Down To (Below) Zero

It’s easy to think of drawbacks to running in cold weather, but one advantage lies in the intense urgency it lends to getting home again as rapidly as possible. Two miles, hot mug of coffee, Morning Prayer at St Helen’s in a bit.

I neglected to mention that yesterday morning, when I was setting out on my run, I saw a muntjac in the shadows of our Close. I’d seen a fox a week ago, but this was a first. We are situated near by the Ock River Park on one side, and a playing field bounded by trees and brush on the other, so it’s a welcoming habitat — but I appreciate these manifest signs of more varied life in our part of Abingdon.

Second Oxmas, Last With Oriel

Ran my morning miles, fruit breakfast, Morning Prayer at St Helen’s, correspondence, moving a bookcase and a bureau upstairs, some unpacking. Margaret found a small office printer stand with four tray-drawers.

All this moving and unpacking and shelving has played havoc with my hypermobile right thumb.It disagrees with me about the amount of work I’ve asked it to do, and communicates its dissatisfaction vividly, intensely, and persistently.

In a while I’ll head to Oxford for the last service for which I’ll be Fr Rob’s semiofficial assistant (I’ll likely be around to help him for odd services when I’d be handy). It has been a genuine privilege to work with him for the past year and a half; he’s a wonderful colleague, gracious and patient and blessedly offering refuge to a semi-retired priest in need of a license.

Oxmass 2023

I assisted Fr Rob at Oriel’s Advent Carol Service last night, and then stayed for High Table at dinner. I hadn’t been into either of the SCRs or the pro tem [Senior Library] Hall, and I have to say that if one brackets the oddity of having a support scaffolding in the middle of a formal room, holding the ceiling up, then the whole transitional scheme works exceptionally well. Obviously, it’s not the same as dining in the Hall, but it’s been done up as a viable dining space. The kitchen (built in the middle of Second Quad with an elevator (!) up to the Senior Library) did a great job last night, and the evening was ornamented by the choir marking the transitions between courses with more carols.

So I allowed myself a lie-in this morning, and now Margaret and I are clearing the dining area and lounge, with a view to welcoming my new Rector dropping in for a casual repast tonight.

Sunday Morning, No Surprises

Ran two miles (although I dithered about whether I’d go, whether I’d run the whole two miles, and ended up committing to my usual length just by letting my feet take me to the two-mile inflection point), coffee, morning prayers. I’m thinking especially this morning of my sister Holly, who’s in hospital with some fairly serious medical issues.


As we were unpacking, unwrapping some of the plenitude of framed art for which we give ardent thanks, my finger touched a frayed wire. Instantly, I felt an amazing, stunning, shocking, intense stinging pain — I was sure I’d sliced my finger open. I sucked the place of the wound, sent Margaret dashing to find a plaster, experienced panicky rushes of adrenaline, all in a blaze of pain and nervous energy.
After a minute or so, I looked for the site of the wound. No blood appeared on the finger, limning the line of the slash. It gradually became clear that there was no cut at all. Whatever happened, despite my unshakeable certainty that the wire had cut me, nothing had broken the skin.

This evening, I can’t recall precisely which finger it was. Nothing hurts now, but the memory still almost makes me sick w/ pain.

Welcome Back, Winter

Put in my two miles this morning in sub-zero (-2°C) temps, prayers, hot breakfast, then off to the market square, Sue Ryder for a bureau and small bookshelf, and then (an ill-advised Saturday morning visit to) Waitrose. Today is framed art day at Enock House, and we may give a try to the heavy wooden bookcase (slow and steady will be the keywords here). The fun never stops!

From A Disclosed Location

Today is a tutorial day, so after I ran my morning nanomarathon and cleaned up, I went in to St Helen’s for Morning Prayer, then caught the X3 in to Oxford where I’m checking in from a café before discussing the Matthean church with an Orielensis. Then to lunch with other New Testament teaching staff, then the Graduate Seminar, then back home to Abingdon — all in a day’s work.


Ran my two miles, coffee and prayers and fruit, then I think I’ll double my orisons at the church’s Morning Prayer service before I scour Abingdon for a packet of coffee filters. We anticipate another bookcase or two arriving.


I meant four, four more bookcases, one of which is actual wood and as such not amenable to being hefted upstairs by one old geezer and his patient, younger, beautiful spouse. On one hand, this is great for diminishing the quantity of packed boxes in our living space. On the other, it entailed an active afternoon of a sort I had not expected. My phone thinks I’ve gone up or down thirteen flights of stairs, but I didn’t have my phone with me every time. The extra empty space is luscious, I could bathe in it, but I do look forward to the day that I don’t spend unpacking.


Dad was born eighty-eight years ago today. He’s getting more and more difficult to imagine; different people age in different ways, at different paces. Many people I’ve known changed a lot between 72 and 88; I can imagine Dad with greyer, whiter hair, and somewhat diminished in overall size, but he might just as well have continued much as he was.

But I do miss him. I miss the joy he’d have felt at his great-grandchildren. I miss the pride he would feel at Nate and Pippa taking up the vocation of teaching, and I miss consulting him about pedagogical problems and trends. I miss being with him in England, which he had loved so; we were never here at the same time, never together. I miss the chance to take him to High Table at Oriel. I miss playing catch with him. I miss talking about my Orioles, his Red Sox, his Celtics and Steelers. I miss showing him around St Helen’s, and St Nic’s and St Michael’s.

Fifteen years is a long time, and I miss Dad.

That Guy

I don’t want to be that guy, but it has been grey and rainy for what seems like weeks. We’ve lived in England for more than ten years, so this is not a surprise, but having just moved to Abingdon it would be a pleasant break were we to have the chance to see our new home town under bright sunlight for a day or two.

Morning run, cup of coffee, morning prayers, shower, ready for the day.