Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Our pumpkins this year. I saw a picture in a magazine and decided to try etching pumpkins instead of carving this year. It took me a while to find the right tool, but I ended up using an Excel knife gouge found at Hobby Lobby for $3. It took a long time to do, but I think it turned out all right.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Trunk or Treat

I have given the whole "should Christians celebrate Halloween" thing a good bit of thought. I can see arguments from both sides. I think that an article from Christianity Today (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/article_print.html?id=16017) sums it up nicely, and I agree with the author's conclusion - Halloween is what you make it, and I think we should make it about fun, candy, and costumes. There's nothing wrong with spooky stuff, as long as we keep it in the proper perspective - it's funny. Anyway, all of that to introduce our Trunk or Treat night at church last night. Husband and I love having trick or treaters on Halloween, and this year, the church decided to have a Trunk or Treat night, where grown ups decorate their trunks and give out candy to kids in the parking lot. It was a great deal of fun. Husand and I dressed up in costumes ourselves. He wore an apron and rubber gloves and went as a good husband, and I wore rock climbing gear and went as a good wife. Husband also got a big kick out of hiding in the backseat of the car, with the seats unlatched from the back. When kids would stick their hands in the candy bowl he would stick out his hand, seemingly out of nowhere, and grab at the kids (the bigger kids, of course, we didn't want to scare any little ones). It was a great time. I am glad our church has continued our third-Sunday family fun nights, even though we have a pastor again, and I am glad that we were able to incorporate holiday fun into our fellowship night.

Birthday Meal

Husband's birthday was Tuesday, so I wanted to make something extra-special. I have never made steak before, so I decided I would try that. My parents always cook steak on the gas grill - an item that I don't have. I do have a George Foreman-style indoor grill. At the food co-op, I found local, grass-fed filet mignon. I followed Martha Stewart's directions - let the steaks rest at room temperature an hour before grilling, brush the grill with cooking oil, season steaks generously with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. I left them far more rare than I usually eat steak - medium well. These were probably more like medium or even medium rare. And delicious. I topped it with thyme compound butter, and finished the meal with roasted thyme potatoes and pear-walnut-cranberry-feta salad. French silk pie served for dessert. Yummy. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it wasn't even my birthday.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Here's what's going on on various fronts in my life:

Work: Now that comps are over, I can devote more attention to the two sections of 101 that I am teaching. Just before comps week I realized that I had concocted an insane schedule that was bound to do me in eventually. So I trashed the expository essay assignment I had given them, revised it and cut it down to two pages. Now, I just have to grade the things. Not fun. I also need to revise the rest of the semester, but make it look like I am competent and know what I am doing, not just freaking out in the middle of the semester. Also, I am going to submit a portfolio for the Eng. Dept. teaching award and I'm going to apply for a dissertation fellowship. Lots of things to get together - like a prospectus and a first chapter of said dissertation.

Church: We finally have a new pastor! This is great news after almost two years and the entire time that the dh and I have been members. He's young and seems really intelligent and enthusiastic, so I have high hopes. The DH and I continue to work with our youth group. We are planning a service outing with them - to make lunches and then deliver them with the Loaves and Fishes food ministry, but it looks like turn out will be less than stellar. Of about twelve kids only two are planning on coming. This is frustrating and discouraging, but, what can you do?

Family: I'm going to be an aunt! I'm still getting used to the idea of my little sister being a mother, but I can't wait for a little niece or nephew - oh the hats and sweaters and booties his or her auntie will crochet! Also, the DH has a birthday tomorrow. I am planning a fancy, schmancy dinner - steak and potatoes, salad, and French Silk pie. I have never made steak before, but I am hoping that it will work out. Pictures should follow.

Headaches: Despite the fact that I have had three headaches in the past four days, I am actually doing a great deal better. In September, I had only six headahces, and in August it was only five. Compared with the ten to twelve headaches I was having each month before that, I think that I have made progress. I think the biggest thing has been eliminating pork altogether (the origin, apparently, of the week-long migraines) but also think that running and eating regularly has helped. There are still some triggers that I can't do much about - the weather or everyone's perfume, but there are still some that I can work on - sleeping better, drinking more water, eliminating some stress.

This isn't nearly all that's going on now, but these are the highlights at least.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Fun with Rochester and Jane

I recently, at the strong recommendation of a friend, saw the 2007 BBC adaptation of Jane Eyre. Why I had not seen this sooner is a mystery, but it is wonderful. I had previously seen two versions (the 1997 Zeffirelli version with William Hurt and the 1983 BBC version starring Timothy Dalton) and neither of these greatly impressed me, both, primarily because of the leading men: William Hurt came off as too old, and didn't have that charismatic spark that I believe Rochester has, and Timothy Dalton... I mean, come on, Timothy Dalton? He's too pretty to be Rochester. However, the BBC got it right in 2007 with Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson. However, the film isn't great just because the casting matches up with my conceptions of the characters. It is surprisingly faithful to the text, both in letter and spirit. Much of the dialogue is lifted directly from the book, and every important event is accounted for. Of course, there are a few minor changes: for instance, Rochester hires a gypsy woman and hides behind a screen while she predicts the future for his guests, which isn't accurate, but it must be a bit unsettling to see the leading man actually in drag. At any rate, the film is definitely worth seeing, especially if previous versions left you a bit cold, and even if you enjoyed them, this is still a great adaptation. It must really mean something if I can get choked up watching a story that I know so well, and that makes me want to read the book again - which I am currently doing for at least the fifth time in my life.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Comps Week

Yesterday, I took the first part of my comprehensive exams. After reading and studying since February, it is a relief to have this part of my graduate program underway. Now, I just have to make it through parts 2 and 3 on Wednesday and Friday.

I felt pretty good about the questions I got yesterday. I had to answer three out of five, and fortunately, three were ones that I had approximately prepared for. I felt good about the questions while I was answering them - of course, afterward there is the temptation to second-guess - mostly worrying about whether I wrote enough. However, I am trying to minimize that impulse.

Favorite things from comps: Middlemarch by George Eliot and the poems by Gerald Manley Hopkins

Least favorite: Lukacs (did I even spell that right? anyway, he is incomprehensible)

Best strategy advice: start early, make a calendar, read a little bit each day, take notes immediately; also, having the notes of someone who had a similar list is great

Mistakes: taking notes in the book without transfering them to the notebook - you won't remember what the poem is about

Extra advice: don't labor over a text that is just too difficult or boring - you're eating into your time - read enough so that you have an idea of the content and style, then find a summary or someone's notes on it - chances are, you are not going to be asked about that specific text anyway