Saturday, January 31, 2009

David Copperfield

I have finished David Copperfield this morning. I promptly added it to my list of favorite books. I read the chapters entailing *spoiler alert!* Dora's death last night when I was very tired and cried and cried. It has been a long time since I've read any Dickens. I went through quite a phase when I was 13 or so. I didn't read David Copperfield then. I had seen an old black and white movie of it and was so horrified by his stepfather that I didn't want to read it. I am very glad to read it now, when I understand things so much better than I did then. It would really have been entirely lost on me at that stage.

Chapter 44 was one of my favorites, "Our Housekeeping" especially David's talk with his aunt. I love her advice to him:

"'These are early days, Trot,' she pursued, 'and Rome was not built in a day, nor in a year. You have chosen freely for yourself'; a cloud passed over her face for a moment, I thought; 'and you have chosen a very pretty and a very affectionate creature. It will be your duty, and it will be your pleasure too - of course I know that; I am not delivering a lecture - to estimate her (as you chose her) by the qualities she has, and not by the qualities she may not have. The latter you must develop in her, if you can. And if you cannot, child,' here my aunt rubbed her nose, 'you must just accustom yourself to do without 'em. But remember, my dear, your future is between you two. No one can assist you; you are to work it out for yourselves. This is marriage, Trot; and Heaven bless you both, in it, for a pair of babes in the wood as you are!'"

Wonderful advice indeed!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

getting things done

I've been getting things done this week. Which is a very nice change. Most of this month I've just felt frustrated at my own lack of motivation. I've been checking big things off the list. Things that have been there for a while. Today I finished my CV (the UK name for a resume) I had never made one before. That's not how you go about getting a nanny position. But I think I did an okay job. I've sent it off to people who know so I'll find out soon what needs tweaking.

I've emailed lots of people, cutting my inbox down to five letters waiting for responses, or just sitting there because I don't want to loose them. I still have two phone calls to make which I'm going to do now, before LOST starts in 20 minutes.

I have three books I wanted to finish by the end of the month. That's not going to happen. I'm really enjoying David Copperfield, but it is very long with very small print so it's taking a bit of time.

A sad thing happened. I made a great big, beautiful plate in the pottery studio last week. Well, I think it was going to be beautiful. It cracked while drying out to be put in the kiln. We think maybe this was because of some engobe I put on it. The next one I'm going to try drying out a bit with a heat gun. I'll post some pictures when things turn out.

That's all for now.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

looking backwards and forwards

I'm going to do something I don't do very often and write a (potentially) long post. I don't normally do this because I almost never read long posts on other people's blogs, at least not in their entirety. (sorry friends) I've just been thinking about somethings lately that I want to say. And it all stems from the election of our new leader.

First, I've been thinking of Former President Bush. As I watched the inauguration yesterday one of my many emotions was sadness for him. Here is a man who took on an extremely difficult job and did it to the best of his abilities and according to what he felt was right. Even if we don't agree with his decisions maybe we can acknowledge that he made them according to his personal convictions. And yet he has been the brunt of scorn, ridicule, and hate. In the process of our new beginning personified in President Barack Obama it seems as if we have already forgotten what and who has gone before. This is not a place to nitpick through Bush's 8 years as president, nor am I the person to do so. I just wanted, in some small way, to honor this man who stayed true to himself and his sense of right and wrong.

In the current edition of Relevant magazine (with Pete Greig on the cover !) the editors note is called The Untold Story. In the opening paragraphs editor Cameron Strang says this, "Recently, I was reminded of one of the most significant untold stories of our generation, and it happens to center on our outgoing president. It's a story so important that I contend a hundred years from now, it will actually be the primary thing history uses to define President George W. Bush's administration. And it has gone virtually unreported by the media."

Strang goes on to tell the story of PEPFAR (the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief). PEPFAR has increased the number of people in Africa living with AIDS who receive anti-retroviral medication from 50,000 in 2003 to surpassing the original goal of 2 million people in 2008. As a result of the medication and simultaneous education a further 8 million people have not contracted the disease who otherwise would have. "PEPFAR is touching every aspect of African society, it's changing the course of Africa's future." The success of the program led to Bush pushing through a tripling of its funding this past summer.

"A president must have a firm set of principles from which he will not deviate. I believe in the universality of freedom, and I believe freedom is universal because of an almighty God. It's not just freedom from tyranny that the US must become involved in, I believe it's freedom from disease, freedom from hunger, freedom from deprivation. If you believe in the universality of freedom, then you should not shy away from doing your duty." -George W. Bush

That's all for looking back, now for looking forward.

I was very moved watching the inauguration yesterday. So many things were vying for my attention. I was constantly reminded of my third grade teacher, Elise Johnson now Foster, who taught us about many American heroes during Black History Month in February 18 years ago.

I was challenged by President Obama's focused and almost militant speech. Phrases like, "Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met. On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord." and "Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task. "

I am looking forward with hope that our new president will be more than someone who inspires and gives good speeches, but that he will be a true leader, a man of action and determination. I am looking forward to seeing a new birth in our country, let us "be the participants in making it so."

I know that some of my friends from other countries were probably cringing at some of President Obama's statements, and I understand those cringes. But deep in my heart I am still proud to be an American. I believe in the strength of a nation "conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." I look at history and I see how my country was the first of many to embrace these ideals. And yes, I know that the road has been rocky and we've had to backtrack now and then. But we continue to move forward, we do not give up. And I am proud to be from the "land of the free and the home of the brave."

Here is a slideshow put together by a childhood friend of mine, actually the son of my third grade teacher, who is an amazing photographer of election night in Grant Park in Chicago.

I guess that's all.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

winter... finally

So we've finally gotten some winter weather down here in the south. We had a day this week when the high was around 25 degrees Fahrenheit. Today it's 40 but feels like 34, and we might even get some snow tomorrow or Tuesday, although it won't stick because we are, after all, in the south.

In other news I spent a good part of the day yesterday painting the youth room in my church's new venue, think I'll be back again tomorrow.

I've also been spending some time in the pottery studio, which I'm excited about. I'm thinking of having a pottery sale to help raise money for moving to Ireland, maybe in May, if I can get enough pieces together.

This is something strange (and gross) I've been expelling copious amounts of mucus. This is strange because I've not been sick. I have no sinus pain or pressure, I'm just really snotty... ew!
That's all.
Oh, LOST is back on Wednesday, YEAH!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

As a nanny/babysitter I have some pretty funny conversations. Here's one from Tuesday night between me and Sydney who is five years old.

Syd: Do you have super powers?
Me: Yes I do.
Syd: You do? Show me! Fly!
Me: I can't, I have to protect my secret identity... I guess I could tell you one. I have super cleaning powers.
Syd: You do?
Me: Yes. Can't you tell, I cleaned your room today.
Syd: Wow!
Me: And tomorrow I'm going to clean your bathroom.
Syd: Can you please make sure to do the toilet?
Me: I'm not doing that kind of cleaning. I have super organizing cleaning powers.
Syd: Oh. Well the top drawer needs extra help.
Me: Yes it does, don't worry I've got it.