The last couple of weeks have been full of joy and anguish. As I have no desire to delve into the depths of grief and meditate on loss in such a public space, I shall instead record what has brought joy and peace in the last little while.
- David and I celebrated our first Valentine's Day as a married couple. We've never been ones to go over the top with the day, so we spent it in our usual relaxed and chummy style. This meant we cooked dinner together (sausage balls stuffed with egg mayonnaise; bruschetta & parmesan chicken; bramley apple & blackberry pie; port) and watched our favourite movies (The Princess Bride and Flight of Dragons). There was also a small exchange of gifts (chocolates for me, and a copy of The Pooh Cookbook for David). It was mellow and cozy and just about everything it should be.
- Two Fridays ago, David & I joined some of my coworkers at a leaving party for one of my friends. We hit a couple of local pubs and had dinner at Charlie Chan's, a local Chinese restaurant. The restaurant was hilarious—the interior looks like it should be in a James Bond movie, with padded lounge seats and bluey electric lighting. There was a live jazz band that took ages to start, the food was super overpriced and the service questionable. All that said, they do a really nice sweet & sour pork. Dave & I, being brave North Americans, tried marinated pig's ear. I can't recommend it, but it was not disgusting. Just not my thing. As we found the restaurant more hilarious than aggravating, and as we were with a good group of people, it is perhaps needless to say that we had a pretty fun evening out.
- Also two weekends ago, David spent time at a local book fair. David, who is somewhat skilled in the art of book collection, was there at opening time on Friday morning and said the crowds were so thick that it took hours to get from stall to stall. He came home on Friday with a few books from a 1920s press that he is fond of. Then on Saturday I went back with him, just to have a peek. Highlights for me included: 19th century cookery books; a selection of medieval manuscript pages; medieval stained glass (because there's always a bit of art at a book fair); lovely, giant copies of Arabian Nights; some sweet, slimline copies of Dickens; a beautiful 'medieval style' Canterbury Tales manuscript; and a first edition of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (if anyone feels like getting me a present, this last treasure costs a mere £500). I did not buy anything, but my husband walked away with an 18th century book of poetry, which takes his antiquarian book collection up to at least three.
- We had the pleasure of going to an extended-play (EP) launch party for local folk band The Willows. The music was wonderful so we purchased the EP. It was so refreshing to hear old folk motifs mixed with modern lyrics. The lead singer has an amazing voice and the concert had a really good vibe. It was very cathartic. We met up with our friend Anne, and a couple of her friends, and spent the evening drinking, chatting, and listening to great music. I recommend checking out their music (you can get to it via the link above).
- Some friends of mine from Canada, David and Sarah, came to visit last Saturday. I had a great time showing them Cambridge. We went to the Botanic Gardens, The Eagle (for lunch), The Fitzwilliam, and took a brief tour of a few of the riverside colleges. In the evening Dave & I joined them at a concert in the Jesus College chapel, and it was certainly eye-opening to attend a classical music concert with two musicians, one of whom plays music on the same instruments & from the same period as the performers. I had such a wonderful day with my friends. It was great to get to know Sarah a bit better, and it was also really fun to hang out with David and to see how well we get along as mature, nearly 30 adults as we haven't seen all that much of each other since High School. It was also neat to see the inside of Jesus College Chapel, as it helps me picture the setting of many of Ingulphus' ghost stories much better.
- David has been having [more than] his fair share of nice dinners lately. On Friday he attended the Graduate Students Dinner at our church, with guest speaker Lord Hennessey. This four-course dinner was held in Wordsworth's old rooms at St John's College. Then on Tuesday he was treated to a special dinner at Clare for all the second year PhD students. On Thursday he again dined at Clare, this time with his Supervisor and a visiting neo-Latin scholar. He dined at the head table as a guest, which I was possibly more excited about than he was. And on Friday I finally got in on the dinner action and joined him again at Clare for our standard Friday formal. While he has been making much use of the college dining halls, I have been keeping up a diet of kebabs and sandwiches as I am too busy with evening meetings this week to do any cooking. It really makes me realise just how valuable David's weekday cooking is. It also makes me realise that seasoned tomato purée and aged cheddar, broiled onto toast, makes a damn good dinner when one is pinched for time.
- perhaps the biggest news out of this period is that David has a short neo-Latin poem published in the Times Literary Supplement. He had sent it in response to the Editor's query for modern uses of Latin/any Latin poets and needless to say we were both immensely pleased to see it in the March 4th issue.
- I've needed to spend a lot of time on the phone/Skype/email with my family over the past two weeks and it's been really great, even amidst the sorrow. I talk to my mum fairly regularly, but the extra chats with dad and John have been a real blessing. Dad and I are grieving for one we both loved dearly, and it has been so great for me to get updates on everything that's going on directly from him as he's been able to do all the things I wish I could be home to do myself. The way my dad and aunts have all considered my feelings and relationship with my Uncle has been really comforting. I do not feel that my grief is unrecognised. As I cannot publicly grieve amongst those who understand, and since publicly grieving amongst strangers is not something I wish to indulge, this care from home seems to strike the perfect balance. 2.5 weeks later and I am beginning to feel some peace.