At the end of the semester we eat out a lot--it's just easiest, and we've stopped feeling (too) guilty about it. Now that we're settling into summer it's time to start cooking again, and I was wanting to add some new things to our menu repertoire. Before going shopping today I paged through Moosewood's Simple Suppers cookbook and picked out a few things to try. I'm especially excited to give a creamy lemon pasta sauce a go. At the grocery store it felt nice to be filling my cart with ingredients for Real Meals.
When we moved to Arkansas I didn't expect to see cactuses, but there are beavertail cactus plants scattered throughout the state. It turns out that there are two of them in our yard. I'm happy to see them flower each year; it reminds me of the good times which Chris and I have spent in the California desert.
Before moving to Arkansas I hadn't seen or heard of spiderwort, but I fell in love with it the first time I saw it. It's a magical flower. We're lucky enough to have hundreds of them growing around us.
I went into my school office this afternoon to photocopy some paperwork that I've been avoiding, but the copy machines were being used (and jammed) by other people, so I was thwarted. I felt more than reasonably frustrated; I really wanted to get the paperwork Done. But since I couldn't get it done, I came home unexpectedly early and used the time to read a lovely book which a friend loaned me (The Principles of Uncertainty by Maira Kalman) and work on an art project.
I've been having some trouble sleeping for the past two weeks. Yesterday I tried to prepare myself for the night in ways that might maximize the chances for slumber (e.g., minimal caffeine and no alcohol during the day, less video-watching before trying to sleep, no napping), and I'm happy to say that it worked. It felt good this morning to wake up after a full night's sleep, and it felt good all day to be more rested than recently.
I had insomnia last night; at 3 a.m. I was still awake. Chris woke up and kept me company for a bit, and he suggested that we wait for the early-morning donut place to open and then make a donut run. In a move that surprised even me, I turned the offer down--I was hoping that I could catch at least an hour or two of sleep. And I did, so it was a good thing to forgo the donuts. But later today I couldn't quite believe that I really turned down donuts, and though the donut shop was closed by then, Chris took us through a drive-through to get coffees and scones.
Our school has an intensive summer-school session for the second half of May and the first week of June. Last year both Chris and I taught during it, and we had good experiences with our classes (and, truth be told, it was nice to make the extra money). This year we opted not to teach the summer session, and it feels like a very good decision. We're enjoying getting to summer scheduling and summer projects sooner, even if it means less money in our pockets.
Getting ready to jar some honey tomorrow. Today we washed all our extraction equipment and got the jars and lids together.
Going to the walking track for the second day in a row. I'm still listening to The Last Chronicle of Barset on my iPod, and it's such a pleasure.
Reading the first chapter of Word Origins and How We Know Them: Etymology for Everyone by Anatoly Liberman. (I'm scoping the book out for possible use in one of my courses.) He's adopted a quirky tone that I think will be really fun.
I was a little out of sorts in the early evening. I felt untethered and unsettled with a low-lying frustration for no particular reason. Who knows why such moods come upon me. But I decided to focus on writing some postcrossing postcards, and I managed to write myself out of my weird mood and can now move on to the rest of a happier evening.
The temperature and air are so pleasant these days that we've been spending a lot of time on our screened-in porch. (Though the temperature and air are great, the mosquitoes are already out, so the porch screens are very welcome.) Today's porch-time included reading, eating lunch, sipping beer, chatting with Chris, and talking with a friend on the phone. Emma (one of our cats) especially enjoys coming out on the porch with us, and he spent most of the day there today.
I don't (at all) have the motivation to become a good (or even decent) chess player, but occasionally I think it would be fun to trace the moves of famous chess matches. Today Chris found an iPad app that allows you to run through some of the most renowned games, and we spent some time going through one between McDonnell and La Bourdonnais from 1834. It was really fun, especially talking through it with Chris at each step.
Some bee-keeping this morning, and the first kayaking of 2011 this evening: even though the solstice is more than a month away, I think that the summer has officially begun.
As I walked up the hill after my walk this evening, Chris came over to me with his hands cupped and closed on each other. I asked if he had a little snake, since he once held a baby snake that way. He said no and showed me what he had instead: a pile of large, ripe blueberries from the patch he planted.
I stayed at home this morning, working on email and random business from here, plus doing some writing. I was just getting ready to go to campus this afternoon when Chris came home unexpectedly. I jettisoned (or rather "postponed") my plans to clean my office at school and spent the afternoon with Chris instead, running errands and watching a movie. We needed some together-time when we weren't talking about or recovering from school-related business.
A few summers ago I stopped wearing my watch. During the academic year I've found it impossible to go without, but I like the watch-less feeling of my wrist when school's not in session. I still have work to do at school and home--and it's more than enough to keep me occupied all summer--but my time is more flexible now, and I was happy when I realized that today could be my first watch-free day of summer 2011.
Chris promised his students he'd bring donuts to their final meeting this morning. He wanted to be sure to get a good selection, so we went to the donut shop at 4 a.m.! It was fun and also weird to be out and about at such an unusual time. (Plus I got some donuts out of it.)
When I got into my office after my students' Latin exam today, the red light on my phone was blinking, signalling a voice-mail message. I immediately got nervous. Was it bad news from Chris & Wilkie's trip to the vet this morning? Or was it a student with some trouble finishing up a class? It's not a fun time of year for surprises; most unexpected things at this time of year end up being unpleasant. But when I went into the voice-mail system to hear the message, it was not an unpleasant surprise at all: it was a dear friend who was just calling to say hello so that I would have a sweet message waiting for me at work.
The spring semester is always more chaotic than the fall one, and this year especially I've let my share of the housework go by the wayside until the school year is over. Although it's not over yet, I thought that I'd make a small step in the direction of domestic order today: I de-labelled all our glass that had been piling up. The recycling station won't take glass if labels are on it, and the counter in our laundry room had become completely taken over with glass bottles waiting for my attention. Now all the bare glass is piled in a box ready to take away. This may seem like an odd "good thing," but it did feel good to make a bid for getting house jobs done.
I was a little unrealistic in thinking that I would be able to go out on the lake today. The weather is lovely, but I forgot that the kayaks would need some TLC after the winter. So I spent part of the afternoon scrubbing them down. They look lovely, and on another day they'll be ready to launch. Though I'm a little disappointed that we didn't take our kayaks out today, it was fun as I was cleaning them to think of all the upcoming summer hours I'll spend on the water.
I managed to get a good number of tasks done in the course of the day, leaving me with a possible window of time for kayaking tomorrow. I'm excited at the prospect already: I haven't been on the lake since Labor Day weekend. The lake level is back to normal (it had been partly drained in the fall and winter), and the weather looks like it's going to be pleasant for an outing, too.
Today is Chris' mother's birthday. She passed away in 2005, and we miss her. We went out to lunch today and had margaritas in her honor. We laughed and shared memories and family stories, and though I wish like the dickens that she could have been there with us in person, I know that she'd approve of our celebration in her name.
Later in the day I had some disconcerting news from work. It threw me for a loop (alas), but then I remembered Maria's advice: "The best revenge is living well." I'll drink to that.
Classes have stopped meeting for the semester, but we're in exam period and for the past two days I've had a stream of afternoon appointments. They've been really good. I've spaced the appointments well so that I can be leisurely with each student who comes, and it's been great to have so many pleasant one-on-one interactions. What a nice way to wrap up a school year.
Today was a day of clear sky and sun after a week of rain. Chris predicted that some bees would swarm, and when we returned home in the late afternoon, sure enough: there was a swarm hanging from a high branch of an oak tree. We tried to get it down to put it in a hive, but we didn't succeed. The queen must have been on the branch itself, and we couldn't shake her off, so the bees we could shake off just kept flying back to her. That's okay; that's nature.
All this is preamble to the good thing. Over the past few years we've noticed that a butterfly will often fly around in a bee swarm. It's a curious sight. Today a butterfly kept investigating the swarm on the branch. And I happened to have my camera ready for just this moment:
There were scattered good moments in a hectic day:
- A quick exchange with a colleague about one of his dear dogs.
- A student telling me that she didn't think she was a good student with good grades this semester, but that she also managed to learn a lot. I know this sounds paradoxical, but it was a really fair assessment of her situation and took clear-headedness on her part to put it that way.
- Another student describing our seminar class as a "think tank."
- My Homer independent study student saying that in the course of the semester he came to believe that Homer uses poetry in the Iliad as a means for doing critical thinking about issues which we now put under the umbrella of social/political philosophy. (Yes. This is something I also believe, and I don't think he now believes it just because I do. I think he sees it himself.)
Our neighbor, who has lived on the ridge for decades, remembers a time when the woods here were filled with whippoorwills. We heard one last May and were amazed at its song. I thought it might be the only one I'd ever hear. Today I heard another one: Chris called to me as I was in my home office so that I could come listen at the window. Even amid the rain the bird was giving out its distinctive call. It seems so special to hear it, and I'm grateful to Chris for letting me know about it--if he hadn't told me, its wondrousness would still have been there, but I would have missed it.