08 July 2008

In Which We Discuss the Gawain Tour

I'm in Leeds at the moment. It's wet. It's very wet. Actually, I tell a lie, it's sorta wet interspersed with damp. Let's be fair.

But it's England nonetheless, and the dining room still has stewed tea, which makes me happy, and they give me soy milk for it and make gluten free toast, cause they are Excellent Stewards over in the dining room, and I give my paper today and already had my business dinner and made Big Decisions*, and things are going pretty well.

I didn't have the time or the money to stop in London and see friends (for which I apologize, but it's been that sort of year), so I'm just flying in and out of Leeds and only staying for the conference, BUT I did go, on the first day, on The Tour of Gawain Country.

The tour was based on the work of Ralph Elliot, who's written on the landscape he believes was in the Pearl poet's head for the setting of "Gawain and the Green Knight."** And I teach the poem often, and indeed am teaching it in both the fall and the spring semesters this year, so that's all legitimate and stuff.

But really, I wanted a chance to walk around in beautiful country and get some exercise and be amused by being a medievalist. Cause what the hell, if you're not amused by being a medievalist, you're in the wrong line of work.

And it was a tour, and a mighty tour.

I came back exhausted and wet and muddy, from tramping over roots and wet mossy rocks in the high forest, and clambering up and down wet mossy rocks into a crevice in an old crag. And! At one point we had to walk over slippery rocks and a fallen tree branch, to pass safely over a giant mud hole!

This was all excellent. It was just like being Indiana Jones's dad! Ah, the life of the Adventurous Medievalist.

The bus load of medievalists acquitted ourselves well. Nobody fell down, nobody got lost in the mudhole, nobody required assistance.

And the packed lunches were very nice.

*Actually this consisted of the Big Boss saying, we want to put this piece of your work in this other volume, ok? and me saying, sure, why not.

**OMG! I was looking for useable links to the Gawain poem, and I found a Gawain and the Green Knight Paper Doll Set! I kid you not! Too bad they only show one side of the shield, so you can't see the face of Mary.

01 July 2008

Boxed In

We're now living in Nutwood -- the dogs adore it; the cats are getting used to it.

We're living with contractors! They leave their stuff here overnight. That's how we know.

The electricians and the plumber worked on their jobs before we moved in. But Kevin, the contractor, will be here for Weeks. Weeks and Weeks.

He's putting in a fence, so that the dogs can be let out into the backyard without leashes. And he got the rest of the vine off the power lines and the gutter pipe, and cleared out the gutter on that corner of the house. During the daily deluge yesterday I heard the rain running through the downspout. Yes. Good.

And he discovered this morning, after digging up the non-functioning storm drain, that it's clogged with long composted leaves. The gutter and downspout above it are also clogged. And this explains all the water in the basement. I laughed and laughed. It's so simple, really.

And inside the house, we're living still out of boxes; the kitchen has been made usable, but since most of our stuff doesn't fit (it's a kitchen invented by people who lived off take-out, I think), it's still in boxes and we're deciding what to use this year before we can get the kitchen redone. The child's bedroom is done, so he's happy. Our bedroom is pretty much done, though there's bath salts all over it cause there's no place as yet to put them, in the bathroom, which was invented by people who needed neither bathroom storage (there's not even a medicine cabinet) nor towel racks.

This last one really gave me pause. How can you not need towel racks? (And don't explain to me, in the comment section, that hooks on the walls and doors would work. Yes, they would. I f they were there. They're not.)

Every day that goes by, we discover yet another unfathomable decision made by the previous owner. Want a heating vent where the structural beam is? Cut it in pieces! Need to get some of the water out of the basement so you can sell the house? Put in a French drain, instead of cleaning the gutters! Tired of painting the guest bathroom? Cover the untreated walls in poufs of lace!

This goes on and on.

But the computer's connected (hi! did you miss me?) and the kitchen's functional, and the tv's are working, and so are the cd players, and all the boxes of books are unpacked in the library.

All the books. In the library.

Life is good. And the house is wonderful.