Deck the halls

Saturday, 23 December 2006 18:11
strange_complex: (Saturnalian Santa)
Tonight is the final night of the Saturnalia, the Solstice has been accomplished successfully, and tomorrow is Christmas Eve. What could be better?

I'm up in Brum at my parents' house, and, as in some previous years, we are holding a Christmas party tonight. We've spent the day preparing, and now we've entered that lull where it's not yet worth getting dressed up and attending to the last-minute tasks like taking things out of the fridge and putting them on the table, but we've pretty much finished all the medium-term preparation. We have ham, pâté, salmon, cheeses, salads, olives, peppers, quiches, pizza, ciabatta, mulled wine, chocolate brandy cake, fruit salad and about a dozen other delicious things I can't remember now. Seasonal music and musicians are on standby (I shall mainly be playing the recorder this year), silly crackers are waiting to be pulled, the tree sparkles beautifully in the corner, and I have a lovely new dress hanging in the wardrobe. It should be a good 'un.

Going out into the garden this morning, I found that the mild weather we've had this autumn / early winter has meant a real profusion of interesting leaves, berries and even flowers which I could incorporate into the display of winter greenery that I normally put together to go on the mantlepiece above our fireplace. And, at long last, my Dad and I together also came up with a solution to the logistical problem I usually have when putting the display together - that the mantlepiece is rather narrow, the greenery gets quite heavy once you've got a few holly branches and bits of variegated bushes in there, and a blob of blu-tack just isn't adequate to hold it all together. Instead, this year, I picked out a suitable log from the wood-pile, and he split it in two and then drilled some holes in it for me, so that it could sit on the mantlepiece and have twigs poked into it. It works very well - and is making me wish I'd brought my digital camera up here to photograph it. Oh well - I'm sure it will be appreciated by the party-guests tonight, and maybe I'll be able to borrow the parental camera for blogging purposes? Yes - I'll go and enquire about that right now, I think!

Snow!

Wednesday, 1 March 2006 16:16
strange_complex: (Saturnalian Santa)
Wow, it is seriously snowing here in Oxenmaford! The air is thick with it, it's settling (certainly on the grass), and we're buried underneath a blanket of surly grey clouds which promise that this will continue for some time.

I know one young man who'll be most chuffed.

strange_complex: (Purple and black phone)
Ah! It's snowing! :-)



strange_complex: (Snape writing)
Oxford lay buried in a deep, off-white fog all day today. But I didn't mind at all. The only time I had to go out of the house was to walk to and from seeing Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire with [livejournal.com profile] redkitty23, both of us wrapped in gloves, scarves, warm coats, long black skirts and, in my case, my new sexy boots. Especially on the way back, when it was dark and wintry and we walked across my bridge deep in conversation about the film, the fog only served to make the journey feel like a real-life extension of the Hogwarts experience. Perhaps a cut scene featuring two particularly attractive young teachers, set on the rickety wooden walkway which crosses the steep valley behind the school.

Since this magical experience constituted the first time I'd worn my boots out of the house, and they do feel just like the sorts of boots a female teacher at the school might wear, they shall forever after be known as my Hogwarts Boots.

What about the film itself? Spoilers ahoy! )
strange_complex: (Claudius)
I really like what Ovid has to say about Februry 9th in his Fasti1: so much, in fact, that I am going to share it with you here. The reference at the beginning relates to the last entry: he didn't write about every single day of the year, just the important ones.

"When, five days later, the Morning Star has lifted up its radiance bright from out the ocean waves, then is the time that spring begins. But yet be not deceived, cold days are still in store for thee, indeed they are: departing winter leaves behind great tokens of himself."
(Fasti 2.149-52, Loeb translation by Sir J.G. Frazer - also of Golden Bough fame).

It seems to fit nicely with today being the Chinese New Year: a fresh beginning is upon us, although winter ain't over yet.

Meanwhile, here in Belfast, I am starting to see crocuses in the University's flower beds (purple ones, no less), and blackbirds are singing.

Now, I return to writing about gigantic and unwieldy early Roman coins (with pigs and elephants on them - yay!) for tomorrow's first-year lecture.

-------------
1. A poem about the Roman year which describes all the festivals and astronomical developments which occur day by day... up until the end of June, that is, after which either the text is lost, Ovid never intended to write any more anyway, or he was sent into exile while the poem was still unfinished (most scholars today prefer option b).

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