Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Coming up for air...

Whew! Sorry for the unannounced and totally unplanned blogging hiatus. Things here have been busy, busy - I finish my second week of classes tomorrow and the Dutchman has been here since Monday (joy!). Starting tomorrow I will be on a blissful 4-day weekend with just us two (and a couple of social engagements mixed in). I forgot how busy teaching a full load can be! That and the new faculty receptions, dept. meetings, etc. are putting me on my ear.

So, nothing of substance to blog about now, but all is well and I hope it's well with all of you, too!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Fluffity Fluff Fluff...

Okay. Today I had my first real class and I must say that these kiddos warmed the cold, dark, cockles of my heart.

(Tangent: what the hell is a cockle? Is it some sort of mollusk? Do I remember a folk song about a chick who ended up dying and singing "Cockles and Mussels! Alive, alive, oh...." And do I want to have just claimed a memory of that song?...)

Anyhoo. They did very well today - there are many of them. It's up to 42 now and it's an awkwardly shaped classroom. But I think they were engaged and so I'm pleased.

BUT, even more important (than my career) - I've finally found some cute, dress-'em-up, dress-'em-down knit tops in nice colors and in a nice fit (i.e., it doesn't cut off the blood circulation to my appendages). These tops seem to be made for real people and not stick figure aliens with zero body fat (they know who they are...). And when I teach I can wear them with my black capri pants and cute sandals (with rhinestones on them for added edge!) - Joy! This is so much better than having a good class today. Really. All that comes and goes - it's ephemeral. But knit tops are here to STAY!

Who do I credit with this joyous discovery? New Kid! I read this post the other day and I suddenly remembered: Eddie Bauer is the only store on the planet I haven't visited in the last 4 days looking for hot weather teaching togs. For some reason I always associate their clothing with bark and plaid flannel. But this is completely not true! Thank you for reminding me!!! I bought this, and three of these, and this in blue, and this in pink.

Joy, joy, joy.....

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Help me spend my startup funds!

This might be more a question for the medievalists (both history and lit) out there, but I'm interested in Women's and Gender Studies and Renaissance stuff as well.

Here's the situation - for various reasons (including having already bought my computer and already applying for extra travel funding), even including the two conferences I'd like to attend this year, I'm looking at having a nice chunk of my start-up funds left at the end of this academic year (any research trip to the UK this summer would be part of next year's funds). And it's "use it or lose it," folks! This means I can buy books and lots of them - my microfilm stash is already pretty good on the stuff for my book. So, my question is, if you had an extra $1300, what seminal medieval (or W&G or EM) books would you get? It has to be work-related, of course, or I won't be re-imbursed. I've already got a list going (including *finally* getting Book Production and Publishing in Britain!), but many of those texts are pretty specific.

Anyway, I'm just curious about what you'd buy - including theory, criticism, and primary texts! Once I get close to May, I'll start trolling the publishers' websites to see what's what...

Ready, set, go!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Signs that I'm not quite ready to start the semester...

1) Last night at about 11:45 I realized that the syllabus I'd copied for today's class had pages numbers on it that were all wrong. I vehemently curse my syllabus gnomes (whose jobs are dangerously close to being outsourced) and dig in to make changes. Plan to go get another set of copies made this morning.

2) Stay up until 2:30-ish making notes for my intro blurb, puttering around the internet, etc.

3) Wake up at 8:30 this morning to get prepped, allowing plenty of time to get dressed and properly coiffed and get copies of syllabi made before my 12:30 class.

4) Realize at around 9:30 that the class I've been mentally preparing myself for meets on Tues and Thurs, not Monday. And I don't teach it until 2:00 this afternoon.

5) Sit and stare at the walls for ten minutes wondering if I'm going senile.

6) Go make scrambled eggs.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


My mother is loaning us a lot of money. A lot of money. She's doing this so that I can pay off the lion's share of my only credit card, which has a ridiculously high balance on it and a scandalous 17% interest rate (I've requested they lower it many times, but they ain't budging). I could have transferred part of it over to another lower interest card, but I just never have. So, within a couple of months, I can pay of the remaining balance and cut the card up into little pieces and burn it in battery acid. Mom's loan comes with 2 very cushy conditions: 1) the extremely low interest (6.5%) will not accrue until after the rest of the card balance is paid off, and 2) we don't have to start paying her back until we pay off the rest of the card balance.

Now, I'm not one to usually blog about financial matters (except to engage in general whining once in a while), but this debt has weighed heavily on me and my pocket book for years. Even making biggie-sized payments every month, with that interest rate I was barely eating into the principal. And I used this card to buy plane tickets, etc., so the balance has always just sat there. Anyway, it just feels so good to know I'll be out from underneath that particular thumb very soon. I'd much rather pay mom back than the credit card. She's very worried about being painted with the "money lender" brush (even though the whole thing was her idea) and keeps saying that she "doesn't want to make money off her children!" (neither a borrower nor a lender be, I guess) - we had to force her to give us the interest rate she did, otherwise it would have been psychotically low. We've worked out a payment schedule and how long it will take and how much interest she'll be making. She just keeps saying, "whatever you think is fair!"

I wish I could see the look on my credit card's face when I make a colossal payment next month, tell them to lower my credit limit AND demand that they lower my interest rate as well! The balance will be so low that I could easily move it to another card with a cheap intro interest rate if I wanted to.

Sorry to blog about vulgar financial things, but I'm overjoyed and want to give a shout out to Medieval Mom!

Friday, August 17, 2007

I need a little Yin with my Yang...

Furballs! Furballs! burning bright
On the sofa of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

I took this picture this evening during one of the 75 episodes of Law & Order I watched. I feel desperately in need of a little of this symmetry - my life feels a bit out of whack. I'm in complete denial about classes starting in a matter of days. Of writing paper abstracts; applying for travel grants; of writing the "article which will never die like some evil zombie from hell"...

I received the copyedited version of my forthcoming article today and there are many many annoying little and not so little things that need to change before it goes to press. And I can't read the editor's handwriting. And it's due back by the end of the month.

However, after a really balanced meal of Triscuits and tunafish salad, I feel ready to do a little blogging. All in all, things are fine with the new job - I really like my colleagues and I'm going to a little shindig at the home of a colleague tomorrow night.

Yesterday's ostensible all-day orientation was disappointing and I ended up playing hooky after the first hour and a half (Unlike JB, who's gone to all of hers like a good new prof!). There were barely any humanities people there at all - only one other hire in my department was there. Mostly sciences, social sciences, and various permutations of medicine and health. I sat at a table with 45 new sociologists who didn't even respond when I said hello. And on my other side were 4 new education profs. who all asked me if I had children. No, I said, my husband and I aren't even living in the same country at the moment. Looks of sad pity all around. And then they ignored me as well. I am not social (apparently) nor am I a child to be educated. Fine then, I thought. I'll eat my muffin and duck out during the break.

They passed a microphone around and I had to say where I was from, what I do, and what my hobbies are. Everyone said gardening, hiking, camping, yoga, aerobics, blah, blah...even finishing dissertations! I had no hobby to share, I realized. At least not one I wanted to be labeled with: "Isn't that the girl who eats hamburgers in her spare time?"..."Oh, that's the new medievalist who watches TV when she should be writing..." So, I said that I was commuting to see my hubbie, so actually traveling was my hobby at the moment! (*Dead silence. Sound of a cricket chirping in the corner. Not even a conspiratorial chuckle. Am I the only one??*) - it was like I told them I had an inoperable brain tumor! I mean, hell, I'm DOING it and I'm not as broken up about it as all that! Lighten up, people...

So, I pocketed another muffin and left. I have already introduced myself to the library services, etc. and I didn't want to do exercises about making up syllabi. So, I went by my department and ended up spending a lovely afternoon putting about and being visited by various new colleagues, etc. A much better orientation, actually!

Once the semester is in full swing, I'll feel a little more balanced, I know. My little posse of appointment gnomes keep filling up my schedule with various meetings and deadlines and I need to get crackin'!


Soon student blogging will commence!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Back to our Regularly Scheduled Blogging...

I had to type the word "regularly" 4 times because it looked so weird.

So, TD left today on a jet plane (a Canadair Regional Jet to be precise) and he's now happily munching a hotdog in the Detroit airport waiting for his connection. I was sad to see him leave, but it wasn't even remotely as bad as it was the first time. He'll be back in less than 2 weeks and will stay for 9 days.

In the meantime, my life is on fastforward - gone are the days of lounging around and pining away for my husband. It's now gearing up for teaching, meetings, grant proposals, conference proposals, faculty orientations, office hours, etc. I'm having difficulty keeping it all straight! I'm also trying to carve out some time to continue chipping away at that article. to make lists...

Monday, August 6, 2007


The Dutchman arrives in 6 hours!!!!!!!!

Update: My mother has been here since 5:38 pm and she's already driving me bat. shit. crazy.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Baby Steps...

The article inches slowly but ever closer to completion. I keep typing things in italics like "This sucks and needs to be rewritten" or "Do you really need this sentence?" But, I continue to pull at the plow.

I'm also beginning the reading for my classes, which start later this month (*gasp!* - so early!). Most of the first month or even two of this semester is stuff I've taught many times before (various medieval texts). But in one of the classes I'm beginning with a certain now canonical early feminist text and then using that as a segue into the medieval material. It's been years since I first read this canonical early 20c. text and I forgot how much I like it.

Had a lovely time with my aunt last night - she stayed until around midnight talking about all kinds of things. My uncle died a year ago and her only child lives far away across the country with his new family. She's been feeling very alone and it's so good to get together once a week or so - for both of us. When Medieval Mom comes for a visit this next week, we're going to go visit Medieval Aunt as well - even though she's my father's sister and they divorced in '83, my aunt used to live with my parents in the late 60s and they were very close. So, it will be a fun reunion.

TD also comes in two days for a visit - I'm completely overjoyed! Tonight, though, I go out with several colleagues to celebrate one of them reaching a big career publishing milestone. Fun! Busy, busy....

Friday, August 3, 2007

Friday Recipe Blogging - Pizza!

I've let this tradition slide over the past couple of months - chalk it up to the fact that it's summer and everything else is in re-runs, so why not my cooking? My aunt is coming over tonight for creamy mushroom risotto (the recipe for which I will blog next week - I was looking through my archives and can't find if I've ever given that recipe before...) - but today I'm giving you the recipe (such as it is - it's so simple) for what TD and I call "Special Pizza":

Special Pizza with Pears and Gorgonzola*
- One packaged pizza crust (I prefer the ones that are a little thinner - I steer clear of the Boboli thick crusts...)
- One large onion
- One pear (can be whatever kind you want)
- A box of blue cheese or gorgonzola crumbles
- A bag of finely shredded mozzarella
- One garlic clove
- A little olive oil

1. Prep the crust by brushing a little olive oil on it - these things turn out really nice if you have a pizza pan - a round pan with little holes in the bottom. If you don't have one, a cookie sheet works just as well...pre-heat the oven to whatever temp the pizza crust package says.
2. Peel and cut the garlic clove in half - rub the cut section all over the pizza crust.
3. Spread a layer of mozzarella cheese on the pizza crust - use a couple of cups.
4. Sprinkle a few crumbles of gorgonzola on the mozzarella - only a few!
5. Cut up the onion so that it's in small strips (rather than dicing it). Put it in a skillet and begin carmelizing it (I use butter and a teensy bit of olive oil so it doesn't scorch). You have to put the skillet on low heat to get the onions carmelized - it takes patience, but so worth it!
6. While the onions are on, cut the pear into thin slices lengthwise (from top to bottom).
7. After the onions are done, transfer them to a plate and, with a fork, put them on the pizza crust and cheese so that they are spread evenly.
8. With the pear, if it's pretty ripe and soft, forego this step. If the pear is still unripe, saute the slices in the skillet for a few minutes. They'll become a bit more translucent and soft.
9. Put the pears slices evenly on top of the onions - I make a circular pattern...
10. Sprinkle a few more crumbles of gorgonzola on the pears - with this cheese, you should put on however much you like - but because this is a mild-flavored pizza, too much gorgonzola can easily over-power the taste.
11. Cook that puppy and eat it - but really be careful not to over cook it!

*some of you might recognize this as similar to a pizza that California Pizza Kitchen makes - we are indeed guilty of theft! ;)

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Stop the Presses...A Medieval Literature Plea for Info...

As much as we hate to deviate from our normal routine here at Medieval Woman HQ (get up late, eat Frosted Mini-Wheats, drink 75 Coke Zeros, watch 27 episodes of Law & Order, back to bed...), it seems like I need to get my medieval wings out of mothballs once in a while and stretch them.

S'okay - isn't there a section in The Book of Margery Kempe where she imagines herself at the birth of Christ (or thereabouts) and sees herself helping Mary take care of the Baby-J? I could have swron that was part of her meditation at some point (surely something that made her weep with joy), but I can't remember where! HELP me, Obi-Wan Kenobi!