I was looking for some new and interesting linguistic phenomena to talk about with my Etymology class, and today I came across snowclones. A snowclone is a formulaic phrase into which we can plug whatever words we want while harnessing some of the force of the original expression. There's a whole database site, but here are a few:
X is the new Y
To boldy X where no man has gone before
To X or not to X
I hope the students will think they're fun (and I hope they'll be able to think of more on their own).
After yesterday's out-and-about-ness, it was nice to stay home today, resting up and also getting ready for the work-week ahead. While road-trips can be oh-so-welcome at times, a day of no driving at all can also be a very good thing. (And I think I needed a day involving minimal contact with the outside world.)
Today is Chris' birthday, and it's an amazingly good thing that he was born. On top of that abiding goodness, we've had a great day. A road trip to central Arkansas with stops at the Russellville panaderia and the Salvadorean restaurant in Danville. Some photo ops along the way, plus a stop at a roadside store for local honey and mayhaw jelly (which I didn't know existed until today). A DVD late-afternoon matinee at home, and some phone calls with family. Then a walk around the yard after dinner. On our walk we saw the first baby fig of the season, two green tomatoes, and a bunch of wild raspberries and blackberries. We made a peripatetic dessert of the berries, which we picked and ate as we walked.
I'm enjoying my summer-school class, but the preparation each night is intense. Chris is feeling the same thing because he's teaching a course in the same summer session. So I'm glad that today is Friday and that Chris, the students, and I are getting a breather.
A bright yellow lily, near our mailbox. We planted some lily bulbs there a couple of years ago, and today the first of (hopefully) many opened up. It wasn't open when we left in the morning, so it was an especially nice surprise to see it when I returned home.
Chris and I don't usually drive to work together during the regular academic year: our teaching schedules are almost opposite; he goes to school earlier; I stay later. But during summer school our schedules are exactly the same, so we've been heading off to campus in the same car each morning and returning home together each afternoon. I like it.
In my summer school course today we discussed an article by John McWhorter. We've been reading an essay by McWhorter a day for the past week, and he's a provocative writer, so it's not hard to talk about his ideas. But today the conversation was especially good and careful and interesting. If I can be so bold: I even think we did a better job than McWhorter in some ways in exploring some of his points!
Chris called me out onto the porch this evening so that I could see a moth that had landed on the porch screen. It was yellow and pink, its wings lying on its back like petals folded on the bud of a flower.
Chris and I had a very frazzled day yesterday, and we felt like we needed a pick-us-up today, so we went to the panaderia to get a pastry apiece. It was lunch-time when we arrived, and the selection was somewhat slim. At first it didn't look like my favorite (concha) was there, but Chris found one for me, tucked away in the back on the bottom pastry shelf.
In adult life, real ones are not easy to make. I think that anyone who says otherwise isn't telling the truth. In the past month I've gotten a wonderful package from one friend and had a number of great phone conversations with another. Today I had drinks and dinner with two more. I think I count as lucky.
When I walked outside for the first time today (at about 8 a.m.) it was so bright that it hurt my eyes. (And I wasn't even looking toward the sun.) At the same time I smiled. Then I realized that while my eyes were squinting and smarting, my mouth was smiling--and that realization made me smile more.
I'm teaching a 3-week summer-school session right now, and I haven't taught a summer-school course in over a decade. I'm a little rusty on how to prepare each day of summer class so that it's the equivalent of a full week of semester class meetings. For the past two nights I've been preparing later into the evening than is conducive to restful slumber, but today I managed to get a handle on things and I might be able to catch up a little on lost sleep (plus have time to sweep the floor before I go to bed).
I recently read E. M. Forster's Room With a View, and I loved it. In fact, I was tempted to start re-reading it the moment I finished it. I decided not to, but today I downloaded it as an audiobook. It was such a pleasure to have it accompany me this evening during my walk, and now I can listen for things which may not have seemed significant on the first pass but which take on additional meaning now that I know the end. Oh what a wonderful thing: a book that is funny and charming and smart and philosophical, all at the same time.
Chris and I were driving home this afternoon after doing some chores and having lunch out. Instead of making the turn home, we just kept driving--all the way to Heber Springs, where we looked out over the dam and lake and then came home. Arkansas scenery all the way. It cleared my head a bit.
It was one of those hot, hot, humid days, a preview of the summer to come. But after dinner a cool front started to move in. It'll bring rain tonight and tomorrow. For now, though, it brought cool, crisp air, perfect for an evening walk. And on our stroll we met up with two of our neighbors and enjoyed chatting with them.
This evening I've been puttering around indoors, and in my puttering I was struck by a new-to-me sound. It was a whippoorwill calling outside--amazing!
A former student came by the office to chat today. She's been learning Japanese in preparation for an upcoming year in Japan. She told me that the same character can express paper, mind, God, and wolf!
Grading is done and numbers are crunched. I'll be ready to submit final grades for all my courses tomorrow morning. There were some sweet surprises, people straddling various borderlines who pushed themselves into the higher grade range at the end of the semester; good for them, and I hope they'll be pleased with their results.
Chris and I walked around after dinner this evening, surveying the various things growing around our house. Back inside, I looked down at my pants and saw what looked like an ink stain--but I was puzzled because I hadn't been using that color of ink today. Chris pointed out that it probably wasn't pen ink at all: it was dye from the spiderwort that's blooming all through the yard. I must have brushed up against some as we walked. And you know what? Even if it doesn't come out, I don't care: I'm delighted by the idea of being dyed by a flower today.
Today I was able to re-do my school bulletin board so that its postcards match this month's calendar, too. A new selection of images and a new range of colors is always pleasant to the eye, soothing and exciting at the same time.
Every month I change my bulletin board so that the postcards on the board match the colors in my wall calendar. But May has been so busy and unsettling so far that I hadn't gotten around to it until today. Indeed, I hadn't even gotten around to flipping the calendar itself from April to May.
This afternoon I enjoyed going through stacks of old postcards to find images to coordinate with this month's William Morris print in my calendar. And it is very nice indeed to look up and actually see the correct day on the correct month of the calendar. Perhaps the unsettling beginning of the month is starting to settle?
I hadn't gone walking for over a week, and I was missing it. This afternoon I put on my iPod headphones and walked on the ridge for an hour, and it felt like the right thing to do. It was a cool day (70 degrees), the honeysuckle and privet smelled incredible, bumblebees were out, and the asters along the road were beginning to bloom. All good.
Last week I had made a large batch of olive relish for one of my Latin classes; I used an ancient Roman recipe--very fun (if also a LOT of chopping). Whenever I prepare food for more than Chris and myself I make too much; I'm not a good judge of serving sizes, and I'd rather have too much than too little. But then the question is: how much left-over olive relish do two people need? Chris had a great brainwave: he pureed it into a kind of sauce to use on pasta--as if it were olive pesto (if such a think exists). And it's fantastic. I think I could eat it every day as long as it lasts.
A former student (who now lives in Japan) has been in town for a few days, and today we managed to find a time when we both were free to get together. In the early evening we met at a coffee shop, sat under a dogwood tree as the dark came on, and talked.
I slept more deeply last night than I have in recent days, and I didn't have to wake up at normal "school time." Getting 2 extra hours felt so good. And then I was able to linger after breakfast, drinking my coffee and checking my email while sitting on the porch with Chris, Pippin, and Emma. The air is beginning to be full of honeysuckle scent.
Pippin's surgery today was a mixed success: he made it through and his tumor has been reduced, but it won't be able to be removed entirely, and it's not ultimately curable. Still: he's back at home now, and we are our little family this evening, and that is a very very very very very good thing.
I woke up earlier than usual for a Sunday, and one of the first things I heard was birdsong. While eating my breakfast and sipping my coffee I watched the birds outside: blue-birds, cardinals, and a high-flying majestic blue heron.
When I logged into my email this morning I had a message from my dear friend Katy. I gave her a call, and though we couldn't talk for terribly long it was fantastic to talk with her at all. I think we're going to try to talk again this evening, and I feel lucky about that.
Today's kindnesses gratefully received include those of students, strangers, the people who work in our postal packaging store and at the place where I get my hair cut. And, of course, the kindness of Chris and the cats.