12/31: strung together

Quiet pleasures in the house, on the ridge, on the road: more close reading of Hawthorne, a walk with Chris amid rain, big skies and a bakery visit on the highway heading north.

12/30: a gorgeous passage

Today's bit of work and research had me reading Nathaniel Hawthorne's re-telling of the Ovidian story of Baucis and Philemon, an older couple who unknowingly host the gods Jupiter and Mercury in their humble home. Hawthorne describes the honey that Baucis and Philemon feed to their guests:

"But, oh the honey! I may just as well let it alone, without trying to describe how exquisitely it smelt and looked. Its color was that of the purest and most transparent gold; and it had the odor of a thousand flowers; but of such flowers as never grew in an earthly garden, and to seek which the bees must have flown high above the clouds. The wonder is, that, after alighting on a flower-bed of so delicious fragrance and immortal bloom, they should have been content to fly down again to their hives in Philemon's garden."

12/29: shifting Vs

...in the sky, as the geese pass overhead. They've been flying low, close to our house, and I love getting such a special view of their fluid yet orderly maneuvers.

12/28: a friend

Wilkie joined our household in the fall of 1996. He's lived with us in southern California, upstate New York, and central Arkansas. While we've seen him grow from a teeny kitten into a venerable cat, he's kept us good and steady company as we've changed from graduate students to tenured professors. (Though I think he liked things better when I was a graduate student because I could work at home more....) Chris says that Wilkie's "emotionally intelligent," and Wilkie does seem very aware of my mood--I'm always grateful for his tender responsiveness. Over the years I've posted entries here about Pippin and Emma, so it seemed high time to say that Wilkie's friendship is definitely a good thing.

And--yep--in a fit of sentimentality, I'm going to post a picture of him.

12/27: warmth (promptly) restored

I wrote earlier this year about the new HVAC system we got installed. It turns out that they didn't hook something up quite right when they put it in (it's a new-to-them model, and they're still learning its ways). The result: last night was chilly! But Chris called the company this morning, and they sent someone over quickly. Now the house is back to its cozy temperature.

12/26: a sensory memory

As I got ready to go for my walk this afternoon, I took my flannel-lined chinos out of the dryer so that I could wear them. They were still warm. When I put them on, it triggered a memory: when we were little we would put our outdoor winter clothes in the dryer in the morning to heat them up before heading off to the bus-stop. That way, we'd have a little pocket of warmth around us as we walked out into the chilly day. It wasn't nearly as cold today as it was on those Pennsylvania mornings of the past, but it was still nice to have an envelope of recent warmth around me, and it was a nice to feel the memory.

12/25: third canvas complete

For the past year I've been working, on and off, on a set of three large canvases, each painted then collaged with abstract shapes cut from old books. This morning I worked on cutting out shapes for the third one, and Chris helped. This evening after dinner I did the glueing, which went much faster than I thought it would (and also much faster than the previous two). The trio is ready to be hung!

12/24: ahhh

The house is very, very clean. It feels very, very good.

12/23: experiment over

This past semester I taught an Introduction to Gender Studies course for the first--and probably only--time. I decided in mid-2009 that I would be teaching it, so it's been on my mind ever since then. I lived with thoughts about what to teach and how to structure the course, and then I finally got to put those thoughts into action. I finished grading the students' last assignments today, and I'm pleased with how the course went. It wasn't always easy to teach what can be such a charged subject, but I think I can count the experiment as successful, for both me and the students.

12/22: the perfect beverage?

On my way out of Altus on Saturday I stopped at the Post Familie Winery. I bought a few bottles of wine, but my real goal was something else: I wanted to get some of their muscadine grape juice. As grape juice goes, it's pricey, but it's also very, very good. Chris says I shouldn't think of it as juice but rather as non-alcoholic wine. I think I get more pleasure out of drinking it than I do out of alcoholic wine, so from that perspective the price seems to justify itself. Today at dinner-time I opened the first of the bottles I bought, and it was so wonderful that I'm already regretting that I didn't buy more.

12/21: solstice

I'm glad when the winter solstice rolls around each year; it's nice to know that the days will start to get longer soon.

My solstice festiveness was somewhat fettered today: early this morning I got up to watch the lunar eclipse, but the cloud cover was so thick that I couldn't see anything; this evening I went down to the lake to watch the sunset, but one of our neighbors must have put a new lock on the gate without telling the rest of us the new combination so I couldn't get in. I feel like my day has been book-ended with these little vexations.

But there were some good things:
- It was a balmy, sunny day. After needing a hat, scarf, and gloves last week, it was funny not to need even a coat today!
- The bees were flying, and they enjoyed sipping up 3 jars' worth of honey which we poured out for them.
- I had some moments of insight about Hawthorne (a welcome development, since I soon need to start writing my Hawthorne paper for a conference in early January).
- A great blue heron flew overhead twice as I was standing outside the gate to the lake, watching the bright sky and the glorious lit-up water.
- Despite my frustration at not being able to get to the dock, it felt good to be so energized by a sunset.

Here are two digitally altered versions of a photo I took this evening. It was this amazing sky, as seen through the trees outside our house, that made me run down to the lake as the sun was slipping away....

12/20: homebody

I enjoy road trips, and I can often get some pleasure out of driving around town to get tasks done. But during the run-up to Christmas it's not so much fun to be on the road in town. Tomorrow I'll have to venture out to do some things, but today I was glad to stay at home: all my work was here, and I took my afternoon exercise break by walking on the ridge instead of driving to the indoor track. All through the afternoon I had a pot of chili (my own vegetarian recipe) cooking on the stove, which made the house feel and smell especially cozy.

12/19: ready to return

...to grading. I was frazzled when final exam period ended, and though it was an appealing thought to power through the last bits of grading for my classes, I wanted to make sure that my mind was clear and calm when I read the students' last submissions of their work. So I've been on hiatus for the past 3 days. It was the right decision. Today I read some papers from my Latin literature students, and I could tell that I was a better reader--because more rested and collected--than I would have been if I had done it right away.

12/18: the brigadoon of arkansas

I live in central Arkansas; a friend lives in the northwestern corner of the state. We decided to meet up today for lunch and a chat in Altus, which is midway between us.

We're both fond of Altus, a small wine-producing community tucked among rolling hills. As I was driving into the town today, there was a fair amount of very picturesque fog, making Altus seem like the Scottish village in the musical Brigadoon, appearing out of the mists once every one hundred years....

It was great to spend a little time there and meet up with a friend I haven't seen in quite some time.

12/17: rum balls

Chris and I both have good memories of eating rum balls during the Christmas holidays when we were young, and so we like to make rum balls ourselves at this time of year. Tonight was the night: we mixed, rolled, and sugared a double batch.

12/16: low and overhead

An eagle this morning, flying over our house!

12/15: last meeting of 2010

Today was the last day of exams, and I had my last student appointment of the year this afternoon. There's still plenty of work to do while school is on break: grading, reading, preparing for next semester's courses, and writing a conference paper for early January. But I'll enjoy having a more flexible schedule within which to fit the work.

12/14: my sighting

I know that having deer in one's yard isn't a rarity in much of the US. Some people even find it a nuisance. But for me--no matter how many times I see it--it's a magical thing.

Usually Chris sees more deer, more birds, more everything because he's an earlier riser than I am.

But mid-morning today, when Chris was out, I got to see five deer grazing near our bee-hives. It's been some time since we've seen them coming through the yard, so I was especially glad to get a view of them.

12/13: less rushed

There's always a lot to do this time of year, but today I had a kind of break-through and managed to calm down, slow down, and figure out a reasonable time-line for getting things done while enjoying doing them, too. This afternoon I was able to put the plan in action: I graded Greek exams, worked on some holiday gifts, and put in a few loads of laundry--all the while being glad to be sitting at our big table, looking out at a great view, and listening to the "first wave" (=alternative 80s) station on satellite radio.

12/12: chris

That he's my compaƱero is a good thing every day. Today he did chores with me that I know he doesn't enjoy. It was great to have his company and his help.

12/11: slow progress, but progress

We both still have grading to do, but we needed to spend some time today not on that but on straightening up the house. I like to do a thorough-ish clean for the holidays, and this year some things had gotten more out of control than usual since recently we were hanging out with Pippin rather than doing house tasks when we were home. No regrets on that front, but it's nice to have made some progress in cleaning things now. Chris was an amazing cleaner today, and I'm grateful that he gave me some momentum when I couldn't seem to get enough on my own.

12/10: getting our free's worth

At school we are given a certain number of "dining dollars" each semester that we can use in the coffee shop or cafeteria. I usually use mine up on coffee, since I get a cup almost every day. Chris had a little more left, and today we nearly finished his allotment by eating dinner on campus. Friday dinner is always the same menu, year in and year out, and I really enjoy it.

12/9: fowl familiarity

I didn't grow up around chickens, but I've been fond of them--from a distance--because I associate them with Greece and Italy, where I often saw them outside country houses.

Chris is gearing up for our getting chickens this spring, and he's been helping to take care of the campus chickens this fall. I've gone with him a couple of times, and today I really wanted to check in on them because I kind of missed seeing them. I'm getting fonder of them--from closer than a distance--and I think that's a good sign.

12/8: two in a row

For two days I've accomplished everything on my to-do list. Is it that I'm being effective? Or is it that I'm making realistic lists? I'm not sure it matters which.

12/7: two for sure

I am a real fan of bluebirds (not just birds that happen to be blue, but bluebirds), as any long-time reader of this blog is likely to know. I'm always on the look-out for them, and yesterday I thought one flew by my car as I was driving to school. But I wasn't sure.

Today I was sure: I saw two bluebirds winging their way across the road this morning. Oh how great.

12/6: the humming overhead

It's our new HVAC system, which is being called into duty this evening for its biggest heating challenge yet. As we're facing a low in the low 20s tonight, I'm grateful that we were able to replace our old system with an updated one earlier this autumn. And I'm enjoying the fact that my home office feels very cozy. Our cat Wilkie seems to agree about the coziness, because he's curled up on my table as I type.

And here's a testament to our warm house: the miniature orange tree is blooming! Chris called me over to it so that I could smell one of its blossoms. A wonderful sweetness, but especially amazing on a dark December night.

12/5: a bit of rum

Sometimes when I was growing up there would be a day in December when after dinner we all had tea--this on its own was rare, because my parents were (and are) dedicated coffee drinkers. But this tea was special for another reason: after pouring our cups we would each put a sugar cube and some rum in a teaspoon. Before plopping the sugar and rum into our cups, we would light the rum and watch the little blue flames burning over the sizzling sugar. Then, on the count of three, we would all dunk our spoons into our tea.

I didn't do anything as elaborate as that this evening, but I was hankering after the special taste of that tea, so I made some chai and added a dose of rum. It did the trick!

12/4: last hand-outs of the semester

I came into the office on this quiet Saturday afternoon to work on some final things for my courses. I think I've now written the last hand-outs for the year! There are always so many review hand-outs--charts, lists, practice sheets--for the beginning Latin and Greek classes. There's definitely a pleasure in writing them, but there's also a pleasure in being done with writing them.

12/3: dessert for breakfast

I think that pretty much says it all. I just couldn't resist this morning.

12/2: words & laughter

The students were very forthcoming in class conversation today, and it felt nice for the discussion to happen. Then, at one point at the end of class, almost everyone broke into the most good-natured laughter about something we were talking about. It seemed like a really sweet moment, especially because it was the last class meeting of the course for the semester.

12/1: brilliant

The coldest day of the season so far, but also the most vibrant sunset I've seen in quite some time.

11/14-11/30: a bit of a break

I'll be offline for the rest of the month. But thanks for stopping by--and, as always, feel free to post good things from your days in the comments. I'll be back in December!

11/13: family

For a couple of hours today the whole family--two humans, three cats--rested together on the bed. Humans reading, cats dozing, everyone glad to be with one another.

11/12: found

At a certain point this morning it looked very likely that I had lost my driver's license. I did eventually find it, so my good thing for the day is that I didn't have to cancel my afternoon appointments in order to go and get a replacement license before the weekend.

11/11: stepping in the sun

I took the time this morning to walk the meditation labyrinth on campus.

11/10: some quiet

A day of some inner and outer turbulence at school. But I've been alone in my office for the past hour and a half, and I've gotten some good work done in that time. Now it's off to a screening of a film for one of my classes, and then home!

11/9: detour

On the way to school this morning Chris took a spur-of-the-moment turn, and we went through the Starbucks drive-through for coffees and scones. We sipped the coffee and ate the scones on a bench near a small lily-pond outside my office building. Then we headed off to our separate corners on campus.

11/8: a confectionary touchstone

Sometimes I get to know students through extra-curricular activities but never teach them in a class. There's one such student who has been abroad for the past two semesters. Today in the cafeteria I suddenly thought of her because the dessert on offer was a kind of cookie she really, really likes, and I remembered her telling me about them. I didn't realize how much I enjoyed our occasional interactions until the cookies jogged my memory. I hope she's having a great time abroad, and I'll look forward to seeing her next semester. In the meanwhile, it's nice to have such a sweet association for the cookies.

11/7: falling back

The end of daylight savings time is always a little treat: I know we don't really "get" an extra hour, but on the Sunday morning after the switch, it sure does feel as if we do.

11/6: reward

A bit of a headache today. And a bit of a cold. But the sun is bright, and it's a day off, so I didn't want to miss a chance for a walk. I'm glad I chose to walk on the ridge rather than drive to the track, because along my way I got to see many kinds of moths, who were also enjoying the weather. Oh, they are wonderful creatures, and the longer I live in Arkansas the more I'm amazed--and grateful--that so many moths live here, as well.

11/5: absence and presence

Today I managed to avoid the lingering ripples of some at-work drama from yesterday--a case where the good thing was the absence of something.

And here's one in which the good thing was a matter of presence: I was waiting outside my office building in the late afternoon; I had a heavy box to bring home, so Chris was going to drive the car by to pick me up instead of my walking to the parking lot. As I waited and let the build-up of the work-week fall off me, I heard more and more birds. Lots of birds actually. Chirping and singing, chirping and singing.

11/4: unrushed

I think the title says it all. I haven't had a work-day that's felt like that in awhile, and I'm grateful that today I was able to work steadily without a sense of mounting time-pressure or task-pressure.

11/3: morning star

I take an apple to school on most days of the week. But I always cut it up at home first: when I had braces I couldn't bite into an apple directly, and though that was years ago, I got into the habit of always slicing apples. I make four vertical cuts around the core, and then, for sheer ritual's sake, I cut through the core horizontally so that I can see the seed-star inside--this I do because a friend in college did it. Every morning that seed-star makes me smile, and I tell myself, "Even if nothing else good happens today, I can always make this my good thing."

11/2: saigon

The name of the new-to-us Vietnamese restaurant in town where we ate this evening. And, across the globe, the location from which I received a postcrossing postcard today.

11/1: museum in my mailbox

I like visiting art museums. I loved my neighborhood in Los Angeles, which was right next to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It was great to get to pop in there whenever I wanted.

I enjoyed my museum-time in London this summer more than I enjoyed my library-time. I guess because I can read almost anywhere, anytime, but world-class museums are harder for me to come by.

I tell myself that I should just save my pennies and allow myself to go on a museum-centered trip each year.

But until that happens, I now have something to keep me company here at home: a subscription to Artforum magazine. My first issue arrived today.

10/31: designing time

I took part of the morning and dedicated it to designing this year's holiday postcard. (I know if I wait much longer, things will get too busy at the end of the semester & making a card will be an added stress rather than a pleasure). I really like the result of my computer tinkering (though it feels immodest to say so!), but I don't know if it's going to print properly. I uploaded it to my print service and ordered some test copies--here's keeping my fingers crossed that the print version is true enough to what I saw on my screen.

Regardless of the printed result, the good thing is that I enjoyed the time as I worked on getting the image and effect that I wanted to emerge. Usually when I sit down to digitally tinker with photos, I'm not aiming at anything consciously--I try different things and see what comes of them. Today was different: I had something in mind, and I wasn't sure if I could actually effect it. I came pretty darn close, and there was real pleasure in that.

10/30: on & off my beaten track

I did a lot of around-town chores today. One of the chores was going to the post office, which I've been meaning--and needing--to do for two weeks, but which I've had trouble working in. As I was driving here and there, I was feeling the satisfaction of being mobile and of getting things done.

I managed to find time for some not-so-task-like things, too. I put on my boots and walked around in the lake-bed to see what I could see. (They've drained the lake this month, and it's been strange to drive by it in its diminished state every day.) The mud was thick and soft in some places, and it's a good thing my boots go up to my knee! At home, I experimented with photographing light reflected onto color paper. I think it'll need more experimentation (and more knowledge of my new camera's settings) before I get results I absolutely like, but it's something I've been meaning to try for a long time, so I'm glad I finally gave it a go.

10/29: rebounding

I had a bit of a downer at the very end of the school-day and work-week. Not a good thing. But what's good is that I set my mind to "moving on" mode and have gotten some things ready for tomorrow's post and am now going to take a walk at the track.

10/28: magically orange

Most of the trees' leaves have turned brown this year due to lack of rain. But as the sun was setting this evening, the slanty light shining through the leaves transformed them to orange, and they seemed to cast a luminous orange shade.

10/27: micro-community

The students I went to London with this summer did their final project presentations today. It was so nice for our group to be together again--and to realize that during our time in London we really did forge ourselves into a little community. A reminder of that intellectual camaraderie, along with an assurance that it was indeed real--was very welcome.

10/26: a handful of things

Our Peter Pan reading/discussion group meetings today went really well. The only regret is that because so many students signed up (which is a good thing!), Chris and I had to split into two smaller groups, with each of us leading one, so we didn't get to spend the time together, as well.

I took some honey to school today for my building's housekeeper (her grandfather used to keep bees, and she was reminiscing about it), and she was so happy to get a jar of ours. It made it a special pleasure to give it.

I unexpectedly finished a round of Gender Studies grading before class today, so it's not hanging over me for the next few days.

And a friend from Little Rock came up to campus for a poetry reading this evening. I decided not to go to the reading, but she, Chris, and I had a chatty dinner together beforehand.

10/25: unexpected guests

My former student whose wedding was on Saturday was still in town today, and she and her spouse came by my office to chat with me as I was eating my lunch. I wish I had had more time, without having to sandwich them into my schedule and eat while we talked, but it was unexpected and fun to get to see them at all before they headed off for their honeymoon tour (a 2-week road trip).

10/24: three curled up

I was having trouble staying awake and alert this afternoon, so I laid down for a little nap on the futon in my home office. Both Pippin and Wilkie came and slept with me. Cozy.

10/23: wedding

I've been invited to a number of former students' weddings over the years, but I haven't gone to any of them--until tonight. Something about my relationship with this particular former student made me feel like I should go. I'm really glad I did. It was a sweet, low-key ceremony. The minister started his sermon by saying, "I think we should pay attention to the verbs in the passage we just heard"--how could I not smile at that? And my student chose one of the readings from the Book of Ruth; I know it's a common passage to be read at weddings, but she had translated the Vulgate version of it in a Latin class with me, so that made me teary, in a good way.

10/22: aster patch

Some wild asters took hold in our yard, and as everything else is beginning to brown, they're going strong. I love looking out our window and seeing a splotch of happy white flowers.

10/21: cookies & coffee

I telecommuted today because we had workmen at the house, installing a new HVAC system. (My students were turning in papers today, so it wasn't terribly bad for me not to be there--they could just slip them under my office door.) I had a mostly quiet day at home; the low-level construction-y noise in the background wasn't distracting. But what was distracting (in a fun way) was having day-long access to our coffee machine and to a batch of cookies we had made. It would be dangerous to do this work-from-home thing too often, but today it was a nice (and tasty) change of pace.

10/20: sweater weather (kind of)

It's been unseasonably hot here, but today I hazarded a sweater. It probably would have been too hot to be wearing a sweater if I had been outside during the heat-of-the-day, but I was mostly out and about in the morning and the evening, and a sweater seemed just right at those times. I could almost believe that we're in the normal autumn temperature range.

10/19: rain

Today! For the first day in a long, long time. Everything needed it. I can't remember the last time so many people said that they were happy that it was raining.

10/18: closet time

I've let my closet get into an unfortunate state, and I always seem to find excuses not to straighten it up. Excuses no longer! I'm off--right now--to tidy it up. And that will be a very, very good thing.

10/17: browsing

I don't go clothes-shopping much; most of my clothes I order online. But today I needed to run some errands in the part of town where T. J. Maxx is located, and I decided to go in. I'm only fond of T. J. Maxx in a second-order kind of way: my dear, dear mother-in-law always loved going to the T. J. Maxx near her, and so the store makes me think of her. Today she would have been proud of me. I browsed and browsed, seeing nothing that was really me, and then I found something lovely: a grey boiled-wool sweater jacket with a shawl collar decorated with wool rosettes. I know that if Mrs. C. had been with me, she would have been excited at my find. Not only is it really my style, but it was about 1/3 the price it would have been if I had ordered it from a catalog.

In my upper-level Latin course the students will be working independently on unprepared translations in class tomorrow. Which means that I got to browse through Martial to find 4 poems that I think are manageable on a limited-time, limited-reference-book basis (the students will be able to use only their dictionaries). It was fun to poke around in Martial (he's so capacious!) and pick the poems, and I'm interested to see how the students will fare with them.

(How many times has paging through Martial been compared with sorting through the racks in T. J. Maxx? I don't think Martial would mind the analogy at all.)

10/16: school-free saturdays

I'm in year 13 of full-time teaching, and it's the right job for me in many, many ways. But I find it difficult that there's no real end to any of the work: it could take all my time, be all of me. And for many years it was most of me for certain. For the past few years I've been trying to make sure that there's a bit of a Me beyond my work, and though it's hard to unlearn habits of involvement and immersion, I think I've succeeded in small ways. Still, Chris and I often find ourselves thinking of work and talking of work while we're at home (it doesn't help that we work at the same place). So this school-year I'm trying an explicit strategy of no school-work on Saturdays. It means that other days of the week are a bit tighter, but I think it's worth it. And this Saturday is the mid-point of the semester, so I've been successful for at least half the term. (As I type this, I'm realizing the perversity of celebrating the fact that I'm managing not to work! Working at not working....oh the weirdness of me.)

10/15: peter pan

Chris and I are hosting a discussion group about Peter Pan at the end of the month. We read it out loud to each other years ago and loved it. Today I've been re-reading it, and it really is so good. We're not reading it out loud to each other this time, but for some of the afternoon we were each reading our own copy on the porch, and we'd look up and remark on some funny bit.

10/14: halves

The moon was split sharply, beautifully in half in tonight's sky. My day was split happily, thankfully in half between work and pleasure.

10/13: on a quiet note

We have an abbreviated work-week this week, since tomorrow and Friday are fall break (no classes). Almost everyone I know--students and professors alike--will still plan to do catch-up work of some sort over the next few days, but it'll still feel holiday-ish because we get to set our own schedules. My last hour of work in the office today was a great start to the break: pretty much everyone else had cleared out by that point, so it was just me and my computer. I got some things done surprisingly quickly and enjoyed being so quietly efficient.

10/12: evening walk, with company

Two good things conspired so that I could take a walk this evening: the weather was inviting (cool and clear), and I had gotten enough of tomorrow's preparation done that I could take the time without worrying about the consequences. Part-way through the walk I met up with one of my neighbors, and we walked together for awhile. I hadn't seen her in weeks, so it was good to spend a little time with her.

10/11: sweets & a little earlier

One of my advisees popped in this morning on her way to class to give me a little baggy of chocolate chip cookies she had baked! What a great pick-me-up for a Monday morning, and so unexpected. It was sweet of her indeed.

This afternoon, I managed to leave my office about half an hour earlier than usual. I had still put in a full day, and I brought some work home for the evening, but leaving when I did felt a little like playing hooky.

10/10: an exhibit taking shape

Chris and I have three black bulletin boards in one of our main rooms, and we call them "the gallery"--we like to use them to put up recent photographs we've taken. After our trip to the state fair yesterday, we have a whole bunch of new stuff. We've spent little bits of time today, amid other tasks, editing and tinkering with our pictures. I look forward to getting them printed and up on the wall for a themed exhibit in the upcoming days.

10/9: around arkansas

Running errands in town this morning, driving to Atkins for a pupusa lunch, working in our yard this afternoon to finish the honey harvest, and spending the evening taking pictures at the state fair in Little Rock. And for some of that time I didn't even think about work.

10/8: family on friday

Family dinner. Family time on the porch after dinner. Family hanging out. Human and feline, we're glad we're all together. It's good it's Friday.

10/7: small world

I've mentioned a number of times here that I participate in postcrossing. And I really enjoy it. Over the years I've been sending and receiving cards, the computerized postcrossing address assigner has matched me up with 2 graduates of the small college where I teach and 1 international student who applied to the college but (sadly) wasn't accepted to enroll. In one of the alum cases, she and I overlapped a little bit at the school: we both knew about the other, but never really met. In the second case, the alum graduated before I arrived but knows some of the same people I do. Today I received a second snail-mail note from her--what a delight.

10/6: upright

A book-buyer named Meg comes by campus a few times each year, but last spring a friend of hers came in her place because she had been in a bad car accident which had crushed some of her vertebrae. Today she was back, and it was so nice to see her happy and healthy and walking and strong.

10/5: stars and spells

Tonight we heard a visiting speaker (a former student of mine) lecture about an inscription on an ancient amulet. It was a well-attended talk, and there was a lot of interest and enthusiasm in the room.

When I got home after all my hosting duties were done, I saw the thickness of the stars above me. It's so nice to live in a low light-pollution place, where the stars really can look like a Milky Way.

10/4: lovely day for a walk

This afternoon was one of those gorgeous fall afternoons. And lucky me: I had an excuse to ramble outside and enjoy it a bit. I'm hosting a visitor to campus over the next two days, and so today I got to walk around with him, chatting and enjoying the beautiful autumnal light on campus.

10/3: dogs

We don't have dogs, but I do like them. Chris has pointed out that whenever we see a dog, I'm 95% likely to say, "Oh, that's a nice dog." And dogs often run up to me, singling me out of a group to meet first. I also have fond memories of helping a friend with her dog-walking job over the Christmas holiday I spent in Athens. Here on the ridge, I'm in dog-luck. Lots of people have dogs, and many of them let their dogs run free in the neighborhood (we're outside the city limits so there's no leash-law). Often I have canine company as I walk on the ridge, and today one of the neighborhood's newest dogs--Scout, a border collie--kept Chris and me company for our entire walk.

10/2: at the end

Today I finished reading The Price of Salt, published in 1952 by Patricia Highsmith under the pseudonym Claire Morgan. I started it because I enjoyed Highsmith's craft in The Talented Mr. Ripley, and I had read that The Price of Salt was one of the first novels about a same-sex relationship to have a happy ending.

For most of the time I was reading it, I wasn't sure I liked it. It didn't seem to pull me in narratively and psychologically the way Ripley immediately did (although, having grown up in a theatre family, I enjoyed Highsmith's choice to make the main character a fledgling stage-designer). Last night, when I put the novel down with 30 pages to go, I didn't see how a happy ending could be possible. I finished it this morning as I ate my breakfast and drank my coffee--and, yes, it does have a happy ending. It comes only at the last possible minute, and yet it doesn't feel pulled out of a hat. By the time I finished the last paragraph, it all seemed right. Patricia Highsmith doesn't sound like she was a pleasant woman in real life, but she certainly knows how the machine of a novel can be made to work on the mind and emotions of a reader, and there's a kind of pleasure in being taken on a narrative trip by an expert.

10/1: first swap of the school year

At school, a student and I run monthly swaps of index-card sized pieces of art. Everyone who submits something receives something that someone else submitted. Last year we had a good time with it, so we decided to keep it going this year, and today was the deadline for the first round. We got some great submissions, and we spent a pleasant hour visiting with each other and doing the random reassignment of pieces.

9/30: marigolds in business

Or maybe buzziness is a better way to put it. The marigolds on campus today were beset by all sorts of winged things: moths, flower-flies, honey-bees, bumble-bees, and what must have been either hummingbird moths or bumble-bee moths. Despite the activity, it would have been easy to walk by the flower beds without noticing, but once I stopped and looked and let my eyes focus on that level of detail and motion, I saw a few visitors and then more and more and more.

9/29: love charms

It's already time at school for my department to apply for programming grants for next academic year. It's a bit odd to be thinking about 2011-2012 when 2010-2011 is less than one-quarter over. But if we want the money, now's the time to plan. Many of our programs are repeats from year to year, but today I had a new idea that I'm excited about: an afternoon workshop, near Valentine's Day, about ancient Greek and Latin love spells. It'll be nice to educate myself more about ancient magic, and I think students will really enjoy the material. So though it's weird to be thinking about February 2012 in September 2010, it's fun to be thinking that in February 2012 I'll be doing this workshop!

9/28: mild

Kind light and gentle early-evening air as we sat on the porch with our tea and the cats.

9/27: cider

I love the crisp, rich taste of (non-alcoholic) apple cider. It's a taste I remember from the autumns of my youth in Pennsylvania, and I loved the year-round availability of apple cider when Chris and I lived in upstate New York. Here in Arkansas what's usually sold as apple cider is slightly stronger-than-usual apple juice, but I found some northern-style apple cider in the grocery yesterday. This morning when I woke up the air was nippy, and it felt perfectly perfect to pour myself some cider for breakfast on such an autumny morning.

9/26: the colors of early autumn

A photo I took this afternoon of some changing leaves on a tree outside our house. Converted into blocks (which I've been enjoying doing recently).

9/25: one inside, one outside

An inside-the-house good thing for today: clearing the recyclables (catalogs, magazines, paper) that had piled up in my home-office.

An outside-the-house good thing for today: enjoying the autumn air while drinking mocha and eating scones with Chris near the Arkansas River at Toad Suck Park.

9/24: from a different life

One of my colleagues decided to invite to campus a scholar whom I knew when we were both much (much) younger, in different phases of life entirely. She won't be coming until next year, but for funding reasons we need to start some of the planning now. So today I've been in touch with her by email, and it's funny to feel a little bit like the person I was when I first met her.

9/23: okay

Things at school today went alright. I have a tendency to keep replaying awkward moments in my head, but today there aren't really a lot of things to mentally review--hurray.

9/22: more work, less work

Today I got emails from two past students whom I really enjoyed teaching. They're asking for advice and recommendations for graduate school applications. Though it means more on my plate, I don't mind that kind of work.

This evening I got an email from a colleague who looked like he was going to drop a ball that I would have to pick up. But he came through after all, and now I don't have that bit of extra work on my horizon.

9/21: in my inbox

A very nice email from a friend today. We're not in frequent contact, yet her email felt like we just talked yesterday. A sign that we really are friends, I think.

9/20: quick! and company!

I had a doctor's appointment this afternoon to have some stitches trimmed, and it was the fastest doctor's office visit ever. We got there early and I was seen right away--and we ended up leaving even before my appointment was scheduled to begin! My last visit to this particular doctor was a multi-hour affair, so I was especially surprised by--and grateful for--the speediness of this check-in.

Chris didn't need to go with me, but he did (and he drove the half-hour each way), so I'm grateful for both his driving and the chance to be together a little bit before we're exhausted at the end of the day. We are both hankering for a road trip, but it's unlikely to happen soon--so maybe drives to Little Rock on errands are going to have to do for now.

9/19: close up & far away

This morning Chris led me into the yard (in my pajamas) to show me a new-to-us flower. It's small and delicate, and I found it in one of our wildflower identification books: it's a forked blue curl.

This evening we went out on the porch to look at Jupiter. Over the next few days it's going to be brighter in the night sky than it's been since 1963. Last night we even had time to take out the telescope and view it that way.

9/18: first frames

We took an extra box of honey off one of the hives today. More to come off from the rest of the hives in the days ahead, but harvest 2010 has officially begun!

9/17: salad

On Monday and Tuesday we ate dinner in the school cafeteria. On Wednesday we went to a Greek restaurant with a friend before our evening faculty meeting. Yesterday I had a hankering for pizza, so we went out. Today has been our first dinner-at-home day this week. Whenever we have dinner at home I like to make a salad as part of it, and today it felt especially nice to return to salad-making (and salad-eating).

9/16: claiming some time

To sleep a little later this morning. (I really needed it.)

And to take a short walk along the ridge before getting ready for work. (I really needed that, too.)

It means I'm behind on my grading, but I'll catch up this weekend.

9/15: collaging

I've been working on a collage using very small clippings from junk mail. Each day I've been going through the catalogs in the mail, cutting out teeny tiny squares and rectangles, and then gluing them together. This evening I finished a piece of about 200 purple bits; the effect is somewhat like a small crazy quilt. It was a good transitional activity, letting me unwind from work before settling into home, so I think I'll start another one in a different color tomorrow.

9/14: rested & relaxed

I was walking down the hallway today when a colleague remarked that I looked very relaxed.

It's true that I was feeling particularly good and calm at that moment, but I was a little dismayed that my state was different enough from my norm that it was worthy of comment.

But then I realized: today was different from my (recent) norm. My cold is really gone. I'm not hurting from Friday's surgery. I managed to sleep the whole night through last night. And I had just gotten good news about my biopsy. No wonder I looked better!

9/13: first wave of feedback

Chris and I started a summer reading program for new students at our school this year. It's a way for students and professors to read a book over the summer and then, at the start of the semester, meet over dinner for a casual "book club" type of discussion. The first dinner discussions have been held, and the responses from students and professors alike have been very positive. The program questionnaires they filled out have a lot of great comments that we'll be able to include in our grant re-application for next year. On a less practical level, we feel so glad (and proud) that we launched something that really clicked with other people and made them feel like part of a community.

9/10-9/12: off for a bit

I'll be offline for a few days, but please feel free to post good things from your days in the comments!

9/9: pink water

And purple water, too. The effect of the sun setting over the lake.

9/8: braving the day and the circle

A mostly sleepless night, and the wakeful times not full of the best spirits. Then a daunting day. But I bucked up, faced the rain and a packed schedule, and I did it. Only a few household tasks left before I can let myself turn in for the night.

Today I also drove for the first time on the newly opened traffic circle along a major route through town. I was kind of dreading using it because I wasn't sure other drivers would have good etiquette on circles (which are not common here), but my spin on the circle went just fine, and the circle itself seems nicely designed.

9/7: bold women

Today in Gender Studies we're discussing selections from Hildegard of Bingen, Sarah Grimke, and The Woman's Bible (a commentary by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and a Revising Committee). I don't agree with everything they write, but--wow--they faced authorities head-on and said what they had to say. Their fearlessness, intelligence, and determination: those are good things.

9/6: rest worked!

I caught a nasty cold last week, and by Friday I had pretty much realized that the long weekend would be spent recuperating (and I was glad to have a long weekend for it). I usually have a hard time resting when I'm not feeling well (or so Chris says), but this time I really did it. Early to bed on Friday, and take-it-easy days on Saturday and Sunday. Today I felt well enough to get some work done, and I did it expeditiously enough that I even had time to tinker with photos on my computer this afternoon, order some postcard prints of them, and go kayaking on the lake this evening. I had resigned myself to the fact that I would miss out on holiday kayaking, so I was especially delighted to squeeze some in.

9/5: awesome sights

Earlier this year I switched my home-page on Safari to a live-feed view of a stork nest in Hungary. Barbara had mentioned it in a comment here, and I really-really-really enjoyed seeing the development of the baby storks. Thanks, Barbara!

The nest is mostly empty now, though, so it was time for a change (at least until a new season rolls around). My new home-page du jour is the Astronomy Picture of the Day. Today's photo is particularly amazing: brightly colored gas swirling around a black hole. The center (or as close to the center as we can see) is white-hot. Really: go check it out.

9/4: serendipitous swarm

As Chris was working outside yesterday, he noticed a bee swarm settle on a low-lying tree branch, so we shook it into a box. It's an odd time of year for a swarm to be striking out on its own, but it may be a lucky thing for us: one of our hives recently lost its queen, and we can combine the swarm with the queen-less hive to make a strong colony.

9/3: a ribbon at a time

I've been getting up half an hour earlier than in my school schedule of years past. This means I get to watch the sunrise each morning, the sky lightening and coloring before the sun finally opens up the day.

9/2: ironed out

I had a meeting with a colleague yesterday, and at one point something he said really baffled me. And I think something I said baffled him. We were not on the same page, and it kind of stuck in my mind through the evening. This morning I woke up and realized what the source of our misunderstanding must be, and--sure enough--when I wrote an email to my colleague to see if I was right about how we got one another wrong, that was it. It was nice to be back on the same page again (and not to have it stuck in my mind anymore as well).

9/1: reviewing the world

It's the first day of a new month, which means it's time for me to change my bulletin boards at home and work. I like to put up postcards to match the colors of my calendar pictures for that month. It's a kind of revolving exhibition. What struck me tonight is how amazing it is to hold pieces of the world in my hand and shuffle through them. All the postcards I've received over the years amount to a quite a pile of visual riches, and what a luxury to have an excuse to look through them every 30 days.

8/31: first time

In my Gender Studies class today we discussed Mark Twain's Diaries of Adam and Eve. It was my first time teaching the text, and--oh--what a pleasure. Twain's so smart. And hilarious.

8/30: good people, and good mail from good people

Not great news today: my biopsy from last week showed some troubles, and I need to go in for a surgical biopsy in 2 weeks. But--here's the good thing, I promise--some comfort came in the form of friends, far and wide. My best friend at work took a walk with me to the bookstore; she didn't have to (and she probably didn't have the time to), but she volunteered, and I was glad for company. Chris is, of course, wonderful and kind. And the mail brought treats and treasures: postcards from strangers, mail-art (and words of appreciation for my own work) from a mail-acquaintance, and music and candy from my brother. We split one of the candies for dessert, an almond Utah Truffles candy bar, and it was one of the best candy bars I have ever had--coming from me, that probably means something!

8/29: new (old) company

Today it's been threatening to rain, and that's a good thing (everything could really use it). It means, though, that kayaking isn't a great idea, so I went to the indoor track instead. Since I finished The Secret Garden while walking a few days ago, it was time to start listening to a new novel, and I chose Austen's Persuasion. I'm sticking with the idea of listening to books I've already read (it's too easy for me to lose details in the thread otherwise), and this is one of the Austens I don't know particularly well, so I thought I'd improve my acquaintance. Now I have a new voice to keep me occupied during walks in the upcoming days and weeks. The reader's voice is sharp, a nice reminder that Austen often has an edge.

8/28: 2 phds with paints

There was half an hour before our usual weekend lunch-time. Chris and I pulled out the paints and paper. Some color/craft therapy felt good.

8/27: the lake

Because there Things feel Possible again.

And to think that when we decided to buy this house, 3 years ago now, the lake and the dock did not weigh heavily in our decision!

8/26: break in/from the heat

Arkansas summers are hot, and it would be silly to complain about something that happens every year (and something that we're lucky enough to have air-conditioning to off-set). So for the past weeks we've just been dealing with it as a given. But this morning there was a coolness in the air, promising that fall is on its way. It felt like Pennsylvania (where I grew up), and it was a good thing.

8/25: in one piece

Today was a trying day. I knew that I had to go to Little Rock in the morning for 2 doctor appointments, and even factoring in a generous cushion of time, I figured I'd be home by noon or shortly thereafter. I also left the house almost absurdly early to be sure to get to my first appointment on time. And then the world happened: backed-up traffic on the freeway meant that a 30-minute drive took almost 2 hours. And then my first doctor appointment (including waiting time) took over 3 hours. And the second (again, with waiting time) also took over 3 hours. All told, the round-trip plus doctor appointments took 9 hours. Though at times I managed to be upbeat (or at least stoical) about these timing set-backs, at other times I was not. I'm a little disappointed in/at myself.

But here's the good thing. It's over, and I'm here. I saw the doctors, and I'm back. Other people today weren't so lucky: it turns out that the freeway was backed up because of a multi-car accident that included one fatality. It's good to get perspective.

8/24: beginning and ending

Classes started today, and I taught Ancient Greek and Gender Studies. In both classes we started right in. Instead of talking through the syllabus and other bureaucratic things I launched into lessons, activities, and discussions. It felt good to be doing.

At the track this evening and then on the drive home I finished listening to The Secret Garden. It was a pleasure to listen to--sometimes wise, sometimes beautiful, sometimes fun--even if, at the very end, it shifted to a focus on male characters, a shift which I hadn't remembered and found a little disappointing. Still, given my overall experiences with The Secret Garden and The Making of a Marchioness, I'm a fledgling Frances Hodgson Burnett fan, and I'm looking forward to trying other books she's written.

8/23: new technique

For the past few days I've been playing around with the "slow journalling" which Tammy at daisy yellow has posted about, and I really like it. It feels somewhere between journalling and doodling, and for me that's sometimes a perfect place to be.

8/22: evening drive

We went for a ramble in the car after dinner and instead of heading home at one point decided to continue on to Petit Jean for the sunset. Not that you can tell it's sunset in these black and white photos.... It was a hazy day atop the mountain, but the air felt forgiving, and that was a good thing.

8/21: uncertainty and silence

One odd thing about making the transition from the summer to the school year is getting used to talking again. A number of us at school were remarking on this, as our voices started getting scratchy on Thursday: during the summer, we just don't talk that much, and our throats weren't used to a full day of vocalizing. Today was a respite, at home with Chris and the cats. Nothing need be said unless it wanted saying.

I'm also feeling a bit vaguey and adrift. I think it's because I'm in between times, the semester not really underway, but the summer rhythm gone as well. Sometimes this kind of uncertainty makes me nutty and sad and nervous, but today I'm thinking that it's okay (and I'm okay amidst it all). Then I checked out Laura Gibbs' Latin blog, and one of her proverbs for today is incertus animus dimidium est sapientiae ("an uncertain spirit/mind is half of wisdom"). I'm making no claims about my own wisdom, but at least it was nice to have some solace about the usefulness of uncertainty.

8/20: reminder/reaffirmation

I worked in my campus office this morning and most of the afternoon, trying to get some syllabuses written (two down, one to go). Then I came home, pushed papers in my home office, and made dinner with Chris. After that it was time for me to do my daily dose of Martial translation. It felt so nice to sit down to some Latin--and it's nice to have such an indicator at this time of year, a reminder amidst the bureaucratic whirlwind that it really does make sense for me to teach Latin, that I feel good spending time with with the language. I'm really looking forward to the start of classes, when the bureaucracy will settle down and the classroom content will be in the ascendent.

8/19: behind me

Today was one of the most challenging days of the school year: a full day of individual meetings with new students to help them choose courses for both semesters. It went smoothly, I really like all the students I talked with, and it's over until next year.

8/18: installed

In two senses:

I now feel (re)installed in my office for the school year after I spent a good part of today cleaning it and organizing it.

This evening I installed a new Unicode Greek font on my school computer. I'm not excited about learning a new keyboard layout, but this Unicode version has more flexibility than the old Greek font that I've been using (and loving) for years, so I guess it really is time for a change. The directions for installing the font were fairly complex since it involved installing a keyboard as well as a font and removing a whole bunch of Microsoft Word shortcuts that would interfere. I'm pretty pleased with myself that I did it without help (beyond the instruction manual). No tears or plaintive calls of "Chris, would you mind helping me with this?" And I just typed up the first Greek hand-out of the new school year using the new font.

8/17: sweet group

I met my new advisees today, and they seem like a very nice bunch of people--talkative, funny, good-natured, and attentive.

8/16: work without homework

The summer break ended today, but we're in meetings (rather than classes) all this week so there's no take-home preparation yet. Which meant that this evening after dinner I was able to go kayaking, and every remaining bit of kayaking this year is precious and wonderful.

8/15: house call & cool house

Our air-conditioning went out last night. Wow, have I become accustomed to it! We have a service plan, and a repair-person was at the house by 11 a.m. this morning. As I type, the air-conditioning unit is back to doing its darndest to fight the late-summer high heat.

8/14: new recipes

Chris and I are vegetarians rather than vegans but we try to minimize dairy products, so when my brother recommended the Incredibly Delicious cookbook, we thought we'd try it out. Today we made oat cheese (yes, "cheese" made with ground oats) and tofu "tuna" salad. The jury is still out on the oat cheese--it seems good as a dip and spread but not necessarily in a cheesy sort of way. The "tuna" salad turned out well and is an especially welcome addition to our recipe repertoire since Chris liked tuna salad a lot back in the day. I felt a little bit of victory in actually making something with tofu; I'm always glad to have it in a restaurant, but I've been a little trepidatious about working with it in the kitchen myself.

8/13: northwestern confections

When my brother was visiting recently, Chris mentioned that he likes to sample regional candies. (Twin Bing and Cherry Mash are two of our Midwestern favorites, but we've come across other great-but-not-nationally-known sweets in service stations and roadside stands.) My brother said that when he returned home he'd send us some Idaho Spuds, a marshmallowy, coconuty, chocolate-covered candy. Today they arrived, as did another variety he tucked in: Idaho Huckleberry Cordials. The filling of the Spuds reminded us both of Moon Pies from our younger days, and the Huckleberry Cordials were like a blueberry-flavored version of the Twin Bing, which was a great surprise.

8/12: little green things

The tree-frogs that live on the ridge are becoming more and more visible each day. In the mornings we see their tracks marked in the condensation on the windows. And when the sun's passage puts the windows in the shade, we see the frogs climbing all over the windows themselves. They are the sweetest light green color, and they have a golden stripe that shimmers, too!

As a bonus today, a bright green katydid spent the entire morning and afternoon high up on one of our windows. I don't see katydids often, but I really like them (both the look of them and their name).

8/11: perfect postcard

...from a friend who spent the past year in Japan. He's back in the States now, but the last card he sent me from Okinawa arrived today. I love it. It's total Japanese cuteness and says "Happiness Four-Leaf Clover." Today I was especially grateful for the message and the good wishes of a friend.

8/10: more martial

I have a plan to finish reading a certain number of poems by Martial by the beginning of the semester. This afternoon as I translated the lights went out during a thunderstorm. I moved from my office to the main room since its large windows provided enough light to continue. While the rain came down, I read more than my daily allotment, which not only was fun but also lightens my assignments for the rest of this week and next.

8/9: space made

It's been needing to happen, and it happened today: I sorted out my closet and made two piles, one for donate-able clothes and another for clothes too far gone for re-use and destined for the textile recycler. For too long I've let clothes of years and years past hang in my closet like ghosts. There were some ghosts I couldn't part with, but others I'm glad to pass on to renewed life elsewhere.

8/8: surrounding sounds

I've gotten so used to living here that I forget how special some things are. This summer, visiting family--first Chris' father and his father's girlfriend, then my brother--reminded me of the incredibly rich aural landscape around us, especially at night. As I write, the frogs and the cicadas are filling the evening air with layers of tingling sounds. I grew up in the countryside, but the consistency and intensity of the night-time sounds here are like nothing I've experienced anywhere else.

8/7: neighbors

I hadn't seen many of my neighbors in some time. I was in London, and then my brother was visiting, and in general I've been walking indoors at the track rather than along the ridge. But yesterday and today I've done the ridge-walk, and it's given me the chance to run into various neighbors and pass a few words. It's nice to realize that I really like the people who live around me.

8/6: clear & in the pink

This afternoon I did some creative scheduling to clear next week of any hard-and-fast obligations. I'm going to enjoy a final week of summer break. Of course, I'll still have some prep work to do here at home, but of a kind I enjoy and can weave into otherwise vacationy days.

It rained for a couple of hours today, which was a good thing, since all the growing things really, really needed it. After dinner it cleared so that I could go for a walk along the ridge. As I made my way I watched the steam rise from the ground and surround me.

It's been awhile since I've done the ridge walk and I was delighted to see--in an all-of-the-sudden kind of way--the pale pink amaryllis belladonna blooming in a neighbor's yard. They're always such a happy surprise.

8/5: pleasing routine

Since mid-July my days haven't followed their usual course, and it was very good to have a change. Today, though, some habits returned, like old friends: in the morning I doodled and wrote postcards, in the afternoon I ordered some books and translated some Latin, and in the evening Chris and I went walking at the track. There were other, less routine-bound elements of my day, as well, but these little things helped to tether me, and I am grateful for that.

8/4: colors & a crush

I've been in one of my color-craving moods lately. It sounds weird--given that I'm always surrounded by color--but sometimes I want to touch color. Last time I felt like this I bought inexpensive acrylic paints and made a bunch of paint blot designs which I converted into cards for friends and family. Today I indulged my yearning by buying some cheap oil pastels and soft pastels, just for goofing. Truth be told, I wouldn't even know how to start using them in the "correct" way, but I'm looking forward to getting into the colors.

And I feel yet again amazingly lucky with my book-reading choices; I seem to be on such a good streak. This time it's A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True by Brigid Pasulka, and I'm hooked. As soon as I put it down I want to pick it up again.

7/30-8/3: another break

My brother's coming to town for the weekend of his birthday, so I'll be off-line and hanging out with him for the next few days. Please feel free to post good things from your days in the comments!

7/29: back & unpacked

I returned yesterday, and the trip went really well--in many (even most) ways I couldn't have asked things to go more smoothly. When I return from a trip, I often dilly-dally with my unpacking, leaving my suitcase lingering in limbo for days, but today I not only unpacked fully but I did all my laundry, too.

7/19-7/28: recess

I'm out & about in London until the end of the month. I won't be recording my good things here while I'm gone, but please feel free to post good things from your day in the comments!

7/18: ready for a change

I leave on my London trip tomorrow. Part of me is sad to leave the house & Chris & the cats during the summer time, which is so wonderful here. But part of me could really benefit from a change of scene and a slightly different plan of action each day; in that respect, this trip is a very good thing. I still have a few more things to do before I go, but at least I've managed it so that I won't be rushing until the very last moment.

7/17: a familiar machine & an unfamiliar sight

When I graduated from high school (in 1986!) my parents gave me a sewing machine. I never needed my own machine while living at home: my mother runs a costume workshop, and I could always use the machines there and/or her machine at home. For the last two years of high school especially I did a lot of sewing, and so my parents wanted me to be able to carry the capability with me to college and beyond. My sister and I sewed each vacation while we were in college, working on clothes for the upcoming semester, and I continued sewing through the first half of graduate school. Then I stopped: I got busy; I didn't have a dedicated sewing area; fabric and patterns got expensive. Mostly I sew now for easy jobs, like hemming, mending, or making cloth napkins, pillow covers, or tablecloths. Over the past few days I've had my machine out quite a bit because I had a pile of hemming to work through. I also took a few minutes to make my own iPhone case. It was really fun, reminding me why I enjoyed sewing so much those years ago. And I still use that trusty machine which I got in 1986.

I wrote and posted the above, and then another good thing happened, so here it is. Chris and I watched two raccoons who had climbed a wild black cherry tree on the edge of our yard. They were scouring it, climbing up and down and all around, to get the berries. Fantastic to watch!

7/16: squeezed in

This morning I woke up earlier than usual and so had a little extra time before I needed to head out for my round of errands. I used the time to finish My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier. I thought it was a really well-done novel, atmospheric and compelling. I looked forward to picking it up this whole week as I've been reading it. It was an extra pleasure to see how du Maurier employed, transformed--and sometimes inverted--elements which she used in Rebecca.

7/15: not just on but in

This evening we took our kayaks out, anchored in the middle of the lake, and jumped off so that we could float and relax in the water. It was the first time this year we were able to have a soak; earlier in the season there were worries about the safety of the lake water, but recent tests have turned out fine, so we could dip ourselves without worries.

7/14: two unexpected things

Today has included (or will include) two happy things I didn't plan on.

In the afternoon I set myself to go through an act or two of Shakespeare's Henry VIII (I had started it on Monday), and Chris said that he'd listen and follow along with me as we played a CD of the play and read the text at the same time. We got through act 2 and 3, then 4, and then 5. It's done! I still have the "new" Shakespeare (The Double Falsehood) to go, but my project with the canonical works is over. I've read, watched, or listened to all the plays in my Pelican Shakespeare.

And we've had too much rainy weather with threats of thunderstorms recently for me to be kayaking much (alas). Today, though, I think it'll be clear enough to go onto the lake around sunset. In a few minutes I'm going to suit up and get ready. It'll feel good to be on the water again.

7/13: lots done

A near-record day for task-completion, I think! (And with a few un-task-y things mixed in, too.)

7/12: hiptastic skies

Our iPhones arrived today, and one of the first things I did was download the Hipstamatic app. I stood in the same place on our deck and took 3 pictures of the sky, each with a different lens in the app. Here are the results:


I love the look of toy camera analog photography, but I don't use my analog cameras much because of the chemicals involved in developing the film, because the film uses gelatin, and because I'd rather see each photo before deciding whether to have it printed our not. So I'm really psyched for fun digital simulations.

7/11: spending time with the iPad, and writing to a bee-friend

I just downloaded the BlogPress app for our iPad, and I thought I'd give it a try.

This morning I decided to do two things: reply to an email from a woman I recently met who is also a bee-keeper, and gain some familiarity with the iPad so that I'm not first learning its quirks while on my trip. To those ends, I went out to our hives and took a quick picture of some of them--my bee-keeping acquaintance had sent me a picture of hers and asked if I'd send a photo of ours back. Hers are much less rustic than ours! Then I adjusted the photo in the Photogene app, which seems really nice (other people think so, too, since it had great reviews). Here's the photo I sent:


And here it is, using the bleached-out macro in Photogene:


It's been greener than usual this summer, but sometimes the heat makes me feel bleached like this photo. It may not be how things really look, but it is how things sometimes feel.

So, as I wrap this post up, I have to say that BlogPress is going to take some getting used to. And I confess that I did switch to my Macbook to write the email to my bee-friend. But it's good to start learning this new device!

7/10: honey-colored

My new Converse hi-tops! For years I've gotten the classic white Chuck Taylors, and whenever one pair wears itself beyond the bounds of respectability, I get another. I've flirted off and on with the idea of getting colored ones--maybe blue, maybe maroon--but have never taken the plunge. Until now. The "honey" color caught my eye in the store, and though they didn't have my size, I ordered a pair online, and they arrived today. They are just swell, a really lovely hue. And how perfect for a bee-keeper. An extra niceness: the folks at Baggins Shoes (where I ordered them) were very friendly.

7/9: two difficulties done

By and large, I've had good reading experiences over the past year and a half; I feel like great books have fallen into my lap. But for the past few weeks I've been working on two difficult books: a novel by Witold Gombrowicz, and a book about Martial by William Fitzgerald. Definite merits in both of them--nevertheless, I had a hard time getting on their wavelength. This morning I finished the Fitzgerald book, which was part of my plan for the day. And then there was a little time before lunch so I decided to read some Gombrowicz, and I finished that one, too. Hurray!

7/8: storytelling genius

It was time for me to start a new audiobook to keep me company while I'm walking, and I chose The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I remember loving it when I was younger and I enjoyed FHB's Making of Marchioness so much when I read it earlier this year that I thought it would be fun to return to The Secret Garden. What a great choice! She is fantastic storyteller, and I am already eager for tomorrow's walk so I can listen to some more.

7/7: contact & copies

Two things for today.

A friend from college lives in London, and I haven't seen him in years and years. The last time I was travelling to London I was too nervous and self-conscious to connect with him, and I almost let that happen again. But today I sent him a note (thanks, Facebook) and have already heard back from him. I think the meet-up will be a reality.

I spent the afternoon at school making photocopies of readings to go on electronic reserves for my Gender Studies class this fall. It's my first time teaching the course, and there were a lot of decisions to be made about what to read. (Truth be told, there are still some decisions yet to be made.) However, much of the course is set now, and I really like how it's turning out. It felt good to photocopy texts that I'm really excited to teach--another reality taking shape.

7/6: cosmos

Chris and I are reading Cosmos by Witold Gombrowicz, and when we're both done we'll have a book-club-ish dinner/discussion about it. It's a very interesting novel, but I've been having a little bit of trouble getting through it: it's about serious things (how one constructs/finds meaning in the universe!) and it can feel quite grim at times. It's not that I need novels to be happy, but this summer--with some assorted woes of my own--it's been hard to engage additional existential angst. Today I read a fair amount of the novel while waiting in the doctor's office, and I feel like I now have the momentum to finish.

7/5: return to normalcy

The past week didn't follow our usual summer pattern. That's not necessarily a bad thing; there were great things about the week. But today it's felt good to return to something closer to our normal habits. It feels particularly good to have time to sketch in my doodle-book and to translate Latin.

7/4: the kindness of strangers

We've been taking care of a stray puppy for the past few days, but we knew we couldn't keep him long term. We've been trying to find a good next step for him. Adoptions are down nation-wide because of the economic situation, and our local Humane Society isn't accepting any more animals. The city-owned animal welfare shelter would have put him to sleep. A dog-focused no-kill organization in Little Rock helped us out, and today we dropped off the puppy with them. They'll raise him at a foster home and get him adopted. It was sad to send him on, but it's good that he'll be with people who know how to handle and train dogs. I hope we launched him well!

7/3: day of rest & DVDs

Today I put my to-do lists mostly on hold to rest up. I can't seem to shake a vague cold and general tiredness, so I'm resting and trying not to feel too bad about it. (And I'm mostly succeeding, which is probably a sign of just how exhausted and near-ill I am.) I'm grateful for Netflix DVDs!

7/2: a list

Some good things from today:

- We've been taking care of a stray puppy, but we can't keep him. Yesterday was a little bleak lead-wise, but today we've talked to a number of possible prospects for placing him in a good way. (And he's a sweetie (sweety?), so he's fun company while he's here.)

- We met a former student for lunch and learned that he defended his doctoral dissertation last month. He's the first student whom I really mentored as an undergraduate who's finished his PhD. I feel a little old, but it's a good milestone.

- At lunch we ran into another former student who happened to be in town, so we met up with him later this afternoon for coffee. Great to touch base with him.

- I'm not good at buying new clothes, but I recently went through a bunch of piled-up catalogs and ordered some things for myself. Today some shirts arrived, and they're really nice. Only one needs to be sent back.

- Earlier this week I made a blueberry brownie recipe from the Veganomicon. I had one with dinner this evening, and they seem to be getting better as the days go by.

- I hadn't been out on the lake in a week, and I was really missing it, so I planned to head out around 7 p.m. I assumed that Chris wouldn't join me since he's been feeling pretty exhausted lately. But he decided to come, and the water and clouds were so wonderful that I'm glad he didn't miss them.

- And my sister posted a lovely Merwin poem in today's comments; what a delight!

7/1: postal blossom

I recorded a bunch of postcrossing postcards today; they had been waiting in my mailbox in town for me to pick up. One of them was an origami postcard from a sender who had visited my blog; she hoped the card would be a good thing in my day. And it is! Here's a link to the card before mailing; it fared remarkably well in its postal voyage; the center folds got a little crumpled (such is life!), and the post added orange barcodes on two edges, but they match the flower so no complaints from me....

6/30: good times

The visit of Chris' father and his father's girlfriend went well, I think; it was really nice to see them and spend time with them.

They set off early this morning to drive to New Orleans, and Chris and I spent the morning relaxing and watching a DVD.

Then Chris headed out to run some errands, and I had a bit of quality time with each of the cats, since they were feeling a little out of their normal loop because of the visit.

And this evening Chris and I drove to Danville with a friend for dinner, and when we got back to town we prolonged our get-together and our conversation by stopping at a frozen custard stand. The evening was unusually mild; perfect for lingering and talking.

6/27-6/29: pause in programming

I'll be offline for a few days while some of Chris' family visit. Please feel free to post good things from your days in the comments!

6/26: slow but steady

Pippin's feeling under the weather today because of his new course of treatment, and the vet yesterday warned us that that might happen. He hasn't wanted to eat much today, but it's important that he get his medicine, which we usually mix into his food. Throughout the day he's been willing to eat mouthfuls here and there, and as the day nears its end he's almost through with his medicine/food mix. What a champ. And he's been keeping us close company as we've been working on our computers at the long table in the big room. We can't give him much comfort, but it is nice to have him nearby, and I hope it helps him somewhat, too.

6/25: moon & june morning

Chris and I traditionally make a chocolate cake each June and decorate it with a "moon and June" theme in honor of Christina Rossetti's poem. I baked the cake yesterday, and we were planning on decorating and eating it last night, but then Chris got a headache so we postponed until today. Until this morning, in fact. We iced the cake as we sipped our coffee, and then we had chocolate cake for breakfast.

6/24: morning doodles

During the past semester I developed the habit of writing 3 journal pages each morning, and it was a really good thing to do. Now that I'm in summer mode, I've been finding it harder to fill 3 pages daily. There's simply less for me to process (thankfully). So I've started a different practice which I've been enjoying. (In fact, I've been enjoying it so much that I'm afraid I'll jinx it by writing about it.) Everyday Lisa Vollrath on her gluebooks page posts a different word as a creative springboard; I'm not a gluebook person, but I've been using the words as doodling prompts, and it's really fun. I try to doodle in a way that illustrates the word. So far I've done: fathom, festoon, hegira, heliolatry, rococo, and--today's--haptic.

6/23: marks the spot

Chris has been buying and cleaning up older rifles for target-shooting, and though guns make me nervous (understatement!), today I went to the state-run shooting range with him. I didn't do badly for a first time: I hit the X in the middle of the bullseye three times.

(Full disclosure: I remain a vegetarian and a peace-nik, and I'm not sure how target-shooting meshes with those things.)

6/22: calendaring

It's not glamorous work, but it's good to have gotten it done: lots of event-scheduling and calendar-notating for next academic year. This way it's all set before school starts; one less thing to think about once the busy-ness begins again....

6/21: solstice

Hurray for the sun; hurray for light!

6/20: booked

For a minute it seemed too good to be true: the Globe Theatre in London this summer is offering Henry VIII, which is my last unread/unseen Shakespeare play. So I thought: could there be a better way to bring my Shakespeare project to a close?

And then it really was too good to be true: although the Globe Theatre is offering Henry VIII this summer, they're not performing it at all during the 10 days I'll be there.

But: I did reserve a ticket for Anne Boleyn, a new play by Howard Brenton that's having its world premiere at the Globe this summer. I'll be sure to read Henry VIII before I go, and then I'll be able to do a mental comparison and contrast between Shakespeare's view and Brenton's.

6/19: calm

The past two months have contained more than a usual dose of unpleasantness and unsettledness. Today, as I was kayaking on the lake with Chris at sunset, I felt calm--both inside and out--for the first time in quite awhile.

6/18: cold coffee

A summer comfort. And it reminds me of being in Greece, where I first got into the habit of drinking iced coffee in hot weather.

6/17: registered for reading

When I'm in London next month I hope to do some research at the British Library. To that end, today I pre-registered for a Reader's Pass. I know it's the equivalent of a library card, but what a library card: to join the company of so many readers and writers, past and present!

6/16: a pleasant hour

This afternoon I met a former student at a coffee shop. He graduated 5 years ago (or more?) and was passing through town. It was good to catch up and hear what he's up to (and it was some impressive stuff). But it was also just sheerly great to converse with him; sometimes conversations go smoothly and sweetly, with the dynamics and topics and atmosphere etc. falling into easy line, and this was one of those times.

6/15: coincidence

I called a colleague in Classics at another college today. We are in touch occasionally by email, but we hadn't talked since last summer. We chatted about options for Latin texts and the possibility of meeting up this summer--and then he mentioned that he's looking forward to getting an iPad. I said, "So am I." He said, "Mine is scheduled to arrive tomorrow." I said, "So is mine." He said, "FedEx is estimating delivery by 10:30 a.m." I said, "Same for mine!" Our iPads probably came on the same plane from Hong Kong to Alaska to Memphis before heading to our separate states! It was fun to discover we are iPad buddies as well as Classics buddies.

6/14: old-fashioned therapy

I was annoyed this morning, and I had set myself the task of cleaning out our screened-in porch area. The porch accumulates a lot of dust and pollen--so the furniture in it needed to be sprayed down with the power-washer, and the floor needed to be cleaned. I wasn't annoyed at the job, but I wasn't always embracing it with a fully happy spirit since I was preoccupied with the other things which were annoying me. Then I got down on my hands and knees to scrub the floor, and the sheer satisfaction of getting rid of some of the dirt made me feel a whole lot better, and most of my annoyance got washed away, too.

6/13: ah--at last!

The start of my summer kayaking was delayed this year: summer-session was so intensive that I didn't get out on the water, and then this past week has been a combination of iffy weather and my feeling sub-par. But this evening after supper my freshly scrubbed kayak Tiger Lily and I headed down to the lake--hurray!

6/12: starting

I did a little work today on an art project to hang on our bedroom wall. I had been envisioning possibilities for a couple of weeks, and today I decided not to worry about what would be better or worse and instead just set to work and see how things evolved. Not my usual m.o. for sure, but for this project it's working.

6/11: finished

I finished reading two books in the past 24 hours. The first was Cold in Summer--a young adult novel by Tracy Barrett, whose Anna of Byzantium I read and enjoyed last fall. I got so into the plot of Cold in Summer last night that I stayed up late to finish it. Barrett has a very nice touch. She writes what I call quiet page-turners. It sounds like an oxymoron, but in her case it's completely apt.

I also finished Martial: A Social Guide by Art Spisak. This was the first of a number books I hope to read this month about Martial's poetry, in an effort to start to prepare for my Martial course in the fall. Spisak's book provided a nice and helpful on-ramp for thinking about Martial's poetry.

6/9: sent

Chris and I sent out a mass emailing today to all incoming students to invite them to participate in the summer reading program we're running. It's our first go at this (and our school's first go), so we're keeping our fingers crossed that students will be interested. We've already had a few "yes' responses in less than 2 hours, so I think that's got to be a good sign?

6/8: invitation

A friend is organizing a group movie-viewing and discussion of Who Does She Think She Is later this month. I'm so grateful to have been included in the invitation.

6/7: books & bills

It's been very quiet in the house for the past hour and a half--perfect for straightening my office, writing some bills, and ordering some books. It feels good to get my financial ducks in a row. And buying new books makes me feel like I'm seeing a new horizon.

6/6: bees and sunblasted

We haven't had as much time to bee-keep this spring as we would have liked, but this morning we squeezed in a hive-check to make sure that a swarm we captured (and then combined with a queenless hive) is doing okay. They seem to be: I saw the queen; they've built a bunch of new comb; and there's brood in all stages of development.

We decided to go on the road for the afternoon, so we headed toward Leslie, where there's an organic bakery. We bought some cranberry nut bread which I'm looking forward to trying for breakfast tomorrow. But the best thing was being in the car in the sunlight. I think I've spent too much time indoors lately. I definitely feel a bit blasted by the brightness, but in a good way, as if the light has jolted me into summer.

6/5: watchless

Two years ago I decided not to wear my watch during the summer, and it was a good change. Last year I did the same, and this year I'm continuing the trend. Today my left wrist was blissfully chronometer-free.

6/4: 12:15 p.m.

The time today of the start of summer. Class over, grades in.

6/3: almost curbside

When we moved into this house 3 years ago we knew that recycling would require more effort. Outside the city limits we don't have curbside recycling pick-ups, so we've gotten into the habit of saving our recyclables and driving them to the main recycling site periodically. Now the county is piloting a recycling program that will include us. The truck can't turn around on the ridge, so we have to leave our recycling in bags at the bottom of the hill early on Thursday mornings, but it's easier than going to the big drop-off place every few weeks. Chris and I just took this week's recyclables down, and by the time I head to work, it should all be picked up, ready to begin its journey into Something Else.

6/2: deer

Two sweet deer in the yard early this morning. The grass is so high in some places that we could barely see them--but I bet they like the high grass and so will be back!

6/1: feline patience (and impatience)

The cats are a little bewildered by our summer-school schedule; they can tell that we're busier and more work-focused even than is usual during the regular academic year. At times I can tell that they're forebearing, and other times I can tell that they wish we'd stop and pay attention to them. I'm grateful for both attitudes: the first shows their awareness of our situation, and the second reminds us to look beyond our work, if only temporarily. Oh to have the calibration of a cat!

5/31: snowclones

I was looking for some new and interesting linguistic phenomena to talk about with my Etymology class, and today I came across snowclones. A snowclone is a formulaic phrase into which we can plug whatever words we want while harnessing some of the force of the original expression. There's a whole database site, but here are a few:
X is the new Y
Got X?
To boldy X where no man has gone before
To X or not to X
I hope the students will think they're fun (and I hope they'll be able to think of more on their own).

5/30: homebodies

After yesterday's out-and-about-ness, it was nice to stay home today, resting up and also getting ready for the work-week ahead. While road-trips can be oh-so-welcome at times, a day of no driving at all can also be a very good thing. (And I think I needed a day involving minimal contact with the outside world.)

5/29: a good birthday

Today is Chris' birthday, and it's an amazingly good thing that he was born. On top of that abiding goodness, we've had a great day. A road trip to central Arkansas with stops at the Russellville panaderia and the Salvadorean restaurant in Danville. Some photo ops along the way, plus a stop at a roadside store for local honey and mayhaw jelly (which I didn't know existed until today). A DVD late-afternoon matinee at home, and some phone calls with family. Then a walk around the yard after dinner. On our walk we saw the first baby fig of the season, two green tomatoes, and a bunch of wild raspberries and blackberries. We made a peripatetic dessert of the berries, which we picked and ate as we walked.

5/28: break

I'm enjoying my summer-school class, but the preparation each night is intense. Chris is feeling the same thing because he's teaching a course in the same summer session. So I'm glad that today is Friday and that Chris, the students, and I are getting a breather.

5/27: dipping a toe in esperanto

For years I've wanted to incorporate an activity using Esperanto into my Etymology course. Today I finally worked out a way to do it, and tomorrow I'll give it a try!

5/26: blooming

A bright yellow lily, near our mailbox. We planted some lily bulbs there a couple of years ago, and today the first of (hopefully) many opened up. It wasn't open when we left in the morning, so it was an especially nice surprise to see it when I returned home.

5/25: carpooling

Chris and I don't usually drive to work together during the regular academic year: our teaching schedules are almost opposite; he goes to school earlier; I stay later. But during summer school our schedules are exactly the same, so we've been heading off to campus in the same car each morning and returning home together each afternoon. I like it.

5/24: felt good & real

In my summer school course today we discussed an article by John McWhorter. We've been reading an essay by McWhorter a day for the past week, and he's a provocative writer, so it's not hard to talk about his ideas. But today the conversation was especially good and careful and interesting. If I can be so bold: I even think we did a better job than McWhorter in some ways in exploring some of his points!

5/23: flying flower at rest

Chris called me out onto the porch this evening so that I could see a moth that had landed on the porch screen. It was yellow and pink, its wings lying on its back like petals folded on the bud of a flower.

5/22: one left

Chris and I had a very frazzled day yesterday, and we felt like we needed a pick-us-up today, so we went to the panaderia to get a pastry apiece. It was lunch-time when we arrived, and the selection was somewhat slim. At first it didn't look like my favorite (concha) was there, but Chris found one for me, tucked away in the back on the bottom pastry shelf.

5/21: friends

In adult life, real ones are not easy to make. I think that anyone who says otherwise isn't telling the truth. In the past month I've gotten a wonderful package from one friend and had a number of great phone conversations with another. Today I had drinks and dinner with two more. I think I count as lucky.

5/20: banjo

Played by Chris this evening. I haven't heard him play it in a long time, and I didn't realize how much I missed it.

5/19: a quick but complex morning moment

When I walked outside for the first time today (at about 8 a.m.) it was so bright that it hurt my eyes. (And I wasn't even looking toward the sun.) At the same time I smiled. Then I realized that while my eyes were squinting and smarting, my mouth was smiling--and that realization made me smile more.

5/18: better timing today

I'm teaching a 3-week summer-school session right now, and I haven't taught a summer-school course in over a decade. I'm a little rusty on how to prepare each day of summer class so that it's the equivalent of a full week of semester class meetings. For the past two nights I've been preparing later into the evening than is conducive to restful slumber, but today I managed to get a handle on things and I might be able to catch up a little on lost sleep (plus have time to sweep the floor before I go to bed).

5/17: by another medium

I recently read E. M. Forster's Room With a View, and I loved it. In fact, I was tempted to start re-reading it the moment I finished it. I decided not to, but today I downloaded it as an audiobook. It was such a pleasure to have it accompany me this evening during my walk, and now I can listen for things which may not have seemed significant on the first pass but which take on additional meaning now that I know the end. Oh what a wonderful thing: a book that is funny and charming and smart and philosophical, all at the same time.

5/16: spur of the moment jaunt

Chris and I were driving home this afternoon after doing some chores and having lunch out. Instead of making the turn home, we just kept driving--all the way to Heber Springs, where we looked out over the dam and lake and then came home. Arkansas scenery all the way. It cleared my head a bit.

5/15: fantastic package

Received today from a friend in Japan. Gifts and a letter. What a delight.

And--at the risk of sounding corny--what's even more fantastic is having the friend who sent it all.

5/14: unexpected refreshment & an unexpected sound

It was one of those hot, hot, humid days, a preview of the summer to come. But after dinner a cool front started to move in. It'll bring rain tonight and tomorrow. For now, though, it brought cool, crisp air, perfect for an evening walk. And on our stroll we met up with two of our neighbors and enjoyed chatting with them.

This evening I've been puttering around indoors, and in my puttering I was struck by a new-to-me sound. It was a whippoorwill calling outside--amazing!

5/13: semiotic simultaneity

A former student came by the office to chat today. She's been learning Japanese in preparation for an upcoming year in Japan. She told me that the same character can express paper, mind, God, and wolf!

5/12: all but filed

Grading is done and numbers are crunched. I'll be ready to submit final grades for all my courses tomorrow morning. There were some sweet surprises, people straddling various borderlines who pushed themselves into the higher grade range at the end of the semester; good for them, and I hope they'll be pleased with their results.

5/11: floral dye

Chris and I walked around after dinner this evening, surveying the various things growing around our house. Back inside, I looked down at my pants and saw what looked like an ink stain--but I was puzzled because I hadn't been using that color of ink today. Chris pointed out that it probably wasn't pen ink at all: it was dye from the spiderwort that's blooming all through the yard. I must have brushed up against some as we walked. And you know what? Even if it doesn't come out, I don't care: I'm delighted by the idea of being dyed by a flower today.

5/10: updated at school as well

Today I was able to re-do my school bulletin board so that its postcards match this month's calendar, too. A new selection of images and a new range of colors is always pleasant to the eye, soothing and exciting at the same time.

5/9: up to date

Every month I change my bulletin board so that the postcards on the board match the colors in my wall calendar. But May has been so busy and unsettling so far that I hadn't gotten around to it until today. Indeed, I hadn't even gotten around to flipping the calendar itself from April to May.

This afternoon I enjoyed going through stacks of old postcards to find images to coordinate with this month's William Morris print in my calendar. And it is very nice indeed to look up and actually see the correct day on the correct month of the calendar. Perhaps the unsettling beginning of the month is starting to settle?

5/8: ridge walking resumed

I hadn't gone walking for over a week, and I was missing it. This afternoon I put on my iPod headphones and walked on the ridge for an hour, and it felt like the right thing to do. It was a cool day (70 degrees), the honeysuckle and privet smelled incredible, bumblebees were out, and the asters along the road were beginning to bloom. All good.

5/7: olive sauce

Last week I had made a large batch of olive relish for one of my Latin classes; I used an ancient Roman recipe--very fun (if also a LOT of chopping). Whenever I prepare food for more than Chris and myself I make too much; I'm not a good judge of serving sizes, and I'd rather have too much than too little. But then the question is: how much left-over olive relish do two people need? Chris had a great brainwave: he pureed it into a kind of sauce to use on pasta--as if it were olive pesto (if such a think exists). And it's fantastic. I think I could eat it every day as long as it lasts.

5/6: twilight conversation

A former student (who now lives in Japan) has been in town for a few days, and today we managed to find a time when we both were free to get together. In the early evening we met at a coffee shop, sat under a dogwood tree as the dark came on, and talked.

5/5: sweet morning

I slept more deeply last night than I have in recent days, and I didn't have to wake up at normal "school time." Getting 2 extra hours felt so good. And then I was able to linger after breakfast, drinking my coffee and checking my email while sitting on the porch with Chris, Pippin, and Emma. The air is beginning to be full of honeysuckle scent.

5/4: full house

Pippin's surgery today was a mixed success: he made it through and his tumor has been reduced, but it won't be able to be removed entirely, and it's not ultimately curable. Still: he's back at home now, and we are our little family this evening, and that is a very very very very very good thing.