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.