Monday, May 17, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things

(to be sung to the Sound of Music's Few of my Favorite Things)

Bright leaves in autumn, deep oranges and reds
Boys in bowties and sharp pencil lead
Phone calls from friends and one-liners that sting
These are a few of my favorite things

When people say 'Bless you', 'thank you' and 'please'
Noodles with corn and parmesan cheese
Hearing a gospel choir sing
These are a few of my favorite things

Quiet libraries and reading for fun
Little kids' laughter, the warmth of the sun
Watching spry cats play with a string
These are a few of my favorite things

Getting a second wind when I'm tired
Late-night star gazing and country bonfires
Beaming young ladies' engagement rings
These are a few of my favorite things

Blankets for snuggling and warm cups of cocoa
My home at Christmas and the first real snow
Old Disney movies and memories they bring
These are a few of my favorite things

When the stress comes
When the sky's gray
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel...So bad.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Day In The Life...


Martha Ballard is so fascinating to me because of how utterly normal she was. The most extraordinary thing about her is her sister, Clare Barton, who was the found if the Red Cross. A midwife and mother in New England during the late 18th and early 19th century, Ballard was intelligent and intuitive, organized and authoritative. Born and raised in Oxford, she came to Hallowell, Maine in 1777.

Her diary, which served as the inspiration and primary source analyzed in Laurel Thatcher Ulrich's A Midwife's Tale, is nothing like the emotional expulsions that one normally are associated with diaries. Ballard used this diary as a form of record keeping, as a way to keep track of all the births and illnesses she helped with. Throughout the 9, 965 journal entries, three things are always present in each entry: her health, the weather and recent births. This diary, in all its mundane glory, bring the details of Ballard's daily activities to life for twenty-first century readers.

By analyzing Ballard's life, we are able to doing a microcosmic study in order to understand the larger macrocosm of life in New England during this time. Her diary helps fill in the missing work, trade and responsibilities of women, as well as their interaction and collaboration with men, in the 1700 and 1800s. She also provides insight into the medical practices of this time.

Ballard's practice and application of medicine is what fascinated me the most while reading this book. I found that far from striving to discover the cause for any illness or ailment, Martha's primary concern with her patients was to make them feel better. She strongly believed, as most early moderns did, in the humoral theory and the importance of balancing the four bodily humours. She treated internal problems with external remedies. It is so interesting for me to get a peak into how people during this time period viewed medicine, and how far it has come since then.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


I thought some inspirational haikus were in order:

Mary Wollstonecraft
first "official" feminist
she represented

Respect she wanted
Equality she longed for
and education

For if the teachers
Aren't learned, who will teach the kids?
Your sons and daughters?

It is through learning
That greater devotion to
Vocation is found

Smart girls won't disrupt
Society at all, but
Only improve it

Motherhood, worthy
and noble calling it is

The household is a
Microcosm of government
Male head, Female next

Declaration of Rights
Inspir'd by current events
Tumultuous times

Demanding that her
voice be heard, she defines

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Home of the Brave

"We the People..."

the first government produced by the people.

"unalienable rights"

America, the beautiful.

"Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness"

Locke. Montesquieu.

Jefferson. Franklin. Adams.

The bravery of those revolutionists in the late 18th century built a foundation for the country we live in today. I've known this all my life. And yet every once in a while it still just kind of hits much was established that fourth of July in 1776.

Not just a Declaration of Independence. A Declaration of the Rights of Man(kind).

One document. 27 Amendments. 233 years.

Proud to be an American. Inspired to stand for something worthwhile.

Naive? Irrational? perhaps.
Overly optimistic or idealistic? Absolutely.

And yet...weren't those same forefathers described the same way...?

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Day In the LIfe

If anyone else out there is like me, you thought the "Interesting Narrative" of Olaudah Equiano was a bit difficult to follow at times...and so, I found a timeline of his life (HERE`,)

After discussion in class yesterday, I appreciate the fact that Equiano felt the need to include a lot of details in his narrative. The readers have little problem imagining the sights, the sounds, and even the smells in the different scenes he paints for us. And yet, was it completely necessary to go into AS MUCH detail as he did in the second half of his narrative? What purpose was he serving, retelling sea battle after sea battle?

I suppose this depends on the purpose of his narrative, of course. If he was advocating abolitionism or the horrors of slavery, then I especially don't understand the inclusion of his sea adventures. But if, truly, Equiano was just retelling his life's story, then maybe he thought that'd be of interest.

I still don't feel like we came to a conclusion on his purpose for writing this narrative...which makes me think: is there anyway for anyone to really know why he wrote it? Is there an exact answer to this question?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Here Comes The Sun

As I alluded in class on Tuesday, I was really interested in the significance of all the references to the Sun and light in Letters from a Peruvian Woman.

-Zilia often refers to Aza as her "light" or her "Sun". I think this not only refers to him being the Sun King, or the representative of her people's worship (god) on Earth, but also of quite literally, how he brightens her life and makes her life worth living. After all, what is a day without light? How miserable do all of South Bend gets when the permi-cloud again descends on the city for those morbid winter days.

-She speaks of the Sun as though it is unique to her world in Peru. I understand the comfort she would receive from seeing this celestial body in the sky, something familiar when everything else in her life was foreign and frightening.

-She references the enlightened philosophers she learns from in her studies, how they are the "lights of learning and all the help I need"

I did notice that this "light language", so prevalent in the first half of the book, is not used nearly as much in the second half of the novel. I wonder if that is another sign of Zilia becoming more "European" - relying more and more on her newly acquired French customs and lifestyle, less and less on her Incan heritage?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712 – 1778) was a French writer, composer and philosopher. Born in Geneva to a Huguenot family, Rousseau ran to Savory at age 15 since his mother died in childbirth and his father was forced out of Geneva after getting into some legal trouble. In Savory Rousseau was taken in by a Catholic priest and introduced to Fran├žoise-Louise de Warens, a rich matron/lover who would support him and his education for years to come. Many of his works are considered precursors to other monumental movements and ideas in society. His novel Julie is thought to have inspired what would become romanticism in fiction, and his Confessions is similar to Augustine in the influence it had in the autobiographical genre. He believed his most important work was Emile, or On Education. Rousseau was a key figure in the French Revolution, being one of the most influential leaders of the Jacobin Club. His philosophy centers around the idea that man is inherently good, and claims that the material world is hindering human relationships and morality.

Children and Civic Education
from Emile (1762)

In this excerpt, Rousseau discusses the importance of childhood. Rather than teaching children how to reason before they are capable of understanding such things, he argues, teach them the most basic of skills so that when they are developed enough to learn how to reason they will have the tools necessary to do so. Rousseau implores his audience to “cherish childhood, look with favor on its games, its pleasures, its friendly instincts” (231). This surprised me a bit, since I view the Enlightenment as a time where reason and inquiry are valued very highly. But I suppose it is also a time in which life itself was celebrated, at every stage and in every way. Enlightenment thinkers like Rousseau recognized the process involved in development.

Duties of Women from Emile (1762)

In this piece, Rousseau proves that he is similar in mind to most other men we have read in our three semesters in HUST. He presents the rather unoriginal idea that women have sexual power over men, that “women so easily stir a man’s senses and fan ashes of a dying passion” (570). Rousseau scoffs at the idea of men and women being equal, saying that “women do wrong to complain of the inequality of man-made laws; this inequality is not of man’s making, or at any rate it is not the result of mere prejudice, but of reason” (571). He stresses the woman’s role as weak and passive, as a compliment to the man’s strong and aggressive role. He encourages the education of girls, but also explains how naturally vain they are. Women’s natural duty is to bear children and care for the home. An adulterous male is “cruel and unjust” but “the faithless wife is worse…her crime is not infidelity but treason” (572). I must say, his argument is rather impressive in the sense that he words everything cleverly. Rousseau presents every argument as either a back-handed compliment or as if it were a law of nature that he is just stating. I’m sure he truly believed that women were the weaker sex that should be admired for their contributions to society. Those contributions just seem sexist and offensive today.