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

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The list

So I'm trying to be proactive about having significant experiences before I leave in September and decided to make a list of things I would be really disappointed if I didn't get around to doing before I finished my year in England.  Here's what I've thought of so far:

  • Visit all the fountains in Bristol.  
  • Play backgammon in a pub.
  • Find a really unique souvenir.
  • Take a train somewhere.
  • Spend a day walking around the countryside and have a picnic on public land.
  • Visit the Lake District.  
  • Become a regular at one of the local cafe's.  
  • Spend a day channeling Mary Poppins and go galavanting around the city on a carousel horse and dance on rooftops with an umbrella.  Okay so maybe this is a little crazy, but it is my favorite movie. [smile]
This list is really incomplete, but I'm going to continue to think and maybe I'll add to it as I can.  
Just, Margaret

Sabbath Sunday

Taking a page from my dad's church's new youth pastor, I decide to practice what possibly might be my Lenten commitment: keeping the Sabbath. I've never done this very well... don't get me wrong I attend a worship service each Sunday, but I've always understood the concept of keeping the Sabbath goes beyond just that. To embrace what exactly I'm not sure. It will probably take me all of Lent to figure that out. For now I'm trying to think of it as an opportunity to be introspective and set apart from my regular daily work. When I begin my courses again it will mean really working to keep it free from school work. It will probably involve not watching Grey's Anatomy reruns too. [smile] Maybe I need to make understanding/studying Sabbath part of the deal as well. Any suggestions for good sources of information and/or inspiration would be appreciated.

Just, Margaret

Friday, January 23, 2009

A British tea in Georgia

A few days before I left Georgia, my mom, Aunt June (not really an aunt, but a dear family friend), and I sat down together for tea.  Our menu included tea imported from Bath, Cadbury chocolate, wedding cookies (a Southern delicacy homemade by my grandmother), and blueberry scones baked by my mother that morning.  The scones were made using a recipe we found before Christmas.  They don't taste exactly like scones I've had in England, but pretty close and dare I say it... a little better... maybe its just the extra sweetness of being homemade by my mom.  [smile]  I'll try to get the recipe from my mom and post it soon.  See photo below of our "tea party" with my mom on the right and Aunt June on the left.  

This other photo obviously has nothing to do with the "tea party" pictured are my dad and our sweet dog in front of the fireplace.  During my last week at home our warm Southern winter was replaced by several bitterly cold days... which meant we could use our fireplace.  I love sitting in front of an open fire.  There is just nothing better... so warm and inviting on a cold evening and there are usually few days in Georgia that it gets cold enough to really enjoy the warmth.  

Just, Margaret  

A very "British" Afternoon

This week since I've had a couple of days off (I'm actually still on school holiday... all of you US students have permission to be jealous), I've been working down a list of things I need/want to buy.  I've decided that since I know I will be here now until the end of my course in September my usual nesting gene has been triggered.  So I've been buying small things (picture frames, candles, potted plants, ect.) to make my room more homey.  I am working on the premise that everything I buy will not return to the States with me... so think cheap or used.  Other things on my list include some personal holiday purchases that it just made more sense to work out when I got back here. (You'd be surprised how quickly 50 lbs. adds up when packing to fly.)  Happily I arrived back in Bristol with some Christmas money still in my pockets.  [smile] 

Anyway back to why today's afternoon activities were so "British." Think: WELLIES. Today I found the perfect pair of rainboots- something I would never really consider purchasing in the States, but are actually fairly essential here when I'm walking everywhere. [smile] What do you think? I love them. The print is of the English version of Smarties... not my favorite candy, but so cute. Just looking at them makes me happy. Although I've needed wellies, every time I almost bought them before I stopped myself feeling like I was giving into a silly whim.  So when Rachel, my little sister, gifted me a pair for Christmas I felt I had permission to indulge.  

After purchasing my wellies, I stepped over to the Primrose Cafe, a bistro/tea house/take-away in Clifton Village for afternoon tea.  I ordered a single pot and a piece of chocolate cake with berries, then sat for about 3/4 of an hour reading the latest edition of Vanity Fair my mom bought me in the Atlanta airport and sipping my tea.  Absolutely perfect, or should I say lovely, afternoon!  To finish off my British day, I think I might even step down to my favorite corner Fish and Chips shop for supper.  I'm kinda hoping it will begin to rain so I can try out my new wellies. [smile]  Cheerio!

Just, Margaret 

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A family archive

Today I’ve been transcribing my great grandfather’s journal and letters written during the First World War... partly for my own pleasure, partly as a record for our family, and partly for a course I’ll begin next week about conflict archaeology. I’m hoping I can use it somehow in a presentation or paper. As a vegetarian I don’t love this saying, but it really is like “killing two birds with one stone.” [smile] And some of you may not believe me, but I really am having the time of my life. It’s kinda like my very own version of National Treasure or The Da Vinci Code. I’ve been hunkered over faded, tattered paper trying to decipher Pa Key’s handwriting and curious spellings mostly written in pencil, which thanks to my 10th and 11th grade history teacher I know is in no way archively safe. [She, Ms. Staples, was really into scrapbooking and I actually remember when she said something to me about pencils not been archively sound. Funny the things you remember at certain times, right.]

Anyway, I’m having fun and feel like a real archaeologist. Maybe I’ll post some of the interesting parts of the journal or letters here later... definitely look out for one of the love letters he wrote to my great-grandmother on Valentine’s Day.

Just, Margaret

Another new post about the new year

I don't usually read US News and World Report, but I happened to get a chance to read their New Year issue that included a list of 50 ways to change your life in 2009.  It was a fairly exhaustive list including tasks such as learning Russian, reading about Lincoln (this February marks his 200 birthday), riding a bike to work, and hanging your clothes to dry instead of using an electric dryer (you can save 50 cents for every load you hang to dry.)  For the full list follow this link.  One of the tasks that I thought I might take on was writing a journal of one-liners.  Not jokes, just one sentence or two about what I'd done that day or how I felt.  I've never been great about keeping a diary, but I feel like limiting my entries to just one sentence should help me be more consistent.  Here's what US News had to say about writing what they called a "clothes hanger journal."

Luann Robins, a 79-year-old grandmother of five who lives in Rhinelander, Wis., has kept such records for most of her life, storing her five-year diaries in a cedar chest at the foot of her bed. "Sometimes they bring back great memories that I might have forgotten," says Robins. Her journals are filled with comments on the weather, odd events, and her children's and grandchildren's news.

Through her minimalist journaling, Robins has kept a clear-eyed account of her history and is working on memoirs for her children to read.
I began mine on Sunday and if you are still looking for a New Year's resolution consider this your challenge.  

Just, Margaret

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


As a result of my extended absence I have several thoughts I've been saving up to share.  Among them is my resolution for the year.  Here's a post that I began writing in preparation for New Years, but never exactly got back to until now.  As it is still January, I think its still relevant.  


When I was little the act of making resolutions was part and parcel of New Years Eve.  Like stockings at Christmas, hunting eggs at Easter, or black-eyed peas on New Years Day, the act of making a resolution was just something we did.  I remember resolving to write in a diary every day or be nicer to my little sisters.  The regular stuff.  Over the last couple of years I've just stopped making resolutions.  I mean really what is the point most are forgotten in a matter of days, but beyond that its seems pretty irrational to set the course of a year upon a few ideas that may or may not be that well thought out.   Besides who I am on the first day of the year is never who I am on December 31st.  Now I guess a resolution I could live with would be to resolve to make resolutions each day and try to live into them during that 24 hour period.   

Anyway, after giving you all the reasons against making resolutions, I'm going to make a resolution.  On Christmas Day, my Pop said that to love must begin by loving another and letting that love be returned.  A couple of days later I was watching Expiration Date, a movie I received from my parents for Christmas, that was kinda about the same thing.  Anyway I resolved to make this my year of loving radically and perhaps more importantly learning how to be loved... who knows what might happen.   

Just, Margaret

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Simple Gifts

Lovely music, really, could this get any better?  John Williams is one of the best.  Simple Gifts is the hymn of America and I'm don't know when I've heard a better arrangement.  

It happened.  We have a new president.   

I just found some great Obama art.  Above is my favorite.  Don't you love how the ceremony is over 20 minutes behind the schedule.  Obama should be taking the oath right now.  

Just, M.

Obama, Obama, Obama

Here they come. Such anticipation.  I wish I could be there.  I think I know several people in the crowd... Alvin and Lindsey, John (my cousin), and probably Lindsey and Jessie (second cousins).  If there any more of you out there I'd love to hear from you. 

What a beautiful triumphant greeting!  [tear]

Okay so I make no pretense of being a big fan of George W. Bush, but I think booing is a bit much.  He has been pretty gracious to Obama since the election.  I think its just unnecessary.  It is the last time he'll hear "Hail to the Chief" played for him... so I figure he feels pretty bad already.  Have some compassion

Witnessing History 2.1

Out of all of the living former presidents Jimmy Carter has to be my absolute favorite- a fellow Georgia native!  

Oh I also switched over to Sky News.  The commentators on BBC were talking a bit too much.  

Just, M

Witnessing History 2

How fun! I'm watching the BBC coverage of the Inauguration, Skype-ing my parents in Georgia, and blogging here at the same time.  I'm so excited and I'm sure that some tears will appear before all of this is over.  I'll keep posting updates throughout the ceremony.  [picture me beaming]

Just, Margaret

Monday, January 19, 2009


I feel like I need to apologize for my absence.  I think that these 19 days (25 if you don't count my mini post on New Years) is the longest I've gone without posting since beginning this blog.  I won't try to make excuses except to say that I've tried over that time to consciously live into all the moments I've had while at home on vacation.  Some of you already know this, but when I left the US on Saturday I began a nine month period of being away.  Nine months isn't the longest I've ever been away from home, but it will be the longest I've ever been in a different country.  And no matter how great the internet (aka Skype and email) is for keeping in touch its just not exactly the same as being able to pick up my cell and call friends or family whenever.  And knowing that I can't just decide to take a long road trip back to Georgia from Louisiana or even North Dakota is a little hard.  So please forgive my absence and perhaps consider it a reminder of the joy that can come from living in the present.  

Just, Margaret

Thursday, January 1, 2009

happy new year... more to come later, now time for bed