10/31: voting

My county had early voting at the public library, so a colleague and I went after our afternoon office hours were over. It somehow feels right to vote in a public library, it's such a welcoming civic space. And today was a great day to wait in line because there was such much to look at: since it's Halloween, librarians-in-costume were giving out candy to children-in-costume, and at different tables there were craft activities and reading groups. There were a good number of other early voters; we had to wait an hour. But, all in all, a festive atmosphere for exercising a right and a privilege.

10/30: strangers met

I don't like meeting strangers, and I definitely don't like making conversation when if feels like an obligation. But two professional contacts (whom I've never met in person) happened to be passing through town today, and they asked if I wanted to get together for coffee and a chat. So I met them this morning. They were very pleasant people, and I even think I managed to not be my usually socially awkward self.

10/29: enclitics are sweet

Enclitic accenting rules in ancient Greek are a bit baroque, but I've devised a way to explain them that (I think/hope) makes sense. I introduced the rules to my students yesterday and gave them a worksheet to do for homework. Today we practiced applying the rules, and they had them down. I even got them to say "enclitics are sweet" in unison, though I suspect they did that more out of kindness toward me rather than real conviction about the nature of enclitics. So maybe I should amend my good thing: enclitics--and students--are sweet.

10/28: a successful talk about the meaning of feet

I hosted a visiting speaker on campus today. This evening he gave a public lecture about the significance of bare (or unbare) feet in ancient Greek literature, ritual, and art. It went so well: we had a pleasant dinner beforehand, the talk was very interesting and fun to listen to, and there were over 80 people in the audience--every seat in the room was taken!

10/27: dinner almost ready & waiting

I was at the office by 7:30 this morning, so my hope was to leave by 4:30 this afternoon--but it didn't happen, and by the time I did leave I was more than ready for dinner. When I got home and stepped into the house, there was Chris, putting some finishing touches on a pizza before sliding it into the oven! All I had to do was make a salad while the pizza was baking.

10/26: autumn hope scatter

This afternoon Chris came out of his office with a glass jar full of seeds, collected over the years. He said, "Let's go outside." As we walked through the grass, he poured the seeds into my hands for me to sprinkle and throw here and there. He called it the Autumn Hope Scatter.

10/25: psyche's sisters

The Greek word for soul--psyche--is also the word for moth. I love that fact, plain and simple. I also love the fact that there are more moths and butterflies here in Arkansas than I have seen anywhere else. And the autumn doesn't seem to be slowing them down much. Today they were flitting over all the roadside wildflowers.

10/24: a smiley face

When we moved to Arkansas 8 years ago, we needed a second car and I bought Chris' mother's Camry from her because she wanted to get a convertible. I loved driving the Camry, and I loved that it used to belong to Chris' mother. That connection became especially welcome after she passed away in 2005. This summer the car gave out, and I was so sorry to see it go. My new Corolla is a good car, but it hardly feels like it's mine, and (obviously) it doesn't have the connection to Chris' mother. In the Camry she had put a smiley face sticker on the dashboard, something I would never have done. Yet, because she had put it there, I never took it off. Today I added a smiley face sticker to the dash on the Corolla, making it feel a little more like my car--and her car.

10/23: trust

I just got back from the endodontist's office and a root canal procedure. At one point the endodontist reached some tissue that hadn't been fully anaesthetized, and I signalled the sensitivity with a little yip. He apologized and gave me some more anaesthesia, which worked like magic for the rest of the procedure. His apology made me think about trust; he said he was sorry because he didn't want me to think my trust had been misplaced. I realized how much I was truly trusting him, given how little I know of him. It is amazing how we humans do this trusting thing. I'm grateful for the trust that my students put in me every day.

10/22: to-do list--done!

I wrote an earlier post about the danger of devising to-do lists that are unrealistically long. Today I was either very realistic in writing my list of tasks or very effective in accomplishing it. It's not yet 10:30 a.m., and the list for the day is D O N E. To invoke one of my parents' favorite expressions: "Done is beautiful."

10/21: making a midterm

(This good thing is going to seem odd, I think.)

I get a very real sense of satisfaction when I've made up a test that I think is a good test. I don't judge "good" by whether the test is hard or easy but by whether or not the questions are sound, interesting, and capture what we've been doing in class thus far. This morning I wrote the questions for my students' myth midterm on Thursday, and it made me want to take the midterm myself.

(I think the students would just sigh and shake their heads if they read this.)

10/20: an invitation to a shakesfeare grotesque

In my mail today I received a free pass to my parents' Halloween theatrical production, and it sounds very exciting: it's a montage of scenes, lines, speeches, etc. from Shakespeare's works, all focusing on the magical, macabre, ghostly, and dark. I can't go (they're in Pennsylvania, I'm in Arkansas, and I can't cancel classes to make the trek), but I always get a creative shot-in-the arm when I hear about their artistic goings-on!

10/19: one me, one hundred geese

When I kayak on the lake, I usually head out to an island, paddle around it, and then come back home. Today, as I rounded the island, I disturbed flocks of geese resting in the high grasses there. I didn't see them until it was unavoidable. They flew up suddenly, lots of them, all around me, honking and flapping. It wasn't a good thing to worry the geese. But it was extraordinary to be surrounded by them.

10/18: an afternoon of latin

It's Saturday, and it's fall break--a perfect time to go into the office for some uninterrupted work. I spent five afternoon hours there today, working on arranging the second half of my Vulgate Latin course. I chose texts, wrote assignment sheets, typed up some commentary that might help the students, drew up schedules for them (and me), and copied CDs with manuscript images of the passages they'll be translating. It was a luxury to allow myself to get consumed by it all, to have such fun with teaching preparation and with Latin.

10/17: earl grey with lavender

My favorite tea for certain. And I sipped an over-sized cup of it all afternoon as I was taking notes for my Margaret Atwood paper.

10/16: ritual spaghetti

We went to see the movie Hancock this summer. I'm sorry to say that it wasn't a good film, but at one point in the movie the family talks about the fact that they have a "spaghetti madness" dinner-night each week. We decided to do the same thing, and it's funny how much I look forward to Thursday evening's spaghetti. We don't do anything fancy (indeed, could spaghetti be fancy?), but we have good tomato sauce, freshly grated cheese, and a salad on the side. Tonight we also had a little bit of blackberry wine and vegan chocolate cupcakes for dessert.

10/15: acquiring an ear for deer?

We've been living in our current house for a little less than a year. I think we're lucky to be able to see deer now and then--though Chris sees them more often than I do because he's up, about, and outside earlier and more often than I am. But this morning I was stepping out of the front door to put a bag in the trash bin (how glamorous!) when I heard a rustle on my right. I immediately thought, "That sounds like a deer." I turned my head, and there she was, just for a second before she bounded away.

10/14: empty backpack

I'm getting ready to leave my office for the night and I'm not taking any work home with me. Need I say more?

(I realized that I probably do need to say more: yes, I really am a grown adult who still uses a backpack.)

10/13: a moment of sunshine with a friend

Over the years I've gotten to be good friends with one of my colleagues in my department at work. We've had a busy year and our teaching schedules don't mesh well, so we haven't talked much recently, except in passing. But we both went to the same end-of-the-day meeting today and after it we decided to walk to the coffee shop to get some sandwiches for dinner. Although it had been raining earlier in the day, the sun came out and we got to sit, talk, and eat under the green dogwood tree while the setting sun cast its yellow light on us.

10/12: next best thing to a tidy soul

As much as I try to obey Mark Twain's injunction about keeping a tidy soul, I can't claim success on that front. But today I do have a clean house to start a new week!

10/11: pennsylvania smartweed

We drove to the Schafers' farm fields today to do some bee-keeping chores for our hives there. And it's the season for Pennsylvania smartweed! It was blooming along the roadsides and in the random spaces that haven't been sown with crops. I don't remember Pennsylvania smartweed from my days in Pennsylvania, but now I am glad to see it because its name is a happy reminder of my native state. A friend in graduate school once said she dreamt that I was an evening primrose, and she explained that that's a good thing since--herbally speaking--evening primrose is such a helpful plant. But I think it's more likely that I'm a Pennsylvania smartweed instead.

10/10: connecting around the world

As I was sitting at dinner this evening with Chris I said that I wasn't sure what I was going to write about for my good thing today. It wasn't a terrible day; it was just so very busy that I'm not sure I noticed much or gave myself a chance to enjoy anything that came my way. (For instance, I did register to myself that the sky was strangely bright and the clouds exceptionally luminous as I was walking to my car at the end of the day--but I was so set on leaving campus that I didn't pause to let that glory sink in.) But then I read a postcard I received via postcrossing.com: it was from an art teacher in Finland who constructed a wonderful handmade card with a bunch of pictures from her daily life--I felt that she really showed me part of her life and personality. And then I logged on to this site to record that goodness, and I found a comment waiting for me from Sam, whom I've not met in person but with whom I've exchanged some lovely snail mail recently. Here's to the wonder of meeting people across the globe through a combination of the internet and the good old-fashioned postal service!

10/9: enough sleep!

It's hard for me to gauge the effects of being sleep-deprived when I'm actually sleep-deprived. I mean, I can tell that I'm tired and groggy and slow--but I can best register the consequences of sleep deprivation by contrast, when I'm not directly experiencing them. Last night I must have gotten enough good sleep, so today I was able to read with a clear mind and finish all sorts of tasks in a timely and sane way. (And I didn't need to resort to caffeine.)

10/8: shimmering strands

As I parked my car at home this evening the setting sun was glinting off a spider's elaborate web, built on the beams on the south side of the carport. I remembered one night in New Jersey, when Chris, his uncle, and I spent hours talking while watching a spider build her web.

10/7: enthusiasm by email

I received a really lovely email from one of my advisees today. He's studying abroad, and we were corresponding about an independent project which he received a grant to pursue while he's away. His excitement for the project jumped off the page.

10/6: afternoon sunrise

One route from the parking lot to my office takes me past a lily pond. These days I'm going to school so early that the flowers aren't even open yet when I walk by. Today I was feeling under the weather so I decided to come home after my teaching was over, which meant missing a meeting and cancelling office hours. As I walked to my car, I passed the lily pond--and I had to do a double-take: two lilies were open and they were the most extraordinary color, a seemingly impossible combination of yellow and pink. How could those two colors, so different and usually distinct, blend into each other so smoothly and completely? The flowers were the luminous color of the sky at sunrise.

10/5: birdsong

When I lived in Ithaca, New York, I rented a basement apartment in a neighborhood adjacent to a bird sanctuary. There were times when it seemed as if hundreds of birds were singing in my backyard. Today, as I was wheeling my kayak down to the lake, I had a similar feeling of being surrounded by birdsong. It was the only thing I could hear; it completely filled my ears. Once I reached the main road, the sound of cars took over, and I almost turned back up the hill to rejoin the birds' singing. Almost--the lure of the lake was too great.

10/4: saint's day coincidence

Today is the feast day of St. Francis--I realized that as I was writing the date on a letter this morning. Along with the letter I was sending a photo I had taken of a sign near Pahrump, Nevada, last November. As I looked at the friendly Valley Homes giant with his avian companions fearlessly perched upon him, I was reminded of pictures of St. Francis preaching to the birds....

10/3: civilized and stimulating

Today Chris and I hosted a dinner/discussion group with six students about Persepolis. We have a grant to host two of these reading groups this semester--all the students receive a copy of the book for free, and we get money to eat together at a local restaurant to talk about what we've read. I only knew one of the students in advance (he was in last year's reading group). It turned out to be a good collection of minds, thoughts, and personalities. Conversation seemed both easy and smart. It was a long day after a long week, but this was a great way to end it.

10/2: an unexpected offering

I was working in my office this morning, trying to focus on the day's reading but distracted by various (mental) vexations. And while I was in there a student came by and put a very pretty thank-you card in the mail-holder on my door. I had written a recommendation letter for her last weekend. I taught her in three classes last year (though I haven't seen her in person at all this year yet), and she was such a good student that I was more than glad to write her a letter of support. It is part of my job, so I'm not sure I deserve extra thanks for it--but it is always nice to be thanked, and a sweet card is never unwelcome. Although I would have enjoyed seeing her had my door been ajar, it was also a good thing today to find a sunshiny yellow envelope waiting for me when I opened my door. It helped to disperse my clouds for a bit.

10/1: a walk downtown, twice

Wednesdays can be busy because I have two regular classes to teach, plus office hours, plus an independent study meeting. Often I'm translating for my independent study meeting up until the last moment. But today I got up early (5:45 a.m.), had a leisurely just-waking-up breakfast, and then was done with my translation before 7:00 a.m. The pay-off? I had time to walk with Chris down to the coffee-shop before my office hours, and we ate cinnamon rolls in the sunshine. Then after my independent study meeting (and after Chris' seminar) we were hungry so we walked downtown again for an early dinner at a restaurant we hadn't tried before. Leisurely strolls on a mild autumn day with my favorite company: what could be better?