getting to know you

I’ve been encouraged from various sources to get back into blogging again. Since this blog has had quite a hiatus, I thought that a good way to start is to participate in a Getting to Know You link-up that my friend Lola did on her own blog, Found in Phila.



My goals have been rather modest since graduating with my PhD, making an international move, and starting a new job in 2014. I was also very, very sick that year and am still recovering from it. Each year it has been my goal for the current year to be a bit better than the last.

In January 2016, however, I did begin a second master’s degree in library science, and by the end of the year I was half-way through with the coursework for the program. I had the opportunity to teach a few literature courses at the university where I am an adjunct; I also had a chapter accepted into a book of essays about the legendary character, Melusine.


I had hoped that I would be more physically active in 2017, particularly to get back into cycling and swimming regularly, but within the first week of the new year I was diagnosed with glandular fever! Again, my goals for this year are modest: keep recovering and improving my circumstances in what little ways I can.

One goal I have for 2017 is for it to be a year of finishing projects. I have several half-finished projects that have been set aside, mostly for health reasons, that I would like to complete as I regain strength and energy.

Though it’s not a project that can be “finished”, one of those projects is this blog. There isn’t going to be a theme or niche for it for a while, as I figure out what it is I want to write about. My interests are varied even if my attention is mostly focused on work and school.  I want to write about how I make being a teacher and student and living with rheumatoid arthritis and mental illness work. (And my cat. I am a crazy cat lady who is only a little bit obsessed with her cat. Don’t be surprised if you see posts about Willow!)


I set goals, write lots of to-do lists, use rewards (and anxiety) to motivate myself, and generally work in bursts of energy during which I overextend myself and then need to rest before doing it again. I do better when I have a concrete goal that I can see the progress I am making towards, even if it is a long time coming; ambiguous goals, that may not happen regardless of the work I put into them, are much, much more difficult.


In an ideal world, I will have finished my second master’s program and landed a job at a university or museum as a special collections manager, or possibly teaching literature full-time — but not as an adjunct. I hope to be stronger, physically. I will still have my cat Willow and everyone I know will be five years older!

stepping on board


To those of you just tuning in and to those who have migrated here from Memoirs of a Vagabond: welcome!

I’ve been blogging well over a decade now. I started blogging before it was a “thing”, when Lola, our friends Danielle and Priscilla, and I launched Underneath the Dogwood in 2002, which was later re-branded Hard Soap. My first personal blog was at LiveJournal, as a Christmas gift from Lola in 2003. But my first, real, grown-up, public blog was Memoirs of a Vagabond, launched in 2008. Memoirs of a Vagabond served its purpose for seven (7!) years, but I’ll be honest with you: I never really liked the title.

Sure, the title captured what I was going for, but it never really jived with me. I found it hard to be inspired by, which could be evident from the times it fell dormant.

I spent January seriously considering the future of my blogging career. I argued for and against leaving the blogosphere entirely; when I finally decided to stay, I also resolved to find a new title, one that actually does what Memoirs of a Vagabond was meant to do. Cue more soul-searching, dictionary-reading, flipping through Shakespeare and Chaucer and reading lots of Emily Dickinson poems. Then, I thought of a compass, which made me think of the compass rose, then the four winds, then The Wind’s Twelve Quarters by Ursula K. Le Guin, the title of which was inspired by A. E. Housman’s “A Shropshire Lad,” part of which you will find quoted on my About page.

And that, my dear readers, is how The Twelve Winds was born. On this blog you will find photographs from my travels around the world and, for each photograph, a description: a memory, a fact, musings, or short fiction. The goal is to get me writing again so that, eventually, I can return to my fictional endeavours–and, in the meantime, share some of my travelling stories you might not have heard before.

So step on board, and enjoy reading these notes from the wind’s twelve quarters!

Photo: Woman with red shoes stepping onto a tram in Warsaw, Poland.

Leave of Absence


Dear Readers,

Whether you are a long time reader or have just visited my blog, it won’t take you long to learn that I am a PhD student. I have written about the PhD process over the past few years and you will see that it is both a pleasure and a challenge. This latter part is especially the case now as I am in the final months of finishing my PhD thesis (‘dissertation’ to Americans).

I used to write book reviews, post recipes, pictures of favourite things about the place I live, updates about life, the news, anything. And you will have noticed that these things have trickled to a stop over the last few months. Anything that I feel ‘responsible’ for that isn’t absolutely necessary to life is being put on pause for the next couple of months, both online and offline.

So this post is to say that I am taking a Leave of Absence from this blog. Please be patient and check back in December.

Because I know some of my readers will be wondering, here are a few ideas if you want to know how to help me in the meantime: Please pray that I will have good health and energy and that my arthritis won’t flare up again. (This is very important. I suffer from headaches and fatigue enough that I don’t need my arthritis to flare up again, too.) Pray that what I need will be in the libraries I will be visiting and that I won’t have delays in doing last minute research. Pray that I won’t get too seasonally depressed by the coming dark, cold Scottish winter. And if you’re not the praying sort, then words of encouragement will help me a lot. If you’re someone who knows my actual snail mail address, then care packages with snacks and things that will make me happy will be most welcome. Thank you.

See you on the other side!

Kind regards,

on neglectfulness

Dear Blog,

I’m sorry I’ve been neglecting you. I thought about posting yesterday about Obama’s re-election — observations on how my family and my friends in America are all Republican, but I am not (nor are most ex-pats I know!), and the irony that I celebrated Obama’s victory with my German boyfriend — but I didn’t. Because I was at work all day, and I feel guilty about posting at work. And then there was rehearsal and Evensong, followed by a long but productive PGCF committee meeting, and I didn’t get to bed until long after I normally would have turned into a pumpkin. And that’s with Wednesdays being my usual evening ‘home’.

It isn’t that I don’t have things to post about. I just don’t have time. It’s not you, Blog, it’s me.

But I have started reading fiction again, in snippets, a chapter before bed even if it’s after the Pumpkin Hour. Reading Patricia A. McKillip is a breath of fresh air in all the busyness.

Hopefully tomorrow I’ll remember Friday’s Favourite Things. Until then,

Your busy, scatterbrained author,


Radio silence

Term began some weeks ago and as predicted, I have found myself quite busy. Museum work, PhD work, PGCF (Postgraduate Christian Forum), Renaissance Singers choir, spending time with friends and with someone particular, have all amounted to a very busy bee. Or at least, one who is not often at her computer with time to blog.

So yes, I know I haven’t gotten around to posting pictures from my trip to Poland, which was, yes, a month ago now.

And yes, I know, I have been less regular with my book reviews. I finished Miracle on the River Kwai last Saturday night and realised with a shock that it was half-way through October and I had only read one book.

Which leads to another confession, dear readers: I will not be doing NaNoWriMo this year. The 1st of October has passed and I am not among those who have registered, with novel idea and title already in mind. While I do have five novels waiting in my head, now is not the time to write them. Not when I have a PhD thesis to finish. Not when I have other things in which I gladly want to invest my time. I have barely enough time to read fiction, let alone write fiction.

So there you have it. My apologies for my present radio silence and an explanation for why it might not change anytime soon.

We’ve moved!

Welcome to the new home of Memoirs of a Vagabond!

Please bear with me over the next few days as I play with layouts and settings. Posts will continue as usual, despite the ‘clutter’ of a work in progress!


My dear readers,

I need your help. You see, I can’t tell what it is you like to read about. So here is your chance to enlighten me. Some of the things I’ve involved in this term are ceilidh dancing, Renaissance and Compline choirs, a French reading class, and swimming. I still knit and crochet, and do a few other crafty things (such as a homemade memo board, and Christmas crafts will be happening soon). I’m a horrible food-photographer, but I could at least write about some recipes. And of course, I can always resume writing book reviews. So what would you like to see more of? Because I look at those things and think they might be too boring to read about, but if they’re not, let me know…

Yes, I know, the blog is supposed to be what I want to write about — but you readers matter, too. So leave a comment with an answer, an idea, or a question…


New look: Music

Now that it is summer (even if it doesn’t feel like it*), I thought it was time for a new look for the blog. The header image is from a photo I took of renaissance instruments displayed during one of the sessions at Stirling Castle last weekend:

WORD COUNT: 20,109

* Why is it still cold? It’s nearly midsummer!