Monday, December 26, 2011


MS. Douce 199, fol. 252r, Bodleian Library at Oxford
Displaced image, I know, what with this being a scene of Whitsunday (after Easter), but the feasting and the sharing of tales of adventure to Arthur does call to mind the spirit of this season, as we get ready to embark on a 5-day 3-city tour of people and cities we love (Cleveland and D.C., here we come!), and as Mac and Iris get ready to leave with students for Paris and Berlin.  There is no time to lend an ear to tales of exploits now (though I do need to get the details of my "Crusades: Fact, Fiction and Film" Winter Term course down, despite my heart being already deep into rethinking "Monsters and Marvels" and putting more Of Giants and Orientalism readings in instead of just presenting the theories (I want to read them with students this time) and really giving Columbus his due - I am this close to going to the New World in this class) - BUT, so as not to forget in the fleeting of everything:

Curried Eggplant Soup
Lamb Shanks with Pomegranate, Pistachio, and Pears
Israeli Couscous
Brussels Sprouts
Early Grey-infused Apricot Tart in a Hazelnut shortbread

And there was Macmas, too, that time of year when all good friends gather and there is brunch and we unite, as with all these holidays and surely since the Middle Ages (ok, since Saturnalia), to hold off the cold and be together.  Mac was truly valiant this year in gift assembly, as two out of three dreams come true required extensive tinkering: a doll house (Eleanor) and a microscope (Iris).  Oliver's wish of a cat has come true in the form of two kittens who will enter our lives after the first of the year - a wee girl and a boy who have been named by the kids (somewhat inexplicably but it works) Miss Frizzle and Darwin.  Cats and dogs entered medieval households with much less fanfare - though every time I say that, I think of all those Books of Hours and those noblewomen with pampered lap dogs and know there's a a study to be done of the medieval pet (maybe already has?).  Perhaps as that tiny terrier helps Mary of Burgundy think on her Book of Hours, Miss Frizzle and Darwin can help me say something meaningful about siege engines and medieval colonialism. Or I can think on the most excellent Pangur Ban, the Irish cat who helps his monastic companion hunt and wrestle with ideas because he does the same with mice.  We are not alone in our struggles.


  1. Happy holidays!

    I am definitely at the point where I want to include New World -- or at least, last edge of the Old World -- encounter into my syllabus, and to stop pretending that the Middle Ages ended before Columbus set sail.

    Our own preparation are for the Caribbean: knowing my luck you are coming to DC this week, when we are gone to warmer climes?

  2. so good to hear, Jeffrey! It's _Ambivalent Conquests_ and all of the weirder and weirder things I learn about Columbus that pushes me thusly. Let's sail - the Caribbean would be a swell place to start - happy travels!