3/31: doing a homework assignment

In my seminar course, the students have assigned the reading homework for the next 3 weeks so that we're reading material directly related to their in-class presentations and papers. They made interesting selections, and I'm off to do tomorrow's reading before I call it a night. It's fun to being doing homework that I haven't myself assigned for a change!

3/30: dogwoods

In the waves of blooms that are spring, it's now the dogwoods' turn. The blossoms are yellowish because they're new; over the next few weeks they'll whiten before they give way to whatever comes next.

3/29: je pique!

Last year I came across "The Prayer of the Goldfish," an amazing poem by Carmen Bernos de Gasztold, originally written in French. Upon recently remembering that it had been about a year since I discovered it, I decided to order one of her books so I could read more of her work. A translation of Prayers from the Ark and The Creatures' Choir arrived today. It was not a purchase I'll regret!

The first poem I opened to was "The Hedgehog," from The Creatures' Choir. This was a happy thing, since hedgehogs make me smile, and especially hedgehogs in literature. The opening line of the poem reads: "Yes, Lord, I prick!" Fantastic. And even more perfect in the original French: Oui, Seigneur, je pique!

3/28: nice reaction

The beginning Latin course had a midterm right before spring break. The students were pretty exhausted, and a wave of viruses had just come across campus--not ideal test-taking conditions. Nevertheless, they did very respectably on the midterm.

Today I wanted to give them a chance to sink back into Latin and even to raise their midterm grades. I passed back the tests marked but not corrected, and they were able to spend the class making corrections and checking in with me in order to earn back partial points. They looked so delighted when I explained to them that they could earn points back--it was worth doing pedagogically of course (they learn more by making their own corrections than by my making them), but it was almost worth doing simply to see such happy faces. How often in life can mistakes be so profitably undone?

3/27: an on-ramp of a day

Tomorrow is the return from spring break, so I've spent today creating a smooth-ish transition back into work. Truth be told, I did work every day of spring break except yesterday, but the proportion of work to non-work favored the non-work. Now the balance needs to start tipping in the other direction. To that end, I said goodbye to break & hello to school by:
- allowing myself to be fairly low-key today; it's the last rest-up before the end-of the-semester push, so I've been giving myself the comforts of soothing low lighting and lots of warm beverages to fight off a spring chill
- mixing work and pleasure by grading papers and doing prep combined with writing postcards and reading a book for fun
- going on a walk--slightly shorter than the other walks this week, but still a walk (making my walking record 9 days in a row, and reminding me that an exercised RR is a happier RR--something I need to keep in mind during the craziness that is April)
- doing my laundry; all my clothes (except my dry cleaning) are now ready to wear!

3/26: neighborly exchange

We really like the neighbors who live closest to us, but we haven't chatted with them much at all recently. This evening after dinner, as Chris and I were walking around our yard looking at the various growing things, they called us over to give us a bottle of wine. I went back into our house to get them some honey. And then we talked for a little bit, which is always a pleasure with them.

3/25: a week of walks

I'd like to say that I take a walk every day, but when school's in session that's not usually the case. Since we've been on break this week, I've been able to walk every day for 7 days in a row. The company has been variable--Chris, the dogs who live on our ridge, our neighbors, or Trollope on my iPod--and I've enjoyed the variety.

3/24: better book

When we lived in upstate NY we loved using the Peterson field guide to identify wildflowers, but it's not as comprehensive a resource for Arkansas, so we've been using a book on Arkansas wildflowers specifically since we moved here. The downside of the book is that it's organized by scientific family rather than by color--and if I knew enough to know the scientific families of wildflowers, I probably wouldn't need a guide book. I usually have to page through the whole book when I want to find something, which can be a little frustrating. Today in the store I saw a new Arkansas wildflower book which is organized by color, and we purchased it right away--hurray!

3/23: chris' "power bucket"

Chris ordered a lot of bulbs to plant this winter. It turned out that he ordered more than he could comfortably plant in places around the yard, so he potted a bunch of tulip bulbs in a plastic bucket. They're now blooming. He named it the Power Bucket and moved it to where we can see it every time we come in and out of the house. Here's a view of one tulip's interior:

3/22: norse myth

Since we read the d'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths in my course this semester, I was curious to take a look at their Book of Norse Myths. I've read it over the past two days, and it's been fun and weird and wild to spend time with such a different set of stories, ideas, characters.

3/21: longer light

I'm not always a big fan of Daylight Savings Time; I grouse when "spring forward" happens and my clock and my body get temporarily out of alignment. But one lovely thing is having more time after dinner before sunset: perfect for a walk! Lots of us were strolling along the ridge in the early evening today.

3/20: far away & up close

The "super moon" and full "worm moon" of last night:

And the bridal wreath below our house:

3/19: open

I've been eyeing the redbud trees for a couple of weeks, eager for them blossom. Today they're open and wondrous. The bees are visiting the blooms, and when you stand still under a tree you can hear the buzz overhead.

I've tried to photograph the redbuds over the years. I'm never satisfied with my attempts, but I can't stop trying either. Here's one of today's shots:

3/17: mid-day meet-up

Last year Chris took my Latin class, so I got to see him nearly every day at school from 11 to noon. Last semester he was in my Greek class, so I got to see him regularly on campus again. This semester he's not in any of my courses, and it's been a little odd not to have his presence in my classroom. (I know, of course, I see him at home, but it was such an extra pleasure to see him in class.) Today he gave a campus presentation at lunch-time; we had lunch in the cafeteria in advance, and then I went to watch his presentation. It was great to see him in action, and I enjoyed the opportunity to meet up with him in the middle of our work-day.

3/16: sweet

The glorious smell of spring.

3/15: a gathering of good things

I made it through a day which seemed like it was going to be tough since I had a troubled night of sleep (or non-sleep).

I got to talk about Hesiod in Myth class. It's not a great time of the semester to be starting a difficult new author with the students, but he is one of my favorites, and I hope I helped them to see why the world he presents is an interesting and strange one.

As I drove up the driveway at the end of the day, I saw the forsythia and bridal wreath blooming at the bottom of the hill below our house. Chris planted these bushes, and they remind me of my childhood in vivid ways.

I walked into the house and was greeted with the welcome smell of cooking. Chris had started making dinner.

We're talking about Guy Billout's Thunderbolt & Rainbow in my Myth & Children's Literature class tomorrow. It's an intriguing book, and I'm grateful to be spending time with it this evening.

3/14: the season of birds

I'll remember Winter 2010-2011 as the season of birds. Snow geese, ducks, and Canadian geese in the thousands. Regular sightings of herons and blue-birds. Even a handful of eagles. Today on my way to school: a bald eagle on the lakeshore.

3/13: signed up

Hanna at iHanna is running a DIY handmade postcard swap, and I signed up! Spring break is coming, and I'm looking forward to having this swap as a motivation to spend some time being art-and-craft-y over the break.

3/12: on the road

We spent the day on a road-trip. We drove to DeGray Lake, where we'd never been before and where we took a walk with our cameras. We also came across some local sweet-shops in the Arkadelphia area, which was a happy find because Chris likes to sample what he calls "regional nut candies." We bought various brittles (pecan, peanut, cashew, and sunflower). And all along our drive we enjoyed watching the roadsides for blooming native plum trees.

3/11: anticipation

The redbud trees are about to blossom. Today as I drove to school I enjoyed spotting redbud trees with buds on the brink of opening.

3/10: reviewing

Last spring I bought a mini-library of materials for the Classical Mythology in Children's Literature course that I'm teaching this semester. The class is now moving into the part of the course which will draw on the mini-library, and in preparation for that move I spent part of today reviewing the books and coming up with short profiles of them so that I can introduce them to the students tomorrow. It was fun to revisit my purchases and realize what a fun and various selection of books we'll be working with over the next few weeks.

3/9: two (former) students

Two students who graduated two years ago stopped by (separately) today. I only had about 10 minutes to talk with each of them, given my class/appointment schedule, but it was so nice to see them and hear what they're up to. They have interesting lives and are doing interesting things.

3/8: amidst the drizzle

It's a grey, rainy day, but I saw a bluebird flying by as I drove to campus. It felt like a good omen. And a good reminder, too.

3/7: laundromat dividends

Since our washing machine is out of commission, we went to the laundromat on Sunday, and I took along the book I need to be reading for class tomorrow. I got enough of it read at the laundromat that I was able to take time this evening to walk on the ridge with Chris and even clean out my car. It was especially nice to have an unexpected bit of time since this is a very busy week. Now my car is in order and I got to enjoy the sweet springy air.

3/6: in action

During a walk on the ridge last weekend I was glad to see (and smell) the early-blooming honeysuckle. During a walk on the ridge today I saw bees on the honeysuckle blossoms. I had brought my camera along, just in case.

3/5: double sale

Our washing machine broke. Not great timing, since we both use the weekends to do our laundry. Also not great news because some research on the problem indicated that it wouldn't make sense, cost-wise, to fix the old machine. So it was appliance shopping time! Happily, the store had a 10% sale going on and then another 10% refund offer--a combined 20% off softens the bad-timing blow quite a bit.

3/4: unexpected company of an unexpected age

The sister of one of my colleagues was visiting today, and she brought her two small children with her. It was a great way to spend the last hour of the work-week: hanging out in our office suite, chatting and goofing with the kids. I'm not around small children much, and they didn't know me, so it took awhile for me to get adjusted to them and vice versa. But then we paged through the Latin version of Green Eggs & Ham (which we keep in our waiting area) and I pulled out my iPhone so we could use the OmniSketch app to doodle. It was really fun, and the kids were really sweet.

3/3: a bat!

I love it when I see a bat, but I don't get to spot one that often. To increase our bat-sighting possibilities, we put up a bat house at home; we seem to live in an ideal bat locale, but the bats must know something we don't because they haven't flocked to our bat house as we had hoped.

This evening as we were walking across campus after dinner, Chris mentioned that he saw a bat yesterday while he was driving home. It made me smile just to think of seeing a bat. Then I smiled even more when, a few minutes later, after Chris and I parted company, I saw a bat of my own, flying through the warm springtime twilight.

3/2: accepted

In January I submitted an abstract to present a paper at a conference I've not attended before, the annual meeting of the Children's Literature Association. Today I found out that my abstract was accepted, so I'll be going to the conference in June. It's nice to have that on my radar, and though I'm a little daunted at the prospect of going to a conference where I probably won't know a soul, I think I'll hear great papers (and learn a lot) while I'm there.

3/1: lively

We just finished reading the Odyssey in the Myth course, and this year I decided we'd follow it up by reading a recent young-adult novel which retells some of the events of the Odyssey from Telemachus' perspective. Our first conversation about the novel was today, and people were animated in discussing it, and some people chimed in who don't usually raise their hand.