Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The garden of our intelligence

"So let us then in the prime of our lives not be indolent or slothful, but with all vigor apply ourselves to the study of grammar until we have arrived at the knowledge of rightly reading, understanding and composing prose or verse. And let us now plant and seed the garden of our intelligence, so that we may eat the sweet fruit all the days of our lives."
- A sister at Ebstorf nunnery, c. 1490*

*Quoted in Anne Winston-Allen's Convent Chronicles, 2004.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm thankful for many things this year. A great family, good health, good friends, a good church, a nice house, a new car... the list goes on. We've been very blessed this year. I'm most thankful for my new branch of our family, though. Being married is every bit as great as I thought it would be (case in point: Paul woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at five am, put on his 'turkey pants' and is happily banging around in the kitchen getting ready to smoke our Thanksgiving tom. He even sang a song about it.) We've added a new member to the family since last year. Nick was our Christmas kitten and he's been a fun addition to the family. Penny is just as great as ever - it's been a learning experience being the primary caregiver for a puppy since she was five weeks old, but it's been a lot of fun. I can't wait to see what new adventures we'li have to be thankful for next year.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I've been feeling quite nostalgic about Penny's puppyhood lately, so I've been looking back through some old pictures. She was so little! These are from the Fourth of July at Brendan's cottage in New York last year.

And in case you don't believe that dogs end up looking like their owners (or is it the other way around?), check out these crazy 'dos:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Writing and Conferring

I'm in the process of turning a seminar paper into a conference paper. It's been a busy month and it's going to stay busy right to the end... I'll be back with something (potentially) more substantive in November. In the meantime, I leave you with my favorite Calvin and Hobbes comic- it sums up academic writing all too well.

In the meantime, Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Hi friends!

Today while procrastinating... erm... working in my office at school I figured out how to get pictures off my phone onto my computer!

So here are a bunch of random pictures that sum up my life for the last couple of months.

The reason it's hard for me to work at home:

"Mom? Are you paying attention to me, or to your book? Mom? Mom???"

Paul's "new" shoes:

(Yes, he now has wooden Dutch clogs. We found them at a local antique store. Why does he need wooden clogs? Ask him.)

Tomato sauce cooking down:

Strawberry jam and stewed tomatoes cooling down after being canned.

A pretty bouquet I picked from the garden earlier this summer

The badass grouper we bought in South Carolina, grilled, and consumed with relish. The enjoyment kind of relish, not pickle relish.

Yay pictures!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Falling In

So apparently it's already the first day of autumn. Not quite sure how it got here so fast, since I'm pretty sure the first day of summer was about two seconds ago, but oh well.

Autumn is my favorite season. For me, the year doesn't begin in January, it starts in late August or September. Autumn is the season of fresh school clothes, sharp pencils, unsullied notebooks and new books and new ideas to be encountered. If I was a poet, I'd even wax poetic about the falling leaves as confetti heralding new beginnings. Luckily for you, I'm not a poet.

Autumn is also the season of new year's resolutions. I won't leave my work to the last minute. I will get up in time to eat a proper breakfast before I rush out the door. I will do all the reading. I won't pull an all-nighter to finish my paper. (... most of my vices deal with procrastination, can you tell?)

My new year's resolutions this year are also about teaching. Now that I've been a TA for two years (going on three), and teaching with the same professors several times, I want to make sure that I don't allow my teaching to grow stale. The first quarter I taught I was a little bit petrified (I'm teaching modern European history? I'm a *medievalist*!), and I fell into a rut that my students soon came to recognize, which, I'm sure, eventually detracted from what they could've learned from my discussion sections. While it's valuable to have a routine (college students are like toddlers in that respect), it's also important to switch things up a bit to keep them on their toes and so that they don't get into the habit of skipping the reading because they never have in-class quizzes, or because the TA always lets them get by without participating or whatever.

School started on Wednesday, but today was my first day of actual teaching for the quarter. My classes are awesomely small this time around (11 in the first section, 15 in the second), but it's always a bit of an adjustment getting back into the hang of teaching after a summer off. The second section went much better than the first, partly (I suspect) because it's at 10:30 instead of 9:30 (my students are never morning people), but also because I was warmed up and ready to be a teacher again by that point.

I've become more interested in pedagogy lately, and I think there may also be a pedagogical reason that the second class went better than the first. (Incidentally, pedagogy is just a fancy word for the study of teaching practices). Anyway, part of pedagogy is studying the effect body language has on a group of people, and the way it changes the dynamics of the class for the teacher to stand behind her podium for the whole class, or to stand back near the chalkboard with her arms crossed, to move around the classroom, to use her hands while she talks or not... all of those things change the students' perception of the teacher (although, naturally, two students perception of and reaction to the same actions can be totally different).

Anyway, I started my first class sitting down in a student desk facing the class while I had them introduce themselves and explained the course objectives and did the general opening day minutia.

It showed.

From the start, that class lagged. It's not that the students lacked enthusiasm, nor was it just that it was 9:30 on a rainy Friday morning. The energy was just not there.

For the second class, I stood while we made introductions and I talked about the class. There is a table at the front of my classroom that has a podium that sits on it, and I put my class list on it and leaned on it while my students were telling me about themselves and there was palpably more energy in the classroom throughout the period. I tend to walk around the front of my classroom a lot, and I like to write on the board and make lists while the class brainstorms ideas, so standing to start the class made for a smooth transition once we started to review yesterday's lecture and get them set up for next week's topics.

It was a good reminder that my actions, not just my words, have a direct impact on my students' experience in the class. Whereas the first section was awkward and boring, the second flowed smoothly and my students were much more willing to participate and interact with me and with one another. While some of that can probably be ascribed to the personalities of the people in the class and the later time, I think that getting off my lazy butt and "starting off on the right foot" (pardon the lame pun) had a lot to do with it. So add to my list of new year's resolutions an awareness of my ability as a teacher to make or break a class for my students, and a plan to always make my classes interesting, informative and enjoyable.

Happy New Year!

Gorgeous image found here

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


So I had this great idea that I was going to come to the library at least once a week to keep up on my email and write in the old blog and all that sort of thing, and when I did, that I'd bring my USB cord so I can connect my fancy new phone to my computer and upload the snazzy pictures I've been snapping.

Then I went on vacation with the fam for a week, and after that I worked a bunch and had an idea for a business I want to start, and then all of a sudden it was the end of August and I hadn't written for a month. So I hopped on my dandy bike and rode to the library. Without my USB cord.

So here's what you would be seeing if I could connect my phone to my computer:

Some adorable pictures of Penny, and a typical picture of Nick looking grouchy.

Me holding a six-pound red grouper that we bought at a fish market in South Carolina and cooked on the grill.

A very cute little baby jacket that I made for my friend Heather's baby shower.

A bouquet of Teddy Bear sunflowers, cosmos and assorted wildflowers that I picked out of my garden.

Penny wearing an old t-shirt to keep her from scratching. (She looks adorably sheepish).

Paul wearing Dutch wooden clogs that I bought him (at his insistence) at an antique store over the weekend.

Sounds exciting, doesn't it? Bet you're sorry to be missing out. Maybe next time I'll remember the stupid cord.

Monday, August 1, 2011

I'm back!

So after a slightly mad start to the summer, I've been spending some quality time puttering around the house and enjoying life. Unfortunately, my computer's been on the fritz and hasn't wanted to connect to the internet, so I haven't been able to chronicle said putterings for you, my adoring fans. The computer's at least fixed enough now to connect to the internet from public wi-fi hotspots (I'm at the library now, which is blissfully air-conditioned, so this is not entirely a bad thing), although the dumb thing still won't connect at home. Oh well. Here I am, anyway.

The project I was working on in June was defending my master's theses, and, as all (2) of you probably know by now, I passed. Callooh! Callay!

Now I'm working on getting my reading list together for my general exams, which I'll take in January, and after that (assuming that I pass, of course) I'll be "ABD", or "all but dissertation." Callooh! Callay!

In the (copious amounts of) time that I haven't been working on my reading list this summer, I've been very much enjoying my garden, which is thriving, and riding my snazzy (old) new bike in to the farmer's market on Saturday mornings with Paul. We're also in the finishing stages of a very fancy bathroom remodel that I'm excited to share, although I've been sworn to secrecy until the project is complete. Paul thinks that people won't appreciate it as much if they see it before it's all the way finished. We finally ditched our dumb phones for smart phones this past weekend, so I'll have pictures to show for myself again as soon as I figure out how to get the pictures off the phone and onto the computer. The problem I'm finding with technology is that the operator is still required to be smarter than the device. That wasn't hard with the dumb phone. It's proving to be slightly more of a challenge with the smart one.

In any case, this was meant to be a quick check-in, yes, I'm still alive, sort of post, so I'll wrap it up with promises of being back again soon. Love and best wishes and all those sorts of things.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I thought I was, but I wasn't

So I thought I was starting summer and things would calm down. I finished grading my student's papers and final exams, I turned in my final paper, I spent about half a minute just lounging and enjoying life... and then things got busy again. I have a project that I'm keeping under wraps for the next week, but assuming all goes well there will be balloons and streamers and general merrymaking around these parts, and then maybe posting will pick back up. But things will be busy, busy for the next week.

Back soon, I hope.

(P.S. The garden is growing beautifully. I harvested my first Costata Romanesco zucchini yesterday, and I have a couple of okra ready to eat today. Tomatoes are coming on, and the edamame and peas are looking good. We've been eating radishes for a couple weeks now. Yum.)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Me: "I love it when students make up words on their exams. Listen to this: "The printing press changed the course of history. It changed how people taught, it universified language....""

Paul: "Isn't that what happened at the Big Bang?"

(Finally done grading exams. Now finishing my paper, then doing absolutely nothing for a few days. Back soon.)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Rain, rain, go away....

I'm disgruntled because it's planting time and it's been raining torrentially and it's supposed to keep raining pretty much forever and the world is ending on Saturday anyway (or so I hear) and I really just want to play in my garden. I didn't have time to mow on the one nice day we had last week, so now the yard looks like we should just leave it and harvest it for hay in another week or so. I made a plan for my big garden plot yesterday and I'm ready to put it into action, except that the garden plot is just a big mud pit. *le sigh*

Rain, rain, go away,
Come again another day,
Little Elizabeth wants to play.

Photo here.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sunday Funday

Mom sent me these pictures from Sunday dinner last week and (since I haven't posted pictures in months and months) I thought I'd share.

Eric and Bethany brought over their wedding pictures, so while we were on the subject of weddings and wedding pictures Erin and I tried on Mom's wedding dress. Mom and Dad got married in October of 1981, and I'm told by somewhat reliable sources that this was quite stylish for 1981. (My sources are only somewhat reliable because they are limited to my mom, and why would she admit that wearing a lacy turtleneck isn't necessarily the most stylish thing in the world?)

Reliability of sources aside, however, both Erin and I were pleased to discover that we fit in Mom's wedding dress. She had a pretty kickin' hat, too - in fact, I'm wishing I would've borrowed it to wear for my wedding. Incidentally, that's my own wedding bouquet we're holding. Mom asked what I wanted to do with it after our wedding and I told her I didn't have room for it, so she took it home and let it dry. It still looks pretty good!

Mom even dug out the exact pair of glasses she wore in her wedding for Erin to try. They're... ... ... there are no words. ;)

We also got to spend time with our new little nephew, Marley. He's a beagle mix and he's about the cutest thing I've ever seen. There's nothing cuter than a beagle puppy. Paul and I brought Penny over to Mom and Dad's to see Charlie, so we had quite the menagerie.

And finally, an utterly gratuitous picture of Paul and Marley. Is there anything cuter than your husband holding a baby? Yes: husband + puppy = love squared. :)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Books of 2009-10

I'm clearing out my "Printed Words" list to make way for the books of 2011, but it made me sad to think of just deleting them, so here's what I read in the past year. (Incidentally, I'm in graduate school and I read at least a book a week if not more for school, so I'm not counting all of those books. These were for pleasure, and are the ones that were memorable):

My Life in France, Julia Child
The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling
Pardonable Lies, Jacqueline Winspear
Birds of a Feather, Jacqueline Winspear
Cemetery Dance and Brimstone, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
the curious incident of the dog in the night-time, mark haddon
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver
A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway
Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden
The Tale of Despereaux, Kate DiCamillo
Charlotte's Web, E.B. White
The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Roald Dahl
Maisie Dobbs, Jacqueline Winspear
This House of Sky, Ivan Doig
In Defense of Food, Michael Pollen
Decline and Fall, Evelyn Waugh
The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
The Profitable Hobby Farm, Sarah Beth Aubrey
Alex and Me, Irene Pepperburg
The Lords of Discipline, Pat Conroy
Holy Feast and Holy Fast, Carolyn Walker Bynum

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What I [didn't do] on my spring break

So here's what my March has looked like so far:

Thursday, March 3: my students' book reports due (45 of them. ugh.)

Friday, March 4 - Tuesday, March 9: grade, grade, grade, grade, grade

Friday, March 11: last day of winter quarter, lunch with Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies visiting speaker, speaker's lecture, straight to work

Saturday, March 12: wake up at 5:30am and drive to Marion, OH to adjudicate the DI tournament

Monday, March 14: my student's final exam (3 in-class essays)

Tuesday, March 15 - Thursday, March 17: grade, grade, grade, grade, grade

Thursday, March 17: heart attack because my computer won't connect to the internet and I can't submit grades. Go to work early to use chef's computer to submit them. Sigh of relief until I realize I still have 7 pages of my 15 page paper to write before the next day.

Thursday, March 17, 10pm - Friday, March 18, noon: write, write, write, write, write, submit

Friday, March 18, noon-4pm: put together application to be a facilitator at the University Center for the Advancement of Teaching's fall teaching orientation. Submit.

Friday, March 18, 4pm-5pm: practice the piece I'm supposed to play in Eric and Bethany's wedding. Curse my rusty piano skills.

Friday, March 18, 6:30pm: Eric and Bethany's wedding rehearsal. Have a heart attack because I can't remember how to play the piano.

Saturday, March 19, noon: get ready for the wedding. Still panicking about the piano thing.

Saturday, March 19, 2:30pm: wedding starts. Still panicking.

Saturday, March 19, 2:38pm: play the piano well enough that I didn't embarrass anyone. Feel like I could use a stiff drink.

Saturday, March 19, 2:44pm: Eric and Bethany married. Cue the party music.

Saturday, March 19, 3:45pm: receiving line finally done. Happy I'm not in the wedding party because I don't have to stand for a million pictures. Three family pictures and then I'm done. Find some punch, then go home and let the dog out before the reception.

Saturday, March 19, 6:46pm: Eric presented with a magnificent ball and chain by his friends at the reception. He tells them to have fun in Ohio, he's taking his ball and chain to the Caribbean.

Saturday, March 19, 7:30pm: Paul, Amy, Kyle and I plan our escape. Go home and put on comfy clothes, then go to the movies. Rango wasn't as funny as I expected, but it was fun.

Sunday, March 20: Sleep in

Monday, March 21: Spring break starts. Resolve to do absolutely nothing except read books on my Kindle all week. Get through a good chunk of A Game of Thrones.

Wednesday, March 23: Ikea and the Jeffersonville outlets with Amy

Thursday, March 24 - Sunday, March 27: still doing nothing. Finish A Game of Thrones.

Monday, March 28: School starts again. No more laughing, no more fun.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Kindle-ing the flame

I have been doing nothing in my free time except reading book after book on my new Kindle.

Posting will recommence when (if) the excitement of reading books for pleasure wears off.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Now that my kickin' bookshelves are done (trimmed, primed and painted by my lovely husband - my part was going through with a teeny tiny little brush to make sure there was paint in the recesses of the vine detail on the face strip), I decided to rearrange the living room a bit. It wasn't bad as it was before, but I'm notorious for getting bored and needing to move the furniture around.

It's lovely now.

And I still don't have a camera to take pictures of it.

So just imagine the living room with a gorgeous, glossy white bookshelf running around the top of two walls, with my desk under my neat book wreath against the bedroom wall, and the couch in the corner between the two windows. The rocking chair is by the front door where my desk used to be and the red leather chair is between the closet and bedroom. It's beautiful and airy and I love it.

Pictures soon, I promise.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Chilly/ Chili

It's cold and icy this week in the Midwest, and I'm loving everything about it except the having to go out in it part. This morning, though, I braved the weather to go to campus for my students' lecture, and now I'm back home and snuggled in until tomorrow (unless, of course, the administration takes pity and gives us a snow day. Please, Lord, let them take pity).

My plan is to start a big crock pot full of chili for dinner and then to sit on my couch and read the book I'm presenting on for class tomorrow (unless, of course, class is canceled. See prayer above). I figure if I count on a snow day and goof off there's a good chance we'll have school, whereas if I read this book and I'm well prepared, it'll be canceled. Unless, of course, the universe cottons on to the fact that I've figured out how to circumvent Murphy's Law of School Closure and outwits me by having campus open tomorrow after all. But I suppose in that case I'll have read the book, so it won't be too big of a deal.

But first, chili and tea. Afternoons like this make winter worth it.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Not one of "those people"

This is probably a better facebook post than blog entry, but I've already posted on facebook once today and I'm really trying to keep pretending I'm not one of *those people* who gets on facebook every five minutes.

Sometimes you just have to wash your face, make a cup of tea and get on with it.


*picture here

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I like the word 'crazy.' It implies that things are a bit out of control (or at least out of the ordinary) without necessarily implying that that's a bad thing.

It's also Paul's nickname for me. Make of that what you will.

My life's a little crazy right now. School's in session, I'm teaching and taking some labor-intensive classes (including one called "Violence in Early Modern Europe," which I think it's simultaneously awesome and ridiculous. I'm getting paid to take these classes? Really? I took Old Occitan last quarter. Have you even *heard* of Old Occitan? I hadn't either).

Paul and I are slowly but surely making progress on the house, but my camera finally gave up the ghost, so I haven't taken any pictures lately. We finally installed my mad cool bookshelves above the bedroom door and wrapping around to the front corner of the house, and they make me happy every time I look at them. We also put in a proper thermostat, replacing the old, scary mercury-filled one. One of the next projects on the docket is to finish cleaning out the garage (which is full of left-over wedding stuff, Paul's tools and stuff that won't fit in the house, wine-making supplies, gardening tools, soil, mulch, pots and I don't even know what else) and to make a proper tool bench.

Oh, and we adopted a cat.

Just noticed that you can see both my awesome book shelf and our new thermostat in the webcam picture. It's almost like I meant to do that.

So truth in advertising, actually *I* adopted a cat. He's supposed to keep Penny busy during the day while we're at school and work. Judging by the papers I regularly find strewn on the floor when I get home, I think it's working.

Doesn't she look innocent, though?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Life after the wedding

What with the holidays and all, I got a bit burned out with the wedding posts. I might put up a couple more with some more of the ceremony and reception or some photobooth photos, but I'm trying to get into the habit of blogging more regularly and I'm a bit bored with wedding stuff.

'What?' you say? 'Bored with wedding stuff? But your wedding is supposed to be the happiest day of your life! You should spend the next 10 years poring over your wedding album and wishing you could still fit in your wedding dress! How can you be bored?!?'

Confession: I was accused of being the anti-bride during the six weeks we spent planning our wedding. While I did a lot of the traditional wedding-y stuff (spent hours and at least a year's worth of dexterity in my right hand stamping our invitation envelopes, bought trellises and little tissue paper poofy things to decorate the 'ceremony site', had a bridal shower and a hen party (that included cheese AND chocolate fondues, When Harry Met Sally nail painting and a sleepover at my house), we also did some not-so-traditional wedding-y stuff. Like planning on having the entire shindig in our combined backyards and crossing our fingers that it wouldn't rain. And cooking all the food ourselves. And making my dress from scratch, painstakingly sewing together panels of cut silk taffeta flowers by hand (a project that I could not have done alone by any means - thank you again, Kate!) Or how about getting flowers from our favorite vendor at the farmer's market (who gave them to us for free, since it turned out that their anniversary is the same as ours) and having the lovely Amy make boutonnieres for the guys because she just happened to have worked in a flower shop for a few months last year?

So maybe there was some truth to the anti-bride thing.

Honestly, though, as much as I absolutely loved our wedding, and as much as it was one of the happiest days of my life to this point, I'm ready for what's next. I'm ready to work on feathering our nest, and planning for our future, and having adventures and continuing to learn from each other. So I'm hoping to start using this space to chronicle our present and speculate on our future together, rather than to dwell further on how fabulous our wedding was.


Even though, really, it was pretty fabulous.