Another semester put to bed…
Finally finished–grading done, grades turned in, and the several reports turned in for my participation in a Bush Foundation mini-grant this semester. Nothing left but to plan for the London trip, which at this point consists of mapping out tentative daily itineraries. The tour has some things built in–a visit to the Tower of London, a couple of guided walking tours, a Jack the Ripper tour, etc., as well as a couple of day trips out to other places. Around those things I’m planning what areas of the city I want to visit each day so students can decide if they want to do those with me or go off on their own and explore. I’m all for them exploring–the biggest educational portion of this trip is simply being in London.
For anyone interested in following along, I’ve set up a tour blog that we’ll be using to post daily journals and photos. There’s not much there now, but it’ll be hopping in about a week.
Until then, Gwyn has big plans for the yard. We’re hoping to finish building the raised beds for the kids’ gardens before I leave, and there are 90 trees arriving through the auspices of the local extension service. We going to try and get as many holes dug for those trees before I go as well. We’ll see. It’s a BIG garden project my baby’s got planned for this summer, given that we’ll be in the Carolinas for most of the month of July. She’s greenly ambitious, another of the very sexy things about her.
We’re having a patio put in out back below the deck. Pat the friendly concrete contractor is doing the actual putting in, but Gwyn and Ian and I (mainly Gwyn and Ian) dug out the area around the existing concrete pad to create the space. Here’s a photo to document the beginning (we’ve since dug deeper and leveled on a gradient away from the house). Click for the really big version. After I get back from London I’ll show you the finished product (it is to be hoped).
I’m re-reading Our Mutual Friend to get me in the mood for the trip. It’s the grimmest opening of any Dickens novel, I think, but there are so many glorious things awaiting the intrepid reader. My favorite Dickens character lives in its pages–Jenny Wren is a crippled child who supports herself and her drunken father by making dolls’ dresses. She’s more fun than she sounds. She lived, according to the novel, in Smith Square, which is about a block from our hotel in Pimlico, just south and west of Westminster Abbey (where Dickens is buried). Smith Square will be one of my first stops on the trip.
Among the books I want to pick up while in London (because any trip to London should involve significant book-buying) is China Mieville’s new young adult novel Un Lun Dun which features an alternative London where all the broken and lost things in the city come to life. Given the dark and twisted fables the are Mr. Mieville’s adult novels (you should especially read The Scar), I’m truly interested to see how his vision of a broken metropolis translates into fiction for children. I also plan to pick up a book of Keats’ poetry, wither in London or before I go. The Keats House was the highlight of my short trip last September, and Keats is easily the best of the Romantic poets. I have always liked him and really should own him (along with Browning, but for this trip I’ll do Keats).
Musically it’s been a Clash week. “Straight to Hell” and “Armagideon Time” are just about as good as it gets.