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

Monday, August 31, 2009

August Book Review

I’m reading so many books these days that I can hardly keep track. So I thought I would add a book review post to my regular movie review at the end of each month. Though instead of using the handy star rating system, I’ve devised a different scale of my own. (Skip, read, re-read, recommend.) Hope you enjoy.

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
Very funny novel following the adventures/exploits of Flora Poste, a busybody with the goal of making the world “tidy”, as she visits her distant relations on a farm in Sussex. Such a delightful book sustained by enduring wit and humor! (read, re-read, and recommend)

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
I've read one other of Atwood's books, The Handmaid's Tale, and neither it nor this one were disappointing. Both were well written, uniquely conceived tales of womanhood throughout the ages. This was particularly singular in form of style and structure... both modeled in ways from Greek mythology, literature, and drama. I enjoyed it, but I find reading Atwood requires at least for me a desire to immerse myself in feminist language, plot, attitude and sensibility not something that I'm always in the mood for in recreation reading. (read)

This popular fiction read is not my normal fare, but the movie trailers spiked my interest. I wasn't terribly disappointed. It was well written and the story was truly unique. A quite long book (500 odd pages if I remember correctly) and so becoming attached to the characters was really inevitable. Of course I was in tears by the end of the book, even though I had a feeling I knew how it would end. I guess the most interesting part of the book is the timeline. Each chapter is subtitled with a date and the ages of the characters involved... it all has to do with the issue of time traveling. Though I did find myself looking back once or twice for clarification of which version of each character was speaking (the book is also written in a split narrative of the husband and wife's perspectives), Niffenegger accomplished the feat of transporting the reader along with Henry, the time traveler of the title, on the backwards and forwards progression of his life. Definitely perfect for a book club, as it would bring up an interesting discussions: time, relationships, trust, absence, ect. (read and recommend)

Just, Margaret

August Movie Review

Just okay. I’ve seen better romantic comedies and better Sandra Bullock movies. Good for a few laughs, but I would definitely wait to rent it on DVD or better yet wait to watch it on TNT or USA as it will inevitably end up being one of their “new classics” in a year or two. Most bizarre was that the female lead’s name was Margaret... completely threw me for a loop. I don’t plan to watch this one again. (1 of 5)

I hesitate to even admit that I paid money to see this awful film. Misogynistic to the nth degree, predictable, and not really funny. I am a fan of Katherine Heigl (I like her portrayal of Izzie Stevens on Grey's), but after reading about her criticism of Knocked Up as sexist I assumed she would be more discriminating of other scripts. After seeing The Ugly Truth, I'm assured she is not. (0 of 5)

Another not so great rom com, especially when compared to the book. I guess I should have expected that last part. Films are rarely as good as their literary counterparts. Somehow the real thrust and emotion of the book was lost in translation. (1 of 5)

Just, Margaret

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Apparently this is the Pakistani word for really great, cool. I learned it at that international covered dish meal I mentioned I was going to and that I baked the Key Lime Pies for. It was so fun! Really. Zabardust (pronounced za-bar-dusth)!

I feel very blessed to have been able to meet the people I have this year. My international education has been as defined by my interaction with them as any of the lectures in which I have sat. Success this year isn't defined by my ability to trowel out the perfect trench (though I do think I've come a long way on that front [smile]) or to be able to explain stratigraphy for various audiences, but by the relationships I've formed. I'm not sure how many people I'll be able to keep in touch with as we scatter to all corners of the world, literally. (I hope it is more rather than few.) The season to part has come, as I reminded by someone this evening. It is not something that can be changed any more than I can change having met these wonderful people in the first place. God has ordained my life to include this rich experience and I am thankful. What my journey will include next I can only attempt to imagine!

Just, Margaret

Friday, August 28, 2009

Southern Classic

Some of the soon to be ex-residents of MIH are having a covered dish, aka potluck dinner, tomorrow night. Blog surfing through the posts of friends of friends I ran across a recipe for Key Lime Pie and decided that was one I had to bring. What says "Southern Summer" better? I had to adapt it a bit with my English ingredients, but I'm fairly certain I got it right. Most exciting of all is that I've never baked one from scratch before, which made it all very adventurous and fun.

Just, Margaret

Monday, August 24, 2009

Its here!

My backpack was the "large parcel" referred to in the previous post. And yes I totally just took several pictures of myself with the pack to post here because I was so excited. Ignore the crazy hair (I just took a shower) and the "farmer's tan" (a result of the dig). France here I come... or should I say "la France voici moi!"

**Pardon my French. Seriously that's the best I could come up with from my high school training and my hand-me-down phrase book. I probably should brush up on a few phrases. Or at least get very friendly with "Je parle tres peu le francais."**

Just, Margaret


This note was waiting for me when I arrived back to my flat today.

Dear Margaret, There's an extremely large parcel for you in the office. Regards, Warden Team
I think it must be my new backpack!!! If it isn't then its a big surprise. Either way I'm excited because I have mail. Oh, I love receiving mail. It has to be one of the simplest of joys. I hope I never grow to old or cynical to not appreciate snail mail. A full email box (like the one I had waiting me this evening as well) is great, but there is something about the old school postal system that just can't be beat.

Just, Margaret

Sunday, August 23, 2009


De-turfed, mattocked, scooped out, and troweled TP 19 all by myself. Also finished all the paperwork to make it official. I will say that deturfing and trowelling are two of my favorite things to do on a dig, simply because they produce results. Its like instant gratification to see a perfect 1x1 meter square of earth exposed and then to trowel down to a flat level, square box. Well there is just nothing like it. Hope I can remember that feeling when I start work again tomorrow morning.

Just, Margaret

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Today due to foul weather and for the sanity of the archaeologists on site (me included) we toured the Victorian Mansion on the estate and the real reason we're able to explore our field with National Trust blessing. Beautiful is not exactly the right word for the house. It is ornate and exquisite, but mostly its just quirky. The house is filled with all the everyday things accumulated by the family over the last 150 odd years and they are all just waiting to be catalogued as part of the collection. Already National Trust has catalogued 30000 artifacts. The quirkiness is perhaps intensified by the detachment of the house from the surrounding gardens by the massive scaffolding. (The house is undergoing an extensive repair... roof, rewiring, central heating, then clean up and restoration.) Still it was quite fascinating to poke around a piece of property in the process of becoming a proper national museum. Sorry about the poor quality photos. I couldn't use my flash and my camera never focuses properly with out it.

Our special name badges also meant greater access... into the cellar and up on the scaffolding to examine the repairs to the roof. And can I just say being on the Victorian roof checks of my wish to have a "Mary Poppins" experience before I head home. [smile]

By the way the first link goes to a 360 degree panorama of the estate and some of the rooms and the second goes to the news clip regarding the extensive collection.
Just, Margaret

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

This week's daily schedule:

I've been going to bed extra early this week, between 9 and 9:30. Here's why:

Get up 7ish... dress (put on dirty dig outfit from day before and pull hair up), eat breakfast, pack lunch and kit
Picked up at 8:10... drive 20 minutes to site, unload kit/tools
8:45-10ish... dig, trowel, mattock and get at least one new scrape or bruise, uncover one new layer of stone, silt, sand, or clay
Tea Break (how very British right... though as the American on site I do feel it is imperative that I drink coffee [smile])
10:30-1ish... more digging, troweling, mattocking
LUNCH (PB, honey, banana sandwich, insert fruit of the day, Jaffa Cakes-for sugar boost)
2ish-4ish... hopefully measuring and recording, but probably more digging, troweling, mattocking
Clean up, ride home
Pick up lunch supplies for next day and an afternoon snack (usually ice cream)
Veg on couch in TV room
Shower, remind myself each new bruise is a symbol of living my childhood dream
Cook dinner, eat, bed

Just, Margaret

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

BBC Points West

Our dig was covered on TV today. Still haven't figured out if I made the final cut. I'll try to post a video soon. It tide you over, click here for an online article.

Just, Margaret

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Big purchase

I bought a backpack for my trip to France in October! I don't usually spend this much money on myself apart from travel arrangements... at least at one time. I have to say it feels a bit like Christmas and as I clicked "submit order" at REI.com I had this rush of all the exciting places I plan to go with my backpack over the next year... Taize and Paris, journey back to the UK in February for graduation, D.C. in the Spring, and I hope road trips to Tennessee, Nebraska, South Carolina, and definitely back to Louisiana to visit friends and family. Perhaps I could even convince my sisters to go camping with me somewhere, since we'll all be in the same state for a change. I can't wait for it to arrive. [smile]

Just, Margaret

Friday, August 14, 2009

Dig it!

Tomorrow is the start of a two week excavation. For real, not just ice cream. [smile] I'm away for about 8 hours each day, 11 days total. The exciting bit is I do get to return to my own bed and hot shower each evening. No camping in a cold tent. Yahoo! I'll try to bring a few updates throughout the weeks... though don't expect too much as I'm sure I'll be exhausted. Pray for nice weather. Wouldn't it be awesome to have a tan at the end of the 2 weeks as opposed to a cold from rainy England? I think I might be a bit too optimistic on that front.

If anyone is interested, we'll be excavating a Second World War site occupied at some stage by US GIs. Its located just out of Bristol city limits... at Tyntesfield- a national trust estate. Overall there is very little information about the site... all shrouded in a mystery for some reason. I'm not sure you can expect me to be very enlightening at the end of the two weeks. We'll just be digging 30 odd test pits and trying to shed light on what areas and how deep actual trenches should be for next year's continuation of the project. Still I'm hoping the extra practice will help me hone my digging techniques and recording skills while inspiring me to finish my dissertation. Perhaps we'll find some indication of a significant homefront interaction (a stockpile of nylons, a big gum ball, etc. [smile]).

Just, Margaret

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Phish Food Excavation

Maybe I'm just going a bit insane with all the stress of dissertation writing, but last night as I happened upon what has to be the perfect ice cream for archaeologists. Ben and Jerry's Phish Food. Think about it... It has an easily discernible stratigraphy: marshmallow gooeyness, slightly hardened caramel, and chocolate ice cream! And the chocolate fish: artifacts! Am I right or am I right?

Just, Margaret

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Nightly Rituals

Okay so I'm kinda obsessed with using facial mud masks... you know to exfoliate and such. Its a de-stresser for me and it also seems to help my skin, so I do it about twice a week. Usually later at night, just before bed or in the morning before I shower... though I'm never really worried about seeing anyone with it on cause I'm in my room and if I see my housemates is usually running into them in the hall or kitchen. Sure you can see where this is going. I decided to prepare for bed early cause I'm waiting on a Skype call from my parents and grandparents and I also wanted to read and it is a Sunday and so what if I get ready for bed before 10 sometimes (my teacher friends go to bed by 9). I'm also tired from a busy weekend (JM and I walked at least 5 miles yesterday and mostly uphill) and I didn't allow myself to take an afternoon nap. So I put on the mask (which is a pale lavender that when dried I'm sure makes me look like one of the walking dead... ghostly pallor and all) and start reading and forget its there until... "Knock, knock". Yep go to the door and its Ibrahim and Hiro, nice guys but guys none the less. And so I yell out the door as I'm opening it because its inevitable now that I've already asked "who is it?" that "my face is purple and I'm sorry. What do they need?" [oy] That was one of the longest 3 minutes in my life because I and they are acutely aware of my abnormally colored face. Conversation over and I close the door and all I can think is "of course this would have to happen to me."

Just, Margaret

Balloons over Bristol!

Did I mention earlier this week Jane Marie was scheduled to visit this weekend? She finagled her boyfriend, "Himself", into organizing a bike ride in Wales then a visit with his University friend who now lives in the city so that we could have a day to hang out. Perfect day! We enjoyed the delights of a sterotypical "Girls Day Out"... shopping, eating, gossiping, etc. The evening we spent in classic Bristol summer fashion, picnicing on the Downs overlooking the Bridge and watching the mass launch of Bristol's Famous Balloon Fiesta and attended the Night Glow on Ashton Court Estates. So fun! Photos are above and below... the first is courtesy of Josephine who joined us for the picnic and the video is to give you an idea of what the Night Glow was like and how silly JM and I are when we're together. [smile] Yay for experiencing the real Bristol and for a fun weekend with a friend!

Just, Margaret

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Bang, boom, boom

Tonight I can hear the fireworks for the Bristol Balloon Fiesta. Its all happening just across the bridge (so about a mile away) and it feels like they are in the aiming right into my open window. [smile] Tonight is the first night of the festival. I'm planning on attending Saturday with Jane Marie who'll be visiting. I can imagine that it will all be quite exciting. For the next three days, mass balloon launches will occur twice a day (6AM and 6PM), then Saturday evening another "Night Glow" (balloons inflated on the ground... kinda like giant lanterns) and more fireworks. If the wind is right in the morning, they should pass by my window. I'll post some photos this weekend.

Just, Margaret

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A theology of hope

I attended a evening church meeting tonight... tackling the topic of "free" will and predestination. I thought for sure I knew what I was in for, namely conservative theology. And while that did come up in the time for questions, I was pleasantly surprised by the openness and inclusivity of the speaker's perspective. He did not try to explain away the questions the idea of "free" will or what it might mean to be "predestined", rather he embraced a theology of hope and the idea of fellowship within suffering. What I really wanted to share out of all of this though was the quote he ended the discussion with.

Hope has two beautiful daughters, their names are Anger and Courage- anger at the way thing are and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are.
The words of Augustine rang out in truth for me at least... the profundity of connecting my personal capacity for hope with my passion for justice ministries.

Just, Margaret

Sick Day

Yesterday morning after waking up fine I began to feel not well. Still not exactly sure why or what happened. Maybe it was something I ate, maybe it was stress. I will be so glad to be on the other side of this dissertation. Today thankfully I'm feeling better and hope/plan to get a good bit of work done.

Just, Margaret