Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Selwyn College & Coton Reserve

Yesterday I had my first lunch "in college". This is a fancy English way of saying, I visited a college, and ate lunch in their dorm cafeteria, but super fancy-like. Think Hogwarts, but without the robes, mail delivery by owl, and floating candelabras (I know, I was disappointed too).

The college I visited is named Selwyn College. About 14 of us were taken as a small group of Newcomers/Visiting Scholars by the wife of the former college Master. Only 10 of us had reserved spots at the lunch, but about 12 of us managed to sneak in (you know who you are!). Here are a few snapshots for you to enjoy. Oh, but I didn't take a single one of the dining hall. Sorry. I felt dorky enough just being a guest eating a potato with tofu, I couldn't bring myself to take photos of the undergraduates as they ate.

Selwyn Chapel Exterior
Selwyn Chapel

Just a few acres of Selwyn College (Click to view larger)
 And I'm sure you're starting to get sick of sunset pictures from my apartment flat, but too bad. It's all just too pretty not to post. There is so much beautiful light in Cambridge. I like to call it "God-light" because the landscapes often look like a Hallmark card or the pamphlet you get when you go to someone's funeral a church service.

Today (Happy Halloween!) got off to a beautiful start. Shortly after Devin left for work, I watered all the house plants, cleaned the abode up a bit (how are there always crumbs on the floor?), and went for a walk in the sunshine. (SUNSHINE!) Then I wandered over to my favorite Coton Reserve for a walk. Here are a couple of snapshots from the trail.

This is   my favorite one of the day.

And finally, in celebration of Halloween I must share with you the story of the Cambridge Manatee. Last night at dinner Devo informed me that at his lab today they were having a contest to see who had the most neat-o carved vegetable (or something like that). He poked around in our kitchen and pulled out a potato, studied it's profile for a moment and exclaimed, "It looks like a Manatee. Done!" For the next hour or so he carved little fins and a tail for the manatee, stuck a map-pin in for it's eyeball and put all the bits and pieces into a water filled soup container for safe keeping. Today he left for work with the disassembled manatee in the pocket of his backpack. A few hours later I got this photo in a text message. The awesome thing that you can't see is that he carved out the belly of the manatee and inserted a discarded/broken flashing bike light, so it GLOWS! And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the Cambridge Manatee was born.

Devin's Manatee

While I didn't carve a vegetable of any sort this Halloween (so sad!), nor did I dress up in any way (again with the sad!), I did buy a pair of scissors and finally cut my bangs properly. 

Boo! I'm hiding.

Happy Halloween to you all! 
Be safe! Check the candy for drugs!

And to all my east coast friends. Thank goodness it's over.
Hope you're all healthy, dry and safe.

Taken by my friend Sagi. Long Island City, NY. Post Sandy

A Day In Ely - October 13

I'm writing a backwards post.
Or rather, this happened a few weeks ago and I'm just now getting around to posting about it.

This was our first official outing since arriving in Cambridge a month prior.
I was antsy and ready to take the train somewhere, anywhere, and so we chose to go to a town called Ely (pronounced E-leigh). I'm going to start by throwing a whole lot of photos at you, cause that's how I roll. And you know what? I might only post photos. Maybe, just maybe if I'm not too lazy I'll write a little bit near the bottom. But you'll have to scroll through a bunch of photos to find out.

 I just checked this post out in preview mode, and you know what? I'm not going to add any descriptions. I think it does a pretty decent job of showing you what our day was like. The only things you should know incase you ever happen to visit Ely is this. And this. And most importantly, this.

P.S. All the photos were taken by either me or Devin. Not bad for iPhones, eh?

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Man . . . And a Hurricane

If you want some real, gritty, true-life coverage of Hurricane Sandy click on over to my friend Geoff's webpage,  There you can find archival footage of previous storm coverage dating back to August 2011 where he covered Irene.

Video Still Image Capture from Geoff's Webpage

Geoff also happens to be a good writer, so if you haven't already read his book Wiffle Ball Summer, The Ride of the Elmoron, you should check that out too.

Some of you may recognize Geoff from "The Reading" he gave at our wedding this summer.
The professional photo you see of him on his website was from that day. Doesn't he look legit?
Thanks to Shannon for dressing your man to look sharp.

Arts & The Mind: PBS

Photo Credit: PBS
Arts & The Mind: A PBS Documentary

From the PBS webpage:

"Alzheimer’s researchers call it a powerful tool to ward off dementia. At-risk teens use it to find meaning in the world around them—and in themselves. It offers healing to both chronically ill toddlers and veterans battling PTSD.
What is this magical elixir? Art. Arts & the Mind explores the vital role the arts play in human development during both youth and older age, and shares stories and cutting edge scientific research on how music, dance, painting, poetry and theater markedly improve well-being at both ends of life." 

I haven't watched either video yet (you can stream them from PBS), but I hope to watch them soon.
Right up my alley.

Check it out!

What do you think? Have you had an experience with friends, family, or even personally with the Arts helping move people toward a fuller life? Toward healing? Please comment if so!

The Weekend (And etc.)

We managed to do a whole lot of nothing this weekend here in Cambridge.
The weather has been fussy, to say the least.

On Saturday we ventured out and went for a walk, excited that the sun was finally out after being in total hiding for weeks and weeks, okay, seven days.  We headed north and I showed Devin a pretty little trail that weaves between a part of campus he hadn't seen before.  At the end of the trail we popped out near a small shopping district and we visited The East Anglian Children's Hospice thrift shop.  It was a busy, bustling place, but we didn't find a thing to buy. (For those of you excited by the whole royalty thing, this is one of the organisations that Kate Middleton is supporting)

While in the shop the weather took a turn for the worst. We were about two miles away from home and the skies clouded over turning a dark grey, the wind picked up and sharp raindrops began to smack against our coats at a 60 degree angle.  We walked for a bit in the rain until deciding to duck into a pub on Castle Street, The County Arms, and had hot chocolates while we waited out the mini-storm.

Leaving the pub, feeling toasty warmer and brave, we walked home to make lunch as we were planning on heading back out in a few hours to see an event from the Festival of Ideas, and then joining some friends for dinner at their home.  On the walk home the rain and wind started up again, beating down on us ruthlessly until my pants were dripping into my shoes, and my socks squished out water with each step. Devin, who wore his down coat for warmth instead of a rain jacket (because it had been sunny with blue skies!), was slowly absorbing all the cold rain water into his coat, soaking him down to his t-shirt. Despite being cold and wet, we managed to laugh at ourselves and the situation, and started to plan what we might do and where we might go around the upcoming Christmas holiday . . .(Croatia? The Lake District?  Paris?Wales?)

Ironically, or rather in true British-weather form, the moment we stepped into our apartment the skies cleared, the dark clouds moved off into the distance, and sunbeams were pouring into our apartment.   Feeling soggy and a bit defeated, we decided to skip the afternoon event at the southern end of town and instead drink tea and watch The Great British Bake Off while our clothing dripped dry in the bedroom. During this time our friends let us know their daughter was sick and so our dinner plans were cancelled.  Faced with an afternoon and evening of staying in while the weather continued it's tantrum, we put on our most comfortable clothes and hunkered down for the rest of the day. Interwebbing. Reading. Knitting. Skyping. Cooking. Eating. Not necessarily in that order or all at once.

Sunday proved a bit more eventful as I took a 3 hour walk around and into town, while Devin worked for a few hours at the lab and then went for a swim at the city pool. I suggested that he pick up some burritos from the one and only Mexican food restaurant in town on his way home because we haven't had a burrito in 2 months! It was time for us to sus this place out and see if it will put a dent in our constant burrito cravings. And the verdict? . . . . It'll do. Nana Mexico is by no stretch of the imagination a Mexican restaurant, but it does a fairly decent job of wrapping beans (with mushrooms?), rice, fajita style veggies, sour cream, and what passes for guacamole into a tortilla like wrap. We also managed to purchase some salsa that tastes a bit like salsa instead of just sugary tomato ketchup.

In other exciting news, on Thursday night Devin and I did actually attend one of the talks from The Festival of Ideas and it was rather entertaining. It was an hour long discussion entertaining talk that consisted of a panel of biologists/scientists discussing themes of evolution in a game show style format.  It was based on the show Just a Minute, where people have one minute to speak on a topic without repetition, hesitation or deviation from the topic. If any other contestant wants to challenge the speaker they hit a button and if they have correctly challenged what time is left in the minute is transfered to them. The person who is speaking when the one-minute timer goes off, wins a point. It was a good time, though a bit hard to hear as it took place inside the Museum of Zoology so the acoustics were terrible. Fantastic setting to drink a glass of wine, and watch a live game show though! Sorry I didn't take any pictures!

Afterwards we went to a noodle house near the river Cam called Dojo. The place was packed for 8:00pm on a Thursday night, which is a good sign.  Devin had veggie Pad Thai, I had veggie Udon. Both dishes got the job done, but neither were very flavorful or exciting. We'll try it again, but likely order something different or more unique. 

Tonight we attend a Cambridge Ghost Walk where we'll get a guided tour of all the "haunted" parts of Cambridge. Since we went on Daylight Savings Time this weekend it's getting good and dark here by 5:00pm, hopefully this will make for a dark and spooky ghost tour! So far the spookiest thing about Cambridge for me are the job prospects (Wah, wah.)

Hope everyone back home is staying safe and warm during Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Obamany.
Get out there and vote, or rather, stay in and stay warm and vote by absentee!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Kettle's Yard & Folk Museum

Two places you have to visit when you come visit us in Cambridge: Kettle's Yard and The Folk Museum. They are located directly next to one another and are adorable, beautiful, and fun places to spend an afternoon.

As part of the Newcomer's and Visiting Scholars group I went on a tour of both locations last Thursday. After a brief talk in The Folk Museum we were set free to wander about as we pleased at both venues. After a good bit of meandering, we made our way to The Punter for a cup of tea.

"The Folk Museum is housed in the former White Horse Inn, an 8 room building now containing exhibits that illustrae the work and everyday life of the people of Cambridge and the surrounding County over the last 300 years.  The displays include tools of various crafts and occupations, 19th century kitchen, toys and games, and local folklore." - Credit

Here are a few shots (some quite creepy in hindsight) from inside the museum:

My favorite of the two places was Kettle's Yard.
Oh. My. Gosh.

Maybe the contrast of the two is what won me over.  After wandering through the cramped, dark, completely filled rooms of the Folk Museum, walking into the light, spacious, aesthetically decorated space of Kettle's Yard was a welcome and comforting relief.
(* Majority of the photos below from Kettle's Yard Virtual Tour)

I wondered how on earth I'd ever translate to you what I experienced and learned at Kettle's Yard, but thankfully after a cursory internet search I found that other people already did the work for me.  Here are some great links about Kettle's Yard. If you only have time/interest enough for one link, look at the first one.  It best translates the feel of this beautiful home.

Virtual Tour of Kettle's Yard

Blog post about Kettle's Yard

Flicker Stream of Kettle's Yard

Some of the artwork on display inside the home/museum:



See why I like that house so much? Just makes me want to curl up with a book and a cup of tea. Occasionally staring out into the room at all the beautiful objects and works of art. I'm hoping to visit the house again soon when there are fewer people around so I can take my time and really enjoy being in the space.

All in all, a lovely day in this lovely town.
What a lucky girl I am.

Thanks for reading.