A mail-art friend in Spain is having an exhibition and has put out a call for pieces. I've been thinking about what to send for about a month now, and this evening I decided to put one of my ideas to the test. I'm pleased with the results, and I'm glad I took some time to work on something non-verbal.
The project involved some basic stitching with embroidery thread on paper, and that reminded me of "sewing cards" I used to do when I was in kindergarten. It was a cute thing to remember, and not just mentally: I also felt the muscle memory as I was drawing my thread through the holes.
I had an unexpectedly free hour at school today, and Chris was free at the same time, so we walked across the footbridge to the bookstore and the bakery. Chris got scones, I got a muffin, and we both got to spend some time together in the sun and breeze.
When I came home today, I found three more postcards in my mailbox from a pen-friend. She's on a "reading retreat" in the mountains of West Virginia, and she's been writing to me while there. Very cool--both that she's writing to me, and that she took herself on a retreat like that.
Also in the mail was a lovely piece of work by Barbara, which I had admired when she posted it on her blog. What a surprise to have it in my hands! (Thanks, Barbara!)
I started the day with low spirits--I think more out of exhaustion than anything else. But I managed to pull myself (somewhat) together mid-day and get (some) things done without spinning down and out. Whenever I can reverse course, I count it a victory.
After two days of grey and rain (physically & symbolically), this morning was bright and clear. The fog rising from the fields and dissipating was a cheering sight. And I saw a bluebird just as I was getting in my car to drive to work.
Oh my goodness am I glad that I am having a chance to re-read the Aeneid this semester! I have not previously been a fan of book 5--which is mostly taken up with athletic competitions. Today as I read it I had so many thoughts about why the book is interesting and how it contributes to the whole. Other scholars over the centuries have probably written about all the things I noticed, but it's different to discover things on one's own. I feel lucky that in my job I have the opportunity to return to texts over and over again and see more and more.
I am on friendly terms with a woman who works in the Business Office. We say hello and occasionally chat a little--not much, because she's very no-nonsense at work. I like her manner. Today in the copy room we talked more than usual, as she told me about moving her mother and step-father from Chicago to Arkansas so they could be closer to her now that they're older. The way she talked about it--caring and sensible, clear and smart--made me admire her all the more.
Today I had the pleasure of returning to Vergil's Aeneid, which I haven't taught in awhile but which I definitely enjoy. The happiness of meeting up with an old-friend-of-a-text was paired with the nice surprise of a new-to-me translation by Sarah Ruden, which moves really well. It's not as poetic as the Latin (in my opinion), but it feels very nice.
An unexpected email from a stranger who had recently read and enjoyed an article I had written on Twombly's Fifty Days at Iliam.
Listening to "The Fisherman and his Wife" and "The Valiant Tailor" while walking at the track: I'm trying to read or listen to all of the tales recorded by the Brothers Grimm this year, since it's the bicentennial of the tales' publication.
While driving back from the track, I heard on the radio a Celtic tune which Chris first introduced me to in 1991.
I ran out of my blueberry flavored coffee at the end of last semester, but yesterday I got a new shipment in the mail. I keep it at school as a daily morning treat, and I was glad for it today.
Though I'm teaching more courses than usual this semester and am nervous about the work-load, the topics of the courses are appealing to me, and that's a good thing. In particular I'm pleased about the senior seminar I'm running on Classics in Trollope's novels. This evening--in preparation for tomorrow's class--I got to read Trollope (one of my all-time favorite authors) as part of my job. That makes me a lucky person indeed.
Still mayhem-ish here, and I think it's going to be a chaotic semester: due to a staffing disaster, I'm teaching my normal load plus half of another professor's load. (I honestly don't know if I can do the work of 1 1/2 people, but I'm going to give it a try.) It's going to mean more evenings spent at my campus office than usual. But at least it's quiet here in the evenings, and tonight I'm ready to pack up and head home a half an hour earlier than yesterday.
It was a day of mayhem: meetings with students, syllabus preparations, and lesson plans. But waiting in my mailbox on campus was a card from a former student. The notecard has 70 small hearts of different colors on it--I think I needed every single heart today! So nice of her to send it, and I kept it propped up on my desk so I could see it and smile often.
I've been clipping teeny pieces out of catalogs and magazines for the past week. This evening I put them all together:
It was my end-of-break hurrah. Tomorrow I'll put it in the mail to a friend and I'll be back in my office on campus.
Wilkie came into my office and meowed to remind me that it was time for his evening medicines (and his evening drink from a special water bowl, the real attraction). His internal clock is pretty accurate; night after night, around 9 p.m., he starts looking for one of us to give him his meds.
And thinking about that made me realize that I've gotten to rely on my own inner clock a lot during this between-the-semesters break. I've only had to set my alarm for a handful of days. That's going to end soon, but I'm grateful for some natural rising.
Working on an abstract about two versions of the Orpheus myth in which the Orpheus figure is a woman.
Listening to Grimms' Tales while walking.
Starting to read Helen Oyeyemi's Mr. Fox.
I do love stories, and new versions of old ones....
I've been doing some school-work today, though I've been hindered a bit by a headache. As breaks I've read some Jane Austen fan-fiction (P. D. James' Death Comes to Pemberley) and watched the first episode of Downton Abbey's second season. Thanks go to Barbara for pointing me to the series! I didn't think Chris would be interested in watching it with me, but he was, so that was a sweet extra good thing.
I've certainly been working over the break, but not in my campus office. Today I was back on campus for a full-day workshop. The content was interesting, and a group meeting was a nice way to mark the end of break and the beginning of back-to-school. I got to talk with people whose paths I normally don't cross, and that was a pleasant thing.
I was in Philadelphia, a city which I enjoy. I didn't see much of the town, though, since I was at a business conference: my colleagues and I mostly stayed in the hotel's meeting rooms. But we were next to Reading Terminal Market and so ate lunch there everyday, and we ventured down to Serrano for dinner one night (a restaurant which my brother introduced me to some years ago). After that dinner we walked back to the hotel via the Liberty Bell, one of my favorite bits of Americana--and which one of my colleagues had never seen before. We were too late for the museum, but we could still see the Bell itself through the windows. I also met up with some friends from various pieces of my past, and it was nice for them to be part of my present, as well. All in all, our business was smoothly conducted, and these other good things were icing on the cake.
Thank goodness for insurance, and for our being able to have it. Today it pulled through for us twice: our home-owner's insurance is going to cover (most of) a new roof since our current roof got damaged by hail, and my iPhone stopped working, but we had gotten extra insurance on it so the guy at the Apple Store just handed us a new one.
And thank goodness for Chris, too, who took the lead on these practical things as I've been getting ready to go out of town on a business trip.
Chris and I went to a new-ish Greek restaurant for dinner, and I noticed that they had Turkish coffee on the menu. I mentioned this to Chris because--based on my memories of it from my now-long-ago time in Greece--I thought it would be the kind of thing he'd like. He ordered some. I didn't have much myself (it would have kept me up all night!), but I loved smelling it and stealing just a few sips from his cup. It is amazing stuff. I have to go back sometime earlier in the day and order just a pot and some baklava....
Sad to say, I woke up on 1/1 with an "oh, no!" Last week I thought I had solved a complicated course-scheduling problem, but I had forgotten about a certain consideration. That consideration must have wormed its way to the surface during sleep, so (alas!) a work-related problem was pretty much the first thing on my mind in the new year. My poor conscious brain couldn't solve the problem, though I tried off and on throughout yesterday, but I must have done enough thinking around and about the issue that some solutions could work their way to clarity overnight, and I woke up this morning with two different possible approaches. At least one night of unconscious problem-solving offsets one night of unconscious problem-raising.
And I'm slowly chipping away at Medical Etymology. I've developed a good system for making it through the words (I've done about 500 of them so far), and taking the words apart (or building them up) feels a little like working math problems. (Not everyone's idea of a good time, I know, but I used to enjoy math back in the day....)
While Chris and I ate our breakfast we watched two deer eating their morning meal outside.