I'm doing an independent reading course in Greek with a student this semester; we get together once a week to go over his translations of portions of the Iliad. Today we read through the conversation between Achilles and his mother, Thetis, in book 1. It's beautiful and sad and interesting--my favorite part of book 1 for sure, and one of my favorite parts in the entire Iliad. It was great to have the opportunity to revisit it in the original.
I was playing around with the OmniSketch app on my iPad. It has a feature that replicates what you do along various axes so that you can have a symmetrical design. I felt like the "symmetry" prompt at daisy yellow gave me some "permission" (=excuse?) to experiment. Here are two of my electronic doodles:
I'm going to be giving an afternoon talk about the fairy-tale Bluebeard on Wednesday, and this weekend is my only real window for having time to pull my presentation together. I've just spent a pleasant morning and afternoon working through Bluebeard-inspired texts and related images--though it feels odd to use the word "pleasant," because the story itself is so dark. Still, the tale has been a consistent part of my mental furniture since I was young, and it had been awhile since I had spent any time meditating on it, so I enjoyed the opportunity to dust off this particular piece of mental furniture and see if I could discover any new drawers or details in it.
For many years the same colleague had the office next to mine; a year and a half ago he moved into a larger office on a different hallway, and I got a new neighbor at work. We've been in close proximity for a year and a half now, and though we're not exactly friends, we're comfortable colleagues. I admire her pleasantness and professionalism, and I'm really grateful she's next to me.
Like many people, I have vivid memories of paging through the d'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths when I was young. The distinctive style of the d'Aulaires' illustrations and the size of the book itself tend to make a lasting impression. Because of its popularity I included it in my Myth & Children's Literature course. This evening I've been enjoying the smartness of the d'Aulaires' art in a way I never could have understood as a child. I'm glad for this opportunity to revisit an old favorite and see it with new eyes.
I got to design a poster today to advertise a campus event. Not what you'd expect in the job description for "professor," but it was really fun to get to put something together that's appealing to the eye and communicates well. (And I've already gotten nice comments about it.) I love the feeling of having made a tangible thing that's now separate from myself.
A blue-bird flew across the road as I drove to school.
My Latin students had a challenging quiz, and the median grade was a solid B--a good showing.
I gauged the presentation time for the material in today's Myth class almost perfectly.
Coca-Cola did wonders for helping me to chase a headache away.
Some daffodils are opening up in our yard.
I received 2 postcards with Gerber daisies on them.
When I came home from work today and was walking from the driveway to the door, I noticed that some little purple crocuses which Chris had planted were beginning to open up. He hadn't notice them himself, so I was happy to show him that his bulb-planting efforts hadn't gone in vain.
And he had something to show me, too: a cluster of blue-birds in the meadow between our house and the bee-hives. They flew away when we approached, but not before I got a good view of a few of them at fairly close range.
My Sunday mornings this semester are falling into a pattern of letter-writing and book-review reading. Not only are these things enjoyable in themselves, but it's also a pleasure to see the pile of back-logged issues of the New York Times Book Review shrink and to have the stack of unanswered letters on my desk dwindle. Will there be a day when there are no letters left to answer and no book reviews remaining to read except the current one? What would it feel like to be Truly Caught Up? I'm not sure I'm even aiming for Truly Caught Up, but some movement toward that end is certainly sweet.
The first crocuses to bloom in our yard this spring.
And the bees were finding pollen when they went out flying today; we were surprised to see it! (I've added an arrow to point out the pollen which one bee is carrying on her legs back into the hive.)
I had meetings on campus through the late afternoon up until dinner-time today, and I was bracing myself for a long and tiring day. But no bracing necessary: it was a good day. I taught my classes, got papers and quizzes graded, did some preparation for Monday, and had three really nice meetings in a row. Then it was off to the cafeteria for the traditional Friday night menu with Chris. Now we're launched into the weekend.
It's the spring semester, which means I'm teaching my Myth course, which means I'm teaching the Odyssey. It's both a pleasure and a challenge to find new things to say about the text each year. Today I spent time working out some thoughts about Penelope in books 17-19, and I felt like I got somewhere with my ideas. Which is always gratifying, but in this case it's also an indication of how much this particular poem has to offer: there's always more to discover.
Meri has a blog where she lists 3 good things for each day, so here are 3 from mine:
1. Going to a different restaurant before tonight's faculty meeting. Chris, a friend, and I usually go to the same place every month, but today we went somewhere else, and we got great Thai comfort food.
2. Having 2 good office-hour meetings with students this afternoon.
3. Seeing 3 different blue-colored birds this morning: a blue jay, an actual blue-bird, and a great blue heron.
I work at a small college, but everyone more-or-less teaches in their own building, so we mostly just see faculty members whose offices and classrooms are near our own. There's a Psychology professor whom I don't know very well but with whom I've had some pleasant experiences and exchanges over the years. I've crossed paths with her less than a handful of times over the past few months. But today I saw her twice: we arrived at school at the same time and parked in the same lot, and we left school at the same time so we saw each other in the parking lot again. It was nice to share a few minutes chatting with one another, enjoying the coincident chronology of our day.
I took advantage of our snow days to write all the paper assignment descriptions for one of my courses for the whole semester. There's nothing wrong with writing them one at a time and handing them out gradually (my usual m. o.), but it will feel so good tomorrow to hand out the entire packet and know that that particular bit of work on my end is decisively done. I also managed to answer a good number of back-logged emails today.
Chris got a guitar. Wilkie usually cries whenever a musical instrument is played, but he hasn't meowed at the guitar. This evening we all hung out in Chris' room as he played. Emma attacked scraps of paper, Wilkie purred, and I paged through Lewis and Clark's journals, reading odd bits aloud, while Chris strummed and picked on the guitar. It has a rich, soft sound.
Another day of staying home: we haven't had more snow, but the roads still aren't clear. By late this afternoon the temperature will be above freezing, and by Sunday all the snow will be gone.
The morning light on the frosty branches was amazing to watch as we ate our breakfast and drank our coffee. When I was done, I took a few pictures outside.
The snow this morning shimmered. I must have gotten so used to that particular kind of sparkle when I was young and our winters were so long. Now that I live in a place where snow is rare, what must have been a regular part of the season seems striking and special.
I recently bought a copy of David Hornung's book, Color: A Workshop Approach. I'm a little intimidated by it, but a little excited, too. Today Chris and I went online and ordered all the suggested colors of gouache for the exercises. (Chris isn't planning to do the exercises with me, but he was happy to hasten the preparation process along.) Now I'll have no excuse not to dig in.
Today was bright and clear. But there's a storm on its way, and the local public school system has decided to cancel school for tomorrow already. Although my school almost never officially closes, we're allowed to use our discretion about coming in if the weather is bad. Chris and I made it our rule-of-thumb to do whatever the public school system is doing (that way the judgement call isn't ours). So now I know that I have a snow day tomorrow! (And I'm going to put off finishing tonight's work until tomorrow morning.)
When I went to bed last night, it was raining. When I woke up this morning, there was an inch or two of snow on everything. I stayed at home for an hour later than usual--I thought I'd give everyone else a chance to navigate (and clear) the roads before I ventured out. So I worked at our big table in front of our big windows. The giant willow oak that keeps us company every day had all its many branches outlined in white. Of course I had to take a picture.
We're discussing various illustrations for Hawthorne's Wonder Book in my mythology & children's literature class tomorrow, and it's been fun to pull together some images to talk about. Rackham and Crane's pictures of Bellerophon and Pegasus defeating the Chimaera seem to echo traditional depictions of Saint George and Saint Michael. I enjoyed looking online for Renaissance Georges and Michaels to show the students for comparison and contrast.
One walk: at the indoor track, as I listened to Trollope on my iPod.
A second walk: down the hill to the fields below our ridge, as I went with Chris to let a mouse (who had found its way into our house) loose.
The blue sky didn't last today, but I was surprised by (as well as grateful for) it this morning, and I pulled the camera out of my bag to take a picture. Now, at the end of a day that got increasingly grey, it's nice to have this reminder of the morning brightness.
Swirling this morning, scattered snowflakes and a flock of snow geese. The geese were circling over the rice fields so slowly that their spiral looked suspended in air, or as if I were watching them in slow motion.
It's been chill here today. Mid-morning I called Chris and asked him if he wanted to have coffee with me in my office (since I now have a fancy new coffee maker). He said "yes," and it was fun just to sit together for an unexpected ten minutes, drinking in the warm.