Wednesday, December 05, 2007

You know you've been at MSU too long when you realize . . .

. . . you forgot the sky could be blue until you went to California to give a presentation!

(This is the color of the sky here close to 80% of the time and those little flecks happen to be snowflakes from our first real snowfall of the year.)

. . . you forgot the grass doesn't stay green in the winter in the rest of the United States!

. . . you forgot that there was a time when you read something besides non-fiction!

. . . you forgot that you've invested so much money in Post-Its!

. . . you forgot that you made that investment more than once!

. . . you forgot that the rest of the world isn't particularly fascinated by the geometry of an airport, much less the profound meaning represented by a reflected triangle!

. . . you forgot that most people go to bed before midnight!

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Hey everyone! Look what I did today! :-)

I learned that you don't have to be two years old to make a royal mess. Slippery bowls are no respecter of persons (or the potential inherent in a pumpkin pie, or freshly scrubbed floors, for that matter)!

Oh, and I also successfully proved that gravity is still functioning properly--keeping even the most prideful pastry chefs thoroughly grounded in their own humanity!

Nonetheless, the pie still managed to achieve its potential!

We can only hope for a similar result with respect to the disaster of a paper I am working on!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Did you know . . .?

I awoke Thanksgiving morning feeling a little sorry for myself because I was staying in Michigan instead of spending the holiday with my family in Kansas. However, several friends here invited me to spend the day in their homes. As I enjoyed my day, I found myself reflecting on the blessings of a ward family and thinking about the other people and places I love:

Did you know . . . that the little things you say and do have changed (and continue to change) what I think, who I am, and the shape and direction of my life?

There are so many times that your words pop into my head, that I hear phrases you say coming out of my mouth, that I see the world through your eyes, that I feel your influence in my heart, and that I am grateful that some of the person you are has become a part of the person I am!

Then I am amazed when I think about how long ago those words were said, those thoughts were shared, and that influence was planted. It reminds me to be careful . . . and it makes me smile!

Veggie Burgers

It is no secret to anyone who is even remotely acquainted with me that I find the conventions of academia stifling. Grad school is truly hazardous to all forms of health (or life, for that matter)! It is killing me and I really think the Surgeon General ought to get involved! (Grin)

In an attempt to be responsible for my own health, however, I am trying to find the positives in the whole experience (and that takes a LOT of effort, which requires a LOT of energy!) So it is no surprise that food has captured my attention lately. I am also finding that food is a particularly satisfying outlet for creative self-expression.

Here is my latest attempt. It is modeled on a veggie burger that Cindy ordered from Zuni Grill in San Antonio. I've found that they don't take long to prepare and they are a satisfying (and healthy) substitute for hamburgers.
In case you're curious, this one has asparagus, peppers (green, orange, red, and yellow), portabella mushrooms, and zuchinni on it. It is held together with fresh guacamole, garnished with grated cheese, and is served on an onion bun.

The plan is to finish grad school by June, but if not, maybe there's hope for me as a chef (or at least a food artist)?!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Shadowed Soul

Shadowed soul
Darkest night
Who can bring me
Back to light

Long days
Heart aches
Tears fall
Dawn breaks


Cherice Montgomery, November 21, 2007

San Antonio

I went to San Antonio
To have a little fun
(And to do my MSU work
In the 80 degree sun!)

Our hotel was near the Riverwalk
The rooms were full of light
And breakfast in the morning
Was really a delight!

A/C in November?!
That was a little strange,
But I sure got lots of work done,
So I cannot complain!

We gave 3 presentations
That went extremely well
(Or so invitations to present
In 7 states do tell).

We started with the wikis,
Then advocacy,
And finally moved to Teens N Tech.
We certainly were busy!

We lost a lot of sleep
Preparing every night.
Good thing there wasn't much to see
In nightlife or in sights!

The town was really dead.
The food was overpriced,
But we liked Azuca's!
It was very, very nice!

Cindy whined, "These amarillos
were fried too long in grease!"
The chef prepared them Cindy's way.
Cindy shared them with Cherice. :-)

They were VERY, very tasty
So now I'm waiting patiently
For my platanos to blacken
So I can make them a la Cindy!

We visited Bohanan's
Where they paid someone to note
When guests left the restroom
When you see why, you'll choke!

The hostess sprinkled petals
Into the soap-filled sink
And then into the toilet
(So it wouldn't stink?!)

No, we suspect aesthetics
Was really more the plan
And to distract the eyes
From fixtures less than grand.

I think that covers my adventures
Near the good, ole Alamo
(Which was really, really tiny)
And that is all I know!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Hot Off the Presses (Well, at Least the Presses of My Mind!)

I've always liked to write, and producing copious amounts of text has never been a problem for me . . . until I moved here. Now that someone is telling me I have to write, I finally understand what the phrase squeezing blood out of a turnip means. (I am also coming to understand that turnips are entirely way too stubborn for their own good!)

Nonetheless, I still entertain thoughts about how school must have made Einstein feel, along with ideas about all the things I might write if someone weren't insisting that I do so. I derive a secret pleasure from generating potential titles and acknowledgments pages--both layered with lots of barely disguised meaning. I've forgotten the more "scholarly" ones because I haven't bothered to write them down, but here are a few whimsical ones that amused me:

ABD is Good Enough for Me!: Why Our Best & Brightest Are Checking Out Instead of Trading Up

ABD - All But Dissertation or All But Dead?: How Grad Schools Are Smothering Innovation & Killing Creativity

From Pollyanna to Puddleglum: Case Studies of Depression, Dementia, & Distractability in Doctoral Candidates

Bitter? Who me? Naaaah!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Michigan the Magnificent

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Photo Collage by Dundoo

A Spider Story

What did yooou do on Halloween?
I ate a spider or two.
Natalie made them and served them to me,
So I thought I'd share them with you!

(To the tune of The Itsy Bitsy Spider)

These itsy bitsy spiders were baked on Halloween.
They climbed onto the table without being seen!
Then into my bowl of chili they crawled,
And I watched them swim around there, completely enthralled!

Cherice Montgomery, November 5, 2007


Experiment #1: Impromptu Egg Rolls

So, in an attempt to be social, I invited a few people over for an impromptu lunch on my way home from the grocery store. No one came, but I still had a great time! Did you know that you can make egg rolls with only 5-7 ingredients (depending on whether you go vegetarian or not)? Can you guess what they are?!

Experiment #2: Fruit Roll Ups

I had a few wraps left over, so I decided to experiment. I had made a delectable tropical fruit salad with fresh kiwis, mangoes, peaches, pears, pineapple, and a few canned mandarin oranges as a side dish. So, I some into a wrap, rolled it up, and fried it. It was incredibly tasty with a little of the Thai peanut sauce dipping sauce I used on the "normal" egg rolls.

Experiment #3: Baked Alaska, Egg Roll Style

Well, if you can make fruit egg rolls, why not dessert?! Especially when no one else is in the room to make fun of you for having (much less actually experimenting with) such silly ideas!

I rolled up a glob of some very well-frozen ice cream in a wrap and dropped it in the pan. I'll spare you the details, but let's just say it ended up being a bit of a disaster (but it tasted good). Nonetheless, I think I'll stick with baked Alaska next time.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


The passing, peaceful
The sorrow lingers
The heart aches
And silent fingers

Grip the grief
All alone
And wish I, too,
Had been called Home.

Cherice Montgomery, August 2007


She slipped away,
But left behind
Tear-stained cheeks
And grief-stained minds.

Cherice Montgomery, August 2007

How's Your Math These Days?

Cherice x Your Mind = ?

It occurs to me that I am a product of all the people whose minds I have experienced. With every blog or book I read, every conversation I have, every account I explore, every non-verbal communication I notice, every piece of music I listen to, every website I view, I am taking the best of other people's minds into myself . . . internalizing them . . . making them a part of me.

Cherice x School = ?

I have concluded that, for the most part, the institution of school gets in the way of learning. Its conventions and structures constrain natural patterns and rhythms of learning (which I believe to be highly complex, embodied, non-linear, and relational) and limits understanding by chopping everything up into itty bitty decontextualized pieces in the name of making it all comprehensible.

So with what answers would YOU complete the equations above? :-) Do the answers change when you insert your own name into them?

An Aesthetic Feast

What do multiple literacies look like, feel like, and sound like? What happens when you layer aesthetic, conceptual, discursive, emotional, intellectual, rhetorical, and visual elements using mixed media? Take a look at Dave Werner's Portfolio to find out.

The design of the site and the thinking that it reveals are intriguing to me—especially as you explore pages like the reflect/respect page (be sure to watch the video and click on the process images). Note the multiple paths to navigation, the mix of non-linearity and linearity on every page, and the convergence of inquiry with social activism, community engagement, and arts-based education. I also liked the way the site invites you to interact with it, and in the process, helps you to establish a relationship with its author, its content, and its form. You can see and hear Dave's mind at work (and come to understand more about HOW and WHY it works as it does) as you explore it.

The portfolio is a good example of many of the values of the iGeneration—inter-tainment, identity, individuality, information, innovation, interactivity. It engaged me in considering how our representation of content gets tangled up with our values, and how that influences the ways we choose to represent ourselves personally and professionally. I also couldn’t help but think of the research on cognitive flexibility, complexity, design, engagement, perception, multiple representations, and visual thinking as I was exploring this.

It would be interesting to show this to educators and teacher candidates and ask questions such as:

  • What do these ‘products’ reveal about what the person who created them understands? What do they reveal about what he may not have considered? What do they reveal about him professionally? What do they reveal about him personally?

  • What kind of experiences could prepare someone to create such products? What kinds of experiences would preclude the development of the skills required to create such products?

  • What kind of technological pedagogical content knowledge would be required in order for a teacher to facilitate the development of such products or skills?

  • What implications might this have for the kinds of things we do in our classrooms and for the kinds of assignments we give to students (PreK-12, undergraduate, graduate, doctoral)?

  • What might this mean for the future of education, as well as for cultural, economic, political, and social contexts?

  • What questions should we, as educators, be asking that we currently are not?

Of course, there are many counterarguments. (Incidentally, it would be interesting to see a visual representation of some of them.) There will be many who will find the site overwhelming and who will argue vociferously that it has nothing to do with education, literacy, the future, or the challenges inherent in those endeavors . . . .

For me, however, it is the happiest site I've encountered in a very long while--an aesthetically, conceptually, emotionally, and intellectually pleasurable experience.

A String of Quotes

Well, they say it is bad academic form to string a bunch of quotes together. Perhaps so, but I intend to do so anyway and leave you to make of them what you will!

I believe that experience plays a key role in learning, so this quote from Eduscapes grabbed my attention today: "To really experience many topics, you need a wide range of materials."

It brought to mind Elliot Eisner's comment that, ". . . the selection of a material or activity is also the selection of an array of forces that will influence how students will be challenged to think . . . . The curriculum is a mind-altering device" (Elliot Eisner, pp. 13, 72).

And the combination of those 2 quotes led me to wonder about underfunded schools . . . which recalled this little chant that is often attributed to Mother Teresa:

We, the unwilling, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much, for so long, with so little, we are now qualified to do anything with nothing.

And so now I'm musing about the irony of teachers who believe in the value of immersing students in rich experiences with the topics they are teaching, but are working in extremely underfunded schools and the contrasting irony of teachers who believe that lectures and worksheets are the best ways to promote learning, but are working in schools that are so well-funded that they have difficulty spending their budgets each year.

All of THAT makes me wonder if anyone is learning anything at all!


Eisner, Elliot W. (2002).The arts and the creation of mind. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-09523-6.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Quintessential Quantum Quips

As some of you may know, I have developed an interest in the principles of quantum physics over the last few years, so it will come as no surprise to you that I was completely delighted by the latest series of panels from PhDComics this week:

Slave Part-Equal Duality (An Introduction to Quantum Gradnamics) (On Comps)

Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle (An Introduction to Quantum Gradnamics) (On the Prospect of Graduation)

Schroedinger's Cat (An Introduction to Quantum Gradnamics) (On Productivity)

These REALLY amused me . . . in part because they are SO true of me, in part because they draw the parallels between doctoral work and quantum physics so substantively, in part because they do such a beautiful job of layering meaning via allusions, concepts, images, and text, and in part just because laughs come so few and far between these days that I'm thrilled for a REAL excuse to smile . . . let alone actually giggle!

The comics perfectly capture my present "location" in the developmental trajectory of tasks and experiences that comprise doctoral work. They also encapsulate my current thoughts, feelings, and frustrations beautifully, but in a much more witty and sophisticated way than I am capable of at the moment.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Frogs & Snakes

She walked through the woods, enjoying the warmth of the unseasonably sunny October day. Peep! Peep! Peeeeep! Now what could that be, she wondered? She continued along the path, eagerly anticipating the little creature that must be just around the corner. Would it be a little bird, or a frog, or some kind of rodent? She was horrified when she rounded the corner and a striped snake darted across her path with a pale green frog dangling helplessly from its mouth.

She wasn't afraid. (After all, the snake's mouth was already full, so she was in no particular danger.) Suddenly, Emily Dickinson's poem, I'm Nobody, Who Are You took on a whole new meaning. Perhaps the little frog she accused of being so "public" and "telling his name . . . to an admiring bog" was a bit of a misinterpretation! He was probably shouting, "Help me! Help me! A snake is trying to eat me!"

She stood there, contemplating the poor little fellow's misery, and debated whether she should try to rescue him or let nature take its course? She decided that even if she were to manage to successfully rescue the frog, he would probably die because he was already full of venom. So, she sent up a quick little prayer that the frog wouldn't suffer too much and then continued along the path, wishing she had her camera with her so she could have posted a picture of the whole adventure on her blog. (Ironically, the reason she had come to the woods was to take pictures, but she had forgotten that she had removed her camera from the trunk of her car.)

Lost in her thoughts, she was quite startled when a second snake skittered across her path. Well, clearly snakes lived in the woods. She'd better watch where she was walking. She noticed a forked stick lying next to the path and decided it would be a good idea to carry it with her just in case . . .

She almost stepped on the third one. He was hard to see atop the multicolored leaves so littered with twigs. He had draped himself completely across the sunniest part of the path and moved away only after she stood there for a few moments.

She was far enough into the woods to make the possibility of encountering more snakes ahead preferable to the certainty of the three snakes she knew were awaiting her if she retraced her steps, so she continued. She couldn't help but think about Eve's encounter with the snake . . . and what this little experience was teaching her about the possible meanings and symbols inherent in it.

By the time she encountered Snake #5, she couldn't concentrate on such theoretical issues because she was devoting all of her attention to walking as quickly and carefully as she could, praying all the while that she wouldn't be bitten. Her relief upon reaching the bridge leading out of the woods would have been palpable to the snakes (which she later learned had good smell and sight, were extremely sensitive to vibration, and whose tongues could taste the chemicals in the air).

Evidently, there are 18 different species of snakes native to Michigan, but only one is poisonous. "Her" snakes appeared to have been garter snakes who were likely to have been born with their 6 (or possibly 45) other brothers and sisters in the late spring or summer and were probably preparing to hibernate together for warmth (hence their abundance).

For those of you who prefer the lighter side of such things, consider reading Lizards, Frogs, and Polliwogs to your children. It is a darling little picture book that discusses the characteristics and behaviors of all sorts of amphibians and reptiles in extremely amusing poems that are beautifully illustrated (and often contain accurate information).

Monday, October 08, 2007

Do you hear that hollow, whooshing noise?

Words can be weapons that pop balloons of happiness, sucking the joy out of everything!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Something More

So, it's 10:15 p.m., I've been working on stuff for my comprehensive exams most of the day, haven't had dinner yet, and still have tons of work left to do before tomorrow. I don't dare even think about the rest of the week!

The phrase There's Gotta be Something More pretty much encapsulates my feelings about my present activities and life in general so well (with the exception of the coffee, the hitchhiking, and the wine), that I decided to take a few minutes to post it.

The song makes me happy, even though my circumstances don't. I'm soooo ready for a change, but it looks like that is going to be at least another 6 months in coming (at which point, of course, I'll be overwhelmed with it).

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Comics as Ethnography

Well, they say that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. So, since I'm not dead yet, I guess that qualifies me for the title of Ms. Muscles! Grad school seems to have appointed itself as my personal trainer, and I think it has seriously overestimated my abilities! I've just managed to graduate from "bench pressing" 2 gigantic research projects in the last 2 weeks to whatever you do after that (free weights?). So, I'm not really a sports fan.

I did take time to celebrate, but not for long, as I still have 3 or 4 more big projects to go before October 1 (and that's before I even get to the dissertation proposal). I now understand what the Spanish proverb re: unrested fields turning sterile, and the phrase, "The bow must not always be drawn" mean. I'm definitely ready for some rest!

If I ever do manage to get the PhD, the world had better watch out, because the first thing I'm going to do after sleeping for a million years and doing nothing for a week is to completely reform our educational system. If this is an education, I'd hate to see what the school of hard knocks has to offer!

My most interesting idea today was that perhaps we should think about making comic books as a valid form of ethnographic work. (Yeah, I'm not entirely sure I'm using the term correctly, but it sounds like I know what I'm talking about, doesn't it?!) I've been struck by how well PhD Comics captures the overt issues and underlying dynamics of the culture of graduate school. I mean, you really have to understand the underlying cultural perspectives as well as the daily practices and valued products of institutions of higher ed to achieve a comic that is actually funny to people living that life for real. Humor is grounded in truth. And you'll find a lot of truths about graduate school by skimming the archives of! Some of my favorites can be found by clicking here and scrolling down toward the bottom of the page.

Well, on that note, I'm off to bed after pulling an all nighter to try to finish one of my comprehensive exam papers. One down, 2 more to go. At least the worst one is over!
Sigh of relief!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


"Men are that they might have joy." Today, that seems true.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Of Motivation, Meaning, Method, & Madness

The work sucks me in--

Pushes my thinking,

Changes my mind--

Synthesizes substance,

Sculpts shape,

In a Flickr of time

That lasts for hours

And passes in seconds.

But prevailing paradigms

Pull . . . ideas, teeth, fingernails,

Imprison . . . change

Force . . . fearful flickers of thought

Smother . . . creativity

In tomes--

Filled with dead words

That pass in seconds

But linger a lifetime.

Epitaph (or epilogue, depending on which meaning, method, and/or madness you prefer!)

Cherice Montgomery, September 4, 2007

Friday, August 24, 2007


A lifetime of living
And loving
Just doesn't fit
In the package.

The heart, too full.
The tears, too small.
The words, too few
To contain it all.

The loss, too great.
The grief, too new.
The wait, too long.
Dee, I'll miss you.

Cherice Montgomery, August 24, 2007


The Passing, peaceful.
The eyes, blind--
Full of grief,
Left behind.

Cherice Montgomery, August 24, 2007

The Passing

The Passing, peaceful
The Ache, remains
The Heart, breaks
And Grief, stains.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


Why is it that we sometimes have to look backward in order to move forward?

Saturday, July 07, 2007

More of My Photography

Who needs grad school when you've got a digital camera?! My camera gives me the opportunity to try on new perspectives, think in new ways about familiar things, discover new ideas, explore intellectual insights, share that understanding with others, and express the "real" me in new ways--all things a PhD is supposed to do for you (or so I'm told). Click here to see more of my photography (which is a lot more fun to produce than the writing I'm supposed to be doing right now)!

Why can't they?

(Note: The poem will make much more sense if you click on each individual photo--or save yourself the trouble and view the slide show.)

It started with half-formed thoughts.

Celestial scribbles . . .

. . . smeared with cosmic paint on the canvas of her mind.

Until, with a sudden flash of inspiration,

powerful ideas

ignited possibility.

A concept exploded into existence,

producing cosmic confetti

that filled her soul

with light.

Why can't THEY?

Why CAN'T they?

WHY can't they?

Feel the fire?

See the exquisite entities emerging from the flames?

Hear the harmonies?!

Perhaps it is a question of perception?

Maybe her scintillating conversations . . .

. . . are inconsequential specks to them?

Maybe her galaxies . . .

Are their fuzzy poodles?

A post that ends with a poodle doesn't impact the reader with much of a bang, does it?!

Or even a sizzle, really! :-(

More like a fizzle, if you ask me!

Poem & Photos by Cherice Montgomery - July 7, 2007