I just finished my evening's work, and I've just started getting sleepy. In addition to doing my schoolwork this evening, Chris and I made a trip to the grocery store and I cooked up a chili for tomorrow.
It's Halloween, but we don't get any trick-or-treaters at our house (too far off the beaten path). However, our building's housekeeper at work showed me a picture of her grandson dressed up in his Halloween costume as a bat, and that made me smile not just because he looked very cute (and he really did!), but also because when I was about his age I went as a bat for Halloween myself.
Chris, a colleague, and I recently received a grant to develop some courses, and now we're allowed to start spending the money. I ordered a big box of books, and they arrived today. On the one hand, I'm excited to dive in. On the other hand, I also like the feeling of knowing they're all waiting for me, surprises packed between the covers.
As one of my presents for the holidays in 1989 my parents gave me a facsimile edition of the Très Riches Heures of the Duke of Berry. It's travelled with me all over: from Pennsylvania to upstate New York, then to California and back to upstate New York before coming to Arkansas. It's a lovely book and a steady, friendly presence on our bookshelves. I have some good memories of paging through it with a friend at college and also with Chris over the years. Today it came in handy for class. Thanks, parents.
I thought that we might not see much autumn display this year because it had been so dry at the end of the summer: sometimes when that happens, all the leaves turn brown rather than red, orange, and gold. But as I drove to school today, and as Chris and I walked this evening, I was grateful to realize that we really are having a pretty fall season. Everything seemed glowy.
I try not to email students when I'm at home (so that neither they nor I will treat 24-hour access to one another as the norm), but tonight I was grateful that I could send them a quick note. I gave a too-long homework assignment, and it was nice to be able to email them to tell them not to do one part of it. Thanks, technology.
I don't often check my phone for messages, and today I realized that a friend had called me yesterday and left voice-mail. I'm sorry I missed her call, but she left a long message which gave me time to really appreciate hearing her voice.
Making a vegetarian Caesar salad dressing.
I had thought I would hole up this weekend and work-work-work on school stuff.
But in the afternoon Chris and I decided to do some bee-keeping, and in the evening we made a spur-of-the-moment decision to go to the last night of races at the I-30 Speedway below Little Rock.
It was good to let myself depart from the plan.
I was feeling a bit unwell this morning so decided to work at home (where I could be warm and cozy longer) before heading to campus. Curled up in my home office, I got through my work more efficiently than I thought I would, and it was so pleasant to be home for just an hour longer.
My good things spring from the two comments waiting for me when I checked my blog today.
Meri's good thing reminded me that I, too, have been using music to work some magic on my morning outlook. I've been enjoying listening to some news on the way to work and then switching half-way through the drive to a music station. I'm glad to get the low-down on the news, but I like pulling into the parking lot at work with something up-beat in my ears.
The anonymous poster reminded me to keep my own frustrations and difficulties in perspective and to be grateful for every single opportunity for genuine laughter.
For today's assignment the students in my intermediate Latin class had to prepare some interpretive talking points about a passage we had just finished translating. When they shared their ideas in class today they made a really great collective pool of thought.
I've written about my enthusiasm for apple cider in years past. Today Chris found some in a store, and it was waiting for me in the refrigerator when I came home at the end of a long day.
One of my professors in graduate school supervised a group of us who were teaching Latin in the 1994-1995 academic year. She said that we should figure out a way to grade Latin translations that would be systematic, consistent, and straightforward from the get-go. This might have seemed like obvious advice, but it wasn't: plenty of Classics professors don't have a particularly objective way to grade translations. I started developing my own system that year, and I've been using it ever since. This evening a round of grading went very quickly because of it, so I'm feeling especially grateful for that old advice.
I've been wanting to edit my photos in a particular way before having them printed as postcards, and I'd been having trouble with it. After some thwarted attempts yesterday, this morning I realized that it was all just a set of math word problems. I made some equations and worked them--and the vexation was over. It was one of those math-is-magic moments that are all too rare now that my days of formal schooling are long over.
Pinnacle Mountain, which I've always enjoyed seeing as we drive on the I-430 to Little Rock. Now there's a more leisurely way to view it, from the recently built pedestrian bridge connecting River Mountain Park and Two River Park. We visited the bridge for the first time today, my fall break reward for finishing my paper.
I'm still working on my paper today, but I took a short break this afternoon to wander outside in the sunshine. The air was so alive with a flurry of flying things. This sweet moth was on an aster patch which many bees, flies, wasps and moths could not resist. We can see it while sitting at the table in our main room, so I just had to go and check it out more closely.
Now that I've resumed sending postcrossing cards more regularly, I'm getting more mail. Today's post included a gorgeous photo of dandelion seed balls. The sender hoped that my receiving the card would count as one of my daily good things--and it definitely has! It's already propped up on my desk to keep me company as I write.
The think box, that is. We call it "going into the think box" when one of us has to hunker down and write a paper. My paper on the Wonder Book is due on Saturday, so I'm spending fall break writing it. Today's work inside the box was smooth. It's good to put words together about Hawthorne again. It's a comfortable mix of feeling like I'm on familiar territory and discovering that there's always more to think and say.
Not because anything huge and spectacular (hugely spectacular?) happened, but because lots of nice things happened. When days are frustrating and tiring (like yesterday), I need to remember that there could be a day like today right around the corner.
The day's good things include: a conversation with a new Classics major; a midterm in Latin that seemed to go well; general group appreciation of one another in my intermediate Latin class; hearing about one student's animals (goats, a peacock, and a miniature cow!); a pleasant meeting with a senior major sorting things out; unexpected time to grade a few midterms over lunch; news that Chris, a colleague, and I received a grant for course development over the next two years; a drive to Little Rock through the rain while listening to Prince's Purple Rain on the radio; a successful visit to a specialist where I got a cleaner bill of health than I had expected; dinner out with Chris; a walk on the ridge with the weather cleared and air freshened; another tour-de-force chapter by George MacDonald on my audiobook; five of the neighborhood dogs milling around while I walked; the first taste of lemons from our new Meyer lemon tree; playful cats.
Of a different kind of goodness: the fact that this morning (and before any of the good things began) I was able to not get distractedly frustrated by something that could have made me both distracted and frustrated--yesterday I wasn't able to face down the potential frustration as successfully, so I'm glad that today started more auspiciously.
Well, I hoped to go to a poetry reading this evening, but the combination of getting over a cold and having to write midterm tests for tomorrow kept me from it.
So this evening I spent just a few minutes doing something I've been doing off-and-on since 2008: looking through poems and making lists of words beginning with the S sound. (I don't count words with the SH- sound.) It's not an academic project or anything--I just find the sibilants pleasing.
Here are tonight's words: saint, scorned, see, seen, served, sighing, since, sit, slackened, snow, so, sodden, sometimes, speak, speechless, stars, straight, streets, stubble, such, summer, swallows, sweet.
A soothing list is a good thing for a tired self.
I've been photographing clouds for four years now. I have thousands of cloud photos and yet haven't gotten tired of taking more. I took this one after an early dinner this evening, as I was heading back to my campus office to do a little more work before coming home.
I had a list of 30 people I wanted to write, call, or otherwise contact in September. I did make it through the list, but had to run a little into October to do it.
I made a new list of people for October, and I'm nearly halfway through it. I like being in touch with folks, but I think I need a list so that I have a visual reminder that it's important to do, even when work is busy.
I try to keep Saturdays free from school-related work, but I don't always succeed. This week I've been sick so I needed to work some today to catch up. I made myself a realistic list of tasks, and I managed to get them done while still getting a little resting-time and a little hanging-out-with-Chris time.
I have to decide which Trollope novels I'll be teaching in my spring semester course. I was thinking The Bertrams might be good to include, but I read it in 1997, so I need to double-check my hunch. The beauty of the Kindle app on my iPad: I got a free copy of it in seconds. And it feels great to sink into Trollope again.
Not feeling well today, but not feeling ill enough to justify staying home. I spent the morning preparing my classes in my office, but I made the space--as much as possible--into a cozy shell for myself. Blueberry coffee. Fluorescent lights off; sunlight, and a single lamp with a pink light-bulb on. Soft soft music in the background.
I grew up across the street from a Franciscan college and monastery, so Francis of Assisi is dear to my heart. Today's his feast day. By a happy chance in my Vulgate class today we were discussing how Franciscan monks contributed to the development of portable Bibles in the 13th century. And--also by a happy chance--while I was poking online today I came across this snippet attributed to St. Francis: "What you are looking for is what is looking."
My head got in a whirl (whorl?) this afternoon, and I'm afraid I wasn't great company for Chris when we went out for pizza this evening. We drove back from the pizza place along a country road, and when we passed through the rice fields the sun was setting at just the angle to turn the rice stalks amber. Thank you, kind sun. And thank you, kind Chris, for making sure I noticed it.
It really is beginning to feel like fall, and even our indoor cats can tell. They've started hanging out more in my room because it's the warmest place in the house. During the summer, that's not necessarily a good thing, but when the air gets a little chillier, oh it's cozy. Today I enjoyed reading with one cat on either side of me. Sometimes I'd stop reading and just feel my good fortune.
Chris and I were both feeling under the weather today, probably (ironically) because of all the beautiful things blooming outside. So we spent the afternoon with books, the cats, warm drinks, and one another for company. Not much to complain about there. And I finished both The Secret Garden (for an upcoming book group meeting) and A Visit from the Goon Squad (because I wanted to know what the hype was about). I can't remember the last time I finished two books in one day.