9/30: out loud

Reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory out loud with Chris; we take turns by chapter.

And laughing out loud together because Dahl's prose and imagination are just wild, almost unbelievable.

9/29: country roads

I was at odds and ends this afternoon--largely through exhaustion + allergies, I think, though I didn't recognize it at the time.  Chris suggested that we get an ice cream, and then we drove east and north into the countryside.  Mostly I watched dozily, but we doubled back so I could photograph the Pegasus.

We also doubled back to look at someone's side-yard filled with carved wooden bears standing upright.  There were maybe two dozen of them--ranging from 4 to 6 feet--scattered along a hillside.  I didn't take a picture because it didn't seem right to photograph someone's yard, but it was a striking sight.

9/28: just in time

I finished a book last night and wasn't sure what to start next.  And then I checked my mail, and I book I had ordered had arrived.  It's more Noel Streatfeild, and just reading the first few pages makes me feel like I'm relaxing with a friend.

9/27: unexpected ease

Getting a new driver's license ended up being a much quicker, smoother process than I had anticipated.

The photo on my last license wasn't great, and it didn't make me want to sing when I'd see it every time I opened my wallet.  Maybe in 10 years I'll feel the same way about the new photo, but for now it seems like a much better picture of me.

A fine photo on top of a no-wait visit to the DMV--those were two good things to start my day.

9/26: a like-minded crowd

It was high time for me to go grocering.  Wanting to avoid the shopping-on-the-way-home-from-work rush, I waited until 7 p.m. to leave the house for the store.  It was a good strategy.  The store was sparsely populated, and the other people shopping were probably like me:  they spent a day at work dealing with people and were just wanting to get their grocering done without incident.  People were quiet; people gave one another space cushions; people steered their carts with care.  I felt grateful to them all for their calm consideration.

9/25: a meeting of minds, & okay for tomorrow

I got to talk with two Trollope fans this afternoon, one of whom is the only person I know who has read more Trollope than I have.  I don't mean that in a competitive/measuring way--I mean that it's wonderful to meet up with someone who is so much a lover of Trollope that they've read all his novels.  (I'm on my way, but I think I have 6 or 7 left.)

I have a pile-up of work because some unexpected things got rotated onto my plate at the last minute.  I decided to stay at the office late tonight to get things done.  It's not always a good plan (in general I think it's not good to be at work for more than 12 hours at a time), but sometimes the benefit of getting things done outweighs the costs.  Today I'm glad I stayed:  I now feel like I'll be ready to face tomorrow.

9/24: upnotes at the end of the day

Today has been good throughout, but has had some especially nice moments toward the end:

Meeting a new colleague for coffee.

Walking on the ridge with Chris in the cool air.

Reading some well done writing assignments by my students.

Clinking and drinking little glasses of ginja (Portuguese liquor made from Morello cherries) with Chris.

9/23: fewer hours than anticipated

I have a tight deadline for writing a tenure evaluation for a colleague at another school, and I set aside today as the day to get it done.  I thought it would take most of the day, but I had read all the materials over the past week and had been thinking about them enough so that once I sat down at the computer, my words and thoughts came out more smoothly than I had anticipated.  I was done with a full draft by 3 p.m.!

With some of the new-found time today I did my Sunday sweeping, but I also let myself relax a little on the porch with Chris and the cats.  We were all enjoying the autumn air.

9/22: equinox walk

An afternoon-onset migraine kept me from kayaking this evening (alas).  But Chris and I went for a sunset walk along the ridge, which ended up having some happy surprises:  lots of moths and butterflies, and a neighbor's garden so abloom that its fragrance stopped us in our tracks.  As we finished our stroll, a half-and-half moon took its place in the sky:

9/21: four for four

Four good things for the fourth anniversary of the start of this blog.

One of the first emails I read this morning was an invitation to lead a session on Trollope at a Humanities retreat for doctors this spring.  I've presented at the retreat before, and I'm excited at the prospect of going back and getting to talk about Trollope with a room of people (something that doesn't happen very often).

Lunch with a colleague.  I usually eat in my office while multi-tasking, so (honestly) it felt a little odd to be doing something different.  But it was good to get to know this colleague a little better.

Two flat tires in one week; the second one this evening.  Not great, but it was nice to have the drill down pat this second time around.

As we ate dinner out this evening, I got brave enough to tell Chris my germinating idea for a libretto.  When we got home after dinner, I checked my email to find a note from the composer who asked me about a potential collaboration earlier this week.  We're going to meet up soon so I can pitch her my concept and see what she thinks.

9/20: proud of my preparation

I had a late afternoon committee meeting, and the subject was important.  I was proud of myself in that I had prepared well by reading the materials carefully and had a list of sound points to bring up.

9/19: an inquiry

...about my interest in writing a libretto for an opera or operetta.  Turns out, I might be interested!  And even if the opportunity doesn't really come about, thinking about the possibilities of what I could do is fun.  I haven't gotten those particular parts of my mind working in a while, so it was fun to feel them kick into gear and start moving.

9/18: waking up to well wishes

I emailed my students last night to let them know that I wouldn't be holding my classes today.  This morning I found a number of "get well soon" messages from them, waiting for me in my email inbox.

9/17: claiming tomorrow for recovery

Swollen glands.  A sore ear.  Difficulty swallowing.  Hot/cold flashes.  I'm ill!  I'm going to bed early!  I already cancelled classes for tomorrow!  Taking steps to get better sooner is the good thing.  The rest of the week is packed, so I'm hoping that a day of self-directed TLC will get me back to functional.

9/16: walking in someone else's shoes (literally)

Chris has been away at a conference this weekend.  This evening as I was tidying up, his shoes were the handiest when I needed to run some stuff to the garbage cans outside, so I slipped them on.  It was a fun way to think of him while he wasn't here.

9/15: almost 12 hours

...of sleep.  The week took a toll on me, but my body claimed some time for its own.  And the cats must have known I needed it:  they didn't try to wake me up.

9/14: recovering lost time

Late Friday afternoon-time is what I call "lost" time--that is, it's hard for me to make use of it and so it seems to slip through my fingers.  Although there are things to do, I'm tired at the end of the week and Monday's classes feel comfortably far off.  But today I did make use of it and got two classes prepared for Monday, adding just a little more breathing room to my weekend.

9/13: plans, ideas, excitement

This afternoon I met with some students in our Grimms' Tales working group; we needed to discuss their various plans for projects and presentations for the rest of the semester.  They had great ideas and seemed to enjoy talking about them with me and one another.  I'm excited to watch their work take shape in the upcoming weeks!  They're thinking about wolves, witches, sisters, swans..wild stuff.

9/12: could it be?

Yes, it was:  a bald eagle flying back and forth over the lake while I kayaked this evening.  A little reward for making the effort to take my boat out tonight.  (Not that I needed a reward--just gliding on the autumn water was more than enough on its own.)

9/11: echoes of a past life

I think it's pretty clear from the way I write about the ridge and the lake that I love where I live in Arkansas.  That said, I do sometimes miss my Los Angeles existence.  Today I got some happy reminders of that prior way of life:  I read a short story by Francesca Lia Block which was set in L.A. and mentioned some familiar sights/sites, and we had La Brea Bakery bread for dinner.

9/10: students & subjunctives

The intermediate Latin class did a good job with their homework sentences using the subjunctive.  Since most English speakers are hazy on the subjunctive at best, the students' clarity when translating the Latin subjunctive was a very nice thing.

9/8-9/9: off-line

Our home internet connection has gone wonky, and so I'll be spending the weekend off the web.  Though I am so grateful for the internet, I'm looking forward to a weekend of not checking my work email.

9/7: spotted dick

An unlikely name for a warm & comforting dessert, but there it is.  Chris bought a tin of Spotted Dick in the "international aisle" of the grocery a few weeks ago, and we finally gave it a try this evening, after a 10+ hour day at school.  It tasted like "welcome home" and "sleep well."

9/6: they liked it

The students seemed to very much enjoy the materials for "The Seven Ravens" which I put together.  They had great ideas about the story itself and talked enthusiastically about the images.  After thinking about this story for years it was great to be in a conversation about it.

9/5: words & pictures

My evening at-home work has been preparing for a session I'm running tomorrow on "The Seven Ravens," one of my favorite Grimms' Tales.  Half of the session will be a discussion about certain aspects of the story (a girl on a quest!  the chair she takes with her!  the key she fashions from her finger!), and the other half will focus on illustrations taken from picture-books of the tale.  An evening thinking about ideas and images--that's a good thing.

On the radio on the way home I heard some stark stories about unemployment in the US, reminding me that I'm fortunate to be employed.  I'm also fortunate that my employment can include thinking about things like "The Seven Ravens."

9/4: more visitors

The alium generated a fragrant cloud in the humid air.  I stood watching and smelling and taking a few more photographs...

...of a teeny moth,

a butterfly,

and a bee.

I couldn't get as close to any of these as I got to the moth on Sunday, but I'll still count myself lucky that they didn't get too annoyed with my presence/interference while they gathered nectar.

9/3: consolation prizes

I was really hoping to go kayaking this evening, but there was a heat advisory--so I decided to err on the side of caution and not head out when the weather service was suggesting not to.  Staying in gave me the chance to finish commenting on a draft of a student's research project (something I really needed to do soon anyway), and it gave me time to figure out how to make a change on a webpage I'm editing (something I really wanted to figure out but had gotten too frustrated with to make headway).  I'm going to count these things respectable victories for Labor Day.

9/2: alium & its visitors

The alium is blooming, and the bees are checking it out--which is a good thing, given how few blooms of anything we've had this summer.

Every year (including this one) I try to photograph the bees on the alium, without success.  Today though, as the bees were flying around, a moth was patient with me and my camera, for which I am grateful.

9/1: rebounding

...is a more technical term for "jumping on a trampoline," some of which I did today.  Who knew that something could be both hilarity-producing and health-promoting?