Last August, when I gave my first paper at an international Celtic conference, a great opportunity arose from it for me. I was invited by a professor to give a seminar in UCLA at another conference in March of this year. Of course, I accepted his offer on the spot! What a fabulous opportunity! The last few months have been spent writing and preparing for this and it was a nerve-wracking and stressful time. Hence, the absence from WordPress. My life was taken over by this. Thanks to my supportive husband, I was able to throw myself into the deepest depths of textual transmission and stemmatics (huh?!). There were many a late night spent in the 24 hour postgraduate reading-room in university and coffee and sugary sweets were a staple. There were many a time when I felt like throwing in the towel and trusting my own work and lacking confidence in my ability to present my work. But my supervisor and my husband were very supportive and egged me on! The hard work paid off and I pulled it together in time. The seminar was successful and I had positive feedback. Unfortunately, I did not get to see any sights and sounds of Los Angeles as I was only there for three days. But UCLA is a great campus and I loved being there. Here are some photographs.
The iconic building Royce Hall, UCLA, this is where the conference was held!
Royce Hall's Italian Romanesque style made it feel European!
The reception for the conference was held on the balcony which faces Powell Library
LAX - Next stop Rome, Italy!
After my whirlwind trip to LA, my next stop was Rome for a week-long workshop, but I’ll save that for another post :)
I am due to present my first research paper in just under three weeks to a potential audience of 100 people. Among those attending could be some of the leading academics in my field. So, no pressure! Although I am nearly ready with my paper, there have been prolonged bouts of procrastination! You’d think I would have learned by now, at this stage of my academic life, but sadly not. I remember many a late night spent panicking, trying to throw together an essay or cramming for an exam. Even though I have put many hours into this paper, there have been days and nights when it has been difficult to focus and I thought that I would never reach my deadline.
Here are my top things I do when procrastinating:
- Make copious photocopies of periodical articles and highlight paragraphs in said articles until look like they have been assaulted by a five-year old with a highlighter pen.
- Organise notes and articles. Do a general clean up of thesis papers from the last two years. This includes files on the hard-drive.
- Wander aimlessly through the university library, browsing through books. Perhaps have a little snooze on a comfy couch, if another procrastinator has already stolen a spot. This usually kills a few hours.
- Write a blog. Check site stats. Check site stats. Check site stats.
I am sure this does not just apply to me!
- Go on Facebook and press the refresh button every five minutes, almost willing people to upload photographs!
- Spend time with the children because I feel guilty they are going to forget who I am if I am not at home.
- Bake, cook, garden. Take photographs of it all and post a blog on WordPress.
- Clean the crap of the bookshelf which acts as our repository for bills, important letters etc. which has accumulated for three months. It’s not like it cannot wait another few weeks, right?
- Clean the walls and skirting boards. Somehow procrastination makes me see all the streaks, dust and dirt in the house and I MUST clean it.
- Go to bed. I blame this partly on my children waking me at 6am every morning. So my excuse is that my brain does not function past 9pm.
My research desk - note a WordPress blog on the computer!
Then the guilt overwhelms me, the panic sets in and I throw myself into it. Back to reality…
What do you do to waste time when you should be doing something important?
For the past few months, the girls have been casting their eyes with eager anticipation at the strawberries growing in the garden. It was great to see their excitement growing with the changing colours of the fruit. It was Seren and Olwyn’s job to scare away any magpies who swooped down to feast on the strawberries. So every once in a while you would hear fierce knocking at the window ” Shoo magpie, those are our stwawbewwies!” The strawberries were lovingly watered and minded. I got so much enjoyment watching my children learn about the things we have growing in the garden.
Here are photographs of the momentous occasion!
Daddy lends a helping hand.
A joyous moment!
Following in her big sister's footsteps.
Seren and Olwyn on their favourite seat (beside the strawberries naturally).
Look Mami, I'm going to make it disappear :)
The poet William Allen Butler sums the strawberry up the best when he wrote “Doubtless God could have made a better berry (than the strawberry), but doubtless God never did.”
I work in a most amazing place that is steeped in history. It is a house that has been standing for two centuries and has seen people from all corners of life walk through its doors. I feel like I walk among ghosts when I wander through the endless warren of corridors. In its youth, this mansion was full of grandeur, entertaining the wealthy and beautiful lords and ladies of Dublin in the early 1800’s. The architecture suggests affluence and the grounds are extensive. There is a walled-in Victorian garden at the end of the property where a curvilinear glasshouse still stands. It is my dream to have this restored to its former glory. I think it dates back to before 1850. There are magnificent views of Dublin Bay. The grounds outside the estate were popular with the gentry of that time for hunting. This is a sketch of the house, dated 1867. The original house can be seen on the right hand side. It had a massive conservatory which housed many exotic plants, but sadly no longer stands there today. A viewing tower was constructed as one of the lords who occupied the house was in love with the scenic views.
In 1863, a religious order took ownership and it became a school and convent. The nuns constructed the left-wing, which was attached to the original house. The following photograph is of one of the ladies who attended the boarding school, taken c. 1870. The school was originally a poor-school but it soon became popular with the higher classes in society as the quality of education given by the nuns was excellent. It was not long before the daughters of the rich began attending. This is evident from the school registers which record the addresses of pupils at that time.
The voices of the nuns are now also but a whisper, just as the occupants before them. The nuns have moved out of the convent since 2007 as the house was too big for them to manage. They are a dying breed unfortunately. Many of them are quite elderly now. The school has taken over the use of the convent, holding lectures and meetings there. The house still preserves the smell of history and the shadows of eras gone by.