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

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

June Movie Review

Haven't had the chance to see many movies this month with all the traveling I've been doing. Actually I just have 3 to review.

I loved LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE so I was really excited to see that the director teamed up with my favorite actress Amy Adams for this new film. Another dark comedy, tackling issues of self-esteem, death, vocation, measuring life's success- just to name a few. I loved the movie. Funny, sad, and sometimes absolutely disgusting. Beware the first scene, its the most violent, but happily the violence doesn't follow that level of intensity the rest of the way through. (5 out of 5 stars)

I hate this film... I love this film... I hate it... I love it. I've never felt so confused about a movie. I hated the movie because it highlights a bit too realistically the complexities of the female mind. I loved it for the same reason. I hated the wishy washy female characters and the jerky men. I will say the ending for all its faults (meaning it actually negates the movie's premise) had a couple of great one-liners. "You're my exception." Still a fun, albeit predictable chick flick/rom com if that's what you're looking for. (2 of 5 stars)

Put simply this is a fun kid's movie. One dimensional characters, transparent story line, and predictable ending, but still a good rental. (3 of 5 stars)

Just, Margaret

Planning a research trip to London

Places to visit:

The Imperial War Museum
The British Library
The British Museum (possibly)

Legitimate research time in actual museum archives: Priceless

How dorky/geeky am I? I'll leave that to you to decide.
Just, Margaret

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Cousin Vaca: Random shots

A sampling of random shots from the two weeks together.  Stories to accompany these I think just might have to remain inside jokes mostly because I don't think they'll make sense otherwise.  [smile]  

"The coconut shot of the day":  
Here are just a few of Emily's coconut pics for her friends in the Bahamas.  Part of the fun of each day was finding the perfect location for the required "British-Bahamian" photo. 

What were we thinking:  
No better description for these photos.  I love that in the first one Emily is channeling her inner monk.  

Devotion to Mr. Darcy:
Enough said! Well I will add that it was my idea to take these, which is a BIG surprise to you I'm sure. 

Yummy food:  
We ate well and often.

"The Sights":  

Last photo album post, I promise. All good things must come to an end... so tomorrow back to work. Please pray that research goes well.  I'm beginning to feel the pressure.     
Just, Margaret

Cousin Vaca: Group photos

1st group photo at the Tower of London and 2nd in front of Tower Bridge:  

Buckingham Palace is behind us, we promise!

Movie night in Derby (pronounced Darby): 

In York ("The Shambles" and pub night):

In Durham in front of the Cathedral:

Facials and hotel terry cloth robes at the Marriott: 

Edinburgh for the Day!

Our last day in Durham in the Castle courtyard.  

Laundry Day in Bristol:  (The concerned faces worn by Janell and me are because we weren't sure we had put the soap in the correct compartment.)

In Bath leaning on the Abbey and in the Jane Austen Tea Room.    

Loads of photos, but aren't we beautiful in all of them?  I'm sure our Mom and Pop at least will think so.  A second album of a few silly photos to follow.  

Just, Margaret


Added a few photos of the dig to my post earlier this week.  Check it out!  Next up is a post of all the trio photos that we took over the last two weeks... especially dedicated to Mom and Pop and the three pairs of parents back in Georgia.  

Just, Margaret

Friday, June 26, 2009

Whirlwind week in Bristol

This was the last full day with all the cousins together and I think it would be safe to say were are all so exhausted... good exhausted mind you, but exhausted none the less.  I thought showing them around Bristol only would mean a little less activity, a slower pace and I guess that has been slightly true, but we have still managed to have some really late nights.  I think my favorite part of this visit has definitely been the time we've spent communicating and sharing about our lives.  We've grown up under similar circumstances, but our journeys in early adulthood have been so different and that just makes for exciting things to share.  We're all Georgia girls at heart, but no one's really lived in Georgia for years (Janell's in NC and Em's been in the Bahamas, though she is now moving to D.C.).  Despite our varied journey's there are places where our lives have moved similarly.  Listening to other stories I think is so helpful in understanding your own.  I'm sure all this sounds cryptic and I apologize for not having a better account ready for you of all we've done and seen, but it is late and as I said in the beginning I'm exhausted.  Pray for us as we begin to say goodbye tomorrow.  It will be tough to adjust to life where I'm not a part of this trio daily.  

Just, Margaret

Monday, June 22, 2009

Team Awesome and the Trench of the Trench That Wasn't

Sounds like this should be the title of a young adult read right or at least of an installment of Encyclopedia Brown.  (Does anyone else remember that kid detective?)  Well though the length of this post might suggest otherwise, this is just an update of my exciting, fun first archaeological dig.  So here goes... stream of consciousness from my head to my journal and now to my blog.  

My first dig. 
Location:  Salisbury Plain, UK
Focus:  WWI practice trenches on the MOD Estates

Not sure why I felt the need to list everything so matter of factly.  I can't imagine how I might actually forget my first archaeological dig.  It was not the most professional operation I am told by other more experienced participants, but it was certainly fun! I write this retrospectively several days later and my first thoughts bring so many smiles.  I think whatever the manner of dig I would have found it fun, but the relaxed nature was great in that after the first few days I began to feel confidant that my lack of experience couldn't really ruin our finds.  The purpose was to begin to recognize the value/importance training played in the Australian victory at the Battle of Messines.  Second year the dig had taken place and though we found so much more than last year I think it would be a stretch to say they actually could draw significant conclusions yet.  

Exciting though was the process.  De-turfing- which I was not so
 great at, digging- I have to say I didn't realize that there was so much digging involved in an archaeological dig [smile]. Then came the fun part- well the fun part for me.  We began to find stuff!  Not earthworks which were actually what we were looking for (hence "the trench that wasn't"), but lots of artifacts.  Puzzle pieces to enlighten us toward what might have been going on at our site.  very soon I was dubbed the "Finds Genii".  Entranced by dirty potshards circa 1915-1920, bits of glass mostly window glass, but sometimes fragments from a bottle, charcoal and rusty metal.  Thats just me, what can I say.  Everyone saw a piece of plate or cup, but I already had a back story formulating in my mind of a mother offering a piece of everyday china to her departing son.  Material traces of the human story.  It was very possible that hands that touched these never returned home.  I like to think my puzzling brain and penchant for embracing human stories make me a great archaeologist, though it probably also makes me flawed- seeing stories before the "facts" are disclosed doesn't make me particularly objective.  I can't be perfect.  [smile] 

As the week progressed my trench team- Nick, my tutor, Esther (mentioned here by request), Niamh, and Joff- became increasingly aware that the practice trench we sought to find would not be materializing.  We'd found a rubbish tip instead.  Still a puzzling feature to Nick and the dig directors Richard and Martin.  Late Wednesday through recording Friday- one or all of the them would periodically stand above our hole peering quizzically waiting for an answer to reveal itself.  The only thing they ever decided was that there was some sort of layered infill of a probable crater.  It was hard for me to get discouraged when we didn't find out everything- I still got to put potsherd puzzles together and use my trowel!  Our biggest finds included a rusty bicycle seat, Camp Coffee bottle, HP sauce bottle, and screw post for barbed wire (see photo below of its excavation).

I did feel a twinge of regret on Friday while we backfilled the trench- our hole we had spent so much time making was now just to become a lump in the Bustard field on the MOD Estates.  Mostly though I felt tired.  It was a long week.  My beat up knees, stinging nettles scared bum -yes I sat on a patch near our trench, and scuffed up hands, and my back longing for my mattress.  Did I forget to mention we were camping all week? No, well, not only was I dusty and dirty and muddy from digging I couldn't get really really clean for a week.  The campsite did have a shower block, but I ask you how clean can you get I ask when the shower spurts water only in 30 second (I counted) bursts and only about 10 seconds of that water that might be called hot.  I'm okay with being dirty, outdoorsy, but mostly because it makes me so appreciate being clean.  [smile] Sad day when we set up our tents because I learned this was a no-fire campsite.  Please someone enlighten me on the fun of camping without s'mores and smelling of camp fire smoke. We did manage to enjoy camp evenings with that honest talk that comes from being together 24/7 and a few pints and the local pub.  The first night we even began reading DRACULA together- Gunnar as read because his German accent was the closest we had to Translyvanian.  Other nights spent talking of families, childhoods, ghosts ("No, but I expect to."- ask what this means if you like, though I'm afraid it might not be as funny if you weren't there. [smile]) It was fun to get to know my classmates in a new way.  Finally I'll briefly mention the cold- because though it was June the nights were freezing!  Literally.  Josephine and I almost froze to death the first night, but as the week went on it got better.  Nick was camping with us.  And I can attest to the fact that even professors with PhDs wake up groggily after a night in a tent.  [smile] 

Overall such a fun week! Sorry for rambling on so long hope you'll forgive or that you at least found it somewhat interesting.  I'll add photos tomorrow.

Just, Margaret 

Still alive!

Just letting you all know that I survived my dig and my first backpacking week with Em and Janell.  I've already written a long blog about the dig that I'm hoping to post later today with photos.  The photo above is of me with Emily and Janell in Edinburgh- a surprise stop (I'll explain later)!  Much more on all the fun we've been having to come... I might even try to arrange some guests posts.  All in all I'm having fun, enjoying life... hope you all are too.  

Just, Margaret

Friday, June 5, 2009

Ch-ch-changes a la David Bowie

Kinda a crazy song, but feels like my week.  Changes a midst the busyness that is life.  A quick update...
  • Still reeling over the fact that my BFF JM is living here now.  And since now has her mobile we've been texting and iming on Skype all week.  So nice to have somebody from my old life in the same time zone again... someone who understands the misery of trying to sleep-in when the sun is fully up by 6AM.  
  • Again to mention the long days (sunrise a little before 6AM and sunset after 9PM)... makes for an interesting life with a little less sleep.  Plus the weather has really felt like home (sunny and 80 degrees).
  • Sad to say though I missed a bit of the good weather on Tuesday with a horrible sore throat and summer cold.  Not fun, but luckily didn't last long.
  • Wednesday I began to feel back to normal and gave a Rotary talk that morning and then went out to Wells with Pat for the weekly village market.  Such a lovely town with a beautiful cathedral and really lovely 13th c. church to boot. Check out the photo below of the ceiling in the older church. Also where I saw my first real moat.  
  • Yesterday I finalized all the plans for the first week my cousins are visiting.  We're heading for a whirlwind tour of the East.  I've mostly seen West Country since I've been here so to say I'm looking forward to it is an understatement.  Plus it will just be fun to hang out with Emily and Janell.  I can't remember when we've last all been together .
  • While I was in the travel planning mood I also began to arrange my trip to France at the end of September.  My retreat to Taize is scheduled- a once in a lifetime experience (seriously since I can't imagine being able to get back before I turn 30).  I've decided on one of the two dates I'll fly back to the states.  Just waiting on confirmation from the parents that someone will be able to pick me up in Atlanta... I don't want to not have anyone in the airport when I arrive.  I did that at Christmas and it was just too sad.  
  • Also yesterday I decided to highlight my hair.  Kinda an impulse decision... thought about it Wednesday night, went in the salon the next morning and 3 hours later my hair that had never been colored before was slightly lighter than before.  Okay I know you probably can't tell much of a difference and I will admit if I were in Georgia this is probably just a little lighter than it would have become naturally over the course of the summer, but it feels very different to me.  Why do it then? Well, I felt the need to be pampered and a little girly before next week when I go on my first dig!
  • After the salon, shopping with Jos for the dig. We both felt pretty silly buying clothes to get dirty in.  Really an insane premise, but most of the t-shirts I would wear didn't make the packing cut when I moved here.   
  • In other news, MY TROWEL arrived in the mail this morning.  It feels like a trophy of some sort.  Surviving the course and making it to my first dig is an accomplishment.  I won't post a photo because Jos already did on her blog and mine looks exactly the same.  And she is totally right it is like Harry getting his wand.   
  • Finally I almost forgot to add that Wednesday I had tea with Bristol's Lord Mayor.  It was at an open day at the Mayoral residence, but still rubbing elbows with Bristol's elite.  
So overall a very busy week, especially when I list it all like that.  [smile]  Won't have my laptop on the dig, but I will have my camera.  Hope to be able to update next Friday before I'm off to London to celebrate the Queen's birthday and meet my cousins.  

Just, Margaret

Monday, June 1, 2009

Rush Sunday

Yesterday I attended Pentecost services with Pat, my Rotary counselor, at St. Mary Redcliff- a church in Bristol once visited by Elizabeth I and declared by Queen Victoria to be the most beautiful church in all of Christendom.  So yeah a pretty special place.  The added bonus is that the service I attended included the annual visit of the church by the Lord Mayor of Bristol, a tradition dating back 515 years.  Its adjusted slightly in our modern age from multiple sermons to just one and I'm fairly certain they would not have had video feed at the first service, but the pomp and circumstance of the event remains.  The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress arrived in their police escorted carriage drawn by 3 black stallions, all the civic officials plus all the clergy were decked out in their official regalia.  Rushes (straw/hay) was laid down the center aisle as it would have been in the 15th century.  The civic leaders were supplied with herb and flower posies, a tradition that harkens back to the need to keep the stench of the masses from the elite's nostrils.  The choir, which I'm fairly certain was all male, sang translations of Latin verse.  The sunny day was perfect, illuminating the vaulted ceilings and brilliant stained glass.  The smells, sounds, sights created such an overwhelming sensorial experience.  The event has taken on an exclusive status in modern times... tickets being issued to secure available seating so it was I was lucky to be able to attend.  The photos are from the arrival of the Lord Mayor and then the wine reception that followed the service in the garden.  Sorry no photos from the inside of the church... that just didn't feel appropriate.  

An additional note about the sermon.  The words lived up to the occasion.  The ginger haired ponytail bearing priest spoke of the need to recognize the value of differences within our ideas of community.  Using the traditional lectionary (OT:  Tower of Babel and NT: Pentecost event), he remarked that by valuing the stranger we become better able to be ourselves and embrace our own uniqueness.  He considered the idea that Pentecost was the NT companion to the story of the Tower of Babel, but that it also was not the complete reversal of God's actions.  Instead of restoring a common language, God created unity by embracing the differences that had been created.  So a good civic and Christian message.  

Just, Margaret

P.S. Spent some time looking over my June schedule this morning and realized I am really busy.  Out of Bristol for a week with a dig, another week away with cousins, then a week back in Bristol showing them around the West Country, plus two Rotary Club meetings to attend.  I'm sure it will be a fun/exciting month, but I'm also sure I won't have a chance to post often... maybe just once a week.  I just thought you all deserved fair warning.  Hope your Junes are as exciting.