Thursday, October 30, 2008

To Autumn

Folowing the biting cold of the weekend, Ames has had a few days of glorious and tender warmth. But I fear that this is the last of the good weather we will have. Autumn is on its way out, and the cold winter months loom ahead. I wanted to post Keats' "To Autumn" before the end of the loveliest season of all.

"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too, -
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies."

~ John Keats

Click on the pictures to enlarge:

A maple tree in autumn (


Iowan cornfields in the fall (

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Yet Another Step...

I have to rush and am hopelessly busy, but thought I'd post a quick update... I successfully defended my dissertation proposal. This means that I can apply for internships for next year. So, I am DEFINITELY going to leave ISU nexy year (subject to being matched to an internship). Got to go, will write more later.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Step Closer

Last Friday, I finalized my dissertation proposal manuscript and gave it to my committee members. This Friday, I will present the research to them and they will either be bowled over by how wonderful it is (which is highly unlikely), axe my project and doom me to another year in Ames (which I am praying will not happen), or will tell me that it's a bit crappy but can be fixed with their suggestions (which I am hoping will happen). I got caught up with sleep and a bit of reading. Now that my mind was not occupied with thoughts about research, I felt an urge to read some more of "Clarissa". I did, and loved it - it still takes me a while to get through some passages, but is a delight to read.

Remember long ago, in one of my first posts, I said that I wanted to be like Cleopatra - a woman of infinite variety? Well, something I read in Clarissa makes me want to be something similar. It's from Anna Howe's letter to Clarissa where she relates to the eponymous heroine what her mother (Mrs. Howe) said about her:

"Miss Clarissa Harlowe is an admirable young lady: wherever she goes, she confers a favour: whomever she leaves, she fills with regret. O my Nancy, that you had a little of her sweet obligingness!"

If someone ever said that about me, I'd faint with pleasure!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Dark Circles and Bags

I have been awfully busy the past two weeks - whether or not I will be able to propose my dissertation in time for applying for internships is still uncertain, but I am working away... Last week, I did not sleep two nights and slept in my office for another two nights. I think what makes it so tough for me is that I am not a naturally research-oriented person and everything seems to take me too long. Anyway, I went homes yesterday afternoon, had about 7 straight hours of sleep, and at midnight, I came back to my office and have been working away again. I just happened to catch sight of myself in a mirror - I look horrible. Haggard. And I have dark circles under my eyes! That is something I never thought I would ever see since I have dark skin to begin with! But I do have them under my eyes - dark circles and bags.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Reading Update

I have stopped reading Clarissa for the moment. It is a very heavy-going book and since I am at the moment caught between proposing my dissertation and applying for internships, I find myself unable to read more than a page or two of Clarissa. I find myself gravitating towards lighter reading - so I have been working on finishing Poirot Investigates. I think I shall postpone Clarissa until next year and focus on finishing up my half-read books in the next few months. That's 27 books in all and it would still bring me over my resolution of 24 books for this year. Next year, I think I shall spend reading only one book - Clarissa. That will be quite the feat in itself - being able to finish the book that was the longest novel in English literature for over 200 years (it's not the longest anymore).

I feel so tired with all these deadlines - I wish I could just sit back, relax and read, read, read...