1/30-1/31: sibling visit

I'm offline for the next two days because my sister is here, and that's a good thing!

1/29: all about the snow

Snow and ice moved into the area overnight, and this morning we received word that all classes were cancelled for the day. Even if they hadn't been, we wouldn't have been able to drive in: our steep and curvy driveway is iced over. So the weekend started a day early, and we've had a leisurely time of it, working at various things without feeling rushed and taking time to relax.

We also took time to walk along the ridge amid the falling snow. Having grown up with long winters in Pennsylvania, I'm glad that snow is rare in Arkansas, but I guess I miss it enough that I always want to bundle up and go walking when it's here.

Last night we were craving a sweet and didn't have anything on hand, so we made a small, quick batch of rum balls. Today they seemed the perfect thing to snack on, since their covering of confectioner's sugar looks so like the world outside the windows.

1/28: a happy thought

As I was waking up this morning, I realized that my sister (whose home is in New Jersey) woke up in Arkansas today, too. She's at a conference in another part of the state, and she'll be visiting us once the business part of her trip is over. Just knowing she was even somewhat nearby was a suddenly cheering thought.

1/27: final sky

A year ago today I set up my sky photo / sky blog project. I met a lot of people (through the mail and over the internet) who contributed sky photos, and some folks whom I know "in person" participated, as well. When I started, I planned to run the project for a year, so today is its anniversary and its close. I took a picture of some clouds as I was standing in the parking lot at work this morning, and I just posted that as the 207th sky photo. I also made a widget so that all the other skies are in a slideshow. The blog is now a record of a project rather than a project itself--but I'm glad for the success of the experiment.

1/26: without notes

I typed up a lesson plan for my class this afternoon, and then a student came right before class so I forgot to print it out--something I didn't realize until I was in the classroom. So I was on my own. I did just fine, which is a reminder that the notes may be more of a security blanket than anything else.

1/25: two for today

I got strangely ahead work-wise today. In fact I'm so unexpectedly ahead of the game that I think I must be missing something. But instead of fretting about what I may be forgetting, I'm just going to enjoy it while it lasts!

And here's a happy coincidence: On Friday I was talking with my Latin students about Lake Garda in northern Italy because Catullus' family had property there (and we're translating Catullus this semester). Today I received a postcrossing postcard with three pictures of Lake Garda--can you believe it?

1/24: a lot accomplished

I knew that I had to write 2 grant proposals today, and I just finished them--hurray! But I also managed to fit in some other things, including sewing the new cushion covers which we bought fabric for yesterday and going for a walk at the indoor track.

1/23: browsing, buying, & boggle

Chris and I went to buy fabrics this afternoon. I'm making new cushions for our indoor Adirondack chairs since the cats have irredeemably claimed the current cushions as their own. We found a great fabric (at the first store we visited, no less), and we also picked out some other pleasant pieces to make into cloth napkins. It's been too long since we've freshened up our napkin stash.

On the way home we stopped at a flea market we'd never been to before. I'm sometimes okay, sometimes not-so-okay, at poking around in places like that, but today I fared alright. And I was rewarded by finding an old (but complete) Boggle game, just like the one I had when I was a kid. I know I could have bought one new elsewhere, but I'm glad to have one that feels like it could have been mine all along. Chris also bought some stuff, including some locally made fudge--sweet!

1/22: free & clear (& light)

I just finished preparing for one of my Monday classes, and the other one I'll be able to get ready for on Monday morning. So though I have other work for this weekend (writing two grant proposals), I don't have to bring preparation materials home.

Maybe I've been especially productive in my office today because I've been enjoying my rarely-used lamp with its incredibly soothing tinted light bulb? The bulb had burned out some time ago, and today I realized that I had an extra one on hand--so I replaced it and have been grateful for the relaxing ambience.

1/21: lunch out & lunch together

Because the semester has just started things aren't so very crazy yet--which meant that Chris and I could, on the spur of the moment, realize that we had time to go out for lunch together this afternoon. It was so fun to take an hour out of the day and have some warm, comforting food off campus.

1/20: photos in the fog

This morning was grey, and there was so much fog on and around the lake as I drove to school. I decided to stop at a fishing pier to try my luck with my camera. I'm glad I got ready for work in a timely way so that I could pull over and take pictures without having to worry about the time.

And here's a sweet coincidence: I'm still reading Edward Lear's diary entry each day, and on January 20th in 1860 he wrote, "Very dark--(& dreamy)--and mostly rainy." He could have been writing about today.

1/19: amazing mail

It was one of those great mail days! I got 8 pieces of "real" mail from real people. Here's a round-up:
- a list of someone's 10 favorite songs of 2009
- a note from someone who had contemplated going back to school and is now enrolled at a college for the spring semester
- a postcard featuring the Temppeliaukio underground church in Helsinki ("underground" as in literally under the ground, not as in renegade or secret)
- a postcard with an image of a skeletal Quixote by José Guadalupe Posada
- a postcard with a truly androgynous fairy (why shouldn't fairies be androgynous?)
- a (luminous) postcard with a (luminous) poem by Yeats
- a notecard with some beautiful Indian art on it (Indian as in the Asian sub-continent, not Native American)
- a postcard from the Netherlands with a drawing of a sweet pink pig and the inscription Mag ik je geluksvarkentje zijn? (which means, Can I be your lucky pig?)
Who would turn down a lucky pig?

1/18: my room in the morning

In yesterday's cleaning extravaganza, I didn't have time to work on my home office. So this morning I spent a couple of hours on it and its closet. It feels so good now. The bookshelves (which I don't see because they're behind me as I sit at my desk) are still in a fair amount of disarray, but the closet and the half of the room I can see from my desk are just lovely--exactly as they should be. It makes me feel encouraged about tackling the bookshelves before too long.

1/17: inside & out

I spent most of the day inside, and for most of that time I was cleaning. Today it felt really good to clean. In fact, it felt so good to tidy up that I didn't very much mind that the weather was gorgeous and I wasn't outside. I did go outside this morning, for a walk with Chris, and then again in the late afternoon, when he showed me some things he had come across in the woods. The woods smelled great: fresh and wet and with the goodness of growing things and dirt.

1/16: morning warmth

We've always waited until the evening to light a fire in the fireplace, but Chris was up early this morning and the spirit moved him to build one. So I awoke to the cozy smell of smoldering wood, and I ate my breakfast with Chris with our feet propped up by the fire.

1/15: meetings, planned & unplanned

I had my first business-y meeting of the semester today, and I am grateful that it was able to be such a smooth slipping back into work: it was held as a late lunch-meeting at a local restaurant. And before the meeting started I ran into one of my favorite people from work who happened to be at the same restaurant but not for the same meeting. I won't be crossing paths with him much this upcoming semester, so it was nice to have a few minutes to chat with him.

1/14: feedback

Today I had a chance to read the students' course questionnaires from my classes last semester. They were all positive, which is a great and welcome encouragement as I begin to gear up for the new semester.

1/13: an invitation

I had been thinking that I should disband my Hawthorne research materials from the summer--and now I'm glad I didn't. Two great people who presented at the conference this summer just invited me to give a Hawthorne paper as part of a panel they're organizing for the next APA. I'm so pleased to be asked! I wasn't sure whether I was going to continue my Hawthorne work or move on to other things, but once this invitation arrived I realized that there is more for me to think/read/say, and I'm excited to keep Hawthorne and his Wonder Book on a front-burner for awhile longer.

1/12: unexpected implement

I don't think I ever imagined myself using a pitchfork. (Indeed, I don't think I ever imagined myself owning a pitchfork.) But today I decided to take the composting out and add it to the pile--which involves covering it over with hay, hence the pitchfork. Chris usually takes the composting out, but I like that we have the heap, and I liked doing the chore today. It somehow felt really really good to use that pitchfork.

1/11: eggrolls & relief

Chris and I have wanted to try making our own eggrolls for a long time, but we just never pushed ourselves to move the desire into action--until tonight, when we had home-made eggrolls for dinner. It's always a good feeling when something makes its way from a wish to a real thing, and the eggrolls were tasty, too.

And earlier today I sighed a breath of relief. We've had a huge flock of red-winged blackbirds in the area recently, and I was worried that their sheer numbers (and noise) would scare away the beloved bluebirds. Today the blackbirds weren't around and the bluebirds came out. I saw six of them when I walked down the hill to get the mail.

1/10: chill lifting & eyes unshaded

Today was less chilly than yesterday. It seemed reasonable enough to walk along the ridge this afternoon instead of at the indoor track. The sun was bright and strong, and part-way through the walk I wondered why my eyes were so astonished--then I realized that I hadn't put on my sunglasses. Maybe it's a good thing to feel blasted by the sunlight from time to time.

1/9: on ice

I grew up with cold winters in the mountains of western Pennsylvania, but six years in Los Angeles and ten years in Arkansas have made cold, snowy winters mostly objects of memory. It does get cold in Arkansas (witness this chilly week!), but it rarely snows and winter doesn't settle in for months as it did in Pennsylvania. Because this week has been unusually cold, thick-ish ice has formed on some lakes, and this afternoon Chris and I visited the almost entirely iced-over Lake Bailey on Petit Jean Mountain. We initially stopped at the lake because a flock of Canadian geese had landed on it--I wanted to take some pictures. Then we saw people walking on the ice. I hesitated: I used to ice skate on lakes, but in my senior year of high school I fell through the ice on a pond and haven't been out much since. Today the appeal proved too great. I eventually moved from the frozen ground of the shore to the ice at the edge of the lake. I didn't go far into the lake (after all, it wasn't completely frozen), but I did have fun sliding on the surface and taking some close-up pictures. Who knows when I'll next be able to walk on water and snap ice photos in Arkansas?

1/7: still on break

When school's in session I'm on. But I'm lucky to have a profession in which time off is built in, too. This year our semester break extends until the 18th (a week longer than last year), and it feels so luxurious to have post-holiday time that's pre-semester time. Of course, I'm doing work-related things here and there, but I'm also having the chance to go to the walking track, read books, watch movies, write postcards, and work on crafty projects. By the end of every semester I feel like I've lost a layer of (psychological) skin, and I'm so grateful that therapeutic time is built into my calendar. By the time classes start again, I'll be ready.

1/6: by the fire (not in nebraska)

Last year at this time Chris was beginning his semester in Nebraska. This year he's here with me, sitting next to a warm fire.

1/5: eagle (etc.) above

Today was a good bird day. Canadian geese and ducks were flying, as usual, between the rice fields and the lake. And, less usually, snow geese were moving through. I like them because their black-and-whiteness makes them look like they're blinking off and on as they flap and fly across the sky. I also like them because they remind me of time spent with Chris in Nebraska last year, when we saw thousands of snow geese reeling through the air. But today's most unusal sighting happened early on: while we were eating our breakfast we saw a golden eagle circling along the ridge. Bald eagles come each year, but this is the first time I've seen a golden eagle here--or, indeed, anywhere.

1/4: conchas close-by

Conchas (a kind of Hispanic sweet roll) remind me of living in southern California and of visiting Cozumel with Chris' family. When we moved from Los Angeles to upstate New York, I missed eating them. When we moved from upstate New York to Arkansas, we were delighted to find a panaderia about 40 minutes away which stocked them. Today we happily found a source even closer to home: a Mexican grocery, with a small baked-goods section, just south of town. I ate two of them for dinner tonight.

1/3: floating flakes

It's been snowing--ever so slightly--all day. The flakes don't seem to be in any hurry, and though there's no wind to blow them, they've been drifting around in the most gentle way on their way to the ground (where they then quickly melt). The colors of the landscape today have been blue and grey, and with the hint of white in the air it feels picturesquely winter even without snow blanketing the grass.

1/2: time for a list

There's no single stand-out good thing for today, but it was far from a bad day. Here are some of the things that made me smile, made me happy, and/or made me grateful:
- sipping coffee as Chris and the cats slept
- learning about some Polish authors with Chris (the wonders of the www!) and choosing a Polish novel to read with him as one of our next "book club" books (we picked Cosmos by Witold Gombrowicz)
- receiving some excellent mail: a postcard in German, another postcard with a photo of a Pennsylvania Amish Quilt on it, and a card plus a letter from a sendsomething.net friend
- painting the trim around a window on the outside of our house (a chilly but long-overdue task)
- taking a warm shower after being outside; when the warm water ran out, I had the back-up relief of a hot-air fan in my bathroom (what creature comforts)
- watching the play of light at sunset; it's been such an amazing season so far for dramatic light on the ridge
- finishing a list of things that I wanted to get done today and yet still feeling like I've had a very leisurely day

1/1: new & (very) old

Today has been a quiet day, as Chris is recovering from his cold and I'm recovering from a somewhat sleepless night. In the afternoon, as we watched movies, I learned two new-to-me embroidery stitches, which was fun. And this evening Chris and I have been poking around on an ancestry-tracing website which provides a lot of public records. Not too long ago I posted about my almost complete lack of information about my Polish ancestors--but now we know some of their names and even where some of them lived in Poland! We could get as far back as one of my great-great-great-grandfathers, who was born in 1798.