Monday, June 30, 2008


Okay, I'll admit it. I'm totally addicted to Apartment Therapy. I like looking at "sneak peek" slideshows of other people's houses (people and houses far more creative than anyone I know). And I like reading about DIY vintage furniture rehab projects, how to make hanging lights out of mason jars, wacky color combinations and the "smallest coolest apartment" contests. I spend too many hours reading about beer-keg balcony planters and staircases that double as bookcases on blogs like Design Sponge out of Brooklyn, and the twee Oh Joy! out of Philly.

I'm an apartment-geek. I confess it freely. I don't know where this obsession comes from- maybe it derives from living on the cheap in tiny urban apartments over the past 10 years. Or maybe it's because even now that I live in a (tiny) house, I live in the South, where interior design generally falls between suburban "Country" and overstuffed Louis XVI.

Despite the fact that I am insanely jealous of the cute couples who blog about their urban domestic bliss (most of which has to be- just has to be -literary fiction: No one's life is that perfect, and if it were why would you blog about it?), I keep coming back. So I guess maybe this addiction is really about fantasy- that domestic bliss can be had at all.

End of confession.

Inaugural Gazpacho

First of the summer using (almost*) all local produce, with homemade Minimalist Bread.

*illegal immigrant bell peppers

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Back Home

Bunnies ate my rosebush.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Dog-baby Afternoon

Spotted, Saturday afternoon, at Eastern Market:

1. cute guy with baby in snuggly and two dogs, one in each hand.

2. cute guy with baby in snuggly and adorable puppy.

3. Two cute guys, each with baby in snuggly, each with dog(s), buying ice cream for their wives.

Cute guys: 4
Babies in snugglies: 4
Dogs: 5 or 6- who cares any more?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Fun with History: Wikipedia Date Search

I just discovered something neat: Wikipedia date search. Type in a date, any date, and you get a list of happenings around the world. I tried 1327 and got Edward III crowned king of England and Petrarch meeting Laura, plus a list of famous births and deaths.

Type in 1453 and you learn that the Ottoman capture of Constantinople coincided with the end of the Hundred Years War and the invention of Guttenberg's printing press. All in one year.

Being the narcissist I am, of course I typed in the year of my birth. And learned that the first commercial Concorde took off into the air around the time the UN vetoed a resolution to create an independent Palestinian State. Shortly thereafter, Elizabeth II sent the first royal e-mail and the DC Metro opened. In music, the first Eurovision song-contest coincided with the Ramones releasing their first album, U2 getting together for the first time, and the Eagles releasing "Hotel California." Along with the first known outbreak of the Ebola virus and the death of Mao Zedong.

. It is Wikipedia, after all)

So- how old am I? (More importantly, what search term did you enter to find out? Ramones, Mao, or Eurovision?)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Why I am not (yet) a Miltonist.

Because studying Milton is like studying Kabbalah: it is preferable to do it when you are over 40 and have read and studied everything else there is to read, in every language.

Okay, so I know that's not true, but it's a funny I came up with at Tea and a Real Miltonist told me it was good material.

Milton's a little later than most of the authors I study, and even though I am enraptured by his writing and teach it as often as I can, I just don't quite feel mature enough to write about it. It's not about the Hebrew, Latin and Greek- (sm)all of which I have (boast much, Pamphilia?). It's about the ideas contained therein. Sure, I might reference Milton in my writing now and then, do a reading of a passage, that sort of thing. But a reference does not a Miltonist make.

I think I'll wait to publish anything seriously devoted to Milton till I'm 40. Or after tenure. At this rate, they'll both happen sooner than I'd like to think.


The loose ends of my argument are finally coming together. I've also written large chunks of the chapter and I think I might be able to corral them into a solid document quite soon. Finally.

I've got only a few more days here and I'm doing all I can to continue writing and to call up any old books I need to investigate before I leave. It's making me kind of hyper.

I also just e-mailed a Major Important British Scholar, who has done a tiny bit of work on my Material Objects of Study and he a) remembered my critique of a paper he circulated at least 6 years ago at my graduate institution and b) was interested in my project and said he'd love to read more! He also directed me to his latest article on the subject, which just came out, and has helped me even further.

Even more exciting, today I went down to the PRs and finally surveyed the canon of scholarship on one of my Renaissance authors. I was thrilled to learn that there is still very little treatment of this text. More important, a Major Book that examines his work in relation to the sexier of my two Scholarly Territories does not even mention this text. This is a golden elipsis for me! And the other Renaissance author? Not to worry- everyone hates him.

I can feel that this is going to be something big. So much so that I'm having to check my enthusiasm at this point. I want to keep most of what I've found in my research to myself and guard it well, until it's ready for print. This is a new feeling for me, protectiveness of my ideas. I guess it stems from my belief that anyone could make these connections, if they just knew where to look. And the more I read, the more it becomes clear to me that what I am going to say about my genre and my two Scholarly Territories not only needs to be said, but needs to be said now.

Whew! If I smoked, I would definitely reach for a cigarette.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Fish slime and Brine

So without giving anything away, I've been working with English translations of a racy (to early modern people, apparently) text for this book chapter I'm finishing.

This is only a sampling of one terrible Greek-to-English translation from the middle of the 17th century:

"Fish slime and Brine have made thy penance great,
Come now, into my bosome drop thy sweat."

Hmm . . . I think there's actually good reason why it didn't garner as much acclaim as the more famous version.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Archival Interior Decorating: Brûlé à Gant

My room here is HUGE- three large windows facing the street and the front garden, which at the moment is full of lavender, roses and hydrangea plus some kind of huge bush with glossy laurel-shaped leaves, covered with little sprays of white flowers (they look like miniature lilacs) putting out a too-sweet, very heady scent. The room is twice the size of my bedroom at least.

It's got some nice posters on the wall from the library, one an enlarged miniature portrait of Elizabeth which I quite like and couple of John Austen drawings. But directly above the couch is something a little disturbing. Two facsimile engravings. The bottom engraving depicts what I think are French or Belgian Protestant martyrs at the stake, but after being burnt, all charred and skeletal, with bits of hair and everything. A giant lumbering peasant is poking one of them with a pitchfork. The caption says "David et Levina etrangler et brûlé à Gant, Anno 1554." Anyway, it's kind of cool, but a bit gruesome for a bedroom. (If I had little kids, I'd have to hide it).

The top engraving is much less creepy- it's a portrait of Simon Mercier's arrest in a marketplace in 1553. There are some lumbering, drooling catholic friars in the background ready to pounce, but Simon seems in good health. Nonetheless, the caption reads "Simon Mercier, brûlé à Bergue-ap-Loom, Anno 1553." I thought I knew who Simon Mercier was but I googled him and couldn't find anything. And who are David and Levina and why do they have Jewish names?

Don't even get me started on the anti-Catholic woodcut of bishops at a feast over the bed. As a friend said, it's a good thing I'm not Catholic. Or Vegetarian.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Major Breakthrough

Hooray, I've made a major breakthrough in researching this final chapter. I don't have the whole thing written yet and I'm still ironing out the kinks in the argument, but I finally know exactly what to do with the second half of it, and I've discovered something really interesting about the text I'm working with.

Today the rain is coming down sideways in sheets. Its green outside and there's thunder and lightning. This library is already fairly dark inside, and I usually prefer to work in the better lit modern wing, but with the storm outside it's dark in there too.

And I can think of nothing more pleasing than being here, with my books, while it storms outside.