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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Fairy Land

I'm searching for them
In the dark.
Feeling for them
With my fingertips.
The scratch of pen on paper
The texture of keys on my finger pads
The invisible, unfeeling touchpad under my deft hands.
So many
So many ways
To write.
Yet I stumble over the
My pen fails
The keys stick
My hand forgets the way.
I am blind
And someone has rearranged the furniture.
Are all the same.
So many ways to find them
So many ways to become lost.
Don't you know
It is the story
And not how it is told
That matters?
Don't you know the
Are meaningless if they say nothing?
Fairy Land is just
Of course it is.
What else could it be?
What more could it be?
Wherefore "merely"?
This world
Is merely.
Merely sights
And sounds
And smells.
Merely touch.
How "merely"
What more is there?
Shall I tell you?
There us nothing more.
Nothing greater.
In the beginning was
Once upon a time there were
That is all.
That is enough.
One day,
Happily ever after,
There will be
Not merely
For that is all there is
Fairy Land.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


I want to run.

Considering how long I've been a runner, this is actually a rather novel feeling. While I often enjoy my runs once I start them, or feel good after I finish, I rarely want to get up at six, lace up my shoes and head out the door. Instead, I lay in bed a good 10 minutes after my alarm goes off talking myself into getting up and runnig. But now I want to run; and now I can't.

About two weeks ago, I noticed a pain in the big toe of my left foot. Not a sharp pain, but a deep one that xran up my foot a bit whenever I stepped on it. Years of knee problems have taught to run through pain, and since it didn't hurt too bad, and was just my toe, after all, I ignored it. That Saturday, I ran on it. Just a short run, but halfway through my toe had gone numb and lost feeling, like it had fallen asleep. I figured I'd ice it, and give it a few days off. But by a week ago last Thursday, the pain had gotten so bad I was limping. Enough is enough, so I went to a walk-in clinic.

I must have described the pain well to nurse, because the doctor came in and before even examining my foot said I had tendinitis in my foot, common in football players which gives it the name "turf toe". Basically, it's carpal tunnel syndrome all over again, only in my foot. I'm even on the same anti-inflammatory pills. And I'm not allowed to run for at least two weeks. The doctor was a runner himself, so at least he was sympathetic about tn is instead if wanting to know why on earth I would want to get up at 6 and run 10 miles in the first place.

So now I'm taking a forced break from running, and much to my surprise I miss it a lot. With luck I'll be as good as new soon. In the mean tine I'll be swimming laps in my apt. complex's pool, the most boring workout in the world.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Don't be like George

If I had to pick one picture book from my childhood that sums up my family, it would be Loudmouth George and the Big Race. My little brother and I grew up in a running family, a rather rarer occurrence when we were children than today. So finding a children's book about training for and running a road race was a pleasant surprise.

In the story, George, a rabbit, and his other animal friends are excited when a race is going to be held in their town. But every time a friend asks George if he wants to train, George has an excuse for why he can't, and finishes by saying "I'll start my training tomorrow". I won't ruin the ending for you, though it's pretty much exactly what you think it is.

"Being like George" quickly became an expression in family to mean procrastinating on something. Whenever my brother or said that we would do something later, or tomorrow, we'd get the response, "All right, George". The warning was clear: Procrastinate on this and you will probably dislike the results.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, I'm afraid I've a bit of a George this past week. Helping at my church's Vacation Bible School (outside, chasing small children around for several hours each morning) left me exhausted, and I hit my snooze alarm each morning with the promise that I'd get up earlier tomorrow to run. And then, suddenly, the week was over and I hadn't put in any  milage.

So, I'm back on my training schedule this week (10 mile long run!), and back to the pact my running partner and I made when we started training together. No excuses. Don't be like George.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Rain on Bricks

It rained today.

I actually missed the rainstorm because I was in my office, but when I was leaving the reflection of light in the window caught my eye. The window looks out towards a courtyard surrounded by smooth brick walls, and clinging to the bricks were tiny droplets of water, bouncing light around like a dispersed kaleidoscope.

And it made me think about how we see the world.

The world we see and interact with seem so huge, so solid. Yet if water was really as slippery and formless as it seems, and bricks as smooth and uniform as they feel, then there is no way that water should be able to form itself into tiny spheres and cling to stone. Yet it does.

We see so little of how this world is actually made, never giving much though to the fact that "solid" is only an illusion, that everything is in fact made of minuscule quivering atoms with space between them.

I'm not sure I'm going anywhere with this, but now you know what I think about when I see rain on bricks.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Why Rabbits Are Better Than Dogs

10. Rabbits wiggle their noses. I'm fairly certain this is the single cutest natural behavior of a domesticated animal.

9. Rabbits don't drool.

8. Rabbits have cute little tails that don't knock things over.

7. Rabbits are too short to get onto your table to steal food.

6. Rabbits (even non-fibre ones) are super soft.

5. Rabbit breath smells like parsley. As opposed to the horrible smell that is dog breath.

4. Rabbits don't roll in smelly things.

3. They can be easily litter trained.

2. Rabbits are much more likely to eat the veggies you don't want than a dog is.

And the number one reason rabbits make better pets than dogs...

1. They don't bark.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Serial Saturday (again)

Hey, it's Serial Saturday again! Funny how that happens every week, huh? Anyways, if you click on the "Undestined" tab, or here, you can check out the latest entry in my serial story. And I will be trying to post more regularly again here. Sorry for getting off track last week :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

First Loves

They say you never forget your first love. This has held true in my life, though more when dealing with inanimate things than with romance. For example, while I now love Classical mythology, I'll never forget that it was Egyptian mythology (through the book The Egypt Game) that first introduced me to the genre.

The same holds true with sports. While I no longer hesitate to call myself a runner, the truth is, I would never actually say I love running, and took me a long time to find a sport I did love.

My parents always had one simple rule for my brother and I- we could do whatever activity we wanted, as long as we were doing something active. And I ran the whole gambit of sports. Ballet, gymnastics, basketball, soccer (which I stuck with the longest), softball, swimming (even synchronized swimming one year), volleyball, track, crew, lacrosse (lost interest when I discovered women's lacrosse was way less violent than men's lacrosse)...there aren't many sports I haven't tried. But it wasn't until high school that I discovered fencing.

In fencing, I found a sport where speed and strength had to be matched by strategy and endurance. My height put me at a disadvantage, but I could make up for it by outlasting and out-thinking my opponent. Best of all, I could be as aggressive as I wanted to be without getting carded or flagged (believe it or not, while I'm pretty quiet normally, I'm very aggressive when I play sports- I think I spent more time benched than playing basketball for fouls). Then I went to college and stopped fencing.

Fast forward 6 years. After a year in grad school at a university with a fencing club, I finally got up the courage to contact the group. They invited me to come by for summer practice Thursday night. Still nervous, I made a deal with myself. If my old gear still fit, I would go. Long story short, my gear all still fits (thank you, running!) and I fenced for the first time in several years last week. And I learned something. You really don't forget a first love. As soon as I held my epee again, I remembered everything I'd loved about fencing, and wondered why I'd ever stopped. So, it looks like I'll be adding some cross-training into my running schedule from here on out. :)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Shave and a Harecut

Fuzzy Wuzzy was a hare.
Fuzzy Wuzzy had lots of hair.

Fuzzy Wuzzy got too hot.
He trimmed his hair a lot.

Fuzzy Wuzzy now looks small,
But he's not hot at all!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Serial Saturday

It's Saturday, which means a new post is up over at Undestined: A Serial Story. You can use the tab at the top of the page to get there.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Getting Dizzy (From all that Spinning)

In Monday's post I mentioned I've been spinning a lot, so I though it might be time to give some picture evidence of the fact. All the yarn in the photo is alpaca fibre. The yarn in the upper left was spun on my large spindle (more on my spindles next week) and the yarn on the right was spun on my lace-weight spindle. For comparison, the yarn on the left has a strand crossing a quarter, and the yarn on the right is crossing a nickel. I then plied the two different weight yarns to get the finished skeins you see on the bottom (the coloured yarns tied to them are to keep the skein from getting tangled- I didn't spin those). 

So just what am I going to do with all this yarn, since my knitting is now limited? Why weave, of course. On what? Well, my spinning wheel wasn't the only craft project I've worked on this year. More on that later. (by the way, my wheel made an appearance on the popular thereifixedit blog this week. You can see it here). 

The yarn in this photo is going to be the weft (or woof), the side-to-side yarn when you weave. Not pictured is some yarn made by plying two of the heavier weight strands together, which will be my warp, the up-and-down yarn. I don't have enough yarn for my project yet, but I'm working on it (when I'm not side-tracked by the lovely silk that's currently filling up my lace-weight spindle). I have time though, since my loom isn't quite finished yet.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Some of Life's Big Questions

In no particular order.

-Where do toll-booth attendants park?

-Why don't toothbrushes fit the built-in toothbrush holders?

-Why does sitting up and sitting down result in the same final position?

-You can be overwhelmed and underwhelmed- can you be just "whelmed"?

-What is the plural of "Mickey Mouse"? (for example, if there is a store with several Mickey Mouse toys inside)

-How do tomatoes grow in the wild without falling over?

-What are people going to do with all random pictures they take with camera phones?

-Where do all my hair-ties go? (I bought a pack of 100- I now have 5)

-How does sunscreen work?

-Who first looked at a sheep and thought "Hey, bet I could make some nice yarn out of that!"?

-What am I going to make for lunch today?

Monday, May 30, 2011

So Much More Than Yarn

A little while ago, knitting and I made our break-up official. Consequently, I've been doing a lot of spinning (more on what I've been making on Friday- and yes, that does mean my blog is returning to it's normal posting schedule). I spin with a spindle, which I love, but the problem with spindle spinning is that it can be, well, a bit slow going.

One day, while spinning,  I thought, wouldn't it be great to have a self-winding spindle. Then I remember, oh, yes, they do makes those- it's called a wheel. Truth be told, for the past year I've been somewhat obsessed with the idea of getting wheel (I may or may not have made a picture of the wheel I wanted as a desktop picture). Problem is, wheels cost money. A lot of money. Like $300 for a cheap one. And I'm a starving grad student. So I finally came to terms with the fact that I'm going to spindle-spinner for a while.

Then my neighbor started repairing a couple of bicycles. And had to get new wheels for one of them. And left the old wheels sitting on the porch we share. And I started thinking. And sketching. And thinking some more.

Then I went to Lowes. And bought some PVC piping. And some spray paint. And...

I present "Spark" (named inspired by one of my favourite webcomics). It's not finished yet, though since I took this picture I've added a set up for scotch tension, which is how you control the rotation of the bobbin. I still need to figure out a treadle system, however, and may end up using the back wheel of the bike with the chain. But, it does work. And not counting the flyer and bobbin (the complicated looking wooden piece at the top) which I bought, the whole thing cost me less than $10. Can't beat that.

Guess I can be crafty with more than just me needles :)

P.S. Once I have the treadle worked out, I'll be posting directions, if you want to build your own.  

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Something Old, Something New

Way back in October, I posted the introduction to a story I was thinking of writing. I originally envisioned it as a short story, but it kept growing in my mind, so now I've decided to try something new. I'm going to be telling the story in weekly installments over at I'm not promising good writing, but it should be fun. If you want to follow along, you can click on the link, or at the top of my blog where it says "Undestined". Since I've already posted part of the introduction here, I went ahead and gave you two posts to start out. Hope you follow along!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I Never Run Alone: My Mom, My Encourager

A very late Mother's Day post- but then, shouldn't Mother's Day be every day?

My quality time with my Mom is not measured in time spent, but rather miles run, together. I don't think I could even begin to guess how many miles we have covered over the years.

Sometimes think I was born in a baby jogger, because I spent nearly every morning of my childhood in one. My Mom told me when I was a baby she would talk to me while I rode along on her runs; when I was older I would cheer her and my dad up hills, chanting "I think I can, I think I can" while they pushed me in the baby jogger. My elementary school years were spent pedaling alongside of my Mom on my bike, cheering her on, and complaining on the hills (and wondering why I had to ride on the sidewalk while she got to run on the road). I grew up accompanying my Mom on her runs until I was old enough to stay home in the mornings, and after that only joined her on rare occasions.

But it wasn't until I started training for a half marathon last year that I asked my Mom to run with me. I often use running and training as a metaphor for a lot of things in life; it's such a versatile comparison. And it was during those months training with my Mom that I realized how much running with her was a perfect illustration of our relationship.

Not every run was perfect, not every run was great; far from it. Many were rough, felt like they dragged on forever, and made me wonder why on earth I was doing this. But on every run, there was always one thing I could count on. My Mom encouraging me. Whether is was just general cheering ("Come on, Honey, you're doing great!"), bribery ("I'll make eggs for breakfast", "10 more minutes and you can have a Chomp*"), or simple advice ("Imagine the finish line!", "Shorten your stride and eat the hill") my Mom would keep me going, most of all on the days when I wanted to quit.

I learned a lot from my Mom on our training runs, tricks and sayings that I pass on to my running friends. But most of all, I learned that I never run alone: every time I lace up my shoes and head out the door, my Mom is there in my mind, encouraging me and cheering me on.

Things I’ve learned about running (and life!) from my Mom:

-       -Walking up a hill is a waste of perfectly good hill
-       -You can do anything for 3-minutes (on interval training)
-       - Use your arms
-       - Relax
-       - Eat the hill
-       - Stay strong through the finish
-       - Imagine the finish line
-       - If you say you’re doing great enough times, you’ll believe it
-       - Wear earrings. There’s almost always a photographer on the course.
-       - Take walk breaks, but don’t stop moving forward
-       - Remember to breathe
-       - Once you cross the finish line, no one can take that away from you
-       - Drink a big glass of water and eat a banana
-       - You’ll always feel better after a run
-       - Always untie your shoes before taking them off
-       - Everything is better with a friend by your side
-       - You can run further and faster than you think you can

*My on-the-run nutrition choice

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

It Started With a Car Trip

Over the years, running the Lady Track Shack 5k has become a bit of a tradition for my family. So, way back in February, I started to make plans to drive down to Orlando to run it. The Wednesday of LTS week my friend Jules asked me what my weekend plans were. I told her, then, on a whim, said "hey, want to come and run with me?" She said yes (having never been to Orlando), and we made plans for me to pick her up on Friday.

On Friday, in between listening to How to Train Your Dragon on tape read by David Tennant (I'm pretty sure I would enjoy listening to David Tennant read the phone book), we talked about our previous running experiences- Jules had run cross-country, and I have two half-marathons under my belt.

Wouldn't it be great, we both said, if we had a goal to train for. We could start running together to get into shape. And then Jules, being from Michigan, said "You know, there's a half-marathon in Detroit that runs through both the US and Canada".

And that is how we ended up registered for the Detroit 1/2 marathon.

I blame David Tennant.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

'Twas the Night Before Easter (re-posted)

Twas the night before Easter; I thought it a poor lot,
That Christmas should have a poem, while Easter did not.
So I took up some paper and took up a pen,
And set about writing that I might make amends.

I wondered ‘bout the difference ‘twixt the Holidays,
That one was quiet, and the other a mad craze.
Santa has stockings, and wild preparations;
Easter is greeted with a few decorations.

At Christmas the presents are stacked under the trees,
You’re able to find them and open them with ease.
At Easter there are eggs hidden out in the yard,
For just a little candy you search pretty hard.

But surely Christmas and Easter are about more
Than just Santa and Bunnies and other such lore.
Surely I can find out some deep hidden reason,
To explain the difference between the two seasons.

In the dark of Winter, Christmas promises Life,
A season of hope amidst a season of strife.
And along with the advent of the Savior’s birth,
Comes tidings of peace, of goodwill, joy, and of mirth.

Easter is in the Spring when all the world flowers,
A time to rejoice in the Life that is ours.
And when the dark Death of Winter is left behind,
A new kind of rebirth is promised to mankind.

For though Christmas starts with birth, there is Death to come;
In the end it’s Easter that is Death overcome.
For the Life of Christmas lasts for just a short time,
But the Life that Easter brings is forever thine.

So while the Christmas celebration can be wild,
Leaving Easter, in contrast, to seem rather mild,
I believe that I can say without any doubt,
Easter, my friend, is what Christmas is all about.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Story For Good Friday (reposted)

Many of you have seen this already, but I always feel compelled to share this around Easter.

The Prisoner
The prisoner lay on his back, a thin pallet of straw the only thing separating him from the cold stone floor of his cell. The first rays of sunlight were filtering in through the tiny barred window near the ceiling, and as he watched, the rays began to travel across the small room. Determinedly, he shut his eyes, trying to fall back asleep. It had been a restless night. Instead of quiet, the night had been filled with the shouts and the comings and goings of travelers. Had he wanted to, he could have dragged the bed to one of the dark corners the sun didn’t reach, but already the sounds of people beginning the day’s work interrupted the sleepy stillness of the morning.

Resigning to the fact that his sleep was indeed over, the prisoner opened his eyes, revealing the ceiling, who’s every inch had been under his scrutiny the past few days. When first arrested, he had spent his days walking the perimeter of his cell, but that had only served to remind him how small it really was. Soon the prisoner had discovered that by lying still on his mat he could allow his mind to wander outside the constraints of the cell and join the hustle and bustle of the city outside. Today though, the sounds were different. There was a concentration of sound just a little ways away from the prison, and he could hear the sound growing. People were gathering for something.

Allowing his mind to wander, he began to imagine what could be going on outside. Was it some Roman spectacle? Acrobats perhaps? Gladiators? While he pictured the carnival-like scene, the sounds grew louder, then suddenly stopped. Straining his ears, the prisoner could just make out a low mumbling of voices, which the whole crowd seemed to be listening to. Was this a play then? But what an odd place for one, next to the jail. The voices stopped and once again the people in the crowd began to talk amongst themselves. Despite his best efforts, the prisoner was unable to make out the topic of all the excitement.

Once again, the dull roar of the crowd stopped and the two voices resumed. This happened several more times. And as the prisoner listened, the crowd grew more and more agitated. Finally, the crowd became quiet once again and he could just barely make out a single voice talking. Then, a roaring wave of sound built up, startling the prisoner into a sitting position. They were shouting his name. His name. What on earth had happened that this giant crowd was talking about him? What could this possibly mean? It had been weeks since his trial, and since then the only people who ever thought of him were the guards who brought his food.

The prisoner stiffened as the crowd once again fell silent. What were they talking about? The bright carnival images were far from his mind now that he had discovered that he was the topic of all this discussion. He strained his ears, desperate to learn what was happening. Once again he could hear the lone voice speaking, followed by the shouting of the crowd. It started as a jumble of voices, but quickly formed itself into a chant which froze the prisoner’s blood. Crucify him. They shouted. Crucify him.

Overwhelmed by the sound, he curled into a ball, pressing his hands against his ears. The chanting subsided, but the shouts didn’t. People continued running back and forth and strange sounds echoed off the walls of the cell. The prisoner was ignorant of it all, caught up as he was in thoughts of his fate. He just couldn’t understand it. Of course, he had known what his punishment was to be. Even before the verdict had been given he had known. A man was only brought before the Roman court for one reason. He had no confusion about that. No. What he couldn’t understand was the anger. Where had the crowd been during his trail? There had been no shouting or chanting. The only one who had felt any real feelings about the trial had been the prisoner himself. So where had this crowd come from? Why did everyone suddenly want to see him dead?

His thoughts were abruptly driven from his mind at the sound of keys in the lock. His muscles grew rigid as he curled up even smaller. Death, he thought, he might be ready for. But not this. The angry chant of the crowd had seared itself to his brain. He knew he couldn’t face the mob that was waiting for him. He resisted the tug of the soldier trying to pull him up and found himself begging. “Please. Please. No.” The soldier jerked him impatiently.

“Aren’t you listening? You’re free!” The prisoner stared at the soldier in disbelief, and then looked at the open door of the cell. He made a split second decision and sprinted out of the prison and into the street.

He didn’t get very far. As soon as he got onto the streets, the prisoner was swept up by the pressing crowd. At first, he was terrified. What would the crowd do to him? But to his surprise, they ignored him. Not wanting to press his luck, he followed along, trying to blend into the parade of people making their way towards Golgatha. As he joined the crowd, he wondered if he was really doing the smartest thing. After all, he was walking directly towards the place the angry mob had wanted to drag him just a few hours ago. Even as he thought of changing his mind, it was too late. The press of the crowd had dragged him forward and there was no fighting against it.

As they reached the hill, the prisoner froze, causing the people behind him to stumble into each other to avoid knocking him and one another down. Still the prisoner did not move, transfixed by the sight before him. A man was being crucified. As he watched the man’s hands being nailed to the cross, he could feel the pain in his own hands. The cross was raised and he watched as people threw themselves forward, crying and clutching at their clothes. Sinking to his knees, the prisoner joined them, his fists crushed so tight that blood oozed out from between his fingers. He didn’t understand what was going on, who this man was or how he had ended up on the cross. But there was one thing he did know. That man on the cross was the wrong one. The cross on the hill had been built for him. Someone had made a mistake and crucified the wrong man. Tears filled the eyes of the prisoner, and he wept for the man who was being punished in his stead.

Late that night, even after the man was taken down from the cross, the prisoner
 was still kneeling in the field. There had been a sign above the man, one the prisoner couldn’t understand. It had read King of the Jews. What sort of king was this? The Jewish people were under the rule of the Roman Empire. Who was this man who had been punished so severely? Was he truly a king? And from what kingdom? As the first rays of light filled the morning sky, the prisoner arose from the ground, stretching muscles sore from kneeling so long. As he walked down the hill, the prisoner made up his mind. Somehow, he would find the family of this man and explain to them what had happened. About the mistake that had been made. And he would ask them for forgiveness.

Matthew 37:20-23 NRSV, emphasis added
20Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed. 21The governor again said to them, ‘Which of the two do you want me to release for you?’ And they said, ‘Barabbas.22Pilate said to them, ‘Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?’ All of them said, ‘Let him be crucified!’ 23Then he asked, ‘Why, what evil has he done?’ But they shouted all the more, ‘Let him be crucified!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Dear Knitting, I'm Sorry

My Dearest Knitting,

You know you have been the one true love of my life these past 5 years. You have seen me through my ups and downs, kept me sane when I felt the world was falling apart, and introduced me to some of my closest friends. But, Knitting, you hurt me.

Because of you, I found myself no longer able to type or write without pain. And though it hurt me to do so, I knew we had to put our relationship on hold while I learned to cope with the pain you caused. But I found that without you, I had a hole in my life. Who would relieve my tension after a stressful day? Who would watch TV with me and never complain about the show, even if it was the same episode of Doctor Who for the fourth time? Without you, I was lost, but with you I was in pain. I had to seek comfort elsewhere.

I knew, of course, that you'd been aware of Spinning for some time. Though neither of us said anything, I knew you noticed when I left you alone and picked up my spindle. But you and I both always knew that it was you alone I loved, and no matter how long I abandoned you, I would always return. Yet after you hurt me, that began to change.

I needed something to fill the hole you'd left, and there, in my darkest hour, was Spinning, patiently waiting for me. I always intended to come back to you, my dearest Knitting, I truly did. I just needed time to heal. Yet, as they say, "once bitten, twice shy", and now I find that whenever we spend time together, if I have the slightest reminder of the pain you caused, I have to once again leave you alone. And there is Spinning, always waiting for me. 

So, my dearest, beloved Knitting, I am sorry. I never meant to hurt you, but you hurt me first. You will always have a special place in my heart. We've shared so much, and it was you, after all, who introduced me to the wonderful world of Fibre. I beg you to understand, and to find it your heart to forgive me, but from now on, we will just be friends.

I will always love you, and am not abandoning you. We can still spend time together, just not as much as before. You can never be fully replaced in my life, but Spinning has never hurt me, and so I see now that it is time to move on. 

With Love,

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Today, the sun is shining.
Today, I will do the work that needs doing, but not stress about it.
Today, I will appreciate the little things.
Today, I am the most important thing in the universe. I rejoice.
Today, I am the least important thing in the universe. I rejoice.
Today, I will count my blessings.
Today, I will rejoice in my sorrows.
Today, I will remember to love.
Today, I am going to live in the moment. And
Today, tomorrow will just have to wait until tomorrow, because
Today is enough. 

Monday, February 28, 2011

Signs You Are in Graduate School

1. You accidentally refer to your office as your dorm.

2.  You take your biggest reusable bag to the library.

3. You have to take multiple trips to the library because you can't carry all your books at once.

4. You're response to "How are you?" Is always either "busy", "tired", or, to a fellow grad student, "You know".

5. You regularly start sentences with "I was reading Aristotle last night..." and don't think its odd.

6. When you mention reading a book, you clarify if you're reading it in English. Otherwise, its assumed you're reading it in the original language.

7. You're starting to shower in the gym as often as you do at home (only time to run is before/in-between classes).

8. Your spring break plans primarily involve writing three papers.

9. You only go to parties that involve spending the first half of the evening studying.

10. And finally, you've learned that there is only one way to write a paper:

P.S. That's cranberry juice in the picture. Honest.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

On the Origins of Writing

I'm taking a class on the development of writing in Greece and Italy this semester, and recently we looked at several examples of ancient theories on how writing starting. One particularly intrigued me- Hyginus tells a story that the Fates were the first to write- they created the vowels and the letters B and T.  Why the vowels and those letters? It seemed to me that those would the sounds used in singing. That, coupled with the fact that many early writing examples are found on weaving implements led me to create the following myth. After the myth is the excerpt from Hyginus that inspired it. 

The women of Kercis’* town, like all women, sang as the worked. They sang as they drew the wool into strands, sang as the spun the strands into yarn, and sang as they wove the yarn into cloth. And the songs they sang were all the same. As they shared their work, they shared their music.

But when it came time for Kercis to marry, she did not marry a man from her town, but from another, and when she went to live him, she found she did not know the songs of the women there. And so she would work by herself, singing the songs of her town, while the other women sang their own.

It was a long time before Kercis learned the songs of the other women, and joined them in their work and singing, and she wondered what would happen if she had a daughter who married a man from another town. For it was a lonely thing to work and sing on your own.

So, one night, Kercis prayed to Athena. “Oh goddess,” she said, “You who gave us the loom and taught us to weave, you have given all women one work, and yet we have many songs. Should we not all sing together, even as we all labour at the same task?” And though Athena did not answer her that night, she heard the prayer, and wondered at it, for it troubled her.

Sometime later, when the moon was thin in the sky, Hermes came to Kercis one night. “Athena heard your prayer,” he told her. “It troubled her, and so she has sent me to take you to the Fates, for it is they who first made songs while at their work”. He offered her his hand, and Kercis took it, picking up her spindle as she did so, for a woman’s work is never done.

Hermes flew with Kercis to where the Fates lived, and Kercis heard them singing. Clotho sang as she spun the threads of lives, Lachesis sang as she measured the threads, and Atropos sang as she cut them. And all three of them sang the same song.

As Kercis walked towards them, the fates looked up from their work, their singing ceased, and they spoke. “What is it you have come to ask?”

“I have come to learn the song you sing, so that I might teach it to the other women, so we may all sing the same song while we work. For we share in one work; should we not share in one song?” This was Kercis’ reply.

The Fates answered her, “We shall teach you our song, and more than that, though you did not ask. We shall teach you shapes that mark the sounds of our song, so that you might teach women our song even when you are not near them.”

Then the Fates took Kercis’ spindle, and on the shaft they scratched shapes, and taught her which shape was for which sound, and how to sing their song.

So Kercis took her spindle back to the women she worked with, and she taught them the song and shapes. And those women taught other women, who taught other women, until all the women who worked at the loom sang the same song and knew the shapes the Fates had taught Kercis.

And one day, much later, a man named Palamedes, who was more observant than most, noticed that all the women, even those in different towns, sang the same song while they worked. And when he asked his wife about this, she showed him the shapes that made up the song, and explained how by learning the shapes, women all over the land had learned the song.

Palamedes was very taken by this idea, so he made up shapes for the sounds that weren’t in the song, and taught them to men, that they too might teach one other even when far apart.

And so it happened that while men will say it was they who made the alphabet, we who weave, we women, we know the truth. 

*Greek for "spindle"

Hyginus, Fabulae 277
Transl. Mary Grant

The Parcae, Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos invented seven Greek letters - A B H T I Y.
Others say that Mercury invented them from the flight of cranes, which, when they fly, form letters.
Palamedes, too, son of Nauplius, invented eleven letters; Simonides, too, invented four letters – Ó E Z PH; Epicharmus of Sicily, two - P and PS. 
The Greek letters Mercury is said to have brought to Egypt, and from Egypt Cadmus took them to Greece. Cadmus in exile from Arcadia, took them to Italy, and his mother Carmenta changed them to Latin to the number of 15.
Apollo on the lyre added the rest.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Coffee Chronicles: Day Four

No, I haven't already given up on trying to like coffee. I've simply come to the conclusion that I don't have the time to make a cup of coffee and blog about it every day. Instead, I'll just be conducting my coffee experiment on weekends.

In other news, several people on Facebook have weighed in on things they think I should try putting coffee, so I'm going to start using their's (and any else's I might get) suggestions. So far, it's been suggested I try:

Vanilla soymilk
hot chocolate mix
vanilla/almond extract
Salt (apparently this will cut the bitterness)

Also suggested: Drinking coffee after a rich chocolate desert.

I'm going to be trying these suggestions one-by-one. What else would you like to see me try in my coffee?

Day Four:

Mixture: Sprinkle of salt in the filter, 1/3 milk, 2/3 coffee, level tbl.sp. of sugar

Results: For science's sake, I took of sip of the coffee before adding sugar, expecting it to be salty. To my surprise, not only wasn't it not salty, but it really was less bitter!  Consequently, I was able to add a little less sugar than usual. I still didn't love the drink, but it wasn't a trail to finish it. I think even as experiment with other things, I'm going to continue to leave the salt in.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Coffee Chronicles: Day Three

For years now, I have carried a heavy burden. I tried to ignore it, to pretend it wasn’t there. I tried compensating for it and excusing it away. But now it’s time to come clean. I don’t like coffee.  I love the smell of it, but I can’t stand the taste. And now, after years of asking for a cup of tea after dinner, or simply doing without, I’ve decided it’s time I learn to like coffee.

The motivation came in the form of a gift. A bag of coffee beans given to me just before Christmas. As I accepted the beans, I decided then and there I was going to learn to like coffee. So now, I invite you to join me on my journey to learn to appreciate this American breakfast staple.

Mixture: Same as Yesterday.

Results: Drinkable, but not enjoyable. I've recently gotten some feedback on Facebook about my coffee experiment, so tomorrow I'm going to start changing up the ingredients I use.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Coffee Chronicles: Day Two

For years now, I have carried a heavy burden. I tried to ignore it, to pretend it wasn’t there. I tried compensating for it and excusing it away. But now it’s time to come clean. I don’t like coffee.  I love the smell of it, but I can’t stand the taste. And now, after years of asking for a cup of tea after dinner, or simply doing without, I’ve decided it’s time I learn to like coffee.

The motivation came in the form of a gift. A bag of coffee beans given to me just before Christmas. As I accepted the beans, I decided then and there I was going to learn to like coffee. So now, I invite you to join me on my journey to learn to appreciate this American breakfast staple.

Day Two:

I slept in this morning, then slowly went about setting up for my next cup of coffee. I poured 1/3 a cup of milk, then warmed it up in the microwave for a few seconds while the coffee brewed. The coffee was just starting to brew when I remembered...the Farmer's Market! I had to go pick up my CSA this morning! I stuck my cup of milk in the fridge, then dressed while the coffee finished brewing. I turned off the coffee maker, and rushed out the door. 

When I got back, I finished making my cup of coffee, warmed it up in the microwave, and sat down to blog about it.

Mixture Ingredients: 1/3 milk, 2/3 coffee, 1 tblsp. sugar

Results: Palatable. Which is to say I didn't feel the urge to spit it out. I didn't particularly enjoy it, but I was able to drink the whole cup. No use messing with a good (or at least, acceptable) thing, so I'm going to stick to this combo for a few days and see if it grows on me.

The Coffee Chronicles: Day One

For years now, I have carried a heavy burden. I tried to ignore it, to pretend it wasn’t there. I tried compensating for it and excusing it away. But now it’s time to come clean. I don’t like coffee.  I love the smell of it, but I can’t stand the taste. And now, after years of asking for a cup of tea after dinner, or simply doing without, I’ve decided it’s time I learn to like coffee.

The motivation came in the form of a gift. A bag of coffee beans given to me just before Christmas. As I accepted the beans, I decided then and there I was going to learn to like coffee. So now, I invite you to join me on my journey to learn to appreciate this American breakfast staple.

Day One:

10:00 a.m. I opened the four –cup Mr. Coffee coffee maker I bought over break, set it up, and ran it through one empty cycle to clean, as per the directions. Then I realized I didn’t have any filters.

10:30 Went to Publix to buy coffee filters and several other items I needed.

11:30 Cleaned and set up the coffee bean grinder I bought over break.

11:45 Ground a cup of coffee beans

11:50 Pressed the ‘on’ switch and watched in anticipation as the first cup of coffee I’ve ever made started to brew.

*Mixture Ingredients: 2/3 milk, 1/3 coffee, 3/4 tblsp. Sugar (which I figure is still way less than a Starbuck Carmel Macchiato)
* Measurements are estimated 

Results: Ummm….gross. I only managed to drink about ½ the mixture, and almost spit it back out. The main problem, I think, was too much milk. The milk cooled the coffee down to room temperature (ick) and tasted, well, like milk, another beverage I don’t really like the taste of. Tomorrow I’ll try less milk and more sugar. The ultimate goal is to drink the coffee straight, or with just a little milk, without wanting to spit it out. 

Friday, January 7, 2011


Video camera + Bunny rabbit= Hazel the Spy Rabbit investigating my parents' garage. And this totally counts as a Fibre Friday post because Hazel is a fibre source.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Dear Electric Blanket...

Dear Electric Blanket,

Although a friend of mine had been propounding your virtues for some time now, I must admit I was dubious. To me, you were the thick, strangely textured, stiff object I used to occasionally see at people's house. In my mind, you resembled not so much a blanket as a tarp. You were also a potentially frightening object, running the risk of overheating and shorting out. My dear Electric Blanket, I apologize for my prejudices. I had not realized how much you had changed.

First, I must praise your softness. Your micro-fibre covering makes you the softest blanket I own. The wires that allow you to become so gloriously warm are so thin I scarcely notice them. Then there is your warmth. Even on the coldest nights I can now sleep without socks on. With you on my bed, I fear neither cold nor shivers. In the cocoon of your warmth, I sleep comfortably and soundly. Oh, Electric Blanket, I am sorry I ever doubted you.

Even my fears of your danger have been assuaged, and I sleep securely knowing you have an automatic cut-off switch should you overheat, be left on too long, or short out. You have come far, Electric Blanket, and I am grateful.

And now, as I right this, I can feel the cold seeping into my feet. So I shall leave my computer 'till the morning, and retreat now to your warm embrace.

Forever yours,

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Even more important than goals and resolution, I think, are New Year Precedents. These are the things you do in first week of the New Year to set the tone for the rest of the year.

My Precedents so far:

1. Held a fun get together at my cleaned AND organized house New Year's Eve.

2. Hung out with my former college roommates on New Year's Day.

3. Spent Monday (last day before classes started) at the beach with my good friends here.

4. Bought a bike pump, lights, and rode my bike to school today! (Don't ask why I brought a bike and not a pump to school with me)

5. Made and ate a real breakfast (I know, this is important, but I tend to not do it)

6. Bought a coffee maker (Another New Year's Goal- learn to like coffee)

7. Contemplated going for a run- and then decided that a six mile bike ride was good enough (I will go running this week, though)

8. Finally let go of my dream of marrying David Tennant (but only because he got engaged)

9. Got up before 10, even though my first class wasn't until 3:35

10. And blogged!