At my parents' recommendation I've been watching Slings and Arrows on DVD. It's a Canadian TV series focused on life in a Shakespearean theatrical company reminiscent of the Stratford Festival. The first two seasons are fun & clever & satirical. The satire continues into the third (and last) season, but the episodes become increasingly serious--and the last episode is, in my opinion, simply wonderful. I just watched it for a second time before having to return the DVD.
I have used a backpack for years to ferry my belongings between home and office. I used to use a messenger bag, but it hurt my shoulder and my back. In December I realized that my old backpack no longer looked respectable (and, indeed, hadn't for some time). The search for a new bag began. I couldn't find a backpack that I liked. My old one was a saddle-bag of sorts that--when it was in its prime--managed not to look completely out of place for a grown-up professional (or someone trying to be a grown-up professional). I couldn't find something similar this time around. After a lot of hunting, I discovered Tom Bihn's large cafe shoulder bag. I ordered a special strap that magically cuts down on the stress to my shoulder and back. All in all, I really like this bag. I got one in unadventurous brown, but maybe I'll try a different color soon. It's smaller than my old bag, which forces me not to bring too much work home. And I think it's vegan-friendly, too!
I often suspect that the people who downplay the goodness of money (and who utter platitudes about money not being important) have never been poor themselves. It may be unfair of me to make such a blanket statement, but I am often consciously grateful about having enough money to be comfortable--especially in the current global economic situation. Today I was reminded about the good fortune (in more than one sense of the word!) that money is: Chris was in an accident with his truck; neither he nor the other driver is hurt; the only damage is to the two vehicles. Sure, we'd rather spend our money on something other than repairs, but it's a solid pleasure to know that we don't have to fret about having enough money for the repairs or any other incidental costs that may be involved.
I don't often receive personal or interesting mail at my office. But every now and then something arrives that isn't a piece of inter-campus paperwork or a textbook catalog. Today I got two postcards from the same former student; both are art postcards from a recent museum trip she took. I love receiving art postcards, and it's especially fun to get postcards from her because last year she was the only person who noticed that I change the postcards on my office bulletin board each month to make them match the colors in my wall-calendar's illustration for that month. At the start of each month she used to come into my office, observe the new selection of cards, and point out her favorites. It seems so sweet to have her contributing postcards to the collection now.
Over the past year and a half I've taken a lot (and I mean a lot) of photographs of the sky; the obsession doesn't seem like it's going to end anytime soon, and I always love receiving photos of the sky from other people. So today I set up a blog for an experiment in mailing the sky, and I registered the project with mail-art.de. Of course, I'll be happy if there are any takers, but I'm also just glad that I'm giving it an actual try instead of keeping it in my mind as a silent idea.
No, I didn't actually see any will-o'-the-wisps today. (That would be a good thing indeed!) But I did get to say the word out loud in Etymology class, and it was a pleasure to make those windy sounds. When was the last time you said "will-o'-the-wisp"? Give it a try....
My sister had to come to Arkansas for a business trip, and she extended her stay a bit in order to spend time with me. So for 3 days the good thing is having my sister in my state!
I hem my own pants and skirts when necessary, but hemming the sleeves of a lined jacket is beyond my comfort level so I take jackets to an alteration shop in town. I went to pick up two jackets today, and the seamstress chatted with me a bit about the jobs currently in her queue. She has such a nice manner, and it was so fun to hear someone talk about sewing. I used to be around that kind of talk all the time, growing up in a house with a costume-designer mother, but now it's so rare for me to find myself in that sort of conversation. It was an unexpected small delight.
I gave my faculty colloquium talk on Atwood & Trollope today, and one of my colleagues who hasn't read Trollope herself got very excited about the quiet but intent way in which Trollope uses his novels as a means of social critique and reform. She really saw what I was talking about, and she really appreciated it. And I appreciate that!
After a quiet but full long weekend I returned to school today and realized how truly packed (far more packed than usual) the next three weeks will be. But I'll try to take everything one day at a time! So in that spirit, here's today's good thing: I dropped no balls.
I've written before about walking along the ridge on which our house is built. To the north, below the ridge, lies a rice field. The slope down to the field is wooded, so most of the time it is hidden from view. But now that the trees have lost their leaves I can look at the field as I walk. In the center of the field is a pool of water. Today it was bright blue, like an eye, surrounded by dried rice plants, sunlit and tawny.
Anthony Trollope is one of my favorite authors, and this weekend I've gotten to spend some time with him (so to speak). I'm giving a faculty colloquium talk on Wednesday about Trollope & Atwood, and I'm using this long weekend to write my paper. It is such a pleasure to revisit Trollope's world....
Over the summer Chris and I rented and watched all the past episodes of the Battlestar Galactica TV series; we became a bit obsessed with it. And then we had to wait until now to see how the series ends. Last night the Sci-Fi channel began to air the final episodes. Since I don't have cable, I just watched the episode online this afternoon. I have no clue how it will all end up (and, indeed, I think there's a fair amount of narrative untidiness), but I'm hooked nevertheless.
It's a long weekend because classes are cancelled on Monday to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I have things to do (of course, of course), but I have some flexibility as well. It's nice to feel the horizon of the days ahead. I'm reminded of Virginia Woolf's remark: "I have three days alone--three pure and rounded pearls."
I had to go to a meeting of the college's curriculum committee today to answer questions about the Classics curriculum and some changes we're proposing to it. I don't always like my manner at meetings of that sort: sometimes I'm too outspoken, too sharp, too quick, too aggressive, and/or too defensive. But today I was none of those things. I was actually a me I was glad to be.
Every 3 years or so I teach a course entitled "Etymology and Philology." There's no set curriculum for the course, so every time it comes around I tinker with it a bit (or more than a bit). Often I plan to do too many different things in the course, and that ends up diluting each individual thing too much. I think it's still been a worthwhile experience for the students, but I haven't been entirely happy with it from a pedagogical perspective. It's one of my courses this semester, and this time I think I really do have a sane, focused plan. Our first class meeting today felt grounded and good. Good students, sound syllabus, comfortable classroom atmosphere. Honestly: yay.
Email messages in my inbox at work, that is. My dream goal is to have fewer than 50 lingering messages at any given time, but for now just moving from triple digits to double digits is a kind of victory. I'm going to do some more sorting and sifting tonight, so who knows? Maybe I'll even get under the 50 mark this evening.... Can I keep it there?
This evening I had to finalize my Mythology syllabus for this semester. As I worked on it, it become increasingly clear that I probably had to let go of two of my favorite texts (the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite and the Homeric Hymn to Demeter). Trying to include them in the schedule messed up the timing of tests and readings in relation to spring break and otherwise upset the symmetry of the course. I reluctantly but decisively excised them from the syllabus. And then it's almost like the universe rewarded me for my willingness to sacrifice my favorites to the higher interests of pedagogy: I got a brain wave about how to include them in different ways that won't gum up the works after all. So they're back in!
When I was growing up my parents would use the phrase "natural rising" to signal that, for a given day, we didn't have to set our alarm clocks. Today is the last day of winter break, and one thing that I've appreciated about it has been the opportunity for natural rising on most days. I can count on one hand the number of times I've had to set the alarm clock in the past 3 weeks. And today it was actually the bright white sun that woke me up; what a pleasure.
I was in a bit of a bad and/or panicky mood this morning. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to shake it, and yet I didn't want to spend the day in an emotional funk. I had rented a DVD which teaches ballroom dance steps, so I decided to give it a try to get my mind off my mood. And it worked! I like that the DVD modifies the dance steps so you don't need a partner, and I like that I now know how to rumba. (Kind of.)
I've gotten to go out for dinner twice this week with my friend & office suite-mate, Lilian. The first time (Monday) was by plan. The second time (today) was just because we both happened to be working late at school and decided to punctuate our tasks with a bit of warm food. Once teaching starts again, we won't have as much leisure for conversational dinners (planned or unplanned), but it's been nice this week!
Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday were cold, grey, and rainy. Sometimes I like cold, grey, and rainy, but today I'm happy that the sun is back and the sky is blue (with just enough clouds to make it interesting). The birds are happy, too: the bluebirds were popping from tree to tree as I took my walk, the geese are flying back and forth between the lake and the rice fields, hawks are circling and swooping, and I saw a very large woodpecker searching for insects to peck.
An impulse in February 2007 to be pro-active about my dental health led to 22 months of dental un-health and other difficulties. I won't describe the whole ball of unpleasantness here (it is decidedly not a good thing), but I will encourage any and all readers to choose their dentists with care! I eventually switched to a better dentist, who hooked me up with a good endodontist (see 10/23/08) and who today put the permanent glue on a crown for my problematic tooth. I am glad, glad, glad to turn the page on this particular chapter in the Life of Rebecca. (And I am very grateful to my current dentist and his staff.)
Years ago Chris found a recipe for an apple coffee-cake that is very tasty and keeps very well. We don't make it often (mostly because it's so large), but we made it this year for the holiday, and we used some Arkansas "black apples" (alas, they aren't really black) which a friend had given us. Truth be told, I'm usually skeptical of baked goods that don't somehow involve chocolate, but this coffee-cake is wonderful. Over the past week and a half, we've had a piece of it almost every morning for breakfast, and today we finished it. The timing is spot-on, since tomorrow the holiday is officially "over": I have to start writing syllabuses for the new semester, and Chris heads off to Nebraska for his teaching stint at a tribal college.
Our newest cat, Emma (see 9/30/08), railed against his collar when we put one on him a few months ago. Somehow--magically--he managed to get it off, and we didn't keep trying to put it back on. But we would really like him to have a collar with a name tag and our phone number, just in case he ever gets out and lost. Chris also thought that our other cats could tell that Emma wasn't wearing a collar while they were. So today we went to the pet store and bought them all matching collars. Emma took the imposition better this time, and all the boys match.
I woke up at 4:00 this morning, and Chris woke up just a few minutes later. We couldn't fall back to sleep, so while I read in bed Chris took the telescope outside and got Saturn in its sights. I went outside to look, and the view in the telescope was so clear and crisp: beautiful rings, and the shining moon of Titan, too!
We've been wanting to bring home the three hives which we've kept (for years) on a farm field south of town, but moving hives requires the convergence of a variety of conditions--time, energy, weather. Today everything aligned. It involved 120 miles of driving, some consistently careful lifting, and a fair amount of mud, but the hives now reside on our ridge. It's a sunny day, so they're flying around and learning their new surroundings.