8/31: knowing when

As soon as I woke up, I realized that no number of soothing warm beverages was going to be enough to even temporarily allay my symptoms today, so I didn't go to school and went to the doctor instead. My allergies blocked me up enough to cause an infection, and now I'm on antibiotics. I'm glad I didn't try to "tough it out"--I hate cancelling class, but in this instance it was the right thing to do. I'm grateful that I made the decision with minimal hoopla and that Chris supported it so enthusiastically.

8/30: smoothly soothing

I've lived in Arkansas for 12 years now. For the first autumn I was here, I had what I thought was an unshakeable cold for weeks. A doctor told me it was allergies instead. I had never had allergies before! Welcome to Arkansas, the doctor said. Obviously this is not a good thing, and every fall I get allergies in a pretty bad way. It feels like the flu, but it isn't. And there's not much I can do to shake the feeling; eventually the air will change and the ailment will pass. In the meantime (and here's the good thing): I know what's going on, I'm getting better at being patient with my body at this time of year, other people are in the same boat so I have company, and I'm grateful for all the warm things I can drink which temporarily soothe the symptoms.

8/29: new leaves (always a good thing, of course, but especially at this time of year)

The summer was droughty, and the big willow-oak at the bottom of the hill below our house suffered. A lot of its leaves went brown, became withered, and then fell off. But August has brought some rain, and the tree has rebounded. Fresh leaves right before fall! I thought we'd have to wait until next spring to see bright new growth.

(Okay, so this photo is highly stylized. But the effect shows off the new green, I think, and is more refreshing to look at than my original, merely "documentary" photo of the willow-oak, a tree which is too marvellous for me to photograph well.)

8/28: bookends to the day

Yesterday I went to bed with a migraine, but this morning I woke up without one.

This evening we went out on the lake. As we were paddling back at sunset, minnows kept jumping out of the water like little arcs of light.

8/27: morning sighting

A hummingbird sipping water-drops from the holly leaves.

8/26: starting off on a good foot

I'm teaching all levels of Latin this semester: beginning, intermediate, advanced. The beginning of the semester can be especially challenging for the intermediate and advanced students, since they have to get back into the language after a summer without it. In both of those classes, though, the students did so well on their first translation assignments this week--they were more ready to hit the ground running than I had anticipated, and of course that's a very good thing.

8/25: nipping out

Chris and I were at the same meeting from eleven to twelve. When the meeting ended, I realized that I probably could take time out for lunch (instead of having to eat while working at my desk in my office), so we headed off campus to grab a bite. A stolen date in the middle of the day. Not glamorous (we got vegetarian hamburgers & fries at Burger King), but sweet nonetheless.

8/24: on the track

The start of the new academic year has been more chaotic than usual, with the unexpected resignation of a colleague in my program at the start of August and subsequent scrambling to get the suddenly-professor-less classes covered. As a result of that extra nuttiness on top of the usual back-to-school craziness, walking and kayaking have been harder to work into my schedule than I'd like: I've just been drop-into-bed tired at the end of the days. But this evening I made sure I'd have time and energy to go to the indoor walking track--nice and cool on these muggy nights--and I was glad to move and resume listening to The Princess and the Goblin.

8/23: a good day

Seeing yellow flowers blooming along the roadside.

Writing clear emails about difficult topics.

Being back in Latin class after the summer break.

Having good in-person exchanges with a number of people.

Hearing that a meeting of Chris' today went well.

Going out to dinner with Chris and enjoying both conversation and silence together.

Logging in to find congratulations on my 1,000th post waiting for me--thank you, Meri and Honoré!

Reaching this milestone and appreciating all the people I've crossed paths with on this blog.

8/22: 9 p.m. cut-off

I try to stop doing schoolwork by 9 p.m. each night; otherwise, I have a hard time turning my mind off and getting to sleep before midnight. I just finished working for the evening and glanced at the clock: 9:02. Perfect timing. I'm ready for tomorrow, and I kept to my deadline.

Another (related) nice thing: my last bit of work for the evening was writing email to a colleague who had given Chris and me some great feedback on a proposal we're drafting. I feel really grateful to the colleague for taking the time to think carefully about our proposal and send us substantive thoughts back.

8/21: decision revision

I found myself at a cross-roads: should I take the low road? the high road? one in the middle? For awhile I was convinced that the middle road was actually the right one, but at the last minute I switched to a high-ish path instead. I have to remember this feeling the next time I'm at a place where three roads meet.

8/20: lemonade & a happy coincidence

There is a secret logic to lemonade, making it the perfect drink for a day in which the air is hot and close.

This morning I made a bit of mail-art for my friend Sam in Australia. We haven't been in touch for some months, but we recently reconnected on goodreads so I thought I'd send some real mail her way. I dropped it in the post box near the grocery store and then went grocering; when I got home I checked our mailbox--and in it was a packet of goodies from Sam!

8/19: summer tasks done

At the beginning of the summer I had a list of some professional things that I wanted to do before classes started again. Today I finished the last one (sending an article off for consideration). I find the submission process stressful, so I've procrastinated until basically the last possible moment. And, I'll admit, I was largely motivated today by the idea of how disappointed with myself I'd be if I didn't manage to do it before summer's end. But I re-read the article one more time, tinkered with some wording and formatting, wrote the requested summary--and drank a celebratory beer as I readied my paper to be sent.

(Hats off to my friend Sandy, who manages to send her work off much more regularly and seemingly with much less angst.)

8/18: even time for a syllabus

It was a day of nearly back-to-back meetings from 8:15 until 4:30. The meetings went very smoothly, and a couple of them didn't run as long as I thought they would, so I had an unexpected bit of extra time. I used it to work on writing one of my syllabuses for the semester, and now that's one less thing left to do before the start of classes.

8/17: a surprise & a comfort

I gave the Latin placement test to the new students at school today. It's unfortunate that they have to take a test (even a low-stakes one) on their second day on campus, but they need to know what level of Latin they would fit into in our system. They're actually surprisingly good-natured about the whole affair, taking it in stride, and today's group was no exception. One student did outstandingly well on the test: the highest score anyone's ever received on it in my 12 years of giving it. He and his high-school Latin teacher should get big gold stars. And, happily, he thinks he will continue in Latin in college, so I look forward to seeing him in future classes. (Disclosure: I love students no matter how good or not good their Latin is. It was just a special delight to meet someone with such finely honed Latin skills so young.)

And since I'll be back in the office on a regular basis, I needed to stock up on my favorite blueberry coffee. I got some today and am enjoying a cup right now at home before I take it all to work tomorrow morning. I like keeping it at work so that it's a pleasure associated with my office in particular.

8/16: more twombly in my future?

In July I wrote about my happiness at seeing the Twombly/Poussin exhibit in London. Today I got an email from a scholar in Canada who is putting together a conference panel on Twombly's relationship to Classical antiquity; she had read an article I had written some years ago about Twombly's Fifty Days at Iliam, and she asked me if I'd be interested in being part of the panel. It's sweet to hear that someone (who isn't a friend or relative) has read something I've written, and it's a nice prospect to develop some further thoughts on Twombly.

8/15: grouped together

Chris and I had a full-day faculty meeting at school. We got put in the same group for breakout sessions, so we were able to spend the whole day together. Usually when we're at school we barely see each other.

8/14: water & watermelon

We went kayaking this evening, and I was so glad to get back on the lake--since I've returned from London I've been kept off the water by the high heat, the threat of thunderstorms, and/or my own exhaustion. This evening, though, was perfect.

One of our neighbors was at our shared dock when we returned to shore at sunset, and he invited us to stop at his house for some watermelon. It was the best watermelon I've ever had, and it was nice to spend time with him and his spouse.

8/13: back to bases

For the past few days my schedule has been largely set by other people rather than myself--a definite transition from summer-ness. Today, though, I got to chart my own course, and I returned to a habit I developed a couple of years ago to make sure that I don't get lost or imbalanced in my days. I make sure that I try to touch 4 different "bases" in some way in a day: 1. communicating with someone other than Chris (what I call the "outside world" base), 2. doing something related to my job or my research ("professional" base), 3. exercising (corpus sanum!), and 4. taking on some task related to the house or my own well-being (dubbed "house or self"--it may be strangely significant that I automatically combined these into one category when I devised the bases years ago...where does the house stop and the self begin?). Today I fulfilled the 4 bases by writing to my friend Katy, updating my program's webpages and writing emails to a student and a professor, going to the walking track, and buying a stylus and a keyboard for my iPad (which I've been meaning to do for quite some time but have kept putting off). Of course, those things didn't fill the day, but focusing on them and getting them done gave me momentum which helped me stay on track as I moved on to other things.

8/12: chocolate pie & shared excitement

When our neighbors came over earlier this week I made some chocolate pie. I sent some home with them at the end of the evening, but I kept a little bit for us. We had it for dessert after dinner today, and with the space of a few days since my last piece it was almost like I had forgotten how good it is. I got to be delighted by it all over again.

Another good thing for today is my happiness at something good that happened to someone else more than a week ago (but about which I only learned today). Another faculty member went with me to London, and she also worked in the British Library. During her whole time there she was wanting to see a particular manuscript of the Bible (a French translation commissioned by Charles V), but it kept being used by another reader--and that reader had dibs on it for as long as they needed it, so there was no way of knowing when or if she would get to see it before leaving. Of course, she had other research she could do, but as our time together in London came to an end, she still hadn't had a chance to work with the manuscript. (The other reader was even in the same reading room, so it was tantalizing to know the book was that close and yet unavailable.) I knew she stayed in London a day longer than I did, so when I ran into her at a meeting today I asked her if she got to see the Bible on her extra day--and she did. I was so excited, and so was she as she told me. We laughed and may even have squealed.

8/11: kind people

I was walking around campus today and saw some of my favorite people. During the school year I don't cross paths with them all that often, so it was a pleasure to run into them today and remember how truly kind they are.

And then I saw a little "shout out" to me on Meri's Count to 3 site, where she posted a picture of some lovely beehives. Thanks for thinking of me, Meri!

I'm lucky to know good people in the world, both near and far.

8/10: five things

1. The Assistant Registrar at school today was very friendly and extremely helpful as I was trying to work out some late-breaking school-year complications.

2. I was able to be helpful to someone else myself: I went with a newly hired professor to scout out some apartments around town, and I think we found a good one.

3. Chris and I received a very clever wedding invitation from some former students. Though we probably won't be able to travel to attend the ceremony, it felt really good to be remembered that way.

4. A friend from my childhood wrote me a sweet email.

5. I have managed to stick to the pace of reading one Hawthorne short story per day for more than a month now.

8/9: good tastes, good company

We had our neighbors over this evening for dessert and a sampling of the liqueurs which Chris brought back from Portugal. We talked until dark and then sent our neighbors home with some of the chocolate mousse pie which I love to make and share.

8/8: cool air and crazy clouds

It's been more than usually hot and dry here this summer. When a flash of rain came through early this evening, it was a relief to have the water and to feel a cool breeze for a change.

And the sky was doing some wild things, what a pleasure for cloud-collecting me.

8/7: mini-holiday

A jaunty road-trip to the small town of Altus to spend the afternoon with a friend. A sweet end-of-summer thing to do.

Here's a glimpse of downtown Altus:

8/6: hemming

My mother is a costume designer, so of course (and thankfully) she taught me how to sew. Throughout my high-school years and during college vacations I spent many hours making my own clothes. I don't do much extensive sewing these days; time is at a premium, and fabric prices are such that it's nearly as expensive to sew clothes as to buy them already made. I do, though, hem my own pants (which is always necessary, given my 5-foot stature). Today I hemmed two pair. It's nice to have them ready to wear, plus I enjoyed remembering what it felt like to spend time in the sewing room back at my parents' house.

8/5: susan's book

I'm not a book collector. Undeniably, I have a lot of books, but I don't buy them with an eye to building something coherent like "a collection." Today, though, I acquired a book that is the kind of thing collectors buy. I've been doing research on Hawthorne's Wonder Book for a number of years now, and I recently found a first edition for sale for an unbelievably low price. (Copies can be more than $5,000--and this copy was nowhere near that, not in the same ball-park nor a neighboring ball-park nor even a ball-park in a neighboring state.) So I ordered it, not knowing when I might find a similarly priced copy in the future and really feeling such affection for the Wonder Book that I wanted to have it in the form in which it first appeared to the world in 1851. It arrived today. The copy is in good shape, and it has a handwritten inscription: "Susan M. Dana. from her father. November 12th, 1851." Chris immediately went online to find out who this Susan M. Dana was, and he thinks he's found her family tree!

8/4: a spirit of the place

I love seeing rabbits especially in the early evening hours; I think of them as "spirits of the place." As I drove home this evening after walking at the track, one was scampering up the hillside, and it made me smile.

8/3: clarity, correspondence, conversation

Today my head was much clearer than it was yesterday, and I could address some of yesterday's weirdnesses with action.

I wrote my one piece of back-logged correspondence for the day, so that's three in a row. Not quite a streak or a habit yet, but getting there.

I called the friend who wrote me email yesterday, and we had a long talk mostly about professional stuff (but shop-talk can be fun when it's done with a friend). I also went out for coffee and a chat with a friend from school who is back in town now that summer is ending.

8/2: making it through

Coming to the end of a day which has had unexpected loops and unpleasantness. Sometimes it's just good that the sun sets and will rise afresh.

I did, though, manage to write my "arrears" correspondence for the day, so that's something. And a friend to whom I am still in arrears wrote me a fresh note today, which was very kind of him and makes me feel encouraged about the correspondence catch-up project. It's nice to be reminded that people do want both to hear from me and to tell me about their lives.

8/1: day one of a month with a mission

Among my hopes for this month is working my way completely through my "arrears" correspondence list. I got started on that today. If I can manage a note or letter a day, I should be able to do it. I really do want to write to all the people I owe notes to, and I'm embarrassed that I've fallen behind (and in some instances, even beyond what "behind" might reasonably convey). I'm thinking that a bit of structure and a goal in sight will help keep me on track, and that would be a good thing. It felt good just to start--now the trick will be keeping going.