Yesterday and today have been the biggest challenges so far in the year and a half of this blog. Yesterday we learned that our cat, Pippin, has a cancerous tumor in a very problematic part of his abdomen. Today we learned that his prognosis isn't confidence-inspiring (yesterday it wasn't quantifiable, but today we got numbers and percentages). So where's the good?
The good thing is that a surgeon is going to try to operate next week, and though the chances aren't great, they aren't zero. Not zero is a good thing.
Every day I know that if no other good thing happens, I always have 4 very, very good things I can mention: Chris and our cats, Wilkie, Pippin, and Emma. Maybe it's high time I move them from the wings and into the daily spotlight. So today I want to say that I am so grateful that Pippin has lived with us as a friend for more than 10 years now.
When I arrived home after work, Chris was in the clearing near the beehives, and he was looking up. I could tell, seeing him even from a distance, that he was watching a swarm. It landed on a branch that was reachable by ladder, so we managed to get the bees into a swarm box. Once they settled down we got them into a nuke hive--where we hope they'll stay.
It was nice to be bee-keeping partners.
And, as an extra happy thing, I managed to spot the queen of the swarm. I felt lucky that my eyes alighted on her, amidst hundreds of bees.
I try to start my beginning Latin class every day with a piece of "real" Latin, and here's what I found today for tomorrow's class. It's an epitaph for a woman, and it kind of blows me away:
Cinis sum, cinis terra est, terra dea est; ergo ego mortua non sum.
"I am ash, ash is earth, earth is a goddess; therefore I am not dead."
When I worked as an undergraduate in my alma mater's Writing Center, "writing is thinking" was a mantra. And I understood what it meant, in the abstract at least: writing is one way to process ideas, to learn exactly what one does think, and maybe even to discover that one thinks something unexpected. But in my own academic writing, my ideas are very mapped-out in advance, to the paragraph-level and then even the sentence-level, and so I rarely experience an "ah ha!" moment of thought-discovery while actually putting words together on paper. That's not to say that I find it boring to write. I enjoy it for other reasons--for instance, the satisfaction of putting words together in pleasing ways or connecting ideas especially clearly. But today, with my morning journalling, I did think and write simultaneously--indistinguishably--about A Room With a View, and it was really fun.
Earlier this year I wrote how Burnett's Making of a Marchioness kept me good company during an under-the-weather weekend. Today I wasn't exactly under the weather, but I kept having to rest because some of my muscles were acting up in a not-so-happy way. And I was lucky to have a great book to keep me company this time, too: I'm nearing the end of Forster's Room With a View, and it just makes me so very happy to read it. I think I put off reading it for so many years because I had seen the film (which I enjoyed), and now I can't believe I've deprived myself of the pleasure for so long. But maybe it's a good thing that I had it in waiting for just such a day as this?
It was one of those "got up on the wrong side of the bed" mornings. But I somehow managed not to let it set the tone for the entire day. I wish I knew how to repeat the trick: despite an edgy morning, I've had a sweet rest of my Saturday.
I knew that I'd be going to the senior Theatre students' production this evening, and I planned on going alone. But just a few hours before the show Chris decided to come. I enjoyed the company, and we both enjoyed seeing the students' work. The actors were perfectly cast for their roles, and the seniors did such a nice job of designing, directing, and blocking the piece. It was a modern dramatization of the Orpheus myth, so there was plenty of food for thought, too.
The last time I taught a Catullus course, I received a grant to build a collection of various English translations of Catullus, and I really like the idea of exploring how different translators in different decades have approached the task of bringing Catullus into English. This year in my Catullus course 4 students have opted to survey translations of particular poems as their final projects. I'm glad that the translation collection is proving useful to others, and I'll be excited to see what they see.
This morning, as Chris and I were standing outside before heading off to work, a great blue heron flew overhead. Chris said it was a good omen. This evening, as Chris and I were walking along the ridge, another great blue heron (or the same one) flew over us. A doubly good-omened day?
I meant to correct two sets of quizzes this evening, but I only brought one home. It wouldn't make sense time-wise to drive back to the office to retrieve them. So I have a little extra time to catch up on other things instead.
I let the rose bushes get gangly last year, and they weren't happy about it. This winter I cut them back--way back--and it's made a big difference. We have the first round of blooms for the year, and they're fantastic. Gorgeous to look at, and fragrant, too.
I'm teaching a course next spring on Classical Mythology and Children's Literature. I received a nice little grant to purchase a mini-library of materials for use in the course, and I've been ordering copies of children's books dating from the late 1800s on. The flurry of ordering and picking books up from our post box has been fun and also chaotic. I'm happy that all the books are now here and, as of this afternoon, are piled in a very tidy way in my home office. Lots of reading for the months ahead!
I don't have allergies, but this spring even people without allergies are having a terrible time with the Arkansas pollen. Objectively speaking, the pollen here is a pretty amazing phenomenon: you can SEE it, a yellow dust over everything. I'd never experienced that in other places I've lived. The downside of such palpable pollen is the effect it has on one's body, and this week I've been laid kind of low (as have a record number of people in the area). Today I'm feeling a little better, and I went to the doctor's office this afternoon to get some reinforcements in case I start back-sliding over the weekend.
Another Thursday of chalking poetry on the sidewalk around the fountain on campus. Today's session made me particularly happy. For one thing, some of the poetry from last week's chalking was still there, so with today's additions, there's a lot of poetry for people to read in passing. Chris added an Emily Dickinson poem and made it graphically interesting with different colors of chalk and sizes of letters etc. A German professor wrote down three German poems, and then he enthused with me about Botticelli because the Amy Lowell poem I had chalked mentioned Botticelli's Venus. Three students added poems, and one of them used a Spanish poem. My co-host for these sessions chalked a Mary Oliver poem that I had read before, so it felt like seeing a friend. And I also put down some snippets from Pablo Neruda's Book of Questions, which is just so fun (and which made me think of my sister, since she gave me the book for my birthday one year). Then, at the end of the day, I got an email from a student who just wanted to say that she enjoyed reading the poems so much. Hurray, hurray, hurray.
In my mailbox at home today: a package from a friend. Completely unexpected! It was a set of four very charming (both stylish and fun) drinking glasses. She said that she thought they looked very "weekend." I concur, and I'll look forward to using these glasses and getting a smile from them even during the week.
I have fond memories of the film version of A Room with a View, but truth be told, I've never read the book. Today I checked it out of the library, and I read the opening pages as I was walking across campus from the library to my office. It made me smile and feel like I could breathe somehow--I was temporarily opened up beyond my little self.
This morning I put on my dusty rose linen jacket. When I got to campus it seemed an especially fitting choice: the azaleas, in almost the same shade, were blooming. Two co-workers were wearing that color today, too.
The poetry exchange bulletin board is up outside my office door, and today I paused to read a poem that someone else had left on it. It was "The Dream Keeper" by Langston Hughes. As a cloud-lover, I was delighted by the imagery of the poem. And, of course, I was also delighted that someone made use of the board.
It was a great thing to sign into my blog this evening, after an extended day at work, and find 2 comments. I all of a sudden felt less lonely and tired--so thank you, Rosalyn & Isa!
In the fall Chris planted some black-tulip bulbs on our property in various places. Some at the bottom of the hill, below our house at the end of the driveway, have been coming up. This morning, as I headed off to school, I noticed that they are now not just up but also open. Their "black" is more like a rich purple, which is lovely. I parked the car and got out in order to take a closer look.
Yesterday I was wondering how the dog we found (posts here and here and here) is faring in her new home with her new people. And, as if they read our minds, today we got an email update on her! She's well and happy, and her new family loves her. I still get a little teary thinking about her, but I am so glad she is thriving and living with such wonderful people.
A sunny morning gave way to a grey day, and from mid-morning on it threatened to rain. But it didn't, and didn't, and didn't (and still hasn't). Chris and I took advantage of the non-rain by going on a drive this afternoon, and I just took further advantage of it by taking a walk. The various purple flowers blooming look especially vibrant against the day's darkness.
I'm listening to Trollope's Sir Harry Hotspur of Humblethwaite as I walk these days. Truth be told, I'm not walking much at all "these days," but when I do have a chance, this is my company. Tonight I was able to take a double-stroll along the ridge, and it was a beautiful night. I enjoyed my audiobook: the reader does a good job with his deep British tones, and since I've already read the story it's especially interesting to hear it unfold more slowly, charting how Trollope is slowly accomplishing the tragedy of the ending.
I was running a little late for school this morning, but I wanted to check out some flowers that were blooming in the yard. I found a purple squiggle of a flower whose bulb must have been planted by a previous owner. I have no idea what it's called, but what a sweet surprise!
And I had an extra pocket of time this evening in my office before a dance concert so I got a lot of receipts sorted and reimbursement forms typed up. Prosaic, I know, but it's a good thing to get money back when I've spent it on work-related things, and sometimes I get a little overwhelmed by all the receipts and papers and various accounts. I'm glad to get un-whelmed for once.
On the drive to school today, I got my first spring sighting-of-the-year of crimson clover, one of my favorites. It is SO deeply red.
And this morning at school some of us gathered to chalk poems onto the sidewalk in celebration of National Poetry Month. It was a beautiful day, so it was fantastic to have an excuse to be outside--and to have an excuse to spend some time with poetry.