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.