We drove to Russellville today and wandered down the old Main Street, stopping to take pictures of interesting architectural details on buildings dating to first few decades of the 20th century. For some reason I had more trouble focusing my camera than usual, but I think I got a few sweet shots. And, in any case, it was fun to be out and about with a mission of sorts.
There are no classes today because of the long Thanksgiving weekend, so Chris & I are enjoying a leisurely, low-key day at home. Next week is the last week of classes for the semester--which means that things will get a bit crazy and busy starting on Monday. I'm glad to have this little pocket of time to re-group, rest, and prepare.
The north side of our house is almost all windows. We have a long table in the main room where we can eat, read, and work while facing the outdoors; at meals we sit side-by-side at the table so we both can look out. This is what we saw today.
I call my kayak Tiger Lily because her color reminds me of the flower--and also (I'll admit) because of the Native American princess in Peter Pan. I haven't gone out on the lake in awhile; it's been chilly, and I've been busy. But classes were cancelled today as part of Thanksgiving break and the weather was mild, so as Chris was resting this afternoon I took Tiger Lily for a spin. We're in late autumn--the trees are bare and everything is more gray and brown than orange and red. As I paddled along my usual course I definitely felt like I was getting to know the lake in a new mood and different guise.
When we moved last year we settled into a house on a lane which has no streetlights. It's amazing how many more stars we can see here than we could in our old house in town (which isn't really that far away--so a little distance from city-lights makes a bigger difference than I would have thought). Tonight the Pleiades were twinkling more than I've ever seen before. Even though Chris is still majorly under the weather (and that's a major understatement), we took our new telescope outside to star-gaze for a few minutes.
Chris had to go to the emergency room last night. He's okay now (which is a very good thing!), but he was in a lot of pain for a number of hours. Thank goodness for knock-your-socks-off painkillers and the people who administer them 24/7.
In the part of Pennsylvania where I grew up it could snow as early as October and as late as May. But living in Southern California and then Arkansas has spoiled me; I am a wimp about cold weather. Today it's chilly outside so I planned to drive to the city's indoor track for my walk. Then I decided to be nice to the earth (and not drive) and be nice to myself (and get fresh air), so I walked along the ridge instead. I was well bundled from neck to toe, leaving only my face exposed to the cold air--and it felt good. I remembered the feeling from childhood.
Sometimes it takes me an embarrassingly long time to write a page of prose. I knew that I needed to write an abstract/proposal for a paper today, but I didn't know how much time it would take me to do it. And there are so many other tasks on my to-do list that the idea of an indefinitely long writing session was making me panic. But I pushed down the panic and sat myself at the computer. An hour later, the abstract was done. And now it's on its way to the conference organizers: it's off my plate, so I'm on to other tasks!
Yesterday I passed someone on the sidewalk at school and thought, "I'd like to meet that person." Today I went to a reading group discussion and there they were! I don't think I've ever had a random wish so quickly fulfilled.
Victor Hugo supposedly called clouds "the only birds that never sleep," but it's rare that I truly feel the rightness of thinking about clouds as cousins (or versions) of birds. Today, however, there were some wispy clouds in the sky on my way to work--perfect birds really. I had no camera with me, so I'll just have to remember (and you'll just have to imagine) clouds actually winging their way through the sky.
This morning I sent an assignment for my Latin class to the printer, and I had to wait for my suite-mate's Spanish-class material to print out first. And out came...Mi Unicornio Azul! I don't know much Spanish, but I know enough to smile upon seeing lyrics for a song entitled "My Blue Unicorn" emerging from the printer. A silly, sweetly surreal moment.
My Greek students have learned the words harma (chariot) and hamaxa (wagon). Today their reading passage from Xenophon contained the word harmamaxa, a blend of the two. And what is a blending of a chariot and a wagon? A carriage of course!
I am a lucky girl, and the postal service is an amazing thing. Today I received: 3 parcels with various paper-goods I ordered online, 1 package with a book from my sister, 1 package with a birthday cake (!) from my parents, 1 packet with a Japanese graphic novel (in actual Japanese, which I can't read) from a former student, and 4 beautiful postcards from sweet-hearted strangers in Massachusetts, Madrid, Geneva, and Rio de Janeiro. My mailbox will probably be empty for the rest of the week, but a day of bounty is welcome fun!
Getting out of town, giving my paper, seeing a few colleagues from other schools, and even spending time away from email and the web were some good things from the past few days. Today, though, a very good thing was seeing a bluebird--flying across the road and bright in the sunlight--on our way to a hike at Woolly Hollow State Park.
We've been reading the Oresteia in my Myth course recently, and today we discussed The Eumenides. I think it's fair to say that, over the years, I've consistently been least fond of this play in the trilogy, but I think I'm having a breakthrough with it. Last night I saw the Theatre Department's production of it (with unabashedly abjectified Furies and an astoundingly androgynous Athena), and today it was a pleasure to read the text before our class meeting.
In my Vulgate class this semester the students are learning to read the Latin text of the Bible directly from manuscript leaves written in the Middle Ages. This is quite a challenge because on some leaves the writing is so small that there are 12 lines of text per vertical inch (!) and because nearly every other word is abbreviated in some way. Punctuation is scarce and unreliable. Knowing Latin doesn't guarantee the ability to read this Latin. But today my students worked solely from the manuscript leaf in class (digitally projected so we could all see it); no notes and no cleaned-up, laser-printed version of the text to compare it with. And they did it. Here's the leaf we used today:
I've been writing my Margaret Atwood paper this weekend (for a conference later this week), and it's gone smoothly. Very smoothly. Maybe even creepily smoothly. But instead of being creeped out, I'm going to be grateful for the ease with which the words have come for once.
There are handfuls of good things to choose from today, but this is the winner: five deer frisking--yes, actually frisking--in the front yard near sunset. I think they had come to eat the ripe persimmons which had fallen to the ground from a tree at the northeast corner of our house. We're not good at knowing when the persimmons are ripe enough to eat, but the deer seem to have no trouble figuring that out for themselves.
Students in one of my courses have to do a project in which they survey the various meanings and uses of a Latin word of their choosing in a variety of texts. Today I met with one student to get him launched on his research. He chose the word loculus, which literally means "little place," but which is used of things such as small boxes, cubby holes, and even coffins. An interesting word with a perfect scope for this kind of study. As we talked about it I laughed and smiled, foreseeing a sweet final project.
The English department hosted a discussion this evening about books as objects, using as touchstones Borges' "Library of Babel" and Benjamin's "Unpacking My Library." I read the materials early this morning, and it was a pleasure to think about them, on and off, throughout the day. Students, staff, professors, and even one person just passing through town on a cross-continental bike trip (!) came to the event, and the conversation was interesting, thoughtful, engaging, and personal. So good.
I like habits; they make me comfortable, and they free me up to think about other things. I've recently developed two new daily, or near-daily, practices. I've started walking for half an hour in the early morning along our ridge, and I've come to enjoy taking a mid-morning break to stroll to the campus center and get a cup of coffee to bring back to my office.
When I checked my email this morning, a note from my sister was waiting for me. And when I just logged into my email account for the last time this evening, I found a message from my brother in my inbox. On 11/1 I wrote, "Yay for trees!"--now I can add, "Yay for siblings, too!"
Awhile back I posted about a midterm I had written for my Mythology class; well, the time has come for me to grade the completed tests. This afternoon I read the set of essays about how hospitality scenes in the Odyssey compare and contrast to the hospitality shown in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter--and it was a very strong group of answers. I had built in a treat for myself as a reward for grading: some late afternoon kayaking on the lake (which is beautifully wreathed with autumn trees these days). But that ended up being a second reward because, honestly, reading the essays themselves was pretty sweet.
Today was Arbor Day, and we spent the afternoon on a long woodsy hike at Petit Jean State Park. Yay for trees!