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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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,
Must follow soon:
Stay, June, stay!--
If only we could stop the moon
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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!)