There wasn’t a whole lot of actual research this week, but I did write a lot.
Sometimes, research is all administrative issues. I started at the Huntington Library this week, but I couldn’t look at anything. First, the Huntington is a lot more formal and organized with its readers than other libraries I’ve been to, probably because they give out more fellowships (and because they don’t want random visitors to their botanical gardens or art museum wandering into their library). The downside of this is that I couldn’t get an intake interview until Wednesday afternoon. The upside is that they had me fill out all my stipend paperwork right then and gave me a schedule of my payments and the option to use direct deposit, so hopefully I won’t spend three months hounding them to get paid the way I had to do with UCLA. Once I got to the reading room, it turned out that the manuscripts I requested were still in processing because they needed extra curatorial approval – I assume that most people who come to this library aren’t looking at their oldest manuscripts, and so they double check to confirm that those items can leave storage.
So I had a lot of free time. And I couldn’t miss walking around the Huntington’s grounds. I first visited back in 2012 when I was in LA for a wedding, and I was totally blown away. There’s so much to see at the gardens alone, even if you’re not a “plant person”. I love the desert plants and the focus on drought-resistant species throughout the grounds – it’s so inspiring if you live in California and want to keep plants without wasting water (or if you’re like me and you are very bad about remembering to water your plants). The garden also grows a lot of roses that are used for the Rose Parade, which is pretty impressive. But for me it’s all about the Chinese and Japanese gardens. I resisted the urge to take a picture of their Japanese tea garden, because I just wanted to take it in. It’s a huge, multi-level space with a tea house, a koi pond, and one of those incredibly dramatic rounded bridges. I also took the opportunity to get lunch at the Freshwater Dumpling and Noodle House, which overlooks the pond in the middle of the Chinese gardens. I got the chicken and chive dumpling soup, which was good, not amazing, and I would definitely go back. My expectations were high, though, because I was hoping it would be like the vegetable dumpling soup I used to get from Bamboo Thai back when I lived in Boston. Sadly, that’s one of those dishes that’s now enshrined in my memory and nothing can compare.
While I was wandering I also discovered this book and actually laughed out loud.
I also got some writing done. I have my first official dissertation chapter meeting on Monday, so I used my extra time to prep for that a bit and work on other bits of writing, like the start of my recent post series on the history of science.
Next week hopefully I’ll look at some actual medieval manuscripts!