I've kept this blog, on and off, since 2006. In 2015 I used it to chart daily encounters, images, thoughts and feelings about volcanic basalt/bluestone in Melbourne and Victoria, especially in the first part of the year. I plan to write a book provisionally titled Bluestone: An Emotional History, about human uses of and feelings for bluestone. But I am also working on quite a few other projects and a big grant application, especially now I am on research leave. I'm working mostly from home, then, for six months, and will need online sociability for company!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

New York, New York!

Oh how I am coming to love this city! This is not my first visit, but it is the first time I've genuinely enjoyed being here. It's such a luxury living right in the heart of the action, with, for once, a reasonable travel budget plus my family, so the pleasures are doubled or tripled every time we go out. Walking along the streets, if you are a fast walker, is not an unmitigated pleasure, as it's crowded, and the blocks are so short you have to keep stopping, but then on the other hand, in five short blocks we are in Central Park...

Lovely things we have done in the last few days:
  • travelled to Summit, New Jersey, to visit with Paul's American brother, his contemporary from his year as an AFS exchange student in 1975. We had Thanksgiving with Rick, Sue and their daughters in 2005, and it was like just picking up again after a few weeks. How odd, though, to discover that Sue and I were born within about an hour of each other: a weird synchronicity there.
  • attend high, high church at St Thomas's on Sunday, on what, if we were attentive to our liturgical calendars, we would have realised was his feast day. For someone brought up to sing harmonies on Methodist hymns, Anglican hymns are pretty anaemic, but the choir was spectacular, with an anthem from William Byrd, and a splendid organ voluntary by Bach, played on the second, obviously brand-new organ.
  • visit the Met, and follow Joel's progress from the fourteenth through to the early twentieth century, stopping only for coffee and coconut cup cakes in the cafe overlooking the great hall. Wonderful to look down and see five enormous urns filled with nothing but huge clouds of pink and white dogwood. The same tree we planted in the garden when Joel was born, but each vase held sprays taller than his tree.
  • walk home from the Met through Central Park on a sunny warm spring afternoon, dodging bikes, roller blades, and dogs.
  • and on Friday, attending a wonderful conference on Practical Knowledges at NYU:
  • For me, two highlights: the second paper I've heard in five months by the wonderful Seeta Chaganti; and realising not only the talent among the speakers, but also in the audience. If I'm lucky enough to be in the same room as people like Carolyn Dinshaw or Mary Carruthers, it's usually because they are plenary speakers on whirlwind tours of Australia, but here they were, just popping in for occasional sessions or chairing talks. How amazing it must be to work in a city where there are this many medievalists. (OK, I'm marking, but now putting aside my community-of-medieval-scholars envy now...)

In spite of all this gadding about, I'm still getting some work done. Today I've worked at both the NYU library, and the New York Public Library on the next phase of a formal book proposal with my collaborator, and have sent it off to him to work on next: we are hoping to have some discussions with a prospective publisher at Kalamazoo. Next task is to revise my paper for DC. It's the same topic I spoke on at NYU a few weeks ago, but questions and comments there made me want to re-think bits of it.

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