3/31: penultimate & positive

It was the second-to-last short-story reading/discussion meeting of the year today. There was a large group, and the students shared interesting thoughts and impressions: always a good thing. (We were talking about a story I find somewhat painful, "Dragon Dreams" by Sara Maitland.)

And on Monday I told myself (and Chris) that it was going to be "a very positive week." I'm not sure I completely succeeded in making Monday & Tuesday entirely positive, but today I did much better at it, and I could feel the difference.

3/30: dogwood day

When I left for school this morning the dogwoods weren't flowering. But we had a warm and sunny day, and by the time I was driving home a number of dogwoods--both on campus and along the road--had started to open up. The blossoms are pale yellow now, still curled with new-ness, and I'm going to enjoy watching them whiten and broaden out over the next two weeks.

3/29: success & ease

I suggested to the other ancient language teachers at school that we run a series of afternoon talks this year focusing on passages in our respective languages (Latin, Ancient Greek, Biblical Hebrew), gearing our remarks toward an audience that couldn't necessarily read those languages. They were game, but also a little skeptical of the idea and worried that it might not appeal to people. Today we had our third session, and the audience has gotten bigger every time. The first one had 20-some people, the second 30-some, and today's talk 40-some. It's nice to be right about something so sweet.

And since it was a long and busy day at work, and I was grateful, glad, and relieved that we had leftovers waiting for us at home. No dinner to prepare: we just needed to heat up the very tasty food that we made yesterday.

3/28: house-cleaning with help

My mind gets muddled if the house gets untidy. Since this week has been hectic, the house was kind of neglected. (I hate those weeks when we use the house as a pit stop more than as a place to live.) So I went to bed last night knowing that I would need to spend a good part of today straightening up. And then Chris returned from Memphis early this afternoon and helped! And it went so much faster and more pleasantly! There's still a bit more to do, but I can already feel my mental fog lifting.

3/27: book browsing

In this age of internet shopping I order most of my books online. It's convenient, but it means there are fewer happy, random discoveries; when I go online, I already know what I want. Today I went to a used bookstore in town before I had lunch, and it was fun to spend a little time just poking through the shelves. I got an anthology of 19th century women's utopian fiction, two poetry anthologies (since I'm gearing up for National Poetry Month in April), and a Thomas Hardy novel which I had never heard of but which seems based on the Pygmalion myth from Ovid. Great stuff!

3/26: senses

How wonderful to have them! Today they brought me:

The colors of the roadside bluets, our not-yet-opened-but-almost-ready-to-be-opened redbuds, and an escaped African violet.

The rich tones of my neighbor's windchimes.

The weight and softness of our cat Emma, curling up with me when I came home.

The pleasures of coffee with real cream (because I forgot to bring soymilk in my cup to the coffee shop), fried rice (my comfort food), and whipped bananas.

The almost unbelievably sweet air of spring, both indoors and out.

3/25: solo

Chris and I had separate evening commitments, so we couldn't meet up for a meal. I went out for dinner on my own--nothing fancy, but I enjoyed it.

3/24: out before dark

One Wednesday each month we have an evening faculty meeting. Tonight was the night, but it only lasted 35 minutes! There was still some sunlight by the time I got home, and Chris and I took a walk along the ridge. We spotted more native plum trees (and enjoyed their blossoms' amazing scent), were happy to see that our spirea buds had burst open, and even came across our first snake of the season. It was a baby copperhead and kind of cute; we're calling it a "copperlette" or a "penny snake."

3/23: magnolia rush

As I walked out of the building after my last class today, a wave of sweet smell from the flowering magnolia trees washed over me. Unexpected, and wonderful.

3/22: first day

It was the first day back to school after spring break and the first day of pre-registration for next year's courses. Pre-registration will go on for the next 2 1/2 weeks, but my seminar in Classical Myth and Children's Literature already has some takers! It's a new course that I'm very excited about developing and teaching--but as with all new courses, you never know what the demand will be. I'm glad that other people are finding the topic appealing. We almost all first encounter Greek and Roman myth as children, but I don't know of a course anywhere that focuses exclusively on the topic. I thought it would be nice to change that.

3/21: poetry plan

A year or more ago Chris and I tossed around the idea of a poetry exchange bulletin board at school where people could post a poem (either one they had written themselves or one of their favorites by someone else) and then take a poem that someone else had posted. We abandoned the idea because we couldn't think of a bulletin board in a heavily trafficked public place that someone might let us use. Today we decided to put up and use bulletin boards outside our own offices for the purpose. They might not get as much traffic and publicity since they won't be in a campus thoroughfare, but I'm glad that we're putting the idea into action, and it's a nice to think that I'll be able to peruse the board outside my office whenever I want to see what people have left. We think we'll roll out the idea for April, since that's National Poetry Month.

3/20: into the woods (briefly)

After lunch Chris suggested that we walk to a neighbor's house to look at his flowering pear tree (and its bee traffic). On the way back we caught sight of a white-blooming tree in the woods. We thought it might be first dogwood of the season, so we went to check it out. It wasn't a dogwood, but we weren't disappointed: it was a native plum tree, and its blossoms were crazy sweet-smelling.

3/19: irish soda bread

My parents send it every March around St. Patrick's Day, and it is always so good. I picked up a package today at the post office, and sure enough--there it was, this year's installment. With a bonus of mint Girl Scout cookies and some homemade Irish cream cookies. We had just finished the vegan muffins my brother sent, and so we feel very grateful to have family who send us goodies!

3/18: bees & book-binding

Yesterday was supposed to be a day of bee-keeping and book-binding, but it didn't quite work out. We were going to get up early and move the top-bar hive from its present location (on a friend's property) to our house; when the alarm rang, we were both feeling a little under the weather so we decided to go back to sleep. And later yesterday morning, since we weren't bee-keeping, I tinkered with some new-to-me book-binding techniques in an attempt to find something that I would want to teach in an ancient book-binding workshop at school at the end of the month. My tinkering ended with frustration, which was a first for me and book-binding.

Today was more fulfilling on both the bee front and the book-binding front! We moved the top-bar hive this morning without incident, and the bees are already flying around their new environs. And I figured out how to make a straightforward adaptation (using all easily available materials--no papyrus nor leather!) of a Nag Hammadi codex for the book-binding workshop. Hurray!

3/17: color therapy

Recently I've been mentally indulging in the idea of the physical feel of color. Today I decided to move from theory to practice, and I spent part of the afternoon making ink-blots but with colored paints rather than black ink. Some of the results are destined for the recycle bin, but others I like a lot and am adapting into postcards. It really has been therapeutic, and for only 66 cents a bottle.

Here's one:

3/16: taking shape

I didn't mean to spend time on it today, but it somehow got in my mind and took hold: the Gender Studies syllabus for next year. There is so much that could be done/read/discussed/watched! It's hard to know how and what to pick, but I think I have a workable plan, and though some things will need to be fleshed out over the coming months, it feels like a course (rather than an amoeba of possibilities) now.

3/15: tagged

Wonderful sunnysidey has tagged me for posting seven random things about myself, so here goes. (These are the first seven things I thought of beyond things which immediately came to mind but which someone reading this blog might have already picked up.)

1. When I was little (starting at about age four) I had a recurring dream in which I panicked at my own wedding.

2. I change the postcards on my bulletin board at home and at work each month so the postcards will match the colors in my wall-calendar for that month. Over the years, only two people at work have ever noticed that. One of them was a student who has since graduated; she sometimes sends me postcards now, which is incredibly sweet.

3. I like to take pictures, but I get very (very) nervous when other people watch me with my camera. My favorite photographic subjects are flowers, trees, clouds, gravestones, interesting signs, and architectural details. Today I took some pictures of a truck-load of old tires; I love photographing random things like that, but my desire to do so often comes into tension with my desire not to be watched while photographing. Today it took some careful maneuvering to be unseen around all those tires.... I don't like to photograph people much at all, but I did photograph a colleague at work who hates having her picture taken yet needed a good "head shot" for PR purposes. The Advancement/Development Office still uses one of the pictures I took of her, and that makes me feel good every time I see it on an official publication.

4. I got my ears pierced when I was in grade-school. (Sometime between second and fourth grade?) My sister and I got it done at the same time, and I remember that we used our "birthday money" from our grandparents to do it. I also remember the matching jumpers (made by our mother) we were wearing at the time: my sister's was purple, and mine was green. We were so excited, but in recent years I occasionally wish I hadn't done it. Wearing earrings is almost the only "cosmetic" thing about me: I don't put on make-up, do anything fancy to my hair, or paint my nails.

5. It's been almost eleven years since I last visited the little town where I grew up: Loretto, Pennsylvania. I have great affection for it (and for Pennsylvania in general), and I am so glad I grew up there. Loretto is a sort of magical place, but I somehow think that going back as a visitor rather than a resident would make me too sad.

6. I like to go the speed limit; I think it's a kind of game to follow the rule. Truth be told, I also like knowing that everyone passing me is breaking the law.

7. I once read a "desperately seeking" personal ad that I'm 99% sure was looking for me. (I didn't answer it.)

I'm supposed to tag seven people myself now, but--yikes--I don't think I know seven other bloggers well enough to tag them, so if you're reading this and would like to post seven items about yourself on your own blog, consider yourself tagged and then post a link here in the comments so I can meet you!

3/14: the smell of spring

I walked on the ridge late this afternoon and smelled an amazing smell; I told Chris later that it smelled like a distillation of all of spring. I walked to the source-bush and was happy to see a honey-bee (no doubt one of ours) working the blossoms. Chris and I tracked it down online, and it's a kind of honeysuckle I don't remember having encountered before--lonicera fragrantissima. One of its popular names is "sweet breath of spring" so I guess I'm not the only person who has found these flowers to be an olfactory summary of the season.

3/13: the wisdom of a non-plan

Earlier this year Chris and I had thought about meeting up with family in New Orleans for part of spring break--but then we realized that we would be better off resting at home for break instead of doing something fun yet tiring and requiring travel. On this first day of break, it feels unglamorous--and great--to be home. Today was that rare thing: a day for which an itinerary or to-do list did not need to be made. I am grateful for that. (And I think I really needed it.)

3/12: perked up

We picked the dog up at the vet's today to take her to her new people. She had been given a bath and gotten some grooming, and she looked so good. Her sore is healing, and she seemed altogether less desperate. The sad, scared look in her eyes was gone, and she seemed ready for the next phase of her life to begin. Let's hope it'll be grand!

3/11: a promising future

The dog seems to have found a new home with trustworthy people who really want her and can keep her! She's being boarded at the vet's this evening, where she's getting some much-needed care, and tomorrow we'll introduce her to her new humans.

3/10: a new friend

On our way home this evening Chris and I saw a dog that looked abandoned/lost and hurt; she had a big sore on her back and we couldn't tell what it was from. Since all the vet offices in town were closed for the night, we drove to an emergency clinic about half an hour away. We arrived just as tornado sirens were going off--very surreal. After we were all done taking shelter in one of the clinic's back rooms, the vet staff cleaned up the dog's wound and gave her some medication. She is so amazingly sweet; even as I type she's here sitting at my feet and keeping me quiet company. We can't have her long-term because of our cats, so I hope we find her a good home. It is wonderful to look into her eyes and feel like we're friends who trust one another. She's going to be a great friend to someone else, too.

3/9: last-minute dinner-date

With a friend. We didn't really have time for it, but I'm glad we did it anyway.

3/8: not one, but two

Two bats flying amazingly crazily beautifully zig-zaggedly in the sky above our house this evening. I am just so happy to see them, and I wish they'd take up permanent residence.

3/7: oh, the little flowers

An afternoon walk on the ridge ended up being a survey of the flowers blooming so far this spring: speedwell, spring beauties, violets, snow-drops, crocuses, daffodils, chickweed, heal-all, buttercups, and dog-tooth violets. In a neighbor's yard there was a positive blanket of dog-tooth violets--something I don't remember from last year, and something I've not seen anywhere else.

3/6: spring launch

As I was driving by the lake on the way to school this week, I noticed that the water seemed somehow to have changed seasons. It definitely (though indescribably) seemed like "spring water" rather than "winter water." Today we took our kayaks out on the spring-time lake--the first paddle of 2010, what a pleasure.

3/5: pink, orange, purple, blue

The colors of the sunset reflected on the lake.

3/4: preparing a poem

This is the third time I've taught a Catullus course, and for the most part I'm pretty committed to teaching certain Catullus poems rather than other ones. But it's good to mix things up a bit, and tonight I prepared a poem that I've never taught before. I translated it in graduate school (way back when), and I heard a paper about it at a conference a number of years ago. It was fun to come to my own terms with it this evening and decide how it fits into the portrait of Catullus we've built up in our class conversations thus far. (It seems like a sweet poem on the surface, but I think it might be a little mean. We'll see what the students say about it tomorrow.)

3/3: on the way to real

I applied for a grant to travel to London with 4 students this summer; once in London, everyone would work on their own research project and meet in a daily seminar to discuss their developing ideas. I've gotten word that my proposal has been accepted/funded, so now it's a matter of making things happen: students need to apply, rooms need to be reserved, etc. I thought about this program for quite some time, imagining its ins and outs, its benefits and challenges--now it's both happy and strange to move it from my mind to the external world.

3/2: an unexpectedly timely conversation

A friend from Little Rock came to campus for a lecture this evening, and Chris and I had dinner with her beforehand. At the restaurant we ended up talking about the poetics, rhetoric, and ethics involved in using the 1st person in writing (especially when it's a fictitious "I" that sounds like an autobiographical "I"). And then at the lecture the risks of that kind of writing were played out: one of the speakers at the lecture had distilled people's spoken accounts of their own lives into brief write-ups presented as if the people themselves had written them. It didn't seem like he always did this in a kind and careful way, and the three of us were a bit angry with him. But it did make us laugh to have had our conversation so close to the (negative) example--and it helped that we could share our exasperation in the parking lot before heading off on our separate roads home.

3/1: a roadside sign

Yet another indication that we're heading toward spring: as I was driving home today I saw a small clump of blooming daffodils.