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