Friday, April 25, 2008

"...contemplating the dismal rain in a very desponding state of mind"

The low level of productivity from last week continued throughout the week and into this, much to my disgust. Some factors were beyond my control, including the MatchBox 20 concert which I went to in the Hunter Valley, which was excellent, although little soggy. A lot of negativity was flying around in my head towards it all at the beginning of this week. Thankfully I snapped out of it, I think a night of laughing my head off at Ross Noble was very beneficial, perhaps I can write the ticket off as a study expense?? Further inspired by the promise of a night in at a friends place with a few bottles of wine I eventually got moving, finishing my chapter, a grant application. I also started working on a chapter outline for the thesis as a whole, as well as mapping out the movements of my families on google maps. It is very interesting and helpful to have a visual of their movements and the distances between those at war and those left at home.

I also got word that I was accepted for a Masterclass in June to be held at the University of Tasmania, which will be nerve wracking as I think it is only for 20 people, but also hopefully very useful.

I have no cooking to report, having somehow managed not to be in for dinner at all this week. I did make a Lime Yogurt Poppy seed cake at the end of last week, which is an old favourite. My tin had been giving me grief on previous outings so I buttered and floured it and the cake obligingly slid out. The icing was a little thin, but all in all it was good. I will have to do some baking this weekend as I am going into withdrawals.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Chocolate Guiness Cake

The Snickerdoodles I made for my supervisor on Monday worked a treat. I have until next week to hand my next chapter in and all is well in the world. I am thinking now about the exceptions to my idea of how important family was in times of war, that is how war tore families apart both in terms of time and distance as well as finical considerations. I have to be careful not to get too sentimental, which is hard as the sources I have thus far are lovely and beautiful. I am also a big softy and will look for the sentimentality in almost anything.

Of course today, instead of working solidly, I was planning and cooking a dinner party for some work colleagues of my Dad's. I was working from Nigella Lawson's Feast and her "Italianified Supper for 6". It all turned out well, the involtini (eggplant stuffed with mozzarella, feta, Parmesan, mint, parsley, pine nuts, raisins and lemon zest, baked in Nepolitana sauce) was lovely and the Baci Di Ricotta (ricotta and cinnamon balls) were amazing. I also made, and was very pleased with, the chocolate Guinness cake to go with coffee. It was gorgeous and moist and the cream cheese icing did very well on top. It is also from Feast and I would rate it amongst the best chocolate cakes I have ever had. It was almost mud cake like in moisture and density but without the over powering sweetness and stickiness that many mud's can have.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

"But history, real solemn history, I cannot be interested in."

This week has been a mixed week, though for the most part filled with blank pages, procrastination and a few thousand words. Two chapters were due on Monday just past, and they are still not finished. I am rather embarrassed, but to my great disappointment I do not have a time machine (preferably a TARDIS) so they are, and will be late. It is a rather strange feeling as prior to this year I have never handed anything in late, and though I don't lose marks, I fear I am losing the respect of my supervisor. I need to work on that, so on Monday, I think I will bake her some biscuits. Surely a plate of delicious snickerdoodles or Spanish macaroons will be more interesting than a literature review, and certainly a lot let tedious for all involved. That is my plan, and so long as she doesn't think I am trying to bribe or poison her, all will go well!

Friday night was enjoyably spent with four girls who I went/go to uni with. As we all study history and are at various stages of post grad work, our conversation naturally turns to history. The question was raised; which is worse, to praise a woman because she is displaying traditionally masculine qualities, (political involvement, literary achievement etc) or praise her femininity (motherhood etc)? So many histories only report on women who were seen to step outside the mould and behave like a man, and it is these qualities that have been praised. While at times, the woman who performs what is seen as feminine duties, motherhood, wife, 'private' duties, can be overly read being oppressed or worse dull and not worth being placed on the historical record. Were all women who were not breaking the mould oppressed? Were they, as my friend put it (and does not believe) they all sitting in their gendered towers, unable to articulate, but screaming, 'Let me Out!' Can we, should we, try and look at the past (and perhaps the present) not in gendered terms but in human terms, or is this impossible? Or worse does it deny and strip us of a major part of our identity?

Now, I am a feminist, in the line of SSS's post Where are you Daughters of Germaine and I write history about women. However, I don't want to fall into the trap of only writing about women, forgetting men and their achievements. Worse still, I don't want to ignore the past that was not breaking moulds, but was living, loving and surviving. This is why I think I have moved towards looking at families which will hopefully let me look at 'people'. I however, cannot give up gender, as it was a reality and an experience that people lived, and therefore important and vital to understanding their lives.

I will be interested to know what you all think. I am not sure if I have articulated what I am thinking, but I just thought I would put it out there as it is where my head is at.


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

"This is a wretched beginning indeed! My sole dependence was on you; and I am sure nobody else will believe me, if you do not."

My resolution this year has been to do things I wouldn't normally do. With that in mind, and inspired by some of the fabulous blogs I have listed, I decided to start this to keep track of what I am doing, supposed to be doing, and avoiding doing. Also as a place to let me rant, ramble, and hopefully not be a complete bore for those who stumble across me.