Thursday, July 10, 2008

Of Cabins, Comps, Colleagues, & Continued Progress

My friends organized a writing retreat to help me make progress on my dissertation.

Marjorie graciously arranged for us to spend a week in a cabin about 40 minutes away. When I heard there was no air conditioning, I was expecting a dirty, musty shack made out of boards with spiderwebs in the windows and a wooden screen door that slammed every time it opened or closed.

Evidently, so was Ann--as you can see what she thought we might need!

We were quite surprised to discover we were staying in the equivalent of a luxurious bed and breakfast instead! I also found it hysterical that I was sleeping on flannel sheets under a blanket, a down comforter, and a quilt, in a room that was not air conditioned in the middle of July and was QUITE comfortable! Only in Michigan!

It was SOOO beautiful!

Such a comfortable, healing, restful place for our souls!

Anny planned and cooked a healthy, gourmet menu of meals every day. Although I must admit I raised an eyebrow when she was rattling off the names of some of the dishes--everything was absolutely delicious! This photo is of Seven Grain Porridge with Apricots, Fresh Fruit, and Nuts.

Red, White, & Blue Pancakes (in honor of the 4th of July)

Millet Salad, Homemade Whole Wheat Bread (made with white wheat), and Zucchini Squash Medley

Spicy Turkey Meatball & Cabbage Soup with Mediterranean Salad (exceptionally delicious)!

Poached Pears with Toasted Walnuts & Real Maple Syrup

It is amazing what 3, delectable, healthy meals per day does for one's energy level, not to mention one's skin, overall health, etc.! They pleased the eye, gladdened the heart, and filled the soul (not to mention the stomach)! It was truly a gift to be called to the table without having to lift one finger in preparation or clean-up!

Ann also contributed her culinary talents--surprising us with a scrumptious Rosemary Roast Chicken.

Ann's fresh Gazpacho, went very well with Anny's Mediterranean Salad and leftover Chicken Walnut Salad.

It almost makes you want to do a dissertation, doesn't it?! (Ha!) Just to discourage any romanticized notions . . . you might also like to know that Cabin Fever (also known as Dissertation Dementia) can manifest itself in the strangest ways!
Anny's symptoms included a strange affinity for protein powder (underscoring for me that even health should be pursued in moderation)! I can't stand the stuff and fortunately, Anny believes in the value of personal agency, so I was able to keep my cereal free of it!

Once we removed that temptation from her, she took to throwing dice made of marshmallows and chocolate chips on the kitchen counters! (Some of the chocolate chip "numbers" came off the sides--a convenient way to load the dice, don't you think?)

Marjorie's symptoms were no better. She thought the recipe for onion rings on the back of the Fiber One box was a great idea. Anny was quick to agree. Perhaps the dice determined which onion was first into the frying pan? At any rate, it only took one bite for me to know that Fiber One onion rings were NOT going to become a permanent part of my culinary repertoire. Dipping sauce made out of yogurt and some kind of spicy Thai sauce did nothing to improve the flavor.

Although I'm sure it SOUNDS like all we did was eat and sleep all day, everyone worked VERY hard!

Anny worked on revising a paper for publication.

Ann scribed as Marjorie talked through elements of her dissertation.

I spent most of my time analyzing data in this very comfortable chair. How did I ever manage before laptops?!

We did leave our work long enough for a trip to a local bakery for internet access so I could send off my considerably shortened, thoroughly REVISED revised comprehensive examination paper. I love because it makes PDFs for free AND maintains hyperlinks . . . but it sometimes takes a few hours to arrive in your e-mail. So, after all that, I had to wait until I got home to send it off. (I know--about time after over a year! Thanks for your continual prayers--it was truly a trial!)

I celebrated with some emotional fireworks (expectations are so dangerous and data can be SO uncooperative at times!), cooled off with a short walk, then built a real fire capable of roasting marshmallows.

I guess I must have learned something from all those years at Girls Camp after all (except to wear bug spray--I hate it, so I ended up abandoning my friends to eat my S'more in the mosquito-free safety of the cabin). Ann helped me outline the remaining chapters of my dissertation! Hooray!

Oh that I could dispense with my dissertation as easily as Anny used this log to dispense with the trash we didn't want to carry home on our laps! Still, progress is progress!


jenn said...

What a great idea to do less-than-relaxing work in such a beautiful place. Keep on keepin' on, Cherice!

Cherice said...

It was a beautiful play and the company was super! Thanks for the encouragement! I've decided that every step, even if it is only one step, still counts as progress!

alisa and sometimes brandon said...

This sounds like it was just what the doctor ordered! Keep up the solid work, Cherice. I know you're doing great work!

And I just might hire Anny to be my cook. ;)