Here's another Los Angeles memory: we would walk to the LaBrea Tar Pits park in the evening after dinner and watch all the dogs brought by their humans to play there. We called it dog club. On the ridge we have our own sort of dog club. There's no leash law outside the city limits, so a lot of our neighbors let their dogs run free (and, truth be told, we know some of the dogs better than we know our neighbors). At one point in our walk tonight five dogs were keeping us company. A happy kind of mayhem.
Mid-morning snack: chai tea, LaBrea Bakery bread, and orange marmalade!
When we lived in LA, the original LaBrea Bakery was in our neighborhood, so I was very excited this week, though also surprised, to see LaBrea Bakery bake-it-at-home bread in the local Arkansas grocery store. The take-and-bake bread is not as wondrous as the kinds we could buy at the actual bakery, but since I'm now a thousand miles away from the bakery, I'm not going to complain...and I will happily buy it again, for both the taste and the nostalgia value.
Three good conversations in a row in office hours today. Not that conversations in office hours are ever bad--just today I felt like I was able to click really well with the students who came by.
I don't usually like to listen to music while I'm working, but today I enjoyed having some music playing very softly in the background while I was in my office preparing for my classes.
Chris was taking a nap this afternoon when I decided to go walking, so I was solo on the ridge. But not really solo: I listened to the very excellent opening chapters of The Princess and Curdie, I caught sight of a hummingbird, I said hello to some neighborhood dogs who walked with me part of the way, I stopped to chat with a neighbor I rarely see, and I smiled at all the flowers (in the family Commelinacaea?) along the road.
It's been a busy, busy week, but this afternoon the work-day drew to an end in a gentler-than-expected way, a grace to be grateful for.
A former student returned to campus to give a public lecture this evening. He was a Studio Art major and Classics minor, and he's recently finished his MFA. He has an exhibition on campus for the next month, and tonight he talked through slides of his work. It was great to see him, to see his art, and to hear his thoughts.
Seeing him in person was a kind of funny thing. I see him (in a way) every work-day since he's in a series of photographs taken by another Studio Art major which now hang in my office building. Those photos have kept my picture of the student frozen, and today it was wild (in a good way) to see the difference between that image and the person he is now.
I had to do a talk in front of the full faculty at a meeting this evening, and I made a gamble when deciding what tack I'd take--I opted for idealistic/theoretical over bureaucratic, which seemed risky since I was going to be talking in a bureaucratic environment. But I'm glad I made that choice.
We have a stack of foam printing plates, and today I pressed a few prints of a plate I had made last week and a few prints of one I made this morning. Chris and I first started making linoleum prints back in the 1990s, and I enjoy carving blocks--but it takes time. Printing with gel and foam is quicker and allows us to spend more time on experimenting and less on preparation. I'm glad for options.
I recently bought some gel slabs that allow you to make gelatin monoprints without using actual gelatin (and, unlike actual gelatin, you can keep using them forever). Today Chris and I gave them a try and enjoyed playing around with paint for part of the afternoon.
My salad for this evening's dinner came out amazingly well. (It may have been one of the best salads I've ever made.) The ingredients weren't particularly special; I've used them all before: romaine, diced carrots, mild pepper rings, black-eyed peas, vegetarian bacon, pepper, olive oil, and pomegranate vinegar. Despite the fact that I've made similar salads dozens and dozens of times, something about the proportions of the ingredients tonight was just right.
morning: I don't teach Thursday mornings. It's my catch-up time. It's also my time to feel like I don't have to watch the clock while I'm talking to colleagues.
afternoon: Good observations from my Latin students about chapter 2 of the Book of Ruth (we're reading and interpreting the Vulgate version, which I love). The students interpreted certain aspects of it in very keen ways.
evening: When I pulled into the driveway at twilight, Chris was watering the plants outside. He had just finished watering the basil, and its smell filled the air.
My email inbox at work had become unmanageable. Today I was able to sort through it and bring it down to half its size. There's more work to be done, but it feels so much better already.
Last year the jar rubber-stamp which Barbara bought and wrote about on her blog caught my eye. She suggested one way she might use the stamp to prompt reflection, and that resonated with me. I ordered a similar stamp online, and I stamped an open jar on a number of pages in a sketchbook. Whenever I feel overly full (often of worries, it's true, but also sometimes of ideas and images), I open the sketchbook and spill my thoughts out of the jar and onto the page.
Today I felt frazzled after work and I wanted to clear my mind before doing my evening preparation for tomorrow's teaching, so I turned to one of the jar pages. And as I wrote I realized that there were only three things really frazzling me. It was nice to get them out, and it was additionally nice to discover that the number was so finite.
Thanks, Barbara, for writing about the stamp! I think my jar-book is going to be with me for some time.
I worked so efficiently this morning that I pulled a little ahead. And that's a good thing because a late-afternoon meeting went on so long that if I hadn't gotten ahead I'd be behind tonight. Now I'm just where I should be for a comfortable tomorrow.
The outcome of the long meeting seems auspicious, though, so even if it was long it had a good end.
I got to see some professors today whom I don't usually cross paths with, and that was a welcome change. It feels nice when people actually seem happy to see you.
Tidying up today included soaking glass bottles and de-labelling them so that they can be recycled.
When I was growing up my parents opted against getting an automatic dishwasher, and my mother called washing dishes by hand "hydrotherapy." Today it did feel therapeutic to get my hands in the water.
This morning I was working in my office when I heard Wilkie meow from another room. I thought he might be perturbed or might want more food. Nope--he wanted to play. Born in 1996, he's an older cat, so he doesn't play all that much anymore, but it's sweet when he does.
I'm still taking antibiotics for my infection, but today I didn't need to take any other medications to deal with symptoms. My nose works again, and I was able to appreciate scents on my evening walk: the sweetness of blooming flowers and the mustiness of fallen leaves--a strange (in a good way) sensory combination of spring and autumn.
We went on a walk after dinner, and my allergies are under enough control that I could truly enjoy all the things that are blooming. Here's a twilight look at some of the blossoms on the trio of crepe myrtle trees that we call The Graces:
The scene in George MacDonald's Princess and the Goblin in which the Princess Irene visits the bedroom of her mystical great-great-grandmother. A fire of burning, purging roses, a bath as deep as the starry sky, a lamp as bright as the moon, walls that disappear to reveal the night, and the princess' great-great-grandmother herself with hair of shining gold.
Today I finished E. M. Forster's Longest Journey--another excellent novel. I don't know what got me to start reading Forster's work about a year and a half ago, but I'm glad I did.
I slept in (way in) this morning. My body needed to recoup, and I feel like my health has been ratcheted up a couple of notches simply from rest (of course the antibiotics must be helping, too).
Lots of good vibes from students and even a former student today. Wonderful anytime, and especially welcome on a Friday when I'm still working through my allergy issues.
A number of positive interactions at work today on substantive topics. Too often talk with colleagues tends toward gossip or complaint, and that's a tendency I'm trying to veer away from. Today there were good emails and conversations about curriculum-related issues: ideas took center stage--hurray!