jersey to Manhattan, it began snowing like crazy.  And it was blowing pretty fiercely but nothing seemed to be sticking.  The trip took about 20 minutes longer than usual, which was not bad considering the weather.  

Time Stands Still -- this is an excellent play, and I'd highly recommend it if you can get to NYC before it closes permanently. All the acting was good, but Linney was particularly amazing.  There are no set changes, and the action takes place within the apartment of the main characters.  Sarah, a photographer, is returning from Afghanistan after being injured by a roadside bomb; her partner, James, a foreign correspondent, is struggling with writer's block and post traumatic stress after a suicide bombing.  The bulk of the plot is about their attempts to adjust to a "normal" life, whatever that is.  Meanwhile, they have the example of their friend and colleague, who is suddenly in love with a much younger woman (Christina Ricci) and building an entirely new life with her.  (In the hallway, I listened to two older ladies basically dissect Sarah's character and call her unfeminine, unnatural, and a heartless bitch for the choices she's made in her life.  Ouch.)

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown -- this is a good play, objectively speaking, but it didn't really work for me, because I am a huge fan of the movie upon which it is based, and it didn't measure up.  Although, to be perfectly honest, I'm not sure any stage production could have.  Probably I should've chosen to see The Importance of Being Earnest instead.  Ah, well, next time.

It was actually easier to get around Midtown and Times Square on Sunday during the snow than it was on Monday, in part because the clean up was kind of disorganized and also because fewer people were out and about on Sunday.    Plus, the snow hadn't had a chance to melt or turn into a slushy, slippery mess yet.  The state of the subway stairs was kind of surprising -- of the four different entrances/exits I used, not a single one had been salted or shoveled.  They were all reduced to a single track that people going up and down had to use.  

Also went to the Metropolitan Museum; enjoyed the exhibit on Haremhab, and the Steiglitz, Steichen & Strand photography exhibit.  Many of the exhibition rooms, including much of the museums' collection of European paintings and Impressionist masters that are housed upstairs, were closed, which was a little disappointing but I still managed to spend 6 hours wandering around the museum.  

Stayed in SoHo for the first time -- usually I stay in Midtown -- and was pretty pleased with the hotel.  Would go back.

Hadn't really worried about the weather, despite being out in it all day Sunday, until I came up the stairs from the subway onto Canal Street.  The neighborhood was utterly abandoned --  I didn't see another soul until I walked through the hotel doors -- and the streets and sidewalks were in terrible condition, with deeper snow than had been uptown.  Eh, I should've known better.  The next morning, people were out shoveling and clearing off.

Really, the only bad part of the experience was the trip home:  Amtrak's customer service and communication about train status was abysmal.  Zero information was available.  Calling the 800#, I either got a busy signal or was disconnected immediately.  Its website had so much traffic that the server couldn't handle it for hours at a time.  And when I went to the station for my train (which was expected to be on time according to the website), I learned that it had no estimated departure time.  Sat for more than two hours.  And then the trip that normally takes 2.5 hours took 3.5 hours.  The problem wasn't the delay generally, since the passengers all knew the trains were running in poor conditions and with heavy holiday traffic; it was the utter lack of communication and unresponsive staff.
jmc_bks: (Stupid)
Have you ever done something that seemed like a good idea at the time but turned out to be a disaster?  I'm looking back at my decision making right now and wondering WTF?

I'm in New York right now.  In the middle of a blizzard.

As my mother would say with great sarcasm whenever I did something lacking common sense as a teenager, Gifted and talented. 

Walked around, saw two shows, had a really good dinner, then took the subway to the hotel in SoHo.  I'm thinking that I'll be here an extra day, which is fine because I booked the room for a second night this morning when I was wibbling about my plans.

Still, would it have killed me to stay home for the blizzard there?  Probably not.  But this is an adventure...right?
jmc_bks: (Default)
The music and dance in this play were ridiculously good, especially when you consider that the show is carried by a boy who is maybe 12-13 years old.  (Actually, there are three or four boys who alternate playing Billy, and the one on Sunday afternoon was excellent.)  Also on the plus side was the set design.  

The dream/practice sequence in which young Billy dances to Swan Lake with other Billy was utterly beautiful.  

I don't remember Billy's friend Michael being a cross-dresser in the movie, but the scene in which they try on Michael's sister's clothes (and in which Michael says his dad wears his mum's clothes, too, so cross-dressing wasn't as poof-ish as ballet) was funny and the song that scene is set to about expressing your individuality was quite good IMO.

The only real con for me was that the adaptation to stage remained set in Durham county, and most of the actors could not hold onto a consistent north country accent to save their lives. 
jmc_bks: (GK_Bradabs)
Learned yesterday that one of my colleagues, whom I respect a great deal and love to work with, is also a Jane Austen fan.  Bonding over Persuasion and mutual disgust of the Austen/zombie mashups.  My crush grew by leaps and bounds.

USAirways was taunting me with low airfares to London again.  Can't go in November or December due to scheduling.  January?  February?  But I'd sort of tentatively planned to go to Indian Wells in March and I can't do both.  Major wibbling occurred.  Airfare booked for California now, though, so no more wibbling.

Going to be in NY in early December for work.  Trying to decide what theater to see.  Would love to see Pacino in The Merchant of Venice but tickets/seats are ridiculously expensive.  Billy Elliot, maybe?  La Bete?  Or Avenue Q, since I didn't see it last time?  Am leaning toward BE and AQ, since will be there for a few nights.

The icon?  Not at all relevant, I just like it.

Next up to read:  the new Summer Devon/Bonnie Dee book.  And The Vespertine, a YA book.  And some Kindle samples.  Anyone reading something that they love and would recommend?
jmc_bks: (seagull)
So, I filled out a survey for a hotel I stayed in last week. The bed was comfortable, the complimentary breakfast filling. The carpet around the entry was EXTREMELY worn, and the shower curtain had that funky smell that you can get if you put something away damp. But the location was convenient and the price was right. So in the survey, I said that my expectations were met -- they were -- but not exceeded -- because they weren't.

And today I got an email from the customer service rep apologizing for their failure to exceed my expectations. Uh, no problem, really. I would stay there again, given the price and location, although I might ask for a room either higher up or not on the street corner. Am not really sure how to respond to the email, or if I should respond at all, since I said that exact thing in the comment section of the survey.
jmc_bks: (seagull)
Yeah, more photos. After the cut. Read more... )
jmc_bks: (flaming june)
It's just occurred to me that my trip to London was four weeks ago but I haven't managed to post any photos or a travel narrative.  Must get organized, or someday I'll just be saying, I know I did stuff on that trip but can't recall exactly what...

The weather was rather wet, unsurprisingly, but at least there was very little snow.  Which was a plus, since I left home during a lull in historic snow falls for the area, and I understand that there was a lot of snow in southern England this year.  Without going to look at my travel journal, here are the things that stand out in my memory.

Had planned on visiting Oxford but not the first day.  Thank you, National Rail employee who refused to read the small print on my London Plus BritRail Pass, insisting that the train trip from the airport activated the pass for the day, rather than counting separately.  (No, it didn't, according to the fine print on the back of the pass.)  Anyway, the train ride to Oxford was unintentionally entertaining, as I was seated directly behind a young woman of very decided opinions who shared them with her companions for the entire trip and eventually sucked them into her jaunt to Blenheim Palace.  I was tempted by the thought of the gardens and grounds, but wasn't sure my boots (sturdy but not Wellies) would be up to that much rain.  Instead, I wandered around Oxford, enjoying the glimpses into the different colleges and the busy streets.  Climbed Carfax Tower just off the high street -- up was fine, but coming down made me nervous.  At Market Square, I watched cakes be decorated and fondant-ed; admired leatherwork; chatted with a clerk in the butcher shop; and window shopped at a lovely jewelry shop.  Had lunch in the cafe in the church of St. Mary the Virgin, can't remember the name, but the food was organic, served homestyle, and quite delicious.  Enjoyed the tour of the Bodleian Library, especially of Duke Humphrey's library and what I believe was the original lecture room of the divinity school, which can be seen in the Harry Potter movies as the library and infirmary, respectively.  (Photo is of Christ Church College, taken from War Memorial Garden.)

Woke up the next day and saw that the sun was out!  Last minute change of plans: took the tube to Wimbledon.  Well, tube and bus.  The tour and museum were a little spendy in comparison to other museums and entertainments, but I would recommend it to anyone who is a tennis fan.  We had a chance to sit in Court #1 and Center Court, which absolutely rocked my socks (also, all the seats in Center Court were just replaced, and each has its own individual cover, unlike any other stadium I've been in).  (I am TOTALLY going to the Championships at Wimbledon someday, even if I have to sell my soul  take out a second mortgage on my house to do so.)  Anyway, learned all kinds of odd and random things interesting probably only to tennis enthusiasts, such as:  the two largest courts are regrassed every September (rye grass); it takes 9 months to build a new stadium but a year for the earth to settle, which is why building is going on now for a new court to be used in the 2012 Olympics; the two largest courts are open enough that local foxes sneaking in to use the grass is a problem...hence electric fences.  There is a temporary exhibit on Fred Perry in the museum that was interesting, and I loved the display on women's tennis kits, especially the video that showed the 10 kilograms of clothing that women used to wear!

Seemed  a shame to go to a museum or anything that would leave me indoors on such a nice day, so I went to Kensington Gardens and people watched.  Lots of material, especially around the Round Pond and Prince Albert Memorial.  (And, hey, Depeche Mode was playing Royal Albert Hall later that week!)

Despite a rainy and dreary day, Hampton Court Palace was a nice day trip.  The kitchens of Henry VIII were fascinating, especially the bits of the tour when experimental food historians talk about trying to recreate recipes, utensils, and cooking methods.  Food as status -- what you are served, how you are served, when/where you are served -- isn't something I'd ever thought about before.  Stood next to a huge fireplace for a few minutes to warm up, and was given the chance to turn a spit.  Even empty, it took muscle, and I couldn't imagine trying to turn it when half a cow was on the spit.  In one of the galleries upstairs, I looked out over the Fountain Court and noticed the carvings over the arches -- are they gods and goddesses?  The nearest one was horned, which made me think Pan or Bacchus.  Checked with one of the museum guards/docents, but she wasn't certain -- no one had ever asked her about them.   Lovely galleries of paintings - especially Kneller's Hampton Court Beauties and Lely's Windsor Beauties.  The garden probably shows better in fair weather, but I still enjoyed the Maze.

The British Library...I took a tour of the library and was the only person on tour.  Marta, the guide, was very helpful and informative.  I got to see the mechanical system used to ship books from the underground stacks (8 stories!) to the different reading rooms, and to admire the very modern reading rooms.  The BL receives 4,200 items per week.  And cannot cull the collection, unlike the average lending library, since its job is to archive materials.  Many materials are stored offsite in Yorkshire, and if requested, will be available for viewing in London within 48 hours.  Didn't realize that they were part of the British Museum until recently.  The building is lovely and rather naval, which I mentioned.  Marta smiled and told me that the architect was a retired naval fellow, and the resemblance was intentional, from the exterior cruise ship-like profile to the round, porthole-like windows on all doors.  The collection of George III is front and center, as required by the bequest, light and temperature controlled.  More than 35,000 volumes collected by a magpie king who didn't actually read many of the books, but had an agent on the continent whose job was to acquire them for the king.  (Hmm, I can only imagine that my TBR pile would be of equivalent size if I had an unlimited budget and an agent whose sole job was to acquire books that I might be interested in for my collection.)  The temporary exhibit was of editions of the Rubiyat by Omar Khayyam, and the permanent exhibit includes all kinds of things, ranging from the oldest known Beowulf manuscript and one of the original duplicates of the Magna Carta to handwritten Beatles lyrics.  Was blown away by the Turning the Page (TM) technology and ability to view virtually some incredibly delicate and valuable books, manuscripts and documents.  The new library was supposed to have three phases of building, with this first building followed by more, but the funding has been cut for the other phases, so this is it.  Marta said that if they'd known, likely a lot of the open space in this building would have been used differently, but that would be a shame -- it is a gorgeous building, very open and welcoming.  (My brain was quite full after leaving the library.)

On the next sunny day, I had a dilemma: day trip to Canterbury or Dover Priory.  Fortunately for me, the same train went to both destinations, so I had a while to make up my mind.  Ended up picking Canterbury, which was a happy choice.  After exploring the pedestrian-only area and window shopping, I went to the Cathedral.  Christchurch Gate is a little creepy, frankly, with the blue figure hovering over the gate.  Is it copper and the blue is corrosion, or is the color intentional?  Anyway, the cathedral is majestic, even partially laddered with scaffolding and netting.  While wandering inside, I paused to take note of an interesting memorial (the fellow seemed to have led an interesting life, governor & commander of Hong Kong, ambassador to China) and was asked if he was an ancestor?  No, just someone to look up.  But the lady (a guide in training) kept me company for the rest of my visit, and chatted with me about the cathedral cats; the daily Great War memorial -- recently relocated due to falling masonry from the Great South Wall; the Red Dean of her youth; the pea fowl that the new, young dean kept; the speculation that Thomas Becket's body had been moved by the monks before Henry VIII sacked the shrine in 1538; and how, if I'd come a little earlier, I would've seen the gorgeous altar cloths and flowers that usually decorated the cathedral but which had been put away for Lent.  Walked to the Roman Museum, and had a hurried visit, then back to the cathedral for Evensong (beautiful).  Far and away, the thing that most impressed me was the fan ceiling of the Bell Harry tower.  Gorgeous.  None of my photos came out well, so I'll just link to a pic here.

Let's see, what other stuff?  Walking tour of Legal & Illegal London, which included the four remaining original Inns of Court.  Aside: I didn't realize that the bells John Donne referred to in Meditations XVII arose from the bell tolling the death of benchers.  I thought it was much more generic.  The insight into the legal history of England was entertaining and informative, and drove home how very different our legal cultures and communities are, despite the fact that much of American common law is based on English common law.  

Saw "The Misanthrope", which I enjoyed but is not my favorite work by Moliere; I'm supposed to scorn Alceste for idealism and naivete and his unwillingness to engage in hypocrisy even when it would be to his advantage, but he's my favorite character and I am frustrated that he's essentially dismissed as a Cassandra.  In this interpretation of the play, Damien Lewis played Alceste, and Keira Knightly played Jennifer (Americanized and modernized Celimene).  Both were very good, although I found Knightly's American accent to be not quite right -- I'm not sure I can explain it, other than to say it was a little too nasal and the consonants too hard...plus, she lost the accent almost entirely whenever she had to pronounce a word ending in -ing, like "anything".  

The 100 artifacts exhibit at the British Museum is worth seeing, as is the temporary exhibit of medieval York artifacts.  The Sherlock Holmes Museum?  Eh, if you are a huge, huge fan, it's probably worth your time.  I went primarily to take photos for the Holmes fan in my family, so I enjoyed it, but probably wouldn't have gone otherwise.  Plus, I was a bit out of sorts since it was snowing and the wind turned my umbrella inside out, and a French brat kept asking me to move despite the fact that there was no place to move to.  [I'd've happily moved just to get away from him if there had been any room to spare.]

While standing in front of the National Gallery, a squad of red-coated soldiers on horseback came trotting up the street.  Not sure where they came from or where they were going (are the Horse Guards nearby?), but it was certainly a sight to see.  

Hmm, my unthreatening-factor remains in effect: I was asked for directions no less than four times.  And was able to help twice!  

Took a lot of pics that I'll eventually label and upload to FaceBook.  I guess.  Here's one last photo.  I loved the huge buttresses with the tiny, tender buds of spring flowers.



 
ETA: edited a bit for typos
jmc_bks: (star fort kinsale)
US Airways was taunting me, I swear it, poking at my weak spots.

I have no will power.

And I am surrounded by enablers who encourage me by saying things like, "You should do it while you are young, in good health, and single." And so forth.

Temptation

Dec. 11th, 2009 12:02 am
jmc_bks: (seagull)
A low airfare alert appeared in my mailbox today. For February, which is when I typically take my "big" vacation for the year. And it's a really good fare.

I don't need to go anywhere, right?

Just traveled to London. No need to think about another trip unless it is to plan for something in the fall, or for a long weekend visit to The Biochemist.

Right?

*crickets chirping*

Thanks :)

Nov. 24th, 2009 08:27 am
jmc_bks: (Default)
Thanks for the holiday and travel wishes! I'm excited about the trip.

Despite the excitement, I'm feeling also feeling a little weird and whiney. Monday was my birthday, and it was maybe the 2nd or 3rd (out of 36) that I spent away from my twin sister. Usually, even if we aren't together on the actual day, we celebrate it on Thanksgiving. (Yeah, it doesn't matter what anyone else wants to do, Thanx is our holiday. Often we are just couch potatoes and book consumers together. Go to the movies, watch football, etc. As Mom puts it, we cling.) Not this year, though, because it was actually cheaper for me to fly to London than to Houston. (What is up with that?) I'm going to have fun, I know it, it's just different.

Anyway, I hope everyone (who celebrates it this week) has a happy Thanksgiving!




Photo courtesy of www.thanksgivingideas.com.
jmc_bks: (star fort kinsale)
Figuring out what I really want to do/see on short trip to London. As Sir Walter Elliot says in the adaptation of Persuasion, I am for Bath. But what else am I doing? Overloaded with information from friends and colleagues. Go here, go there, you must do this or that! The variety of choices is paralyzing. [Rethink that -- noun is variety rather than choices, is it singular or a count noun? Think singular.] So I'm starting with something easier -- what am I taking to read on the flight? It has to be something I probably won't mind leaving behind in a "book crossing" sort of way. Probably I'll take a couple of the RWA books I haven't managed to try.

Unrelated: on Ace of Cakes tonight, I saw that Mary Alice (who rocks) has a WTF? stamp. Want. It would be extremely useful for work. The risk would be overuse, actually. :P

Also, Jack's Mannequin on TDS tonight? Very, very good IMO. Must download a copy of Swim from iTunes, along with Them Crooked Vultures.

The subject line of an item in my spam folder asked if my love stick was hard enough. I did not realize anyone used "love stick" other than the authors of 80s bodice rippers, but I suppose spammers need to be innovative...

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