1/31: teamwork

We had a bunch of errands that needed to be run today, in addition to our teaching. With some creative scheduling and a divide-and-conquer approach, we got everything done, both at school and around town. It's nice to be part of a team.

1/30: two little delights

I wrote a letter with a fountain pen today. I used to use a fountain pen a lot--back when I also used to write letters a lot. It was a tactile pleasure to hold it in my hand and feel the ink glide across the paper.

After dinner we were hankering for a sweet. (We seem to be hankering for sweets a lot these days, especially me.) Chris suggested we make a cake. When we were done mixing the batter and were just about to pour it into the pan, Chris said we should bake it right in the bowl. (It was a Pyrex bowl; no worries about oven-safeness.) So we did. It's hilarious to scoop a helping of cake out of a bowl.

1/29: more than mild

Today was downright warm! We were able to open the windows and get fresh air moving through the house--the air smells sweet. The bees were out and flying, and our evening stroll along the ridge felt positively spring-like. I know it's too early for it to be spring "for real," but this little wave of warm weather feels like encouragement to me.

1/28: mild

Unseasonably warm and sunny today. It made the day feel soft.

1/27: making time

There was a performance this evening on campus by Kacico, a modern dance company from Kansas City. I decided this morning that I was going to go. So I went. Work-wise it might not have been the smartest choice, but it felt good to watch the dances and think about them. Though I wasn't myself moving on stage, I was exercising my mind and my senses. Some of the dances were built around very definite concepts, and those I especially enjoyed.

1/26: book group full

I'm running an extra-curricular book discussion group next month, and today (the second day of advertising) the group filled to capacity. That makes me happy: it's such a good thing when people just want to read and then talk about what they read for no reason other than the pleasure of it.

1/25: partners in grey

Without coordinating in advance, Chris and I both chose to wear grey today. I wore a new grey sweater, and Chris wore a warm and soft grey flannel shirt. There are many varieties of grey, but these clothes are the same light charcoal tone. It's not a color either of us wears often, so the chances of our choosing it on the same day were relatively slim. No one saw us together, so no one noticed, but it was nice that I knew we were matching.

1/24: names

The beginning of the semester always means learning the names of new-to-me students. In my beginning Latin class, almost all of the students are people I haven't taught before. On Friday I spent some time working on their names, and today I solidified my knowledge. It's so nice to be able to call on people personally and individually!

1/23: work as pleasure

I am lucky that many aspects of my job are really fun and rewarding. Tonight I wrote a recommendation letter for a student who has been a pleasure to know, and now I'm off to translate some Homer for an independent study meeting tomorrow. Sunday evenings are always a return to the reality of work, but this semester I'm fortunate that every Sunday night's ramp-up will entail reading Homer.

1/22: pink

A soft pink sky at sunset that turned a brighter, bolder pink just before becoming dark.

"I believe in pink," said Audrey Hepburn.

1/21: load lightened

I've been feeling a little burdened by anxiety in relation to something at work this week, but today I just cut through my worry. The source of the problem is something I can't control, but somehow today I managed not to let it bother me or weigh me down. It feels really good, and I'm really going to try not to let this particular thing bog me down again.

1/20: sweet & unsolicited

A student who is in two of my courses this semester came up to me at the end of class today and said, "I'm so glad that I have class with you every day of the week."

1/19: nice little things

There was one rather unpleasant big-ish thing today, but I'm going to try to collect all the smaller good things so that, taken together, they can counterbalance the not-so-good thing. Here's a gathering of some of today's small goods:

- A new coffee machine in my office so that I can get just the coffee I want just when I want it. Very luxurious. (It took me months to talk myself into getting it, and I'm glad I finally did.)

- Unexpected time to finish my syllabus for tomorrow's first meeting of one of my courses--I thought that I would have to do it tonight or tomorrow morning, but I got it done this afternoon. Tomorrow will be less hectic as a result.

- A colleague with whom I could discuss the unpleasant big-ish thing. It helped me achieve clarity.

- Good first meetings of two of my courses for the semester.

- Two unanticipated non-businessy and very nice emails, one from a friend and one from a stranger who had seen me give my paper at the conference earlier this month.

- A new watch that I really like! I'm trying not to wear a watch much, but I realized (the hard way) that sometimes it's good to have one. So after not finding anything I liked in local stores, I ordered one online and it arrived today. It's a light ecru Swatch--very minimal in design, and no leather strap.

- Compliments from Chris on today's salad at supper-time. (He compliments me on the salad most days, which is very sweet of him, but today he said that the salad was the perfect complement for the rest of the meal. So I got compliments for a complementing salad....)

- Time for a walk. Since I didn't have to write a syllabus this evening, I was able to go to the walking track. I got to listen to Trollope on my iPod, and Chris came, too, which is always a bonus.

- Seeing Wilkie hanging out with Chris. I like to see the boys enjoying one another's company. (I'm not sure Chris enjoyed it when Wilkie tried to drink his tea, though....)

- Seeing Emma settled on top of a folded-up quilt--as if he's the princess atop the mattresses in The Princess and the Pea!

- A bunch of great postcards. One is particularly perfect for me: it's one of Hokusai's views of Mt. Fuji, and I love receiving views of Mt. Fuji, be they artistic renderings or photographs. Plus the postcard was sent with two wonderful stamps: a bee stamp and a stamp with a kawaii kitty standing in front of a kawaii Mt. Fuji.

1/18: out of the (mental) oven

I've been contemplating the idea of teaching a course on Classical Myth in Children's Literature since (gulp) the spring of 2007. Tomorrow at noon, with our first class meeting, the course becomes a reality. It's time to take the metaphorical cake out of my mental oven, so I've spent the evening finalizing the schedule of readings.

I couldn't have had better luck with the students enrolled in the course--I've taught all of them before, and they're good students as well as great people. How lucky am I to be spending time with them as we read and discuss interesting stuff?

1/17: late afternoon chat

I have a colleague in the Theatre department whose company I really enjoy, but we rarely see each other more than in passing--our offices are in different buildings and our schedules don't lead to our crossing paths often. Today we met up for coffee & a conversation. The semester officially begins tomorrow, so getting together this afternoon was a way to enjoy quality time in one another's company before things get busy again. Having a real, unrushed conversation was a nice way to celebrate the end of the break and the beginning of a new term. Plus it was great to exchange ideas--so often meetings with colleagues necessarily focus on bureaucratic or practical issues, but this was thought for thought's sake!

1/16: five herons, and a feline appetite

Two good things for today.

The road to our house skirts the lake, and as we were driving home from town this afternoon we each saw five great blue herons scattered along the shore-line. (There were six total, but each of us only saw five of them.) This is a record sighting.

And Wilkie, who is suffering from pancreatitis, seems to be responding to his medications. Today his appetite was definitely better than it was two weeks ago, and his weight is up a little, too. This is a very good development.

1/15: second coat smoother

I had 3 main goals for the winter break:

1. Writing and giving my paper.

2. Writing and submitting a new abstract.

3. Painting our garden windows over the kitchen sink.

I finished 1 & 2. Only 3 remains, and I got half-way done with it today. I thought it would be quicker, but I often under-estimate painting jobs. This particular job entails a lot of little nooks, crannies, corners, and edges--all of which need to be painted while I'm in a variety of not-so-comfortable positions, crouching on the kitchen countertop. I started in the afternoon, which turned out to be not a wise idea, since the sun was beating in on me as I worked. Once the first coat on one of the windows was done, I had to take a break. I did the second coat on that window this evening, during and after sunset, and that was much more pleasant. I hope it'll look good once it's dry, and I'm looking forward to painting the second window tomorrow (avoiding the afternoon sun, though).

1/14: old friends

I started listening to The Last Chronicle of Barset on my walks. I love (love love love love) that book, but it's been some years since I last read it. It was so wonderful today to reacquaint myself with the Crawleys, and Lily Dale, and the two Miss Prettymans, and more!

1/13: trying barbara's technique

Awhile ago, Barbara mentioned in a comment here that sometimes she makes a to-do list in reverse--that is, she keeps doing things and listing them until she has a set number done. Today I set my number at 10. I liked this way of keeping myself on track without the track being too fixed in advanced. I figured that as long as I kept doing something, it didn't so much matter what it was. So thanks, Barbara!

Here are my 10 things: sketching out a schedule for my Myth & Children's Literature course; going to the dentist; mailing packages; reading Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword (a graphic novel advertised with the tag-line "yet another troll-fighting 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl"); writing to my advisees; submitting my abstract; sending postcrossing postcards; doing some online ordering; checking my savings account records against the bank statement; putting laundry away.

Not necessarily glamorous, but done nevertheless. And as my parents say, "Done is beautiful."

1/12: abstract done

I must have been buoyed up a bit by my recent conference experience because I just finished writing an abstract to submit for a conference this summer, and it took neither much time nor angst to get it done. Who knows if it will be accepted it or not, but it feels good to have something else already in the hopper of possibility.

1/11: in the (mental) oven

We're still on break, and that's a sweet thing. But it's time to be thinking about next semester's courses, so it's been good today to mull over some options in my mind and make a few decisions about syllabuses and course structure. I'm a fan of slow-bake decision-making (when it's a feasible option).

1/10: remembrance of cookies past

We tend to accumulate jars of jam and jelly, and we recently decided that we needed to do something to use our current stock. I remembered a jam cookie recipe that I loved when I was younger, and though I couldn't find the exact recipe online, I think I found something really, really close. Today we're snowed in, so it feels like the perfect time to bake. We're in the process of making the cookies right now!

1/9: perfect timing

I got home from my conference yesterday evening, and that's good luck. Today a winter storm has set in, and the trip from the airport to our house might not have been as smooth today as it was yesterday. It feels nice to look out the windows and watch the snow come down. What would have been a hassle yesterday seems like a treat today.

1/6-1/8: heading for the lone star state

I'll be offline for a few days, giving a paper at a conference in Texas and seeing a friend whom I haven't met up with in years--both of those are very good things.

While I'm gone, feel free, of course, to post good things from your days in the comments!

1/5: the beginning of an answer

Our cat Wilkie's been not-so-well recently, and the first two rounds of testing at the vet showed that something was up, but not what. Today we got the results of a third set of tests, and the vet thinks he knows what's going on. We'll learn more soon, but for now it's just a relief to know that it's identified.

1/4: full draft

I just finished a draft of my conference paper for later this week. This is a happy thing, and it puts me a little ahead of schedule. It means that I can spend tomorrow revising and practicing (and packing) without having to squeeze more actual writing in. And beyond the practical goodness of having a draft done, it was a good thing to enjoy a day of writing and thinking.

1/3: like winter cicadas

Yesterday I mentioned that I had seen more ducks flying than ever before. Well, today topped yesterday. There have been thousands of ducks in the sky. We've been watching them during mealtimes from our table, looking out over the fields. Then early this evening we walked down the hill to get our mail, and what excellent timing: hundreds and hundreds of ducks were passing overhead! They made a cheeping, peeping sound rather than a quacking one.

1/2: a variety

A selection of today's good things:

- More ducks flying today than I have seen before. Their wings flapping in flight made them seem like they were blinking, twinkling lights.

- Opening paragraphs of my conference paper. There's plenty more to go, but at least the ice is broken, the first words written.

- A good email exchange with a parent about my summer London program.

- A quick, quick conversation with a neighbor who was passing by in his car as Chris and I walked. I like that neighbor's manner, his clear friendliness.

- New images on my bulletin board for the new year! The one above my desk has a teal-ish theme and uses some of my favorite cards that I have collected over the years. The board across from my desk now has all yellow images, and I am loving it's luminousness.

- Sweet biscuits. Chris tried to make a no-yeast sticky bun recipe yesterday and it didn't quite work, but we baked the dough anyway and got soft biscuits of a sort. Nice for breakfast, nice for dessert, nice anytime.

- First firing-up of the fireplace this winter. Prompted by a temporary loss of electricity, but a nice thing nonetheless. Or maybe especially nice for this reason!

1/1: looking up

When we went for our walk this afternoon the sky was filled with clouds. We paused to look. After I took some pictures, Chris called to me to lie down on the ground next to him. Here's what the sky looked like from that perspective, with the clouds running like ribbons or rivers parallel to the direction we were lying on our backs.

And another photo, this one taken later 0n our walk.