Thursday, May 28, 2009


First of all something I've been meaning to say for a while now:
Has anyone ever noticed how spring seems to have a theme every year? Like there seems to be more of one kind of plant or animal than any other? The first year I noticed this it was daisies. They were absolutely everywhere. Every road side was lined with them. They were springing up in yards and ditches and medians. Absolutely everywhere. Then it was butterflies. Big, small, plain, fancy. Butterflies flitting about everywhere, in neighborhoods, on the highway, at the park. Butterflies galore! This year, birds. Birds singing, birds courting, birds building nests. Robins, finches, wrens, woodpeckers, cardinals, blue jays, sparrows, bluebirds, geese, birds I've never seen before. The birds are absolutely everywhere! Am I the only one who has noticed this?

Second, something I've thought of:
Oftentimes my response to someone ribbing me (taking the mick out of me or teasing me or having a laugh at my expense) is an explanation of the way I see things. I do this because I'm not always a very witty person and I'm usually not quick on the draw for smart comebacks. But what I've realized is that when I do this British people think they have "wound me up." So, what's a girl to do?

Third, I've been listening to Radio Theatre's Little Women. I'm a third of the way through my second listen and I continually find myself crying while I listen. And I don't know why. It's a puzzle. But I do love it. (Little Women that is, not the crying.)

Fourth, yesterday I spent six hours at the pottery studio. I was glazing the entire time. We'll see what comes out of the kiln... could be scary!

I guess that's all.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

some random 18th century trivia

A few things we learned in Williamsburg:

Thomas Chippendale of furniture fame once said, "Green, purple, and cream will rule this age."

Josiah Wedgewood is credited with the industrialization of pottery. He was an abolitionist and his pottery produced commemorative pieces for William Wilberforce. He was also a member of The Lunar Society which was a philosophical society who met secretly because at the time their ideas about the divine right of individuals (as opposed to the divine right of kings) was considered treasonous.

The first play ever staged on American soil was The Merchant of Venice.

Scarlet was the most expensive color of dye in the 18th century.

Queen Catherine of Portugal introduced the drinking of tea to the English.

King George the III was 21 at his coronation and his wife, Queen Charlotte who was from Germany, was 17. My city, Charlotte, the Queen City, is named after her and our county, Mecklenburg, after the part of Germany she came from. (I knew that last bit before I went to Williamsburg.)

Monday, May 25, 2009

these free and independent american states

On Wednesday afternoon I drove for 4 hours and 40 minutes up to Williamsburg, Virginia to meet Rosie who had driven down from Michigan with her parents for vacation. What a wonderful time we had! We toured Colonial Williamsburg. We had high tea in a cute little tea shop. We had leisurely walks and delicious dinners. And we had tons of time to talk and catch up and enjoy being together.

Highlights of the trip in no particular order:

1) Rosie's curry and cookies. She even sent cookies home with me!
2) The acting was phenomenal. Both at the play house and the big street production that takes up most of the afternoon.
3) The dresses and hats were beautiful. Wish we could've tried them on.
4) I got some horehound candy. Laura Ingalls Wilder always used to eat this. It isn't actually very wonderful, but I got to try it!
5) We had a delicious lunch at the Raleigh Tavern.
6) I purchased Recipes from the Raleigh Tavern Bakery "a collection of the most tasteful and approved recipes in Virginia cookery." It has the 18th century recipes and then on the opposite page the 21st century "translation."
7) On Thursday morning the first thing we did was see "Fops, Rogues, and Villains." Which was a hilarious introduction to character types from 18th Century Theater.
8) We got the chance to try out an 18th century dance. That was good fun!
9) The mock 18th century trial was hilarious! The judge didn't even seem to be acting, totally and completely believable!
10) Revolutionary City was fantastic! The whole town gathers together from 3 to 5 every afternoon and reenacts historical events that happened in Williamsburg. Again, the acting was great and it was fun to be an 18th century crowd calling huzzah! and here here! and seeing someone almost get tarred and feathered!
11) High tea for lunch on Friday was so fun! We had all these little sandwiches and cakes and a little cup of soup and we didn't expect it to fill us up, but we practically rolled out the door as we left!
12) On Thursday we had dinner at a little local place called Food for Thought which was so cute. It had all these literary quotes on the wall and cards with quotes and questions and things on the table and the food was great. If I lived there that would definitely be my favorite restaurant.

So I basically left wishing I could move up there and become an artisan or one of the re-in-actors. Some kind of grown up version of running away with the circus. What fun it would be! At least for a year or two. The problem is that even if they let me do pottery (being a woman) I would have to learn how to use a kick wheel and a non electric kiln. I could always learn a completely new craft, like spinning and weaving (which I've always wanted to) but that would take a while. Oh well! I guess I'll have to be content with visiting some other time.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

it's all been a lie

So I was working on cleaning things out more today and found an article from Charisma magazine I had pulled in 2002. It is called "How Prayer is Shaking Europe" and is all about 24-7 Prayer. I always thought, and have told numerous people, that I first learned about 24-7 in Relevant magazine's debut issue in 2003. Well, I didn't lie on purpose!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

it's official, i'm a nerd

So, I absolutely love The Decemberists' latest album: The Hazards of Love. It came out in March, but I just got it this week. Borders had a delay in the shipping the first and second times I went in to get it. Then I decided to download it from iTunes instead of buying the CD, but Laura had my external hard drive to use for her wedding. Anyway, I've got it now and I haven't listened to anything else since I first hit the play button.

The album tells the story of two ill-fated lovers, William and Margaret. I wasn't sure if Colin Meloy had based this on a specific folk tale so I did a bit of research and it seems the whole thing started when he wrote a song called The Hazards of Love, that song led into another and another until the entire story was told.

The thing is, I'm relatively familiar with British and Irish folk tales and folk music, and he has rather seamlessly tied together several common themes into a beautiful whole. I absolutely love this album. (Did I mention that already?) It has pretty much everything I love; story-telling, beautiful folk melodies, a bit of grungy rock.

I love that Becky Stark, who sings Margaret's part, sounds like Snow White. I love the strength of Shara Worden's voice as the Queen. I love how Colin's voice contrasts and complements them both. I love the gentleness of William and Margaret's love. Even though the story has a sad ending, it is so beautiful I don't mind. In fact, I think it would lose a good part of the beauty if the ending were any different. I love that Colin uses words like lithesome, and bereft, and phrases like "our heroine here falls prey to her abductor!"

It's hard to pick my favorite song, or even my favorite part. I love The Hazards of Love part 2. (Wager All). I love The Hazards of Love part 4 (The Drowned). I can't say that I like The Rake's Song (it is about infanticide) but I can't get the chorus "All right, all right, all right!" out of my head. I love all of the Queen's lines, how her voice complements the thumping bass line behind it.

Colin said in the Paste Magazine article I read that it was intended to be a nerdy album. It's very possible he was talking about the instrumentation which I wouldn't know anything about. Nevertheless, I love it, so I guess I'm a nerd.

On June 4th Daniel and I are going up to Raleigh to see them live. It seems as if this tour is them playing the entire album, straight through from start to finish. I CAN'T WAIT!

Friday, May 15, 2009

thinkin bout LOST

Just finished watching the season finale of LOST... (spoiler alert)

I just watch the episodes, I don't read articles or participate in chats or anything else related to Lost, except the show itself. However, I wanted to know what Richard said in answer to the question, "What lies in the shadow of the statue." So I clicked through the message boards on until I found the answer: "He who will protect us all." Then I read some Professor of Religion's blog about the episode. That triggered a few thoughts. They probably aren't that revolutionary, but I don't hear anyone else's theories about the show so they're new to me.

Jacob's adversary, the man in black who was looking for a loop hole in order to kill Jacob, (I did pick up that some people think he is the smoke monster) what if he has been manipulating everyone all along by appearing to them as the people who died on the Island (or whose dead bodies were taken to the Island; Locke and Christian Shepherd)?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

at the expense of my ear drums

I learned something interesting last night. We went to Amos' in SouthEnd to hear Paper Tongues, a band made up mostly from guys we knew at MorningStar. They are on tour with Family Force 5 and Flyleaf. To be honest I had never heard of either of the other bands. And they are not the kind of music that I'm into. Actually we left after the first song Flyleaf played. (They were head lining.) So there was a different crowd of people than I would normally interact with.

It was a great place to people watch.

While I'm plugging bands of friends I think Public Radio are amazing! I also like Flagship Brigade which boasts some of my brother's best friends as members.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

i forgot what I was going to say

I know that I had some things I was going to blog about... can't really remember what they were so I guess you're going to get a completely random post of whatever pops into my head the next few minutes.

Some night this week I woke up in the middle of the night having dreamt that someone asked me for a "club-less sandwich" to which I replied, "Oh, you mean a BLT?" And I thought this was hilarious. Although clearly, if there really were such a thing as a club-less sandwich it would just be a turkey sandwich as I'm pretty sure it's adding the bacon that makes it a club, not the other way around. Never-the-less at some odd hour of the morning I found this highly amusing!

Something I found less amusing at 3:00 in the morning was waking up to my dog having a seizure and my mom freaking out. He had another one last night but I didn't hear the ruckus as my dad was home and we had taken him to the vet and knew how to deal with them. We think maybe some treats we've been giving him have caused it... if that's not the case and they continue we'll probably have to put him down as he is getting old anyway. This would be very extremely sad.

In happier news I got a very cute little sun dress at Target yesterday. I've been wanting one since last summer, but I got home too late last year and all the good ones had been sold. It's perfect, I can dress it up with shoes and jewelry for church (like I did today) or throw it over a swim suit and flip flops at the beach and in the winter I could even layer it over/under jeans/leggings/long-sleeved shirts/sweaters. The perfect versatile wardrobe piece!

I've just started reading "Go Green, Save Green" by Nancy Sleeth. I'm just one and half chapters in, but really enjoying it. Not a whole lot is immediately relevant to me as I have no house of my own at the moment. But here are a couple quotes from the first chapter that I really liked:

"In our three decades together, one of the things Matthew and I have learned is that our home is about a whole lot more than Matthew and me. It is about our children, our calling, the example we set, and the legacy we leave."

"One of the reasons Americans throw so much stuff away is that very few of us live in true community with our neighbors."

I'm still getting rid of stuff. I just found out that my church is participating in a big yard sale in a few weeks so I'm going to be done going through everything by then, sell what I can, and drop the rest off at Crisis Assistance Ministries. What a relief it will be to be done with it all and have only a handful of boxes ready and waiting to join me in Ireland.

I just finished completing my Gilmore Girls DVD collection thanks to eBay. I got the last three seasons I was missing for the same price that one would've cost me at Target. That makes me happy!

I guess that's all. I may or may not remember what I was actually going to say some other time.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

what's the name of that song?

So, I've had the shortest of phrases of a song that I don't really know stuck in my head for several weeks now. I know that this is a song that most people know. I was at a concert a month or two ago and it was covered and everyone in the audience was singing along. The problem is I have no words and my brother (who is supposed to be the musical guru of the family) didn't recognize it when I hummed the little bit that keeps playing over and over in my head.

I think the phrase in my head is the end of the chorus and I think that it ends with: "the road a winding." But it is not the Beatles' A Long and Winding Road. It is a male singer. Could be Bob Dylan, not sure. Definitely that kind of feel to it. Anyway, I just really want to figure it out cause I like this song and it's not my fault that I don't know it. I was very restricted with what I was allowed to listen to growing up and it takes a while to catch up on all I missed out on.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

trying to understand

This is a post which is entirely for myself alone. I recently read a book called Northern Protestants - an Unsettled People, by Susan McKay. I just finished taking notes from the book. There were some quotes that I wanted to have easy access to because I'm trying to understand the culture in Northern Ireland, to see things from as many perspectives as possible. Typing goes much quicker than writing so I've just collected a large bulk of them here instead of writing them all out in my Ireland notebook. Take no mind, unless you want to.

"I asked Lesley what she thought of Paisley. She glanced around in a pantomime of anxiety and said in a whisper, 'Oh! Fundamentalists!' She shook her head disapprovingly, then added, 'Don't you dare write that down or they'll be hammering my door down.' I said I thought they would be pleased to be so described. She said she supposed it would be all right. It wasn't a particularly inflammatory remark, but her anxiety about it was indicative of a sensitive instinct for self protection among 'comfortable' Protestants, who fear incurring the wrath, not so much of the IRA, as of loyalists. One man said he couldn't talk frankly to me because, some years previously, someone had painted 'UFV' on his garden wall. 'I have to think of my family,' he said."

The woman who went on about women's rights and then cut the interview short to go and make sandwiches for her 20 something son who was just standing around waiting for her.

"The church building actually straddles the peaceline between (Catholic and Protestant areas). ...there was still a door from the church out into (the Catholic area). It was never opened."

"She was a factory worker until her first child was born, and then she stayed at home. 'I was privileged enough to be able to be a housewife. People don't realize the pride you can take in having perfectly polished windows and dinner in the oven for your husband when he comes home. There is a freedom in that. It shouldn't be downgraded."

"The picture she painted was of a macho society where male violence was a defining characteristic. Domestic violence was rife, and if a woman could not call upon a more powerful man to curb her husband, she had to put up with it."

"Loyalist men loved tattoos, and heavy gold jewellery. I went to interview someone in a bar in Belfast once and a group of UDA men were sitting around a table showing off their gold to one another like pirates."

"The Israelis and the white South Africans are in a very similar situation to us. ...My thing is, there's the IRA, the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the African National Congress, and I detest all three of them."

"Wallace offered another reason why young people joined the paramilitaries. Those who did not join did not have protection and could find themselves 'targets for the men with sticks and baseball bats.' He described the gangs, combined with the paramilitary youth wings, as making up a 'vast destructive force' which the UDA tried, with some success, to control."

"He compared the loyalist male attitude to Protestant women going out with Catholics to the attitude white men might take to a white woman going out with a black man. 'Catholics are the blacks of the North' he said." -Good grief!!!

"Most of what he learned in school, he said, was in the playground. 'How to talk my way out of difficult situations. How to take punches and kicks. How to get up and walk away. I hated it.'"

"'Protestant men are violent, and their language is riddled with violence,' said Mitchell. 'They regard women as weak, unable to think for themselves. Their attitude is to silence them, keep them at home, protect them - don't allow them to do anything.'"

"John craved such a martyrdom for his people. He wanted blood sacrifice, filmed and photographed. Blood to wash away the image of Protestants as triumphalist bullies, and show them as the true victims."

"This sentiment, that Protestants had passively responded to nationalist aggression by conceding and giving until they could give no more, was ubiquitous."

"The ecumenical movement is out to tear the heart out of our Protestant faith ... the Bible says Rome is the mother of harlots and the abomination of the earth." - Ian Paisley

"Another article attacked the Alliance Party for backing 'integrated education and other cross community initiatives which are designed to rob all our young people of all knowledge of their culture.'"

"Billy (Wright) used to say to me, it is easy to get a Protestant to go out and shoot someone. The difficulty was to get them not to talk about it or take to the drink over it."

"The Drumcree view was that the tough women who stood by their men on the hill had more of the warrior about them than the Orangemen who stayed away, and the police were not men at all."

"Frazer stared across the invisible border. 'That's bad country over there. There's a lot of questions to be answered. Why were the Provies allowed to operate across the border for 25 years? I believe there was collusion between the gardai and the IRA. The least the Irish government could do is apologise to the people living on the border.' This was a position supported by the UUP's security spokesman, Ken Maginnis, who said that if there were to be inquiries into Bloody Sunday, and into allegations of collusion in murders by loyalists, there should be an inquiry into this too."

"I asked him about anger among Protestants in this border area. He replied carefully. 'Nobody in our family has been killed. We have not been directly affected. That my influence my attitudes. However, there are people in the area who forgive, although they do not forget. The experiences of the Troubles in this area was particularly bad in the early seventies when there was a lot of fear and intimidation. You wouldn't have found either Catholics or Protestants out walking of an evening. The IRA killed a lot of members of the security forces.'"

He described the work that went into trying to initiate cross-community activities. 'I've been involved in setting up the community association in Mountnorris along with other people, and the only venue we could use was the state school, so it was a Protestant venue. Everybody turned up, however, and the thing people said was, "Wasn't it brilliant, everybody came and it happened so naturally." The trouble was, it didn't happen naturally. There was three months' planning went into it. We had to be careful about how the information went out, that ll the local churches were spoken to, that letters went out through both the Catholic and Protestant schools, so that the message was coming across from all quarters that this meeting was ok.'"

"In late 1981, Paisley inspected some 6,000 masked men in paramilitary-style uniform at a rally in Newtownards, County Down. 'Here are men willing to do the job of exterminating the IRA,' he declared. 'Recruit them under the Crown and they will do it. If you refuse, we will have no other decision to make but to do it ourselves.'"

"She supported Trimble's refusal to govern with Sinn Fein in the absence of decommissioning. 'Why do people need guns in a democracy?' Her political conclusion was, though, that Northern Ireland had not worked, was finished. 'At this stage I think the sooner a united Ireland, the better. That, and a bit of dignity for the people.'"

"In 1999 Castlereagh Borough Council erected street signs in Ulster Scots in east Belfast. Incensed local loyalists, who thought the signs were in Irish, tore them down immediately." (I'm sorry, but that is really funny!)

"A Presbyterian minister said to me, 'Oh, that's a terrible place. We have only one or two families in there.' Clergy used to visit people. That attitude of paternalism is gone. If not enough people are attending a church, they shut it down. They don't try to reach people. They have no social outlook."

"He spoke of a 'leadership deficit' in the Protestant community. 'Take the Presbyterian Church,' he said. 'It is clearly the dominant Church and it had the capacity to make a powerful difference. But it hasn't. There have been outstanding individuals, like John Morrow, who set up the Corrymeela community, and John Dunlop - shining lights in a sea of darkness. But it would be interesting to know how many Presbyterian ministers know the phone number of their local Catholic priest, or would address them by their Christian name.'"

"Paisley had raised his Third Force, marched people up hills with gun licences, and urged people to fight to the death. But he had never stood on a platform and said, 'Go forth and hate Catholics. Go forth and kill them.' Indeed, he had repeatedly and strongly condemned those who took such meaning from his words. A fastidious exactness, a literal-mindedness, however, was required to understand and accept these distinctions."

"'There was an industrial free spirit that came with these people, a principle of industry, dissent, individualism, capitalism. you can't take photos of it, like you could of a seisiun or a sweet Irish colleen. It's about principles, not images.' Patterson said he had been a Christian since an evangelical experience in his teenage years. He didn't go to a church though. 'I don't like what Ireland has done to the gospels. I would be a liberationist and where do you find liberation theology in Northern Ireland?'"

I wonder

When I lived in England I often felt like I was a bit too high maintenance in reference to hair/makeup/clothes/general girl things. In Charlotte I feel like I'm a bit too low maintenance about those kinds of things. Does that mean that there is an area of my life where I have actually achieved a good balance? Found a happy medium? Shocking!
PS, just to prove once and for all that I am a handbag girl and not a shoe girl; I own 15 pairs of shoes (which I feel is a healthy amount for a girl). On the other hand, I own 30 handbags. Or at least I did, until this morning when 20 of them went into my get-rid-of pile.... Which means I now own more shoes than handbags, which would make me a shoe girl, defeating the purpose of this post... oh dear!
PPS, (added several minutes later) I just thought of a solution to the shoes versus bag issue: If I count all the shopping bags I have. You know, the reusable, save the planet type bags to take to the grocery store or even the mall and save a plastic bag or two or 16 then I still have more bags than shoes. And I feel that this is a fair count because I love some of these bags just as much as I love my "real" handbags. So there!