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!