12/31: nuts & neighbors

Our next-door neighbors invited us over this evening, but Chris wasn't feeling well enough to go. I didn't want to leave him for long, so I took our neighbors some spiced nuts I had made this afternoon. I intended just to drop them off with our regrets, but I ended up staying for an hour, chatting and nibbling and sipping. Other neighbors dropped by during that time, and it was really nice to see everyone. (And a victory for me, given my shyness.)

12/30: still & quiet

After a great short vacation to meet up with family, we're back. It was wonderful to visit with Chris' brother Lucien and Lucien's partner Jen, both of whom we hadn't seen since the spring of 2005. But after the hustle of crowded city streets and the bustle of busy airports, it's nice to be at home where it's truly quiet and we're not on the move.

12/26-12/29: holiday hiatus

Thanks for stopping by. I'm unplugged for a few days, but--of course--feel free to post a good thing from your day in the comments!

And best wishes to all for happy closing days of 2009!

12/25: home on the ridge


Two years ago today we were unpacking boxes in our then-new-to-us house. I'm so glad and grateful that we moved here.

12/24: unanticipated package!

I have a wonderful friend named Linda whom I've known for (yikes!) 20 years now. She loves to bake cookies of all kinds, and around the holidays she sends out packages containing an amazing assortment of home-made cookies. For the past couple of years she hadn't done it, and I thought it was the end of an era. But today a box as of old arrived by post, and it is full full full of delicious varieties.

12/23: remembering the good

'Tis the season for writing recommendation letters for students applying to law school and graduate school. I've had a fair number to do this year, and I'm nearing the end of them. It's a pleasure to file through my memories of particular students and remember the work they did in their courses with me. It's also a pleasure to help them with whatever will be the next step of their journey.

12/22: (kind of) polish dinner

Though my ancestry is Polish, my grandparents were hesitant to pass on much Polish culture: they wanted their descendants to be "American." I wish I knew more about where in Poland their families even came from.... Nonetheless, tonight we were able to celebrate Polish-ness a bit. I grated horseradish root this afternoon, and this evening I made a pierogi casserole (which is much easier than making individual pierogies)--and we had some Tyskie Polish beer on hand, too! Truth be told, we had sauerkraut in the pantry, as well, but I forgot about it, so that will have to wait to be served with leftovers tomorrow.

12/21: unexpectedly warm

It was in the high 50s (and maybe even low 60s) today--and clear and bright. How wonderful!

The bees were flying, and so that they wouldn't forage in vain, we poured out some of their own honey for them to take back to their hives. Only fair, given that they made it in the first place, yes? I love watching them come to gather it up, sip and bit by sip and bit. I realized today that I truly am a bee-keeper: as I spread the honey out, the bees were buzzing all around me, and though I wasn't in a bee-suit I wasn't nervous at all.

And I couldn't resist the chance to head out on the water on such a lovely day, so the afternoon found me on the lake. I saw only one other boat. Otherwise, it was me, the birds, and some dogs running along the shore. Fantastic.

12/20: spoken word & rediscovery

I really enjoy live reading-aloud, but I often have trouble with audiobook recordings. I get impatient. My mind wanders. I don't know what to do with the rest of myself as I'm listening. But I downloaded The Scarlet Letter for my iPod, and I've been enjoying listening to it as I've been walking this week. Maybe it's ushering in a new era of audiobook wonderfulness for me. (I hope so.)

I sometimes feel a little sad about books like The Scarlet Letter (and I consider The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in the same camp): they are such amazing novels, but people often first (and only) encounter them as assigned reading in high school, when many of us are probably too young to appreciate them or their radicalness. Part of me is sad that I'm not discovering The Scarlet Letter for the first time as an adult; but part of me is glad that it's possible to rediscover a book and find it so different after so many years, largely because one's self is so different in so many ways. And yet there's also the sense of the familiar: I remember particular sentences from my first reading of The Scarlett Letter in 1985! And I even remember where in my parents' house I was sitting when I read them.

12/19: definitively

I didn't grow up with bluebirds as a common sight in Pennsylvania. They're more plentiful here in Arkansas, and I never get tired of seeing them. I always think it's special. At this time of year they're often more apparent on the ridge than in other seasons, and Chris said he saw them earlier this week. So I've been keeping my eyes peeled for them, and there have been a couple of times when I thought that maybe perhaps I caught a glimpse of one flying across the yard. But today I saw some for certain, and I was dazzled all over again by their brilliant blue.

12/18: stretching

Ever since Thanksgiving break my body has been unusually sore: I think it may have been the combination of walking-more-than-usual in Memphis and sitting-more-than-usual during the drive to and from Memphis. In any case, my back somehow got out of whack, and I knew that doing some yoga would help, but in the end of the semester flurry of things I never made time. This morning I did, and it felt thoroughly good.

12/17: stocked up

When I finished Trollope's Fixed Period earlier this week, I realized that I didn't have a novel lined up to read next. So today we went to the bookstore in Little Rock, and I bought four: Henry James' Wings of the Dove, Wilkie Collins' Rogue's Life, and two novels by Louisa May Alcott (Work and A Long Fatal Love Chase). I don't know which one I'll start first, but it's always great feeling to be excited about opening a new cover and diving in.

12/16: sights from the table

Our dinner table is placed along large floor-to-ceiling windows. We both sit on the same side of the table so we can share the view of the willow oak at the bottom of the hill, the fields below our house, and the ridge in the distance. This morning as we ate breakfast we saw three deer jump past the windows as they crossed our yard. And this evening as we ate dinner we watched a pink and blue sunset slowly change to violet.

12/15: from the sky

I walked across campus today at about 11 o'clock. The air was cold, but the sun was strong and the sky was clear and blue. As I passed by some tall willow oaks, the wind made lots of little leaves--now orange and brown--flutter to the ground. It felt like I was in a snowstorm of sorts: leafstorm? It was lovely, and I wished it could have gone on and on.

12/14: home stretch & movie at home

My beginning Latin class had its final exam this morning, and while they were taking their test I finished up the grading for my Greek class. This afternoon I got started on marking the Latin exams, and tomorrow I should finish them without too much trouble. Then there are only a handful of research papers to read--and the semester will be done! Teaching is good; resting from teaching is also good.

I got a head start on resting this evening by watching the BBC dramatization of Mansfield Park, which is my favorite Austen novel. The film versions are never as good as the books, but I always enjoy seeing what choices the screenwriters and directors made, and Chris watched this one with me, so that was an extra pleasure.

12/13: familiar laughter

At work my office is in a suite with two other offices, and for six years my suite-mates were the same two professors. One of them moved into a bigger office earlier this year, so the three of us are now rarely together in the comfortable, haphazard way that we used to be. Tonight we were all at the same dinner party, and at one point the professor who moved offices said something so typically funny and in such a typical way that I and my other suite-mate just burst out laughing. Other people at the table laughed, too, but not in the way we did. For a second it was like we were back in the suite, chatting and goofing at the end of a long day.

12/12: out of the house, out of my head

My head was swirling with some work-related stuff this afternoon, and I just needed to turn it off. So I went to the indoor walking track in town, which is always a great place. It wasn't even crowded: for the first few laps, I had it all to myself. I think I should make a resolution to go to the track at least twice a week--it always puts me in a better mood, and it's nice exercise as well.

12/11: last-minute decision

After dinner this evening I decided to drive back to campus to watch the scenes being put on by the senior directing class students. I'm glad I went. It was so nice to have new fuel for thought and to spend an hour not thinking about the various things that have been spinning in my mind over recent days.

As an extra pleasure, my ride to and from campus was spotted with colored Christmas lights strung in people's yards. It was especially lovely to see them reflected in the lake.

12/10: a.m. presentations and p.m. tlc

This morning my upper-level Latin students gave presentations on their final papers/projects. We ran it almost as if it were a panel at an academic conference, and they did such good jobs presenting themselves and their ideas. It was nice to see them in action this way.

Chris and I went out to lunch this afternoon, and we went for one of my favorite meals. But it ended up making me sick! How sad and perverse! But Chris has been a great comrade this afternoon and evening, keeping me company (even watching one of my favorite movies with me) as I feel quite unexpectedly bad.

12/9: an afternoon of students

I worked at home this morning, and then went to campus for office hours this afternoon. Seven students came by--enough for me to feel like it was definitely worthwhile to hold office hours even though it's exam period, yet not so many that I felt overwhelmed. And they were all so pleasant and cheerful, which is something I should not take for granted. I'm lucky that the general student disposition at my school is so good-natured.

12/8: beginning, middle, end

Three things for each of the three parts of the day.

From the beginning of my day: I didn't have to go in to the office as early as usual, giving me a chance to sleep in just a teeny bit in the morning (hurray for the snooze button!). Once at school, I got more done in the morning than I had anticipated. Something I had dreaded doing didn't take as long as I thought and wasn't as difficult as I had expected.

From the middle: A student and I met to send out the entries for the campus index card art swap. We had more people participate this month than last month, so we both felt good about that. I also graded a Latin bonus quiz which some of my students took; they did quite well and earned for themselves nice little bonuses going into the final exam. And a colleague dropped off a copy of her holiday letter for me--I didn't expect such a friendly gesture, and I am very touched by it.

From the end: After dinner this evening Chris and I walked through the very wet yard to survey all the small (and not so small) trees he's planted over the past two years. Once we were done with that, Chris needed to talk with his brother on the phone, so I goofed around with some rubber stamp carving. I'm terrible at it (really), but cutting into the soft blocks with the carving tools feels really nice. The very functional heat in our house also feels really nice. The heating in my building at school is broken, so it feels luxurious to be relaxing in a truly warm house this evening.

12/7: one in each arm

I don't like needles, but today's good thing involves two of them. Earlier this semester, my job had run out of flu vaccine (one of our usual annual benefits) before I had a chance to get my flu shot. They've now gotten more in, and today they held another clinic. I was in line almost as soon as they were open for business. And they had H1N1 vaccinations, so I got one of those shots, too, for good measure.

12/6: birds and berries

All the leaves are off the trees now, and the bareness of the branches draws our attention to the birds sitting on them. This morning was an amazing bird morning, as we sat in front of our large picture windows and watched all kinds of feathered friends flying from tree to tree. They particularly favored a juniper tree whose berries must be good for eating.

Chris and I had our own good-for-eating berries this evening for dinner. I made some cranberry sauce, and Chris used a sweet petit-four pan to make flower-shaped cornbread. We had home-made vegetarian chili, too, but the cranberry sauce with cornbread muffins stole the show.

12/5: helvetica

I'll confess that I'm not a fan of helvetica, the font. But I am now a fan of Helvetica, the documentary film about the font. We starting watching it last night, and I'm glad that we stopped part way through: it means that there's more pleasure ahead as we finish it tonight.

12/4: pupusas and a pause

Chris and I went with a friend this evening to a near-ish town to eat some pupusas. It was good to get off the track we've been wearing between work and home this week. And I finished today's tasks before leaving the office for dinner, so I don't have to do any grading tonight.

12/3: unexpected sound

As I stepped out on the porch this morning the geese were flying so low overhead that I could hear their wings flap. I felt lucky to be in the moment.

12/2: singing in the rain

It was a cold and rainy morning, the first morning that felt more like winter than autumn. We were on campus earlier than usual, and it still wasn't fully light as I walked to my office. As I passed through the Arkansas Garden, I was surrounded by the song of birds. Their voices amid the grey, chill, and wet seemed miraculous.

12/1: sibling sweetness

My sister wrote me a really great email today. It made me feel so good to read it that a few hours after receiving it I went back and read it again.

11/30: candy now on hand

Learning ancient Greek is hard, and in order to explain to my students the level of difficulty (and the level of necessary commitment) I've taken to using athletic analogies. For instance, I've described learning Greek as the equivalent of a long canoe trip upstream, a 100-mile run, or a climb up a mountain. I think the analogies usefully convey the importance of determination, persistence, and training. My Greek students and I are now heading into our last week together, after 3 semesters in one another's company. Today I received from England some candy that I wanted to share with them, and it arrived just (and barely) in time: it's Kendal Mint Cake, the candy carried by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay when they climbed Mt. Everest in 1953. I'm so excited that we'll be able to nibble the candy as we sit on our own summit, reading Plato together for the last time on Wednesday!

11/29: home again, home again

We spent the long holiday weekend in Memphis; it was really great to hang out with family and explore the city a bit.

But it's also nice to be home: sleeping in our own bed, seeing the cats, cooking our food, watching the view from the windows. Simple pleasures.

11/25-11/28: thankful and restful

As we enter this Thanksgiving holiday, I am grateful for many things: house, health, Chris, the cats, friends, a job, books, languages, cameras, colors, fruits, vegetables, water, clouds, kayaks, trees, tea--and so on.

I am grateful for the people who have visited this blog and who post their own wonderful good things.

I'm taking a rest for a few days, and I'll be connecting up with some family members I haven't seen in some time. I'll return to posting on Sunday.

In the meanwhile, here's wishing everyone the best--and, as always, please feel free to post a good thing from your day in the comments!

11/24: nothing until sunday

School is cancelled for the rest of the week. I spent my last hour in the office today sketching out what special end-of-the-semester tasks I'll need to do each day until the end of final exams. It's looking like a manageable amount--in fact, manageable enough that I decided I didn't need to bring home any extra work for the long weekend. I have a business letter to write on Sunday evening, but other than that I'm in the clear.

11/23: box of chocolates

As if the verbal and emotional support of my colleagues weren't enough, one of them brought me a box of Godiva dark chocolates today--what a treat!

11/22: reinvigorated

For the past few months I've been uncertain about what new big projects I wanted to take on at school or in my research. I thought it might be good to give myself some downtime because I've not really had any gaps between undertakings since 1994. That may have been the right thing to do, but I nevertheless ended up feeling uneasy during the downtime. Now I'm ready to move forward: in the course of the past few days my mind has turned fully on with a range of new ideas, and I've made a list of cool things to rotate onto my plate. They include: resuming and expanding my work on Trollope and Classics, forming a project (for myself and a small team of students) which would analyze old illustrations for Ovid's Metamorphoses, exploring the possibility of participating in a summer intensive letterpress course, and developing a program which would allow faculty and students from my school to spend 10 days each summer researching at the Newberry Library in Chicago or the British Library in London. I'm excited about trying to make all of these things real!

11/21: not taken for granted

I've been ill for two weeks! And in that time I haven't been able to take my usual walk. I'm not completely well yet, but I was well enough today to walk along the ridge this afternoon, and it felt so good.

This evening I talked with a friend on the phone for almost three hours. It was amazing, and a real reminder that I should never, never, never take the wonderfulness of friends for granted. Every bit of friendly and genuine contact with another person in the world is an occasion of grace and a cause for celebration.

11/20: rallying

I had an unexpected, bad, and fairly big surprise at work today, but three of my colleagues especially did beautiful things to make me feel both valued and valuable in response. I am humbled by their warmth and generosity.

11/19: two unexpected things

Chris and I got ahead enough with work that we could take the time to go to Little Rock this evening for dinner at an Indian restaurant we like. It was so nice to have a leisurely meal on a "school night"!

And I received an email today from a friend who's been out of touch for about 10 months. It was such a surprise to hear from her once again.

11/18: short meeting

A faculty meeting that everyone predicted would be long and contentious wasn't! I'm home earlier than is usual on a faculty meeting night.

11/17: a variety of good things

Let's have a list for today. Good things included:

- Getting ready for school this morning in a leisurely way yet still on time.

- Finishing my preparation for Latin class with time left to spare to work ahead.

- Chanting the full paradigm for hic, haec, hoc with the students in Latin class. (I love the way it sounds.)

- Getting more done in my office in the early afternoon than I thought possible (even though it meant resisting the temptation to call Chris so we could walk to the coffee shop for a scone).

- Having the upper-level Latin students finish their tests in plenty of time. (I was worried that I might have made their test too long.)

- Grading the lower-level Latin quizzes and finding that the class average for this quiz is a 91%.

- Leaving school in a timely way with Chris. There is too often the tendency for me to delay getting out at the end of the day.

- Eating some left-overs for dinner which were just as good (if not better) than when we first made them: an Asian noodle salad with peanut sauce, topped with cucumbers, carrots, and cabbage; for dessert, chocolate vegan cupcakes with peanut butter frosting.

- Hanging out with Chris and the cats for half an hour after dinner before turning back to work.

- Logging in and finding a comment from Meri already posted for today! (And it's a great good thing she wrote about, so check it out.)

11/16: inside

I usually think it's a bit unfortunate that my office is in the same building as the classroom where I most often teach. It means that I rarely get fresh air and sunlight during the work day unless I consciously plan time to run an errand across campus or walk to the mailbox. But today I didn't mind being inside from 8:30 to 4:30: it's been cold and wet outside, and it was nice to stay warm and dry all day.

11/15: no medicine

Though my cold isn't gone, it didn't feel bad enough today to merit taking medicine, and it's been nice not to have that pharmaceutical filter between me and the world.

11/14: unseasonal spiderwort

Here in Arkansas, late May and early June are spiderwort season. But this year our rainy autumn has sometimes felt strangely like spring, and so flowers are blooming at odd times. A few weeks ago this spiderwort appeared in our front yard (front "meadow" is more apt since we don't mow it), and we've been admiring it. Today its blue-purple coloring seemed especially cheerful and cheering.

11/13: breakfast for dinner

An egg sandwich and hashbrowns with cheese: warm and comforting.

11/12: a little ahead

A student stood me up for a specially arranged appointment today--which isn't so great. But it did give me some unexpected extra time--which I used to write the test for my upper-level Latin class next week. It felt good to get a task done just a little in advance.

11/11: glowing ginkgo

I'm on campus later than usual tonight. It's dark, and I just walked from the cafeteria to my office. I passed the campus ginkgo tree on the way, planted in honor of a former president of the college. In the lamplight and against a dark blue sky, the tree's yellow leaves seemed positively to glow.

11/10: sweets in class

I bring my students cupcakes as soon as everyone in a particular class can name everyone else in the class. (I started doing this a couple of years ago because I was kind of shocked to realize that they don't usually learn one another's first names, even though our school is relatively small and they hear me call everyone by name every day.) Today my upper-level Latin class got their cupcakes, and it was nice to see how delighted they were to have a treat in the late afternoon.

11/9: roses and recovering

The campus where I work is beautifully landscaped, but up until this year there was only one rose bush (that I knew of) on all the college property. Now the gardeners have put in a whole bank of rose bushes--a late-blooming variety, so they still had some flowers when I checked them out today.

And I caught a cold this weekend (alas). The good side of the situation is that I am caught up enough on work that I could come home early today to rest and recover.

11/8: koinē unexpectedly

My students are having trouble this afternoon downloading their Greek assignment for tomorrow from the internet. It was supposed to be our first day translating Plato, but given their difficulty in getting the text, I decided to postpone Plato until Wednesday. So this afternoon I got to prepare an assignment from the Gospel of Mark, and though I'm excited that we'll be doing Plato soon, it's nice to return--and unexpectedly at that--to the comfortable grammatical ground of the Greek New Testament.

11/7: overhead

Flights of geese right over the house, all day. What a delight.

11/6: fading frustrations

Today was a day when I realized that I'm lucky to have mostly transitory frustrations. Things are vexing at times, and I think I'm justified in getting vexed. But it's nice to realize that vexations fade and shift, and my perspective on them can change through time and in comparison to other things. For a variety of reasons some recent frustrations became much smaller today, and I'm glad for that.

11/5: cat sitting squared away

We're going out of town for a long weekend later this month, and we hadn't lined up a cat-sitter yet. I was beginning to get nervous. But today our old cat-sitter contacted us, and it's all arranged. It feels good to know that the cats will have a familiar face while we're away.

11/4: grapefruit juice

It's my favorite. Today it was especially welcome because I arrived home in the middle of a long allergy attack. I needed to take medicine right away, and when I opened up the refrigerator door to get something to drink with the pills, there it was: the grapefruit juice. Ah.

11/3: car-pooling

Chris and I work at the same place, but we often have quite different schedules, and so we don't often drive to campus together. This year, however, we've been car-pooling a bit more, especially on Tuesdays. It was nice today to arrive and leave together. I don't know why it gives me such pleasure (I think Chris thinks it's funny that I care about it one way or the other), but it really does make me happy.

11/2: camelias

As I was walking from the parking lot to my office building today, I noticed a flowering bush. Not only did I see its blooms, but I also smelled its fragrance--amazing! I walked up to it for a closer look, and I saw honeybees in the center of some of the blossoms. I emailed Chris so he could come by mid-morning and see for himself; I knew he'd like the fact that the honeybees were finding something freshly flowering at this time of year. I had an inkling that the plant might be a camelia bush, and a quick websearch confirmed my suspicion. (Honestly, I have no idea how I knew that, but of course I'm delighted that I did.) Chris promptly ordered 3 camelias to plant in our yard.

11/1: sunset drive

Chris and I both have work to do tonight to get ready for school tomorrow, but after dinner and before hunkering down with our books we went for a drive. The sun setting in the west cast a kind and orange light as the moon was rising in the east.

10/31: book club dinner

Chris and I recently decided to have our own book-club-of-two. We both read Pearl S. Buck's Pavilion of Women, and tonight we went out for dinner and had our book club discussion. We both admired certain things about the book while questioning others, and our conversation about it was fun and interesting and good. Chris chose this book, so I chose the next one. I'm not sure what to pick, but I'll be glad if we keep our own club going.

10/30: skies before sun

The rainy system that's been sitting on top of us for a couple of days moved out today, and in the process produced some amazing clouds. I used up all the memory on my camera's card taking pictures this afternoon.

And it's a sunny weekend in the forecast, hurrah! So while there may not be interesting clouds to photograph, there is a high chance of getting some time on the lake.

10/29: postcard pleasure

6 postcards in today's mail!

1. From someone at sendsomething.net: I had sent a Lomo photograph to her, and she sent an art postcard back. The card has a drawing of a hand on it, and this seems a little fortuitous because I've been playing with the idea of having "hand" as a mail/blog theme for 2010, just as "sky" has been a theme with my (y)our sky project this year.

2. From someone at the postcrossing forum: a reprint of Picasso's Las Meninas. I didn't know Picasso had done a rendition of Velazquez's painting, and I'm looking forward to putting them together side by side to do a comparison and contrast.

3. From someone in a poetry-on-a-postcard swap at swap-bot: the poetry was missing (it must have been pasted onto the back and then gotten unglued while travelling through the mail), but the image on the card--an ancient Chinese spoon--is fantastic. And I think that blank white space can be Zen poetry.

4. From someone at postcrossing: she lives in Minsk and she told me about her day, which is something I always love to hear about. She had just gotten a new coat, and that detail delights me.

5. From another postcrosser: her card featured palm trees in Santa Barbara, and I found that coincidental since we had just translated the phrase lentae palmae ("pliant palm trees") in my Ovid class this afternoon. We had lingered on the phrase because lentae can also mean "sluggish" or "sticky," so we needed to decide which meaning made best sense when applied to palm trees. ("Pliant" beats "sluggish" and "sticky," hands down.)

6. And from another postcrosser: the sender happened to be another teacher (always a pleasure to meet fellow teachers), and she said that she hoped her card would make me smile and would be my good thing for the day. And so it is!

10/28: dead-bolt and dead-end

My door at school has been broken for about a week; the dead-bolt wouldn't go back inside the door once the door was unlocked, so I would have to lock myself in or out every time I wanted to shut the door. And every time I used my key I could feel that something was not-quite-right, that it was only a matter of time before the lock mechanism stopped working altogether. Because it wasn't an emergency it took Physical Plant awhile to look at it, but today it got looked at and fixed, and it feels so smooth to have a functional door again.

Chris had asked the city for a "dead end" sign to go at the bottom of the hill where the main road connects to the smaller road leading up to the houses on our ridge. People don't know it's a dead end when they come up to explore, and since it's not easy to turn around, they end up making a variety of unsafe maneuvers. Recently Chris despaired of the "dead end" sign ever materializing, but when I drove home today there it was, just as I turned to drive up the ridge.

10/27: pretend papers

In my upper-level Latin class, the students had to come to our meeting today with papers mapped out in their minds. They didn't have to write out their papers, but they had to have a thesis statement and they had to be able to talk through evidence that would help them prove their point. They did good work, and it was fun to hear each one talk through a "pretend paper."

10/26: unusual afternoon

I came home early today because Chris wasn't feeling well and I wanted to be around in case he needed anything or got worse. I brought home some work to do, but I also had time to make a big pot of chili for dinner and even take a short nap! It felt so quiet here. It was probably no quieter than it usually is when we're home (on weekends, for instance), but it felt more quiet today because I'm used to being at school on weekdays. The contrast between the bustle of the office and the calm of home seemed especially marked (and was especially appreciated).

10/25: bacteria, light, and latin

A colleague at work has been mysteriously ill for months. Tests came up with nothing, and he kept getting worse. I found out today that finally a test has found something: bacteria in his blood-stream. Although (obviously) that's not a great situation, it's so good that something's been identified. Progress can be made.

The light today has been incredible, making the sky beautifully blue and the trees luminously yellow, orange, red, and green.

I've been sitting in front of our big windows, working on Latin. I'm doing a presentation later this week on the story of Narcissus and Echo from Ovid's Metamorphoses, and I'm trying to pull a lot of it together today so I won't be overloaded mid-week. It's been fun to spend some time with Ovid's Latin as well as to look at how various English translators have tried to carry some of Ovid's verbal artistry over into English.

10/24: us on the island, a fox on the road

We went kayaking this afternoon, and the lake was so high due to recent rain that we could paddle right up to an island whose shallow waters we usually need to skirt. We beached our boats and walked around a little. It was fun to be on land that--under normal circumstances--we can only look at.

On the way home from the grocery this evening we saw a fox right on the road not too far from our house. He looked magnificent, trotting along. And as I type I can hear him calling outside.

10/23: on my own

I had to go back to the office after dinner this evening because I forgot to send some information to my committee and they needed it before Monday. To send the information in the tidiest way possible I had to merge multiple PDFs into one. Some people might know a quick trick for doing this, but I don't. And no one was around for me to ask, the office building being empty at 6 p.m. on a Friday. So I did a quick web-search, found a free download tool, merged my PDFs into one tidy packet, and sent it off. Mission accomplished, and on my own.

10/22: apples as a staple

In the winter of 2007 I had some dental work done that turned out pretty badly: biting into anything hard became painful, and it wasn't until winter 2009 that everything in my mouth was made right (or at least right-er) again. Prior to the dental debacle I used to pack an apple every day as part of my lunch for school. Apples became too hard to manage with my injured mouth. But this school year I've been able to return to apples as a lunch-time staple, and I think I appreciate them all the more now. Today's apple tasted so good.

10/21: office hour visits

Some really nice students came by office hours today for various reasons: advising questions, Greek problems, Classics issues, recommendation requests. They kept me busy pretty solidly from 1:45 to 4:15, and it was so good to touch base with each of them that the time flew.

10/20: a good committee

I chair a committee at school, and I think I do a good job of helping things go well behind the scenes. I'm not so pleased with my ability to run meetings (alas), but that's another story. What is good is that we had a meeting today, and I am so thankful that everyone on the committee did a great job of preparing for our gathering and of chiming in thoughtfully as we talked this afternoon. Everyone was careful and considerate and good.

10/19: early bird benefits

I'm not an early-morning person, but I got up today at 5:30 in order to get a jump on school-work this week. One nice thing about driving to campus early is getting to see the colorful sunrise over the water as I pass the lake. Another happy thing about arriving early at school today was that my favorite parking place was available (other people really like it as a spot, too, so it's rarely free if I go in at my regular time). And a final good thing about getting to work early today was that I really did manage to accomplish my tasks in a timely and unhassled way.

10/18: in a row

I've managed to take a walk for the past five days (at least). Today's stroll in the oblique and yellow-y autumn light was especially wonderful. And Chris has come along each day, too, so that's an added good thing.

10/17: (lost and) found

I've been using my new Macbook for everything but images. For picture editing I haven't switched over from my PC yet, and today (alas) my PC did something really odd: it deleted about 30 pictures from one of my folders for seemingly no reason and without sending them to the recycle bin (where I would have been able to recover them). So I purchased an "undelete" program, and it was able to restore most of the lost pictures by using the data on my camera card. I'm grateful to have some skies back which I thought were gone. Here's one of them:

And while I was at school this afternoon, I snapped a photo of some of the asters blooming in the Arkansas garden. When I looked at the picture more closely here at home, I found a bug lurking amid the blossoms. Here's a crop of the photo showing him--or her:

10/16: chai and chocolate

My one-time favorite tea (Early Grey with Lavender) is being at least temporarily displaced by my new-found fondness for chai. (I know that I'm about 12 years behind the chai bandwagon.) Today I've been working at home on my five-year evaluation dossier for school, and I've enjoyed having chai to sip while I'm typing. Chris and I also made chocolate spritz cookies last night, so they've been a delight to dip and nibble, too.

10/15: fabric store (finally)

Ever since my crazy-quilt conceptual breakthrough, I've been wanting to buy some printed fabrics and do some fabric piecing, but I've been too busy. Today and tomorrow are fall break at school, so though I do have plenty of work to catch up on, I have a little leisure, too. I made going to the fabric store one of my priorities today, and I picked out some great stuff. Greens and oranges were especially appealing to my eye, and I realized it's because those are the colors all around me these days, as the green leaves are gradually giving way to autumn shades. I'm excited to experiment with my new fabrics this weekend.

10/14: wisdom, pizza, and a walk

A colleague at school was so wise today in talking with me about my bad day yesterday. She helped me to see things more clearly and to take comfort in intersubjectivity.

At the end of the day, Chris suggested that we go out for pizza, but then we realized that we didn't really like any of our in-town pizza options. So we came home and made our own pizza instead--and it was better than any pizza we could have gotten in a restaurant here.

Then we went for a walk along the ridge and ended up crossing paths with one of our neighbors. We took a slightly longer-than-usual walk with her, and some turns in the evening air have done me good.

10/13: glad for edward lear

To be honest, I did not have a good day today. But here's something that is good: Edward Lear did have a good day on this day in 1859. I know because I've been reading one of Lear's diary entries per day. He seemed to be going through a bad patch in recent entries, and when I just read today's entry, my heart honestly leapt in relief and happiness for him. I know it seems silly, given that I'm reading diary entries from a century and a half ago. But he had been working so hard and feeling so "unhinged" (his word) that I have been feeling sad for him. October 13, 1859 wasn't a perfect day for Lear (he still had some uncertainties about his painting), but his tone just seemed so much lighter than as of late. As I end a difficult day myself, I am really so very glad that today in 1859 wasn't as difficult for Lear. I'm enjoying thinking about him enjoying his day. And I'm really relieved that he got a break; he definitely deserved it. Even a century and a half later I can say that it's a good thing.

10/12: colleagues can be quite good

I imagine that everyone has days when they get frustrated with their co-workers. But today I had such good interactions with a number of colleagues that I'm really glad and grateful. (And I'm going to try to remember this feeling the next time I feel frustration mounting.)

10/11: out and back

We had some errands to run today, and there's always the danger that the whole afternoon will get spent running around town. But we were efficient with our stops at the grocery store and school, and now we're back home while the afternoon is still young. There's plenty of work to do later this afternoon and this evening, but for now I'm going to enjoy the extra little bit of time by taking a walk along the ridge. It's grey and chilly today, so it'll be the first "bundle-up" walk of the autumn.

10/10: lunch and the gift of time

One of our friends from Little Rock drove up to Conway today to see fragments from Sappho. It was really kind of her to come, and I'm especially grateful because I know that during the school year she's very busy with teaching, grading papers, and trying to keep her own writing going, and so every hour she has to herself is precious. I feel like she gave me a gift of her time and attention. Chris and I had lunch with her before the performance, and I think/hope she enjoyed the performance enough that she'll consider the afternoon time well spent.

10/9: opening night

Tonight was the first performance of fragments from Sappho. It was good.

10/8: hornbeam and quiet time

Today I have two good things to report.

The first is the discovery of a new-to-me tree: the hornbeam. Chris and I walked down the street from campus for coffee this afternoon, and on the way back we sat on a bench we always sit on when we go for coffee. But this time we noticed some interesting seeds hanging from a nearby tree. We went to investigate, and luckily the tree had an identifying placard: it's a hornbeam. I'm glad to have a new tree-friend.

The second good thing is the claiming of a little quiet time for myself this evening. Chris decided to stay at school late in order to knit with the knitting club (he's their advisor). I thought about joining in because I like the students and it's also a way to spend time with him. But my energy had been low all day and I had a headache, so I decided to come home after my last class. And I'm glad I did. I made myself some dinner, I took a walk, and now I'm going to have a nice shower and then work on a birthday present for my sister. I really needed some care-of-the-self time today.

10/7: litany/list

So here I am, sitting at the computer and wondering what-in-the-world to choose as my good thing for the day. Nothing jumps out, but it wasn't a bad or sad day. So here's a quick survey of some good things:
- There were good clouds in the sky this morning; I used my book-bag camera to take some shots (and I think that my knock-around camera may do better at sky shots than my "good" camera).
- My Greek class is starting to translate Euripides, so I got to read some Attic Greek today. We had been translating New Testament Greek, and though I love NT Greek for its own quirkiness and solidity, it felt good to be spending time with Attic again. It's harder, but the work-out is good for the students (and me).
- At the start of Greek class each of my students wrote down what they saw as the three most pressing/interesting interpretive questions about Euripides' Iphigenia at Aulis (the play we'll be working on this month). They did a really nice job of framing their questions.
- In my Latin class, we didn't get through all the material I had planned. But the class is slightly ahead of schedule, so we still didn't fall behind, and that's a good thing.
- Chris and I had our short-story discussion group in the library today, and though the air-conditioning was freezing (really really cold), the conversation was lively and interesting.
- I returned home with an empty book-bag (or at least empty-of-work book-bag), so I can relax this evening and maybe get to sleep on time.
- When I got home this evening there was a peace lily (present from my parents) waiting for me on our front porch plus a pile of good mail from around the world.

10/6: two walks

It's been rainy all day, but I managed to take two walks: the first to the coffee shop after Latin today, and the second along the ridge after dinner and some quiz-grading.

10/5: reading together

Chris and I needed to choose the story that will be the springboard for our short-story reading group in the library later this week. So after dinner and before we started our separate work for the night, we read two stories out loud, both by Kate Chopin (and both fairly grim). But it was fun to read just to one another, something we haven't done in awhile.

10/4: sappho on stage

The Dance Ensemble at school is doing a performance piece using my translation and arrangement of some fragments of poems by Sappho. I got to see a rehearsal this evening--and it is going to be beautiful.

10/3: unknown hardy (unknown no longer)

I started reading a Thomas Hardy novel which I hadn't even known existed: Two on a Tower. It's fantastic! I feel bad being enthusiastic when I know things are going to end unfortunately (at best) for the characters in the book, but what a pleasure to read a book by someone who really (really, really) knows how to write.

10/2: half day

I somehow re-caught my old cold or managed to get a new one--not a good thing. But I did make the wise and kind-to-self decision to come home after my classes today. I don't like cancelling office hours and other appointments, but after an afternoon of real resting I feel like I might be on the mend.

10/1: bits of blue

It's a grey day, but on my morning walk I saw four different kinds of blue flowers, and their color was cheering. Then, as I drove to school this morning, I saw a great blue heron by the lake. On blue-sky days blue herons look grey, but on grey days they look blue indeed!

9/30: room to rights

On Sunday I straightened up the "public" parts of our house after the chaos of window installation, but I didn't have time to work on my room (that is, my home office and private space). Tonight I took some time to return it to its normal state, and it is usable again. It was only out of commission for 6 days, but it made me realize that a girl (or at least this girl) really does need a room of her own.

9/29: crisp

The air tonight: autumn-y for sure.

9/28: unexpected paddling

The weather was amazing today, and I was delighted to realize that I could probably take my kayak out on the lake after dinner without jeopardizing my work. So down the hill I went and launched myself for a fantastic hour and a half. With various combinations of illness and busy-ness and bad weather over the past three or four weeks, I haven't gotten to go kayaking at all. I really (really really) missed it, and I think I had a silly grin for most of the time I was out on the water. Here's the sunset from the dock, just as I was getting ready to head home.

9/27: waking to windows

We just had new windows installed in our house and the process took 3 days, with the contractor's team starting to work at 7:30 or 8:00 each morning. On Thursday and Friday, this didn't change my morning schedule much--I just had to speed up getting ready for school by 1/2 an hour. But yesterday it meant getting up at "school time" on a weekend day. It's not that I minded terribly: I got more things done yesterday than I would have if I slept in, and it was for a good end. Still, it was such a pleasure to sleep later this morning, to wake without an alarm clock, to have quiet and privacy in the house, and to have clean, bright, new windows to look out of.

9/26: portability

I've been imagining getting a small digital camera for some time. I'd like to be able to carry a camera around as a regular thing in my school bag, just to be able to take pictures whenever I wanted. (My usual camera is great, but bulky.) Yesterday's amazing skies were the tipping point: I realized that I really wanted to be sure to have a camera on hand in the future for things like that. So yesterday I did some research on lightweight cameras and camera-phones (since that could be a way to go), and today I bought one. I opted for a Canon PowerShot A1100IS. I wanted something that would be very point-and-shoot-y (for complicated photo expeditions, I can bring my other camera), not too expensive, and able to use AA batteries. This last desideratum limited my choices quite a bit, but I like knowing that whenever my camera batteries give out, I can pick up more at almost any store. We'll see how it does!

But in any case I'm glad to have a camera as a "book-bag friend." When I was in kindergarten my mother put a little stuffed animal Eeyore in my book-bag so I'd have company walking to school. (I know that from today's perspective a 5-year-old walking alone to school sounds shocking. But life was safer then perhaps, and our house was at one edge of a small college campus with the kindergarten at the center of campus--so I was on pretty protected ground the whole time.) In any case, Eeyore kept me good company that kindergarten year, and I'm going to consider my camera as the grown-up equivalent.

9/25: incredible

Today's clouds. From the first thing this morning to the lingering moments of sunset. I've been watching them wide-eyed and open-mouthed all day.

9/24: eating LA-style at home

We've been eating out a lot (too much) recently, a function of being busy and hungry and not going grocery shopping frequently enough. But today we cooked dinner at home, and it was so nice to eat our food at our table. And it was one of my favorite meals: a shell pasta salad with spinach, green onions, lemon juice, garlic, and feta cheese. When I lived in Los Angeles I used to order this salad every time I went to the restaurant at Rita Flora. Arkansas is a far cry from La Brea Avenue, but I like the fact that this little bit of my LA life is transportable.

9/23: yellow skies

On my way to campus this morning I looked east as I drove around the lake. Yellow light was streaming through the clouds in the early sky.

This afternoon at school we had our second short-story discussion session in the library. We read "The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky" by Stephen Crane and had a great time.

9/22: perfect words

I received an email today which reassured me about something that had been concerning me for some time. It was such a wonderfully worded (and wonderfully reassuring) email that I've gone back to read it again and again and again. I am so grateful to the sender!

9/21: bloggiversary and celebratory cake

A year ago today I started this blog. I've posted every day that I've been home and a fair number of times when I've been traveling, too. I think it has made a difference in how I approach my days: though I can still be melancholy, morose, and negative at times, I really (really) like knowing that I'll have to shake those feelings off each day at least long enough to acknowledge something good and write about it.

Last night we baked a cake so that we could celebrate the blog's anniversary with chocolate cake for breakfast. We had to use whole wheat flour because we were out of regular flour, and we also decided to try baking with Splenda for the first time. The cake didn't look anything like it usually does, but when we each had a piece for breakfast this morning it was delicious nonetheless.

Here's to a good start to the day!

9/20: conceptual quilting breakthrough

I don't quilt, and I'll probably never become a quilter. But I like the idea of piecing together fabrics, and I'd especially like to try my hand at something like a crazy quilt. I've looked at crazy quilt directions over the years, but they've never really clicked. Today it finally hit me how it works. So easy (at least as a concept). I'm not sure why I could never quite "get" it before. Now I'm very (very!) eager to give it a try.

9/19: pelicans galore (plus more deer)

I was sitting at our long table this morning, working on my computer. I looked up and out the window, and what did I see? Three flocks of pelicans flying overhead. Each flock had at least 20 birds. I've never seen so many pelicans all at once. I ran outside and called to Chris (who was working elsewhere in the yard) so that he could see them, too. Then he told me that he had just seen 4 deer walking around the house. Oh, the animal sightings of autumn have begun in earnest!

9/18: birds, deer, and beer

We live in a dry county, so if we want to buy beer, wine, or any other kind of alcoholic spirit, we need to drive about half an hour to a neighboring county. This evening we decided to go on a beer run. On the way down to Morgan I kept admiring the numbers of birds sitting on the utility wires along the roadside: it's been raining pretty steadily for the past few days, but today was relatively dry, so I guess the birds were enjoying some time out in the open en masse. And as we pulled up our driveway after our liquor-store trip, we saw two deer jump from the yard into our woods. I hadn't seen deer around the house for some time, so I'm glad to know they're back.

9/17: like a leaf

I saw a certain kind of moth today as I was walking from the library to my office, and then I remembered seeing them at this time last year: little moths of bright green. When they perch on bushes and close their wings, they look exactly like leaves.

9/16: first fig

We bought our house in October 2007, and before we had even moved in Chris planted some small fig trees in the yard. Fall 2008 would have been too early to hope for any fruit, but this year we've been keeping our fingers crossed. One of the trees has a number of baby green figs, but only one of them has been ripening in a promising way. Today it was ready to pick! It was beautifully white and rosy inside, and we shared the few bites that it comprised. A homegrown fig is definitely a good thing.

9/15: photographic compliments

It's not obvious from this blog (which is almost perversely text-only), but I love to take pictures with my camera. Today I got three sweet messages from people to whom I've recently sent some of my photographs--all three said such nice things. I'm both gratified and grateful.

9/14: they've got greek

My Greek students worked so hard last year to learn the basics, and the ones who continued on to the third semester are working so hard again this year. What a pleasure it was to sit with them this afternoon and hear them translate aloud from real Greek texts without having to look at their notes. They're really reading it.... Oh, that is such a good thing.

9/13: pen to paper

Occasionally I'll buy myself some pens as a pick-me-up. My most recent purchase was a pack of Sharpie pens (Sharpie pens with a retractable fine point, to be precise). I've had such a good time writing with them today; there's a tactile pleasure in feeling my letter shapes slip out of the pen and slide along the slick surface of a postcard's back.

9/12: napping with the cats

I laid down after an early dinner this evening. Usually I don't like to take naps because I wake up cranky, but today I couldn't help falling asleep. Two of the cats came and joined me for what became a literal cat nap. Wonderful beings, the cats.

9/11: all through the night

I think I've gone about two weeks without a full night's rest. Last night, however, I slept, slept, slept, and didn't wake up until morning light. I'm so grateful for sweet sleep.

9/10: looking forward to laundry

I didn't bring home any work from school this evening. Instead, I'm going to put some laundry in and tidy up my home-office a bit. I am actually looking forward to these little domestic tasks! I think that the craziness of the start of the semester plus the blur of my being so sick recently has led to things getting into too much disarray. It's time to re-establish some array!

9/9: reading a white heron

Chris and I held a short-story session in the library today. Anyone who wanted to come was welcome, and we spent an hour reading aloud "A White Heron" by Sarah Orne Jewett and then discussing it. I love this story, I loved learning what other people saw in it, and I loved the fact that the event was entirely optional: only people who wanted to be there were there.

9/8: worldwide moment

I participated in the Worldwide Moment this evening. At 7:09 Chris and I were out on the porch. Chris let me know the second the minute turned, and I began snapping pictures. I only managed to take 8 before it became 7:10. Here are my 2 favorites.

9/7: fairy tale craziness

In the wee hours of the morning I couldn't sleep, so (among other things) I read the first story in the complete Brothers Grimm, which is the story of the Princess and the Frog. And, wow, did it hold some surprises and delights for me.

So here's one delight: The tale begins, "In olden times when wishing still helped one...." Isn't that a great phrase--melancholy and nostalgic, but great?

And one surprise: The frog does not transform back into a prince because the princess kisses him but rather because she throws him against a wall!!

Though it's obviously not a good thing to be thrown against a wall, here's a hurrah for unexpected twists and turns in traditional tales!

9/6: alium

For the past few weeks Chris and I have been watching the alium bloom in the yard. It's been marvelous. At first the butterflies and wasps beset it; now the honey bees are taking their turn. We stood in front of a patch this afternoon, and watched dozens and dozens of bees buzzing on the white flowers.

9/5: a long weekend

Since Monday is Labor Day, classes were cancelled, making today the first day of a 3-day weekend. I'm especially grateful for it because I've been ill since Wednesday. Knowing that I have 3 days to recover is helping me to relax: I was able to devote today mostly to resting without having to worry about getting things done for Monday.

9/4: beginning to think

Next year I'm going to be teaching an Introduction to Gender Studies course for the first time. In my Classics courses ancient views of gender come up for discussion, but teaching a whole course on gender in the present day will be new for me. I'm both excited and scared. Today I started thinking concretely about how to set up the course, about how to frame the whole enterprise of studying gender from a perspective that doesn't take scientific pronouncements about sex and gender as definitively truthful. Chris is teaching the Introduction to Gender Studies course this year, and it was fun to talk with him about it over dinner today. We often talk about our work with one another, but this is the first time that our teaching will really overlap.

9/3: a favorite line

My advanced Latin class is reading Vergil's 4th Georgic, and today we reached a beautiful line in which Vergil describes some wool which the nymphs are carding as "dyed with the rich color of glass" (vellera...hyali saturo fucata colore). Most commentators explain that the glass in question must be sea-green since Vergil is talking about sea nymphs. Maybe. But I like to consider the possibility that Vergil is enjoying the paradox of something colored to be deeply transparent...!

9/2: a blue uke

We bought Chris' nephew a blue ukelele for his birthday, and I was kind of charmed by its color. It made me think of Wallace Stevens' "Man with a Blue Guitar." So we succumbed and bought one for ourselves, as well. Chris is tuning and strumming it right now. Sweet, sweet, sweet.

9/1: end-of-the-day clarity

Clearness in three ways as today works toward its end: a headache has lifted, a friend at work provided some extremely relevant and helpful comments about something that was bothering me, and the evening air of early autumn feels crisp and clean.

8/31: visions of sugarplums

I got an unexpected gift today from a colleague: a cookbook of vegan desserts! I just spent some time paging through it (and fantasizing). Finding some of the ingredients may be a challenge, but I'm going to pick one recipe to make this weekend and then I'll head down to Little Rock for the not-usual-grocery-store-stuff if necessary. And yes, there is a recipe for sugarplums in the book, though I'm not sure it'll be the absolutely first one I try....

8/30: public walking

One of my favorite things about Conway (where I've lived for almost a decade now) is the McGee Center. There's a community garden and a skateboard/bike park outside. Inside there are racquetball and basketball courts with a track above the courts looking down onto them. I love to walk there. I hadn't been in awhile, but I went today before doing the week's grocering. I like the cross-section of people one sees there. I like the architecture. I like that it's "a clean, well-lighted place."

8/29: company across the quiet/miles

I had insomnia early this morning; around 4 a.m. I finally gave up trying to sleep naturally and got out of bed to take some medicine. While waiting for the pills to work (which takes about an hour and a half), I wrote a bunch of postcrossing postcards. Though I don't know any of the folks I'm sending postcards to, reading their profiles, choosing cards that they might like, and writing to them made me feel less lonely in those quiet hours between night and morning.

8/28: a happy hello

I ran into a student today who was in two of my classes last year but not any this year. He saw me before I saw him, and he gave me such a spontaneous and genuine greeting that it immediately gave me a little boost.

8/27: fish and a solution

This morning Chris and I went kayaking early, since we didn't have to head to school right away. As we turned the bend around an island in the lake, we saw dozens of minnows leap out of and then back into the water, making sweet and perfectly coordinated arcs.

This evening Chris and I had dinner with a friend, and (unfortunately) I needed to debrief with them a bit before I could let a problem from my day go. My friend suggested the perfect solution: I can't implement it until tomorrow, but it is so spot-on.

So today I'm especially grateful for little leaping fish and problem-solving friends!

8/26: buying time (and two other things!)

I found myself with an unexpected pocket of unscheduled time at school today, so I managed to complete all today's tasks and a good number of the tasks I had scheduled for tomorrow. This means that I bought myself the time to go kayaking early tomorrow morning; I can afford to be at work an hour or two later than normal. (I have to remember that I am lucky to have a job that occasionally allows me such flexibility.)

I wrote the entry above, then went for a walk with Chris. After our walk (on which we saw fireflies and a bat--hurray), I needed to write a diary postcard for an exchange I'm part of. That made me reflect on my day and realize that there were two other particularly good things that merit mention. One is that this morning I got a very kind call from a colleague who put my mind at ease about some things that were troubling me last night. The other is that a mail-friend sent me an invitation/encouragement to participate in the "Worldwide Moment" this year. Anyone can join in by signing up at worldwidemoment.org, but I wouldn't have known about it if he hadn't spread the word, and it's just the kind of thing I'd like to do.

8/25: august ice cream

I'm trying to cut back on desserts in general and to limit myself to one ice cream dessert a month. Today was it for August! We went to get frozen custard as a treat after our first day of classes.

8/24: ducks in a row

Today was a day of bureaucratic bits and bobs, with some meetings with students mixed in. Classes start tomorrow, and I'm really pleased that things seem (mostly) ready to go.

8/23: a mini Jamesian project

In 2007 I made a happy peace with Henry James. Before that, I felt like he baffled me, and I had a hard time with his books. In 2007 I read The Bostonians, and ever since James has been in my "favorite authors" list. One of the James pieces that had given me trouble before my 2007 break-through is The Turn of the Screw, and I recently picked up a copy of it, determined to give it another go. Last night Chris and I watched The Innocents, a 1961 film based on The Turn of the Screw and starring Deborah Kerr (we're on a bit of a Deborah Kerr kick). So today I've been sitting on the porch and reading James' novella, having fun comparing and contrasting the film and book in my mind. I'm still finding The Turn of the Screw's prose harder than other Jamesian writing, but now I'm beginning to see why a twisting style might be especially effective with this work.

8/22: saturday attitude

Earlier this week I wrote (happily) about how the run-up to the academic year was going more smoothly than usual. And it was--until Friday. Yesterday was taxing, and by the time we went to get pupusas, I really did need the comfort of comfort food. I went to bed more than a little frayed and more than a little dispirited. Not much of what was bothering me yesterday has changed today, except--crucially!--my attitude. Things seem lighter, brighter, and more do-able. What a difference sleep, cool air, and blue skies can make! In a few moments I'm going to head down to the lake with my kayak and enjoy a late-summer sunset on the water.

8/21: quicker pupusas

For the past couple of years whenever we've wanted Salvadorean food we've driven an hour and half to a small town tucked away in central Arkansas where there's a Salvadorean restaurant. The trip is fun, but it's also a substantial outing time-wise. We recently found a place that serves pupusas (our Salvadorean food-of-choice) that's a little closer, only about half an hour away. Today we went there for dinner. And those pupusas were definitely comfort food.

8/20: fritter dinner (kind of)

I've been hankering for corn fritters all summer, but I've been hesitant to make them because of the frying involved--it's just not good for me. But today I had a brain-wave: why not add corn to waffles? So we tried it for dinner, and with butter and maple syrup, the corn waffles sure did taste like fritters, minus the fat.

8/19: a smoother run-up

At my school we call the week of workshops, meetings, etc. before classes start "the run-up." Most people find it exhausting, and we all seem glad when classes finally begin. This year I have fewer responsibilities during the run-up time--so though I'm tired tonight, I'm less harried than I've been at similar points in the past. And that's a good thing!

8/18: floral synaesthesia

A number of years ago students and professors at my school planted an Arkansas garden, populating it exclusively with native flora. It's one of my favorite places on campus. Today I walked through it at high, hot noon, and the warm smell of the flowers was so thick that I could feel it.

8/17: pleasant words

This morning we had a large all-faculty meeting at school. The best part of it was afterwards, when I got to chat with a number of people in passing (and some in a little more-than-passing). Well rested and full of good spirits, we were all glad to see one another.

8/16: before summer's end

One of my colleagues lives on the other side of the lake, and at the end of the school year in May we said that we would have to plan to do some kayaking together this summer. But it kept not happening--until this morning. And we're in under the wire: tomorrow is our first official faculty meeting of the year, so in a way "summer" ends tomorrow.

8/15: paper crowns

As we were setting the table late this afternoon for our dinner guests--2 adults and 4 children--I suddenly thought that paper crowns at each person's place would provide a sweet finishing touch. I don't know why I thought of this when I did; maybe I had seen it in a movie? In any case, Chris and I sat down and made 8 crowns out of pretty patterned papers we happened to have on hand. Within moments of arrival, some of the children had their crowns on, we adults wore ours, and even the teenager consented to puts hers on for part of the dinner.

8/14: more good than bad

I ran into two unpleasantnesses today, and the second one definitely bummed me out (more than it should have). But then I made myself realize that far more than two pleasant things occurred today, so today's good thing is that the day is a net gain of goodness. Particularly happy things:

- After eating breakfast on the porch with Chris and the cats, I went swimming with my neighbor on a calm lake in crisp, almost autumny air.

- Chris identified a tree in our woods as an Autumn Olive, and its berries are now ripe so I got to try a new-to-me fruit.

- I received four beautiful cards via postcrossing plus one great, quirky "found object" via sendsomething.net.

- A photo-swapping friend complimented a picture I recently sent her. (And I was really hoping that she'd like it, so I was grateful for her response.)

- One of my colleagues wrote to ask me about the reading quizzes I give in my Myth class because one of our shared students mentioned to him that they work well. Hearing that a student finds quizzes helpful makes a teacher's heart sing.

- Spending the evening making two batches of cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. We're having a family of 6 over for dinner tomorrow, so we have a chance to bake on a different scale, and it was fun, especially because Chris and I used it as hanging-out-together time.

- And, with a celebratory nod to Barbara (who's been visiting the blog), it's her birthday today and, as she says, she's beaten the odds. Hurray to that!

8/13: unanticipated phone call

More phone-and-friend goodness today. Someone I haven't talked with in years (though we email occasionally) called unexpectedly, and I think we had a very pleasant chat. It made me really remember why we became friends in the first place!

8/12: anticipated phone call

I set a phone-date with a friend for this evening; we haven't talked in a year! She's supposed to call any minute....

8/11: reprieve

I thought I had to finish writing some reports by a week from today, but I found out this afternoon that I have until the end of the month to turn them in! I still worked on them today, but I didn't have to be frantic about it.

8/10: half and half

This morning was clear and blue--perfect for a swimming date I had arranged with my neighbor Molly. And now it's raining--perfect for keeping everything green and well-watered.

8/9: getting to keep my greek font

This summer I switched my home computer from a PC to a Mac. I've been really happy with my Mac, but the biggest worry about making the switch involved my PC-only Greek font which I've used in countless documents for work and research. Chris ordered me my Mac before we had come up with a solution, and we decided to take a "cross that bridge when we come to it" approach (i.e., don't think about it until the school year starts and the issue becomes pressing). But today I got word that the updated versions of my Greek font will now work on a Mac. Hurray, hurray! This may seem like a crazy thing to be happy about--but, really, it's such good news.

8/8: author excitement

I read the first chapter of John Barth's Chimera this afternoon, and it was so fun. And somehow it reminded me of what it felt like when I first read Italo Calvino back in the mid-1980s. I was glad to feel like a young, fresh reader again.

8/7: a snake I wasn't scared of

Yes indeed; I'm scared of snakes. But today Chris found a baby-baby-baby snake in the hay--it was about five inches long and oh-so thin. I let it crawl over my hand a few times before we let it go again.

8/6: hard hive checked

This has been an odd summer for beekeeping. We've had more rain than usual, and we've found that it's not good to check hives on days before or after rain because the bees are more easily stirred up then. So what to do when most days are days before or after rain, or rainy days themselves? But today seemed good for a hive check, so we went into a hive that sounds testy every time we get near it. I braced myself in case the going got tough, but though the bees weren't thrilled with us, everything went okay. And now we have only one hive left to check.

8/5: emails accomplished

Sometimes I find writing emails very (strangely) difficult. I had my out-of-office reply on my business email for the month of July, so now that it's back-to-work time, I need to go through the accumulated pile in my inbox. I've made steady progress over the past 3 days, and all the emails that I was most stressed about writing (for whatever set of mysterious reasons) are done.

8/4: the moon is ready for its close-up

A bright white moon tonight, and a new eye-piece for our telescope. I'm heading outside to take a look....

8/3: a moosewood jump-start

I enjoy cooking to a certain extent, but I have definite limiting parameters: we're vegetarian, I don't have much time to cook, I'm not good at multi-tasking in the kitchen, and Chris especially isn't a fan of cooked vegetables. I felt like I was in a dinner rut, so I recently ordered Moosewood's Simple Suppers and also their Low-Fat Favorites. Yesterday we made a Vietnamese noodle recipe from Simple Suppers, while today I made a Mexican pasta salad from the other cookbook--and these are the best dinners I've had (at a restaurant or at home) all summer. I feel inspired to be in the kitchen again.

8/2: finish line

I've written about Bolaño's 2666 a few times over the months I've been reading it. Today I reached the last page. Reading it was the mental and emotional equivalent of what I imagine a long endurance run to be like: demanding and exhilarating (sometimes at the same time, sometimes not), and revealing as much about the reader/runner as the book or road itself.

8/1: a back-to-school friend

With the start of August comes the beginning of back-to-school season. (For instance, I need to go in to my campus office on Monday afternoon to do some paperwork.) This evening, we got to experience a pleasant part of the return of the school year: a colleague who usually spends her summers out of town has come back, and Chris and I met up with her for dinner.

7/31: mushrooms in the morning

I hadn't even finished my coffee this morning when Chris asked if he could show me the mushrooms that had sprung up seemingly overnight in our yard. So I pulled on my snake boots and went out to the woods in my pajamas--and there we saw bright red and bright orange mushrooms, as if they had popped out of the pages of a fairy tale.

7/30: new books, fresh horizons

Some new books have found their way to me over the past 24 hours: David Petersen's Mouse Guard Winter 1152, John Barth's Chimera, Rudyard Kipling's Puck of Pook's Hill, and Rosemary Sutcliff's Eagle of the Ninth. Mouse Guard was a much-appreciated gift from a friend which reminds me of my youth (when I would only borrow library books which featured mice as characters); Barth's Chimera might be an avenue for future research; and the Kipling and Sutcliff books are possibilities for a course I'm meditating on representations of Roman Britain (to be taught in Britain someday? maybe perhaps?). In any case, they all feel like breaths of fresh air.

7/29: zine in a day

I heard about the 24 Hour Zine Thing back in 2007. I had never written a zine before, but the idea intrigued me. Neither July 2007 nor July 2008 was conducive to an all-day zine-writing experiment; still, the idea stuck in my mind. And last night before I went to bed I realized that I could spend today doing a zine for the 2009 challenge. So I've been working at it all day--it's a compilation of various kinds of word-based literary-ish lists. Tomorrow morning (before my 24 hours have expired) I'll print it out and bind it. I'm not sure I'll zine again, and my "product" is definitely different than it would be if I didn't have a tight deadline, but I'm glad that I gave the challenge a go.

7/28: drinking a cold beer

On a humid summer night. Because it's still the summer holidays.

7/27: sundog circle

I went swimming this morning in the lake, and as I was backfloating I saw the faint spectrum of a sundog circling the sun.

7/26: moving past the murders

I've slowly been reading Bolaño's 2666, and I think it is an amazing book in many ways. The fourth part is tough-going: several hundred pages cataloging murders based on the Juarez femicides. Today I finished that section of the novel. I still have a lot to process--including guilt for being so relieved to be done with that portion of the book. But I'm counting it a good thing that I stayed with this challenging novel and am now beginning its fifth and final section.

7/25: successful socializing

I get nervous at dinner parties and similar gatherings. But tonight our neighbor held a dinner get-together and we attended and it all went smoothly and warmly and was such a good thing. I take no credit for the overall success of the occasion myself (and indeed, I'm jealous of the unseen touch that made it all crystallize so well), but I do count it a victory to have gotten through a social evening without second-guessing everything I said.

7/24: almost a chair again

For 18 months I've been wanting to refurbish a chair we've kept in storage. The frame of the chair is lovely, but the seat is--well--un-sit-able. A few months ago I tried one method of re-doing the seat; it didn't work (and I ended up ruining a lovely piece of fabric I'd been saving for something special), so I got discouraged. But I've come up with a new plan, and I've spent the afternoon putting it into action. By the end of this weekend it should be done, and my chair will be able to fulfill its chair destiny.

7/23: all at once

I'm still not feeling well, so today's good thing is in the vein of looking for the silver lining. After a morning in which I tried to act as if I were all better, I needed to retreat to my bed for the afternoon. I took with me The Road by Cormac McCarthy and read it in one fell swoop. It's rare enough these days (these years!) that I have the chance to read a book straight through in one long pass, so at least feeling sub-par has allowed me that scarce opportunity.

7/22: dragonflies

Lots of them, piloting over our hip-high grass.

7/21: classic chris

Sometimes Chris and I are a bit at cross-purposes with our wishes for the weather: he wants it to rain so that his fig trees etc. will get water, while I want it to be sunny so that I can go kayaking. Today his wish prevailed. But I'm reconciled to it--partially because I know it's good for everything outside to get a drink, and partially because it became the occasion for Chris to look out the window this morning and exclaim, "I just want to cheer every drop!"

And here's another wonderful Chris thing for the day. He was working on electronic stuff all morning and into the afternoon. The finished project is a device that translates bat sonar into sound that is audible to humans. Really! (Now we just need some bats to test it out on....)

7/20: through to the morning

I woke up this morning before the alarm rang (Pepys would say "up betimes"), and I felt fully rested. And I didn't have to take any cold medicine before bed nor did I wake up in the middle of the night. It had been a full week (yikes!) since my last full, uninterrupted, and/or unmedicated night of sleep--so this morning I awoke with cheerfulness and relief. I hope that it bodes well for the rest of today.

7/19: good collective thinking

Chris and I met with two colleagues from work today for the first of our graphic novel workshop sessions. We're each teaching a graphic novel in one of our classes this year, and we received some faculty development money to get together and discuss our different texts and our ideas for teaching them. Today we talked about Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics and Franz Masereel's Story Without Words and The Idea. The conversation about Masereel was especially good; I felt like we were all getting further by talking together than we would have by working/reading on our own. It's nice when time with other people is earnest and productive and idea-oriented. It seems to happen too rarely.

7/18: more good company

Still ill today, but I feel lucky to have access to a variety of things (and people!) to keep me occupied as I'm trying to recover: a movie starring Audrey Hepburn and Peter O'Toole, a novel by Elizabeth Bowen, podcasts from my brother, and snippets of Gerald of Wales read out loud by Chris.

7/17: keeping company with pepys

I use Pepys' diary as my homepage so that I read an entry a day. Yesterday and today (in 1666) Pepys was feeling under the weather. I'm quite ill today myself (though luckily not with the same ailment as Pepys), and while it's not nice to be sick, it is kind of fun and funny to have a friend-in-illness across the centuries....

An additional bit of silver lining is that I didn't get sick until we got back home. I'm glad that I didn't have to take any time out of our holiday-ing to recover.

7/16: familiar comfort

Chris and I were travelling in England and Wales for almost two weeks. It was good. But today we're back home, and it's equally good in its own way to be resting in my own bed again.

7/3-7/15: offline

A girl's gotta get offline every now and then. So I'll be away from the blog until mid-July. But in the meanwhile, please feel free to post good things from your days in the comments!

7/2: all loaded up

I just got an iPod, and over the past day I've loaded it up with music, movies, and podcasts. It was a crazy kind of fun. And Chris knitted me a case for it, which I just put a ribbon on as a finishing touch.

7/1: more than 100 skies

As of today, my sky blog has more than 100 contributions from 30 different people. I think that's a good thing, and I'm very grateful to sky-senders from around the world!

6/30: blueberries

Blueberries on my cereal this morning. And they were grown here at our house and hand-picked by us!

6/29: magical nomenclature

I decided that I couldn't think of my to-do list as a task list. So as I was formulating my plans this morning I wrote at the top of a sheet of paper Today's Adventures Include.... The list of "adventures" that followed was pretty prosaic, but it felt better to call them something different (and exciting) for a change. So today's good thing is language itself, and how different words can get us to feel different ways.

6/28: reminiscing italian style

Okay, here's a second entry for today. We (meaning I) finally got around to making vegetarian meatballs, and while I was doing that Chris worked on some red sauce. So we ended up having a very Italian dinner (home-cooked Italian food is something we both enjoy). The meatballs reminded Chris of the submarine sandwiches his grandmother used to make at his parents' pub, and that led us to talking about all sorts of things related to Chris' childhood. And that was good.

6/28: resized to fit

I did the unenviable work of cutting my paper down today: all told, 4 pages had to disappear. It made me sad to remove some of my more subtle (but less necessary) observations and to demote other discoveries to footnotes. But it needed to be done, and done it is. Chris helped a lot, both in terms of advice and morale, and for that I'm so grateful. I can tinker with the paper in places for the next few days, but in essence it's ready to go. Now I can turn my attention to other aspects of preparing for our trip!

6/27: (almost) full draft

Today's writing-time has been good, and I have only the final sentence of my paper to write. The whole paper will need to be cut over the next few days to make it fit in the amount of time I'll have at the conference. But the hardest part--getting it onto paper at all--is pretty much done.

6/26: private library

Ever since our last house-moving operation (in December 2007) I've been mostly vexed by the number of books I own. But today I enjoyed the benefit of having accumulated a library. I needed some specific, detailed information about the development of the myth of Pandora across the centuries, and I had just the book to pull off the shelf: Pandora's Box by Dora and Erwin Panofsky. I remember buying this book during graduate school, and at the time it didn't speak as directly as I had hoped to the Pandora-related issues I was working on. But I'm glad I kept it, because today it answered all my new Pandora-related questions promptly and perfectly.

6/25: moon and June cake

In June of 1992 (the first summer Chris and I spent together), we found this poem by Christina Rossetti:

The days are clear,
Day after day,
When April's here
That leads to May,
And June
Must follow soon:
Stay, June, stay!--
If only we could stop the moon
And June!

On one particularly lovely June evening in 1992, we made and decorated a cake in honor of this poem. And every June since we've made a "moon and June" cake at some point during the month. We decided that today is this year's moon and June day, so it's cake for dinner tonight!

6/24: a no-car day

This may seem like a silly "good thing," but against the background of a lot of recent errand-running around town I think it's good. I didn't drive anywhere today.

6/23: a wonder(ful) book

In preparation for my final paper-writing push I re-read Hawthorne's Wonder Book today. It is simply fantastic. It made me laugh and cry. I was realizing yesterday that so much of the Hawthorne scholarship and children's literature scholarship that I've read this month is joyless. I've found that strange (and discouraging), since I don't know why one would write about Hawthorne or children's literature unless one were passionate about the topic. So I was especially grateful to return to the source and find such joy and beauty (and wit and warmth and sweetness) there.

6/22: mirror lake

The water was glassy as Chris and I went kayaking on the lake this evening. And we spent two hours paddling as the sun worked its way to setting.

6/21: break in routine

I work well with routines and habits, but every now and then I need a break. I certainly needed one today, and Chris got us out of the house. We went down to a bookstore in Little Rock and then to the Flying Saucer for beer and an early dinner.

6/20: first harvesting

Today I did my first honey-collecting of the year. Chris and I checked one of the hives this morning, and it had a full extra box of honey. The frames of sealed comb are in the freezer now, waiting until August when we'll do the extracting and jarring.

6/19: first paragraph

I've been doing research for a conference paper I'll be giving in early July. The past few weeks have involved a lot of secondary reading, and as June is more than half over now, I'm getting antsy to make the move from reading to writing. This morning I wrote the first paragraph, and it feels solid.

6/18: really stretching

I went swimming with my neighbor in the lake this morning, and I did a lot of side-stroke. It's a glorious and under-rated stroke (I think). I love reaching through the water with my arm at each iteration.

6/17: flow

The sumac bushes on the ridge have started their flow of nectar. The bees are all over it!

6/16: twinkling

As we pushed our kayaks up the hill at twilight this evening, the woods on both sides of the road was blinking with fireflies.

6/15: focused embroidering

I needed to take a break from my reading this afternoon and so I worked on an embroidery project. Usually I embroider while watching a video or television show. It was nice just to embroider for a change.

6/14: home-made

While Chris was in Canada he visited an Italian grocery store and bought a cute ravioli mold. We used it today for the first time today. Chris made the pasta dough, I made the filling, and we assembled the ravioli together. It all worked swimmingly.

6/13: images of greece

I needed a pick-me-up today so we went to My Life in Ruins at the movies. Seeing Greece, even on screen, was wonderful.

6/12: taking shape

This afternoon I was able to sketch a preliminary-but-full outline for my conference paper. I was beginning to think that maybe my ideas were too diffuse and wouldn't "gel" easily, but they're starting to come together into a whole, and that takes away a little layer of worry.

6/11: a fleeting hug

I ran into someone today whom I didn't at all expect to see. She called out my name, we hugged, we exchanged a few words (a very few words). But we didn't have time for more than that because she had to run to a meeting. Still, it was great to see her--and it made me feel good to see that she was happy to see me, as well.

6/10: ideas & ice cream

An afternoon of thinking (good thinking, I think) and then an early evening trip for some summery ice cream.

6/9: a diminutive deer

A deer has been coming into our yard almost daily for a month. We love to see her, sometimes in the mornings and sometimes near sunset. Today she brought her fawn with her! Tiny and with white spots, it jumped through the high grass alongside its mother.

6/8: 2 Bs

Loads of bumblebees visiting the bergamot which is thriving right now in a neighbor's garden.

6/7: a good sky & a new flower

I spent yesterday almost entirely inside (or on the screened-in porch), but today I was on the lake by 9 a.m. The sky was glorious with sunlight streaming through the clouds, and as I was paddling along the shore of the lake I came across a purple flower of a kind I had never seen before.

6/6: phone call from my father & phone call to my sister

My father had a heart procedure in the hospital earlier this week. He's back at home now and was feeling up to talking a bit on the telephone this evening. I was glad to touch base with him. Then I called my sister. We had a good & long conversation, and I'm grateful for that, too.

6/5: a cozy image

My good thing for today is Meri's smile-inducing, heart-warming mention (in the comments for 6/3) of an imagined afternoon tea-party with me and Elaine! I read it this morning, and I was grateful for it.

Meri and Elaine, thank you for all your good things! (And I wish we could drink tea together.)

6/4: private syllabus

I have a month to get myself up to speed for a conference and to write my paper for it. I've made myself a syllabus and started my reading and thinking. My head is swirling with words and thoughts--kind of crazy, kind of fun.

6/3: heavy & light

I took 140 pounds of stuff to the city dump to be recycled today. (I know it was 140 pounds because I have to drive over scales on the way in and out.) I am always a little nervous when learning new protocols, but I've been to the dump a couple of times now on recycling runs (we don't have curbside recycling), and I'm happy to be getting the hang of it. And on the drive back I saw a mimosa tree in almost full flower with its airy puffs of blossom.

6/2: making room for the new

I spent part of this afternoon clearing things out of my home office. There's more work to be done on that front for sure, but I've delayed it long enough. It feels good to get the process started and to know that at the end of it there will be room for new projects, not just the detritus of old ones.

6/1: thumbs up (a year later)

Last year I had a cholesterol test done, and when the nurse gave me the results over the phone she didn't sound too happy with my numbers. So I've been trying to take measures over the past year to improve my cholesterol situation: eating whole grains, drinking cranberry juice, etc. Today I went for another cholesterol test, and the doctor told me that my numbers from last year were actually very good. My "bad" cholesterol number, he said, was the lowest he knew of among his patients! I'm still glad I took the measures, and I hope that they had some good effect. (It would be ironic, wouldn't it, if my numbers for this year are worse than last year's? But that's glass half-empty thinking, so I won't give it free rein here!)

5/31: morning on the porch

 I must be nearly recovered from the lingering tiredness of the semester because today I woke up earlier than I have been.  I took my coffee and breakfast (and Macbook) onto the porch and enjoyed some cool morning air with Chris and the cats.

5/30: sunny cemetery etc.

This afternoon we drove out to a cemetery about an hour from our house. We had visited it before, in early 2008, to take pictures, and at that time the ground was covered with snow. Today was quite a contrast: clear, bright, and hot. We took more pictures and puzzled together over some inscrutable iconography. We also stopped at a panaderia on the way and went out for pupusas afterwards, so the outing was a success on at least three counts.

5/29: liberated left wrist

At the start of last summer my watch stopped working.  And I didn't buy a new one.  Instead, I meditated on the fact that I had worn a watch basically non-stop since the second grade.  I had even taken to wearing a special watch while swimming!  So I decided to experiment with watchlessness.  It was great to spend a summer without a time-piece strapped to my body.  I tried to keep it up during the school year, but I really do need to be able to keep timely time during the semesters, so I bought a new watch and have been wearing it dutifully for the past months.  Today I realized that it's time to revert to last summer's practice and unstrap!

5/28: tired from enthusiasm

One of my suite-mates from work joined me for kayaking on the lake this morning. We had a good time--and only now do I realize how much we paddled. At the time I didn't feel tired at all; I was just so happy to be out on the lake with a friend. Now I feel wiped, but how nice to feel wiped from such a cause.

5/27: iRebecca?

In the battle of PC (me) vs. Mac (Chris), I finally caved.  Lured by the crisp loveliness of Chris' Macbook and indebted to Chris' decisive click of the "buy now" button earlier this week, I've got my own new Apple.  I'm typing on it now!  I'm a bit daunted at the thought of getting used to a new system, but my old computer was starting to make weird sounds and I was getting frustrated with various PC-related quirks.  So it's time for a change! 

5/26: correspondence in the morning

Women in British novels seem to spend part of their morning working on their correspondence. Usually I do my letter-writing or postcard-writing in the evenings. But the summer is giving me a chance to try out this civilized British custom (or British-novel custom); most of my morning today was spent on correspondence of various sorts. And I have to say that there's something good about writing when one is fresh.

5/25: first fireflies

Chris and I went on a drive this evening after dinner, and as we returned home I saw fireflies sparking, the first (for me) of the year. Ah! Spring is giving way to summer....

5/24: company cleaning

It's the first round of full house-cleaning since Chris has been back. It feels so nice to have company while doing domestic tasks.

5/23: laying plans

A former student was passing through town today, so we met for lunch. He'll be back in the area in late August, and we talked about the possibility of his giving a talk on campus then. His topic would ancient Roman environmental pollution--and though it's a grim topic, we both got excited talking about it.

5/22: a winner

I enjoy Jane Austen's novels, and I've watched most of the movies and mini-series adaptations of them that come out. Of course, that's always a little disappointing: what are the chances that someone else is going to see Austen's world exactly as I do? Today I watched Miss Austen Regrets, and I wasn't disappointed at all. It's not a version of any novel, so I didn't have the cognitive disconnect to contend with. But it still had quite a high bar: presenting a convincing, subtle portrait of a complicated person in a complicated life in a time not our own. I think the film did a lovely job, and it's now my favorite bit of non-Austen-authored Austeniana.

5/21: connecting with a colleague & friend

The summer before I first started teaching here (9 years ago), I met another Classicist who teaches at a small college in the South, and over the years we've maintained the friendship. But sometimes we go for quite some time without connecting. For instance, we played phone tag for 2 weeks last winter before giving up on finding a mutually convenient time to talk. Now that school is out, we both have more flexibility, and he called me this morning for a good chat. It was really wonderful to catch up with him; we picked up the thread as if months hadn't passed since our last contact.

5/20: afloat again

2009 had--until today--been kayak-less. There were days earlier this year on which I had hoped or planned to go kayaking but then was stopped by tiredness, illness, too much work, or sudden bad weather. Today nothing got in the way, and after dinner Chris and I took our boats out on the lake. Hurray! My paddling muscles are out of practice, but I'm looking forward to getting myself and Tiger Lily out as much as possible in the summery weeks ahead.

5/19: art in the morning

We went to the Arkansas Arts Center today in Little Rock before heading home. We visited one of my favorites in the permanent collection: a cubist painting of two women by Diego Rivera. And I realized that a painting of Andromeda in the permanent collection is by Odilon Redon--although I remember having seen it before, only this year have I started to recognize Redon's distinctive style, and now I'm glad to know there's an actual exemplar so nearby. Then I saw a new-to-me piece, a ceramic sculpture called "Rat Krater"--which I thought was fantastic but which I won't be able to describe successfully, so the evocative name will have to do the trick here.

5/18: a small get-a-way

We're meeting some friends in Little Rock this evening, and we're planning to stay the night in the city afterwards. Little Rock is only 45 minutes away, but if we have something to drink, it's better not to have to worry about when it's safe to drive. So we reserved a room at the somewhat posh Capital Hotel in downtown Little Rock. We've stayed there before as part of a mini-vacation, but it's been renovated since then, and I'm interested to see what they've done.

5/17: classics, classics everywhere

I thought I was in better health today, but by mid-afternoon I needed to retreat to my bed. I had more Hawthorne to read so I didn't (so much) mind. And near the end of The House of the Seven Gables Hawthorne uses a classical allusion (about the Aeneid's golden bough) to marvellous effect. It makes me want to re-read the book from the beginning to see if the other classical allusions in the novel are similarly productive. What a pleasure to stumble on and think about.

5/16: sinking in

I'm a bit under the weather today, so I've been reading in bed. Hawthorne's House of the Seven Gables has been keeping me good company, and it's been intriguing to see Hawthorne's characterization of Hepzibah Pyncheon unfold.

5/15: letting myself be in between

The rhythm of the school year is fairly fixed, and over the years I've developed a summer rhythm, as well, which allows me to get through my summer reading and research in a steady yet pleasant way. Usually I try to move from my school pattern to my summer pattern quickly, but this year I'm giving myself some transition time. It feels good to just breathe for awhile.