Jan. 6th, 2012 04:05 pm
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (Default)
[personal profile] liv
It appears to be Epiphany already and I haven't got round to writing about Chanukah. So a quick summary:

First candle, Tuesday evening 20th December. I was kind of tired from an exciting long weekend in Glasgow, Edinburgh and London, and actually didn't make it home until a couple of hours before candle-time anyway. I improvised a chanukiah out of a bit of wood and a couple of tealights, and felt glad to be home and not have too many demands on me.

Second candleWednesday evening 21st December. Due to misreading the calendar, the synagogue had been advertising Wednesday evening as first candle since way back in summer; I realized the mistake too late to correct it, but nobody minded a get-together to light two candles instead of the advertised one. A good crowd showed up, about half Jewish and half friends, and it was quiet compared to last year, but lovely.

Third candle, Thursday evening 22nd December. [personal profile] jack arrived late-ish in the evening. At that point I decided the work year was over, and just relaxed in his company. Although I'd hoped to avoid it, we ended up having to do some last minute Xmas shopping on the Friday, but it wasn't as bad as it might have been. [personal profile] jack managed to actually buy my birthday present of a set of weights in time to leave it at my house so that I won't have to carry the 25 kg package around England.

Fourth candle, Friday evening 23rd December. More celebrations at shul, though some people were annoyed at me because I said I wasn't appropriate to light chanukah candles four hours after shabbat had come in, and it turned out nobody actually knows the tune of Maoz Tzur, which I thought was one of the best-known Jewish songs ever. Anyway, it was pleasant and reminded me how much I love my community.

Fifth candle, Saturday evening 24th December (Christmas Eve). We arrived at [personal profile] jack's Grandfather's place shortly before dark. This was my fourth visit and it's starting to feel more like visiting family and less like being an awkward tourist in someone else's celebration. I solved the problem of ethical chocolates by bringing Thornton's toffee as a host-gift, which went over very well.

Christmas Day itself we eschewed the tradition of getting up super-early to exchange presents, but the presents were lovely when we got to them late morning. I gave [personal profile] jack's Grandfather the non-fiction book The Great Sea, and his mother Barbara Kingsolver's Lacuna which I read and enjoyed earlier in the year. Grandfather gave me money (having promised last year that by now he'd know me well enough to feel comfortable with that) and enjoined me to spend it on something frivolous. [personal profile] jack's mother gave me the latest Dominion expansion, which is also becoming something of a Christmas tradition. [personal profile] jack's presents were somewhat virtual as they were things that can't really be put under trees, but they did seem to work well. Then we were ever so virtuous and completed a 3 1/2 hour walk, on paths but with plenty of hills and keeping up a fairly brisk pace. The temperature was something ridiculously like 20 degrees warmer than last year!

Sixth candle, Sunday evening 25th December (Christmas). Christmas dinner chez [personal profile] jack's uncle and aunt was as wonderful, and as vegetarian-friendly, as ever. Unfortunately the little cousin we'd hoped to see had to be taken home sick before we arrived, but we did later receive pictures of her opening the present we'd chosen, beamed direct to our mobile phones. Yay living in the future.

While recovering from the huge meal, we watched the Downton Abbey Christmas special, which was very pretty but basically made me decide I'm not going to bother with the series. All the characters seemed to be endlessly whiny and emo, and I found the too-cosy portrayal of the servants rather icky. We advised eachother not to make the kind of relationship mistakes portrayed: don't swear eternal devotion to anyone's grave, don't marry someone who is blackmailing you, etc.

Boxing Day we undertook a little excursion into Lancaster itself, which is ever so pretty apart from a truly horrible statue commemorating the slave trade. And [personal profile] jack explained the plot of the first half of Harry Potter for me, with many amusing digressions.

Seventh candle, Monday evening 26th December (end of Boxing Day). [personal profile] jack's aunt and uncle made a return visit, and there was more good food and chatting, including girly confabulations about the plans for the wedding.

Eighth candle, Tuesday evening 27th December (my 33rd birthday). We spent most of the afternoon and evening on the road going diagonally across the country at a distressingly slow pace, but this included the second half of Harry Potter and was generally quite pleasant. I found both my brothers at home when we eventually arrived, and Mum had made another huge roast dinner (chestnut pie!) in honour of my birthday.

Wednesday we sibs invited Granny to another roast, (the fifth in five days...) a lunch in celebration of her 92nd birthday a couple of days before. We managed to persuade [personal profile] jack to hang around not just for the meal, but for the afternoon and evening afterwards, having rambling conversations and philosophical debates with Screwy, firming up plans for the wedding reception, and playing a few hands of bridge until really quite late at night.

After that it wasn't chanukah any more, but anyway, Thursday [personal profile] jack and I visited the two really impressive exhibitions that were in their final week at the Fitzwilliam, the Dutch interiors including some Vermeer, and the royal treasures of the Hapsburgs. They have a ring carved out of a single sapphire (!) and lots of absolutely amazing tiny miniature carvings in a variety of media, and the sorts of things that Empresses have in stories actually there in person, a solid gold washing set for example.

So that was the last week of 2011. Mostly summed up by time with families. It's really getting to the point where it feels as if I'm part of [personal profile] jack's small, close-knit, quiet family, and he is part of my large, noisy, argumentative family. I feel very good about this.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-01-07 03:43 am (UTC)
jesse_the_k: Perfectly circlular white brain-like fungus growing on oak tree (LUCY old and no longer)
From: [personal profile] jesse_the_k
Lovely to hear two families opening up to new members!

There were a few items that made me say, "Wut?"

I solved the problem of ethical chocolates by bringing Thornton's toffee...

Could you perhaps point me to a world-wide explanation of the ethics of chocolates? My relationship with chocolate is stronger than any family tie, but it sounds like there's something I need to learn.

which is ever so pretty apart from a truly horrible statue commemorating the slave trade

Is the commemoration horrible, and if so, why. (If it's the horrors of the slave trade, I know the minimum.)

The ring carved out of sapphire made me boggle. Is it a cabochon (a rounded surface with no facets)?

Best wishes for this new year.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-01-07 03:36 pm (UTC)
naath: (Default)
From: [personal profile] naath
Chocolate ethics> I thought everyone knew, weird (too much time on the internets I suspect)... Chocolate grows only in the tropical regions, where most people are poor. Thus chocolate is inevitably grown by poor people in poor countries; many chocolate producers don't give a single shit about this and employ children and indentured laborers, paying tine amounts of money for a physically highly demanding job. Other chocolate producers strive to offer better terms of employment (such as better pay) and put money into communities (such as building schools). Some chocolate producers are Big Companies that are also evil in other ways.

The "Fair Trade" label is the one I most trust to have checked out the ethical-ness of the production. There's quite a lot available. Nestle is the only company I WILL NOT buy (anything) from. They make Quality Street (bloody parents bought blood quality street) and a whole raft of other things.

Re: Chocolate ethics

Date: 2012-01-19 03:07 am (UTC)
jesse_the_k: Perfectly circlular white brain-like fungus growing on oak tree (Default)
From: [personal profile] jesse_the_k
Thanks for the schooling re chocolate. Spurred me to investigate local options. As it happens, there's a world-wide group called SERRVgroup, and one of their offices is in my downtown! They organize "gift store" items, clothing, tea & coffee and of particular delight for me a Divine Chocolate. Their 70% dark is fabulously tasty, and they do make packages of smaller servings for the family gift.

Although toffee is also wonderful, and if you have any dentists in the family it's a gift that gives twice :,)

Re: horrible memorial

Date: 2012-01-19 03:15 am (UTC)
jesse_the_k: The Wire's Kima in a baseball cap squints with a serious grin (Kima squints meaningfully)
From: [personal profile] jesse_the_k
Hmmm. There are some events that are very difficult to memorialize. An abolitionist in the Boston area financed this granite Sphinx statue, which sends the message of strength without the voyeuristic quality of that public art.

The inscription, in English and Latin:
"American Union Preserved
African Slavery Destroyed
By the Uprising of a Great People
by the Blood of Fallen Heroes."


Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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