adaeze: (Mollycat)
Molly is ready for Christmas. Molly has just brought in a robin.

She's gone back out again; trying to work out where Wellinghall has disposed of the corpse.
adaeze: (Cake)
Wishing a very happy Thanksgiving, to all my friends in or from the States, or indeed just celebrating it anyway for no good reason.
adaeze: (Puffin)
Duly stirred, steamed, and sozzled with yet more brandy. They are now sitting in the coldest part of the pantry next to the cake (which I've also fed with a lot little more brandy, gently maturing.

On the right, ready for feeding; on the left, re-wrapped and ready to hide in the pantry.
Speaking of which, why do we feed puddings? Seems an odd way to describe plying it with brandy.
adaeze: (snow)
I'm making the Christmas pudding. Anyone wanting to give the mix a stir for luck, comment here.


Sep. 11th, 2014 09:38 pm
adaeze: (Butterfly)
Earlier today we lost Ceridwen, the oldest of our three hens. She'd been poorly for a while; we thought she was responding to treatment, but this afternoon she took a sudden turn for the worse, and the vet said it was kinder to let her go.
adaeze: (Puffin)
Completely unable to decide what to pack for tomorrow night. On the one hand, the dress code for the retro Hugos includes 30s glam, and I have (and can even still get into) a suitable frock, which I hardly ever have a good excuse to wear. On the other hand it's probably a bit OTT for the Tolkien Society party, which is the same evening. What are other people planning to do?
adaeze: (Spire)
"The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime." - Sir Edward Grey, Foreign Secretary


Jul. 29th, 2014 03:43 pm
adaeze: (Fangorn)
Laocoon (cropped)

So it seems that one of the finest trees of my acquaintance is no more - the enormous pinus nigra that grew in the Oxford botanic gardens. They won't be the same without it - it will leave a huge gap.
adaeze: (College)
Regular readers will remember our failure to catch the current exhibition on at Christ Church, Other Worlds and Imaginary Beings, tracing the development of the depiction of monsters from the Medieval period through to Nineteenth Century children's games and books.

I went back to college this afternoon, and have finally managed to see it.

It was small but perfectly formed. There were only four cases; let us take them in order.

The first focused on medieval play with fantastic beasts, with several illuminated mss with strange and bizarre creatures dancing in the foliage in the margins, or forming initials. There were also a few early printed books, including a Nuremberg Chronicle, wit pictures of a sciapod, a cyclops and people with ears so long they dangled down to their knees. I think what I was meant to take from the early atlas was the rather fine merman, with legs as well as a fishy tail, and playing a viol. But I was also delighted to see that it depicted all the Atlantic islands, with Shetland (including Fair Isle and Foula), the Faroes, Iceland and Greenland all in their proper places; and showing all the major ports and cities of Frisland, Brasil (a tiny island some way SW of Ireland), and beyond even Brasil, an island named for St. Brendan.

The next one was devoted to Lewis Carroll and Alice in Wonderland, showing the evolution of the Gryphon and the Mock Turtle through Carroll's own first sketches (in which the gryphon looks extremely frail and bony, though still manages to leap and gyrate in a most energetic fashion when demonstrating the Lobster Quadrille), through the sketches added by Carroll's younger brother Wilfrid, to Tenniel's finished woodcuts. The display also included a number of doodles produced by Alice's father, Dean Liddell, during meetings. I can't help but wonder what the minutes of the occasion that led to his drawing a bomb would show.

The final two showcased the work of a gentleman I hadn't heard of before, Admiral Lord Mark Kerr, who led a blameless life until a) getting a very good look at a richly illuminated medieval psalter, and b) action in the Napoleonic Wars. He turned to drawing people with animals' heads and feet, sometimes in bizarre situations, often in what seems like an innocuous domestic setting - but with sinister details on closer study. They seem on the surface amusing pictures, a sort of proto-Lear, (Edward, not King!), but with dark undercurrents. One showed a very stage-y spook, with the caption "I do not boast - I am my sister's ghost!".

It's not on for much longer (another two weeks, officially, though it might get extended slightly), so I've caught it barely in time. Worth the trip.
adaeze: (College)
Come on Oxford!
adaeze: (Illumination)
There were three reasons for the most recent trip to Oxford, from which we're just back.

The first was to see the Other Worlds and Imaginary Beings, the current exhibition on at Christ Church:
Alas, no show, closed due to staff illness, so that's still on the to-do list.

The second, and the reason for going this particular date: last year there was a particularly good exhibition at the Bodleian library on the theme of magical books: how the older treasures of the library influenced fantasy literature. Yesterday, the two curators of the exhibition gave linked talks, the first, by Carolyne Larrington, concentrating on the way Tolkien and Lewis had influenced the next generation of children's fantasy writers, not only through their own books but also through their emphasis on a thorough grounding in Old English and related languages. Larrington demonstrated this by tracing the imagery of wolves in snow, from the Fimbulwinter and the great wolf Fenrir devouring the sun, through Lewis and Tolkien's love of "pure Northernness" to Alan Garner. This was followed by Diane Purkiss' look at the creative process. Her chief point was that while most creative writing courses advocate careful planning and research, the Inklings and their successors are clear exemplars of what is called "discovery writing" - having successfully internalized their own libraries. This is not always as smooth a process as it sounds, with re-writes leading to sometimes dramatic transformation, for example of Tolkien's Trotter into Strider, or for Lewis of four children named Ann, Martin, Rose and Peter into Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy. Purkiss gave us a ripple of mild amusement by describing Tolkien and Lewis as each others' beta readers.

Two very interesting lectures, but unfortunately not as well attended as they should have been, because anyone who came through the main door (not us, we'd come in from the other side) was greeted by a large sign saying "Talk cancelled". It was referring to a different event; but quite a few people, including three friends of ours, never found that out and went away disappointed.

But the final reason was as a little break to mark our birthdays, and to meet up with my father, newly back from much globe-trotting. Mission accomplished, with a nice hotel, a couple of excellent dinners (one in college, the next in a Lebanese restaurant), and fritillaries just beginning to flower in Magdalen meadows.

ETA: And some photos:
adaeze: (Cake)
Today is the one day of the year when it is not Wellinghall's un-birthday.

Happy birthday, Wellinghall!
adaeze: (Angry Duck)
A few photos from the last couple of weekends.
Read more... )
adaeze: (Fangorn)
When Wellinghall remarked earlier, while listening to the radio news, that "the Corsican Mafia are involved now", naturally I assumed he was talking about this story:

But he wasn't, the news had moved on to a completely different report.

On reflection, though, how likely was it that the Corsican Mafia would risk getting involved in any such caper? I mean it's clearly the kind of story that involves at least a maverick scientist whose warnings were ignored, a fearless explorer recently returned from the Antarctic, and probably a plucky young journalist. If tomorrow's news involves Eldritch Horrors we'll know they're on the case.


See, what did I tell you? The flower was probably the last ingredient needed to bring the pharaoh back to life.
adaeze: (Spire)
Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it, and if you celebrate something else or nothing at all, have a good day.
adaeze: (Fangorn)
First, a huge thanks to all the organisers / caterers / decorators / tireless workers who made last night's Taruithorn banquet such a success.  I never cease to be amazed by the imagination and skill that goes into turning the hall into anywhere from the Halls of Mandos to Edoras.  The black butterflies on the wall, the cobweb maze and the spider pinata were particularly memorable, as were the cheesy-almondy bits.

Second, I want to record for posterity the conversation in which we all agreed how terrible it was the way modern electronic toys with fancy gizmos and bells and whistles were limiting children's play, when we were little we were expected to use our imaginations, mutter mutter mutter.  This debate was triggered by a small child putting a plain cardboard tube down on the table and announcing that it needed to be left to recharge.

And in my Cinderella-like dash for the penultimate train, I managed to leave my trousers behind.  Least said about that the better.
adaeze: (Spire)
Wellinghall's parents received flowers from a few of their friends for the funeral.

One bunch is worthy of particular note.  Sent on Thursday (the day before the funeral), the card said something like "will be thinking of you tomorrow".

The card accompanied a dozen red roses and a heart-shaped balloon.

So now we're wondering - do all flowers ordered on 14th February automatically default to red roses, or has some poor girl received an armful of white lilies, and a proposal of marriage on the back of a Deepest Sympathies card?
adaeze: (Mollycat)
I see from cartoons in the papers that it's time for that ancient and honourable new year custom, the annual head-count at London Zoo.

In the spirit of solidarity, I've done a similar census, and can report two hens and one cat.  This is two hens and one cat more than last year.

Mollycat caught a mouse last night.  Having separated her from its mortal remains, Ceridwen (the more adventurous of the two hens) tried to eat it.  Yuck!  I have now given said mouse decent burial in the compost bin.
adaeze: (Default)
Merry Christmas, everyone!
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