Bird on a Bare Branch

Attempting to fling a frail song in my little corner of the world

Photo #47 April 30, 2011

Filed under: Pictures — Jen @ 2:30 pm

I originally decided to go to Croatia because once I saw a little snippet in an outdoor magazine about kayaking there.  The picture was so beautiful of crystal clear water, and the thought of kayaking between islands in a country I knew little about – and that was not a top tourist destination – sounded delightful.  This is usually how I plan my trips, by the way:  I hear or read just a little something enticing about a place and become obsessed with it to the point of planning a whole vacation around it.  Thus my week in Croatia was conceived.

To this day Croatia is still one of my favorite countries, although it is also the place where I decided I am done with solo vacations.  It’s a romantic place, full of ancient stone-walled towns perfect for meandering with an ice cream cone or having a slice of pizza and a glass of wine at any number of sidewalk cafes.  There are also amazing beaches all up and down the coast.  Or rather I should say there is amazing water all up and down the coast.  It indeed is crystal clear, and Croatians love to be on the beaches and swim as much as the tourists do.  The problem, I discovered, with solo vacationing in a beautiful beach spot is that there is no one to watch my stuff when I want to swim.  Thus, I did little swimming.  But I did sign up for an island bike/kayak trip.  I also did lots of walking around old cities, including much exploring of the old city of Dubrovnik.  I even spent a few days with a high school classmate and his wife in the city of Split.  We had planned to take a boat out to one of the islands nearby, but a cold front came through, and the temperatures dropped lower than the English ones I had supposedly left behind.  So we toured a national park instead, which was not a bad alternative.  And better I spent the cold days with company than in a hotel room by myself.

All in all Croatia was a fantastic, albeit lonely trip.  I definitely want to go back, but next time with company.


Photo #46 April 17, 2011

Filed under: Pictures — Jen @ 3:10 pm

Clearly I didn’t take this picture.  Another friend did on my camera, and I love it because it captures a fun moment between good friends.  That night a few classmates and I walked down to Hove to an Indian restaurant that we had wanted to try for a long time.  It was the last time we were all together, and we laughed and laughed all night.  I miss my grad school friends and the lifestyle of being a grad student in the UK.


Photo #45

Filed under: Pictures — Jen @ 1:26 am

Once again here are my housemates (minus one) around the table in our kitchen.  This was one of our final all-house gathering before we all started heading our separate ways.


My New Favorite Things April 16, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jen @ 2:42 am

1.  Vibram Five Fingers 

These are by far the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn.  It really feels like I’m barefoot but almost better because I know my feet are protected.  I’ve been thinking about getting these for awhile because I had heard they were good for people with IT band problems.  My IT band is what’s been preventing me from running properly for the past nine years.  I’ve only run in these a couple times, but already I’m amazed at the difference.  It’s a completely different form of running – forefoot strike not heel strike – which felt weird at first but actually more natural and graceful once I made the switch.  My calves are killing me!  But my IT band has not bothered me at all.

Houston Marathon in January?…

2.  Rotisserie chicken 

Why has no one ever brought this to my attention before??  I certainly was aware that rotisserie chicken existed; however, I never thought to buy one.  Why would I want a whole chicken for myself?  Then I was at someone’s house recently eating some really delicious chicken, and the “cook” mentioned that it was rotisserie chicken from Kroger for $5.  Deal!  So guess what I now buy on my weekly Kroger trip?  It’s perfect for my lunches because I can make yummy chicken sandwiches or add it to my spinach salads.  (Plus, as I searched for a picture to put on here – credit goes to – I came across lots of rotisserie chicken recipes.  So much more to explore!)

3.  John for Everyone by N.T. Wright

Sorry, no picture for this one.  The cover’s really cheesy.

I’m doing a long-distance Bible study with someone on the book of John.  Typically I enjoy John for the chance to go back to the basics.  But because I’ve read through it so many times, I wasn’t feeling all that inspired when I opened it this time around.  I wanted something fresh.  I wanted to somehow erase all the familiarity of John and somehow be able to pretend that I was a new believer or someone picking up the Bible for the first time.  Then I remembered that N.T. Wright has a series of For Everyone commentaries.  Thanks to Mr. Wright, I now feel like I’m reading John in some ways for the first time.  He’s highlighting things I’ve never picked up on before and making connections that now seem obvious to me but that I hadn’t made previously.  I am now excited to read through John!


We’ve Taught Them Well April 15, 2011

Filed under: Teaching — Jen @ 4:13 am

This is what’s happening down the street.  Way to go students!  They are doing what teachers in my school are too scared to do.  And probably what many teachers across the state are too scared to do because of the bureaucracy that leaves us feeling like we have no voice.  I’m not scared, but I’ve already resigned.  Others who have not been let go don’t want to do anything to compromise their precarious positions.


Photo #44 April 14, 2011

Filed under: Pictures — Jen @ 4:17 am

These are two of my favorite people.  They are not family, but they feel like it.  Everyone in my family has lived with them at various points in time as we’ve been between housing.  They live their lives fully and generously, and I strive to be like them in that respect.  They are also just a lot of fun and always up for any adventure or activity.

Toward the end of my time in England, I had the pleasure of hosting them for a couple days in Brighton.  They were taking a holiday in England and wanted to come see where I lived.  The weather, of course, was miserable while they were there.  I decided to take them to Seven Sisters, a place I had never been before but thought I knew how to get to.  What should have been a half hour bus ride turned into nearly two hours since we missed our stop and went clear out of our way.  By the time we got to the right stop, it had started to rain.  Of course.  Anyone else would have said, “Jen, it’s not worth climbing to the top of that cliff.  Let’s just head home.”  But my friends decided, “Why not.  We came all this way.  Let’s see what’s up there.”  So as all the other day-trippers were heading down, we headed up.  As you can see from the picture, it was not only rainy but very windy too!  Not the best cliff-climbing, sea-viewing weather.  But it made for a good memory.


Photo #43 April 10, 2011

Filed under: Pictures — Jen @ 5:11 am

On August 16, my classmates and I turned in our dissertations then met on the beach to enjoy a potluck picnic.  It was cold and windy, but we had a great time celebrating a wonderful year together and the accomplishment of completing long research and writing.  It was one of the last times I enjoyed this view: