Friday, 28 January 2011

Lessons for the Day

1. Never, ever, ever put two and a half Scotch Bonnet peppers into a single moderately-sized pot of bean soup.  They are several times as hot as jalape├▒o peppers.

2.  Rice and couscous are your friends in the event that you do overdose on hot peppers.  Cornbread doesn't hurt, either.

3.  Coaching someone else through the writing of a research paper is much more difficult than writing it yourself.

4.  If you plan to piece an entire queen-sized quilt top by hand, don't lose your thimble.

5.  About 4 o'clock this afternoon I was all set to write a mean, snarky, rant-y blog post.

6.  One glorious sunset can do away with the need to write a mean, snarky, rant-y blog post.  God knows what he is doing :-)

7.  I may still write that rant.  But I'll do my best not to be mean and snarky!

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Roman Coin Project

I think I mentioned a few weeks ago that one of the assignments for my January class was to clean and attribute (identify) an original coin from the late Roman empire.  Well, I finished the project last Thursday and gave my presentation in class, so I thought I'd post about it here!  I'll give the paper I turned in and then some other notes of my own :)
This is before much cleaning had happened.  It wasn't that clear in person (and it has NEVER been that colour) but the flash helped!

Attribution of the coin:
Constantine I (the Great; AD 307-337); AD 317-321; AE-3; 18mm.
OBV: Laureate, mantled bust left, holding mappa and sceptre on globe; IMP CONSTANTINVS AVG[VSTVS]; "Imperator, Constantine Augustus."
REV: Jupiter standing left, holding Victory holding wreath on a globe, and leaning on sceptre; wreath in left field, r in right field; IOVI CONSERVATORI AVGG; "Jove, saviour of the emperors."
SMK in exergue; Cyzicus mint.
After cleaning, sans flash.  He's a bit rusted in spots but the writing is legible in person.

Constantine I, called the Great, was emperor from AD 306-337.  He is best known for being the first Christian emperor, as he legalized the religion and protected Christians from persecution with the Edict of Milan in 313.  He also presided over the Council of Nicea in 325.  Constantine was an experienced warrior and general.  His army was one of the best, and had a lot of practise, as in addition to campaigns in Gaul and Britain, Constantine had to deal with several upstart would-be Emperors and an assassination attempt.  Despite this, however, his reign was fairly peaceful.
This coin was minted in Cyzicus somewhere between 317-321, during a period of peace when the barbarians were fairly quiet and the usurpers had been suppressed.  The legends and iconography seem to express this feeling of success and peace; the reverse of the coin depicts Jupiter holding winged Victory standing on a globe, perhaps to express Constantine's victory over his enemies and the relative peace of the Roman world.  (The figure of Victory also brings to mind the description of winged Victory on a globe in the house of Lucius' aunt in The Golden Ass.)   The obverse shows a prosperous-looking Constantine, wearing the laurel wreath symbolic of Caesar-hood, and holding map and sceptre.  Again, the map may symbolize Constantine's control over the known world, and the sceptre shows him to be supreme ruler.  The "story" of the coins seems to be one of peace and prosperity.
The reverse of the coin, with Jupiter holding Victory. 

Thoughts on the project:  This was SO MUCH FUN.  I know it probably makes me hopelessly nerdy, but this was one of the best projects I've ever done.  I loved being able to handle such an old coin, one with history, you know?  Roman coins are so much more interesting than our modern ones.  The slight irregularity of shape, the worn lettering, but in spite of the fact that it's 1,700 years old, you can still see the hairs -- the individual hairs -- on Constantine's head.  It was fascinating to do research online, first to try to identify my emperor and then to narrow down exactly what coin it was I had.  There were so many variations of this one - similar, but not exactly the same, because they were all made by hand and in different parts of the empire.
Did you know olive oil is a great cleaning agent?  I soaked Constantine in oil for a couple of weeks, and in distilled water for a couple of days.  He got scrubbed with an old toothbrush most evenings.  In the last couple days I also rubbed gently with a soft cloth dipped in oil - this got a lot of the dirt off and cleared up the lettering amazingly. My coin was probably originally silvered - covered with a very thing coating of silver over the main bronze.  There are a couple spots where this still shows in person, although I couldn't capture it in the photos.
Constantine I in all his glory, as clean as I could get him, with a nasty-looking growth of rust on his chest.
I wish I had an unlimited budget so I could collect, clean, and attribute many more coins!  This was so much fun... actually, it might be a good thing I haven't the funds, because I would never get anything else done.  My recital would probably suffer.
I doubt anyone else will be as enthused about this as I was, but I wanted to share anyway!

Friday, 21 January 2011

Chicken Soup for the Soul

You know that series of books, "Chicken Soup for the [insert age range/people group here] Soul"?  Today was a Chicken Soup for the Soul sort of day.  Well, we did actually have chicken soup (with dumplings, no less) for dinner tonight.  At about 8 o'clock.  We keep very European dining hours... mostly because we can't be bothered to start cooking until 6:30 or so... but anyway.

It wasn't really the soup that was chicken-soup-ish.  It was the rest of the day.  We'd had another couple inches of snow, which, this being Tennessee, necessitated the closing down of schools and meant we didn't have class.  I was okay with that.  Sleeping until 11:30 is never a problem with me.  So I got to sleep in, and then my roommate and I had a leisurely breakfast at about 1 o'clock - and then we spent the rest of the day watching Jane Austen movies and sewing.  I worked on the black suit that I'm making to wear for auditions, and Aubrey cut out quilt squares.  Quilt squares for MY quilt.  You know you have a paragon of a roommate when she volunteers to cut out quilt squares (and no, I don't own a rotary cutter) because she's run out of projects of her own.  Blessings on Aubrey!

It was just a relaxing day.  Productive - I got most of the jacket of my suit made - but so enjoyable.  After dinner we realized we were out of milk and butter and so we walked down to the store, about a half-mile away, because we wanted the exercise.  It was COLD, but the crisp breeze and fresh air were restorative.  That little walk on top of the quiet afternoon was just the thing.  Comfortable and nourishing (if one can say a walk is nourishing) in the same way that our dinner was.

Hooray for chicken soup!  Literal and figurative :)

This is not the chicken soup.  It is however the chicken whose bones furnished broth and whose meat ended up in the soup! 

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Sizzix?

I rarely post this sort of thing, but one of the blogs I follow regularly is having a giveaway for a Sizzix - a contraption that cuts shapes out of fabric by means of a die (or rather, many and varied dies!)  Flowers, leaves, plain circles if that is what you want.  It doesn't just cut fabric, either - the website mentions cardstock, for instance.

This isn't the sort of thing I would necessarily have discovered by myself, but Kathleen makes the cutest things with it and I think I'm won over :D  So, if you're interested, HERE is the link to the giveaway!

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Another Random Saturday

I was going to have a craft-y post for you today, but last night I decided not to set an alarm clock - I would sleep in and just let my body wake me up.  Well, it didn't decide to wake me up until 3:45 PM... so no post for you!

Seriously, though, I don't know why I slept so late - I've been getting pretty solid nights of sleep, and I haven't felt sleep-deprived!  Today though I feel like I got hit by a truck.  I'm stiff, I'm slow, I have the most wretched headache, and I feel like I could go straight back to bed and sleep for another week.  I'm not going to do it, though.

It snowed this past week - a whole two inches!  Of course that threw poor little Jackson, Tennessee into a dither - they canceled school, the stores were bought out of bread and milk, and no one would drive anywhere.  This in spite of the fact that the roads were perfectly clear.  Oh, the South.

I'm getting ready to make a quilt for a friend's wedding present.  I won't be posting much about it here because I think she reads my blog and I want the final project to be a surprise (but she does know I'm making it and roughly what the colour scheme is - I asked her!) so I thought I could mention it.  It's going to be pretty blues and yellows, mostly - a "Proven├žal" quilt.  I'm really excited!  I made a mock-up of the quilt block pattern I'll be using since I've never done triangular bits before, and it went together so well.  The fabric is in the washer as I write.  I can't wait to work on it!

Speaking of quilts, I think I'm getting addicted.  This could be a problem...

The big window in the living room of my apartment is beautiful, and it lets in a lot of sunlight, but it also lets in a lot of drafts.  I'm thinking I need to make some sort of draft-resistant curtain, or at least some of those window snakes, but I'm really not sure what to do, or how.  Any ideas?

It's now exactly three months until my senior recital.  Three months from now, almost to the minute, I'll be putting the last touches to my hair and makeup, slipping on the gown, and trying not to be nervous.

Maybe I should memorize all my music.  Yeah.  I think I'll go work on that.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Random Saturday

I slept until 11:30 today.  That was so nice!

My last week at home for Christmas break I finally decided on a pattern for my recital dress and found fabric for it.  Deep red crepe-back satin, and a bias-cut sleeveless gown reminiscent of 1930s movie stars. Mmmmm.

I have more projects than I know what to do with.  My sister's Christmas outfit... several dresses and a suit for myself (I always need more "good" clothes for performances and auditions, and I've been blessed with great deals on fabric!)... the vest I'm knitting my brother... four little sundresses for a friend... more wool socks... and some more historical sewing just for the fun of it.  I think I need to make a plan of action!

My senior recital is in just over three months.  That sounds simultaneously a long time away and just around the corner.  Kind of terrifying.  And I still have a LONG way to go in learning music!

I still haven't heard back from two of the grad schools I applied to.  I've had one rejection and one acceptance, but I still have to audition there.  Prayers are appreciated!

It's supposed to snow a lot here this weekend.  I'm not sure if I believe the weather gurus... they're usually wrong... but it would be kind of fun to have a foot of snow!

A foot of snow would get in the way of my Classical Antiquity class, though.  And I do love that class.

Don't ever put an entire Scotch Bonnet pepper (HOT) in a smallish pot of bean soup.  Even with cornbread crumbled in it was searingly spicy.

My favourite part of the day here is the walk to and from classes.  I haven't measured it but I think I get in close to a mile walk every day, and it's so invigorating - tramping across the field (when it isn't too muddy), breathing in fresh air, buffeted by the wind that always blows here.

My roommate found a website that sells a TV remote that looks like a wand from Harry Potter.  I really, really want one!

.... This has certainly been random.  I think I'm going to take off and get started on some of my list of sewing!  Blessed weekend to you all :)

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

New Year

Well, it's a new year - and a new decade!  (I know the majority of the world is convinced that the decade started last year... but no - you have to count up to 10 before you finish a decade!  '11 is the real beginning.)

I'm back at the apartment for Jan-term, a one-month accelerated semester, in which I'm taking a course in Roman literature.  This is so exciting!  That probably makes me a geek and a nerd of the highest order, but I love the Aeneid and I'm absolutely dancing with glee over our Roman Coin project.  The teacher actually supplied each student with a REAL Roman coin, and our task is to clean, read, and identify our coin.  Then we have to talk about it in class.  Mine is soaking in olive oil right now (this is apparently the best way to loosen the rust and dirt) and I can't wait until it's clean enough to start identifying.  I'm sure I'll post pictures and progress as the month goes on!

I have a lot of craft projects ongoing - a baby sweater, several pairs of socks, and a couple of gift projects on the knitting side, and for sewing, my sister's Christmas outfit, several "business" pieces for myself, and my recital dress!  I'll have to post about that in more detail later.  I'm also making up four sundresses for a friend, using as a pattern a dress she loved and wore (almost literally) to pieces.  So I'm sure these will make an appearance as well!

In the mean time, I'm going to read Virgil and learn my recital music and try to stay WARM.  Our heater's not working and the warmest it's been since we got back on Sunday is about 62 degrees.  Brrr!  I wish I'd finished some of those socks already!