Monday, January 31, 2011

28/365 Friday 01/28/2011

Poor Mieze--we took her and Sophie to the vet's office for their annual check-up. She was not happy--you can see it in her face. She wanted to run and hide. Bill was trying to comfort her but also keep her from bolting. She was soon found to be perfectly healthy - as was Sophie - and so they soon we back at home where they can just be themselves...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

27/365 Thursday, 01/27/2011

This is a letter written by Bill's great Uncle Reinhold to Bill's (maternal) grandmother Ottlilie Mann. (Reinhold's sister). It is written in script-a special cursive style that Germans used for many years before the more easily legible one came to be the standard. If I stare at it long enough I can read most of it. For some words I might to look at a key for what the letters looked like.

Genealogy is my new hobby. I am mainly interested in my own ancestors, but these old letters from Bill's family are interesting too. So I will work on both sides of the family.

26/365 Wednesday, 01/26/2011

This was a bit of a desperation shot. So far I haven't had too many of those. We put a cat bed in front of the bookcase because Hansi has  a habit of plonking himself down on my desk chair and so he needs to be "transplanted" to a different spot when I need to sit down. The heated pad underneath the bed was an afterthought--considering how Hansi doesn't seem to like the cold at all. He likes his other heated bed which is downstairs in the living room and so we thought he might like one underneath this bed. He is the only who uses this one, whereas I've seen Mieze and George sneak littlle cozy naps in the downstairs one. (I think Hansi chases them away when he thinks it's his turn).

Friday, January 28, 2011

25/365 Tuesday, 01/25/2011

Not a great shot-but I took it to show how close the train runs by our house (yes that can be noisy). Behind the train is a frat house (on the corner of the street). That too can be noisy at times (weekend nights during the school year). Other than that, considering how close we live to the college, I am pleasantly surprised by how little it affects our day-to-day-lives. I still use the library and it's nice to have a post-office so close.

Apparently the college has been shut-down until Monday due to a flu-outbreak! This never happened when I taught there, although there did seem to be outbreaks of flu now and then.

Even after all the stress/trauma of going through a grossly unfair position elimination & tenure-denial (last year) I have remained surprisingly healthy, which is something I try not to take for granted! (I remind myself that there really are many worse things that happen to people other than losing a job). I actually think that part of the reason for my basic physical health is the fact that I have for the first time in quite a while been sleeping regularly and for longer hours. I am simply not as worn out & frazzled as I remember often feeling during the semester. Even though I did the teaching quite willingly and usually joyfully (ok not always joyfully, but usually!)  I do remember finding it strangely exhausting. (=energy-sucking).  This post helped me understand why I might have felt this way...since if there's one thing I know for sure it's that I am a total (almost hermit-like) introvert!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

24/365 Monday 01/24/2011

Just a cute shot of Sophie "helping" me prepare my German lesson. (I give German lessons to two students in the neighborhood once a week). "Helping" in Sophie's case means sitting right smack-dab in the middle of whatever it is I am working on at the moment, so she can arrest my full attention. As you can see she is very good at it!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

23/365 Sunday, 01/23/2011

This was one of those slightly strange phenomena one comes across in extremely cold weather. The drops of water coming from the heating vent/pipe formed what I'm calling an "accidental ice-sculpture" since it sort of looks like the figure of a ghostly person. It's sort of like an upside down icicle or a stalagmite. Anyway I thought it interesting enough to document in my picture a day project!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

22/365 Saturday, 01/22/365

This is a pretty typical Saturday morning shot--Bill getting his second cup of coffee that he takes upstairs to his office, this time while Hansi - our cat who likes to drape himself over people's shoulders - is in his favorite position. Mieze "owns" the counter, and so she is often on it, especially when one of us in the vicinity...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

21/365 Friday, 01/21/2011

I'm very proud of this screen-shot--it is of course the lovely Emma Thompson playing Miss Sybil Trelawney, the Divinations teacher in Harry Potter. We are watching all the movies as a way to kind of get caught up--although watching them makes me just want to back and read the books. I have only read the first two, and I just have a feeling I'd get more out of the movies if I were more familiar with the books. Nonetheless this third one (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) was quite fun and definitely entertaining. It's also interesting watching the young actors grow up and into their roles.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

20/365 Thursday 01/20/2011

These are some of the books I am using as I rewrite (and expand) and academic article on the nineteenth century German woman writer Bettine von Arnim. She wrote and published long chatty psuedo-historical epistolary correspondences between a fictionalised version of herself and Goethe, another woman writer and poet (Karoline von Günderrode) and her brother the romantic writer Clemens Brentano. She wrote other things too but these are three books I am most interested in. The work is sometimes slow-going and sometimes not. I've hit a bit of a rough patch right now, but I hope to get back into it very soon. I think I took the picture to remind me about doing so!

19/365 Wednesday, 01/19/2011

George, our orange tabby is a real "fraidy cat"--and he loves to burrow under blankets. Here he is sitting all warm and cozy under my red plush chair blanket. He was very happy with this purchase!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

18/365 Tuesday, 01/18/2011

A simple nice and super easy meal: a portion of one of those frozen meals from Trader Joe's with some added mushrooms and one fried egg hiding there underneath. Yummy quick and easy!

17/365 Monday 01/17/2011

This is our tortoiseshell cat Sophie. Someone abandoned her in another person's yard. That lady took fed her, but didn't or could't keep her so she put an ad in the local paper. We came and saw her and she was so sweet and pretty and the winter was coming so we decided what the heck another kitty won't hurt too much! (She was our fourth). Even though there is a part of me that wouldn't mind more kitties I think four is really the maximum that our fairly small house can handle. They don't get into too many turf battles, and they all have their own special places to sit. (That happen to include us!)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

16/365 Sunday, 01/16/365

This is my lovely new wallet. A gift from some (former) colleagues of mine (now friends) from the college where I used to teach. They got it at a market in Madrid. I love it!!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

15/365 Saturday, 01/15/2011

I have been known to linger and look at the items on these shelves longingly...they remind me of home...And even though buying something here is the antithesis of buying "local" I do. I like the dark, chewy German bread and now and then I buy a jar of red cabbage. We also like the little sauce packet for "Jäger-Soße--"hunter's gravy" You make it with your meat--pork usually, mushrooms and they say "heavy cream" but we want to try it with half and half to see if that works as well. This all goes well with the Spaetzle you can pick up there too.

14/365 Friday, 01/14/2011

Bill and I spent a fun evening at our favorite local brewery: The Dark Horse Brewery in Marshall, Michigan, which is very close to Albion. The food is good and so is the beer! They recently expanded but you still have to get there early on Fridays to be sure to get one of the bigger tables.

Friday, January 14, 2011

13/365 Thursday, 01/13/2011

We were driving home from Ann Arbor after having a nice dinner with a friend at a Thai restaurant when I decided to snap a few shots. It was snowy and th shots came out blurry and abstract. I decided to use this one anyway for my 365 pic.

12/365 Wednesday, 01/12/2011

A picture of my great grandfather Major Colin McKenzie Taylor there on the far left with the cane. I wish I knew where they were-I need to do a bit more research--he lived mainly in New Zealand. (Born 1844 in what is now Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, grew up in England and in 1863 he went via Sydney, Australia to New Zealand. I think he went back to England for a period of time, but he did return to New Zealand. 
My great grandmother Magdeline Ratahi Watkins-Taylor was a part-Maori nurse who I think looked after his first wife until she died and then he married her and they had two daughters one of whom was Mamari Augusta Lane Taylor, my maternal grandmother. I think the above must have been taken in New Zealand--that big cannon does not bode well for whoever it was being aimed at..

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tuesday, 01/11/2011

Good old-fashioned comics! It is a ritual I cannot do without. However much is on my mind reading the daily newspaper (The BattleCreek Enquirer) is a must. Especially the comics. I don't read all the ones on the page but I do read some. Who doesn't like Crankshaft !?! I'm surprised how much I like Luann, Zits even the sometimes soppy Mutts --the above one is a good example. Just makes you want to say awwww....
The paper itself is ok--some of the editorials drive me crazy, but you do get an idea of what's going on in our county.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Monday, 01/10/2011

This is a picture of our rather under-used dining room. I hold my weekly German lesson here, and it is also where my friend and I sit when we meet for our "research coterie"---but I'm sorry to say that we have fallen into the habit of eating while we watch our shows on dvd (or now, since we just bought one, roku)--I think it originally was a way of saving time--(to have some downtime while doing something one has to do, i.e. eat!)--but we are both now very used to doing it, which means our dining room is not used as much as it could be. And yes there is an elliptical exercise machine over there on the left that also could be used more. (We do use it but not as much as we should!)

9/365 Sunday, 01/09/2011

Yes another Mieze shot...I'll try and space them out, but on many a day she'll be my most interesting subject. On this day she was being a furry book-weight on top of my
"Everything notebook" and Moleskine Calender. Yes I have a mild notebook-fetish. The "Everything notebook was purchased at the KaDeWe when were there over last New Year's. It's a "Leuchtturm1917" --read about it here: Leuchtturm

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Saturday, 01/08/2011

kitchenette building

   We are things of dry hours and the involuntary plan,
   Grayed in, and gray. “Dream” makes a giddy sound, not strong
   Like “rent,” “feeding a wife,” “satisfying a man.”

   But could a dream send up through onion fumes   
   Its white and violet, fight with fried potatoes   
   And yesterday’s garbage ripening in the hall,   
   Flutter, or sing an aria down these rooms

   Even if we were willing to let it in,
   Had time to warm it, keep it very clean,   
   Anticipate a message, let it begin?

   We wonder. But not well! not for a minute!   
   Since Number Five is out of the bathroom now,   
   We think of lukewarm water, hope to get in it.

   Gwendolyn Brooks, “kitchenette building” from Selected Poems. Copyright © 1963 by Gwendolyn
   Brooks. Reprinted with the permission of the Estate of Gwendolyn Brooks. 

I heard a reference to this poem by Gwendolyn Brooks this morning (Sunday, 01/09/2011) on Krista Tippett's show "Being". Her guest was Elizabeth Alexander, who wrote the poem "Praise Song for the Day" for the Presidential Inauguration of Obama. The minute I heard Alexander reference the poem I remembered that yesterday I had taken a shot of the onions I had just chopped for our dinner.... and so I decided to post that poem along with my onions pic for the 365 entry for Saturday.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Friday, 01/07/2011

Had a great time yesterday catching up with a former Albion College student (Hi Diana!) who was back to  Michigan for a visit before returning to her graduate program in Marine Sciences on the East Coast. It was also fun to meet in 'Relli's" one of the few places in town that most if not all Albion students will (fondly I hope) remember.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Thursday, 01/06/2011

Hansi was sitting on the new place-mat (he thinks we put them there for him to sit on...) looking all pretty so I thought I'd snap his picture. Once he saw me swooping in with my camera he decided to make a dash for it and so I got a blurry action picture of him instead....So it goes so it goes...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

5/365 Wednesday, 01/05/2011

While I was watching West Wing I become engrossed in taking pictures of this paper-weight. This is the image I chose to represent the day. I had originally wanted to post a picture of wintry Albion, but I went with this one instead.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

4/365 Tuesday, 01/04/2011

This is another of our four cats. Her name is Mieze, as in "Mieze-Katze" which is the German for "pussycat". Her name used to be "Mice" -- i.e. the Latvian version of Mieze, since her first owners were Latvian. That named caused a lot of confusion at the vets office--they couldn't figure out why a cat would be called "Mice". We took Mieze when they moved back to Latvia after having lived in Michigan for a number of years. She is very sweet with us, but stubbornly shy with strangers. She bolts into the basement when someone who is not us comes to the house.

She also gets along fine with her co-cats--they play together and even though sometimes the two boy cats are a bit aggressive she doesn't seem to really be scared around them the way she is around people. The only cat she had some problems with was a cute little grey cat we looked after for some months. I think she felt her role or position as "cute, little girl cat" was being usurped and that made her slightly less friendly towards that cat. She is the only one of our four cats who still has her front claws which she puts to good use making abstract "works of art" on our walls and furniture. She hardly ever uses them with her cat-siblings. The little white fluffy thing is her special toy. Besides playing with it and carrying it about, she carrys on quite extensive conversations with it-in a way that she doesn't speak to us or her sibs...But she does most of this when we are not looking--if you try and catch her in the act of talking or playing with it she quickly adopts a perfectly nonchalant stance--as if to imply she has no idea how the toy came to be where it is or where all the noise was coming from we just heard. Its her own little secret, except that its not really...

Monday, January 3, 2011

3/365 Monday, 01/03/2011

The day got sunnier as the morning progressed. I just filled the bird feeders the day before, but most of them were still staying away. There was a woodpecker (check my flickr stream), and this cute grey/brown squirrel. The woodpeckers often come when none of the others do. The squirrels are there all the time.

The grey/brown colors are unusual for Albion where most of the squirrels have either dark brown or black fur.

This was a close-up taken through the kitchen window.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2/365, Sunday, 01/02/2011

Day two of the 365 picture project. I was going to post a picture of a deer I saw through my window hanging out in a neighbor's yard. But then I turned around and saw this scene and decided to go with it. Hansi is such a dear--very affectionate, albeit sometimes a bit neurotic (he has a tendency to use his paw to bang on things and make noise: flaps of boxes, closet doors etc..). Bill has been home for two weeks but tomorrow he will leave again (at 5am) to drive to the airport so he can fly to his job in Cambridge, MA. I am sure the kitties will notice!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

This is the first picture of the year! I decided to take Hans for a short walk on the leash (I'll be sure to post a picture of this at some point!) and took the camera with me. We had an unusual warm spell in Southern Michigan that melted all the snow that was still on the ground. But today it was already turning colder again. That's the main reason the walk was a short one! This is a shot of our Winter trees and the sky behind them. They are wonderful even though they cause a lot of what I call "tree-crap"-leaves, branches rain down on our modest yard at an alarming's sort of impossible to keep up! But they are beautiful.

Christmas Crackers!

This year I've noticed that quite a few of my flickr contacts and favorite bloggers have Christmas crackers or bonbons along with their Christmas dinner. I remember these well, from my childhood years growing up in Australia. They were fun! You open it with the help of someone else and there's always a pop or bang-hence the name. Inside there's a hat made of tissue paper and a silly joke --sometimes a little toy as well I think.

I remember one Christmas year in Germany my mother desperately wanted to find some but she had no luck--there were none to be found in the land of Glühwein and lebkuchen. They are clearly an Anglo/Commonwealth custom. Here's what wikipedia has to say on the subject:

And here's a link to a description of them and some examples of the kind of silly jokes you'll find in them: Christmas cracker Jokes

And finally here's a link to a short video of one of my favorite bloggers reading the joke that was in her cracker and then putting on her hat--so cute!! ImpossiblecatChristmas