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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.