Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Winter's a-coming

There is a frost in the air that's been absent until now. The trees are as yellow as can be. I had to wear gloves this morning, and I've dug out my best winter coat and hung it by the front door. Snow is predicted for Monday, and that is really the beginning of a new season that doesn't end till the start of April. 

Happily, the heating has been turned on; somewhere in the recesses of Tetz, the ancient factory near Vostok Pyat, cogs and wheels are spluttering fuel into the heating pipes of an entire city. The sadly ironic consequence is that I have to open all my windows, to let the frosty air mingle with the stifling heat and create a temperate environment. Awful waste, but one over which I have no control.

Today, my 11/12 English class wrote exam essays about dystopias; my 10 English class dissected an IGCSE poem by Elizabeth Brewster; in ESL support, we worked on new vocabulary; I advertised upcoming auditions for the school production; I ran English club; I met with my landlady because she wanted to give me potplants (not realising that she was effectively committing them to death); and I met with some friends at a Japanese restaurant. 

That's an example of a nicely balanced day. I'm learning how to look after myself in this regard - how to fine-tune my time. After last year's burn-out, I am determined not to push myself. I go home before 6 PM. I do not take grading with me. I eat all the vegetables I can find. I take time to cook real food. I walk more, go to the gym more. I listen to music and sermons and thereby feed my soul. I reply to emails promptly. I say 'no' to many opportunities. I commit all these things to God, and thank him for caring enough to teach me about rest.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Putin, the Immortal

So, in Tzum today (Tzum is the Soviet equivalent of a mall), this wall hanging was advertised, on sale. Fancy your very own larger-than-life Russian President?

You can't see it so well here, but it's a rug woven with the face of a much younger, immensely glamourous Putin. He appears to be wearing lipstick and contemplating the future with dreamy eyes.

You could also order Lenin, and have a face-off across the living room.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sunday Poem: Lift Up Your Hearts

Recently, I was lent a copy of Christina Rossetti's reading diary. Some of her best poems are in this collection - the poems I like best, anyway. I skipped ahead tonight (she was getting her 'Anglo-Catholic' on in the latter parts of October and early November, which I found tiresome) and alighted upon this little piece. She often lifts her spiritual dryness to the Lord and has nicely metered conversations with Him about it; I recognise my own constant prayer in hers - do for me, Lord, what I cannot manage - be both object and enabler of my faith! And so, she begins with that oft-repeated phrase:

'Lift up your hearts!' - 'We lift them up' - Ah me!
I cannot, Lord, lift up my heart to Thee:
Stoop, lift it up, that where Thou art I too may be.

'Give me thy heart.' - I would not say Thee nay,
But have no power to keep or give away
My heart: stoop, Lord, and take it to Thyself today.

Stoop, Lord, as once before now once anew
Stoop, Lord, and hearken, hearken, Lord, and do,
And take my will and take my heart and take me too.

Christina Rossetti
Time Flies: A Reading Diary, November 12

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Saturday Song: Rivers & Robots

Rivers & Robots have recently become one of my favourite bands, and it's not just because there's an ampersand in the name. It's because of songs like this one. I love the lyrics. This whole album is gorgeous! Do yourself a favour and fork out a couple of quid on it.

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Regal Touch

I have an addiction. It's been going on for years. Just when I think I've cast it off, it comes back with a vengeance.

My addiction is The West Wing.

I've watched so much lately that I've had several dreams related to it. Last night's was the most peculiar of a very peculiar lot.

I dreamed that I was Josh, and that POTUS was coming to visit. I was wearing pyjama shorts, which felt indecent; so, I did what any normal person would do - I stripped my bed. I wrapped my doona cover around me like a skirt (taking the doona out first) and then I put my pillowcase around my shoulders. You know, for a regal touch. Then, I walked out to the living room. Then, I woke up.

That is all.

(I still haven't made my bed).