‘I heard a voice’

I’m trying to shake off this awful lingering sinusitis—I think I’ve had it for a month now—so I’m running behind on about everything. An NHS nurse gave me more antibiotics at double the strength and I’ve been drinking copious amounts of tea and water, but this doesn’t mean I still don’t want to gouge out the front half of my face. Nor are my hands happy that I’ve been off Humira for about a month, too. Ugh.

I meant to post yesterday that the Renaissance Group sang for a commemoration service at Sallies Chapel, and it was a much Bigger Deal than I thought it would be. The Medical School has an annual service to commemorate the people who have donated their bodies for medical teaching and research. The faculty and students, and the families and friends of the people who have donated their bodies, as well as some of the hierarchy of the University, all came to the service. Even Her Majesty’s Inspector of Anatomy for Scotland was there and read one of the lessons. I liked that the service was tailored in a way to remind the students that the bodies they were working on once belonged to real, living people like themselves. The anthem that we sang was from Revelation 14:13, ‘I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me: “Write; from henceforth blessed are the dead which die in the Lord: ev’n so saith the Spirit; for they rest from their labours.”‘

We sat up in the loft with the organ to sing, and I had a good view of all the stained glass in the chapel. I realized that I couldn’t think of any stained glass figures that ever smiled. I’m sure it’s a remnant of centuries of intense sobriety in Christian tradition, but I also wouldn’t be surprised to find that Jesus was laughing during the Resurrection and Ascension. Victory is definitely a valid cause for celebration.

Okay, back to work. As what usually happens, the day before I plan to start writing I find half a dozen more sources to go through, so I probably won’t get to writing until tomorrow. As long as this first essay is done by Sunday evening!

EDIT: Under Felicity’s advice I emailed my professors to let them know that I’m ill, and have been ill, and thus am behind schedule; and that I am also registered with the Disability Services, blah blah blah, hoping that they will take pity upon me if I am unable to meet both essays’ 11 May deadline. Which I would otherwise half-kill myself in order to meet.  And, it is always a blow to my pride to admit weakness—well, to my professors in particular.

A bit late

17 days ago Memoirs of a Vagabond had its first birthday. Anniversary. Span of life, whatever. I figure now is as good time as any for any lurkers out there to introduce themselves, if there are any. Let me know who’s reading!

Yesterday I discovered a most delicious recipe: Lemon Rosemary Salmon. I highly recommend it in conjunction with Asparagus (or green beans, or, as tonight, broccoli) with tomatoes. The salmon suits well for leftovers, too.

Otherwise, I’ve been reading for essays. And determined that I really should take my camera with me whenever I leave the building, just so that I can prove that descriptions like “And all will turn, to silver glass / A light on the water” are actually true.

Sigh no more


The trapping of Benedick. Benedick is behind the bench.

Felicity, Ginger, and I went to the Mermaids’ production of Much Ado About Nothing performed in St Mary’s Quad. The 1993 film is among my favorites and tends to taint my judgement but I’m glad to say that the play was very well done. Leonato and Antonio became Leonata and Antonia to highlight a female court vs. male soldiers, and the shift in gender allowed for some new entendres and did not diminish from their role in the narrative. I was amused that when the soldiers processed in I immediately knew who was whom and that Don Pedro reminded me of John Cook. The cast was all very good, and Benedick and Beatrice, of course, were as insufferable as ever.


Don Pedro. Your silence most offends me, and to be merry best becomes you; for, out of question, you were born in a merry hour.

Beatrice. No, sure, my lord, my mother cried; but then there was a star danced, and under that was I born.

princessandthehoundYesterday I started The Princess and the Hound by Mette Ivie Harrison, and it was so good that I finished it today. It is something akin to Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith, but slower, more focused. One review I read of it described it as a Beauty and the Beast tale, and it is to some extent, except that it is so refreshingly done that it can be its own story. Less a story about the princess and her hound, the novel is about Prince George, his development as a prince, his political engagement with the Princess of Sarrey, and his secret; but the princess and her hound force George to come to terms with his own shortcomings. Harrison’s unassuming prose allows the words to disappear to let the reader really enter her world; quite near the perfect balance of author-provided information and reader-provided imagination. The animal magic, also, was quietly woven into the fabric of the story. The animals were not human personalities wearing animal form, but were actually animals: rabbits named themselves Hop and Leap, horses were proud and stubborn, domestic dogs lost their own language in the presence of humans’. I also liked it because events did not unfold quite as I had thought they would; it is always nice to be surprised. And the ending wasn’t exactly happily-ever-after with a perfect pink bow; it ended hopefully, and realistically. While this novel could stand on its own, I’m glad to hear that there is a sequel, if only to enjoy another well-written story.

N is for Naiad

to_say_nothing_of_the_dogTo Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis is simply brilliant. It is a must-read for historians, English majors*, and time-travel enthusiasts. Ned Henry, a twenty-first century historian, suffers from an advanced case of time-lag. His prescription: two weeks’ uninterrupted bed rest, but he isn’t going to find it in this century. Instead, he is sent back to 1888 to escape the demanding Lady Schrapnell and, hopefully, recover. While he’s there (then?), he meets the calamity, communes with the Other Side, encounters a swan and the forerunner of Jeeves, and becomes one of three men in a boat, to say nothing of the dog. Or the cat. If you wish to ruminate on Waterloo, know the origin of jumble sales, the most hideous and indestructible object, or the identity of Mr. C, then read on. This may very well be the cleverest comedy you ever read. By the end you truly will believe (and cringe) that, “God is in the details.”

My only complaint is that in the entirety of this well-researched, historically sensitive book, Willis failed to accurately present a page’s worth of dialogue in Middle English. The rest of the book, however, redeems this fault. Kelly rates it a 9.5/10.0 on ‘the well-established grounds that if you do not think it is funny, you are not a human.’

In other news, I went to see Peter Pan performed in the castle on Monday. Pictures can be seen here. I had my last Arthurian Legend class yesterday, which is slightly sad, though I must admit that my patience was waning in regards to one or two of my classmates. I will be writing my essay on Sir Gawain in English folk romances, a topic of which I doubt anyone is surprised. My other essay will be on the idealization of chivalry and its relationship to kingship, and I am less confident about it. I have 2.5 weeks to write both of these essays.

I have turned in my PhD application and have accepted the offer of a room to live with the Keddie’s and their kitties (to say nothing of the dog). I have also done half of my to-do list for today, and it’s not yet lunch time, so I am going to have some tea and resume what hopes to be a productive day.


* Why do historians have a noun whereas those who study literature do not? Are we literary critics? (That sounds like we post reviews, and not study literature academically.) Litterateurs? Literati?

Zap, zone, zzz…

After a full week of haar hovering over us, it is now a beautiful gorgeous day. I want to stay inside and read or watch mindless movies and eat food that someone else has prepared. The doctor agreed with me on Friday: I have a sinus infection, and he gave me antibiotics. My energy is zapped, but I have things to do, though I keep zoning out when I read. Somehow from the DNB article on Henry IV I found myself reading about the Sahara and cheetahs on Wikipedia, and then about Blackadder. I’ve looked up properties of folic acid and read about a friend’s journey from being Baptist to Episcopalian. I’m just plain tired and don’t really care about Walsingham or his Chronica Maiora.

I’ve been reading To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis each night before bed, and this morning I realized that it was having a lingering effect. I was innocently reading the DNB’s article on Richard II:

At this point, however, events in France took a turn which Richard could not have foreseen. Burgundy’s enforced absence from Paris in May and June allowed his rival, the duke of Orléans, to establish his ascendancy over the intermittently insane Charles VI, and Orléans now allowed Henry freedom to prepare an invasion of England. He concluded an alliance with Henry, and may secretly have given him some help. His motives were opportunistic: he hoped to destabilize Richard’s regime in England, undermine the Anglo-French accord, and thereby weaken Burgundy’s standing at court in France. With a small body of supporters, including Archbishop Arundel, Henry landed at Ravenspur in Yorkshire about 1 July 1399. Many duchy of Lancaster retainers rallied to him, and he was soon joined by the earls of Northumberland and Westmorland, who had their own grievances against the king. With the north thus quickly secured, Henry marched south, gaining support as he went.

…and as I read, I heard Professor Peddick shouting, “Ha! Individual action! Not blind forces! Would Henry Bolingbroke have had support from the French if the duke of Burgundy hadn’t been away? If it weren’t for the opportunism of the duke of Orléans, Henry may have never returned to England! Richard II would never have been deposed! Blind forces, pah!”

Of course, I wouldn’t want to get in an argument with him on the detail that Burgundy was kept out of Paris by an outbreak of the plague, lest I be considered an ally of Professor Overforce and his amazing tree-leaping canine, Darwin.

For Kali

I’m contemplating moving my day off to Thursdays, because more often than not I collapse after class despite my efforts. Perhaps have Thursday off and still sleep in on Fridays, but then get to work once I’m awake. Will try it tomorrow and see.

Everything’s about wrapped up with the PhD application: just have to tie off the loose ends in a nice little bow and snip off the excess string and turn it in along with the MLitt title. I stayed after class this morning to talk with Rhiannon about various essays and PhD stuff and it seems I’m more organized than I thought. Now that I’ve more or less dropped Latin—reluctantly yet with relief—I really only have two classes to worry about, and ultimately two essays due in about 4 weeks that I now have time to research for. Luckily, too, they will share a pool of critical reading so hopefully that’ll make things easier. I also looked at a place to live yesterday, for next year, and will have to make a decision on it over the weekend.

As I vacillate between whether to valiantly press on with Walsingham’s Chronica Maiora, or to just pick a passage and forsake the rest, I leave you with this illuminating comic:


He is risen!

img_7994The sky is clear, the sun is high, the tulips and daffodils are glowing. Light streaming through the colored glass windows of the church, lit within by candles and lilies. Children running looking for chocolate eggs and jumping off the walkway; adults standing enjoying the sunlight and trying to take pictures. Passing people on the street, smiling at strangers—amazing how everyone is so happy this Easter.


* * *

…..Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
…..So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)
…..Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
…..They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
…..“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
…..“Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
…..Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
…..Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
…..She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).
…..Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ”
…..Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!”

John 20:1-18

(Left: Lifted from Casey’s blog, what Sunday after church looks like; Right: In front of Sallie’s Hall)

We didn’t say it in church, so I’m saying it here: He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Passion Drama

img_7981St Monans Kirk had been performing a Medieval Mystery play at each of their services during Holy Week, and tonight was performing them again all together. I’ve been reading plays all week for my PhD proposal, so I was really excited to see them performed. I met up with Katherine in Anstruther for dinner, and then we went on to St Monans.

img_7990I am incredibly glad that I went to see the plays performed. They performed the Passion plays of the Wakefield Cycle and they maintained the Middle English for the most part, only modernising the pronunciation. I read Middle English all the time and you can imagine my enjoyment at having the opportunity to hear it performed. What took my breath away was the two times music interrupted the play: first when Jesus dies, the tableau freezes and off stage a woman sang in Latin (and the acoustics, from personal experience, are amazing in St Monans); and second, when the guards fall asleep at the tomb, Jesus awakes and folds his burial clothes. Overall it was really well done and served to reinforce my decision to study Medieval Mystery plays.

On this night

img_7928Last year I hosted my first Passover, and when I realized at the beginning of Lent that this year Passover would coincide with Holy Week, I asked if Jesse & Casey wouldn’t mind co-hosting a Seder meal. Katherine, Felicity, and Ginger joined us and I had the pleasure of introducing them to the Seder. Again, it wasn’t Kosher: I figure I’m working toward a Kosher meal as I learn more each year. This year, in my inability to find a bone, I learned that roasted beet was a valid substitute. I also found a website where you can search whether a brand or product is kosher, and that was how I found a substitute for matzot bread.

Last year, I was the oldest female, so I played the Mother role. This year, I was the youngest, and was the child. I actually quite enjoyed it, even if Jesse is taller than me and hid the Afikomen too high for me to see at first. 😉


Some questions have cropped up in the process of preparing for and celebrating Passover: the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday is supposed to have been a Seder meal. Knowing that Jesus was the rabbi, and that he took the bread and wine at the end of the meal, we can presume that he was the Leader of the ceremony. But the ceremony also has parts for women and children: so who played the Mother role? Who was the child? And even though we opened the door for Elijah tonight, did Jesus do so at his last Passover, knowing that Elijah had already come? These questions aren’t answerable, but are interesting to think on.

Serpa Pinta

So, I have a sinus infection. And the timing of the holidays and such mean I won’t get to see a doctor until next Friday. I suppose the NHS had to fail me eventually. But that means I’m too icky feeling to come up with a witty summary of our trip to Lisbon. Only that “Lisboa” makes me think of snakes, and there was a street named Serpa Pinta which amused me. My sense of direction proved infallible except for when we wandered off the map, but I abdicate responsibility in that case. We stopped at a mosque and Chris asked for directions in Arabic, and we were on our way again. I got sunburnt, and footsore, but otherwise it was a low-key fun holiday, and I have pictures to prove it:

Part I: Castles & Cats

Part II: Boats & Bookmen