11/30: three latin classes, three good things

I'm teaching three levels of Latin this semester, and today I have a good thing related to each of them.

It's always a (fun) challenge to find Latin passages that the beginning students can read without too much grammar help from me--I know I can write Latin for them myself, but it's nice to give them something REAL to read. Today I found a Latin version of the country mouse & city mouse story from the 17th century that's manageable. (There's a Latin version of the same story from the 1st c. BCE, but it's too tricky for beginners.) In any case, I hope the class will enjoy the tale--preparing a hand-out for it today made me smile.

In my intermediate Latin class we've finished our main text for the semester and are spending the last few class sessions reading some short poems by Martial about the Colosseum. It's great to spend time with the poems as I prepare to teach them--they pack a lot into a small space--and today I felt like the students started to see how the poems are doing interesting things. It's only our third day with poetry (we had been reading prose before), and so they had been a little vexed at the new complications that come with translating poetry; today maybe they saw why the vexation is worthwhile.

Right before the Thanksgiving break my upper-level Latin students and I had a book-binding workshop, since part of what we're doing this semester is studying the history of the book as a physical form. This evening I read their reflections on the book-binding workshop, and they did some careful thinking about the books they made, about the process we used, and about what books as physical objects are.

11/29: discoveries

I've written before about my morning apple-cutting ritual to reveal the star at the core. Almost every day I think, "I should take a picture of this sometime." Today I did. The light was poor, but here's today's particular apple-star:

And almost every day as I cut my apple I think of two lines which I came across when I was in high-school: "There's part of the sun in an apple / There's part of the moon in a rose." Over the years I've googled the lines but couldn't find their source. Today I realized that I should try searching specifically in GoogleBooks--and I discovered the author: Augustus Wright Bomberger. The poem in which these lines appear was published in a 1913 edition of The Outlook.

So today's good things are celebrating my daily morning-star discovery by finally taking a picture and--also "finally"--finding a name to attach to those lines!

11/28: morning migration

On my way to work this morning I saw these geese. I didn't have time to pull over and take a picture, but I snapped this through the windshield while waiting at a stop sign:

11/27: enough

I had a long list of work-related things I hoped to do over the break. I got a good number of them done, but I realized on Thursday that I needed to give myself some down-time, too, in order to be prepared for the last bit of the semester. I'm glad I made that choice, and I'm glad I still got enough done to feel okay heading into tomorrow.

11/26: magic in the corner

Heading out on a rainy day, I saw these water-drops caught in a spider web in the corner of our car-port.

11/25: afternoon out

On the trails at Cadron Settlement Park.

The creek at the start of our walk:


Sugarberry bark:


The path at one point:


The quiet curls of dried leaves:



And a few berries:

11/24: tradition with a twist

When I was growing up, our family would assemble "Thanksgiving bouquets" each November: we would collect dried plants and branches, and my parents would arrange them in vases to decorate the house. I have lots of memories of our driving around Cambria County, PA, with clippers in the car, ready to snip interesting grasses or frizzled flowers and take them home. Chris and I don't make Thanksgiving bouquets, but I think my experiences have led me to enjoy photographing dried plants at this time of year. Here's a picture from today's walk.

11/23: having a crush

...on a UK publishing house: Persephone Books. They specialize in republishing 20th century books that have fallen off the radar, most of them by women. It's their edition of The Making of a Marchioness that I enjoyed so much nearly a year ago (and recently re-read). I signed up for their lovely Persephone Biannually newsletter; I received it today, and just paging through it and the catalog they sent makes me excited to dig in. I discovered that their store is just a short walk away from the place where I've been staying when I go to London; next time I'm there, I'll be sure to stop by. They run a lot of events at the shop and in general seem to want to create a community around their publications. They even have an internet forum/book club for people to read and post about one of their books each month. I know it's smart marketing, but I also feel like they really care about these books and want to make connections with other people who might enjoy them. Yep, I'm smitten.

11/22: revisiting seneca

My students in the beginning Latin class take a pronunciation quiz at the end of the semester, and today we started practicing the passage they'll be tested on. It's an excerpt from a philosophical letter by Seneca, and I just love it. I felt lucky to get to say the Latin words out loud.

11/21: not going out

Once the end of the semester draws near it gets especially tempting to eat out. We're tired and busy, and sometimes it's just okay to not cook for ourselves. But today we resisted the urge and had a great dinner at home: salad, ravioli with pesto, and fudge for dessert.

11/20: not really a weekend day

I worked on campus today for basically a full weekday's worth of hours: not normally the best news for a Sunday, but today it was a good thing. It helped me catch up, and my tomorrow will be much happier as a result.

11/19: part picnic

We got lunch to-go at Sonic; I got a grilled cheese with pickles (which I find very comforting). We drove to a pier on the lake and ate while looking over the water. A big blue heron flew by.

11/18: being remembered

By a childhood friend. We're not in frequent contact, but she does send me a birthday card every year. This year's card was waiting for me in the mail when I got home after work. Just seeing her handwriting made me smile.

11/17: mistakes and corrections

Mistakes and corrections are regular parts of any teacher's life and any student's life, but today I got to spend time with very special mistakes and corrections: mistakes made around 1200 on a leaf of the Latin Bible by the scribe who was creating the manuscript, and then corrections of (some of) those mistakes, sometimes by the scribe himself and sometimes by a later reader. It was so (so!) fun to analyze where and why both the mistakes and corrections were made--not because it gave me a feeling of superiority, but because it provided a glimpse into the real human workings of two people long, long ago. When have mistakes given so much pleasure? Thank you, medieval Italian scribe; thank you, later reader/emender of an unknown time and place. You two made my day. If your manuscript had been perfect, it would have been much less sweet.

Here's an instance where the scribe seems to have corrected himself:
If you look at the line that starts near the top of the big red E, you'll see [E]Rat aut[em] danihel. The aut[em] danihel has dots underneath it, because it's a mistake. The scribe accidentally started to repeat something he had already written--just two lines above it you'll see Erat aut[em] danihel. The dots--or puncta--tell a reader to disregard it; it's been puncta-ed out, which is the origin of "expunged."

And here's the later reader at work:
In the middle line shown you can see two things squeezed in, written in a different color ink. The first one is an e with a bar over it (meaning est or "is"), and the second one, which looks kind of like a z (or a 7 or a 2), is a sign for et ("and"). The reader decided to break one clause into two by adding a verb and then a conjunction.

11/16: panis angelicus

In my beginning Latin class we translated Aquinas' Panis Angelicus and then listened to Sting and Pavarotti sing C├ęsar Franck's musical rendition of it. I liked it a lot, and I think they did too. (You can see/hear it here.)

11/15: cookies for breakfast

Leftovers from our bakery-run yesterday.

11/14: second wind

My get-up-at-5-a.m. catch-up plan mostly worked, but by 2:30 this afternoon I wasn't thinking very clearly. Chris and I quickly nipped off campus to go to the bakery and get some cookies for a reading group meeting we were having with students before dinner. I also got myself a cinnamon roll. The combination of the cinnamon roll and good conversation about the book we read did the trick for me: energy, smiles, and coherent sentences returned.

11/13: taking time anyway

Even though--from a work perspective--we didn't have the time for it, Chris and I took a walk in the late afternoon, and it was the right thing to do. I'll have to get up super-early tomorrow to compensate, but I don't think I'll regret having spent that time in the autumn air, strolling while listening to Chris talk about Mark Twain.

11/12: wilkie's weight

Our cat Wilkie has been having some health issues for almost a year now, and as part of monitoring his situation we weigh him regularly. Today his weight was the highest it's been in a long time.

11/11: on the radio

The Bee Gees, just as I was reaching home. So I smiled a double smile: one for seeing the lights on in the house and knowing that Chris & the cats were there, and another for hearing the sweet Brothers Gibb.

11/10: not good--but good!

My alarm clock stopped in the middle of the night, and I didn't wake up until the sunlight coming into the bedroom woke me up. So I started the day an hour behind, but I got an extra hour of sleep. Happily, despite my late start, I got everything done in time and am even ready to turn to "bedtime reading" a half-hour earlier than usual.

11/9: in the text

I had a good time today getting swallowed up by the Latin text I'm teaching tomorrow, an apocryphal add-on to the Book of Daniel.

11/8: not just me

(Today's good thing is a little odd in that it's a good thing that came out of a not-so-good thing.) My joints have hurt (a lot) all day, and this morning I couldn't understand why I hurt so much. Then a few other people mentioned that they felt the same way and that they thought it was because a storm front was moving in. It didn't make the pain go away, but it did help to know that I wasn't alone.

11/7: bookends to the school day

Yellow ginkgo leaves which seemed all the yellow-er against a grey morning sky.

And a student working at the pizza place on campus who gave us a free taste of a peach & gorgonzola flatbread special.

11/6: a collection of good things

Starting the morning in the comfy robe provided by the hotel I stayed in.

Getting so caught up in the novel I was reading (Swamplandia!) that my time in the airport and on the plane seemed short.

Seeing the autumn leaves on the drive home from the airport.

Smelling the air on the ridge when I got out of the car and thinking, "Yes, this is home."

11/5: change of venue

I'll be in Atlanta on Saturday, giving a paper at a conference. It's a quick jaunt--I'm looking forward both to being out of town and to returning so soon.

11/4: time for an addition

Last night, as I was falling asleep, I realized that it would have been nice to add a particular illustration to the hand-out for my paper tomorrow. This morning I got my luggage packed with enough time left over to scan the picture and make a revised hand-out. Now no chance for regrets of the "If only I had...." variety.

11/3: three things

1. I took my car in for an oil change and check-up today, and it turned out that some not-minor work needed to be done. I am grateful that we had the money to pay for it without having to worry or feel squeezed. When I was a child and money was tight in our family, things like car repairs were sources of anxiety, and I am glad that (luckily, for now at least!) that isn't the case.

2. I got enough advance-work done at school in the last two days, so I don't have to bring any grading or prep on my conference trip this weekend.

3. When I booked my flight to the conference, I got myself on a plane that leaves early tomorrow afternoon--which means that I have time to pack tomorrow morning and don't have to think about it tonight.

(And whenever I post three things I think of Meri and her blog; it's good to prompt myself to recognize more than one good thing in a day.)

11/2: powerfully fragrant

We have a new lemon tree, and it'll be spending the cold part of each year indoors. Today a couple of its buds opened and the scent is unbelievably strong (in a good way). I'm amazed that so few blossoms can make their presence so known.

11/1: flu shots, candy bars, and free books

Flu shots were free at work today. I know it won't completely keep me from getting ill this winter, but at least I'll feel like I took preventive action.

My parents used to take us for flu shots every November, and by the time I was in high school I had developed the habit of bringing a bit of chocolate along to eat right after I got the shot. Today I slipped two little candy bars into my coat pocket, one for me and one for Chris, and we ate them on a bench next to some rose bushes after we had made our way through the shot line.

And another freebie of the day: two copies of A Little Latin Reader. I had ordered one as a desk copy, and the publisher sent me a second copy as a substitute for a different book. So I gave one to Chris, and he translated the first sentence in it (a piece of Pompeian graffiti) on the spot.