My Latin students had a test today, and I planned to grade it over the weekend. But I started marking the tests during my office hours this afternoon, and I finished them before heading home!
In graduate school I did my "special field" exam on the poets Propertius and Tibullus. I've had little occasion to return to either of them since then, but today I was paging through a Latin text and a poem by Propertius caught my eye. I had read all of his poems when preparing for my exam (14 years ago), but I didn't remember this one: a drunk Propertius is wandering through the streets of Rome at night when he is accosted by a mob of tiny Cupids. It's a really fun and funny poem, and I was so glad to find it today. (And how could I ever have forgotten it?)
My own creativity has been somewhat on-hold as we near the end of the semester, but I built a creative project into my Classical Myth & Children's Literature course, so I'm getting to see a bit of my students' creativity in action these days. For the past week, we've had presentations about their creative projects, which focus on their own depictions of Greek and Roman mythology. Their ideas have been very interesting to hear about, and our last presenter today made everyone laugh in the happiest way with his thoughts. Not all classes lend themselves to a creative project, but I'm glad that this one did. I think everyone has enjoyed the change of pace and the insight which a different approach to our subject matter can bring.
I like planning lessons, but planning the last day of a course can be tough. How to end? Today was the last class session of my Myth course, and I like what I came up with for our final meeting: part of the time we assembled a "big view" of the Classical mythological cosmos; part of the time we talked about some English words whose origins stem from Classical myth; part of the time we looked at post-antique art which drew inspiration from stories we have studied. I enjoyed hearing their "big view" thoughts, and it was fun to find paintings for us all to look at.
The tornado warnings started while we were still at school today, but we made it home. Though it's going to be a long night of storm-watching, I'm glad that we're here together with the cats rather than stranded at school.
A rainy day, and I'm under the weather myself. But this afternoon I enjoyed a cup of coffee, a hot cross bun, and a new novel. Since it's a rainy day and I'm under the weather, I gave myself the treat of sinking into the novel and reading it all in one day. It felt indulgent, but perhaps it was a better indulgence than eating the whole tray of hot cross buns at once (which was a temptation I resisted).
It's been stormy, and I didn't know if the weather would allow us to have our poetry/chalking session this morning. But the rain held off, so I headed out to the plaza on campus with a book of haiku and some chalk, thinking that I might be the only person to show up. But 4 other people came, and we filled the plaza with poems. We all knew that by the afternoon the rain would arrive and wash away the words, but none of us seemed to mind.
Chris' department is hiring a one-year replacement for a professor who is going on sabbatical. Chris and I took one of the job candidates out to dinner this evening before dropping her off at the airport. Because I'm not on the search committee, our conversation could be chatty and informal. We talked about where she got her undergraduate degree, and it turns out that she took Ancient Greek at her college and was taught by a dear friend I made during my junior year abroad (way back when). I'm going to drop him a quick email right now.
April is always a month that needs careful time-management, since it's filled with all sorts of end-of-the-academic-year activities. Today I needed to start being very careful in planning my days, and I'm happy to say that Day One of Very Careful Planning went well. I did everything on my to-do list, and that's an encouraging way to begin the semester endgame.
It was a strangely difficult day--made more difficult because I didn't expect it to be that way. But my pronoun talk was this evening, and it went well (I think). People laughed and seemed interested, and I got to meet and talk with some people whose paths I might not otherwise have crossed.
We couldn't resist buying some elderflower liqueur (organic to boot) when we saw it in the liquor store recently. This afternoon, to celebrate finishing our tax returns, we made elderflower tonics, which tasted amazing. I wish I could gather together my favorite people from all over the world and have a toast of this lovely drink with them.
A campus organization asked me to give a brief presentation this Monday evening on gender-neutral pronoun usage. (For the record, I'm a vocal proponent of the use of they, them, and their in the singular.) Today I put together my script and PowerPoint for the talk, and I enjoyed having the chance to formulate a coherent overview of the issue and my ideas about it. So, yes, my good thing for the day was getting to spend part of my afternoon thinking about grammar.
We went to a parking lot outside a local grocery store today because we heard there was a lunch truck selling pupusas. There was (hurray!), so we bought some to bring home for dinner.
And while we were waiting in the parking lot for our pupusas to be made, I looked around and saw this curious sign in the distance. Is it really a sign advertising signs? I guess so. Somehow on a grey, blustery afternoon it seemed enigmatic and strange (in a good way).
The smell of roses surrounding me when I left the house this morning and when I returned to it this evening.
Other sources of gratitude today include:
- the fact that some students came to chalk poems around the fountain plaza this morning
- the opportunity to teach Ovid in my Myth course
- my decision to go to a Philosophy talk this evening and learn about the Earl of Shaftesbury (I could have gone to a poetry reading instead, but I think in this instance I made the right-for-me choice--I really felt like I needed to learn something completely new and off my beaten track...plus how often do you get to hear about a philosopher who worried about the illustrations for his book as much as he worried about the written text?)
I'm planning to go to London with students again this summer, and this evening I made a reservation for Marlowe's Doctor Faustus at the Globe while I'm there. I had my ideal choice-of-seat in mind when I went to the Globe's website to make my reservation. My perfect seat was already taken (I should have reserved it weeks ago!), but I got a spot just 2 seats away from it, and this seat might even have a slightly better view.
I had time this afternoon, before heading home from work, to go to the art gallery on campus and look at the exhibit mounted by the senior art majors. One of the seniors is in my Latin class, and I enjoyed getting a chance to see her pieces, prompted by time she had spent with children in Ghana. I also was glad to see another student's series of functional sculptures based on musical instruments.
When we first moved here, we became friends with a couple who then moved to Seattle. We've stayed in touch, and we just learned that they'll be moving to Memphis this autumn. It's not super-close, but it's not as far away as Seattle. I'm happy at the thought that we'll get to see one another at least once or twice a year.
I finished my school to-do list at 3:40, giving me a chance to tidy up my office before going to a 4:00 department meeting. It was nice to get a breather before the last obligation of the work week.
Last April a colleague in the English Department and I teamed up to celebrate National Poetry Month: each Thursday morning we had chalk available so that anyone who wanted could come to the central plaza on campus and copy a poem onto the pavement. This year we decided to do it again, and today was the first chalking of 2011. My colleague chose to write out "Otherwise" by Jane Kenyon, a poem I hadn't known before today.
During my first year on the job here, an older professor (now retired) pointed out to me that the cedar waxwings come through campus on their migration route each year. Today I saw them as I walked from the parking lot to the office: hurray! Their annual return feels festive to me.
After dinner, we went to check on the bees. The swarm that returned to its mother-hive over the weekend made a more successful venture today. Here it is:
When I zoomed in with my camera, I actually zeroed in on the queen bee--which is crazy-lucky. I usually try to spot the queen in the hives we check, and I feel good when I find her, but picking her out in a swarm so quickly is almost unbelievable. It's not a great picture (low light), but the long-ish bee in the center is certainly the queen:
We shook the swarm into a box and then transferred the bees into an empty hive--hopefully they'll embrace their new home and not set out again.
Against the grayness of the day the greens of spring seemed all the more vivid, and the blooms of the dogwoods seemed almost to glow a shining white.
I don't have a picture of today's dogwood blossoms, but here's a (digitally tinkered with) view based on a photo I took yesterday (which was not a gray day).
Chris' yellow tulips are now open. The yellow is luminous, but my camera couldn't catch it, so here's one in black and white, still wonderful (I think), but in a different way:
And a swarm of bees decided not to swarm after all, so they headed back into their hive. I photographed their ingress. Then, with my camera set aside, Chris and I put extra boxes on several of the hives to give the bees room as their numbers and stores increase over the next few weeks.
It's the holly's turn to bloom & be worked by the bees. The buzz around our bushes this afternoon was amazing.
I had a pile of student-chosen readings for my seminar course which needed to be digitized and then distributed. I thought it would take all of 20 minutes or so. It's taken several hours over several days. But I worked in the office late this evening and got the final sets of reading packets scanned, PDFed, and sent out. Let the weekend begin.