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.

Exercise for the person who hates exercise

If I’m being honest with you, the most physical activity I get during a week is when I walk the dog.

Rivanna Trail hike
With Pyrrha by the Rivanna River.

Clearly, this is not sufficient, and I need to do more. I’d say that we eat quite healthy (meat only once a week, lots of vegetables and fruits, no desserts, no soft drinks) — although I’m sure we could eat less cheese, which is not really something I’m really willing to sacrifice, owing to the immeasurable joy that it brings to my life. That aside: I need to get moving.

I have a standing desk at work, which is already something in my favor, according to every fifth article you see these days. But aside from taking P-dog for strolls, that’s about it.

I’m also the athletic black sheep of my family. My dad plays hockey or some other strenuous sport almost daily. My mother has a six-pack and goes to these super-intense workout classes every other day. Kelsey (and her husband) are impeccable physical specimens; Kelsey is a champion hockey player and Alex is a titled martial arts master and surfer. Grace, as I mention below, is a certified yoga instructor and all-around badass. And Sam is also a champion hockey player and possessor of generally remarkable abs.

And then there’s me. The one who doesn’t even LIKE exercising, much less is trying to fit it into her life. So, personal assessment time.

hikers
Hiking with Christa in some beautiful park, July 2009.

Favorite forms of exercise that I’ve tried:

  • Walking. I love walking; I really do. People laugh when I say that, but it’s such a pleasant, mind-clearing activity. I’m looking forward to walking to work soon and continuing to walk around the neighborhood and to the Downtown Mall. We’re lucky to live in a very walkable place. And having a dog as a walking companion is the best possible thing.
  • Hiking. The fittest I’ve been in my life is when I spent a summer living in Denver and went hiking multiple times a week. I actually had muscles! I hardly ever go hiking in Charlottesville (like, once a year), which is a real shame.
  • Ballet. I took two ballet classes this year and loved them, even though I’m a wretched dancer.
  • Cycling. I love biking around town, but I need to get a bike first. Goal for next year!

Things I’ve tried that don’t work for me:

  • Yoga. I really like the IDEA of doing yoga. It appeals to me so much: breathing and twisting your body around in a quiet room with a bunch of sexy women. But I am TERRIBLE at yoga. So terrible. Even though my little sister is a certified yoga instructor, I have a wildly different body type. Where she is muscular and compact, I am long and weak. My legs are disproportionately long, my arms are spindly, and I am the least flexible person I know. I’m always the person in the room who needs “special help” from the teacher. So I don’t practice yoga. Because it makes me feel bad about myself.
  • Swimming. Ever since my parents forced me to join the neighborhood swim team when I was young, I’ve despised the pool. My coaches told me that I had lovely strokes, but that I was just way too slow. Just the slowest. I hate smelling like a pool and I hate the notion of swimming laps.
  • Zumba. No. Just no. This is my personal hell.
  • Running. My father was a champion professional runner, and he likes to tell me that I was “built to run,” but I just cannot make myself do it. Again, I like the idea of being great at running, but I lack so much motivation. I think part of me is also reactionary to the prolific running culture in Charlottesville. Not participating makes me feel like a curmudgeonly rebel. (“You ran 10 miles this morning? Well, I sat on the couch and looked at my dog.”) Also, everyone I know who runs all the time is constantly in and out of physical therapy, which is not something I’m particularly interested in trying. I think I could make myself run in moderation in temperate weather.

I’m generally quite lazy, and so partner accountability and public shaming do wonders for me. Also being a part of a class. Having paid for a class (as with ballet) where I’m expected to show up each week and where my friends are counting on me (to at least give them rides) is helpful.

Based on this information, what do you think would help me? What is your weekly fitness regimen, and why does it work for you?

2012 Resolutions

Click for source.

In 2012, I resolve to:

  1. Adopt, raise, and train a healthy and happy dog.
  2. Keep running, even though I hate it.
  3. Read 75 books. (Down from last year, because I need to be less competitive with myself about my reading goals. I read like a maniac this year.)
  4. Stop interrupting people when they are talking.
  5. Take the GRE. Start thinking more seriously about whether to go to grad school.
  6. Go hiking more often.
  7. Make books of all received letters; get them out of those musty shoeboxes.
  8. Dress better; stop schlepping around in frumpy clothes.
  9. Memorize scripture.
  10. Call my family more often.
  11. Read that book of Japanese short stories in Japanese.
  12. Take a graduate-level English class at UVA, if feasible.
  13. Improve my calligraphy skills with the flexible nib.
  14. Spend more time with women.

How about you? Figured out any of your new year’s resolutions yet?

Things I want to do in 2012

Me, next year. Click for source.

Yes, I like to make my new year’s resolutions very early. In fact, one could say that I am in a perpetual state of making new year’s resolutions. Continuous goal-making is a blessing/curse we inherited from our mother. (Grace has the worst case of it, but then again, she’s the most accomplished of us all, so maybe there is something to this mania for making resolutions.)

Things I Want To Do in 2012

  1. Get a dog, which I don’t have to tell you. I already have. Like, a hundred times.
  2. Take a graduate-level English class at UVA.
  3. Take the GRE.
  4. Go hiking more often.
  5. Read 75 books (down from this year’s goal of 100, because I think I’ll be cutting down on my dog reading).
  6. Take a beginner’s ballet class.
  7. Try to take my writing more seriously; publish something, somewhere. (How’s that for ambiguity?)
  8. Improve calligraphy business; hone skills with flexible nib.
  9. Finish reading the remainder of Shakespeare’s plays (I think I have 19 more to go. Eek).
  10. Decide what I’m going to do with my life.

Do you have any goals for next year already? Am I the only one?

Delayed Snax

City limit sign. I walked home (approx. 3 miles) from work on Friday.

Konbanwa, tomodachi. I know I haven’t posted Monday Snax yet. It’s been a busy day. They will come later in the week, possibly tomorrow. We had a beautiful weekend here and a rather uneventful Halloween. On Halloween afternoon, we went hiking back up to Carter’s Mountain (this time down the right trail) with two married couples and a Brit and his gorgeously behaved Whippet, Cooper. It was a lovely day and we were thoroughly tired when we got back. Ready for another week!

Mike, Windy, and Granddad are coming to visit this weekend and we are THRILLED that we get to spend a few days with them.

Monday Snax

From our recent hike to Crabtree Falls

Autumn is still dragging its heels in coming to Charlottesville, but the mornings and early afternoons have been quite pleasant. That feeling you get when you’re sitting in direct sun, but it’s just warm, instead of sticky and oppressive? I’ve missed that. It’s coming back. Slowly. We had a nice weekend adventuring with friends–taking a hike to Crabtree Falls (photo from the summit)–and just lazing around the house together, which was really great. I’ve missed doing that. Last night, we watched “A Very Long Engagement” for the second time, and I was reminded again how much I love Jeunet’s method of storytelling in film. He’s writing a novel with moving pictures! I love it.

This week’s Monday Snax are sponsored by Reuben, who is, as of this morning, still alive and pretty! Now, commence time wasting!

In Character, Starring… This is one of my favorite features from Vanity Fair: collecting actors and asking them for a face or depiction of a certain elaborate scene. Jeff Daniels’ take on this is really the best. I’m so impressed. So entertaining and funny. (Vanity Fair)

Stupidity and Politicians. A quotation from Bertrand Russell that I find to be regrettably relevant to the current political atmosphere. (1,001 Rules for My Unborn Son)

Renovating a French Farmhouse. Um, I can has?? (New York Times)

President Obama Holds Lemonade Summit in Virginia Backyard. Haha. (Daily Intel)

Oh, What An Angry Person You Are! Young actress Tatum O’Neal’s cheeky response to a fan letter from 1982. I’ve never seen her in anything, but I want to after reading this letter. (Letters of Note)

The Colors for the 2011 Spring Season. I’ve never understood this. What group of powerful designers gets together and decides, unilaterally, what the colors for the season will be? Is there a G8 summit of fashionistas? Do they have a Style UN? (Delphine Ephemera)

Luca Luca Spring 2011. I don’t normally find much interesting about fashion blogs, but I was really struck by this collection from Luca Luca. I want to wear all of those clothes all day. (Love Made Visible)

Baby massage. Joanna Goddard, of A Cup of Jo, and her baby, Toby, show how a baby massage is done. It’s so adorable, and I’m not even in to babies right now!

Law Schools Now Require Applicants to Honestly State Whether They Want to go to Law School. (The Onion)

Margot Was Already the World’s Worst Roommate. Hipster pug! For whatever reason, no other breed looks more disdainful or ridiculous in clothing. (Hipster Puppies)

Dancing With the Stairs. I had to cover my mouth when I saw this one, to prevent myself from a tiny laughter explosion. (Regretsy)

Gossip Girl Recap: We Make Our Own Fairy Tales. Important Disclaimer: I don’t even watch this show. I really don’t. We don’t have cable. But I love reading NY Mag’s recaps of every episode, because they are so hilarious and highlight the extreme absurdity of this show. Even if you don’t watch it, you will think this is funny. (CoCo, I’m sorry. I know you think of Serena and Chuck and Blair and Nate like your own family.) (NY Magazine)

Nancy Drew. Retelling those cheesy–and often very weird–Nancy Drew covers. (Hark, A Vagrant!)