Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Updates

First, the big one... The garden - The squash I planted in the frontyard, in the established flower beds, seem to be healthier, need less water and are growing faster than the squash I planted in the backyard in the just-tilled-and-cleared-for-the-season vegetable garden. Could this be a first-hand indication that no-till is the way to go? There are also fewer weeds in the front, certainly not the weed jungle going on in the backyard. The squash in the back have developed powdery mildew, which I know I won't be able to get rid of for the rest of the season without the use of harsh chemical sprays, so it's not going anywhere. This will not effect the squash except in the longevity of the plant and the quantity of fruit it will produce. Even though both areas are mulched, the plants in the front are dealing with the drought much better than those in the back.

We've had little problems with bugs so far on the veggies, thank goodness. Not at all sure why that is, but I'm counting my blessings. All we've been using on them is fertilizer and no pesticides at all.

The peppermint in the herb bed has spread into the yard... This and the fact that the dandelions can't come up, make me sad that we get the grass cut by a professional every week in the summer. The mint will probably die back because it's constantly getting cut almost all the way down to the ground, but we will see...

Amaya - Amaya is 2 lbs and very nearly 2 months old today. Her eyes are still changing. They have developed a dark but distinctly green ring around her pupil and and the rest of the iris is a deeper gold as opposed to the consistent mossy brown-green they were when we got her two weeks ago. They still haven't stabilized though, so we're not sure what color they will end up.

My wrist & knitting - The tendinitis has calmed down over the last week and I can get back to some serious knitting again until the next time it flares up. I still have about a half-pound of white cotton for baby things. I don't know what I'm going to make. I've already got the blanket, two hats, two pairs of booties/socks, and a bib of my own design... Another bib perhaps? And then what? If anyone has links or whatnot to baby patterns for Peaches n' Cream or that don't require a gauge, please send them my way! I'm thinking a burp cloth maybe?

Indigo - I'll be starting the vat sometime in the next week. Yay! Don't know when the dyeing will get done, but according to Susan, indigo vats can sit for months before use and still work, so...

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What did I do today?

I did a very nice thing... Not nice as in nice, but nice as in I liked it...

Today, after weeks of being too busy, too tired, or too busy to get out of the yard for time outside, I rode my bicycle to the closest farmers’ market, Bearss Groves, nearly 1.5 miles away. And I am very proud of myself for having done this. It takes less than three minutes to drive it, but I took my bike instead. It was so worth it. With a quarter of a mile left to go, I stopped at the corner of Lake Mag and Smitter Road, at a location which would be almost ideal for a neighborhood market, got off my bike and took time to stretch because my legs, after so many days without serious use, felt like they were going to fall off. I can’t tell you how much stretching helped. Never underestimate its value.

Check out a lovely photo essay of Central Florida Roadside Stands (mostly ones in Hillsborough County, I noticed) here. Under the listings for July 12, 2005 are the pictures and stories about Bearss Groves. There is also an article on the history of the grove and the lake which borders it, the development of the area and the Bearss’ commitment to preserve what is left here starting on the bottom of page 4. And I think that the Bearss Lemon was also first discovered and cultivated on their property, as every page I find about it says that it was discovered in the early 1950s at “Bearss Groves near Lutz, Florida.” Lutz is a bit north of here, but not much, and in the 1950s, Carrollwood didn’t really exist yet and I know of no other "Bearss Groves," so I’m guessing it was there… (They should have a plaque or something…)

I can tell you from first hand knowledge that the Bearss family is one of the oldest in this part of the county. A large part of the old section of the Lake Magdalene United Methodist Church Cemetery is devoted to their ancestors and they have a prominent road that borders their property named for them, Bearss Avenue. I am quite sure they could get millions upon millions of dollars for their orange grove, which is approximately 100 acres surrounded by subdivisions, from developers (who must simply drool at the very sight of it). It is the only undeveloped lake-front property left on one of the largest lakes in this part of the county. But, thankfully, they have continuously refused to sell it and continue to operate it as a working grove to the betterment of the entire community and, indeed, I believe the county too. It has been functioning in this respect for over 100 years and I hope it will continue to do so for as long as the oranges will grow (and longer if they can find something else to plant that 100 acres with). They lost a number of their trees these past several winters and they have not yet been replaced. It does make me worry. I should ask about it the next time I go.

The Bearss family squeezes and bottles their own orange juice and grapefruit juice and sell it for $3.50/half-gallon. We’re going to try it and if it’s as good as I think it will be, we will be switching to that. It is their specialty and, along with their fresh citrus, is the mainstay of their business. During the winter months, they grow and sell their own produce, but in the summer, they get it from elsewhere. (I can tell you from trying myself for several years, growing a good vegetable crop in high summer here is nigh impossible!) It is not organic, as far as I can tell, but you can’t get much more local than 1.5 miles from your house unless you grow it yourself! And this summer, I just don’t have that kind of time with all the other projects I’ve got my fingers in. (Though our small 10’ x 10’ plot has already yielded up two tomatoes and 7 zukes. By tomorrow afternoon or the next day, we should have more tomatoes and at least 2 yellow squash as well. Eggplants will come later. There’s also a very nice pair of pokeweeds coming up smack in the middle of the patch next to the sprinkler. LOL!) I don't expect to have any more time come fall.

Oh, and I’ll be bringing some of the Bearss’ fine produce with me when I go avisiting to the Carolinas. I'm willing to take requests pending availability. ;D

Not all of the produce currently available is grown at the Bearss Groves, as I said, and not all of it is local. The oranges are from them, and perhaps the unfiltered honey as well (though I didn’t stop to ask it - it was so busy today - but they do have active hives in the groves - pictured below). The sweet corn is grown in Florida. Since it is our second largest cash crop (as of 2001, in acreage planted/5th largest in market value [though value is rising due to the rising price of corn]; approximately 25% of all sweet corn sold in the US is grown in Florida) and is in season, I would hope it would be! The peaches and Vidalia onions are from Georgia. The exotic fruits, such as mangoes and bananas, are from commercial growers in South America, since these fruits cannot be sustained at commercial levels in the continental US due to climate. The avocados are from California and Mexico (but are individually marked so I was able to get the ones from California - and they are *good!* Kinda small, compared to the ones at the grocery store, but very ripe! I have one of the seeds set up in a jar hoping to sprout it). There were a good deal of other fruits and vegetables available, but I only had a little bicycle basket to put it all in, so I got 5 ears of corn, 2 peaches, 2 onions, and 2 avocados. I paid just $5.00! Can you beat that at a grocery store, for price or quality? I think not!

I must tell my fellow tree-huggers that there is a large live oak tree next to the parking lot of their roadside stand which “arborists say” is 400 years old or more, and I wouldn’t question that estimate for a second. It is simply massive and at some point I have to get a picture of it. It is truly a sight to behold.

And in looking for links for this post, I found the Hillsborough County Grown Consumers Directory, which is a free listing provided by the county of any and all agriculturalists and farmers wishing to advertise their locally grown produce. How awesome is that? Sometimes, the things this county government does to support the local economy astounds me (in a good way).

I also found a source of local info for USF students who aren’t from the Tampa area (and let me tell you, it’s informative for students from the Tampa area too!).

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee

Wow! Totally wow! I just watched the HBO movie "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee" about the travesty leading up to and beyond the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota, and based on the 1970 novel by Dee Brown of the same title. Never had heard of the novel before, but I found the movie incredibly compelling.

Adam Beach, of "Squanto: A Warrior's Tale," "Windtalkers" and "Joe Dirt," portrayed Charles Eastman, né Ohiyesa of the Lakota Sioux. He was sent by his father, a Christian covert, to a white man's school away from his people, and because of his obvious talent for learning was given a scholarship and sent on to medical school. His surname comes from his maternal grandfather who was a white man. He was sponsored in some way by Senator Henry Dawes, played by Aidan Quinn, as his pet project to prove to the rest of the legislature that the money he was requisitioning for the reservations wasn't "in vain." (Dawes is largely portrayed as the proverbial example that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions... If you give what's coming out of his mouth the benefit of the doubt, that he isn't lying through his teeth. At worst, he was an early land developer, who knew just how much the Black Hills were worth and would do anything he had to do, including sell people into certain poverty and destitution, for monetary gain... If there is a Hell, which I don't really believe there is, I'm sure he must be roasting nicely for his part in screwing an entire people out of their birthright). After graduating, Charles returned to the Sioux, by that time forced onto the reservations, where he did what he could to save people from influenza, whooping cough and measles, which were devastating the population.

Anna Paquin, whom I adore, portrays Elaine Goodale Eastman. Elaine met and fell in love with Charles while he was in the east, working with Senator Henry Dawes, and she was working with the "Friends of the Indians" group to bring "civilization" to the Sioux. She was appointed to oversee the reservation schools in South Dakota, and like her husband was a witness to the atrocities perpetrated there. Anna is lovely in the roll and her dresses are lovely too...

Warning: Beginning rant...

And I just have to rant here because this is the most ridiculous review of anything I've read since the local movie reviewer guy said that the children's movie "Babe" (geared toward small children) made him, a middle-aged cynic, "want to eat more bacon."

Virginia Heffernan of the New York Times seems disgusted that HBO even made this movie... She says disgustedly in her article, "'Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee' is going to be an allegory for Iraq!" Never mind that the book its based on is almost 40 years old! Idiot! And never mind if it might seem like an allegory because the United States' government keeps making the same kinds of mistakes over and over again and the citizens of this country are surprised every damn time! And then do nothing to prevent the atrocious behavior from repeating again! Idiota extrema = Virginia Heffernan (and the American people as a whole. Taken altogether, I really have very little respect for us; we've done absolutely nothing to earn it if we can never seem to learn anything from our mistakes).

If her take on how it relates to present day isn't enough to let you know that she doesn't know what she's talking about, this sentence will: "From the opening scenes, for example, all television watchers will know that Grant is bad — with reservations on his mind — because he wields a brandy snifter in daylight and smokes a cigar, just as they will know that Aidan Quinn is good because he’s, well, Aidan Quinn, with that broad face and those Santa eyes." Uh.... That's one of the only scenes that Grant appears in... because the movie is set over a number of years, and by the time Wounded Knee happened *five* presidents had been elected (which, for once, a historical movie actually notes and reflects the passage of time, rather than condensing it for the sake of whatever it is that movie-makers are constantly condensing time lines for)... and Grant had drunk himself to death five years before Wounded Knee occurred (something that the movie doesn't mention because it wasn't important to what the movie is about)! And, furthermore, Aidan Quinn's Senator Henry Dawes is, if anything, the villain of "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee" because if it weren't for his high-handed tactics and self-serving attitude above all else, the massacre might never have occurred...

And she dares to say that HBO is being anachronistic by "using... modern words like atrocity and celebrity" in the dialogue "though the time is the 1870s"? (never mind that the Wounded Knee massacre happened, as I've said, in *1890*, which last time I checked was not the same as 1870. Obviously, Virginia doesn't know how to track post-Civil War 19th century time by how big the ladies' bustles are... It's a skill, what can I say?) Since "atrocity" and "celebrity" *both* come from Latin synonyms meaning *exactly* the same thing, I'm thinking they might not be as modern as she thinks they are...

And to give herself street cred, Virginia pulls this little factoid out of her ass: "The white men in the film also wear what must be wedding bands on their left hands; this is a convention of the Second World War," which she follows up with a pithy "But this is trivia." Uh... Are you kidding me, Virginia? Are you writing for the high school newspaper of which you've recently been appointed editor-in-chief after living in the computer lab for four years, so you want to throw around little things like that to prove to the rest of the kids that you've done something constructive with your time under a rock? ... 'Cause I wasn't looking at their hands, I was busy watching a miscarriage of human dignity...

I don't think Virginia's read a paragraph of research on this subject of American history, the book on which the film is based, or even the work that went into the film, so I don't see where she with her cynical, I-must-hate-this-because-I'm-a-hard-assed-NY Times-critic-and-this-is-what-I-do attitude has room to talk, let alone throw around big words like "anachronistic" because of possible wedding rings, when she's got so many other obvious and glaring historical facts completely *wrong* in her review... things I was able to double-check with basic first-result Google searches... So much for her analysis of "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee" and I think the New York Times needs a new Television critic! Either that or Virginia should stop having her sixth grader write her reviews for her... And she may want to turn on her grammar check next time, or at least have someone review what she writes before it's published because the last sentence of her review ("Did it take good television to point up what’s wrong with American movies?") should read, "Did it take good television to point out what’s wrong with American movies?" Ouch! Burn!

End rant...

Could "Bury My Heart..." have been better? Yes... because after what must have been the eighth time someone quoted a Sioux proverb in Lakota and then verbally translated it into English I was getting kinda tired of hearing them. But that, honestly, was my only issue with it. Overall, I thought it was an excellent rendition of one of the most shameful courses of events set in motion by the United States' government in the history of our country. It told the story from new angles from which it hasn't been told before on film. And I thought it was a thousand times more effective than TNT and Steven Spielberg's "Into The West" of last year, which had dead-end story lines, and stories that the movie-makers obviously printed more celluloid about, but dropped on the editing room floor before we got to see it, leaving the whole project woefully wanting, and depressing not only for its subject matter, but also for the lack of follow-through on the promise of what the miniseries could have been.

But, there is good news now! It looks like history is a popular subject on the "pay channels." First, HBO had "Rome" and then "Elizabeth I" (not going to start on anachronisms in either). Now, Showtime is doing "The Tudors," and HBO "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee." Next year, HBO has announced that they will do a miniseries called "John Adams." Laura Linney will portray Abagail Adams, and Paul Giamatti the title character. David Morse, Rufus Sewell and Tom Wilkinson will portray George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin respectively. I don't recognize any of the other names involved with the project, except that Tom Hanks is producing. The costumer hasn't done anything 18th century before... The closest she's gotten is "Original Sin," which is late 19th century and "Kate & Leopold," which was whatever it was. None of her assistants or other costuming crew have worked on anything 18th century either. Even so, I very much look forward to it. Filming, which began in February, is being done in Colonial Williamsburg, Goochland, VA, London, Paris, Richmond, VA, and at other unspecified locations in Virginia.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Truth About Animal ID

An excellent article published by Mother Earth News about the evils of the NAIS!

I hope more publications begin publishing news about just how dangerous, destructive and wasteful this program really is and thereby increase public opposition to it.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Finally, someone posted it to YouTube...

The season 2's "Wayward Sons" recap of Supernatural (and when I say "season 2's recap, I mean the recap of the entire series as it pertains to the season 2 finale, not just what happened in season 2).

But first season 1's "Wayward Sons" recap:
(I love this sequence beyond all reason...)

Season 2's "Wayward Sons":


I'm thinking that this is going to be a trend before the season finales of Supernatural, to have recaps set to "Carry on My Wayward Son" by some band called Kansas (sorry, never heard of them before - although upon looking them up, I found that they also sing "Dust in the Wind," oft featured on Highlander: The Series when someone close to Duncan died, but until now, I didn't realize that). I think season 1's recap is the more effective one. And before anyone who might mention it does, I realized that the song is "Carry On My Wayward Son," in the singular when I call these the "Wayward Sons recaps", but since there's both Sam and Dean, I say "Wayward Sons" plural. Not that anyone will probably care about that...

And I'm tempted to post the entire season finale, "All Hell Breaks Loose," because if you piece together different postings by different people at YouTube, the whole thing is there, but I won't because this would be a horrible episode to watch without having watched the previous two seasons. It's a culmination of sorts and the catharsis of it will fall flat if it's watched on its own. And it really is a wonderful pay-off the likes of which I've never experienced with any other tv show ever and that would be terrible to ruin... Just to prove that it's not just me who thought this ep was amazing, here are reactions of a few of my friends...

Laura said, "[All Hell Breaks Loose] kicked all kinds of ass. Then it resurrected that ass and kicked it all over again."

And in response to me saying, "I nearly died! I spent the entire hour going back and forth between crying and being too shocked to cry... What the Hell just happened?!?" Mia reacted thus (with some taken out to prevent spoilage), "EEEK I KNOW. oh my god. DEAN... meeep... i just rewatched it again... and i'm in love with this show, really truly. GAH. BOYS."

Obviously, Laura was the most coherent one of us.

I would, however, post the pilot episode here if I could because, all things said, anyone who hasn't seen Supernatural should start at the beginning, but no one has posted the entire thing to YouTube... or if they had in the past, it's not there now... So I'm thinking in a few weeks, it might be a good time to show the pilot on CW again, but... Looks like this Thursday they are reairing the season 2 premiere, then the season 2 finale the next week, and then carrying on with the season 2 episodes after that, with nothing from season 1 in the schedule for at least the next several weeks. ::pouts:: Looks like those unfortunate many who haven't seen it will have to get their hands on the DVDs to see it... Blockbuster, Netflix, Amazon.com... Run, don't walk, if you like "The X-Files," horror movies (past or present), American folklore, urban legends, mystery books/tv/movies, and/or pretty angst-ridden hotties! Supernatural has all of that in spades.

And this will probably be the last I say about Supernatural until it gets close to the season premiere in the Fall... I'm pushing it so much lately 'cause I think it is really woefully under-rated, I think because of the reputation of WB/CW tv shows as being very Dawson's Creek/Gilmore Girls/Seventh Heaven... Honestly, I think this show really belongs on FOX, the network that its big brother, "The X-Files," aired on. It has a lot of the same people working on it, taking everything they learned doing that great show and applying it to SPN to make it an even better show. Supernatural came far too close to being canceled this year for my comfort levels. It might all have been posturing by the network execs to create a buzz among the fans, but then again, it might not have been. In any case, I want to do whatever I can to spread the word, get more viewers and make sure that it's on the air for a long time to come... purely a selfish want. I need my weekly Dean-fix, you see. ;D


And Sam ain't nothin' to shake a stick at either... he has dimples... ;D

USDA's NAIS Losing Support

copied from NoNAIS.org:

KSU has a report saying NAIS is losing ground and opponents of NAIS are gaining. What is interesting about this is that the tide has turned even within the producers in the cow-calf industry whom they surveyed. This group was previously some of the most vocal proponents of NAIS. The USDA used to claim that the vast majority of producers wanted NAIS. They were very careful who they surveyed in order to achieve those results. At that time the USDA also claimed that the majority of producers wanted NAIS to be mandatory and that the only way to make it work was to have it be mandatory.

A national survey by Kansas State University indicates that the majority of cow-calf producers neither endorse nor decry implementation of a national animal identification system [NAIS].
-Meating Place

How things have changed. There was such a hew and cry against NAIS among small farmers and homesteaders that the USDA backed down in 2006. They now say there will be no mandatory NAIS at the federal level. Instead they’re attempting to get the states to push it for them to take the heat off of the federal government on this major misstep.

Now they’re even admitting that the majority of producer’s aren’t asking for NAIS. That’s a big change and a positive one for independent farmers and homesteaders. We don’t need the Ninny State looking over our shoulders, tracking what we do and telling us how to manage our livestock.

NAIS is designed to be a huge burden on small farmers by forcing them to tag and track every individual animal while large factory “farms” get to use a single group ID for tens of thousands of animals.

NAIS does nothing to solve the real problems with food safety, virtually all of which happen at factory farms and during processing after the animal leaves the farm.

NAIS doesn’t prevent disease - it just gives the government the ability to track back animal contacts months after the event when they discover a problem in the food chain. NAIS is about the blame game, not about food safety or animal health.

NAIS will raise the costs to consumers by increasing the costs of production for food and eliminating smaller producers who can’t survive the increased government regulations and government imposed costs. This will result in less food choice and again higher prices as fewer and fewer larger and larger corporations control our food supply. Monopolies mean higher prices for consumers. All this on top of the higher prices of oil and the ethanol corn induced jacking up of food prices we’re already seeing.

The USDA may not be obviously pushing for mandatory now but I still object to the government even creating a program like NAIS with our tax dollars. They have already wasted $100,000,000 on a program that will hurt small farmers while almost exclusively benefiting the large exporters and Big Ag. NAIS smells like rotten pork barreling to me - and I know what a dead pig smells like. We need to bury this corpse in the compost under lots of carbon so we can all get back to farming.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Amaya

Here's my pretty little kitten, Amaya:



Friday, May 18, 2007

I really am going to bed right after this is posted... really...

In answer to: "Will Daddy Winchester be back?" on popgurls.com

John Shiban replied: "To quote Eric Kripke: 'Nobody dies forever on Supernatural.' We will know his fate and we will learn more about it by the end of the season, I can tell you that."

First of all, ::squee:: to "Nobody dies forever..." so he really *could* be back at some point... And second, I just love, love, love, love, love, love, LOVE! this show!!!! Can't wait to see where they take it next... But ::sighs:: I will try to enjoy my summer in between...

For the rest of the interview (which is very good - John Shiban was a writer for The X-Files and is *awesome!*) go here.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

"Supernatural" - carry on my wayward sons...


OMG! I just spent the last hour alternating between crying, being too shocked to cry, crying some more, and screaming into a pillow. "Supernatural" was... amazing and horrible all at once.

And after the "Smallville" finale where Lana's supposed to be dead now (but we really aren't that lucky), we finally figured out what Chloe's "power" was (and you might as well just say, it's not really a power, it's a stupid plot device that makes me hate the writers and producers of the show because they are asses who had this planned from the beginning, I know it), and well, everything's going to Hell in a hand-basket, but not like previous years where it made me want to watch in the Fall... I'm fairly certain this time, I'm going to yawn and change the channel when "Smallville" comes on...

As if all that ridiculously disappointing tripe in "Smallville," a show I *used to* love, just before the wild-ride "Supernatural" took me on weren't bad enough, my DVRs in both the den and the living room *both* simultaneously failed to start recording "Supernatural." This is the third time they've done this and I can't for the life of me figure out why because "Supernatural" is supposed to have top priority and the DVRs don't do it every week, just when something really important is happening... The first time was with "In My Time of Dying," the season 2 premiere, the second was "Heart," which admittedly was so traumatic that I only watched it all the way through once, and the third was tonight, "All Hell Breaks Loose: Part Two." Holy flying cows! But after scrambling for the first five minutes of the episode to get both of them recording (because I have to have a back-up, just in case... yeah, I'm that in love with Dean Winchester... and even now, I wouldn't kick Sam out of bed either... although he probably wouldn't fit - he's 6'5"! For pity's sake, what did Jared Padalecki's parents feed him? Miracle Grow?), I rewound and watched and caught up by the second commercial break.

It was incredible. I... I... was speechless... I was literally a total crying mess, and sometimes, there were no tears, just sobs. I never understood how people can sob without tears being directly involved, but now, I do... I also never really understood the expression "my heart was in my throat," but now I do because that's exactly what it felt like... 'Cause all Hell really did break loose all over Sam and Dean. And Dean... what he's done now... It's... It's... It's what Dean would totally do, but man-oh-man, next season is going to be a wild roller-coaster of mythology, I can see it already. It's so not good for my boys! And yet, it's going to make for one hell of a season of tv! We're talking the equivalent of the best of "The X-Files" all packed into one 22 episode season, I think... if they're going to go where I think they're going to go because that's certainly how they've set it up.

If you've never seen "Supernatural," 1.) you have no idea what I'm talking about and I'm sure you probably haven't even gotten this far reading this, but that's okay... and 2.) I totally recommend going out and getting your hands on Season One (check ebay and Amazon.com's merchants if you don't want to pay almost $50 for it, I got mine on Amazon for a little more than $30 including shipping... and if you've got Netflix or that Blockbuster thing - there you go!), watch it, love it, and then get your hands on Season Two as soon as it's released, which might not be for a few months yet, I don't know.... It is an *amazing* series and everyone should watch it! It's the best thing I've seen on television in a long, long time, and with as much as I watch, that really should be saying something...

People who are fans of "Supernatural" and know about the other WB show "Charmed" have been really nervous about this season finale because there was a season finale of "Charmed" with the same title, "All Hell Breaks Loose," and that's where one of the characters dies tragically. People have been thinking that the same thing would happen in "Supernatural." They were both wrong and right about that...

Am still totally freaking out and incoherent about this episode... It's going to take a week to process it all... But I'm going to have faith that it will all be alright in the end because 1.) Kripke (the creator/executive producer/writer/director promised that we, the fans, have no need to worry, and I feel I can trust him more than most Powers That Be when he says that, and if not, well, there's always Plastic!Winchester Theater, and... this amused me:



and 2.) Dean's still smiling... ::warm fuzzies::

Baby Blanket





Here are pics of the new baby blanket I finished the other day... My camera phone was feeling like sending them to my e-mail today.

Productivity...

Well, I feel I've had a very productive day already and it isn't even noon yet!

I got up this morning at about 6 am because of how early I went to bed last night (around 8pm). I did wake up in the middle of the night, watched the "Bones" season finale on my DVR and then went back to sleep, but I still got a ton of rest. So I was sitting on the couch, thinking about what to do for breakfast and getting ready to turn on Tuesday's "Ellen DeGeneres Show" on my DVR because its the only one from this week I haven't seen yet, and my dad came in and said he was going to be going to breakfast with his friends from work in a little bit. I asked, "How long is a little bit?" He said he'd be leaving as soon as my mom was leaving for work, so in about five minutes. I said, "If I can get ready in five minutes, can I go too?" He didn't believe that I could be ready, but he said if I was I could go. So I raced into the bathroom, brushed my teeth, washed my face, threw some clothes on, and did my make up and hair in the car. He couldn't believe that I was ready to leave the house in less than five minutes, he said that he'd never seen a woman get ready so fast. :D I'm amazing when I'm motivated. We went to the Village Inn near the school that my dad worked at for over 30 years. He and his friends who still work meet there every Thursday for breakfast. The waitress knows them, they all always order the same thing and they smoke like chimneys! Lucky for me there's that law in Florida which prohibits smoking inside dining establishments. So they were sitting on the porch, and I sat at the end of the table where the air currents consistently blew the smoke away from me. I'm going to tattle on my dad when my mom gets home because he had two, count them - two! - cigarettes. Tsk, tsk, tsk! Mommy will yell at him. I already have. He's supposed to be trying to quit. He has nothing to stress him anymore and he's out of excuses now that he's retired. I had a lovely Eggs Benedict with avocado slices and hash browns with an Arnold Palmer Iced Tea to drink. Yum!

When we got back, I took the packages I've been meaning to send off to Torrid and Lane Bryant for more than a week over to the FedEx-Kinko's. So that's done. Yay!

Then I went off to USF to fill out the grade forgiveness form to get the F taken off my transcript. It should be processed by next week and my GPA will be significantly improved because the vast majority of my grades are As and Bs with nothing lower than a C now that the F will be gone. I wanted to pick up my paper from my seminar and the papers that I let Prof. M have back for whatever it was that she needed to copy them for, but my seminar Prof wasn't there and Prof. M, I guess, didn't leave the papers outside her office as I thought she had said she would before the break. Ah, well... I'll get them another time.

If you remember, in a post about two weeks ago, I put up some pictures of the MLK Colonnade and I said I wished I had some of the plaza. So today, while out at school, I took pictures of the MLK plaza and also of the Mall.


The bust of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. On the pedestal, it has his name and birth and death dates, as well as a quote, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." I really like it.


The reflecting pools with the fountains on for once... At the other end is the granite with the "I Have a Dream" speech carved in it.


The smaller reflecting pool... I've never been sure why there's a break in it... You can see the huge palm trees reflecting in the water.


The reflecting pool from the other end, looking back toward the bust and colonnade.


The granite with the "I Have a Dream" speech. I couldn't fit the whole thing in the frame unless I stood in the middle of the reflecting pool.


The mall... I'm sure it's not officially called that, but that's what I call it because to me, it looks just like the Mall in DC, where all the class buildings are like the Smithsonian museums clustered around it.


This is just to the south of the plaza. A lovely grove of young live oak trees. You can see the colonnade through the trees.

Then I went to the real mall, the University Mall that is, just off campus and got a boba mango tea at the food court, checked out the shoes at Payless (still mostly ugly this season), and went to the pet shop because I always stop in that pet shop when I have a minute at that mall... have ever since I was a toddler going in there with my parents. They always have Persian kittens in there now. But the poor things that were in there this time seemed totally terrified like they've been terrorized by bad people or something. One squished himself into the back corner of the cage and looked at me with a fearful expression, poor thing, and the other one didn't do that, but neither would it come anywhere near the bars so I could pet its head. Not good, not good at all. And they were asking $699 each for them. Totally nutz! But then, they ask $899 for the Chihuahuas, and those things are all over the place around here. You can get one at a shelter for next to nothing, and there's also a rescue service for the breed in the area which is always looking for good homes. A friend of mine back in high school wanted to get a Chihuahua, but when she found out the price, she said she could get one the next time she visited family in the Texas desert, 5 miles from the Mexican border, for free because they're practically like rats there they're so prolific and common, so she certainly wasn't about to even consider paying nearly a thousand bucks for one.

Anyway, it's a good thing I went out this morning to take care of all this stuff because it is pouring down rain right now. And I'm going to go eat lunch and hopefully by the time I'm done, it will have stopped raining and I can get some things done in the garden today... I love days like this when I can get a ton of things done!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Bees

So everyone's talking about the bees disappearing... This is obviously a bad thing. Why are they disappearing, no one seems to really have an answer, at least not yet. But there are a number of possibilities...

The Chinese could be getting rid of them somehow in their efforts to monopolize the American honey market. This is highly unlikely, I think, simply because if they got caught could you imagine the outrage from the American public, even if I could believe that our government might be willing to be complacent to such a thing given the proper motivation and well-placed yen in the pockets of certain individuals.

The bees could be responding to very subtle shifts in weather, climate or environment. I've heard that bees are known to evacuate an area before a natural disaster like a earthquake or volcanic eruption, as well as major storms.

Or there's another possibility... One which Walter Jeffries suggested on nonais.org. He thinks the bees might be running away or dying because of genetically modified crops and pesticides. GM crops which produce their own pesticides "naturally" are being planted now. Others do not produce their own pollen in their modified state. Either could impact the bees. Obviously, crops that the bees might frequent which now produce pesticides would probably kill bees. A lot of crops that have no pollen would starve the hives, forcing them to move elsewhere. A commenter on nonais mentioned that a friend of theirs had their hives in a soybean field a few years ago, not knowing that the beans were GM and didn't produce pollen. They didn't realize that that was the case until their hives started dying because they didn't have anything to eat, and of course they immediately moved their hives elsewhere and have made sure not to place them in fields of GM crops since then. As GM crops have become more and more prevalent on "conventional" farms in the last year or so, there may be fewer and fewer places for the bees to find pollen, depending on the area... It's a theory anyway. I've yet to hear a better one...

In any case, it's all the more reason to buy local and buy organic...

crochet

I'm kinda teaching myself how to crochet today... It was bound to happen sometime... It's awkward and I've only scarcely gotten a chain going here, but it's kinda working, sorta-kinda... I have to make a chain for a tie on a baby bootie.

::sighs:: the cabin

Well, we got the estimate for the cabin as we wanted it early last week. It took a few days to get over it. The turn-key price was significantly more than we had thought it would be. Apparently, the Sebec has a lot of details, etc. which raise the price per square foot, make it impossible to pare down by cutting corners, and (worst of all) make it out of our realistic price range. We could still do it, but it would be financially dangerous. So the Sebec is out. ::tears:: It was so perfect...

So we're looking at our 3rd and 4th choices, because our 2nd choice, the Woodstock, mom has decided she doesn't like... 3rd choice is the Laurel-A. 4th is the Lincoln-B. The square footage is a bit less than the Sebec, but what they have, they use pretty wisely. Both have more bedrooms, at 4 each.

If we went with the Lincoln-B we would add a fireplace to the plan and knock out the wall on the 4th bedroom upstairs for an open loft. We'd also flip the upstairs bathroom so that the door was in the loft and not in the bedroom. And we would want a larger window in the living room.

If we go with the Laurel-A, which is the direction that we're leaning at the moment, we wouldn't have to make as many adjustments. The plan already includes a fireplace. We would probably right-to-left flip the floorplan to put the living room and kitchen windows facing the pasture. We're also kicking around the idea of taking the two adjancent bedrooms downstairs and making them into one large master suite or something. Also the kitchen needs a pantry, and there needs to be a linen closet somewhere... and we haven't figured out where the washer/dryer can go yet either. Why so many of these cabin floor plans have neither linen, nor pantry, nor washer/dryer storage is a total mystery to me.

In case I haven't posted it before, here is a picture of the view we're trying to take best advantage of (here, in late-fall):

Monday, May 14, 2007

baby blanket

Well, I finished the baby blanket and it is blocking now on the kitchen table. I was trying to do the same one I did for my cousins several years ago, but this one turned out to be significantly smaller. I used less yarn, only slightly more than a pound while the other one used 18.5 ounces. But that still doesn't account for it. I think I must have used smaller needles this time, US7, although that's one size larger than the pattern calls for and I can't imagine that I went up to size 8s the first time... The finished proportions of the original were 36"x45". The finished proportions of this one are 33"x34" almost square, although it looks totally square... That's a good size for a baby blanket though, isn't it? There's really no way to fix it now, except to redo the whole thing, and while I would... I think I'm going to live with it.

I can't seem to get my phone to send the pics of the new one to my e-mail right now... so these are pictures of the one I made several years ago with the same pattern:



Sunday, May 13, 2007

kitties!

Mom and I have been wanting a kitten for a while now. Mom insisted that it had to be a long-haired, female kitten and I just said I didn't care as long as she was sweet. Well, we saw an add in the paper this morning for free, sweet and sociable, all black, long-haired kittens. Mom called in the early afternoon and found out that there was one girl left and now they are holding her for us. By next weekend, she will have had her second set of shots from the vet. The people breed purebred cats, which they sell for hundreds of dollars, and something went wrong this time and they ended up with mixed domestic long-hairs, hence "free" even though they've had their vaccines and vet care. But the lady said that these kittens have the sweetest disposition of any cats she's ever seen, so this sounds good to us. So next Saturday we're going to drive up to Brooksville in Hernando County to get the little girl that they are holding for us. Mom used to have a farm up there and it's mostly horse country out that way, so the drive should be nice. We're going to name the kitten "Amaya," which supposedly means "night rain" in Japanese, but might have been made up by some American who doesn't understand the finer points of kanji. In any case, I like it...

::sighs::

Sometimes, I feel like I'm missing out because I don't have a livejournal... Now, to me, livejournal has from the very beginning seemed like myspace on crack to me (even before myspace existed) and this is why I don't have one. I spend far too much time on my computer as it is. If I had an lj, I think I would never leave my computer except on very special occasions. But still, sometimes... I feel like because I don't get livejournal and I don't have an account, I'm missing out on things happening online... Not that things really *happen* online. It is a virtual world after all... But... Icons, for instance. They look rather fun. Such as this one:
How fun is that?!? Totally have no idea where that one came from, I got it off someone's photobucket. But blogger doesn't use icons, and sometimes, I get jealous of those who can over on lj. If I knew how to make them (because I am terminally challenged when it comes to figuring out icons and MicrosoftPowerPoint, no matter how easy it might seem when other people do it) like what the parameters were and how to crop them and size them just so, I'd be less jealous, 'cause then I could put them in here whether or not they would function just like they do on lj. But I've noticed that those who post them for the "free use of others" over on livejournal often stipulate that they don't want them to be used outside of livejournal (which I think is ironic since 99.9% of the time, the pictures they use are copyrighted by someone else and then the icon makers upload the icons to a public internet site, so how they think they really should have a say in how or where they're used when they're breaking laws themselves is beyond me, but...), so I feel bad about ignoring their wishes and posting icons here. But even so... They're so much fun!

Changes are blowing in the wind...

In Florida, where we are particularly susceptible to hurricanes, which supposedly are going to keep getting more Katrina-like if the climate keeps changing, I think it is particularly important to make small changes to keep that from happening. But of course, it's important everywhere... I think this should be a summer of change for everyone, a time for everyone to get more conscious of what they can do to improve the world we all live in through small changes.

Here's 10 things I just came up with off the top of my head that everyone can do to improve the whole world:

1. Dry laundry on a clothesline instead of in a dryer.

2. Plant a small vegetable garden. You can start with a single potted tomato plant on a balcony, or even as much as a 10 x 10 plot in your yard. That small a space will be manageable and totally doable for just about anyone.

3. Buy organic and/or locally produced meat and dairy whenever you possibly can.

4. Buy organic and/or locally produced vegetables and fruit whenever you possibly can.

5. Plant a tree. Plant two. Plant 400 even... They aren't really that expensive. If you don't have yard you can plant one in or time to plant one yourself, you can always pay to have someone else do it somewhere else. And you can do it as a gift for a friend or relative, that way you don't have to buy them a real present later... That's two birds with one stone, my friends. ;D You can search the web yourself for a charitable organization, or go to Trees For The Future, Trees for Life, Just Give, American Forests, or (the one I'm most familiar with) the Jewish National Fund, which plants trees specifically in Israel, for more information.

6. Ride a bike. Even if it's just to get out of the house instead of taking a five minute drive in your car, ride a bike. Don't have one? Look for them at second-hand stores, and even Walmart. There aren't any bikes made in the USA anymore, I'm sorry to say, except for the very expensive (like $500+) high-end professional-type bikes, so don't feel too guilty about having to buy from China. Even better if you can ride it to the grocery store, work or school.

7. Watch that thermostat! Turn up the thermostat in the summer, turn it down in the winter, or turn it off and open your windows in the summer, and keep it low and seal your home in the winter (especially in Florida, it doesn't get that cold, you don't really need the heat turned on most of the time!). Assuming that the air-quality outside isn't pitiful and there's a decent cross-breeze, opening the windows should keep your home comfortable during much of the summer. You can at least experiment with turning the air conditioner down a degree or two this summer and see what happens.

8. Stay informed. Being informed about what's going on with the environment is the first step to really being in a position to change things for the better. Search the web and sign up for e-mail notifications from different environmental organizations that interest you, such as World Wildlife Fund, The Conservation Society, The Sierra Club, Greenpeace and many others.

9. Be aware. Don't shut your ears just because it's more comfortable now not to hear about it. It's much better than living it later.

10. Tell others. Making others aware of problems and what they can do to help is the next most important thing you can do.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Food and Agricultural News for May 2007

Most of the following is from the May 2007 FEED of the Union of Concerned Scientists with any comments from me in [ ].

1. Food supply no safer since the spinach scare
Most Americans have returned to buying spinach since last fall's outbreak of foodborne illness that killed three people and sickened hundreds. But according to the chief medical officer of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the underlying problems that allowed spinach to be contaminated with fecal matter carrying E. coli bacteria haven't been solved, and another outbreak involving leafy greens is likely. The agency's own documents show that it knew for years about the situation that led to the spinach outbreak, but lacked the resources to enforce food safety regulations, relying instead on producers to implement voluntary measures. The FDA's ineffectiveness is just another good reason to choose organic food and/or buy from local farmers you can trust. Read more from The Washington Post. [For those of us who are aware or have been paying attention, none of this should come as any surprise. The FDA and the USDA are dinosaurs when it comes to regulating food and animals in the US. We're a damn big country now. But the solutions that they come up with often just perpetuate the problem and limit the Civil Rights of US citizens without actually improving safety. The best thing you can do to improve food safety nationally, improve your health and the health of your family is to 1.) grow it yourself, 2.) buy organic from local farmers, or 3.) buy from trusted organic food suppliers. As more people shift to this way of procuring their food, the national suppliers will either go out of business or shift the way they grow our food to comply with what the market demands with no need at all to get the government involved.]

2. USDA advisory board: Cloned food isn't organic
The organic label should exclude not just cloned animals and products like milk, but clones' offspring and all successive generations as well, according to a recent decision by the advisory board to the National Organic Program (NOP). After the FDA announced in December its intention to allow cloned products in the food supply, the NOP stated that cloned animals would not be considered organic, but until now it was unclear whether the offspring of clones would be excluded too. The board's recommendation has not yet been officially incorporated into the organic standards. Read more from the Cornucopia Institute. [This is wonderful news and yet another reason to buy organic... For those who don't know, cloned animals and plants have tons of health problems, and scientists really have no idea what consuming these damaged technically edible (in that they won't kill you right away) things will do to people in the long run. Right now, I don't believe anyone is in operation with cloned animals and plants yet, but also as of right now, no one is required to label products which contain cloned material.]

3. Marker-assisted selection vs. genetic engineering
Marker-assisted selection (MAS) is an advanced form of conventional breeding that can be an alternative to genetic engineering. Instead of inserting a foreign gene into a plant, as in genetic engineering, marker-assisted selection screens for useful genes that are already present in the plant or a related wild plant. Genetic "markers" associated with these genes are identified and can be quickly tested for during the breeding process. After the individual plants that contain these genes have been identified, those plants can be used to breed the next generation. The technique can significantly reduce the time needed to develop a plant with the desired traits. Since the desired genes occur naturally in the plant and are simply selected for during the breeding process, it’s possible to get the desired traits without the risk of introducing genes from different species into crops. MAS can also allow the breeding of complex traits that were not feasible by previous methods. Although not a panacea, MAS is a sophisticated and promising new approach to an age-old technology. [See there's really no reason at all to genetically engineer food... or to be required to buy it...]

4. Burger King moves toward more humane practices
Responding to consumer concerns, the world's second-largest hamburger chain will begin purchasing cage-free eggs and crate-free pork. Burger King's initial goal is to purchase two percent of eggs from cage-free suppliers and 10 percent of pork from farms that keep sows in pens rather than crates, with plans to expand the program over time. The company also will favor poultry slaughterhouses that use controlled atmosphere killing, a slaughter method that is considered more humane than electrical stunning. Read more from The New York Times. [I do suppose that 2% of eggs and 10% of pork from these sources is a step in the correct direction for Burger King, just as the news from Greenpeace (that they've got McDonald's word that they will stop getting chickens from suppliers who use feed grown on ill-gotten land and "reclaimed" rainforest land in Amazonia) last fall was good. I still won't eat at either establishment unless I've been starving in the desert for a couple of days and there is no other food source in site. But it is an excellent sign that entities with the buying power and market command that Burger King and McD's do are seeing a market driven need to more responsible consumerism.]

5. Adventures in eating: The 100-mile diet
A new book chronicles the adventures of a Vancouver couple who spent a year eating food produced within 100 miles of their home. Aware that in North America the average distance traveled by produce from farm to fork is 1500 miles or more [which is really obscene since most areas in North America could feed themselves with some notable exceptions], Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon embarked on this experiment to reduce their environmental impact. The story of their year, Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and A Raucous Year of Eating Locally, bursts with lively descriptions of home-grown meals, clever substitutions (a turnip-bread sandwich?), connections with local farmers, and surprising discoveries about the food and environment of their region. Read more at 100milediet.org. [I've heard great things about this book... Haven't read it. I don't have the time or the inclination, unfortunately, to read every book that I've heard great things about. But checking out the website wouldn't be a bad idea. There's a map which will figure out your 100 mile parameter, as well as tips on how to get started buying locally. Even if you're just thinking about buying some of your food locally, it's worth checking out. 100 miles gets us in Tampa almost all the way to Cocoa Beach (yes, where I Dream of Jeanie was set) on the east coast, as far south as Ft. Myers and as far north as Ocala (not to mention all that prime fishing area in the Gulf to the West). That's almost the whole state! (Well, not really, but when you're raised in Tampa, it's pretty much as far south as you commonly get and as far north as you want to go before skipping over Gainsville on your way to Atlanta ::cheeky smile::) And I guarantee that, if we really wanted to, we could find anything we wanted to eat within that parameter.]



And if these above listed reason aren't enough to prove that we should try to do better, here's some more to convince you that not only *should* we, but we *can* and with not all that much effort:

1. Average minimum distance that North American produce typically travels from farm to plate, in miles: 1,500

2. Number of Planet Earths’ worth of resources that would be needed if every person worldwide lived like the average North American: 8

3. Planets saved if all of those people ate locally: 1

4. Ratio of minutes spent preparing food by English consumers who buy ready-made foods versus traditional home-cooking: 1:1

5. Estimated number of plant species worldwide with edible parts: 30,000

6. Number of species that currently provide 90 percent of the world’s food: 20

7. Share of each U.S. consumer food dollar that returned to the farmer in 1910, in cents: 40

8. Share that returned to the farmer in 1997, in cents: 7

9. Ratio of prisoners to farmers in the U.S. population: 5:2

10. Percentage of fresh vegetables eaten in Hanoi, Vietnam, that are grown in the city: 80 [my personal favorite - come on, if Hanoi can do it, places like Tampa should have no problem beating 80%!]

11. Percentage of all tomatoes in U.S. that are harvested while green : 80 [which is just one of several reasons that most tomatoes from the grocery store taste like shit.]

12. *Major* river dams constructed to irrigate California, now the world’s number five agricultural producer: 1,200 [read that at least 3 or 4 times until it sinks it because I know it didn't sink in the first time - what that really says. Dude, that's really not good.]

Buying organic improves air quality, water quality, the health of people who eat it, the health of the farmers and farm workers who grow it, and I believe that all that makes the food taste better too.

Buying local improves the local economy, makes sure that more money goes directly to the people who grow the food we eat every day, strengthens community bonds and improves social ties, brings us greater appreciation for those who grow the food we eat and makes us more thankful for what we have been blessed with, creates less pollution because food is transported via fossil fueled transportation over much shorter distances, and I believe all that makes the food taste better too.

Growing food ourselves improves self-esteem through self-sufficiency, teaches children confidence building skills and values, gives us a reason to get out of bed in the morning (gotta water those tomatoes!), gives us a reason to get outside and enjoy the outdoors and sunshine, is great exercise, shows us just what it takes to put food on our tables every day, gives us greater appreciation for the Earth, what it does, what it gives us, and what it can do, and I believe all that makes the food taste like the best food we've ever eaten.

So... are you convinced? I hope so because at the moment, I've got nothing left. So, I want everyone to go to their local garden center and buy a potted vegetable plant. At least one. Any kind you want, but I recommend a tomato or an eggplant for beginners. Then go home and plant it in a sunny spot in your yard. Don't have any ground to put it in 'cause you're in an apartment? Find a sunny spot on your porch or balcony and set it there in an overlarge pot so that the roots have room to spread out. Keep it watered and if you're feeling adventurous and want an extra special happy plant, mix in some composted manure (I promise it doesn't smell the way you think it will) with the potting soil. It will so be worth it!

Feel free to copy and paste this and send it to friends and newsgroups... ;D

Friday, May 11, 2007

Woot!

I was *so* worried about my pro-seminar class, as I know I told a number of people most of the semester... I thought for sure that I was going to get a C or worse. It was really hard and a huge headache most of the semester. But now that grades for the Spring term have been posted and I've had a week to sleep, I'm feeling much better about the whole thing. I got two A's, in Latin and in Roman Lit, and an A- in my pro-seminar. I was figuring a B at best for the pro-seminar, if the prof was feeling generous and forgiving, so this is really, really good news! ::am dancing in my living room::

I'm looking forward to getting my seminar paper back now... As soon as summer classes start, I need to go pick it up and also fill out the paper work to get my F removed (it's a formality at this point), which should improve my GPA significantly. And... I can't remember if there's anything else I need to do right now, but I'm sure it will come to me if there is...

Thursday, May 10, 2007

2,700-year-old fabric found in Greece

Totally excited about this! Must share!


AP Photo: An ancient bronze funerial urn in which archaeologists discovered 2,700-year-old fabric remains is seen in this undated handout photo released by the Greek Culture Ministry on Wednesday, May 9, 2007. The find, in the southern town of Argos, is extremely rare, archeologists said. (AP Photo/Greek Culture Ministry/HO)

2,700-year-old fabric found in Greece
By NICHOLAS PAPHITIS, Associated Press Writer
Wed May 9, 7:19 PM ET

Archaeologists in Greece have discovered a rare 2,700-year-old piece of fabric inside a copper urn from a burial they speculated imitated the elaborate cremation of soldiers described in Homer's "Iliad."

The yellowed, brittle material was found in the urn during excavation in the southern town of Argos, a Culture Ministry announcement said Wednesday

"This is an extremely rare find, as fabric is an organic material which decomposes very easily," said archaeologist Alkistis Papadimitriou, who headed the dig. She said only a handful of such artifacts have been found in Greece.

The cylindrical urn also contained dried pomegranates — offerings linked with the ancient gods of the underworld — along with ashes and charred human bones from an early 7th century B.C. cremation.

Papadimitriou said the material was preserved for nearly 3,000 years by the corroding copper urn. "Copper oxides killed the microbes which normally destroy fabric," she told The Associated Press.

Conservation experts from Athens will work on the fragile find.

"Our first concern is to save it," Papadimitriou said. "Afterward, it will undergo laboratory tests to tell us about the precise fabric and weaving techniques."

The burial was the only cremation among a half-dozen closely grouped graves found on the plot, which was scheduled for development.

"Cremation was very unusual in Argos, and this too makes it a special find," Papadimitriou said. "In my opinion, an affluent citizen may have wanted to imitate a funerary custom described by Homer to stand out among his peers buried nearby — who were not cremated."

The poet's "Iliad" and "Odyssey" enjoyed huge popularity throughout Greece. Composed during the 8th century B.C, and thought to be inspired by a war four centuries earlier, the Iliad describes slain heroes being cremated in elaborate funerals, which fell out of fashion in later times.

Modern Argos in the northern Peloponnese, some 90 miles south of Athens, is built on top of one of the most famous cities of ancient Greece. Also named Argos, the ancient city was mentioned by Homer as the seat of a Mycenaean hero-king who fought with the Greek army in Troy. It flourished throughout antiquity.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

Interesting dyeing fact and question...

Got this from a middle school science experiment worksheet...

Fun Facts:

- The law in France that threatened dyers with the death sentence if they were found using indigo instead of woad has never been repealed.

- A 1762 indigo recipe recommends using urine, "preferably of those who drink strong drinks."

Hmmm... Well, thank goodness Earth Guild has come up with a way to use good old yeast to ferment the indigo...

I'm making baby things for my little sister, since she is expecting her first in August. I'm working on a blanket right now and should be done by the end of the weekend (I only have about another 12 inches to knit before binding off). Then I'll do at least one hat (maybe more in different sizes) and booties and socks until I run out of my soft cotton yarn.

What has this to do with indigo and dyeing, you may ask? Well, everything... I want to dye all this stuff with indigo after I'm finished (along with quite a lot of wool handspun) and I'm wondering if it will work... The cotton yarn is white Peaches n' Cream. I had two 1 lb. cones of it just begging me to use them, so I did. I think it will work even though the cotton is bleached, since indigo is not like other dyes, which bind to mordants and/or fabrics. Indigo, from what I understand, will stick to a lot of things, including itself, by itself, and mordants have little to no effect on how much adheres to fibers. From what I understand, indigo goes on like... like fine glitter to skin (my analogy), it will eventually rub off no matter what, and while it kinda sticks, it never permanently bonds... So I'm thinking that it would still work with bleached cotton... Does that sound like a good theory? And does anyone have any practical knowledge in this?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

So the Queen came to visit...

... As I'm sure everyone is well aware by now. A friend of mine e-mailed me an interesting article about the visit. It was printed on BBCNews.com, so it's from a British POV, rather than an American one, and I thought it was quite interesting, so I'm sharing...

Washington diary: Royal jitters
By Matt Frei
BBC News, Washington

I have seen George Bush fumble for grammar, cringe in front of the cameras and shrug off insults from world leaders.

I have seen him joust gamely with opponents and stare down enemies with a cold eye.

But I have never, ever seen the commander-in-chief of the mightiest nation on earth look utterly terrified.

This week an elderly lady, who is at least a head smaller than the president and who, by all accounts, has never harmed a fly, achieved - unwittingly - what Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and Nancy Pelosi have all tried and failed to do: reduce George Walker Bush to a quivering mass, make his lower lip tremble and - I promise you I saw it with my own eyes - make him blush to the roots of his Texan rind.

Yes, the 43rd President of the United States was smitten by her Britannic Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.

Memorable gaffe

The endearing thing about George Bush is that his body language and the spoken variety both betray his true emotions at every turn.

At Monday night's state dinner, the first white tie event in the Bush White House, a pair of lacquered black shoes could be seen virtually tap dancing with jitters on the red carpet next to the royal footwear.

Then there was George Bush's hesitant "should I sit or should I stand" toast which left the Queen on her feet, sipping her Riesling all by herself.

The most memorable gaffe had been committed earlier that day, when the president almost implied that the Queen was 200 years older than her current age by thanking her for attending America's bicentennial celebrations in 1776.

He corrected himself mid-date, then did what he often does in sticky circumstances. He winked, smiled and lunged for recovery.

The Queen was heard to mutter: "Wrong year!"

The president responded with disarming honesty. The Queen had given him "a look that only a mother could give a child" he told his guests and the world, under a glorious Washington May sky.

Call me churlish, but I thought this was a charming escape from Royal Protocol Armageddon.

To my knowledge no reigning Queen of England had ever been winked at.

The first Elizabeth would surely have had George Bush's guts for garters. This one responded with dead-pan aloofness. Her Majesty was not amused.

There wasn't even a flicker of a smile and the stiff upper lip of the House of Windsor remained resolutely stiff in the land of the free.

Shared ancestry

If I may take the presumptuous role of presidential shrink for a moment, I would say there are three reasons for George Bush's quivers.

It is not royalty per se that makes American presidents nervous. It is British royalty.

For all the loathing of the Red Coats, Mad King George and British colonial rule, America feels the Stockholm syndrome of its ancestry. Even an abused child sent for adoption is fascinated by his or her real mother.

Secondly the Queen probably reminds George Bush of his own Mama, the formidable Barbara, the matriarch of the Bush clan, who apparently raised her eldest son with a patrician mixture of love and discipline.

He may argue with his father over Iraq and diplomacy. They have a vexed relationship. But, I'm told, it is the mother he cherishes and dares not contradict.

The third point is a more general one about the role of Britain's history in the United States.

Americans nurture their historical shoots like a gardener fusses over a sapling. In Virginia, where the rich earth moans with the memories of the civil war, the war of independence and the lives of the founding fathers, every brick and beam dating back a hundred years or more is festooned with a plaque.

History is such a precious commodity because it is so rare in a young nation.

By comparison Britain is to history what Saudi Arabia is to crude oil. We have lashings of it and don't feel the need to draw attention to it.

Despite lattes and paninis, suicide bombs in London and the foreign takeover of English football, Britain lives, breathes and governs unselfconsciously in a historical context.

Which American politician doesn't at some stage enlist the help of the founding fathers or invoke the American dream enshrined in the Bill of Rights? Which British politician ever mentions the Magna Carta?

For Americans, the Queen and her pageantry embody an exotic reality tinged with a whiff of shared ancestry.

It is a matter of affection mixed with curiosity verging, sometimes, on incomprehension.

It is the same attitude found when Washington grandees munch cucumber sandwiches on the British ambassador's lawn and are too polite to ask about the missing crust.


Send us your comments in reaction to Matt Frei's Washington diary using the link below:

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/americas/6637429.stm

Published: 2007/05/09 12:31:57 GMT

© BBC MMVII

Pausing for a fannish moment...

Edit (06/05/2008): Please visit the exorcism article at supernaturalwiki.com for the most up-to-date translation of the ritual, broken down by how it appeared in each episode in which an exorcism has been used. I will be continually updating there as I have time to analyze each of the episodes in question.

This all has to do with the tv show Supernatural, a subject near and dear to my heart and one that I've mentioned here before though not often. For the benefit of my fellow obsessive fans, as well as myself, I've been deciphering the Latin exorcism rituals used on the show. The rest of this post will be a long and detailed breakdown of these rituals and may not be of interest to anyone other than myself. ;D

For a while, I've been working to figure out the exorcism rituals in the Supernatual episodes "Devil's Trap," "Crossroad Blues" and "Born Under a Bad Sign." I started working from the Latin given on Super-wiki and tried to fill in holes by listening to the exorcisms in the episodes ad nauseam. Once I had gotten as much as I thought I could get from there, I started looking up the different parts online to see if I could get confirmation or clarification of anything from existing Latin/Catholic ritual/hymns/etc. I did find quite a lot. Then I went back to the video and double-checked that it all fit and seemed to be correct. The following below is what I've come up with and I've translated most of it as best I can with two semesters of excellent instruction in Classical Latin.

Here are clips of the pertinent scenes:

Clips of Meg's exorcism in "Devil's Trap"
Parts of Meg's Exorcism
Parts of Meg's Exorcism continued

Clip from "Crossroad Blues"


Clip of Sam's exorcism in "Born Under a Bad Sign"
Exorcism-Supernatural

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This is all of the ritual pieced together as best as I can manage (the ritual is split according to what appeared in each version of the ritual below, along with the best translations I can manage with some of my notes):

Regna terrae, cantate Deo, psallite Domino
Kingdoms of Earth, sing to God, praises to the Lord (This is from part of Psalm 67(68 in some Vulgate versions))
qui fertis ("ascendit" in the psalm, but it is very clearly something more like "fertis") super caelum
that you carry above the sky
caeli ad Orientem
of heaven to the east.
Ecce dabit voci suae (in the hymn, it is "suae;" Dean clearly says "suum," but that would be incorrect according to Latin grammar, so - "suae".) vocem virtutis,
Behold, he sends forth (?) his own voice, the voice of virtue,
tribuite virtutem deo.
Attribute the virtue to God. (This line is completely different in the Latin version of Psalm 67, but both versions have a similar meaning in English...)
[from a 17th century hymn which uses these same lines taken from Psalm 67, obviously not a literal translation from the Latin: 32 Sing unto God, O ye kingdoms of the earth; * O sing praises unto the Lord; 33 Who sitteth in the heavens over all from the beginning: * lo, he doth send out his voice; yea, and that a mighty voice. 34 Ascribe ye the power to God ]

[This part is only in "Crossroad Blues"]
Deus caeli, deus terrae,
The god of heaven, the god of earth,
humiliter majestati gloriae tuae supplicamus
humbly by the majesty of Your Glory we implore
ut ab omni infernalium spirituum potestate,
that from every power of the infernal spirits,
laqueo, deceptione et nequitia,
from their snare, their deception and their wickedness,
omnis fallaciae, libera nos, domine.
from every deceit, free us, lord.

Vade, Satana, inventor et magister
Go away, Satan, inventor and master
omnis fallaciae, hostis humanae salutis.
of all deceit, enemy of humanity's salvation.
Humiliare sub potenti manu dei--[Dean stops here in "Crossroad Blues"])
To be humble under the powerful hand of god--

Exorcizamus te, omnis immundus spiritus
We exorcise you, every impure spirit
omnis satanica potestas, omnis incursio
every satanic power, every incursion
infernalis adversarii, omnis legio,
of the infernal adversary, every legion
omnis congregatio et secta diabolica.
every congregation and diabolical sect.

Ergo...

[*1 In "Devil's Trap," the rest of the line and more is mostly unintelligible - however, this is what was lifted in between "ergo" and "perditionis" (which begins the next part that Sam says clearly) from the Rituale Romanum online: draco maledicte et omnis legio diabolica adjuramus te (up to here I'm pretty sure I can hear it, or the rhythm at least) per Deum + vivum, per Deum + verum, per Deum + sanctum, per Deum, qui sic dilexit mundum, ut Filium suum unigenitum daret, ut omnis, qui credit in eum, non pereat, sed habeat vitam aeternae: (with everything in between that cut out and Sam maybe picking it up here:) cessa decipere humanas creaturas, eisque aeternae... (- because there was not time for Sam to say all of that; they must have edited a bit, and what Bobby says in the "Born Under A Bad Sign" version seems to support this way of editing the original Catholic ritual... this is what I think they say:]

Ergo draco maledicte
Thus cursed demon
et omnis legio diabolica
and every diabolical legion
adjuramus te.
we adjure you.
Cessa decipere humanas creaturas,
Cease to deceive human creatures
eisque aeternae Perditionis venenum propinare.
and to give to them the poison of eternal Perdition.

Vade, Satana, inventor et magister
Go away, Satan, the inventer and master
omnis fallaciae, hostis humanae salutis.
of all deceit, the enemy of humanity's salvation.
Humiliare sub potenti manu dei,
To be humble under the powerful hand of god --
contremisce et effuge, invocato a
tremble and flee -- I envoke by
nobis sancto et terribili nomine,
us the sacred and terrible name
quem inferi tremunt.
at which those down below tremble.
[Or more readable: By us, I envoke the sacred and terrible name, at which those down below tremble, to humble, under the powerful hand of god (tremble and flee).]

Ab insidiis diaboli, libera nos, Domine.
From the snares of the devil, free us, lord.
Ut Ecclesiam tuam secura tibi facias libertate servire
That your Church may serve you in safety (this I got from an online English translation of the ritual because I was having a hard time trying to translate it literally, but I think it's pretty close, and certainly as close as it's going to get as far as what I can do with it)
te rogamus, audi nos.
we ask you, hear us.
Ut inimicos sanctae Ecclesiae humiliare digneris,
That you may destroy the enemies of your sacred Church, (again, same problem as above)
te rogamus, audi nos.
we ask you, hear us!

(2* Sam pauses when Demon-Possessed!Meg starts talking... when he starts the ritual again, it goes like this:)

Ut inimicos sanctae Ecclesiae,
[but without "humiliare digneris" there is no verb, it only says:] That ... the enemies of the sacred Church [I think]
te rogamus, audi nos.
we ask you, hear us!

[3* This next part took some doing, but I'm pretty sure this is it now, despite the fact that it *really* sounds like Sam says "In nominis deus" - but the cases are all wrong for that to have been what he said - "in nominis deus" is something like "The god of the name in". "In nomine dei" would be correct, but the "is" and "us" are pretty clear, so this makes me think Sam said something else entirely. And pretty much everything else matches up with some Latin versions of verse 36(35 of some) of Pslam 67(68), which would kinda go along with the "regna terrae" part of the ritual which is from the same Psalm.]

Terribilis Deus de sanctuario suo. [It really sounds like Sam says "tuo" here, but as explained above and below, there are issues with this whole part of the ritual.]
God is frightening about his own sacred place. [I've seen other translations of this line, but I don't like them. It's difficult to translate. I don't think it really is the present continuous verb tense being used here, but that's how I've translated it. It could be another tense of the same verb that just sounds very similar to this form, not sure. I'm still hoping for another exorcism using these lines so I can try to hear it again. For now, this is the best I can figure.]
Deus [It sounds like Sam says "Dei" here, but that doesn't make sense grammatically.] Israhel ipse truderit virtutem
The God of Israel Himself will have thrust excellence
et fortitudinem plebi Suae.
and strength to His Own people.
Benedictus deus. Gloria patri.
Blessed God. The Glory of the Father.


Evil!Sam in "Born Under A Bad Sign" says something like this (I haven't reviewed this at all and I haven't even begun to attempt to consider a translation):
Spiritus immundus glorum (?) suorum (?)
imitate (?) palate (?) iram, domine... [the rest is totally inaudible after that b/c that's when the fireplace explodes.]


"Devil's Trap" Ritual:

Regna terrae, cantate Deo,
psallite Domino
qui fertis super caelum
caeli ad Orientem
Ecce dabit voci suae
vocem virtutis,
tribuite virtutem deo.

Exorcizamus te, omnis immundus spiritus
omnis satanica potestas, omnis incursio
infernalis adversarii, omnis legio,
omnis congregatio et secta diabolica.

Ergo draco maledicte
et omnis legio diabolica adjuramus te.
cessa decipere humanas creaturas,
eisque aeternae Perditionis venenum propinare. [*1 See note about the problem with this section above.]

Vade, Satana, inventor et magister
omnis fallaciae, hostis humanae salutis.
Humiliare sub potenti manu dei,
contremisce et effuge, invocato a
nobis sancto et terribili nomine,
quem inferi tremunt.

Ab insidiis diaboli, libera nos, Domine.
Ut Ecclesiam tuam secura tibi facias
libertate servire, te rogamus, audi nos.
Ut inimicos sanctae Ecclesiae humiliare digneris,
te rogamus, audi nos.

Ut inimicos sanctae Ecclesiae
te rogamus, audi nos. [2* see problem with this section detailed above]

Terribilis Deus de sanctuario suo. [3*]
Deus Israhel ipse truderit virtutem
et fortitudinem plebi Suae.
Benedictus deus. Gloria patri.

Translation:
Kingdoms of the Earth, sing unto God,
Praises to the Lord
that carry above the sky
of heaven to the East.
Behold, He sends forth His Own Voice,
the Voice of Virtue.
Attribute the Virtue to God.

We exorcise you, every impure spirit,
every satanic power, every incursion
of the infernal adversary, every legion,
every congregation and diabolical sect.

Thus, cursed demon
and every diabolical legion, we adjure you.
Cease to deceive human creatures,
and to give to them the Poison of Eternal Perdition.

Go away, Satan, inventor and master
of all deceit, enemy of humanity's salvation.
To be humble under the Powerful Hand of God --
tremble and flee -- I invoke by
us the Sacred and Terrible Name
at which those down below tremble.

From the snares of the devil, free us, Lord.
That Your Church may serve You in safety
we ask You, hear us.
That You may destroy the enemies of Your Sacred Church,
we ask You, hear us!

That ... the enemies of Your sacred Church [2* see issue noted above]
we ask You, hear us!

God is frightening about his own sacred place. [3*]
The God of Israel Himself will have thrust excellence
and strength to His Own people.
Blessed God. The Glory of the Father.


"Crossroad Blues" Exorcism Ritual:

Regna terrae, cantate Deo,
psallite Domino
qui fertis super caelum
caeli ad Orientem
Ecce dabit voci suae
vocem virtutis,
tribuite virtutem deo.

Deus caeli, deus terrae,
humiliter majestati gloriae tuae supplicamus
ut ab omni infernalium spirituum potestate,
laqueo, deceptione et nequitia,
omnis fallaciae, libera nos, domine.

Vade, Satana, inventor et magister
omnis fallaciae, hostis humanae salutis.
Humiliare sub potenti manu dei-- [This is where Dean cuts off.]

Translation:
Kingdoms of the Earth, sing unto God,
Praises to the Lord
that carry above the sky
of heaven to the East.
Behold, He sends forth His Own Voice,
the Voice of Virtue.
Attribute the Virtue to God.

God of Heaven, God of the Earth,
humbly by the Majesty of Your Glory we implore
that from every power of the infernal spirits,
from their snare, their deception and their wickedness,
from every deceit, free us, Lord.
[Or, less literally, but perhaps more easily understood: God of Heaven, God of the Earth, humbly we implore, by the Majesty of Your Glory, that You free us, Lord, from every power of the infernal spirits, from their snare, their deception and their wickedness, from every deceit.]

Go away, Satan, inventor and master
of all deceit, enemy of humanity's salvation.
To be humble under the Powerful Hand of God--


"Born Under a Bad Sign" Ritual:

Exorcizamus te, omnis immundus spiritus
omnis satanica potestas, omnis incursio
infernalis adversarii, omnis legio,
omnis congregatio et secta diabolica.

Ergo draco maledicte
et omnis légio diabólica adjurámus te.
cessa decípere humánas creatúras,
eisque aeternae Perditionis venenum propinare. [Bobby pauses.]

[skips two lines that are in the other exorcisms.]
Humiliare sub potenti manu dei-- [Bobby stops cause it's not working...]

Translation:
We exorcise you, every impure spirit,
every satanic power, every incursion
of the infernal adversary, every legion,
every congregation and diabolical sect.

Thus cursed demon
and every diabolical legion, we adjure you.
Cease to deceive human creatures,
and to give to them the Poison of Eternal Perdition.

To be humble under the Powerful Hand of God--

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Surprise for Prof. M and Last Friday

Last Friday was my Roman Lit Exam. It went well. Had to pick two essay questions out of four. Picked the questions on Virgil and Propertius... Didn't bother with the ones on Ovid, since I don't like him...

Before that though we had our last Latin class, so that some of the class could take the Final exam, and the rest of us could plan mischief. You see, we love our Latin Prof. She's amazing. So back in February, we started plotting what we could do for her the last day, which would have been the previous Thursday, but as I said in the "Officially the Last Day of Classes" post, we didn't have class. Poor Prof. M had developed dry socket from having her wisdom teeth removed, and other complications as well, which required immediate medical attention. She actually might have died if she hadn't gone to the hospital when she did. Scared the rest of us half to death!

But she was back to her normal self by last Friday, so our plans were on. We had taken up a collection and bought her a pretty watch pendant and 24" inch silver chain for it. Here's a picture of it:


And because Prof. M had expressed how much she liked the plaque I made for my parents' new farm: I made her a plaque of her own:

The translation of what it says is:

Oh, our Minerva,
for your patience,
for your skill,
for your cleverness,
for your help,
for your wisdom,
for your kind spirit,
always your loving and
mindful students
will give thanks to you.

On the back are the signatures of everyone who donated money for the watch, under an additional inscription which says, "For Professor Manolaraki, in appreciation, from the Beginning Latin class 2006/2007. Thank you for everything that you do!"

I was going to add an owl to the center top, but I didn't like how the stylization turned out. All the stencils I used were hand cut by me especially for this project because I couldn't find any that I liked in the local crafts stores.

But here's the story of what happened Friday:

I didn't have to take the exam and neither did Olivia, who was my partner in crime. We showed up anyway since Prof. M had requested that everyone show up, regardless of whether or not we had to take the exam, so that we could fill out the course evaluation forms that we were supposed to have filled out the previous week, and we didn't have to hide like we might have otherwise. Still we had to hide the presents. We took the plaque and the watch to an empty classroom several doors down from the one our class is held in and I stayed there while Olivia directed people down to the other room to sign the plaque. When Prof. M was spotted leaving her office, we turned off the light and closed the door of the empty classroom and returned to our classroom without the plaque or watch. Prof. M said what she had to say about how much she had loved our class and about the exam, passed out the exams and the class evaluation forms and asked that if we weren't taking the exam that we fill out the form and put it in the envelope at the front of the room before we left. Both Olivia and I did that quickly and I totally couldn't look at Prof. M before leaving, I was just too excited about our surprise.

So once back in the other classroom, I started varnishing (with water-based varnish - it dried in just a few minutes) the back of the plaque. The front I had finished the day before. Olivia kept a lookout at the door, and as others finished the evaluation and/or the exam, those who wanted to stay for the surprise came into the classroom and we sat around and waited for the signal from Stacey (in the form of a text message) that everyone had finished the exam. Stacey had been asked by Prof. M to be in charge of taking the evaluations to the Language Department Office upstairs, so she would be the last to leave and stay in the classroom until everyone had finished the exam anyway, so it was quite the perfect plan.

It took about 40 minutes for the last person to finish. One of the other girls came to the classroom after finishing her exam after about 30 minutes and said that Prof. M started tearing up when she had handed in her paper. So we knew she was going to really cry when we gave her the surprises. They would be tears of joy though so...

So the second to last person to finish came into the room and told us that everyone was pretty much done, so we left the classroom with the surprises and headed back down the hall. Peaking in the window we could see Stacey punching keys on her phone, getting ready to text message Mia as planned, and Jordan was talking to Prof. M. Well, since we could see that they were done, we went in. I opened the door and walked in with Olivia on my heels and then everyone else behind. Prof. M looked up when I came in and started saying "What are you doing back here?" and then she saw Olivia and then everyone else and she just covered her face and started to cry, saying "No, no, you guys..." And once everyone was gathered Olivia said, "Now that the exam is over, we aren't technically your students anymore, so we can do things for you whether you want us to or not. So... since you're late for class so often - not that we really minded! - but since you have problems being on time, we got you this." And she handed Prof. M the watch in its box. Prof. M tearfully opened the box and exclaimed her gratitude, kissing the watch face, saying it was "Too much." And I said, "Oh, but there's more!... We also made you this." And I took out the plaque, which I had had hidden in a paper grocery bag, and handed it to her. She was speechless as she read the inscription and then kissed the top of the plaque as well (it makes me wonder if this is something that Greeks do with gifts). She said, "Rachael, you did this, didn't you? I can see your hand in this." And I told her that I had made the plaque. She told us how much she loved all of us and how sad she was that the class was ending. At some point, I stepped forward and hugged her because she looked to be in desperate need of one. She cried the whole time, poor dear. And then, she went around the entire group, there was maybe 15 or so of us, and gave us all hugs. And then said she was going to go back to her office to cry some more. We were so happy she liked it.

The class started breaking up after that. Stacey, Jordan, Olivia, Mia, Candace and the other Stacy stayed in the hall taking pictures of various combinations of us for several minutes. Someone remarked that it was like the last day of high school.

Then we went to Prof. M's office to see if she were up to taking pictures, which she really wasn't. She hadn't been kidding that she was going back to her office to cry, poor thing. And so we assured her that this might be the end of the class but that all of us would be back to visit, that this wasn't the last time she'd see us. And she made us promise that we would get together with her at some point in July to have a reunion and that we would keep in touch through the class blog if nothing else. So I for one most certainly shall. She also said that even if we didn't want to or couldn't sign up for Latin 3 with her in the Fall, we're more welcome to sit in on the class. I signed up for it, but I know at least Mia has a class conflict at least one day a week, so she'll probably sit in on Latin the other days.

After leaving her there, Candace and Stacy left for other things they had to do, and Olivia, Mia, Jordan and I we went upstairs with Stacey to turn in the class evaluations. Then Olivia had to leave and Mia, Jordan and Stacey and I had lunch. Mia remembered at some point that she had done an entire section of the final incorrectly. The exam had asked for the 1st person plural of all the verbs, but she had done the 1st person singular. So she went up to ask Prof. M if she could fix it. Then Stacey had to go to the Library and then Mia came back... At some point, Meredith, a girl in my Roman Lit class, joined us for a few minutes because she also knows Jordan... It seems like everyone on campus knows Jordan... And then around 2:15, Meredith and I headed upstairs for our Roman Lit exam, Mia went off to pack and leave for home and Jordan left to do whatever it was that he needed to go do.

All my friends from Latin hope to keep in touch over the summer and into next year. I really hope that we do. That was one amazing class... haven't experienced anything like it in my six years of college... It was more like high school... or even middle school, in how close the class got.

When I turned in my Roman Lit exam, Prof. M took a moment to tell me again how much she loved the gifts, especially the plaque. She said that when she had seen the one I had made for the farm several months ago, she had thought of asking me to make something for her, but hadn't. I told her I was just glad she liked it, but she said emphatically that she loved it and that I'm an artist. It really is way better to give presents than to get them when you can make other people feel so good.