This is just going to be various fun/silly things in my life currently — sometimes I need to simply not think about dissertation stuff. So! For a celebratory late Valentine's with friends, I decided we should have the traditional Valentine's Day pizza — because Hawaiian pizza is totes what St. Valentine celebrated with, amiright?

valentine's pizzas!

valentine's pizzas!

Also, I got a cute new magnetic sticker for my car! Well, it's actually my housemate's car, but he lets me drive it. How could it not be appropriately decorated while I do so?

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Rambling around the hood

20 Mar 2015 In: Random

We live in an interesting area of the city. Taking the main road to the highway, we pass through an economically depressed area. There are some… curious differences there from what I've lived in previously. For example, there are an astonishing number of churches! Just glancing at google maps, within 10 miles of me I see Jehovah's Witnesses, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Southern Baptist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Seventh Day Adventist, Evangelical — several of which are named in Spanish as well — Roman Catholic, Polish Catholic, Greek Catholic, Romanian Orthodox, several more where I can't tell their "flavor" by just their names… I had to laugh, in fact, when I realized there's a Westboro St. near where I live — and there's a Baptist church on it! I think we'll avoid that one… ;-)

My guess is that most small religious groups tend to not have a lot of money, so they gravitate to areas where land is cheap, and build their houses of worship there. In fact, in some cases that appears to be literal: there are a surprising number of these churches located in what appear to be just refurbished houses! They're not all Christian churches, either. There's a Jewish synagogue, a Hindu temple, and a big, lovely Buddhist temple nearby, as well as several smaller Buddhist temples that appear to be a mix of Vietnamese, Chinese, and… Thai? I'm not sure on that one. But watching the fireworks blooming into the night sky from all the Asian religious centers for Chinese New Year's was very pretty from our hillside. We have a truly fabulous view of the city for both night and day, I think.

One of my housemates pointed out another difference this area has from higher income areas: a lot more car parts stores. His guess was that people try to get the cars fixed themselves, since that's cheaper than taking it to the dealer. I wouldn't have noticed that, but then you can write what I know about car repair on a matchbook… and still have most of the paper left over. Hmm… now that I'm thinking about it, there's also a lot of home repair business here — there's a Home Depot and an OSH just down the road, if I'm remembering correctly. My guess, though, is that that one's a mix of both folks trying to build and repair on their own… and the fact that land was likely a bit cheaper out here, when these two big stores first moved in.

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Okay, time for more venting and dissertation blues. Haul out the tiny violins, please, and also everyone get ready to sing along with Arethra Franklin singing her wonderful "Respect"…

Whew! Always love good, passionate music. So, now that we all feel better for that, let me get into my grumpy pants again. This log is about — you guessed it — respect… and associatedly, professionalism. Again, I'm not going to go into tons of detail because I don't want to cause problems for anyone; this is just me venting.

There are two issues that stand out for me regarding professionalism and respect. The first is a professor who informed us that we had to have read the required texts over the summer before class started. This is common practice for short classes with complex subjects, and I have no trouble with it. What I have trouble with is when the professor doesn't post the syllabus for the class — which has the list of required texts in it — until less than two weeks before the class is to start!

That's absurd. It can take over a week for all the books to arrive, regardless of whether they're being purchased or requested from the library.

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Time for another 15 minutes (minimum) of writing, so I start getting back into the habit of doing so…

The 2015 Parliament of the World's Religions is meeting in Salt Lake City, UT this upcoming October 15th through 19th. One of my sister scholars suggested several of us get together to present a panel there, tentatively titled "What is Women's Spirituality?" After all, we may be small, but we're just as valid as any other spirituality. Just for fun the four of us who were interested in going shared our definitions of women's spirituality, and we were delighted and amused to realize we all had a slightly different angle on it. We thought about it, then decided a better title will be "Diverse Voices of Women's Spirituality," and we sent in our proposal. We're crossing our fingers that they like it, especially since it naturally hits a lot of the target subjects they purport to have for this year's Parliament, such as support for youth and women, global environmental change, and indigenous peoples.

Also, the conference occurs only about two weeks after my birthday, which will hopefully make it a lovely present to myself! Admittedly, this is going to be a financial squeeze for me, but I figure if I start saving now, and ask the school and my friends if they'd like to help sponsor my trip there, I should be able to swing it all right. Also, please let me know if you'd like me to light a candle or say a prayer for you or something you believe in — I'm happy to share well-wishes and blessings with everyone! If you'd like to sponsor me, I'm also delighted to bring you any memorabilia from the conference that you might be interested in as well. Email me and let me know, okay?

So, back to our panel planning. As I registered for the event — while also thinking positive about our panel acceptance! ;-) — it occurred to me: a lot of these attendees are likely to have never heard of women's spirituality, and may have questions. Indeed, we are probably unwittingly going to be the "face" of women's spirituality for most of them. That being the case, two things occurred to me: first, that it would be smart of us to make up a list of questions we are likely to be asked so we can prepare answers ahead of time. After all, if we want to have empirical or statistical data at our fingertips to use in our replies, we have to either bring it with us or memorize it, right? It doesn't just magically appear — much though I would love that to be the case. ;-)

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I've come to the conclusion that I need to write down some of the issues I'm butting my head up against, as I write my dissertation. I'm not going to use names because hurting people isn't my goal. I just want to vent a bit — and, should any present or future students in my program read this, perhaps give them a bit of advance warning of possible issues… so they're forewarned.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

One of the first and biggest issues for me was the subject of the dissertation itself. I greatly enjoyed the research which went into my master's thesis, and as I took classes for my PhD I'd been happily looking forward to doing more work on my thesis subject. Unfortunately, near the end of my second-to-last learning class (as opposed to classes specifically about dissertation stuff) I found out that the dissertation's subject matter had to be at least… I think it was 80 or 85% ? -different from the subject of my thesis.

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I recently had something startlingly nice happen to me! There's a professor I had in the past who's a noted and accomplished author. She's got enough prose and literature out that I always found her somewhat… not quite intimidating to talk to, but not easy to chat with. It's not her fault at all, of course — she's one of the most friendly, approachable, and helpful women writers I've ever met — if not the most so. She's the one who told me I was brilliant enough that I should continuously challenge myself, in fact.

She even shared one time that she still gets butterflies in her stomach when she steps up to the microphone to speak or read at events she's invited to. It's just that… well, there's something a little awe-inspiring about a woman who can casually mention that she first realized she must be famous… when she was in Europe and saw a line from one of her poems translated into that language and scrawled as graffiti across one of the arches of a stone bridge there.

So yeah: hugely impressed and inspired by her. So you can perhaps imagine my shock and pleasure at hearing from a friend that she was so pleased to finally meet this woman… and as they were chatting about people they both knew, my name came up — and this accomplished, brilliant, heartrendingly evocative author said (with apologies to my failure of absolutely precise memory due to the aforementioned shock and pleasure), "Oh, Collie! Yes, I know her — she's a great writer!"

I'm published again! It's a very small thing this time, but once again it came from the heart. In the gorgeously illustrated She Appears! Encounters with Kwan Yin, Goddess of Compassion there is a short segment which I wrote. I would have liked to include more, but at the time which Sandy Boucher, the author/editor, asked for contributions I was rather swamped with schoolwork. Nevertheless, Sandy said she was quite pleased to have my input, as it was markedly different than what most of the contributors were sending in. I guess that's par for the course for me? ;)

If Kwan Yin calls to you, please buy a copy and help support women publishers and authors! If you're more interested in a wide variety of goddesses — especially goddesses who stand on their own and are sufficient unto themselves — you can either purchase the other book in which I have articles on amazon, or I'll gladly sell you a copy: Unto Herself: A Devotional Anthology for Independent Goddesses, edited by Ashley Horn. Enjoy!

What we call home

17 Feb 2015 In: Family, House stuff, Random
Conversation pit & fireplace

The conversation pit & fireplace, taken from the living room.

We have moved! So much stuff happening; so many errands on my metaphorical plate! The photos are from before we moved in. Currently we're still living in box-ageddon, though we're making progress on changing that. It's surprisingly satisfying to have a place you call home that's yours — I'd not realized just how much. True, I lived in houses my parents owned, but this is the first house we've owned since I became an adult. It's funny how many plans we have for the future, even as we work hard on excavating the canyons of boxes for our goods.

Pool from NW

Looking up at the house & back deck from our little pool.

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There is a sort of beauty found in terrible weather, which I'd forgotten. It's nice to remember.

Because I don't currently have a backyard, I walk my dog Goldie twice daily, and I try to get her to a dog park five or six days a week to stretch her legs off-leash and play with other dogs. One of the dog parks is in Los Gatos Creek Park, and during this last rainy spate it was frequently full of large flocks of grazing Canada geese, as well as the myriad other water birds taking advantage of a bit of free-standing water.

While I was a teen in Texas we rode the horses daily regardless of weather conditions. I remember in particular one fine winter blizzard where my sister was riding her white horse, while I was riding my black mare. As we trotted along, both of us bundled up within inches of our lives, I laughed and pointed out that it looked like I was riding a white horse with black splotches… while my sister's horse was simply vanishing into the briskly accumulating snow. Given our druthers, I suspect we'd both have preferred to stay nice and warm by the fire indoors… but because we had to go out, we received the lovely gift of experiencing first-hand the cold, spare beauty of a snow storm.

It's been a bit like that in the recent rainy weather. Fortunately Goldie seems to enjoy bouncing around in the rain — so I bundle up, take an umbrella, and head on out to the park with her. I remember one day in particular where it was raining so steadily that I was the only one in the dog park. The clouds were lowering and traveling fast in the gusting wind, while the rain slanted down in visible sheets. It was cold and wet and my visual horizon was significantly reduced — and yet… it was also stunningly, peculiarly beautiful. The rain poured down all in sparkling silver and dove gray, while the dusky, dappled clouds were a visual delight of an inexplicable number of shades of gray in a richness I'd never expected: grays in slate and oyster and hoarfrost; pearl and lead and stony gray. Even the puddles and the small reservoir glinted bright-plated argent in the refracted sunlight.

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Grateful for the holidays

1 Jan 2015 In: Random, Wonderful pets!

The holiday season is finally coming to a close, and I find I have a great deal to be grateful for. One random side thought: Good heavens, new houses take a lot of time and effort! ;)

I've already written about our lovely kittens, but I do have two cute new photos to share before I talk about my wonderful new pup. So here's Tessa doing her camo thing…

Camo-Tessa

Camo-Tessa

and Manda playing the part of the cat in the Far Side cartoon — somewhere a deliriously happy dog is yelling, "SCOOOORE!"

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Bestiaries depict mythical, moralizing animals, but are also potential allegorical sparks that can bloom into brilliant mental bonfires. My bestiary is this mythologizing animal's fascinated exploration of beauty & meaning in the wonder of existence -- in the hopes of inspiring yet more joyous flares of intellectual passion.

Enjoy!

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