This will probably be my last post for at least a week or two, since we’ll be losing our internet connection as of tomorrow and heading out on the road on Saturday. I’m not sure when the internet will be hooked up and functioning, but I’ll post again soon after.
I’ll have a lot to post about in August, including:
We’re now doing all the last minute packing. The clothes we’re bringing in the car have been packed into luggage, and the rest have been boxed up, and the bathroom has been finished. We still have to pack up the last few things in the kitchen and the TV, DVD player, etc. Wish us luck!
One week till the movers come! We’ve got a lot more done now, thanks to the help of Aven’s parents, whose summer home is relatively nearby in Nova Scotia, and our old friend Emily, who came for a visit on the way to a wedding. Pretty much everything is done now, except for some last minute odds and ends. Our helpers were particularly instrumental in packing up the kitchen, which is a very fiddly and time-consuming job. We’re certainly a lot further on now than I thought we would be. Somehow packing up this time seems much easier than last year. Anyway, here’s another picture of Tigger ‘helping’ us pack:
Last Saturday was my and my wife’s sixth wedding anniversary. In celebration, we went to the beach we found earlier. We ate lobster rolls, and I braved the numerous jelly fish and went for a swim. Later that evening, my parents, who were visiting, took us out to dinner at the Marshlands Inn.
For anniversary gifts, my wife and I often try to follow the traditional anniversary themes. Traditionally, the sixth anniversary is candy or iron anniversary, though the more modern tradition is woodenware. Thus I bought my wife some dark chocolates (which are high in iron — good for the baby) and some books (made from trees, right?), as well as a couple of CDs she wanted. My wife was even more clever than I and bought me these:
In case you can’t tell from the picture, it’s a set of woodcarving tools and a book about woodcarving. So now I have a new hobby. I’ve been reading about the principles of it, have started with whittling techniques. I’ll write more about it once I’ve managed to accomplish something.
We’re making much better progress on the packing than I thought we would be by now. The books and office are all done now, the pictures and decorations are done, and we’ve made a good start on the clothes. The biggest job remaining is the kitchen.
There’s nothing like packing up your belongings to demonstrate how much stuff you have. As it turns out, we have a lot of books. We figure the books represent the largest part of the weight of our stuff (which is what counts in terms of moving expense). These sixteen boxes represent just some of our books:
Fortunately, as you can seen in this picture (and this one), Tigger has been ‘helping’ us pack:
I’d been wanting to read Thomas Cahill’s How the Irish Saved Civilization for some time. Although I’m a medievalist, I’m not a Celticist, so this was quite an interesting read for me. As an Anglo-Saxonist, I was of course quite aware of the important influence of Irish monasticism — Bede, perhaps somewhat grudgingly, admits so in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People.
Cahill’s essential argument is that the Irish were instrumental in preserving and transmitting classical culture and learning (including Christianity) from the ancient world of Rome (and to some extent Greece) to the medieval world and thus the modern world. As he argues, ‘Civilization’ just manages to hang on on the very edge of the world which was overrun by barbarians. I did find that his opinion of late Roman culture was unfortunately low. He didn’t seem to think much of late Latin writers like Statius and the Gallo-Roman writers. But this is a common opinion, even if not entirely justified.
Much of the book is concerned with the story and importance of Saint Patrick, the details of which I was only partially aware of. As chance would have it, I was reading the book at a very oportune time as I started it just before Saint Patrick’s Day. As Cahill points out, the Irish don’t always receive the recognition they deserve in the course of Western history. As a medievalist, I was already aware of the importance of the Irish, but I do imagine that outside of such circles, their contribution is not so well known.
I find Cahill’s writing very captivating. His telling of the stories is quite moving, and his analysis, even if one doesn’t always agree, is very thought provoking. Just today I finished reading the second book in his Hinges of History series, The Gifts of the Jews, which I enjoyed maybe even more, perhaps because I knew less about the topic — I’ll write more about that one later. I would certainly recommend the series to anyone with an interest in history and culture. I’m not sure whether I’d recommend starting with How the Irish Saved Civilization or The Gifts of the Jews — I think both would work. All in all, a fascinating series of books about the foundation of Western culture.
We’ve finally started packing for our move back to Toronto. All the crystal and china has been packed — it’ll be going with my parents to Ottawa rather than with the movers. And we’ve organized the boxes which weren’t unpacked from the last move, and have started sorting out the study. Hopefully we’ll get to something a little quicker soon, like the books, so we can have more of a sense of progress…
Tigger was briefly hobbled recently, due to blisters on his feet. The vet said it was probably the result of his FIV. This would be the first actual symptom of the disease he shown. He’s been put on anti-biotics and an anti-inflammitory drug, which seem to have had a very quick (blisteringly quick?) beneficial effect on him. Perhaps he was playing it up a bit to get sympathy, knowing how pathetic he looked limping around everywhere. He certainly did have us waiting on him hand and foot for a few days there (which we kind of do anyway I suppose). Anyway, here’s a picture of him back on his feet again (as well as some of him not so much on his feet here, here, here, here, and here):
I haven’t be able to post over the past week and a half as I’ve been out of town. The reason for my trip was to look for a place for us to live in Toronto, where we’ll be moving as of August. And the reason we’ll be moving to Toronto is that I’ll be teaching at the University of Toronto at Mississauga in the Department of English and Drama for the year. (I’ll write more soon about my teaching next year.)
As for the house hunting itself, it was a gruelling experience, but finally a successful one. Throughout the process I e-mailed photos of the various places to my wife, who couldn’t be there, and in the end we settled on the final place we looked at. It was only a last minute decision to look for a place in East York (we were originally thinking Etobicoke), but we were quite happy with the place and its proximity to the subway. Here’s a picture:
It’s quite a relief to have that settled. Now we just have to pack all our things…