First week of grad school: check!


 My first week of grad school was off to an awkward start when our internet – which has been working just fine since we originally hooked it up – decided to completely and totally crash. It took me 3 days to figure out that I could just detach the modem’s cord from the splitter and plug it directly into the wall, but until that point, I was pretty stressed trying to keep up with my assignments during spare time at work (which also has an intermittent, unreliable internet connection.) Luckily, I had copied down some readings into my trusty Lilly agenda in the weeks prior, so I could at least keep up the old fashioned way – studying theory in my textbooks!

I am really liking the class so far. I was skeptical about what an online degree would be like, but I am impressed with the availability and involvement of the professor and the facilitator, the interactivity with other students, and the quality of the feedback. The assignments are very real-world (I feel I would actually use the skills in any number of job settings), while the reading is mostly academic and theoretical. It is more work than I anticipated it would be, but it probably seems that way because I was scrambling to maintain an internet connection the whole time. I’m sure that once I settle into a routine and get more familiar with the format, it will be easier. In the meantime, I still feel up to the challenge, and I am grateful that my job has turned out so flexible, for the most part. I also have an advantage in being a day ahead of everyone else. Much harder to miss deadlines that way 🙂

On a random side note – it’s kinda cool to be taking this class while Chuck and I watch the West Wing. I keep finding myself relating what I’m learning to what I watch Toby, Josh, C.J., and Sam do in the Oval Office!

My Little Peach


Introducing Momoko, my new kitten 🙂

I actually met her on the streets near Uken Beach over a month ago. She was one of 3 irresistible kittens who – though they were among the posse I visit regularly – appeared motherless. I promptly named them Gilbert Blythe, Diana Barry, and Anne Shirley after the lovable characters in one of my favorite books, Anne of Green Gables. 

I couldn’t take them all home of course, so I contented myself with visiting daily and making sure their little bellies were full. They seemed happy enough, and the other cats watched over them. Over the course of time, however, both Gilbert and Diana disappeared. I can only hope some kind Japanese family thought they were adorable and took them into their homes, and that they didn’t meet some tragic fate…

By that time, I had developed quite the attachment to little Anne Shirley in particular. She was spritely. Clean. Bright-eyed. She would eat her tuna and then we would play hide-and-seek and peekaboo among the shrines (creepy, I know.) Our bond grew stronger once her siblings vanished, and I started to fret about what may befall her if I left her down there.

I spoke with Chuck about the possibility of taking her in, if the vet determined her reasonably healthy. My Annie Bean’s health is #1 priority of course, so I wasn’t willing to jeopardize that, even if it was for an adorable homeless kitten. Anyway, Chuck agreed, and later that week I went to go scoop her up. She was nowhere to be found. For two days, I worried about what had happened, and convinced myself I was jinxed when it comes to Japanese kittens.

One morning, I decided to drive down to the beach on a whim, just to check and see who was there. Frolicking with a new kitten (a Gilbert look-a-like, in fact) was my darling Anne Shirley!! I scooped her up and whisked her away, and scheduled a vet exam for that evening.

The rest is history! Of course, we couldn’t have an Annie and an Anne, so she became Momoko, which is a Japanese name meaning “little peach” (check out her cute peachy little head!) Momo was deemed completely healthy at the vet, where they determined she is about 8 weeks old and just 1.1 kilogram, but she does have some ringworm on her ear and her foot. While this isn’t a serious health issue, it is contagious – especially from cat to cat – so we have to keep her isolated in one room for a whole month!!

She’s doing okay with it for now, but all I want to do is snuggle her and take her to bed. As she gets healthier and stronger, she is increasingly anxious to explore and get out of that room, so I feel like isolation is only going to get harder.

Besides… I can’t wait to truly get her introduced to Annie, and take her from second class citizen to official member of the family 🙂 In the meantime, she loves playing soccer with her bright yellow yarn balls, watching with bewildered amusement when I scoop her litterbox, attacking her own tail, and playing peekaboo… This time without the shrines.


 And for anyone who is wondering… I still go visit the rest in the posse, to include Gilbert 2.0. I so wish I could take him in, too!

6 Things the World Can Learn From France

The Huffington Post is launching a series showcasing wisdom from around the world — traditions, daily rituals, philosophies, and lessons of history particular to each country — featuring a post each day, translated into English, from one of its international editors. I loved the first in the series, on how the French can inspire us to love life. For instance:

“In 2010, the French gastronomic meal was added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list, which honors cultural traditions.”

I can totally believe it!!

“In 1982, France’s Culture ministry had the crazy, brilliant idea to tell everyone in the country to go out, play music and dance for one night. Happening every first night of summer, the “Fête de la Musique” is now one of the greatest nights of the year.”


Food, music, and dancing. The French really do have it right. Read about the other 4 cultural and philosophical tidbits here!



Asian Food Porn 4.0

This past weekend, Chuck and I tried a new restaurant with a some neighbors. Ruriiro is actually in a small private residence just 5 minutes up the road, run by a single gentleman named Kaz and his fluffy canine friend, Justin. I was amazed at how quickly (and simultaneously!) he prepared all 4 meals. Typically, homemade meals from short-staffed establishments are brought out one by one, creating an awkward situation where no one can really eat at the same time – but Kaz single handedly managed to prepare and deliver each delicious meal all at once. He did not disappoint! It’s one of our favorite establishments to date 🙂 I only wish I had snapped a pic of the pooch!

An endlessly changing horizon

An endlessly changing horizon

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Check out my friend’s new blog about her experiences as a marine biologist, fitness instructor, surfer, and world traveler! You won’t regret it 🙂

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm

“The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” – C. McCandless

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Alice in Neverland

IMG_2802For as long as I can remember, Alice in Wonderland has been one of my favorite novels. I’m not even sure why, since it’s made of pure stuff and nonsense, but maybe that is part of its whimsical appeal for me. Mostly I think it’s the Cheshire Cat and Alice’s own Dinah, so it could be some secret understanding I have with a fellow silly blonde who likes cats… but who knows. My bridal shower was Wonderland Tea Party themed, I’ve dressed up as Alice for Halloween, and one of my favorite spots in Oxford is Alice’s Shop (the story itself was written by an Oxford man, so I loved her obvious legacy while I was there.) She is definitely a presence in my life, with all her curiousities.

Anyway, I “liked” Alice in Wonderland on Facebook, so occasionally little updates pop up on my newsfeed. The page recently posted this article, about Lewis Carroll (aka Charles Dodgson) and his real life inspiration for Alice, named Alice Liddell.

The article was written in a very matter-of-fact manner, with no agenda to speak of except for the reason the book came into existence at all. But I felt kind of uncomfortable by the end of it. It seems Mr. Dodgson had quite the interest in little girls, especially Ms. Liddell. He even went so far as to take photographs of them, including the slightly suggestive image of Alice below:


There was nothing implicit in the article to suggest anything blatantly suspicious, but I Googled Alice Liddell and Charles Dodgson afterwards and found a plethora of material validating my instincts: there is evidence to suggest that Mr. Dodgson had inappropriate affections for little girls. There is no evidence that he acted on it, but he did write on various occasions about his affection for them, and how he liked to take partially nude photos of them. At one point, he even had a mysterious falling out with Alice’s family, with whom he had been friendly for many years. The relationship never fully recovered…

Critics of the pedophile theory argue that it was very common for celibate bachelors to be fond of young children during that time, and that child nudity was not the taboo back then in the way that it is now. It is possible that I am projecting my 21st century sensitivities onto the situation.

Still… it sounds like the Victorian era’s version of Michael Jackson, Neverland, and unproven-but-sketchy relationships with little boys. I still love Alice in Wonderland, but I am a little bit bummed!