A new person

Solutions

  • More women in leadership, everywhere
  • Less time on Twitter for everyone
  • At least two clementines a day for the entire season
  • Moisturize your face; it’s winter, you savage
  • Walk your dog(s)
  • Start studying again that foreign language once knew and have since mostly forgotten
  • Tell people how you feel, even if you’re not sure how to articulate it

Our dearest friends welcomed their son, their firstborn, into the world on Saturday. We met him and held him, talking quietly in a peaceful hospital room that overlooked the university and the mountains beyond while this little 6-pound bundle warmed my ribcage. His parents’ faces were alight with an exhausted kind of wonder. They were so relaxed, watching us carefully exchange their baby, and competent. They’ll parent him beautifully, and we are privileged to act as witnesses.

“This then, I thought, as I looked round about me, is the representation of history. It requires a falsification of perspective. We, the survivors, see everything from above, see everything at once, and still we do not know how it was.” — The Rings of Saturn, W.G. Sebald

The magical village of Wield

In which we escape to the English countryside for a weekend with friends and are able to avoid our phones and (temporarily) forget the enveloping darkness that our homeland is lurching into…

Wield weekend(Everything about this village = dream life to the max)

The Yew TreeDogs in pubs, dogs everywhere! #heaven

Wield weekend

The beautiful Kate with lots of pups:Wield weekendWield weekendWield weekendWield weekend

And a glorious day at Manor Farm.Wield weekendWield weekendWield weekendWield weekendFinnWield weekendWield weekendWield weekendWield weekendWield weekend

Catch the heart off guard and blow it open

Dear Maddy and Sam came to London for the week, and then we took off for the Lake District for an absolutely stunning weekend. Turns out the northern part of the UK is not kidding around when it comes to outrageous beauty. We were tremendously lucky with the weather, too, because everyone had warned us that it would rain the entire time. Instead, we got this all weekend:

Catbells summit(We met several locals who told us, “This is the first sunshine we’ve seen in nine months.”)

We stayed in this charming (if mildewy) cottage in Kirkby-in-Furness, in a quiet and secluded hamlet at the southern edge of the Lake District:

Kirkby-in-Furness

Kirkby-in-FurnessOn our first night, Sam (very expertly, considering that this was his first time driving in the UK) drove us all up the gorgeous/treacherous little roads to Kirkstone Pass, where we had a hearty supper at the Kirkstone Pass Inn, which is the second-highest pub (in terms of elevation) in the United Kingdom.

Kirkstone PassKirkstone Pass(Sparking so many geographical flashbacks to Iceland…)

First night in the Lake DistrictWindermereAs we descended, we stopped in Windermere to enjoy the sunset.

WindermereWindermereWindermereOn Saturday, bright and hot, we took on the Catbells hike, which did not disappoint, with its 360-degree views of the mountains, lake, and surrounding loveliness.

Catbells summitCatbells summitLake District day twoCatbells summitCatbells summitCatbells summitCatbells summitCatbells summitAfter hiking down, we timed the ferry around the lake poorly and spent £8 on a five-minute ride, but then we got to walk around the lake, so it was not entirely a loss.

Lake District day twoKeswickOn the drive home, we hit the golden hour in this stunning valley and felt so delighted to be there, together. We rolled around in the grass, Maddy (mildly) terrorized some sheep, and we marveled at our good fortune.

Lake District golden hourLake District golden hourLake District golden hourLake District golden hourMaddy terrorizes some sheepQuite possibly my favorite photo from the entire weekend:

Favorite pic from the Lake District

We said goodbye to Kirkby-in-Furness on Sunday morning by walking to the coast. Guion and Sam were nearly washed out to sea when the tide came in (and covered all of that strange, spongy grass you see below).

Kirkby-in-FurnessKirkby-in-FurnessKirkby-in-FurnessGuion read us this Heaney poem on the first night of our stay and it served as the perfect sketch of our general feeling about being in the Lake District (even if it is about Ireland).

Postscript
Seamus Heaney

And some time make the time to drive out west
Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore,
In September or October, when the wind
And the light are working off each other
So that the ocean on one side is wild
With foam and glitter, and inland among stones
The surface of a slate-grey lake is lit
By the earthed lightning of a flock of swans,
Their feathers roughed and ruffling, white on white,
Their fully grown headstrong-looking heads
Tucked or cresting or busy underwater.
Useless to think you’ll park and capture it
More thoroughly. You are neither here nor there,
A hurry through which known and strange things pass
As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways
And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.

Lake District day two

Intellectual sloth

MontanaSam turns 30We went up in the mountains this weekend to celebrate non-brother-Sam’s birthday. A really lovely, much-needed time away with dear friends.

We also sit around and talk about Paris and Beirut and ISIS and the elections and fear and realize: We have no theoretical solutions. We are at a loss. (To solve the human condition?)

In light of this, Paul gave a helluva sermon yesterday, All Is Forgiven, which I recommend heartily. He speaks about the deeply, undeniably offensive nature of Christianity.

“Conservatives pride themselves on resisting change, which is as it should be. But intelligent deference to tradition and stability can evolve into intellectual sloth and moral fanaticism, as when conservatives simply decline to look up from dogma because the effort to raise their heads and reconsider is too great.” — William F. Buckley

Waiting for @jacktarpey's visit... #pyrrhagramPyrrha doesn’t care about any of this. She just wants to know who put her on a diet.

We need your help

 

As some of you may know, I have the good fortune to be married a very creatively gifted man. Guion is the singer/songwriter for a band called Nettles, and they are seriously good. Describing Nettles is a difficult endeavor, but I like to think of it as the music that floats over a misty swamp surrounded by Spanish moss-laden trees. Or the sounds that rise up from a garden in the cycle of growth and decay. Or the harmony elicited by a falling star. It’s a mystical Charlottesville folk band, you know? These kinds of things come up.

288/365

Over the past four years, Nettles has been in the process of making their first album. Now, they need your help to finish it. Nettles has a Kickstarter campaign to raise $5,500 in 25 days. Would you consider helping them out? Every little bit counts.

I feel lucky enough to have watched Nettles grow and transform over the years. I was one of the first humans to get to hear “Bells,” which you can hear on their Bandcamp page — and receive for immediate download with a Kickstarter pledge. It’s a beautiful song and a consistent crowd-pleaser.

Nettles opening for The Welcome Wagon

We’d be forever grateful to see this album, and the band’s hard work, come to fruition. Pledge to the Nettles Kickstarter campaign if you feel compelled — and tell all your music- and poetry-loving friends!

With humble gratitude and thanks.

Panoramic July Fourth

The beauty in this town is pretty unreal. No wonder Thomas Jefferson never wanted to leave Monticello. The views here are unmatched.

Independence Day at Montalto

Thanks to Andi, we celebrated Independence Day up at Montalto and got to watch all of the fireworks happening in panoramic display beneath us.

Independence Day at Montalto

As Guion said, it was a pretty “zen” way to enjoy the distant, silent explosions of light and color.

Independence Day at Montalto
Husby.
Independence Day at Montalto
Andi, looking a little unsure about it.
Independence Day at Montalto
The newly engaged, Brian and Sarah.
Independence Day at Montalto
Setting up shop.

Hope those of you in the US of A enjoyed an equally peaceful and happy holiday!

Visiting the District of Columbia

At the beginning of this week, I took a mini-vacation to D.C. to stay with Kelsey and Alex, visit with Mom, and see Grace off for her summer in India and Nepal.

Alex and Kelsey’s apartment is this peaceful, minimalistic oasis in the middle of the city. I was delighted to finally be able to see it!

Kelsey and Alex's apartment

Kelsey and Alex's apartment

Alex at home

I had most of Monday to myself, so I walked to the National Mall,

Capitol building

and spent the majority of my afternoon in the National Gallery (west building). Delighted to see so many paintings I had only seen before in books.

National Gallery

National Gallery

I particularly enjoyed: the exhibit on Rodin’s sculptures, the pre-Raphaelite exhibit, Van Gogh, and noting how very famous paintings are often nonchalantly placed in a strange corner of the room.

National Gallery

National Gallery

On Tuesday, Mom and I got to spend the morning at the U.S. Botanic Gardens, which was delightful, as I now share her great love of plants.

Visit with Mom to the Botanic Gardens

Visit with Mom to the Botanical Gardens

We killed time here while Grace fearlessly navigated the Metro to Georgetown to apply for her visa, and then we met up again and had the famously delicious lunch at the Native American museum.

More thoughts/highlights:

  • The quiet car on the train! The best invention. Also, the ride from here to D.C. is really beautiful. I caught up on my New Yorkers and finished The Gospel According to Woman (Karen Armstrong).
  • Dinner with Eric, Cristina, Emily, and Brian on the night I got in. So fun and lively!
  • Dinner with Patrick, shortly after Mom and Grace arrived. Just adding to the list of family time, and surreptitiously celebrating his birthday.
  • I don’t think I could make it in D.C., but I’m glad that Kelsey and Alex aren’t very far away, and I love their sweet, streamlined lifestyle there. Visiting their apartment felt a bit like visiting an upscale resort (the rooftop pool! You cannot even imagine this pool/deck area). Love those two so very much; they are perfect hosts.

And now I am looking forward to seeing (almost) everyone again in June, for the family excursion to Hatteras! It cannot come too quickly.

Babies and such

This past weekend, Kathryn and I went to visit Catherine and her sweet new baby, Auden.

Visiting baby Auden

Visiting baby Auden

We had such a lovely visit and were so excited to finally meet the little nugget! It’s still surreal to see Catherine as a mom, this dear friend from years past, with whom I used to roll around in the grass with on the quad and steal food from the dining hall. And now here she is, a graceful, competent mother.

Visiting baby Auden

Visiting baby Auden

As you can see, Auden is a complete doll. Can’t wait to see them all again soon!

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Last night, we had the fabulous Meredith Perdue, Michael Cain, and Orvis over for dinner. Meredith, as you may recall, was our super-gifted wedding photographer, and we are HUGE fans. Dinner conversation was lively and fun, and the dogs were full of adorable antics.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

After being ruined for all fiction by Infinite Jest, I have finally found my reading stride again, happily resurrected by the cheering power of Anna Karenina. It has been years since I read it, and I am enjoying Pevear and Volokhonsky’s translation immensely. So funny, so witty, so readable! Preliminary thoughts: Vronsky is not as villainous as I remembered him, at least not yet. Tolstoy can write women fairly and completely, without the masculine censure that so often creeps into 19th-century narratives by male authors (lookin’ at you, Dickens). Anna is just so human and real. Anyone who judges her should take a good, hard look at themselves first.

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Looking forward to a weekend at home to do chores, acquire houseplants, and walk the dog. Pleasant sigh.

The books we need

Epigraph to Anne Sexton’s book All My Pretty Ones (1962):

… the books we need are the kind that act upon us like a misfortune, that make us suffer like the death of someone we love more than ourselves, that make us feel as though we were on the verge of suicide, or lost in a forest remote from all human habitation — a book should serve as the ax for the frozen sea within us.

— from a letter of Franz Kafka to Oskar Pollak

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Frightening and lovely!

Thinking about: how I really need to get serious about training the dog, all-black outfits, how much I dislike the word “outfit,” courgettes, lemonade, North Korea, if I will ever read fiction again, mantis shrimp, and the farmhouse smell and feel of our house (hovel) in the summer. (I am calling it summer now, since we hit 90°F this past week.)

Looking forward to this weekend: Kathryn is coming to stay with us, and then we’ll be traveling to see Catherine, Russ, Ava, and new baby Auden!