OT: I need an objective second opinion…on a totally idiotic fixation.

A tiny thing happened before Christmas that has been intermittently bugging me ever since.  I’m hoping my pals here will give me some impartial feedback.

So here’s the thing:  I went out to dinner with a large group of aquaintances.  The degree of relationship between the diners varied from family members to close friends to very casual acquaintances.  The restaurant was what is commonly known as a “supper club” in these parts…steaks, chicken, seafood, not fancy, but not Burger King either.  As is customary, once we were all seated, the waitress placed baskets of bread on the table.


I was seated about at about the middle of a long table, and in the midst of genial chatter, I heard a bit of a kerfluffle from the end of the table to my right.  One of my dining companions, let’s call her Clueless, had taken the basket of table bread and proceeded to finger every last piece in it…”I want a warm one,” she said as people gave her the WTF?! look.  Now, I am not a germaphobe or particularly rigid about table manners, and I didn’t want any bread in the first place, but I was sorely tempted to get up, take the bread and dump it all on her plate….I ordered another drink instead.  Her complete lack of comprehension that this was rude still irks me..a month later.  The problem is, I can’t gauge how much of my irritation is coming from the action itself versus my general attitude toward Clueless, the bread fondler.   I told you it was idiotic….any thoughts?

et alia: “Is it cold enough for you?”

*Sigh*  If I had a dollar for every time I heard this phrase, or a variation of it, in the past two days, I could give up my day job!  Remember all that autumnal splendor of October?  Yeah, well that’s a faded memory, pushed to the back of my brain by weeks of alternating snow and frigid cold.

In the bleak midwinter?

In the bleak midwinter?

The weather has been the topic on everybody’s lips lately – it’s really too bad the Packers didn’t make it to the Super Bowl – at least we could mix the conversation up a little!  Despite a maxi-meltdown on the part of Mini Me when she found out school had not been cancelled, yesterday was a pretty normal day…cold, but I don’t need to be outside much and I have a coat.  Around midday,  I received emails from both my kids’ schools that they would be off today due to the extreme cold – wind chill factors exceeding -35F were forecast, so this was not unexpected news.  Not a big deal for our family since they are able to fend for themselves at home for the day, and their dad is home anyway.

The real monkey wrench came next when I received the first text from my university’s newly installed SMS notification system.  Hurray!!!  I thought, we have finally entered the 21st century.  Then I read the text.  %#^#!&%$!*$!%*!!!  The institution has simply found a new technology with which to torment me.  The message relayed that due to the cold, classes would be cancelled in the morning and resume at 12:45.  Terrific.  I have two sections of the same class – one that meets in the morning and one in the afternoon.  It is imperative to my continued mental health that these two classes stay on the same schedule, so now I have to decide what I’m going to do to account for that.  Grumble, grumble, grumble…consultations with faculty friends results in extended grumbling…and so on.  My twin intro classes are both doing an online assignment for today as a result.  It remains to be seen how many will show up for the night class tonight…

This winter has been brutal for a lot of people.  Extreme temperatures and excessive snow are bad enough in regions equipped to deal with them (anything under six inches is just a nuisance here), but can be doubly treacherous in areas that are not.  I would rank myself among the people who over winter at this point, but that doesn’t mean that I am immune to its beauty.

Snow "waves" Source: fantasystock

Snow “waves”
Source: fantasystock

My commute to work takes me along about 30 miles of road cut through open farm fields with a lake in the distance to the west, and a sheltering ridge to the east.  This landscape, with prevailing northwesterly winds, produces incredible conditions for blowing snow which can make driving hazardous, but can also create some amazing natural art.  The image above is an example of the sort of waves, frozen in snow on the flat expanse of a field, that are wonderfully common right now.

Drifted snow

Drifted snow
Source: USA Today Media Gallery

Drifting snow is also beautifully sculptural in a sense.   In certain areas, the blowing snow catches in a particular way forming rolling waves and crevices that catch the light in varying patterns.  I saw all sorts of configurations as I drove today…it was brilliantly sunny, so the contrasting light and shadows and the sparkling qualities of the snow were out in full force.  Engrossed in the icy tableau, I further about how everything that is cold and frozen now was bursting with autumnal abundance just weeks ago, and about how all that fertile potential is still there, beneath the snow, just waiting to be awakened by the kiss of spring warmth.

You might have noticed that unlike my autumnal posts, I did not take my own pictures of the Winter Splendor around me.  I thought about getting out of the car to take some pictures myself, but then I remembered…it’s *insert alliterative expletive of choice here* out there!  (Incidently, during all of this deep, artistic thought about winter beauty, I “auto-piloted” through half of my route…)

It has to end sooner or later right?  Until then, bundle up Armitageworld!

Nice coat, but you'll probably need a hat... Photo by: Matt Holyoak for Project Magazine

Nice coat, but you’ll probably need a hat…
Photo by: Matt Holyoak for Project Magazine



Sounds like fun 🙂   Hop over to Guylty Pleasure and vote!

Guylty Pleasure

Is the fandom ready for another fan event? Or are we RAflashed out? Valentine’s Day is coming up, soon, so I threw the suggestion out there that maybe the blog world would like to follow the tumblr RArmy’s lead and organise a Secret Valentine of their own. I’ve been discussing this behind the scenes with Agzy, and we came up with a couple of possibilities of organising such an event. I humbly present these before you and will ask you afterwards to take part in a poll in order to a) gauge interest and b) decide on the preferred option.

The idea behind both Valentine’s initiatives is to create a little occasion for the community to hone in on itself and spread the blog love by focussing on individual bloggers. To that end interested participants send in their name to me, and I will assign a secret Valentine to them…

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Heart full of love (and fridge full of soup!): SpReAd the Love Weekly Update

I think that the world is a experiencing a bit more kindness these days…the STL kindness reports keep growing from week to week.  Remember, any gesture of kindness, no matter how small, is worthy.   Even though it might seem small to you, it probably has a much larger effect on the receiver.  Personally, it’s been a big week as I wrap up the annual soup sale, that I coordinate as a fundraiser for the Kindergarten-6th Grade Youth Group at my church, by delivering some frozen leftovers to the homeless shelter.

Soup's On!!

Soup’s On!!

This year we had 85 donated quarts of soup to sell to our congregation (in our “house” if you sell food, they will buy it!) for $5 each to support youth group activities.  Part of the funds raised go to offset cost on recreational activities that keep our kids off the mean streets of NE Wisconsin….Yeah, just a tad of sarcasm there, but kids today are faced with increasingly difficult choices and we try to provide an environment that they not only associate with worship, but also friendship and fun.  A place where they can turn if they need help with one of those difficult choices.

In addition to the purely fun stuff, this group also actively supports a variety of mission based projects so that we can teach them that no matter how small, everyone can make a difference.  I’ve already mentioned our annual holiday family adoption .  I received the most beautiful, heartfelt, handwritten letter from the mother of that family who expressed not only her thanks for the assistance, but her sincere hope that someday soon she would be in a position to give to someone else what had been given to her.  My heart was full of love reading that…knowing that we had made a difference for this family.

The kids have also helped out serving food at a local homeless shelter and saving change to donate food to local animal shelters.  From time to time, we also have enough to donate to international aid projects.  One of my favorite sponsored projects in the past few years was the purchase of a Knitter’s Basket from Heifer International

For more info:  heifer.org

For more info: heifer.org

It doesn’t really matter if it is a grand gesture or a small kindness as long as kids see adults doing these things, and do them alongside us, the lesson is the same.

This is a lesson that a lot of people in Armitageworld seem to be familiar with already….look at these totals:

stl tally jan 26

With a full week remaining in January, we are already better than half way to maxing out the matching gift pledge.   With the added incentive of the “book challenge” I predict we will blow right past our original goal by the end of February!  Can you feel the kindness all around you?  Pass it along 🙂

Logo designed by Gisborne's Boy

Logo designed by Gisborne’s Boy

SpReAd the Love : First Challenge

Following is a repost from FunkyBlueDandelion:

Thank you all for embracing SpReAd The Love. Obscura should have an update this afternoon of where we stand in regard to the number of kindnesses we’ve logged so far  but before we do that we wanted to let you in on our first blogger challenge. We’ll be issuing these periodically throughout the year and the first one is a really fun one.

Dr. Seuss’s birthday falls on March 2 and in the US it kicks off Read Across America in elementary schools and libraries. The challenge from us is to choose a book that meant the world to you as a child (or a children’s book you’ve read and loved as an adult), blog about it and then donate a copy of it to a school, library or literacy program, or give it as a gift to a young family member or friend. Just let us know in the body of your blog post where you’re donating and that’s it, it counts. We have another anonymous co-conspirator who is willing to donate $1 for each act of kindness during March and April up to $200 to Richard Armitage’s JustGiving charities so this one is going to be a win-win.

Wanna make that win-win-win? If you blog and are willing to host a guest post for someone who doesn’t, let me know so that we can match you up with someone who might like to participate but doesn’t have a blog of his or her own. Hosting a guest post is also a loggable kindness. If you don’t blog but would like to participate we’ll work it out. Just email me at funkybluedelphinium at gmail dot com with the subject line DR SEUSS. The target date for this challenge is March 2 but any posts between March 1-7 will count and please let us know so that we can link to them all.

Okay, it’s Sunday which normally means poetry here and we talked about Dr. Seuss and it’s yucky and snowy and cold where I’m sitting so I need a hit of sunshine so I’m going to spin a Burning Man vid that I’ve posted before. Have a great day whatever you’re doing!


Jazzbaby (you’ll have to follow the link to the dandelion patch for the video 🙂  )

You can also leave a comment here, or email me at ancient dot Armitage at gmail dot com if you’d like to participate.

Semper ubi sub ubi Richard Armitage

This is my favorite non-Latin Latin phrase…taught to me by my high school Latin teacher.  It came immediately to mind the other day when a commenter suggested that a better understanding of ancient underwear was in order.  Well, we aim to please here at Ancient Armitage, so here you go:


Ancient nudity ahead!

A sculptor's workshop

A sculptor’s workshop

Even a cursory look through the corpus of Greek art, the remaining visual record of the civilization. argues that a great deal of ancient Greek life was conducted in the nude, especially for men.  There is a fair amount of information preserved about Greek dress, and most of it agrees that even when they were clothed, the Greeks did not regularly wear any type of undergarment beneath.  This raises the question of support when engaged in the kinds vigorous athletic activities that were a large part of the culture. I knew that the Greeks utilized a sort of rudimentary “athletic supporter” called the kynodesme (κυνοδέσμη).  It consisted of a thin strip of leather that was was tied around the end of the foreskin and then secured around the waist or at the base of the penis.

An athelete wearing a kynodesme Source:  Wikimedia Commons

An athelete wearing a kynodesme
Source: Wikimedia Commons

What I was not aware of until I did a bit of reading for this post, was that this practice also resulted in an particular Greek aesthetic preference in terms of the display of scrotum and a resulting enlongation of the foreskin.  The things you learn blogging! Interestingly, unlike the Greeks who were early practicioners of “going commando”, the Über militaristic Romans were much less loosey goosey about underwear.  True to their uptight reputation, Roman men wore an undergarment called a subligaculum.  As you can see below, the finished product looks quite a bit like a diaper.

How to tie your subligaculum...

How to tie your subligaculum

Despite having very little prohibition on nudity and a strong culture of public bathing in the buff, citizen class Romans are very rarely depicted in their subligaculi.  It’s fortunate, for the purpose of illustration, that this was also the go to garment for Roman gladiators who are widely depicted in Roman art

Draba (Woody Strode) and Spartacus (Kirk Douglas) wear the subligaculum

Draba (Woody Strode) and Spartacus (Kirk Douglas) wear the subligaculum

One famous fresco depicts women, identified as athletes, wearing a similar garment along with a brassiere like strophium.

This is often referred to as the Bikini Mosaic

This is often referred to as the Bikini Mosaic
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Outside of athletics, which would have been of limited access for most, it seems that underwear of any kind were optional for Roman women.

After this brief tour through ancient underwear, I’m left with one burning question:

greek or romanRichard Armitage….Greek or Roman??


inter alia: The crafty family of a Richard Armitage fan

Today was the start of the spring semester.  Thank the gods!  As much as I enjoyed having an extended break, I was definitely ready to get back to work.   Don’t get me wrong, I love my family dearly, but there is only so much intensive family time I can take – especially if it is too cold for anyone to go outside.

A perennial debate in my household came up again while I was off:  “Can we get a dog?”  My answer has remained the same for five years…“Not another living thing that relies on me to continue living is coming into this house.”  The typical response…“Pleeeeeeeze…we’ll take care of it!  We promise!”   And yet, I am strangely unmoved by this.  Last week, I was watching The Middle, a sitcom chronicling the life of a “regular” family in the Midwestern US.

Not quite, but close!

Not quite, but close!

Squabbling kids, parenting challenges, stretching a paycheck…a lot of it feels really familiar.  I die laughing when they get out the duct tape to run the dishwasher or pile up towels around the washing machine – for years, I piled up towels around the dishwasher rather than call a repairman to fix the leak.  (It seems to have stopped leaking of late – it’s either a miracle, or an epic dishwasher geyser is just around the corner!)

This season, Frankie (Patricia Heaton), the mother character on The Middle, found and then adopted a stray dog who growled at everyone in the house but her, dubbing him Colin Firth.  This absolutely cracks my husband up, and during last week’s episode he says, “Can we get a dog if we name it Richard Armitage?”  Well played Obscurus, well played!


It was a valiant effort, but we’re still not getting a dog 😀