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Feminism: totally relevant. Theology: can be totally relevant. Christianity: certain parts and strains of it can be very relevant. But a lot of times, when I look through the journal articles out there and the books that get published, I just shake my head and think "What the hell does this have to do with anything? Who cares anymore?" Do we really need yet another Protestant take on the Gospel of Matthew? I'm going to say no. I think for my own motivation I need to figure out a way to make my own arcane studies relevant to the greater world or risk boring myself with inanity.
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Home births under scrutiny. The title on my RSS feed said "Home births 'riskier than hospitals'. Headline with scare tactics. But the article goes on to say that the risk of death in a home birth 'was still low, at 0.2%.' GAH.

I don't even know why I read the news anymore.
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Today Prince Charles and Camilla open the Welsh Quilt Centre here in Lampeter. Ten past one, to be exact. If you're interested. There are barricades and bobbies and many older couples that I am convinced are in town only for the Prince. I am already developing a sense for who lives here and who doesn't. I may be the youngest person who is obviously hanging around for a glimpse. My friend's mum owns the quilt centre and afterward Camilla is going to mum's house for a private shop of extra-special Welsh quilts. Amusing.

Also, for those of you new-ish to my LJ, I thought I'd post links to my rants on the whole Twilight thing from a couple of years ago: My first write up of the first film, More thoughts on why I feel so strongly, and after I'd read the book. The discussion in the comments ended up being great. But do enter at your own caution.

What else? It's delightfully grey here today. The Fourth of July is this weekend, so the annual homecoming to Juneau is beginning. I feel the usual homesickness and sadness that is typical of this time of year for me. I am beginning to miss a bit more excitement in my life. I think this indicates that I'm settled in, but also might be indicative of summer and a need for more energy, outings and excitement in general. I also wonder if I might have missed my calling and I'm in the wrong phd program. Maybe feminist media studies would have been better? Dunno.
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I hate Twilight with every fiber of my being. I know there are several of you out there that love it. I have already posted in depth about my loathing of Twilight, so I won't go into it again. But Facebook is riddled with "squee" over the latest film. I have completely restrained myself and I have not commented on other people's posts. No need to acid rain on their parades.

But AAAAAHHHHHHHHHH! I HATE TWILIGHT.


I am SO happy that there is no movie theatre here and no one is talking about. Except on Facebook.
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I have too many books going. Of course I have a stack of books to read in my student office. Of course there are books in my house that I have yet to read. And of course I have recently borrowed four books from a friend, checked out four books from the local library, and three books from the school library. No wonder I feel all up in my head!

I am reading:
* The Wind in the Willows This is slow and ongoing. I read to B while I nurse. It is a guaranteed sleeper for him.
*A book on local trees
*The Dark is Rising I believe this series was [livejournal.com profile] hrafntinna's childhood favorite.
*The latest Sookie Stackhouse, Dead in the Family Just got it in on special order from the local library.

Also in the home reading line up are a book on sacred foods from the around the world, Nourishing Traditions a whole foods cookbook, and Eros by Anne Carson.

Today I finished a school book, so I'm not sure what to start next. It'll probably be another Mary, Co-redemtrix book from Queenship press. Sigh.
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I keep forgetting to say, but Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles will be in Lampeter for lunch and quilt browsing on Thursday. Who's gonna be hanging out by the barricade? This cheesy American!! This town is so tiny that I may actually get to see the royals up close.

How cool is that?

(Yes, I know. Monarchy. How passè! But still.)
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It is now official to announce:

I am pregnant. Not very far along, but pregnant. Official due date is March 1, but I have no expectations of going 40 weeks. I'm aiming for full term this time around: 37 weeks, which puts me at Feb 8. I'm totally thrilled and so far I feel fabulous - like, better than I've felt in year. Three cheers for hormones!
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It’s not that nothing is happening in my world, it’s that it is all happening up in my head. Lampeter is a quiet place. In recent ‘excitement’ a couple of jack-asses destroyed over 40 graves at the cemetery two weeks ago. They’ve been arrested, thankfully. Desecrating graves? Not a wise idea. The Urdd Eisteddfod came and went. Now it’s World Cup. The University is a mess and the theology dept is imploding; the TRS building has long felt like a ghost town, but it feels that way even more so. The town doesn’t seem to be feeling this as far as I can see.

On a personal note, I’m all up in my head and Adam is dealing with Big Things. I really want to write about some of it, but that doesn't seem right since it’s not my stuff. For me, I’m having a great back and forth about religion and spirituality with one of my cousins on Facebook. I’m petitioning the Uni for all of my fees. I’m reading some mind-blowing stuff about Temple Judaism and its influence on Christianity. Basically, if she’s right, and her arguments appear really solid (though I’m no Biblical scholar and do not have any of the languages), it throws the conventional understanding of the Bible and Christianity on its ear. My brain hurts a little, I confess.

(I just posted a really long post about Barker's writing to my theology filter. If you're not on it and want to be, just let me know.)
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These days it's all 2 steps forward, 1 step back.

Bennett is starting to self-regulate. Which is awesome. In food, he's starting to get really verbal about when he's hungry and what he wants. He even has his own set of crackers in an easy to reach cupboard for whenever he wants a snack. It's fab. (Step forward) But he's still nursing like his life depends on it. (Step back) In bed time, he's starting to put himself to bed and tell us when he's tired: 'Bennett cama. Mama. Cama.' [cama=bed] This is fab. Lately we have had several nights in a row when after the diaper change and jammies and whatnot, he wants to go to bed. There's usually some playing and then.... he asks for boo-boo and 'sing'. (Step forward) Even for naps he's telling us he wants cama and will go lay down in it. (Step forward) Of course, this is not completely consistent and we still have some nights where he just won't go to sleep and there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. (step back)

In diaper land, he is more and more aware of potties. He's peed in the big toilet twice. (step forward) Will not pee in a toddler potty. And during naked time will pee on the floor. (step back) But he's stopped freaking out when he poops! (step forward)

His language is fabulous. Turns out he knows that I have a name other than mama. Adam asked him, out of the blue, who N--- was and he pointed to me. Cool! His languages are all muddled together, but no matter. He's started two mornings a week at this wonderful day care centre here and it's mainly Welsh speaking.

Just like as adults our best traits can simultaneously be our biggest weaknesses, the same holds true for Bennett. He's always been a pretty chill kid (except for the nighttime thing). He's huggy, loves people, loves to interact, isn't phased if a kid whacks him or snatches his toy. In fact, B doesn't really care about toys. His favorite go-to toys? Butter knives, the kitchen tongs, our computers, balls - whatever random house hold object he can find. Puzzles? Games? Snooze. But all of this means that he also doesn't like playing by himself much or being alone. He's really *really* into interacting. So all that being chill folds over into being high maintenance.

What else? Oh yeah. This kid will not grow any more teeth. At nearly 25 months, he has grown 12 (of which, he has 9). I feel around every few days and - nope.
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I'm feeling quite internal lately. No desire to post. I am checking in, though. I have some large posts brewing on Bennett and on theological matters. Bennett is growing in leaps and bounds. On Sunday Nigel Cat brought a live bird into the house. That was exciting. He now wears a bell round his neck. We are absorbed with World Cup fever. Summer is beyond delicious here. We need garden chairs. Pronto. I have formally submitted my complaint to the University. I may post my letter later. Adam leaves for California in mid July. I'm a little envious of him getting to see a few friends and eat certain kinds of food.

There are a couple of other things to blurb about but I'll save them for a locked post later.

Just wanted to say: hiya. Not dead. Just simmering on the back burner.
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It's a gorgeous summer day, solstice weekend, and I'm SICK. It's been a comatose day involving naps, zombie-esque football watching, and internet refreshing.

So, let me share some of the gems I have discovered:

Firstly, http://www.theseventeenmagazineproject.com/ is a great blog, by a young woman who graduated from high school this week. All the feminism you need when reading Seventeen magazine, with none of the theory and bitter snark that more experienced/older feminists throw around.

Secondly, what do you get when you cross music with fanfic? Snoop Dogg loves him some Sookie Stackhouse/Tru Blood. He has written a banal song called 'Oh Sookie' and you can watch the video here. I could only get through half the video, but the mere premise is highly amusing.

Update

Jun. 19th, 2010 11:48 am
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It's been a rough week. Bennett had a NASTY stomach bug, which still has, um, occasional repercussions. I am now in the throws of it myself. It's manifesting a little differently, but I can't function.

The week has been all about diapers, tummies, writing a letter of complaint to the university in which I demand all of my fees returned to me (not likely, but always ask high), and World Cup football.

Comfrey!

Jun. 17th, 2010 10:23 am
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Turns out I have a MASSIVE comfrey plant growing in my back garden! Those of you in the know, how should I care for it? What can I use it for? I seem to remember that comfrey poulstices are helpful for post-partum recovery... If so, how do I prepare it?


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Watching Australia v Germany. The Aussies are outmatched. Sigh.

It's been a rough day. B is feverish and miserable. Hardly ate. Napped twice. Passed out at 6.45pm. He crawled into 'Bennett cama' (Bennett's bed) of his own choosing at noon and asked to watch cartoons there, so that's what we did. It was sweet. All the business items I'd planned to do will have to wait until after football. I can probably quote Kung Fu Panda line for line.

Poor little guy.

I started reading Barbara Kingsolver's 'Animal, Vegetable, Miracle' but I'm not feeling it. I think I've just read too much food writing: I'm the choir to her preaching, and I don't garden.

Leffe brown Belgian beer is really good. As are my mashed potatoes. I discovered the secret: butter FIRST, then milk.

Today

Jun. 11th, 2010 01:49 pm
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*I started the process wherein I ask UWL for my fees to be refunded.

*I discovered that there is a Hindu temple complex on the way to Carmarthen, Skanda Vale. They have a petting zoo, elephant, and their main temple is devoted to Kali. !!! ETA: Now that I've actually explored the site, it looks like there are 3 temples and no explicit Kali temple, rather it's a maha shakti, but I've been told they do Kali puja.

*I discovered that someone I am thoroughly enjoying getting to know is a devotee of Gurumayi, the guru of John Friend, who developed the Anusara style of yoga that I practiced, and also is the guru in Eat, Pray, Love.

*I have received two great books. One from [livejournal.com profile] hrafntinna, Witching Culture by Sabina Magliocco, and XVI by Scarlet Imprint books, and it is a beautiful book to behold. It is wonderful to see that book arts are not dead.

*Adam just got his new desk and chair. Oh praise be! He's been suffering with a too small falling apart folding chair and a desk appropriate for kids.

*Tonight we are going to friends so watch Game 2 of the World Cup. Yay! Let the beautiful games begin!
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What is it about art? Some pieces sing to us. Some pieces please our brains with their skill, but don't speak to our souls. Some pieces feel alive, others dead. It makes no sense; it's part of the mystery of the world we live in.

When I got to the British Museum I expected (well, I had surprisingly few expectations!) to be swept away by the Greeks and the Egyptians. But the Egyptians, while fascinating, didn't do it for me at all. The Greeks were beautiful, sublimely so. The mosaics and busts were exquisite. I really felt like the faces captured and contained a part of the soul of the person depicted. How can stone feel so alive?? The artistry is truly breathtaking.

One thing that humbled my modern person was how well these ancient - 2000, 3000 years old - pieces hold up. Not only are the works still intact or the details still there, but the artistry can still speak to us. What have we created that will still hold up and speak in 2000 years? Anything? I'm not sure.

What I absolutely never expected was to be moved at my very core by the Assyrian statuary and reliefs.

In college I took an ancient history class that covered the Akkadians, Assyrians, Egyptians, etc, but honestly I remember next to nothing. I have a loose understanding of the chronology, but a slightly better understanding of the myth and religious stuff. Still. I walked around a corner and BAM. Enormous winged lions with male bearded faces flanking a recreation of even taller cedar doors. The lion creatures were guardians of the gates and I barely came up to the hooves.




(forgive the photos, they were taken with my iphone and barely capture the art)

Here is a guardian of a temple of Ishtar:


I loved the reliefs of the bird-headed guardians:

This one is next to the tree of life




I was even moved by the reliefs of the lion hunt:



What's hard to see in all these pictures is that all the items have cuniform writing all over them. I had seen pictures of cuniform and learn about it (my last boss was an Egyptologist who could read hieroglyphs and even some cuniform), and never thought twice about it. But in person I found the script beautiful:


I can't explain why these stone items spoke so profoundly to me. Whatever magic is present in these items is equally present in the Greek busts and statues. But as much as I'd like to be enraptured by the Greeks it's just not for me. Usually I am more drawn to the green, forest, ocean loving peoples: the Celtic world speaks deeply to me, some of the Norse/Scandanavian stuff (though more intellectually than spiritually), the Finns intrigue me, and I am very partial to Shinto and Japanese ideas of nature. Hindu and yoga stuff has lately been taking a primary place in my mind, and of course there's always the Orthodox Christian world, though Christianity is quickly losing its appeal to me. That an ancient Mesopotamian culture would bowl me over like this..... well, every day a new adventure.
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My weekend was dull, great, fascinating, sweaty - all kinds of things, all over the map. Let's begin, shall we?

It takes a damn long time to get to London from Lampeter. An hour bus ride. At least a 30 minute wait for the train. A 5 hour train ride with multiple switches. But on this Friday there was something wrong with a signal and so it took me two more hours to get where I was going. I had to make a change of train route and then a bus. I was so tired when I got to Roehampton that I skipped going up to Richmond Park. I got settled, had a cup of tea, then bused back to Putney in search of dinner and a walk on the Thames. I walked down the Putney embankment in the evening sun. Loads of people out, sitting and standing along the river, enjoying the evening out. It was beautiful. You can have an open container here so people were carrying out their drinks from the neighboring pub. It felt festive, like a summer evening should. I walked to end of the benches and sat. I like to sit cross-legged a lot. A bald guy with a motorcycle helmet walked past and asked if he could join me on my bench, then he asked if I was meditating. We ended up talking for two hours. He told me about growing up in Belfast, getting stabbed for being Catholic and alone in the wrong neighborhood. He told me about practicing tai chi and nonviolence. He couldn't be much older than me but he had three teenage boys, the first born when we was about 15. Crazy.

After that I was truly hungry and excused myself to go eat some sushi. I had scoped out a neighborhood sushi place on line. It had really good reviews. But boy was I underwhelmed. It wasn't bad sushi (that would have made me sick) but it didn't really taste like anything. I was really disappointed. I had been looking forward to sushi all week.

Then I bused back to my room at the uni, read my book and went to sleep.

Saturday, my birthday, was a true disappointment. The conference was so-so. I did some thinking, which will get a post all its own later, and met a really fabulous woman who is hoping to start her PhD work at Roehampton. She studied with Tina Beattie there as an undergrad and had wonderful things to say. She studies womanist theology (black feminist theology) and is very social justice minded. She's also a lesbian with a daughter, in a bi-racial relationship. She was fab. My main adviser, SB, was sick and couldn't be present. I couldn't call her because she was suffering severe laryngitis. We had planned to go out for dinner, but alas.

So, now it was birthday and I had no plans of any kind. And no friends. After the conference I was ravenous. I decided to head out and go into Richmond to eat somewhere nice and slightly upscale, and to walk along the Thames there. I had been there last time I was in London and remembered the stop I had got on and off. But...... turns out there must be clusters of high street stores that go together in every neighborhood, because I got off and later discovered that I was only halfway to Richmond. I spent an hour and half walking around trying to get my bearings, in 80 degree heat. The neighborhoods were lovely, but I was hot, sweaty, tired, and very very hungry. A yellow lambourghini passed me. Twice. Finally, as I was at my wits end, deep in some green upscale neighborhood I saw a restaurant tucked in among the houses: The Victoria. Looked like my kind of place, but I passed it by because we just don't have loads of money for that sort of place. And then I stopped to think about it: I was lost and hot and hungry and it was my birthday dammit. So I went in.

This is like my dream place. A nice, but not fancy, place where everything is sourced and you can drink excellent wine and your kids can play in a tiny private playground at the back of the patio. There were families at every table. I was the only person eating alone. Le sigh. The waiter, who must have been no older than 27 - if that - was very attractive and I was tempted to ask him what time he got off work. Really, really tempted. The last thing I wanted to do was go home and read my mediocre novel. But that's what I did.

Turns out I was in East Sheen. Thanks to Wikipedia I learned just now that Daniel Craig and Robert Pattinson live there. Of course, wikipedia also says that Robert P lives in nearby Barnes. Awesome. ETA: Simon Le Bon, Nick Clegg, and Sir Richard Branson live in Putney. Wikipedia is a goldmine of (dis)information!

Sunday was surprisingly much much better. I took the bus to the British Museum. It took an hour, but I got to see loads of things and get a feel for the lay of the city. Man, London is a spectacular city. I've always preferred British literature to American literature, but I'm only coming to terms with just how much of an Anglophile I am. I LOVE BRITAIN. And I would live in London in a heartbeat (assuming we had money. ouch is it expensive). It's so green, and I love the architecture.

The British Museum was wonderful. I saw nearly everything there. I did not pay 15 pounds for the Da Vinci drawings. The most crowded things were the Rosetta Stone and the Egyptian room. The mummies were neat, but didn't knock me over with awe. The Greek statues, mosaics and busts were spectacularly beautiful. The busts were exquisite. Damn, those Greeks could sculpt! The faces had so much personality; it was as is magic had captured their life and soul and frozen it for all eternity. And yet, there was something cold about the Greek stuff. The Greeks have never sung to me, and seeing this stuff first hand confirmed that.

What did bowl me over were the Assyrians. This too will get its own post. I am nearly rendered speechless by what I saw and felt. This will also cover the next me meme post: art.

That evening I bused back to Putney, walked around, then ate at Wagamama. Putney isn't so interesting or original. I walked down the Putney embankment and then..... kept going. Turns out there's a long green biking/running trail along the Thames that connect Putney with Barnes. It was great. I had to pee the entire time, but it was great. And then I spent the evening reading my boring book, which I'll review in its own post. In the morning I woke at 4.45, of my own accord, and then eventually made my way back to Lampeter. I arrived home to a little boy who has no more traces of babydom about him and a house which Adam said he'd tidied, but really is filthy.

And that's that.
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Lots to write about.

But first to catch up on all y'all's goings-on.
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I'm getting super jazzed for my trip. Here is my latest plan:

Friday - I arrive at 2.34 in the afternoon. I'll walk to the uni, check in, get settled. Then I'm going to walk about 10 minutes up the road to Richmond Park - it's three times the size of Central Park! Maybe I'll have a cup of tea at one of the cafes and then I'll just stroll around and sit and look at 700 year old oak trees. Win.

After that, I plan to take the bus into Putney. I found a sushi place that has excellent reviews and happens to be along the bus line. Then I'll walk two blocks to the Thames and go for a walk along the embankment there. Then early to bed.

Saturday - Conference.
Sunday - The British Museum. There are loads and loads of other things I'm interested in, but since it will be my first time going into the city proper, and I'm a cautious city-goer, I figure I'll take it nice and slow my first time. I may end up eating at Wagamama again. Putnety doesn't seem to be all that original in the shop/eatery department.

Next trip I think I'm going to explore Richmond or Mortlake, and hit some other major site on a Sunday. I'm debating between another museum, Buckingham Palace and Kensington Gardens, or the Tower of London. It's so hard to choose.
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This coming weekend I'm going back to Roehampton. I'm leaving on Friday, arriving in mid-late afternoon. I'll settle in, have a cup of tea, unpack and then probably bus into Putney, walk around the Thames, eat at the Thai restaurant that I noticed overlooks the river and go to bed early. All day Saturday I'll be listening to panelists discuss creation, incarnation and nature. Sunday I am thinking of getting myself into London proper and going to the British Museum. I also desperately need some new clothes that don't have holes and fit properly. I'm really excited about the trip: getting motivated again for school work, exploring London and the Thames, taking myself out to dinner, sleeping by myself, and - since I have the same room booked as last time - having a fabulous shower.

I'm excited.

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