Archives for June 2009
Zoe is on a Duke of Edinburgh expedition, and it is monsoonishly RAINING. She slept in a tent while we used duvets and heat. I love camping too, (provided Roy and Zoe make camp) but not in the wet. We heard the amazing and energetic Heidi Baker yesterday at Aldates. Her faith and joy are contagious, and she is the best speaker, with the most electric, unself-conscious, self-confident delivery, that I have ever heard
We laughed so hard when a very wet, very bedraggled, rather lame Zoe, clothes inside-out and hair wild, came back from a 15 mile Duke of Edinburgh expedition (on which she carried 22 pounds, and camped out). It’s rainy, so our main adventures today are literary–I am enjoying reading Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome to Irene.
Anita Mathias has played a game of tennis with her family. And lifted weights with her personal trainer. Is sore. And sorry. For herself. Am looking forward to our holiday in Wales this weekend–a day in the Brecon Beacons, a day in the National Botanical Garden of Wales in Cardiff, and a day on beaches
Quel est le mot en Francais pour.? After 4 months of Alliance Francaise French conversation classes, I’m no longer saying that quite so much. The instructor solemnly begun by teaching us Merde and Putain on our first class, and, literally and figuratively, it was all uphill after that. I love French, but no longer acquire languages as quickly and easily as I did in my twenties. Those stubborn grey hairs I henna out!
Anita Mathias just spent 3 lovely days in fabulous Wales. Our family stayed in the Brecon Beacons National Park, instant relaxation–classic woodland views of boulder and pebble-choked steams; fat, long-tailed lambs. Liked the Vaughan steam and canal walk of the beloved metaphysical poet. ++ National Botanical Garden of Wales, which we explored until hobble-footed exhaustion. Zoe & Irene loved Wales and didn’t want to return home.
Anita Mathias is pleased with herself. I went to a street dance class at Esporta, in a mirror-walled room with a bunch of women mostly half as old, and twice as fit! I (mostly) enjoyed the leaping and sashaying! Mid-life crises are fun things. One tries new things. And stops caring what people think. I then had a facial. AND forced Roy to get his first haircut in 20 years! He usually cuts his hair himself. Or worse, gets me to!
Anita Mathias visited the sweet Lister family in Faringdon yesterday, had the best BBQ, and walked up to Faringdon Folly Tower–fab views of the White Horse in Uffington. Today I had my Somerville friend Ruth to lunch. Woke late, focused on returning wrongfully scattered kids’ art projects and books to their rightful owners, realizing 10 minutes AFTER Ruth came that I had forgotten to shop! Roy to the rescue!
Anita Mathias Zoe has just come back tired and happy from five days in Cornwall with her friends Laura and Eleanor. They were supposed to be revising for their end of year exams. In Cornwall? Well, Zoe says she feels well-prepared. As for me, I did a taster session of tai-chi with an instructor at Esporta. It seemed a lot of nonsense, until we came to the dancing part, when we moved from prose to poetry. I think I’ll try it again!
Massive but brief hailstorm here! Irene turned 10. 10 years of our little rose and sunbeam. Mixed metaphors, but I couldn’t decide! She’s going to have a camping sleepover as Zoe had for her 9th birthday. I’m praying for good weather, grace, miracles and sleep!
Chess-y weeks. Irene played for Oxfordshire in the U11 National Finals yesterday, winning all 3 of her games. She was also selected to represent the West of England last Monday in a West vs. East of England U11 chess tournament. Won 5 out of her 6 games in the Oxfordshire mega-final. But it adds busyness to our lives. Now why did we get that girl into chess?
“Recalled to life”–the theme of the first book of The Tale of Two Cities, which our family is listening to in the car. That’s how I feel– for various reasons! On the culture front, our family watched the Druid Theatre’s wonderful production of The Playboy of the Western World at the Oxford Playhouse–hilarious comedy and/of cruelty. I love Irish accents!!
I am looking forward to listening to Heidi Baker this weekend–always a mini-watershed experience in my Christian life. I have a spare ticket if someone wants it. Also reading the Don Camillo stories again with the greatest refreshment and delight. They make me laugh. I love Guareschi’s deceptively simple style.
Anita & family have signed up for a membership at Esporta, The Oxfordshire Health and Racquets Club. I thought of all the yoga, tai-chi, dance, weights, tennis and badminton I might do, and developed a massive cold. I do have three sessions with a personal trainer booked though. Zoe is now in her school’s tennis team and she and Irene love tennis, badminton and swimming, so they’ll use it, as, teeth gritted, shall I!
The birds were manically happy this morning. And cuckoos really do sing cuck-ooo which never ceases to amuse me. Am reading a really fab. book about prayer–the greatest power and adventure and joy in the world (okay, one of them!). Worship is another. And many of the things on this blessed earth qualify…
Another gorgeous bright April day. I enjoyed a solitary walk in the country. Am gripped by Jon Krakauer’s book “Into Thin Air” about the tragic Everest 1996 expedition, full of fatal flaws, and am also trying to get back into a writing routine. Also reading “A Man’s Reach,” a spiritual autobiography by Glenn Clark with interest and amusement.
Kids back at school, so long, quiet spring days, which I’m really enjoying.
Another manically bird-loud day. Lovely wildflowers springing up in our paddock and the fields around us. Our apple trees have delicate pink blossom; the cherry trees are covered with profuse white blossoms. Feel talked out after Writers in Oxford’s monthly Drinks and Digressions (aptly named!) and a fun parents’ reception at Zoe’s school. What an interesting, diverse bunch of parents!
Though generally the hearts of both adults and children sink at the words “Family Service,” we had good ones this Easter at St. Aldate’s. Jesus after his resurrection was as pithy, trenchant and incisive as ever, and his questions cut, once again, to the heart of the matter. His first words, practically, “Why are you weeping?” And then, “Be not faithless, but believing.” These two sentences are connected, somehow!
We went on a family walk and picnic to Lovell Minster, a picturesque ruined stately home by the River Windrush. The ruins blend in with the beauty of the natural surroundings better than the pretentious manor probably did. Huge bright yellow marsh marigolds bloomed in the water meadows. A picturesque dovecote! The river Windrush not only has a poetic name, but is so peaceful and tranquil. Another perfect April day!
Zoe, 14, is a gourmet cook. She tackled a 20 lb roast goose, with onion, mushroom and giblet gravy & complex stuffing. I, on the other hand, would like to live in the fairy-tale land of Cockaigne, where roast pigs run down the streets, squealing Roast Me, Roast Me, and there is no swine fever! Even better is heaven where, acc. to Revelation, never shall we hunger or thirst, and God shall wipe every tear from our eyes
Roy and I walked in Oxford University’s Harcourt Arboretum today. The bluebell woods were magical, spectacular–a sea of blue, waving and dancing in the dappled sunlight. It was like fairyland (whatever that is like!), an out of this world experience. The azaleas, camellias and rhododendron were also in full bloom. Absolutely lovely. I love spring!!
Anita Mathias Irene’s class is doing Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat at school. Irene’s now crazy about Lloyd Webber musicals, so all of us watched The Phantom of the Opera last night, for the first time. Irene was terrified, and screwed her eyes shut, and now wants to watch the whole thing again while the sun is shining.
I and the the cleaning lady have cleaned out Irene’s room today. It is like the Room of Requirement in Harry Potter, Zoe says. Whatever we needed and missed is to be found there–under her bed!!
Irene has spent the last two days in an adventure camp, learning archery, fencing, kayaking and juggling. The girl sure didn’t get those genes from me!! Zoe has read 3 Twilight books in a row. Will someone PLEASE tell me what’s the deal with teenage girls and VAMPIRES?
Just watched La Cage Aux Folles, and laughed hard at bits: Still in old French comedy mode. Reading Mary Norton’s The Borrowers Afield to Irene, and loving her descriptions of the natural world. Very much like lovely Garsington in bloom around us!
Anita Mathias painted my kitchen and bathroom–first house-painting of my life. It was so satisfying that I could do for a livelihood (if the time could be leveraged). I am insufferably pleased with myself. Roy said, “Well, if THAT’S painting, why do people charge so much for it?” But there’s no one right way to paint–or do anything else!
A poem by Mary Oliver
I have been thinking
like the lilies
that blow in the fields.
They rise and fall
in the edge of the wind,
and have no shelter
from the tongues of the cattle,
and have no closets or cupboards,
and have no legs.
Still I would like to be
as the old idea.
But if I were a lily
I think I would wait all day
for the green face
of the hummingbird
to touch me.
What I mean is,
could I forget myself
even in those feathery fields?
When Van Gogh
preached to the poor
of coarse he wanted to save someone–
most of all himself.
He wasn’t a lily,
and wandering through the bright fields
only gave him more ideas
it would take his life to solve.
I think I will always be lonely
in this world, where the cattle
graze like a black and white river–
where the vanishing lilies
melt, without protest, on their tongues–
where the hummingbird, whenever there is a fuss,
just rises and floats away.