Our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic selfhood, whether or not it conforms to some image of who we ought to be.  
Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Holly and Ivy

This is my very first Christmas celebration on my blog.  Up to this point I've kinda stayed away from choosing a theme or pattern for this blog, but I think I will establish one tradition for this and future Christmases I celebrate here.  One of the most important parts of the holiday for our family are the seasonal books, for children and those for adults, that are brought out each year from their place in the attic.  These books make our holiday special in a way that cannot be easily defined.  They help frame our thoughts throughout the season and sometimes, as is the case with Dav Pilkey's Dragon's Merry Christmas, just make us laugh.  The first book I ever remember reading at Christmas is The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden.  Its my mother's favorite and always makes her cry (and me too I must admit).  [smile]  The book's now beginning to fall apart, but it remains a family favorite.  So I'd like to share with you a short excerpt from this lovely book as my gift to you on this special day.  As sort of a way of introduction, here's the quote from the back cover of the book.  "Here is a story about wishing... IVY is a little orphan who has no one to be with on Christmas Eve.  So she wishes very hard.  HOLLY is the doll left all alone in the toyshop on Christmas Eve.  So she wishes very hard too. What do they wish for? Will their wishes come true?"

  Soon the clocks strike twelve and it is Christmas.  
  Holly heard the bells and -what as this?  People were walking in the street- hurrying.  "Hsst!  T-whoo!" said Abracadabra [a toy owl also left behind on Christmas eve] at them as they passed, but they took no notice.  
  "Then... it has started,"  said Holly.  
  "What has started?" said Abracadabra.
  "It," said Holly.  She could not explain better than that for she did not know yet what "it" meant- this was, after all, her first Christmas- but the bells grew louder and more and more people passed.  Then, it may have beenthe pin of Holly's price ticket, or a spine of tinsel come loose from the shelf, but Holly felt a tiny pricking as sharpe as a prickly on a holly leaf.  "Wish," said the prickle. "Wish."
  "But- the shop is closed," said Holly.  "The children are in bed.  Abracadabra says I must go into storage"  The prickle interrupted.  "Wish!" It went on till Holly wished. 

  Ivy thought the bells woke her or perhaps the passing feet, but then why did she fell something sharp like a thistle or a hard straw in one of the sacks?  She sat up, but she was half asleep and she thought the feet were the St. Agnes's children marching down to breakfast and the bells were the breakfast bell. Then she saw she was still in the shed, though it was filled with a new light, a strange silver light. "Moonlight?" asked Ivy and rubbed her eyes.  She was warm and comfortable n the sacks under the green coat- though there were great white patches on it from the flour- too warm and comfortable to move, and she lay down, but again she felt that thistle or sharp straw.  The light seemed to be calling her, the bells, the hurrying feet; the prickle seemed to tell her to get up.  
  Ivy put on her coat and went out. 
  Outside in the passage the footsteps sounded so loud that she guessed it was the policeman.  She waited until they had passed before she dared come out.  
  In the street the moonlight was so bright that once again Ivy thought it was morning and she was in St. Agnes's and the bells were the breakfast bell.  "Only... there are so many of them," said sleepy Ivy.
  She walked a few steps to the toyshop. She did not know how it came to be there and she thought she was in here St. Agnes's bedroom and it was filled with toys.  Then:  "Not toys," said Ivy, "a toy," and she was wide awake.  She did not even see Abracadabra glaring at her with his green eyes; she looked straight at Holly.  
  She saw Holly's dress and socks and shoes.  She is red and green too, thought Ivy.  She saw Holly's hair, brown eyes, little teeth, and beautiful joints.  They were just what Ivy liked, and, "My Christmas doll!" said Ivy.  

  Holly saw Ivy's face pressed against the window as she had seen so many children's faces that day, but, "This one is different," said Holly.  
  Ivy's hands in their woolen gloves held to the ledge where it said, BLOSSOM, HIGH-CLASS TOYS AND GAMES.  Holly looked at Ivy's hands.  Soon they will be holding me, thought Holly.  Ivy's coat even in the moonlight was as beautiful a green as Holly's dress was a beautiful red, so that they seemed to match, and, "My Christmas girl!" said Holly.   
Many blessings to you and yours.  Merry Christmas!
Just, Margaret

Wednesday, December 24, 2008



Its a family tradition to wake up on Christmas Eve and sneak up on the rest of the family to whisper or shout the above statement in their ear.  I think it began with my dad's family and I don't think its just some crazy "Bagwell" thing... let me know if your family plays this game too.  I remember taking part well forever.  Its not Christmas without the Christmas Eve Gift.  The consequence for hearing Christmas Eve Gift prior to uttering the words yourself is that you must give a small gift to that person.  Usually we just give each other a candy bar, ect.  This year for the first time ever I hope everyone says it to me first... I've got these great chocolate bars from England for their gifts.  It will be hard to resist the urge to say those three little words though... so far I've just been hiding out in my room.  [smile]

Just, Margaret

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Nine Ladies Dancing

The surprise worked.  In fact I think Blair was actually stunned, she just stood there for a minute with this dumbstruck look on her face.  I'm so glad I went early... I pulled off a surprise, got to see an old friend, spend a few extra hours with The Nine, and *drum roll please* got to eat in my favorite place in LaGrange- Peking.  [yummy] Peking is our college place... feels like it never changes, in a good way.    

Later Friday night and then Saturday morning the rest of the girls began to arrive.  Everyone was able to come this time.  And to quote Megs, "this was the best gathering since college we've had yet!"  Full disclosure:  She says that every time we get together.  But this time I kinda think she might have been right.  We ate great food (really phenomenal- I'll work on posting some of the recipes later), enjoyed fellowship time, and exchanged thoughtful ornaments in three beautiful homes (Megs, Katie, and Noelle all have homes within a block of each other- perfect for our progressive dinner).  The ornament exchange was so fun and its strange how even when we draw names the right person always seems to receive the right ornament.  Before the meal, some of us got a chance to walk around our college campus again... it's only about a mile from "the Nine compound." [smile]  We even happened to run into our freshmen year dorm RD, Ms. Kirby, who let us revisit our old haunts.  All around the best day and a half I've had in a long time.  It sounds so corny, but sometime you really do need to go "where everybody knows your name."  On the way back home Saturday night I was listening to a new mix tape Blair had given each of us and when this song "You don't know me at all" started to play I realized that if you count "The Nine" as one entity I can count on two hands the number of people who actually really know me.  And I'm so grateful for the time I can spend with them.    

Thanks to the appendages for taking photos... yes we call husbands of the Nine "the appendages."  Now that I think about it we kinda have our own language.  Maybe we should publish a dictionary. [smile]

If you want to get some perspective on the weekend or just see more photos, check out these other blog posts:  Blair (December 2oth and 21st) and Katie.

Just, Margaret

Friday, December 19, 2008


I scheduled this post earlier today so I wouldn't blow the surprise.  Decided to head over to LaGrange early for an extra night in town with my best friends, aka The Nine.  Instead of emailing or phoning (I actually don't have a phone on this side of the Atlantic any more anyway) I decided to simply show up at our favorite place.  Picture their surprised faces and all the awesome hugs exchanged.  Oh I can't wait. [smile]  Let you know how the reunion goes at the first of next week when I will hopefully have at least one new group photo to share.  

Just, Margaret 

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


It is 6AM in Georgia and I'm awake... wide-no-going-back-to-sleep-right-now awake.  Serves me right I guess for taking naps yesterday and in general not doing anything except relaxing.  [smile]  Since I'm awake and the rest of the house is still cloaked in that deep total darkness that comes just before morning is about to break, I decided what better thing to do than write.  Plus I thought of a really fun thing to share... you may remember mid-term I added a slide show application to the side of my blog titled "Found Items-Coming Soon."  Well before I could take the photos and load them up ex cetera, my life became super busy.  Now my life isn't super busy, so I'll share about what was (possibly is) going to occupy that space.  

I've discovered since entering into this archaeology program that I actually have always thought and acted in some ways like an archaeologists.  I've always loved the idea that objects and people have stories to tell and I've always really enjoyed reading a good mystery novel and drum roll please I've always loved collecting odd bits, trinkets, treasures.  So it just sorta happened automatically that while I was on all those field trips this term I accumulated a few whatnots.  Nothing larger than what I could put in my pocket and all found not bought and of course nothing with archaeological value.  When I was packing up for Christmas I decided to take my "treasures" along, I mean, what better way to share about all I've done over the last couple of months.   There is a stone from the beach where the US Army trained for D-Day, the first piece of flint that I actually realized was flint, the contents of my very first Christmas cracker (okay not from an archaeological expedition I know, 
but not something I wanted to forget), the spout of a turn of the century ginger beer bottle.  So maybe someday I'll post the photos from my collection, for now I'll leave you with a photo from my latest field trip to Glastonbury.  

Just, Margaret   

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My day yesterday

21 hours of travel time
2 pieces of Two Guys and a Pie pizza
Bubble bath
*with several bazillion hugs in between.
 And my first day home...  I was up at reasonable time in this time zone 8AM.  Then homemade pancakes for breakfast and a nap... so far just one nap today, but I'm not making any promises.  Now relaxing on the couch with the dog and catching up on some US TV.  To be honest, I don't think I was missing much.  Did I seriously see an advert for a new reality show called "Momma's Boys"? [smile]

Anyway I am alive and well after my trip.  Just, Margaret

Monday, December 15, 2008

I'll be home for Christmas!

After a 3 hour 40 minute bus ride, waiting in the airport for 2ish hours, a 9 hour flight, hopefully just about 45 minutes through customs and baggage claim, then a 2 1/2 hour ride on Groom, I will officially be home.  

Just, Margaret

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bring a torch, Jeanette Isabella.

Its Advent.  have I mentioned this earlier?  I'm not sure.  Anyway I love Advent.  Really its got to be my favorite part of the Christmas season.  The ritual associated with Advent is lighting candles... one each Sunday until Christmas Eve when we light the center candle symbolizing the birth of Christ.  Well that's just a little Advent primer.  Actually the reason for this post is to share you a poem from a Christmas card I received in the mail from my Grammy and Granddaddy today about lighting candles.  It inspired me.  Consider it a Advent meditation.

I will light candles this Christmas.  
Candles of joy, despite all sadness. 
Candles of hope where despair keeps watch. 
Candles of courage for fears ever present. 
Candles of peace for tempest-tossed days. 
Candles of grace to ease heavy burdens. 
Candles of love to inspire all my living. 
Candles that will burn all the year long. 
- Howard Thurman  

Just, Margaret

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Pass the parcel

A two post day is kinda like an eclipse, only happening when you least expect it... I can't believe it either, but here I am again.  [smile]  

Just finished up a Christmas party with the rest of my international housemates.  It was a traditional English Christmas with crackers, puddings, and Pass the Parcel.  Don't know what it is?  Well I didn't either.  Its a game kinda like musical chairs with a little trivia and dum, dum, daaaaa truth or dare (mostly dare).  Basically a parcel is wrapped many times with layers with gifts and/or forfeits.  The parcel is then passed musical chairs style and whoever is last holding the gift must unwrap a new layer, which can be really fun assuming you aren't the person unwrapping the parcel.  I was stuck with the parcel in one of the first rounds and had to recite a poem or rhyme and the tasks got increasingly more difficult to complete... naming all the people in the room (there were about 30), putting a person's arm in a sling, doing a belly dance, ect. Well you get the picture.  A fun game, but also kinda torturous.  I think I will submit my family to it when I get home... or maybe "The Nine".  [maniacal laughter of the muw haha variety] At least next time if I wrap the gift I'll know what tasks are involved, plus someone has to control the music.  [smile] 

Just, Margaret

P.S. Packing got put off in favor of the party, but I have left my room in such a state that I cannot physically go to bed until I have finished.  


I've been packing all day and now I'm almost done... probably with way to much clothes and not enough of who knows what, but I am almost done.  Thank goodness.  I really hate packing.  It is just such a process and it seems like I always think it out way too much... thanks to my dad's genes I'm sure. [smile]  I've been trying to balance out the monotony with a Grey's Anatomy marathon.  It's the one show I decided to keep up with while abroad so I have like 9 episodes in my iTunes folder with which to indulge.  The one good thing about packing today is that it means I'll have all of tomorrow to enjoy a early afternoon party and a Salvation Army concert downtown.  Mostly it means no stress.  Well almost, I will admit that I'm always a little anxious about getting to the airport on time and remembering all my documents, although I have already checked my luggage several times for my visa/passport. [smile]  Best get back to work, I'm so close I might as well finish up.  

Just, Margaret

Friday, December 12, 2008

So English!

Yesterday my final course event for the session was a re-scheduled reading group.  Sitting upstairs in our old building and talking about archaeology was so awesome.  It was one of those moments when I had a self-realization about what an amazing experience I'm getting to have.  Whether I decide to continue with archaeological study and pursue that type of career in several years or not, this whole year abroad will be totally worth it for moments like that.  I titled this post "So English"- maybe it wasn't really an authentic English moment, maybe it could have happened just as easily at a grad school in the US, but for me it fulfilled one of those things on my "checklist" of experiences to have this year.  It was also a particularly great way to end the term.  We've (I mean me and the rest of the HistArchs) have gotten to a point where we do understand things to a certain extent that allows us to enter in some intelligent discussion and even a little debate.  My only regret is that I didn't have a chance to process some of this prior to turning in my last essay.  Oh well, this whole year is about learning not knowing and learning is a process, not something that can happen overnight.  

Yesterday night however did end in a very "English" way in the pub, again with other archaeology students as the supporting cast and archaeology the subject of choice, along with an interesting debate about English vs. American beer and lager.  [smile]  Although I know I really need this break at Christmas to step back and prepare myself emotionally, mentally, and physically (my diet over the last few weeks has been super crazy) for the next 9 months of work, I'll kinda hate to say goodbye even for a little while.  Its odd this Trans-Atlantic yearning.  That's all for now... on the to-do list for the day:  laundry, returning books, beginning to pack, ect. 

Just, Margaret  

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Final Countdown

I turned in my last course assignment in this morning after a 12 hour day staring at a computer screen and then deciding at the last minute (literally an hour before it was due) to change the title.  I totally made it to the department building in half the time.  [smile]  Anyway, I'm still trying to process how I feel about being finished with my first semester or session as they call them across the pond.  I think it may take a few more days before I can really articulate it all, but I feel pretty good.  If I remember correctly I titled my very first post about the department was titled "What is Archaeology?"  Now I feel like I have a better idea... "archaeology is what archaeologists do."  Okay I have to admit that I owe this definition to David Clark and I guess I must also apologize for it is seems a bit vague.  But after three months of studying, it is really the best definition.  I've met so many different people (some who research Egyptology, others who work in heritage management, a few who consider archaeology a science, ect) who call themselves archaeologists and I've read so many theories that link archaeology with multiple disciplines (history, art history, anthropology, sociology, material studies).  I've decided archaeology is more of a state of mind than anything else... choosing to look at the material evidence and seeing where that leads.

Anyway these are just some preliminary thoughts and I'm sure more will come as I have all of Christmas Break to think about it.  But you know what finishing my last essay means... its almost time to fly home for the holidays!  So here is the final countdown:
2 more days of class
4 more days until I'm back in Georgia
Happy Christmas and Cheers!
Just, Margaret

Monday, December 8, 2008

Graduate Students Anonymous

Over the past few weeks I've had the same conversation with friends in graduate school in the states and fellow classmates.  It usually starts with some offhand remark about an upcoming deadline.  What ensues is what can only be called a "therapy session"?  Life as a grad student is hard... not the least because you think about it constantly.  In fact a friend of mine in my MA said just that.  We were talking about how easy our working experience was prior to entering this program.  "You can leave work at the end of the day and choose to not think about it again until its time to go back to the office, but I feel guilty anytime I spend time away from my course work.  I feel like I should be thinking about it 24/7."  For proof (oh my gosh... I'm totally lapsing into paper mode already) I found this article about how the subject of graduate studies is never one as yet relatively excluded from popular fiction.  I'll add the reference at the end of this post in case any of you out their want to read more.  Consider it an appendix, acknowledgement, or bibliography. [smile]

My proposal is to start Graduate Students Anonymous.  I mean we kinda do it already, but wouldn't it be fun to actually have a fun name for the support we provide each other.  Venting and forgiving oneself for not thinking about graduate studies all day is the only cure what ails us.  Join the movement.  

Hi.  My name is Margaret and I'm a graduate student!

Just, Margaret

Newman, Kathy M.  Poor, Hungry, and Desperate?  Or Privileged, Histrionic, and Demanding?  In Search of the True Meaning of "Ph.D." from Social Text (Winter 1996) pp. 97-131.  Accessible on JStore.  

Saturday, December 6, 2008

More Christmas Songs

Signs of Christmas are everywhere.  Evergreen trees are for sale on almost every corner.  Window displays and lights decorate the village.  And today I even saw someone selling roasted chestnuts (I didn't realize they actually did that!)  Today we got an early Christmas gift- its sunny!  I can't believe it, the last few days have been so dreary.  I've tried to stay out in it as long as I can... in an attempt to recharge my vitamin D deficiency.  [smile]  

I received an email from my dad today with the suggestion of another Christmas song to share.  Its another one from that 80s Amy Grant Christmas film we used to watch... so pardon the crazy Christmas sweaters/jumpers.  This time Amy Grant is joined by Art Garfunkel.  

Thanks Dad for the contribution.  Happy Christmas to All!  Now back to work.  
Just, Margaret  

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Countdown Update

This is bound to be a pretty boring post I'm sure, but all my creative juices these days are directed toward classwork, so please forgive.  I basically wanted to update you all on the major progress that I've made since Tuesday night.  

6 more school days
10 more days till I head home
1 paper to go
Today I gave my first two MA presentations and I have to say that I feel like it went wonderfully.  One was all about the ethics involved in archaeologists role as historic preservationists and the other explored the materiality of a quilt made by my great grandmother, Ma Key (see photo below courtesy of 2nd cousin (once removed?) William Adams).  

Tonight to celebrate I'm attending my first Christmas party of the season with the Bristol Rotary club.  Tomorrow back to work, but for now we celebrate!

Just, Margaret

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I am totally counting down!

I feel like I've been running a marathon over the last three months and I'm beginning to see the finish line.  So I know that I still have 8 days left in my term and 14 days until I get on a plane to fly back to Georgia for Christmas but I am totally counting down already.  I need a break and it is so close I can taste the sweet potato casserole and Grammy's dressing; hear my dad and Marty playing their guitars for our church Advent celebration; feel the first hugs from my family in the airport and Tootie's kisses when I enter the house; and smell the Christmas tree and apple cider.  I can't wait! 

Just, Margaret
8 more days of class
14 more days until I board the plane
2 more presentations and 1 more paper to write   

Saturday, November 29, 2008

City sidewalks...

I love listening to Christmas music.  When I was a child our family tradition was to listen to our first Christmas tapes (yes I mean cassette tapes I am a child of the '80s) on our drive back home from Thanksgiving with my grandparents.  It was a rule:  No Christmas songs until after Thanksgiving.  I have to confess that over the last few years of living on my own I've broke the tradition a bit.  Actually I've been listening to Christmas music for about a month now.  Not because I want to hurry on the Christmas season or rush past the goodness of Thanksgiving, but because I like the music.  It just puts me a good mood.  

Last year I got James Taylor's new Christmas album and all the tracks quickly became some of my new favorites.  I have several songs that I like, but the one I want to share is "The River."  It was new to me, but I think the song has actually been around for a while.  Its not what I would call a real Christmas themed song.  Its more of a song about winter and actually the lyrics are a little depressing now that I look over them, but something about it resonates.  The description of winter reminds me of Georgia.  Since its lyrics are so sad I'll add another song with a bit more Christmas spirit for good cheer.  Okay this isn't what I'd call my favorite Christmas song of all time by any means, but its from this video tape my sisters and I used to watch every year and for that reason I love it.  As I remember, Rachel especially insisted we watch it every year.  Warning:  What you are about to watch is very '80s with puff bangs and all.   

Sorry about the links, I was having issues with posting the videos.  

Just, Margaret

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Around the table

Today is Thanksgiving in the US and I'm here in the UK missing it.  Thanksgiving is such a special day and I've tried to explain it more times than I can count to my international friends, but each explanation seems to come up wanting.  Thanksgiving is a day when we as a nation give thanks for our birth, survival skills, ect., but that's just part of it.  And really I have to say its a very small part of my family's celebrations.  I do remember as a little girl dressing up as a pilgrim or Native American (although at the time we still used the term indian) at school complete with the pilgrim bonnet or indian vest homemade from a paper grocery sack and either a wide brim collar or feather in my hair, but it has been a really long time since I've actually thought about Thanksgiving in those terms.  

As I contemplate Thanksgiving today, I envision a large table with my family seated around it smiling in the glow of having eaten their fill (and some overfill) of the bounteous feast prepared by the hands of my grandmothers, mother, aunts, along with help from a man or two I'm sure.  Now as they sit and think about the day one of my grandparents is sure to initiate the long held tradition of speaking our gratefulness aloud.  Each member of the family is ushered to say what they are most thankful for this day.  Much thanks will be spoken for the meal and the hands that have prepared it.  Others will remark about the people in attendance and I'm sure my Grammy or Mom will say something about the family who could not be gathered with them this year.  And to close a reading from the Bible or poem chosen by one of our many United Methodist pastors in attendance and read by one of the now grown-up grandchildren, then a prayer, and perhaps even a hymn.  

Then the meal will end and many hands will make light work of all the straightening up the kitchen and eating areas.  Leftovers will be put away waiting to brought out later that evening and the day after for more repast.  And it may seem like the end of a holiday, but it always seems to feel like the beginning.  Its a lovely holiday and a tradition I intend to keep even while celebrating on this side of the pond.  So I've asked members of my friends and family to join in around the table early this year to share what they are grateful for so that I can now share it with you.  

Liz, a fellow Young Adult Missionary serving in Hong Kong
-Communication.  Being so far from my family, my boyfriend and other loved ones, I have realized how hard we have to work at communication.  It is a gift that should never be overlooked.  
-Solidarity.  It sounds funny, but being in an international community, every time we find something that we connect over, it brings our worlds a little closer. When they miss their families, I understand the pain of separation.  When I'm frustrated with a language I can't grasp, they can tell their own stories of language mishaps.  Laughter, tears, dreams, hopes- they are all the same no matter where you are from.  And that is comforting.  
-Every year I celebrated Thanksgiving in the States, we always say grace over the food- reminding us to be thankful not just for abundance, but for the ability to acquire food, to prepare it to our liking, ect.  Last year, I was humbled with a single meal, nothing related to traditional holiday foods (think tofu and rice), and solitude.  And it made me think of all those who work hard everyday to harvest the rice, to prepare the tofu, to raise the chickens, grown the vegetables... their hard work is to our benefit.  And for some reason, last year it hit home even more that my food comes from the hands of individuals.  To be thankful for their hard work and dedication to cultivating food. 

Barbara, family friend
-the chance to start over every day!
-that the Lord is my Shepherd!

Sally, family friend (claim to fame:  being my dad's first babysitter) and fellow LaGrange College Alum
-The presidential election of Barack Obama which few of us could have dreamed of back in the 60s. 
-Knowing your [mine] family and learning more all the time about being Christian from them since 1957.
-Being married to Albert for 47+ years and sharing in ministry with him across the conference and general church.  
-Our son Dennis, his wife Kim, and their three children. 
-LaGrange College and what it has meant to me for more than 50 years.  
-Good friends across the entire world.  
-Opportunities to travel.  
-Living in a country where I can worship as I wish and come and go at will.  
-Having enough money to live comfortable and being able to share with those less well off.  
-Health and the opportunity to grow old.

Uncle Tim, my dad's brother and one of the many ministers in our family (this is a selection from his weekly email newsletter to his church congregation)
-The grace of God that is beyond all logic and understanding.  It is that grace which primarily defines my life.  The most important core value for me is to figure out creative ways of sharing grace. 
-The joy of reading a good book.
-The profound wisdom of children.

-I'm thankful that my number one grandchild is getting a chance to fulfill her childhood dream of studying archaeology at Bristol University no less.  
-I'm thankful that we have elected a president who believes that we can be one and is concerned about all people.  

-I am thankful that I was born into a Christian home.  
-I am thankful that God provided my Margaret [i.e. Grammy] at just the right time.  
-I am thankful that God has provided me with the resources to do some giving to others.  
-I am thankful for new beginnings. 
-I am thankful for our seven grandchildren.  

-Always thankful for my family.  
-For good food, pumpkin pies and good soup and peanut M&Ms (you would think that after all these years I would get tired of them, but I don't), dark chocolate, and coffee.  
-For good music, like James Taylor.  
-For my guitar.  I enjoy making music.  
-For a yard to work in.  

This year I have been especially reminded of my wonderful heritage and for this I am very thankful.  Through my family and Bill's family we have parents very committed to marriage and family life and the Christian faith.  I am so grateful for the long life and good health of Elick and Margaret, my parents, (Grammy and Granddaddy) and John and Bertha Nell, Bill's parents (Mom and Pop).  After helping to clean out the John and Bertha Nell's household as they moved to Macon, I was reminded of many years even before our parents' generation of the love and gracefulness of faithful life.  For those beautiful gifts in my life, I am truly thankful.  

The Nine, my best friends
-Reconnecting with old friends.  (Meghan)
-I'm thankful for blogs.  They are another wonderful way to keep in touch.  I like writing mine and reading others.  I makes me feel connected. (Katie)
-Our house:  I remember when Meghan got her house.  Chuck and I walked by it one day, and I remember us saying how much we would like to have a DASH house one day.  I honestly never thought it would happen.  (Noelle)
-The opportunities I have to work to really get to know my kids and what they struggle with. (Courtney)
-The internet! How many times have we said that in the last year?  Yes it is easy, but it allows us to be in relationship.  I was sitting in class the other day and we didn't have an opener that week (something to center our thoughts).  The discussion leader told us about an exercise that AA and other recovery groups use.  She asked us, "Do any of y'all write grateful lists?"  (They ask recovering individuals to remember life is more than addition.)  I perked up in my chair and slowly raised my hand.  "Each week," I responded.  The class looked at me with amazement.  I smiled and explained our weekly routine.  It happens because of the great invention that is the internet! (Blair)
-Charlie Brown- my fave four legged friend. (Jane-Marie)
-Being able to do the Turkey run on Thanksgiving morning with my sister, mom, matt's mom and dad and matt!!!  It is going to be so much fun... it is a 5K downtown. (Laura)
-For friends who appreciate my appreciation of cadavers..... of rocks in our heads..... and of other such 'weird' things.  (Amber, med student)

And me... what am I grateful for?  The above individuals and the revelations that their demonstrations of thankfulness bring to my faith journey.  Thank you all for participating.  Happy Thanksgiving!
Just, Margaret

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Love/Hate... Love

So the above title really sums up how I've felt this week about my MA program.  I've been attempting for the last two weeks to conquer my massive writer's block with little to no avail and I was beginning to question again what I'm doing here.  Luckily, I guess, my lecture today again put me back on track.  It was all about heritage management.  I know it sounds really dry, but I left super inspired and remembering again why I want to do all this.  [smile]  I'm not going to waste this grad school high so I'll make this a short post and get back to work.  

Just, Margaret

Saturday, November 22, 2008

My Walk Home

Since I had my camera with me on the way back from the Uni on Wednesday I decided it was a great time to take some photos of what I see everyday on my walk home.  This starts in a park that I kinda consider to be the start of my neighborhood and ends with a view of my student house.  A lot of the shops in between are left out because there was a delivery truck in the way, but I'll make sure to take another photo or two sometime soon to post.  Hope you enjoy the tour.  

Just, Margaret

Friday, November 21, 2008

Brunel's Bristol

So if you're British you probably have an idea of who Isambard Kingdom Brunel is, but if you are an American like me you have probably never heard of this person, who although not British voted the 2nd "Greatest Britain" of all time.  Brunel was a visionary nineteenth century engineer.  A resident of Bristol for part of his life, he totally shaped the landscape of the city.  So Wednesday I went on a tour with my class of the landscape he created.  We began at the Clifton Suspension Bridge, which was just a five minute walk from my student house.  (I have to say that I hadn't been there before at least not walking... I just didn't realize how close it was.  Now that I do I totally plan on taking at least one photograph of it each month.  Above Clifton Gorge, it is such a beautiful landmark.  And I live here.  Wow.  

The next part of the journey was taken as a ferry tour of the Bristol City docks, part of which were engineered by Brunel using hydraulic power.  The photo below is of the S.S. Great Britain, a ship Brunel designed and oversaw the building in a dry dock in Bristol.  It actually sunk in New Zealand, I think, and then was raised and restored in the original dry dock where it was originally built.  Now its just a tourist attraction.   The afternoon lecture was spent in the University archives looking at Brunel's plans, diaries, calculation books, ect.  

I ended my day with an evening of short films with the Bristol Rotary Club.  Oddly enough the films shown were originally created to attract shipping companies and tourists to Bristol in the 1950s and 1960s.  Actually really rare pieces of history... and really fun to watch.  On the way home, my Rotary host for the evening, David, drove me by the Clifton Suspension Bridge so I could see it all lit up.  (I'm so sorry I didn't have my camera with me because the view was breathtaking.  I'll have to venture out with some friends to get the photo some day soon.)  It was so nice to get such a full history of Bristol all in one day.  

Just, Margaret  

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Georgia On My Mind

So the last couple of days have had me thinking of home and Georgia quite a bit... at the beginning of the week I received a pound cake, yes a homemade pound cake, in the mail from my Grammy.  I literally could not believe it, but leave it to my grandmother to defy the postal service.  I mean I thought it was awesome when I received pecan pies in the mail when I was living in North Dakota, but I never expected to receive a cake in the mail.  And of course it still tastes amazing!  I shared it with some of my housemates and I think I've convinced them all that they need to visit Georgia if only to get another piece of pound cake from my Grammy.  (I will say in addition to care packages of grandparent love, I also had the treat on Monday night of receiving a lovely Skype call from Mom and Pop.  So much fun to speak and see them at the same time.)  It has turned into a week of care packages... yesterday I received one from my friends in Louisiana.  I was almost in tears while I read Kayla's letter begging me to come back.  And the Twizlers were a special treat as I've not been able to find them in the UK yet.  I also have to say a thanks to my faithful blog readers in Louisana... I'm so glad to know that you guys are following along on all my adventures.  It really makes me feel close to you.  

Then this morning I received an emails from Blair and Megs about a recent post on Blair's blog Curbside Conference.  It was all about my friends (the girls, The Nine, ect.  I've talk about them at least once before).  Lovely post and the best part is that the sentiments could have been written by any of us although I have to give Blair props for her eloquence.  I especially loved how she wrote about "living in overlapping forms"- thats exactly how it feels.  And the post that inspired her by Sara brought up such great memories of college.  After checking my email and feeling so close to my fellow alumni, I noticed that the predicted temperature here and in Warner Robins, where my parents are was exactly the same.  So as I walked to class, I imagined for a bit that I was walking through Georgia.  It is so nice to connect in small ways with home.  Especially since Thanksgiving is coming up so soon.  

Anyway, there are so much about my archaeological adventures yesterday that I want to share, but as my photos aren't loaded on my computer yet that will have to wait for tomorrow.  

Just, Margaret

Monday, November 17, 2008

Bath and Jane Austen

Saturday my Rotary counselor, Pat, and I went on a day trip to Bath.  I have to say that after having seen this perfectly lovely city I feel so lucky to just be a bus ride or train trip away.  [smile] Pat and I had a walk-about the city just to kinda orient me to the must-see tourist stops and the little shops she's found on all her trips there.  Although I found Bath to be absolutely beautiful in its autumnal finery, I have been assured that this is Bath at its worse and that I must see it decked out for Christmas and then in the Spring when all the gardens are in bloom.  I have to say I don't have any problem thinking about "having" to go back to Bath more than once while I'm in this country.  "If I must, I must." [smile]  Saturday we visited the Royal Crescent, walked through the Pump Room (and tasted the water I might add), and sought refreshments at Sally Lunn's House, known particularly for Sally Lunn buns that are absolutely delicious! 

Of course walking through Bath I found myself envisioning the characters of Jane Austen's novels.  Think Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth in Persuasion, so far my favorite, I think.  Bath is definitely the perfect setting to rekindle lost love.  Well this morning I finished reading Emma.  Although I knew how it would end I couldn't bear to put it down, but I could imagine letting the story end either.  If you haven't ever read it you should.  There were points when I felt so frustrated by the silly heroine and others when I found myself laughing aloud.  "Miss Bates" is a character of comic genius.  

Just, Margaret

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I can't believe I took these.

Wednesday we went on another archaeological exploration.  This time to the mouth of the Severn River. A harbor near Bristol... actually I was under the impression that it was about 7 miles away, but it took about an hour to get there.  Go figure. [Smile]  The whole day was fun.  Just nice to be out of the classroom and away from reading and writing for a while.  The end of the adventure found us on the opposite side of the River from where we started on a sandbar at low tide.  The midgets were horrible and by that time I was beginning to get a little tired of wandering around from place to place looking at decaying boats.  Not that I don't get their historical significance and I agree that they should be given English Heritage preservation rights (which they currently don't have... any English who would like to help raise awareness for this site, click here to view the site and then join the petition by writing English Heritage and asking that their historical significance be recognized), but there is a reason I'm not getting an MA in Maritime Archaeology.  I have to say though that the sunset and these photos would have been worth looking at decaying boats for another couple of hours.  I don't mean to brag, but I think these are awesome.

Just, Margaret 

I finally stopped...

So I've been walking past a poster of Obama for about a month. I have to admit that I found it rather odd that this campaign poster would be displayed so randomly on the side of building on a side street in Bristol.  I mean I knew that the world was watching the election, but seeing Obama all over the news was somehow different than just having this poster show up on my walk to school.  I'd thought about stopping and speaking to the shop keepers of the computer supply store that the ad space so obviously belongs too for sometime, but just haven't gotten a chance... I've either been in a hurry or the shop is closed or too busy.  So today when I noticed that the store was still open and relatively empty I popped in my head to say hello and figure out the story behind the poster.  (A story behind the poster... I'm totally channeling my materiality course.  Everything is material culture just waiting to be studied.)  

Upon entering the store, I was really surprised to find the older man who I assumed was the owner and an US citizen had an accent.  He was Polish and wasn't the owner at all.  And when I bombarded him with my gratitude for having the poster displayed of our future president, showing my solidarity with the campaign pin on my book bag, he told me the owner was also really excited as he was a citizen of Florida.  So I thought I would just say thanks and leave, but then the guy asked me "what I liked about Obama?"  I guess I shouldn't have been as surprised as I was... I mean I did walk into the store and start the conversation.  Anyway for like two seconds I had to pause and think about how to express why I was so excited about the advent of this new period in my country's history to actually walk into that store and inquire about a poster.  It was fun to have the unexpected opportunity for this cultural exchange.  I got a chance to hear a Polish point of view of our election and the results.  All because of that poster.  

Lesson learned:  don't let the opportunity to connect over material culture pass you by.

Just beginning to think and act like a material cultural archaeologist, Margaret

Monday, November 10, 2008

Promised photos

Have you ever turned on the shuffle on your MP3 player, iPod, iTunes, ect. and the exact song you needed to hear but didn't know it began to play.  I was getting ready to write about how these photos are the best ones I've shared on this blog so far and was kinda feeling down about it and then what begins to play through my headphones but the sweet sounds of Nancy Griffith's "This Old Town."  The song has these crazy lyrics about a town "that should have burned down" after all these things that happened there, but "it still stands."  I don't really know why it connected with me tonight, but it totally put me in the best mood.  So glad that I accidentally turned my iTunes on... now I'm jamming out to Indigo Girls.  I'm listening by genre.  Some James Taylor and Kathy Mattea is sure to turn up shortly.  You can blame my obsession on folk rock music on my parents, but mostly my dad. [smile]  I miss them.  I consciously try to keep this blog upbeat, not that I'm really depressed or anything (although we have had the awful British half rain weather pattern today), but I try to stay positive on my blog because it helps put my mind in the right frame.  Ah... Derek Webb, "Love is Not Against the Law."  Lovely.  Anyway I don't think missing my family really qualifies as a sign of not enjoying my UK life.  So I miss them... and thats okay.  Finally some James Taylor from his new album Covers.   

Okay on to a brief explanation of my photos:  The first three are from my service night with the Bristol Rotary Club.  (As a side note I did give my first Rotary presentation today to the Bristol Rotary Club and it went great!  Wahoo!)  So on the service night we visited the Water Survival Box Depot belonging to the Chichester Rotary Club and got to put together several boxes... actually 26 total.  It was so nice to meet some more Rotary folks and hang out with some of my club members in a more relaxed setting.  Also totally reminded me of my time in Louisiana packing health kits with my Grammy, Grandaddy, Mom and Pop.  More Nancy Griffith, "From Clare to Here."  I'm so loving this impromptu mix.  The service project was exactly what I needed Thursday night.

Okay so these are the best photos I have of Bonfire night and I know they aren't great, but maybe they'll give you an idea of what I was doing.  Any confusion left after looking at the photos... join me next year for Bonfire Night in the US or where ever I am.  I'm thinking that some where on West Point Lake in LaGrange will be a perfect setting for a bonfire and fireworks.  We'll see... 

Now more Indigo Girls, "Multiply Life by the Power of Two."  About to change so I'll tell you what's up next... James Taylor's cover of "Why Baby Why."  Could it get any better?  

Just, Margaret

Sunday, November 9, 2008

15 minutes... go!

You could say that this has been one of my busiest weeks yet and oddly enough I only had two lectures last week.  But with the presidential election, Bonfire night festivities, a Rotary club meeting to attend, and a Rotary Club Service Project midweek, I feel like I haven't really just sat since last weekend.  Even now I only have 15 minutes in between studying and going to the MethSoc gathering tonight to write a quick post.  Where to start?

I actually began some practical archaeology work this week!!!!  How awesome is that?  And how depressing that I didn't have my camera with me to take photos?  Okay so we didn't actually break ground, but we were taught how to conduct an earthworks survey.  I don't really have time to explain so I'll let Wiki do it for you today.  Needless to say it was awesome except for all the math.  [smile]  I'm an archaeologist not a mathematician.  Who knew I would one day actually use the Pythagorean theorem in my chosen profession?  

Other fun things to share... Bonfire night is the absolute coolest "British" thing I've experienced so far.  And it was even followed by a vegetarian "bangers and mash."  What is Bonfire night?  Well it involves burning a catholic revolutionary in effigy... and fireworks... and cups of soup... and a small parade of children pretending to be the angry Anglicans.  Now that I'm writing all this down it sounds kinda barbaric.  A great holiday for pyromaniacs though.  I guess I must kinda have a little of that in me because I loved it!  [smile]  So glad I didn't spend the night with my nose in a book.  

Promise to post photos of Bonfire Night and my service project with the Bristol Rotary Club sometime tomorrow afternoon.  Whew just one minute to spare...

Just, Margaret

P.S. Thanks to Dori for the I Love Your Blog Award... I'll nominate some of my favorites later.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What can I say?

This is a historic day.  Waking up to the hopeful words of our President-Elect, broadcast over the BBC 4 airways I might add, I was inspired and moved to tears.  Although the election is over today is really a new beginning for this nation, one in which I plan to be a full participant.  So that's my challenge to you today.  It takes a good citizen to exercise their right to vote, but it takes a greater citizen to call upon their government to remain accountable to the platforms on which they were elected.  Further it takes a great citizen to not rely only on their elected officials to initiate change.  So whether you were chanting "YES WE CAN" with Obama or "COUNTRY FIRST" with McCain, its up to you as a member of our national and international community to live out those mottos.  The world is watching our response.  

Just, Margaret

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election jitters

I feel like I haven't been able to sit still all day.  My thoughts are racing and I'm checking my email and CNN's website every half hour.  Diagnosis:  Election jitters (intensified I'm sure by extra cup of coffee I had at the cafe this afternoon [smile]).  If I'm feeling this way I can't imagine actually being a candidate.  I thought maybe it was just me, but when I wrote "The Nine" this morning I realized that I'm not the only one feeling anxious about today's events.  It seems everyone is waiting and watching for some signal of what's going to happen.  

BBC Radio 4 which I listen to in the mornings now repeated I don't know how many times today that this election was being watched by the whole world.  As an international representative of the US these days, I have to say that I feel under pressure for the world to get the answer they are expecting.  If Obama doesn't win more than one international news source will have egg on their face.  The coverage I've seen seems to assume that his election is a given.  Although I hope that coverage is right, having witnessed the past two elections I'm not willing to go out on a limb and say its a given.  Anything can happen.  I guess that's what's making me jittery.  To steal the Obama's words, I've had "the audacity to hope" that this election can bring about a new era in US history.  Now my hope rests in the hands of the voters.  

Just holding my breath like the rest of the world, Margaret 

Last Minute Addition:  Okay so just after I published the blog (the first time) I went on to read the updates of all my blogging friends and I have to say that Matt's Jesus Journals entry for the day helped put things in a little better perspective.  And I do want to clarify that I know that one person's election can't change the world all by itself... it takes a community working together to do that.  So I'm still waiting in anticipation, but with a few less jitters at least from the election (the caffeine from the coffee still hasn't quite worn off [smile]). 

Sunday, November 2, 2008


I am absolutely freezing, but surprise, surprise I've not just come in from outside.  I am sitting in the University library.  I keep hearing the heater cut on, but it is so not pumping out nice warm air.  I think it must be a conspiracy to reinforce the idea that we should not wait until 8:45 on a Sunday night to read for the next day.  I'll know better next time.  Now back to my reading so I can soon escape to the warmth of my student rooms.  

Just, Margaret

Thursday, October 30, 2008

"Are you in turmoil? Yes, well, good."

Can you tell that I'm in the midst of my course?  Sounds like I've gone off the deep end a bit, but apparently according to my advisor I'm right where I'm supposed to be.  The above is a quote from him which was followed by "I would be worried if you had it all figured out."  Then later today he asked me if I was at all where I thought I would be when I began this course.  My response was a definite no.  His next question, "Are you okay with that?"  Am I okay with that?  My whole concept of what I had imagined my life would be for the next year has been totally disrupted.  I'm writing outlines for papers examining contemporary archaeology (a discipline that even some archaeologists aren't sure exists).  Am I okay with that?  How do I feel?  Uhhh... I'm not quite sure.  Some evenings after classes are over I walk home on "Cloud Nine" reveling in the excitement of all this uncertainty.  And other nights well lets just say I lay awake wondering what the heck I'm doing.  An earlier post this month was titled "What is Archaeology?".  I wish I could say that after several weeks of crash courses in archaeology I know, but I seriously still have no earthly idea.  I feel a bit like my computer when its trying to load a complex web page (my internet connection is super slow in my flat).  My brain, aka server, is whirling the information around attempting to load, but in the end I just get a message "webpage unavailable because server is not responding."  

In the midst of it all I am adding some awesome random trivia to my mind. Ah ha, maybe the purpose of reading an MA in HistArch is to prepare me to win big on Jeopardy! [smile] Here's a look at what my new collection of wisdom includes:  
  • "Little Jack Horner" (you know from the nursery rhyme) was a real person.
  • The word "instead" is derived from Old English words that essentially meant house-stead or church-stead.  "-stead" literally means a place where something is and usually had the connotation of being the word to describe where something once was hence "instead" means in place of.  (I have to say after our lecture on Old English derivations of place names I totally want to learn to speak and read Old English.  Our lecturer read some passages in it and I found it quite lyrical... maybe my next adventure.)
  • The Inca used the monthly cycle of women set apart as the Sun God's Sacred Virgins as one method of marking time.  
  • Georgian English nobility built medieval ruins on their estates to proclaim their wealth and elite status.  (Kinda reminds me of my senior thesis on the use of Gothic architecture in American universities.)
Before I close I do want to say in full disclosure I'm entering my crazy busy time in the academic session and hopefully most of my writing in November will be toward essays.  I'll try to keep fairly up to day on my blog, but as sort of a concession to myself I'm making no promises about regular posts.  Because of this I've decided to add the option of RSS feed to my blog so that any "dedicated readers" out there in cyberspace won't be burdened with having to visit my site without the promise of a new post.  

Just, Margaret

Monday, October 27, 2008

Spreading the Pumpkin Love!

Over the last month I've discovered that if you gather enough international students together and a cultural exchange of ideas, food, entertainment, etc. spontaneously occurs.  Since joining the MIH house I've shared international food, international movie nights, and late night discussions about random cultural differences or traditions (most recently about marriage rituals in India and Sri Lanka).  I have to say that I love it!  These are the exact reasons that I wanted to live in an international setting.  All this peace and goodwill... recognizing the humanity in persons who might normally in our home countries be considered "the other"... there has to be some way to translate this on a global scale... that's the start of another post that will have to wait for another day.  Until this weekend my most significant contributions (besides listening and asking lots of questions) to this most natural cultural exchange has been through numerous explanations of the US election. (Its the international topic of conversation these days, well that and the economy or exchange rates for international students [smile].)  But on Saturday I had the chance to share some real US culture-- the tradition of carving pumpkins to make jack-o-lanterns for Halloween.  I always just assumed that this was a tradition that was inherited by the US from one of our immigrant cultures, but now I have it on good authority that this is definitely an all-American activity.  I had the most fun teaching my new friends from Sri Lanka, Spain, Italy, Taiwan, and Greece to carve their very first pumpkins.  That afternoon has to be one of my favorite experiences since I've been here.  During the afternoon I told them all that in their countries next year they had to carve a pumpkin to spread the "pumpkin love."  Enjoy these photos of our pumpkin fun.

Just, Margaret

Friday, October 24, 2008


When I returned to my flat (actually probably too portentous a word for my room in the boarding house) yesterday I remember that I had forgotten to post about our visit to Avebury.  What can I say... Well one of my colleagues said that it felt kinda like a mystical union with the ancestral spirits who had built this place.   I didn't necessarily feel all that (and maybe that statement owes some to my poetic license in reinterpretation), but it was amazing to think about how humanity had come together throughout the millennia to build this monument to what no one is sure.  One of the coolest things for sure was how little restriction their is at this site.  I mean you could walk all the way up to the standing stones and touch them.  Another brief observation... something of the power seems some what allayed by the fact that part of the henge is in a sheep pasture.   It seemed a little strange to be witnessing history in such a ordinary setting.  More musings on Avebury will come in the next couple of days I'm sure, but for now I'll leave you with a few of my pics.  

Part of the outer circle.  That deep ditch looking thing is the henge.  

Part of the inner circle with a non-conformist church in the background.  The building is partly made from stones broken up during a period of history when it was common to destroy the monument.

The sheep with a stone in the background (its behind the tree).

Just, Margaret

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Do all the good you can

Some of you may recognize the title above as being the start of John Wesley's rule.  I thought it was an appropriate to tell get out some information about the Young Adult Programs of the United Methodist Church.  I can't remember if I actually ever said specifically why I was working or what brought me to work in Louisiana.  It was the US-2 program, basically a domestic social justice missionary program for young adults, ages 20-30, in the United Methodist Church.  I received an email yesterday from Alycia, a former US-2 like me who now works at the office in NYC to organize the program for other young adults, that applications were open for these programs again and to spread the word.  Since this was such a phenomenal experience for me I thought I would share the information on my blog in hopes that someone reading might be inspired to go out and change the world too.  The information from Alycia is below.  If you're not a young adult anymore, but work at an organization that you think might be a good place for a US-2 or Summer Intern that information is below as well.   


The youth and young adult office is accepting application for the US-2, Mission Intern and Summer Intern Program and US-2 and Summer Intern placement site.  Below you will find descriptions of the programs and requirements, as well as a link to the application.  Please feel free to spread the word!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Alycia Capone at acapone@gbgm-umc.org or 1-212-870-3660.  

Peace, Alycia

As you can see the descriptions aren't below... there are still some things that I haven't learned how to do on Blogger yet, but these are the links above are those she mentions with further information.  If you are really interested and would like a copy of the email, just leave a comment and I'll be glad to get the information to you or just email Alycia.  By the way, the deadline for application for all of the programs (and placement sites too, I think) is December 1st, 2008.  I will say that serving as a US-2 was one of the best things that I have ever done in my life.  You get to meet amazing people, explore relevant issues of justice, and most importantly do good for people.  This all sounds a bit clique I know, but sometimes its hard to put into words how formative this experience was for me.  Check out some of my earliest posts, most are labeled "social justice" or "Louisiana," for some of my thoughts during the process.  

Just, Margaret

My 100th Post!!!

Can I just celebrate for a moment that I have actually made it to Post #100.  At the beginning of all this I wasn't sure this blog would make it past a couple of months with posts, oh, every week or so and now a 100th entry.  That's awesome.  And while I'm at it how about a little update on the number of you readers out there... I have reached the over 2000 mark for unique pageloads.  And apparently you come from all over the world... including all across the eastern coast of the United States as well as the U.K. (a growing number thanks in large part to the Ex-Pat blog network), Norway, Sweden, and Spain.  Anyway it is all really exciting and I just wanted to say thanks to those of you have decided to stop by and read along.  

Just, Margaret

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

If being lost equals being late, what does not being lost equal...

being really early.  So the University of Bristol's campus is definitely bigger than the lovely little Hilltop I called home for four years.  Even with our extended campuses at LaGrange the entire campus was neatly laid out on a small map with every building labeled appropriately (on and off the map).  Fast forward several years and insert me (novice map reader) into an old world city that obviously has a medieval heritage (i.e. circuitous routes and narrow streets) and I'm lost, not to mention tripping on cobblestones right and left.  [smile]  Being lost can be charming, but not exactly when you know that every minute that ticks slowly by means that you are another minute late for your first graduate reading group.  Oh the horror!!!  [da, da, dummmm]  You will be happy to know that I did eventually make it to the reading group last week, but not without being about 15 minutes late (I was actually looking in the wrong building) and afterwards totally torturing myself for my brief misstep.  So this week determined that I would not be late, I set out for the right building only about an hour and a half ahead of time and arrived about an hour early.  [smile]  Hopefully I will strike a happy medium sometime before this academic session ends.  

Thus with all this time to spare, I decided it was a perfect time to share a video of an art display I took when visiting the Bristol City Museum this past Saturday.  Basically the Bristol Museum commissioned a modern artist to interpret this 19th century painting.  He came up with what you see below.  

I'm not sure if you can tell, but you are basically looking through this box that first shows the scene with the woman and her lawyers as it is in the painting.  The modern artist then twists the idea of who is guilty and who's innocent by showing the lawyers' bill and then the lawyers are well... you can draw your own conclusions.  I thought it was a quite clever way to explain the woman's distress.  Sorry about the poor quality of the video I was just using my little camera through plexi-glass... hence my image.  

Just, Margaret

Monday, October 20, 2008

The weather has turned.

Okay today it is officially cold.  I do admit that I type this with some hesitation.  Mainly because i know its going to get worse, but also because the thermometers actually only read 50 degrees Fahrenheit.  Before you go and call me a wimp let me explain that it has been steadily raining since noon and after having stepped in a puddle I have one slightly damp foot (a problem which I plan on remedying as soon as I make it home this evening).  With every slight change of the weather I have one constant thought. "Is this it?  Is this the first day of the long winter to come?"  I felt the same way the fall/winter when I lived in North Dakota.  The one difference is that everyone here talks about the weather all the time.  North Dakotans were a bit more stoic.  (Anyone who has lived there will not find this statement too hard to believe.)  Bristolians, and from what I can tell the British in general, love to talk about the weather.  It may sound a little funny, but this one cultural observation has actually been really helpful.  An unexpected lull in conversation not sure what to say next... say something about a) how horrible the weather is or b) whatever horrible prediction was made about the weather for tomorrow because there was bound to be one.  In any case, I've learned its not the best idea to express optimism.  It is always raining somewhere and it is surely to be raining or windy in wherever you are soon.*  [smile]

Just, Margaret

*In case any clarification is needed, I actually think this "weather obsessed" nation is actually a pretty great place to live and anticipate enjoying many more conversations about the weather throughout the year. 

Saturday, October 18, 2008

"The Red Lady" and lots of lovely maps

The last half of the academic week broke out of the six hour lecture days that I've enjoyed [wink] so much so far.  Wednesday our class journeyed to Cardiff (I know its less that its only about an hour from Bristol, but somehow knowing that it was in Wales made the short minibus ride more exciting) to see "The Red Lady," which I should have mentioned earlier is actually a male skeleton.  This particular skeleton is special/of archaeological significance because its one ofher burial is the first of its kind that has been found in England.  I wish I could say that I was able to get a photo, but no cameras were allowed inside the gallery.  I did take a picture of the 

Friday was completely dedicated to understanding how to read and process ordinance survey maps from the UK.  Although very necessary to my understanding of this discipline, I have to say it was not one of my favorite lectures so far.  The afternoon activity of breaking into groups and attempting to plot the "lost" Royal Fort that was originally situated on part of our campus was a bit more fun... kinda like searching for buried treasure, but having to figure out how to read the map first.  After we all had our go at it, our professor and a fellow student who had examined the study in undergrad showed us their theories about where the fort actually stood... needless to say none of the groups had it just right.  But it is all just theory so who knows?  [Smile].

More archaeological adventures to come.  Next week we head to Avebury, a place similar to Stonehenge except on a slightly bigger scale and older.  Click on the links to learn more.  (The first is from what I can gather a "fan site" but appears to have great photos and may actually be pretty accurate on the history/archaeology.  The second is the official link through the National Trust website in case of discrepancies.) 

Just, Margaret

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

7 things about me...

A friend in the blog world, specifically Dori the writer of From A Yellow House in England, tagged me today with the mission to share 7 things about myself.  Since I could really use a break from grad school reading and actively looking for a distraction I decided that this task could just not wait.  

As for who I'm tagging next I'll leave that up to any of you fellow bloggers out their who would like to share.  So if you are so moved to write 7 things about yourself make sure to leave a comment so I can check it out.  

Here is a brief archaeological study of myself... "Margaret's Materialities (a fancy word for the stuff that makes me me)" 
1.  I have a short list of books that have changed my life and except for one, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter which I haven't had a chance to purchase yet, I carry these books with me wherever I move.  Something about seeing them on a shelf makes me feel like this place is really home.

2.  When I was five I had a tonsilectomy partly because I was getting lots of colds, but another slightly more embarrassing reason was because I snored during nap time in kindergarten.  

3.  Another cherished item I've carried with me from place to place is this small square framed photo of my first Christmas.  I'm being held by my mom and my dad is right next to her.  They're standing in front of a Christmas tree (I think maybe at one of my grandparents' homes).  

4.  I played the flute in marching band for four years during high school and sometimes I still find myself walking in step with other people to this imaginary cadence rolling my feet from heel to toe like I was taught about 10 years ago.  

5.  When I was in elementary school I ran for class president.  I made these amazing posters that kinda looked like a book jacket and cleverly said.  "Margaret Bagwell... Gone with the WIN!"  I don't remember whether I won, but I do remember that my poster weren't particularly discernible by my target populace.  

6. Curiously a side effect of moving to a different country has been that I have begun to eat some of the strangest things.  And it is not what you are thinking... the strange things are not because they are stuff that is distinctly English (although I am trying lots of those kind of foods too).  For example I've been eating peanut butter sandwiches.  In the US for at least 15 years I would not touch a peanut butter sandwich.  I have eaten more of these sandwiches than the whole of my lifetime since moving here.  

7.  One of the reasons I've wanted to study archaeology is that in undergrad when we watched these videos from the 1970s of historical subjects I decided it was my secret ambition to one day be one of the experts that they pan to standing in the midst of some ancient site of historical importance and who then rattles on for 10 or 15 minutes about what makes this place important.

I'm glad that I've learned how to laugh at myself.  Up next in my UK journey will be a trip to Wales to see the "Red Lady."  I'll post some photos later in the week.  Until then...

Just, Margaret

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A quarter of a century

A couple of months ago I began a post that I intended to publish on my 25th birthday.  Today when I checked to see what I had written I realized that the answer was nothing, well, except the title that you see above.  Turning twenty-five seemed so big this summer... in fact I think I may have even experienced a mini "quarter life crisis."  Crazy I know, but something about the thought of this birthday was making me reassess what I've done in my life and where I'm going.  Now all of that hoopla feels pretty silly, especially when I consider my circumstances of the moment.  What better way to celebrate the first 25 years of my life than actually spending the year living out my dreams?  Seriously if you were to ask me 10 or 15 years ago what I'd like to be doing right now... I think that my reality (living in a foreign country and studying to be an archaeologist) might come really close to what I would have said.  I can think of no greater personal accomplishment than to be at 25 fulfilling my dreams.  

So that's my treatise for today.  And now as promised a few more photos of me living the dream.    

Day 3 found our group at the seaside.  Our first stop was Combe Martin where I took the lovely photo above and was introduced to stinging nettles while climbing up a steep hill full of brambles in search of the elusive ruins of a castle.  If you're not familiar with stinging nettles check out this post written by my college roommate Jane Marie another exchange student to the British Isles.

Next stop was Lynton and Lynmouth where we took a break from all the archaeological searches and just got to be tourists for a while (which was actually pretty historically accurate for our destination because these towns rose to fame as "exotic" locales for young Englishmen's abbreviated Grand Tours during the Napoleonic wars).  Below is a photo of me and Josephine- a fellow HistArch student and new friend.  

Finally I've included a couple of photos of this crazy lift we rode that connects Lynton, at the bottom and Lynmouth, at the top.  Its run on completely renewable water power.  Basically one cart, without a full load of water, is pulled up while the other cart, filled with water, travels down releasing water as it travels downward.  I'm not sure if I explained that so it can be easily understood.  Maybe this website can help if you are really interested.  The important detail I wanted to express is that this railway lift has been in operation for 120 years, using the exact same system... a fact that I have to admit was a bit unnerving.  But apparently 19th century engineering still works just fine.  We made it up and down without a problem!  More to come.    

Just, Margaret

Friday, October 10, 2008

A few more reflections

Okay, so I intended to write a long post today detailing more of what I did on my field trip to Devon, but after 2 three hour lectures and a really long email to my girlfriends back home, I'm just a little worn out.  As a compromise I'll post a video I took in a boating museum we visited in Watchet and work on another post for tomorrow (which incidentally is my birthday).  The video illustrates rope making, which may not seem really exciting to some of you, but I found it really neat and the Maritime Archaeology students were enthralled (well maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration... just watch the video).  

Disclaimer:  Turn down your sound.  I inadvertently got a lot of the noise from the rope spinning contraption.  And its a little long because its the whole process.   

Just, Margaret

Thursday, October 9, 2008


I'm still not fully online, namely I don't have access to the internet in my flat, but I am online on campus.  It is so amazingly great to be connected again!!!! (SMILE)  Now to the awesome task of updating...  

There is so much to share that its kinda hard to decide where to start.  I think that the question most of you would probably like answered is how my very first field experience went and since I have lots of photos to share of my four day excursion along the coast of Devon, I'll begin there.  In one word my first field experience was "muddy."  As I'm sure anyone who has ever visited or lived in or even just read about the UK can imagine, the weather in Devon was constantly
 changing.  I don't think we saw one day without rain and it was almost laughable how each time our group set foot on a beach a gusty, cold rain began to fall.  And dirt plus rain obviously
 equalled a lot of mud.  I returned to my flat Friday night with jeans literally caked in mud
... which oddly enough really seemed to resemble red Georgia clay.  (A little piece of home in a place so far away.)  

The first day was meticulously (or perhaps maliciously) planned to lull us into a false sense of security and then throwing all the newbies into the field head first.  (SMILE)  Learning how to swim or should I say how to identify the remains of a almost century-deserted village by the 
name of Clicket was absolutely fun!  Although the site had been previously researched by our professors and some of the TAs (who I might add never seemed to get dirty... I need to learn that trick), we were given the task to locate and explain what we found, "like real archaeologists."  To the right is what remains of the separatist church that my group "found."  And to the left is the lime kiln "found" by another group... fully intact, which is a feat because apparently mo
st have blown up.  By the way the first photo is of a pasture we crossed through to get to one of the sites.  Can you see the sheep!?!

Day 1 was by far the most muddy at least for the HistArch group. (Our department includes MAASM aka MA Archaeology and Screen Media, MALA aka MA Landscape Archaeology, MA in Maritime Archaeology- I 
don't think they have a nickname, and the HistArchs aka MA Historical Archaeology in the Modern World.)  Most of the rest of the field trip found us in seaside towns examining the influence of naval trade and conflict on cultural, industrial, economic, and communal development.  Day 2 highlights included climbing aboard the Kathleen and May, a restored 1900 commercial schooner, and getting locked on the wrong side of a private gate leading to a site on the beach in 
Dorset where WWII American soldiers trained for D-Day.

Okay this post has barely scratched the surface of all that I have been up to, but I am a graduate student and I really need to get back to reading for class.  

Just, Margaret