a break for autumn…

Fall Break begins tomorrow. But it feels like it’s already started, because my Thursdays almost always feel like Fridays. Tomorrow is just another day to be gotten through, not too much happening, and likely, most of my classes will be empty. So many people leave early, whether their classes are finished or not. But I have to have a really good reason to skip class, so I’m one of the goody-goods that shows up.

10754722_10152785906484976_780152276_oI only had one piece of homework tonight, a map to color and label. Talk about major projects, right? But honestly, I’ve had a busy week, getting through several pieces of writing for one class and beating my way through the most boring history book I’ve ever had the misfortune to read. Thankfully, it was only a little over 100 pages. I read the words, but my brain didn’t comprehend most of it, because I think the writer forgot he was human instead of a live dictionary. And you know, I happen to like words!

10746739_10152783818364976_1290058320_oWhile many students go home, my home is here, so I really don’t have any plans. Except for sleeping in and doing homework. Or studying. So, that means I really need to find something else new and different to do. Maybe I should go to the Botanical Gardens, with my camera, and actually take some pictures, for once. You know, with my real camera. Most pictures you see on here, if you weren’t aware, are from my phone. Not that it’s a bad thing, it’s just… if I want to take a more detailed photo, my phone camera doesn’t cooperate with me. No closeups of flower buds, you know. Just can’t do it.

10752284_10152785601829976_691994332_oWhat else? I feel like something’s probably slipping my memory. It happens when you’re trying to keep up with all your school stuff. Can’t think of anything else. Whether you’re on Fall Break or not, I hope you have a wonderful week!

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a not-hiatus…

I’ve been writing on my blog so little, that I’ve wondered whether I should actually declare (like some do) that they’re taking a certain period of time off from writing. But in the end, I don’t want to do that, because when something interesting which I do actually want to write about comes along… I need somewhere to write it!

But if I’m being honest with myself and my readers, I have reached a different stage in my life from when I started this blog. No adventures in Australia await me, until I can graduate and save up more money, even though I might see some Aussie friends in the next month (possibly in DC). I’m not stuck in a job that doesn’t require much thought, so I don’t have tons of spare time to go take photographs, either on campus or around the local botanical garden.

Instead, I’m continuing on a different “adventure” that occupies most of my time, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I made the Dean’s List in my first semester back in school, and then reached the President’s List on my second. I hope and plan to stay on the President’s List for as long as possible, hanging onto all those A’s. Admittedly, it still annoys me that I couldn’t quite make that A in Military History, during that first semester. My ability to remember and explain military strategy for essay exams “did me in”, just slightly.

I try and remind myself of all these things, when I feel like I’m neglecting my blog. But when you spend a lot of time writing for school, and editing and re-editing everything, you don’t always feel like writing anything else! This semester, while I feel a bit like it’s a slower collection of classes, the differences in what I’m required to write fills in the gaps enough to keep me running full tilt.

For example, my Geology and Western Civ classes never have any written homework, only reading, and it’s just a matter of keeping up and being prepared for tests. Other classes have homework, but no exams, and the homework is fairly easy in Geography. The writing for my other class… well, let’s say that it’s a different type of writing than I usually do for my history or literature classes. I have to work hard during the week, sometimes, to give myself swathes of time to write on the weekend. Or at least, empty my head enough of other things, in order to be able to write.

And certainly not least of all, I’ve been getting back into my Bible studies, on my own, and realized the need for my daily times spent in the Word of God. I always make time for that after I’ve finished my homework, which means that I have to stay on top of everything, so that I will be finished.

Perhaps I’m only reiterating what I’ve written about, on and off, in the last few months. But sometimes, I need to write it out to convince myself. I am a writer, which means I always need an outlet to write on. If not on a blog, then in e-mailed letters to friends. But now, I have other outlets that allow me to blow off some of that writing steam that builds up inside.

So, busy as I get, I never plan to go on hiatus from this blog… if I did take a vacation of any sort, I would probably spend more time blogging, especially if I went somewhere interesting. But it may be a long, long time before I come back to blogging as a very regular thing. Because I need the time and brain power for other things right now. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

If you read through all that, thanks for staying with me. Have a marvelous week, and I promise I’ll come back eventually, ok?

is it a weekend yet?

Time and again, this semester, I’ve found that Thursdays seem like Fridays. I think it’s because unless there’s a test in Geology on Friday, I’ve survived the three long days that sit in the middle of the week. I really do not like being in school until 4:30 or 5pm, so I look forward to signing up for classes that get me out earlier, next semester.

Packing the classes closer together, if possible, allows that early departure… and then a time to relax before beginning homework.As of this moment, it doesn’t really feel like I have homework, but that’s just because I’m taking a deep breath after finishing my first essay exam of the semester, and there’s nothing major happening tomorrow. Just go, pay attention, and head home. This I can do.

But I’m not really short on things to do, and plan to get to work on some things for my English class, later. If I whip through the next 5-10 pages of writing for that, in the next few days, then I can breathe easy while finishing all the rest of my homework. My semester is starting to feel busier, but I’ve been able to fit everything in still… without staying up terribly late!

10718210_10152715804469976_362259217_oLet me rephrase that… I really am a night owl, but I don’t do well at staying up impossibly late doing homework, like a lot of college students do. There comes a point when my brain gets fuzzy, and nothing I read is actually comprehended, so what’s the point of attempting to study then? Also, having to get up relatively early for my classes, I can’t stay up all night and stay awake in class.

So, I keep close track of what’s due and try very hard to clear large gaps of time, when I need to write papers, whether it’s fiction or history or whatever. Often that’s on weekends, when some homework can wait. But most weeknights, I finish with my schoolwork at 10pm, study my Bible for a while, and then get ready for bed. I rarely go to sleep before 12:30am, though I do try and get settled before then.

But even with these good intentions, I know that I’m getting a lot more sleep and going to bed a lot earlier than most college students. And thankfully, it’s reflected in my grades. Some people would look at my life and think I don’t have one, because I’m not out partying every night. I look at my life and think that I’m not wasting the loan money that is allowing me to return to school, and hopefully, being on the President’s List will get me another scholarship.10720671_10152715127664976_886496010_o

Anyway, rather than ramble on about schoolwork, the only pictures I have to share are of some of the construction machines that are spending time on the Clemson campus. Not very exciting, unless you’re like some of the two year old boys I know, who love their machines. I took the picture of the crane, with a 2 year old in mind, who I still have yet to meet. But his family’s moved back east, so I hope to meet all the kids soon. There was something so fun about taking a second look at the construction machines, and to try and make a child happy by taking a picture. Especially when he knows all the names of those machines, and I don’t.

I hope that you enjoy your weekend! I plan to, once it starts, but don’t have any new and exciting plans for myself. Outside of schoolwork, of course. I’ve been reminded that there’s a football game this weekend, and tell myself that maybe I’ll go to one, someday. But who wants to go to one alone? Not me, that’s for sure.

falling saturdays…

For the last week or more, we’ve been keeping our windows open to let in the (mostly) cool breezes at night. I’ve had to get used to hearing the crickets, because during the summer, you can’t hear them over the air conditioning. But fall is on its way in, and the leaves are starting to fly by the windows. Wasn’t it just a little while ago, when I was actually remembering to take photos of the leaves changing, last autumn? Hard to believe I used to get my camera out more often, too.10712227_10152705560894976_2100707239_oSaturday was a little lazy, sleeping in and goofing off a bit before starting schoolwork. It was quiet, because some people were away and not everyone was up. But I remembered to go outside with my phone, and check out the last bunch of blooms that we’re likely to have this year, lit up by sun at noon.

If you’re wondering what I’ve been working on in school, then you’ll be thrilled to know that I spend some of my time coloring maps for my geography class. Yes, it’s right back to elementary school for me. But I doubt that our unit homework would be handle-able by an elementary student, so there’s that. Not that it’s difficult homework, just questions about different countries and videos that we’ve watched, with the intent to make us think. If you use your brain just a little bit, and show up for class, there’s no difficulty in acting the course. 1503014_10152706350404976_648931595_o

All my other classes are going well and keeping me busy, and with my first “official” German test and early Western Civ test, I’ll be spending a good chunk of the next few days studying. When that’s done, I’ll be studying sedimentary and metamorphic rocks for my geology lab quiz and my next geology class test. You get the idea. It’s a lighter semester, in some ways, and busier in other ways. My ENGL 345 class keeps my brain occupied on the weekends in a way that writing my history papers never did.

I hope you’re enjoying the fall colors, or the beginnings of cooler temps, wherever you are! Grab a cup of coffee, and just soak it up.10685953_10152703854974976_762651423_o

yes, school did begin…

Wow, I obviously haven’t blogged in a long time, since a bunch of the layout of WordPress has changed since I posted last. While I pause and take it in, I was also amused to see the words “beep beep boop” appear, while it was loading something. I like it. However, if I had time to write a longer post, maybe I would find things I don’t like, who knows? Later is soon enough for that. I’ve been dawdling too long before starting my homework, since I only got home a little after five o’clock.10663419_10152641779959976_2114633157_o 10631944_10152639017179976_1356275817_oAs you may have guessed, school has started, and while it MIGHT be a slightly easier semester, that doesn’t mean I’m not busy. On the contrary, when a class decides to make things easier for me by not assigning homework or not having exams (believe me, I’m not complaining), I make sure I’m not slacking. I will read the required chapters in the textbooks, even if my classmates never do…10631615_10152632571709976_1372230258_o10677506_10152652087769976_751291241_oClemson campus is a bit chaotic in spots, because construction seems to be going on everywhere. Well, they ripped down the front of Freeman and are rebuilding it, and they’re building a HUGE new building behind the library that will play “bookends” with the Academic Success Center. In the meantime, it’s a mudhole surrounded by blue walls, and the amphitheatre in front of (or is it out back?) Strom Thurmond might be gone forever. I’m not sure.10647438_10152652332859976_1213714174_o10612340_10152656663014976_2081171943_oI will try to be less remiss with my writing, in future… but school comes first. And I have plenty of writing to do for a few of my classes, as I’m sure you understand. Have a great semester, and I’ll try to get on here a LITTLE more often.10667837_10152652362439976_1318342408_oP.S. Please notice that while construction seems to be everywhere, there are still plenty of lovely views all over campus. It’s good to not ignore them, amidst the chaos.

long time, no see…

Yes, school has been keeping me busy. And it will continue to do so, at least until the semester ends in April. Hopefully I’ll have found a part-time job by then, to continue to keep me busy. But for the most part, I don’t have the IMG_20140305_112211brain-space left for writing anything thoughtful on here, because I’m juggling classwork, studying, and writing/researching papers. And since I’m taking two history courses and a British Lit course, this semester, a lot of my classwork involves reading, reading, reading.

Related to that thought, you’ll be thrilled to know that I got a smartphone. Why, yes, those two actually are related. I won’t go into the details that caused me to upgrade to a phone that allows me to keep track of phone calls AND Facebook messages, but it definitely happened. This allowed me to join the world of Instagram, because now I have a phone number to sign up with. I had tried before, in order to follow some of my friends’ accounts, but it would never let me without that phone number.IMG_20140302_213726 Sigh.

And with the sudden ability to upload randomly interesting photos to Instagram, I’ve found myself sharing pictures of the books I’m reading for school. It makes me look studious.  : )  But it also gives me practice at taking a different type of photo, those snapshots that you can only take with your phone. And plenty of opportunity to yell at my phone for not focusing when I “tell it to”.

While most of my reading for British Literature is fun and interesting, because we’re concentrating on sea monsters, mermaids, and sailors, it’s not all joy. Somehow, the water theme was related to Helen Oyeyemi’s Opposite HouseIMG_20140303_090135. For those of you who have never heard of it, it was written in the genre of magical realism, and if you heard me complain last semester, I abhor magical realism. Google it, I won’t take the time to explain. While the author writes beautifully in spots, it just mostly doesn’t make sense. Sure, you read into it and analyze, but whatever happened to just writing a good straight-up story? Thankfully, we finished with it today, and will be moving on to some more normal BritLit.

On the other hand, The Eternal Paddy was quite interesting reading for Irish History, though it was a heavier read and took much longer. The author did a thorough study of Britain’s views on Ireland, as viewed from the newspapers, in the period of 1798 (right IMG_20140304_142544before Union) and 1882 (right before the Home Rule bills began). Seeing how Ireland was depicted in cartoons, as well as what the journalists wrote… it was rather fascinating. But now, we’ll be on to reading The Burning of Bridget Cleary over spring break, and while it’s a true story, I have no idea whether it will be easy reading or not.

But the main thing on my plate right now is a history project for HIST 299 (History Methodology), and I spend my spare time reading more IMG_20140227_175206studies on immigration in the South and newspapers on my hometown. That will continue to occupy my spare time, when I’m not studying for something else, until partway into April.

For the moment, I’m counting down the hours until I hit the road to go north… to see cousins in MD and friends in PA. Time to meet newborns and month old babies! Yes, and see my cousins and my best friends and anyone else I can fit in, during 6-7 days. I’m just about ready for a road trip… and don’t worry, I’m bring my real camera with me, along with my new phone.  : )  As much fun as my smartphone is, I fully acknowledge how much more awesome my Nikon is. I even took a bunch of photos of flowers, outside in a near windstorm this afternoon. Maybe I’ll get around to posting them after I get to PA.

I hope you have a marvelous week, just as I intend to!

care for some snow?

Yes, we really did get snow… despite this being South Carolina. Real snow! Alright, not as deep as I’ve seen in Pennsylvania, or even when I was little, living in New York. But that’s the great thing about living in the South, everyone gets excited about the snow, whether it’s happy excitement or frustrated excitement (you know, if you work in a store, and have to deal with people that fight over bread).DSC_0076

DSC_0073With the advent of real snow, I got my Tuesday classes off… for the splendid reason that my professor’s child’s daycare closed. So, while Clemson University held out until the bitter end, my Frisbee class also cancelled, and I started my snow week early. Because when the university finally DID cancelled, it ended up shutting down for two more days. Of course, on Tuesday, the snow continued all day, but it wasn’t quite cold enough to stick much, so the roads were fine.DSC_0078

photo 1

Credit: Amit Bendigeri

But on Wednesday! By the time I woke up, the roads were covered in slush, and though driving wasn’t too difficult, you still had to be cautious. Other areas were not so lucky, since they had ice thrown into the mix. Before too long, I checked to see if any of my friends wanted to go sledding, and we hit Kite Hill during the late afternoon. The four of us had never seen Kite Hill when all the college students and local families were out in force, before. Every contraption known to man that could possibly be used for sliding, was on the hill. Boxes, cookie trays, laundry baskets, surfboards, kayaks, and then a variety of actual sleds. Even when it began to sleet, and it really stung our faces, we managed to have fun.DSC_0125

DSC_0129DSC_0134On Thursday, I realized that I needed to build a snowman before the snow melted completely, so I headed into the backyard to make use of a shady spot. The weather was already headed into the 50’s, so I built my snowfellow as quickly as possible. The snow was much icier, so I had to pack him together carefully, but I had my carrot nose ready, and I found some acorns for his eyes. It’s been many long years since I built a snowman, but I’ve never put a face like that onto one. I rounded out that sunny, snow-melting day by watching a movie with a good friend, which was great. : )DSC_0135

DSC_0137And then, school began once more, and we had to get back to reality. Just like I will tomorrow, opening upon a full week of school, needing to study for tests and quizzes, and figuring out what primary sources I need for an upcoming project. I hope you’ve stayed warm and safe, no matter what kind of winter weather has been thrown at you recently!DSC_0149DSC_0153

snow day…

Yes, we did get snow during the last week, but to anyone who’s lived up north, I understand completely that it’s barely worth mentioning. : ) But despite being born in New York state and spending 5 years of my life in Pennsylvania, in my twenties, I still haven’t gotten over the excitement of seeing snow. Come to think of it, I don’t think my parents have, either… but at least they can take joy in knowing that while we live in the South, they never have to shovel it again.DSC_0001

Now that I’m attending Clemson University, I really can’t escape the excitement, or rather, lunacy that occurs when there’s even a prediction of the white stuff. When snow flakes actually began to fall, I was in the parking lot, and there were barely any visible. But I called my mom to alert her that the craziness was about to begin. By the time I got home, where I was safe from all the Southerners that don’t know how to drive in “winter” weather, I could tell that the insanity had already begun.DSC_0014

But what more proof do you need that it WILL begin, than the subject of conversation in your first two classes? Everyone had their phones (or Kindle, in my case) out, checking their weather apps, and debating over who had the most accurate weather report. And there was a universal sense of unfairness at the fact that not only was USC already experiencing snow, but school had been cancelled in advance of the snow day… basically on the prediction. DSC_0018

Not sure what USC’s policy is on that, but Clemson never closes on a prediction. All other schools can close, but they wait until either the governor orders it, or there’s actually snow/sleet/ice on the ground. I’ve lived here most of my life, I assure you, I know how it works. So, my friends in Iowa wail with frustration that we get out of school, my professors pray for the cancellation so they can get out of their afternoon lecture, and the accident reports begin on the news. DSC_0020

Because it doesn’t matter how LITTLE snow is out there, Southerners don’t know how to drive in it, and the number of accidents escalates. And that doesn’t even count the fender-benders that probably occur in the university parking lots. I am so thankful I escaped before that began. For when the school did close early, everyone hurried to get out of there, and you can imagine what probably followed. And then we got the following day off school, too, so it was a win all around! (Except for my German class getting behind)DSC_0012

And while I made no snowmen, nor went sledding (Who was there to go with? Playing in the snow by yourself is NOT fun.), I heard of plenty of others who did, and enjoyed their time in the cold stuff. If you haven’t heard it before, then make a note of it… Southerners have more fun in the snow, because we don’t have to shovel it, and it’s SO much more exciting. If you live up north, I hope you experience a Southern “snow”, someday, in order to see the proof.

an arctic assault…

As one friend of mine suggested, it really does sound like our local TV weatherman is getting his lines from Cobra Commander. I suppose that after the week of the “polar vortex”, you’ve got to come up with some lingo that sounds even more exciting? Now, if we actually do get snow or ice, and if that turns into an ice storm that brings down all the neighborhood trees, and leaves us stuck in our houses for another week… then perhaps I’ll reconsider whether you used the right words or not.

Until then, another friend has suggested that the weatherman come out to Iowa for a visit, in order to see what real cold weather is like, while I heard a rumor that the buildings at Clemson University are being heated like we’re in Finland, instead of South Carolina. Considering I just played Ultimate Frisbee in 50 degree weather in a t-shirt and exercise pants, the idea that we could have really cold weather coming in is pretty hard to believe. The wind is picking up, however, so I guess it really will get cold tonight. The question is whether we’ll really get any type of precipitation.

If we actually get snow or ice and it sticks until tomorrow, school will get canceled, which is every student’s dream… as long as they have food and heat, wherever they live. And, of course, that will require a run on the grocery stores, in order to stock up on all the ingredients to make French toast. Even in Pennsylvania, this seemed to happen if there was snow in the forecast… everyone went to Walmart to buy eggs, bread, and milk. Go figure.

But for those of you who really aren’t interested in the weather, my second semester at Clemson started almost two weeks ago, and I’m settling in to my new classes. No math or science, but German, Irish History, Historian’s Craft (history methodology), and British Lit are going to keep me busy reading, writing, and researching. To liven things up, I’m taking “Frisbee Sports”, which is the fancy name for my Ultimate Frisbee “class”.

For any bookworms out there, I do have an upcoming post about books for children, probably ages 10-13, or thereabouts, but it may take me a week or three to finish, because school does keep me occupied. I am still trying to fit in a new post, now and then, and as soon as spring arrives, I should be able to get the floral photos going again! Have a great week!

snowmen peeking…

When I woke up again, the second time this morning, I could hear the rain coming down and checked the weather report. I say I woke up AGAIN, because it’s normal on Saturdays for me to wake up earlier, once, check a few things on my Kindle and go back to sleep. This time, I slept until almost noon, but that’s ok! Because not only is it raining, it’s Christmas vacation!DSC_0557

DSC_0556The weather report looked rather odd… I couldn’t decide if that neon blue cloud hanging over Pennsylvania (I used to live there, so I keep it listed on my weather app) looked like that, on purpose or not. Turns out, my weather app uses a bright blue color to denote snow clouds… and this one seems to be hanging all over Pennsylvania, New York, and the surrounding states, until it runs into bright green and yellow rain clouds (what if they really looked like that?) in parts of Virginia. That rainy weather front lasts all the way down the east coast.DSC_0558

DSC_0559But all that snow and rain hanging in the air, hiding us from the sunshine, or the sunshine from us (depending on how you look at things), reminded me of some snowy little fellows that are all over our house. Yes, we have a lot of snowmen hanging on our Christmas tree, and a few scattered in different locations. What better place to share them, on this dreary day… when I’m free to do it!DSC_0572

DSC_0573DSC_0580Did I mention it’s vacation? : )  Honestly, it has been years since I haven’t been working a job where I had to work over the holidays. Christmas break for students never really caught my attention, because I was working right up until just before Christmas. Well, last year, Fernow Street closed for two weeks, and I was “laid off” for that amount of time, but it wasn’t a very cheery, free feeling, because I didn’t get vacation pay, and didn’t dare to go anywhere on money I didn’t have.DSC_0588

DSC_0590This year, it’s back to that feeling we had in high school, and before, from being free from school on the Christmas break! And since it’s college, it’s so much better than Thanksgiving break, because if I didn’t tell you this before, the only day I had off during Thanksgiving vacation was on T-day itself. I spent the two days leading up to it, working solidly on my final English Literature essay, and the day AFTER Thanksgiving, I not only came down with a cold (that developed into an upper respiratory infection), I had to give my entire attention to my military history paper. DSC_0600

DSC_0602DSC_0603No, I take it back, I had to get up in the mornings (no excessive sleeping in) to work on my Chemistry homework and a take-home quiz, and then in the afternoons and evenings, I devoted myself to my paper on the battle of Sharpsburg (Antietam), during the American Civil War. Three solid days of it, almost, and when school started on Monday, I worked on it between classes and as soon as I got home, until late. English Literature essay? I got an A. Military History paper? I got an A. With some really nice comments from both of my teachers, about my writing skills. So, it was worth it.DSC_0605

DSC_0608DSC_0615But now? Freedom! I can go to the movies (and plan to)! Read books all day, books that I WANT to read! Bake cookies! Sleep in! Watch DVDs and listen to Christmas music, now that I don’t have to study anymore (I can’t study with music on, if it has words)! Hooray!DSC_0624

DSC_0632I hope you enjoy our snowmen. : )  We certainly do. DSC_0636