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....