12/31: walking as thinking

When I sit and try to think these days, I hit a mental wall.  When I walk, I have better luck.  Understanding gained in bits, amidst the sound of my feet, the warmth of the sun, the cool of the air, the slow moving forward.

12/30: errands

It was nice for errand-running to be the main event today rather than something that needed to be squeezed in.

12/29: together

Seeing the cats curled up with one another in one of their cat-beds.

12/28: favorable conditions

It was grey and overcast for most of the day, but I had a hunch that the clouds could be setting the stage for a fantastic sunset.  I went to the dock to watch, and Chris followed a little after.  I'm so glad he did because I was grateful to share this with him in real time:

12/27: a little flock

As I was pulling into the dock this afternoon I noticed a bluebird, then another, then another and another and so on.  The sun was bright and made their blue even brighter.  I watched and listened for awhile and then decided to go back out on the water for an extra spin so I wouldn't disturb them by disembarking.

The water was a nice blue today too.  I took this photo while on the extra lap around the cove.

12/26: rhythm returning

Trying to get back into the regular flow of things after the vagaries of travel and loss.  Today I did almost all the work I had set myself and got some other things done besides.

12/25: cats inside, dog outside

This morning I played with the cats in the sunlight.  This afternoon one of the neighborhood dogs saw me walking toward him from a distance; he ran to greet me and seemed so happy to see me again (I was happy to see him, too).

12/24: wings

As I was walking this afternoon, a flock of blackbirds flew overhead.  I stopped to watch and heard their wings flapping as they passed.

12/23: back

I've been out of town and out of sorts, but today I was glad to wake up in my own bed with Chris and the cats nearby, do some work for Heron Tree, and visit the dock.  I've taken almost no photos during the month of December, so it felt good to snap some pictures of the water (what else?) today.

12/12: picturebook breaks

Oh, the work is daunting these days, but I realized what would help:  I checked out a number of picturebooks from the local library so that I can use them to refresh myself when the writing gets tough.

12/11: revisiting my work

My task for this week is to compile a mega-document about my activities at work to be used in an overall evaluation of me next semester.  It will be more than 50 pages long, and it is not always easy to write this kind of self-commentary.  But when I get involved in the ideas, in remembering things I've done and explaining why they were valuable, the time can go fast.

12/10: almost to the minute

I've had a hard time settling into work today, but when we came home from grocering this evening I told myself to keep at it until 8 p.m.  I just finished a chunk of stuff and looked at the clock--7:59.  Good enough.

12/9: cafeteria surprise

We ate on campus this evening, and it turned out to be the one night in the semester when breakfast is served for dinner!

12/8: silhouetted

Black birds in the grey day against a white sky.

12/7: spur of the moment

This afternoon Chris read out loud a passage of Mark Twain in which pie is mentioned; it made us want pie.  So we made an apple pie, and on a whim decided to add cayenne pepper as one of the spices.  Two spur-of-the-moment decisions, and they both worked out well.

12/6: keeping on keeping on

The electricity has stayed on all day despite the ice storm--hurray!

And I wrote (and enjoyed it) even though I wasn't writing for an assignment or a deadline.

12/5: regrouping

The bad weather forecasted for today and tomorrow meant that my public talk (which was supposed to be tonight) got cancelled.  So instead of driving across the state this afternoon I finished the last of my semester's coursework, straightened up my home office, and enjoyed hanging out with the cats.

12/4: on the terrace

At dinner-time, the temperature was in the 70-degree range, but freezing rain is in the forecast for tomorrow--so we decided to enjoy the nice weather while it lasted by eating on the cafeteria's outdoor balcony.

12/3: utopias

Chris and I found out recently that we will be team-teaching a course on utopias next year, and I'm enjoying finding and reading possible texts to include on the syllabus.

12/2: birds

Wrens and others along the ridge during my afternoon walk.

And some cheeping birds, unseen but heard, in the holly bushes on campus at sunset.

12/1: work and leisure

This morning I finished all the work for my Fantasy Literature course.  The other course will need to wait until I'm back from my visiting lecture trip, but it feels good to have one course completely wrapped up.

I spent the afternoon writing the Nathaniel Hawthorne part of my upcoming talk, and every time I return to the Wonder Book I am delighted by it (both personally and intellectually).

We did a little socializing in Little Rock this evening.  It's not our usual mode, but the couple we met up with was so fun and kind--I'm really glad we did it.

11/30: ovid

I am putting my coursework on hold for the next few days in order to prepare a guest lecture I'll be giving at another school on Thursday night.  Today I had to write the part of my talk about Ovid's Metamorphoses, and after a semester of non-Classics-related work it was lovely to return to a text that is an old friend and find new things to say about it.

11/29: done!

Today I wrote three bureaucratic documents that I've put off until almost the last minute.  I'm glad I've gotten good at finding words this semester, and--once I got down to the task of writing--it was actually a pleasure to engage the ideas behind the bureaucracy.

11/28: dessert as dinner

Blueberry cobbler.

11/27: gauging

Self-knowledge doesn't always seem to be a comfortable thing for me, but at least I am fairly good at predicting how long certain writing tasks will take me, and that was a useful skill to have today.

11/26: view at dinner

The clouds were lit magenta in the sunset.  I was inside a restaurant and couldn't get somewhere to take a picture, but I'm glad I was sitting near a window and got to see it.

11/25: not so bad

The "wintry mix" predicted for today didn't become too thick and icy.  And I wrote a full draft of the final paper for one of my classes.

11/24: changes of pace

Chris suggested that we go out for bagels for lunch.  It was a sweet change to our Sunday routine.

I am not done with my writing for the semester, but I have finished reading all of the novels, stories, and articles on the syllabuses for both of my classes--which meant that I could spend some time today reading a book for sheer pleasure, no pencil in hand to mark up the margins!

11/23: contrast

The chill air on my cheeks as I walk, but feeling my own warmth underneath.

11/22: full on but done early

Assignments and obligations are piled up for the next three weeks, but again today I stuck to my schedule and even finished my work earlier in the evening than expected.  The work itself was enjoyable, too--if only I can keep concentrating on it rather than the due-dates.

11/21: three things

I did everything on my to-do list for the day.  I wanted to stop at several points and leave items until tomorrow, but I'm glad I powered through.

I got to read some great things, including some new-to-me folktales in the general "family" of "The Seven Ravens" and a wonderful essay by Ursula K. Le Guin.  (Usually I don't enjoy reading what authors write about their own work, but Le Guin was downright fantastic in discussing the changes she's made to the world of her Earthsea novels over the years).

Emma the Cat's weigh-in this evening showed that he has gained some weight, reaching the 12-pound mark (his old standard) for the first time since June.

11/20: pear leaves

In our yard and all around town, the fruitless pear trees are in amazing autumn colors.

11/19: sweet day

All good things today:

- My paper didn't need much smoothing out before submitting it, and I liked it better upon re-reading it today than I did yesterday.

- I played with Tilde the Kitten, and then Emma the Cat came to sit with me as I read.

- I worked on a craft project for the first time in months, and I tried out a new technique with success.

- I listened to Handel's Water Music while tidying the house.  Usually I listen to an audiobook, but as the semester nears its end I'm feeling storied-out, and I was so glad to be enjoying music for a change.

- I kayaked in the hour before sunset.


- Chris and I had one of my favorite dinners:  LaBrea Bakery bread, nice cheese, and bruschetta with vegetarian bacon.  And then pieces of a dark chocolate orange for dessert.

- A friend posted this link on Facebook, which includes a video from a concert performed on an instrument created from Leonardo Da Vinci's notebooks.

- Another friend posted on Facebook that there had been nothing good about today, and it got me to think:  every day that's a bad day for me is the birthday of somebody else somewhere, so for them my bad day is a good day indeed.  Somehow I think remembering this will help me keep my bad days in perspective.

11/18: postal windfall

So much wonderful mail, and it all arrived on the same day.  Postcards, presents, and notes--from Indiana, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Florida, Portugal, Netherlands, and Germany.  The card from Germany was a double surprise:  one of those teeny advent calendars with a personal note written in German.

11/17: curiosity satisfied & the past sweetly recalled

When I drive into town I pass a pine-grove in a park.  Though I've been wondering (for months!) what it would be like to walk among those particular trees, I had never taken the time to find out.  Until this afternoon:


And another, unrelated good thing:  It was the birthday of a high-school friend today; I knew because Facebook reminded me.  I wrote him a quick happy-birthday note, and his response made a specific (and accurate) reference to a college paper I had mentioned to him back when I was writing it in fall 1986.  Wild that he remembered that conversation and its content; I was floored, and touched.  

11/16: assembling

...thoughts for two upcoming papers and a final project.

...dominoes in a long trail.  (Tilde the Kitten enjoyed supervising.)

11/15: celebrating friday

Dinner out included a margarita and unwinding after a good day of reading and writing.

Emma the Cat seemed to do his own celebrating today by jumping around in audacious ways.

11/14: sorting and letting go

I looked through all the photos I've taken since August and placed an order for some of them to be printed as postcards.

I drove into town this afternoon and the light streaming through the clouds was amazing--and yet there wasn't a good place or way for me to photograph it.  I had to just enjoy it as it was for as long as it was.

11/13: cafeteria food

It's nearing the end of the semester, and Chris and I have barely tapped into the cafeteria meals that are part of our pay, so we're going to be eating dinner on campus often in the upcoming days to make sure we use up our allotment.  Today I enjoyed French lentil soup and blueberry cobbler, two things we don't make at home.

11/12: near and far

Tilde the Cat sat in my lap for much of the day.  I think she can tell that we're heading into a cold-weather stretch and she's enjoying being cozy.

I got sweet mail from two friends today, and I got to talk to another friend on the phone this evening.  Being on sabbatical has circumscribed my interactions a lot, and though I'm loving the time to focus on thinking/reading/writing, I am all the more grateful for the positive interactions I do have, whether they're in person, by mail, or by phone.

11/11: submitted

I finished tomorrow's paper much earlier than expected and even submitted it.  I could have held onto it and fiddled more with it tomorrow, but there are other things to look to tomorrow morning, and it will feel good to get right to them.  And today it just felt so good to write--to say what I wanted to say--without hitches.

11/10: revisiting

This week I need to read The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman for one of my classes.  Some years ago I read the whole trilogy to which it belongs, and by the end I wasn't a fan.  But as I'm re-reading The Golden Compass I'm remembering that I really did (and do!) like this first book in the series, with its daemons, the alethiometer, the armored bear Iorek, and of course the Aurora.

11/9: drinking warmth

Coffee, tea, and hot chocolate are helping as I'm feeling under the weather today.

11/8: short but nevertheless good

A friend called me this morning.  She only had 10 minutes before she needed to be somewhere, but she said she wanted to hear my voice.  It was great to hear hers.

11/7: mid-day

My summer didn't have as much kayaking in it as I had hoped, but I think I've made up the deficit this fall, thanks to sabbatical.  I went out on the lake in the early afternoon, a very unprecedented time for me.  Wild light and autumn colors:

11/6: cat company

The cats curled up on me this afternoon and groomed each other (extensively) before both falling asleep.  It was too wonderful.  I didn't want to move.

11/5: quick & painless

Getting flu shots on campus.  We chose a good time:  no line to wait in.  And I barely felt the needle.

11/4: sweet afternoon

I finished my paper for tomorrow in record time; it was done by 2 p.m., and now I just need to proofread it in the morning.  After some struggling with last week's paper, I was glad this one came smoothly.  I then met a friend for coffee at 3, and I had a good, good time chatting.  We had the kind of conversation that affirmed the common ground that made us friends in the first place.

11/3: unexpected time, unexpected sight

I finished my morning work earlier than anticipated and used the extra time to head out on the water.  I paddled into a part of the lake not on my normal track and, rounding a bend, found this reflection of a tulip poplar tree.

11/2: light

The sunlight made the silver ribbon on Tilde the Cat's toy all glisteny as we played this morning.

This evening Chris and I walked under yellow-leaved trees illumined by the orange cast of the sun as it set.

11/1: feedback

Some of my fellow students wrote really nice responses/reactions to some of my postings today.

10/31: seeing and feeling

When we went down to the lake for sunset, the wind was blowing hard and I could actually see it move across the top of the water.  "Who has seen the wind?"  I have.  And the wind felt good too.

10/30: tidying and its after-effects

In addition to normal-for-me daily activities (writing, walking, reading, thinking), I straightened up my desks and vacuumed the carpets.  Oh it feels good!  And now if I could only make those things into normal-for-me daily activities as well....

10/29: vegan version

A friend introduced me to hot and sour soup in late 1989, and I loved it.  But since becoming vegetarian it's pretty much been off my menu because most places make it with meat stock or meat seasoning.  Today I had a vegan cup-of-soup version for lunch--ahh!

10/28: twice

I went out on the lake this morning.  I'm not usually a morning kayaker, but there was so much fog that I couldn't resist finding out how it would feel to be paddling inside it.


And then this evening Chris and I walked down to the dock to watch the sunset.

10/27: good timing

My evening walk coincided with my neighbors', and I enjoyed the chance to catch up with them.

10/26: writing, remembering, and a moment's rest

I've been having trouble writing to my regular postal correspondents lately; I've fallen out of the monthly postcard habit, and I miss it--and I feel bad because the people who actually write to me are really wonderful and don't deserve postal silence on my end.  Yesterday and today I managed to write some notes, and I'm hoping the trend continues.

I remembered today a good thing which happened yesterday but which I didn't post:  I've been working through Catherynne Valente's Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, and a chapter yesterday--in which the main character turns partly into a tree and sings a lullaby to her own Death--was really lovely.  It's a good thing in the present to remember good things in the past!

I worked on two writing assignments today, and I got one completely done and another mostly done.  I wasn't sure I would find thoughts or words, but I did.  I also got an email from my teacher today with some nice feedback on the paper I submitted on Tuesday.

It's been rainy today, but I walked down to the dock at sunset nevertheless.  I innovated and took a cup of coffee with me, which felt cozy.  I saw a heron, a hawk, some turtles and minnows, and geese.  And I rested my eyes from words by looking at the water.

10/25: old school

I typed addresses on some envelopes using our electric typewriter.  I enjoyed the sound and feel.  I've gotten so accustomed to word processing that it's strange--both nostalgic and exotic--to use a more definite machine.

10/24: windows

One of the best things about working at home this year is getting to sit at our big table and look out windows which go nearly from floor to ceiling.  Today at lunchtime I watched a flock of bluebirds, and throughout the afternoon I saw a yellow moth flickering around the asters.  I'm only getting to see it all because I'm on sabbatical--wild to witness what kind of life the yard has when we're usually away.

10/23: gifts

I received an unexpected and very thoughtful present from someone I've never met in person.

Also, less tangible but still feeling like a gift:  I heard that at a meeting today a colleague spoke warmly and enthusiastically about the London summer program of mine which she participated in a few years ago.

And the wonder of public libraries!  I tend not to use them because I have the campus library, and if it doesn't have something its interlibrary loan service is quick, but when it comes to picturebooks for my courses, local public libraries have been fantastic resources offering immediate gratification.  When I went to a branch this evening to return some books, I was amazed at how full the parking lot was.  Hurray for public services, a gift for us all.

10/22: dinner out and together

Chris and I thought we'd each fend for ourselves for dinner this evening because our schedules were different, but in the early afternoon we were both asked to go out to dinner with a campus visitor and we rearranged our evenings so we could.  We helped out a colleague and got the extra benefit of spending unexpected time together.

10/21: fairytale farewell

One of my courses is moving out of the terrain of traditional fairytales in a few days, so I used my paper today as a chance to survey, sum up, and say good-bye (for now) to a land I love.

10/20: francesca lia block's los angeles

When Chris and I moved to Los Angeles in the early 1990s my mother sent us Francesca Lia Block's Weetzie Bat books, and we loved reading them out loud to each other.  In the mid 2000s Chris and I ran a book group at school focused on the books, and it was fun to share them with people and hear their reactions.  Today I've been reading Block's latest novel, Love in the Time of Global Warming.  Its surreal post-apocalyptic Los Angeles is a far cry from the fairytale "Shangri L.A." she paints in the Weetzie series, but I'm enjoying spending time with it.

10/19: watching things with wings

So many bluebirds flying around this morning.

And butterflies on the asters this afternoon.

10/18: on the move

At the end of our after-dinner walk we saw a tarantula making its way up our driveway.  I enjoy our occasional tarantula sightings, and we hadn't seen one in quite some time so this made me especially happy.

10/17: sabbatical rhythm

Recently some stuff on campus has been distracting me from my own courses and work, but today was back to what I'm hoping much of my sabbatical will be like:  a morning and afternoon of reading then an early evening on the lake, thinking about what I had read in the morning and afternoon.

10/16: happy accident

My mobile phone pocket-dialed a friend this afternoon.  It was wild to hear her voice, very unexpectedly, coming out of my pocket!  So we talked for a few minutes before each getting back to our business at hand.

10/15: hundreds

...of blackbirds.

And lots of other birds too.

All day.

10/14: always a special day

Today is my sister's birthday.  Since she's older than I am, 10/14 has always been and will always be known to me primarily as her birthday.  I was glad to be able to wish her a good day and good year, and I had fun choosing some gifts for her.

10/13: a gathering of goods

Today is Chris' father's birthday.  He has been very kind to me over the years, and I am grateful to have an annual reminder to tell him how much I appreciate him and to wish him well.

As a result of our little road-trip on Thursday and Friday as well as some stuff at work this week I fell a little behind in getting my assignments done.  Today I caught up.

I finished writing a long work email I had been composing off and on over the past couple days.  It felt good to send it off.  Of course, almost as soon as I hit "send," I realized I should have mentioned two other things, but it'll be easy enough to follow up with those later (or let them fall by the wayside?).  For now the burden feels lifted.

I had time to go kayaking, and the weather cooperated.  Here's what it looked like when I first set out:


And here's how it looked an hour later as I was coming back in:


I may never see the Aurora Borealis, but I do get to see amazing Arkansas skies regularly.

In addition to taking lots of pictures while paddling I came up with an outline for the paper I need to write tomorrow.

10/12: on to a better future

Our house had a well windmill when we bought it.  It was no longer attached to a well, and it wouldn't have been easy to attach it to our well, so it was a large, lovely, creaky feature at the top of our hill.  Its wooden mounting was starting to have serious challenges, and we realized that it would have to be dismantled sooner rather than later so that it wouldn't someday crash onto our car port.  A man answered an ad Chris put out, and he came today with a hydraulic lift and spent the late morning and early afternoon taking the windmill apart and packing it up.  He plans to use it, so our windmill has moved on to its third life.  I will miss its sound, but I think it will be glad to be working again.

10/10 - 10/11: a little getaway

Chris and I drove up to Fayetteville yesterday for an evening Classics lecture, and then we drove back home this morning.

Good things about the trip:
- spending 6 hours with Chris in the car
- seeing some colleagues who have been friendly with me over the years
- meeting someone who did archaeology with Chris in Portugal a few years ago
- thinking about someone else's research and talking about it with Chris
- getting a break from my usual routine
- stepping out of my usual context

I'll be a little crunched for time this weekend as a result, but I think it was worth it.

10/9: unexpected

A friend unexpectedly in town so we were able to have dinner together.

Another friend unexpectedly called so we were able to chat briefly this evening.

10/8: aster action

The asters are blooming, and I spent some time early this afternoon watching them as they seemed to flicker with all the insects flying around them.


10/7: words, words, words (and some images)

It's Monday, so that means a paper is due tomorrow evening.  For this week's essay I enjoyed analyzing three gender-altered fairytales (Kate and the Beanstalk, The Brave Little Seamstress, and Sleeping Bobby) written by Mary Pope Osborne and illustrated by Giselle Potter.  I am grateful to local public libraries for making this possible:  the library in Conway had two of these books, and the teeny tiny branch library in Greenbrier had the third.  I would have been at an impasse without them!

10/6: a little mission

Chris does genealogical research, and he belongs to a site where people post requests for photographs of the gravestones of people they're tracing.  This morning we went to a small cemetery nearby and were able to fulfill two requests.

10/5: work and reward

Nine pages written and a cake in the oven.

10/4: before 8:30

Three scholarly essays read before the morning had even really begun!

10/3: bird business

I bought a second bird bath this summer, but the birds seemed to scorn it.  Finally they're warming up to it, and it's fun to see them queue up to take a dip.

10/2: clearer

It was humid when I went on errands this afternoon, but by early evening cooler air had moved in and everything felt less close, both outside and inside my head.  It seemed like it could rain so I didn't kayak.  Still, I walked down to the dock for sunset.

10/1: deer

Since my work is done at home this year I see our house and our yard more than I usually do.  Today I got to watch the deer wandering underneath the persimmon trees, grazing.

9/30: writing and thinking

I enjoyed my work today, and now I only have two paragraphs to finish tomorrow!

9/29: heron tree gratitude

After dinner I posted on the Heron Tree site the last poem remaining to published from last year's submissions.  As our first cycle of publication ends, I'm feeling so grateful to the poets who sent us their work and to Chris and Sandy who co-edit with me.  It's a good thing to have this project in my life.  And as if to give a stamp of approval, when we went down to the lake this evening a great blue heron squawked and flew past.

9/28: new find

We had lunch at a new-to-us Indian restaurant.  The food was good, and it's closer to us than the Indian restaurant in Little Rock!

9/27: a tad of trollope

Today I got to work on some Trollope research I'm finishing up with students.  Trollope's not been front-and-center with me since my courses began, so I enjoyed returning to him for a bit and getting to spend some time with his work as well as with my student's thoughts about his work.

9/26: having made myself a margin

I had read ahead for one of my classes last week, and I am so grateful that I did.  I didn't get any sleep last night, so I wasn't functioning at full capacity today--but because of my reading ahead a less-than-full-on day hasn't put me behind.

9/25: intersubjectivity

I am grateful to two friends today for their willingness to talk with me when I was having a hard time, even though they put their own work on hold to do so.

9/24: one done, another begun

It's going to be a semester with lots of paper-writing, a prospect which is both exciting and chastening.  Today I finished my first one (on fairytale as a language), and I had fun doing it.  And then while I was kayaking I mentally mapped out my second one, due in a week.

9/23: difference of a day

Things that seemed hard yesterday seemed easier today.

9/22: equilibrium

My mind was not quiet during much of the day:  I was working on an essay that had me riled up.  Although it was good to be thinking and writing in an engaged way, I tipped over into too-engaged tunnel vision.  Some time on the lake restored peace and perspective.  Equanimity as the equinox ends.

9/21: in & out

Lots of time in my own head, thinking about Hans Christian Andersen and articles about him.

A great time talking with my long-time friend Katy this afternoon.  Serious topics yet much laughter.

9/20: versions

Today's work included writing up my thoughts on variants of the Snow White story.  I'm so glad to have come across "Gold-Tree and Silver Tree," a traditional Scottish tale, and "Ever After," a contemporary short story by Kim Addonizio.

9/19: new poems

We're reading submissions to Heron Tree these days, and it's exciting to find new poems to love (and publish).

9/18: free meals

Even though I'm on sabbatical I still get $200 worth of credits for on-campus meals each semester, which pays for 25 dinners.  I used one of those dinners this evening.

9/16-9/17: teeny tiny getaway

On the afternoon of the 16th we left for Mount Magazine, where we stayed overnight.

The view from our room in the evening:


The view from our room in the morning:

9/15: good day

Good work, good news, good sunset.

9/14: small town, old friend

A friend and I have developed a tradition of meeting up occasionally in the little community of Altus, since it's partway between us.  There had been a too-long gap in our meetings, mostly because my pain/ache situation made it too hard for me to drive 1 1/2 hours there and back.  It was great to resume the tradition today.  Altus is a sweet place, and the pub owner let us linger for a long time.  It was wonderful to see my friend and spend the afternoon talking and listening.

9/13: remembering

My pain situation is much better than it was a year ago, and much, much better than two years ago, but I still get flare-ups.  Today I was feeling quite bad--it's kind of astounding that that had become my status quo.  And then I remembered:  I have medicine!  I took it, and two hours later, I feel the relief.  I know it sounds silly to forget that I have a remedy, but I got so used to bearing with it, and I also grew up in a house where we didn't take medicine that often, so it doesn't rise up in my mind as an obvious recourse.  Hopefully next time I'll remember even sooner.

9/12: little red

I got to read lots of versions of Little Red Riding Hood today!  So many interesting twists and turns.

9/11: rain

Though I had to paddle home quickly last night because I could see the rain coming down one town over, the storm stalled before reaching us.  This afternoon, however, we had a downpour.  The cats and I paused what we were doing for awhile (them--relaxing, me--reading) to listen and watch.  It's been getting too dry here over the past few weeks, so the water was more than welcome.

9/10: in earnest

Non-introductory work on my courses began today, and I enjoyed getting into it.

I went out on the lake this evening and had to paddle back unexpectedly early--and quickly!--when I could see rain on the horizon, but I'm glad I was out long enough to see this light slipping along the water.

9/9: useful turn of phrase

I learned a Polish saying today: "Not my circus, not my monkeys." It is perfect for (too) many occasions. When those occasions arise, just saying it to myself will make me smile.

9/8: back to the seven ravens

Last year I spent some time looking at different versions of "The Seven Ravens" story, a tale from the Brothers Grimm which has been a favorite of mine since childhood. Today I realized that I should make it the subject of my term project for one of my classes, since we have to choose a myth or folktale and trace it through various renditions. So I started to poke around online, and I ordered some materials I hadn't seen before.  I also found a short animated film of the story which was made in the 1970s.  It had interesting art and interesting deviations from the Grimms' version. The world of that story is stark, but I'm glad to be re-entering it and discovering new things about it.

9/7: sighting

Not feeling well today, but we strolled down to the dock at sunset for some gentle colors. And we finally saw the resident beaver our neighbors have been telling us about!

9/6: handy gizmo

It's getting harder to find air pumps for car tires at gas stations. We have an air compressor at home, but it's clunky, and I don't use it often enough to remember all the steps. Last year I got a little air pump kit that's powered by the car's cigarette lighter. Today I used it, and it was sweet and easy.

9/5: unexpected pocket

...of time and pleasure.  Though my classes have started, the work-load this week is light, so I spent the morning reading Lady Rose and Mrs. Memmary by Ruby Ferguson.  It's one of Persephone's titles, which is how I found it, and as always I'm so grateful for their publishing choices.  Though I love their selection of books, I'm not always a fan of the prefaces they commission for their editions--but I thought Candia McWilliam did a lovely job with the preface for this one.  I read it after I finished the book, and it felt apt and insightful.

9/4: choosing books

My courses started today, and in my Fantasy Literature course, we have to read/review/analyze three books of our own choosing that aren't already on the syllabus. I went online this evening and ordered three books I've been wanting to read: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (by Catherynne Valente), Inkheart (by Cornelia Funke), and Wildwood (by Colin Meloy). Hurray for when classes give you a push to do things you've been wanting to do already! (Hurray too for when classes give you a push to do things you'd never think of doing--there will be plenty of that this semester, too.)

9/3: clear day

I am glad that I cleaned my home office and swept all the floors yesterday: today the house felt so clear and I felt so unencumbered. It was my last day "off" before my next set of classes begins, and I spent it reading, thinking, musing. With some kayaking at the end, of course.

9/2: four things

Rain off and on throughout the day:  we needed it.

Morning writing:  I discovered something while doing it.

Closet-cleaning:  I had been avoiding it.

Phone call with my sister:  I am grateful for it.

9/1: a good movie

Safety Not Guaranteed.  We watched it on a lark during the late (and rainy) afternoon.

8/31: another month met

As I did last month, I set myself the goal of writing to 31 different people ("different" meaning if I wrote to the same person twice or more, it only counted once toward the goal).  I just finished writing my last two notes (with four hours to spare).

8/30: wildflower friend

Lots of Pennsylvania smartweed along the farm roads today:

8/29: putting it in perspective

I forgot about my upset stomach when I was out on the water.


And Chris is now playing the ukulele, which is always a happy sound.

8/28: bases

Chris is back at school, but my classes don't begin until a week from today, so the temptation is to have amorphous days--which sounds like it would be relaxing, but I end up getting stressed out by the aimlessness.  So I've been resorting to my old "bases" approach this week, making sure that every day I do at least one thing for the house or myself, one thing that counts as exercise, one thing for work, and one thing that constitutes contact with the outside world for something other than work.  I am grateful for this strategy (even if--years ago--it did arise out of something like desperation), and one of my friends recently told me that she adapted it for herself and used it this summer with happy results.

8/27: so i am glad

...that I read So I Am Glad by A. L. Kennedy. I finished it this morning.  And oh my goodness, it is so smart and beautiful. Even its hard-to-get-into-it-at-first-ness is part of its smart and beautiful plan.

8/26: upturn

An awkward day in many ways, but in the latter half I tried to turn it (and myself) around with grocery shopping, a mojito to celebrate the fact that I don't go back to work tomorrow, a batch of blueberry cornbread, and evening kayaking.  On my way down the hill to the lake I saw the moths on the alium.  That on its own is a very good thing.

8/25: taking in the view

This afternoon I did another round of proofing on the Heron Tree volume. By this point I've read all of the poems multiple times, but I had never read all of them in one sitting like I did today. I enjoyed working through them that way.

This evening we drove to Petit Jean Mountain for sunset, as has become traditional for us as a way to mark the end of summer and start of the school year.

8/24: unpacking complete

My school office is finally all unpacked.  It's cleaner and more organized than it's ever been--which is a bit ironic, given that I'm not teaching this year and so won't be using my office much, but it will be good to have it feeling fresh whenever I do come in and when I return to full-time teaching next year.

8/23: finally

A quick, quick trip with Chris to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in northwest Arkansas.  Here's the oculus in the Skyspace designed by James Turrell, located on one of the museum's trails:

8/22: color order restored

Ever since high school I've shelved my books in color order.  Recently I had to pack up all my books in my school office so that the furniture could be moved out and new carpet could be put in.  Earlier this week I unpacked the boxes but didn't have time to re-sort the books by color.  Today I got them back in their proper order, and the shelves look right again.

8/21: morning, afternoon, evening

Morning:  My only necessary "official" and "public" appearance at school this year for the Latin placement test for incoming students.  I got to wear my summer suit.

Afternoon:  The proof copies of Heron Tree arrived, and though there's a little tinkering to do, it's not much.

Evening:  Kayaking on my own and then returning to the dock to find Chris and our neighbors chatting and drinking beer as the moon rose, so I joined them.

8/20: helpful help and a long-working machine

I got a sewing machine as a gift from my parents when I graduated from high school many years ago. It wasn't an expensive machine, but my mother knew what to look for and chose a great one from Sears. It has never had trouble over the past 2+ decades, and it's never needed servicing, even though I don't necessarily treat it well (for instance, I sometimes sew on paper with it). Tonight its light bulb broke in such a way that I can't get it out on my own (I cut myself trying). I thought: this is really an amazing machine, taking decades of (ab)use, and its first problem isn't even related to its sewing mechanism. And then I thought: this is from Sears; maybe they can help. I went to Sears online and had a live chat with someone named Bruce. He didn't seem to miss a beat when I said I was needing help with such an old machine, and he told me where I can take it for repairs. After an overwhelming day of bureaucracy at school, I so appreciated Sears' (and Bruce's) straightforward approach.

And now an update: When Chris came home from a late meeting this evening, I told him what had transpired. He said he thought he could get the bulb out, and he did! And then I had a glimmering that my mother--way back when--had given me an extra bulb in the sewing tool-kit she had put together for me. I found the bulb, which has travelled with me from Pennsylvania to New York to Kansas to California to New York to Arkansas over the years. We put it in, and all is good. So now Chris and my mother are added to my gratitude list for the day.

8/19: handel and haydn

....what I listened to as I cleaned, cleaned, cleaned my school office.

8/18: company

A woodpecker flew into one of our windows in the afternoon and got dazed.  Chris went out to make sure it was okay (and to keep it safe from neighborhood cats).  He held it as it gathered its wits, and I sat with them.  When it was ready, it flew off, up, away.

Chris came kayaking with me for the first time since the start of the summer.  The heron was in the tree as we set out and when we came in.

8/17: ordered

Getting the print version of Heron Tree ready has taken a lot of formatting, reformatting, checking, and rechecking over the past few days, but before I went out for some time on the lake this evening we got to the point of uploading and ordering a physical copy for a look-over.  Though no doubt once we see it in our hands we'll find things that we need or want to change, I'm relieved we reached this milestone today.

8/16: an unseasonable walk

Usually ridge-walking is suspended during the summer because it's too hot to be pleasant, but this evening after dinner it was a cool 74 degrees so we went for a stroll.

The clouds as we finished:

8/15: at the bottom of the hill

I took a mid-day break from computer work to amble down the driveway and get the mail.  As I was turning the corner to the mail-box I saw something bright flash by and settle in a nearby bush.  I thought it was one of the little warblers that have the same green and yellow coloring as sun-dappled leaves.  But it wasn't:  it was a luna moth, one of my very favorite flying things.  I was lucky she stayed still as I moved closer to get a view.  And then in the mail-box there were notes from two wonderful mail friends.

8/14: change in the air

Some friends who live in Pennsylvania commented on Facebook this morning that the air had a hint of autumn coolness in it.  I was surprised (and happy) when I went out on the porch with my morning coffee and notebook and felt the same thing here.  This evening's kayaking also felt more like an early autumn outing than a late summer one.

8/13: john and james

This evening we watched The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, starring John Wayne and James Stewart.  We chose it almost at random, and I'm very glad randomness led us in that direction.

8/12: more dahl

Since I enjoyed Matilda so very much, I decided to follow it up by listening to another novel by Roald Dahl, The BFG ("big friendly giant").  It is a lot of fun, sharply smart (or smartly sharp?) and quite lyrical in places.  The reader, David Walliams, does a great job, too.

8/11: an outing

It's been awhile since Chris and I went somewhere together on purpose just to take pictures, so today we went to the Rock Island Bridge across the Arkansas River. I enjoyed the geometry.

8/10: thanks to chris

We get some fresh figs each summer because Chris has planted and tended several fig trees.  I ate two ripe figs today--amazing.

I needed to pack up my office at work so new carpet can be put in.  It's hard to complain ("my" office really belongs to the school not to me, and I will be getting new carpet out of the deal), but it still felt a little unfortunate to have to go into work when work hasn't officially started yet for the year.  Chris came and helped me today, and it took less than half the time it would have taken me if I had done it alone.

8/9: scones

Yesterday morning I got up early and made a batch of strawberry basil scones.  I had never used the recipe before, and it took quite a bit more prep time than suggested, so I wasn't in the happiest mood when they came out of the oven.  I was more like, "Breakfast, finally!"  Today, however, the remaining scones were there when I woke up.  So I could be like, "Breakfast, hurray!"

8/8: twist

I love classic ice cream twists, half vanilla, half chocolate.  I have good memories of my mother taking us to get twist cones when we were little, and I considered it a major treat.  This afternoon I had my first (and maybe only) twist of the season, and it tasted like summer.

8/7: cameraversary (almost)

As I was kayaking this evening I realized that it's been about a year since I got my waterproof camera (which I wrote about here), and I'm still so happy I bought it.  A photo from tonight's time on the lake:

8/6: impulse buy

Sparkling lemonade/limeade on a hot, hot day.  It was the perfect thing to be drinking in the high heat.  I am grateful for the inner voice that told me to put it in my cart as I was grocering this afternoon.

8/5: growing on me

A couple of days ago I made muffins from a recipe entitled something like "Muffins That Taste Like Donuts."  I love donuts, and I've seen this kind of recipe over the years, so I decided to give it a try at last.  I was initially disappointed because the resulting muffins did not taste like donuts, but now that I'm over the disappointment I'm enjoying the muffins for what they are.  And that's a good thing, because when you're a small household, a batch of muffins lasts for quite awhile.

8/4: adaptations

Reception studies was today's theme for both work and play.  I looked at modern renditions of stories about Helen of Troy, Midas, and Bluebeard, and I wrote to a colleague in response to his questions about a New York Times article on adaptations of films into Broadway musicals.  It's nice when what I'm working on and what I'm doing for fun blend into one another.

8/3: full house

Two cats, two humans.

8/2: while on the road

Chris has been in Portugal for 5 weeks, and this evening I drove to Little Rock to pick him up at the airport.  On the way down I listened to this week's episode of This American Life on the radio:  a humane story of a teenager who showed up on the doorstep of fantasy author Piers Anthony, and the unlikely fictional correspondence between Kafka's Gregor Samsa and Dr. Seuss.  I was so glad that I caught both segments.  (More information available here.)

8/1: arrears addressed

Yes, there's a correspondence theme in my recent posts, but that's because it's been my main focus over the past few days.  Today I finished replying to snail-mail that has piled up over the months (yes, alas, months).  It is humbling to pick up balls I've dropped, but I am so grateful for the wonderful friends who have sent me letters, notes, and postcards, and I'm glad I've finally let them know that.

7/31: walking, listening, and a different 31

I went to the inside track this evening to walk, and I listened to the rest of Matilda.  It felt good to be on the track, and Matilda was such a joy.  It's made its way onto my list of favorite books.

Yesterday I reached my goal of writing to 31 correspondents during July.  Today I reached another 31 count:  the number of postcrossing cards I've written this month.

7/30: 31

I told myself that I'd try to write to one person a day in July.  There were other ground rules:  writing repeatedly to the same person still only counted as once, and people from postcrossing or sendsomething didn't count toward the total unless I already had ongoing correspondences with them.  The idea was to catch up on my endlessly-in-arrears mail and stay in some touch with people who are kind enough to want to be in touch with me.  Some days I managed to write to more than one person and some days less, but as the month nears its end I've reached my goal and made contact with 31 different folks.  There are still people I need/want to write to, but I think I have some momentum now, and I'm looking forward to carrying this trend into August.

7/29: first and second winds

I enjoyed my morning of reading, thinking, and writing about the Midas myth.

However, I became a little (physically) deflated and (psychologically) dispirited this afternoon. Happily, some tea and biscuits (of the British variety) plus some self-mustering worked such that I managed to finish some correspondence that had been on my to-do list for the day, spend time on the water, and then talk on the phone with a friend.

7/28: comparatively cool

The morning was mild so the cats and I could linger on the porch.  And it never got very hot in the course of the day so my sunset kayaking was especially pleasant (for July).

7/27: expanding

A little poking around online this morning led to an art project.

An afternoon tea with a friend became a six-hour conversation.

7/26: revisiting

I listened to The Wind in the Willows at the start of the summer and loved it, and I'd been meaning to read Chapter 7, "Piper at the Gates of Dawn," so that I could linger on the words rather than have to move at the recording's pace.  Today I read it while eating my solo dinner.  And oh how lovely.

7/25: a lark

I've read recommendations for Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle over the years, but I've worried that it sounded too trying-to-be-clever-and-charming.  Now I'm giving it a go after all, and though it might be trying too much to be clever and charming, I don't care.  It is just so fun.  The perfect book for an end-of-summer-semester treat.

7/24: impromptu conversation

I texted a friend this afternoon who had texted me some questions and thoughts recently; I had been working on my paper, so I hadn't gotten back to him.  He was free at the time I texted, and we wrote back and forth for quite awhile.  It was good to be in touch, and I felt very 21st century.

7/23: no list

It was the first day in more than six weeks that I haven't had some sort of must-do list.

7/22: writing and rain

I wrote the last paper for my course today.  It's an odd paper for sure, but it's the paper I wanted to write.

It rained this morning, and then again in the late afternoon.  I know I've posted rain as a good thing a number of times recently--but that's because the memories of rain-less Julys are still with me.  I don't think we're having a "wet" July exactly, but it feels fortunate to get any rainfall.

Here are some raindrops plinking in the birdbath.  (And yay for a waterproof camera.)

7/21: a great performance

I had to pick a new audiobook to begin today, and I choose Roald Dahl's Matilda, because I keep seeing references to it but I've never read it.  Audible.com had only one unabridged choice, so I downloaded it without looking at the information about it very carefully.  I started listening, and lo and behold, it's Kate Winslet reading.  And she does a fantastic job.  She really could have phoned it in, but she didn't.  What a pleasure.

7/20: ahead of schedule

I drew up an endgame schedule for myself so that I would be able to finish my class in a sane way, and I'm a day ahead of what I planned.  This makes me feel like I have room to enjoy my thinking tomorrow, and I'll sleep better knowing that I now have a margin for error.

7/19: relief

The pent-up atmosphere has been giving me a migraine for the past day and a half, but now it's finally raining.  Relief for my head and for all the growing things!

7/18: pink and purple

I can see a bright sunset, right now, through the window.  I'm in the last week of my class, so no time to kayak (alas), but I've had a good night's work, and if I can't be on the water, I'm glad to see the sky's colors at least.  One bonus of not being on the water:  both cats are very close by to keep me company (i.e., sleep quietly) as I work.

7/17: picturebook without pictures

In my class we've studied some picturebooks which don't use words, and that led me to think about what a picturebook which didn't use pictures would be like.  Could it be done in a way so that it still seemed to "count" as a "picturebook"?  The question has been sitting in the back of my mind for a few weeks now, mostly as a kind of artistic/theoretical musing.  Today I found out that Hans Christian Andersen actually wrote a story called "A Picturebook without Pictures."  Go figure!  Of course I read it.

7/16: a little find

I've been collecting security envelope patterns for about four years.  At first, almost every mail had something to add to the collection, but now new patterns are few and far between.  Today's mail included one I hadn't seen before, and I even think it's pretty.  Thanks, water company, for the unexpected smile.

7/15: a few calm hours

It was very hard to settle down today, but I did by the end.  After dinner I had several good hours of thinking and writing.

7/14: brunch fruit

Cantaloupe was one of my favorite things about Sunday brunch in the summers when I was young.  Of course, now that I choose my own menu, I don't have to wait until Sunday rolls around to have some wonderful melon, but it still feels special when I have it on Sundays, like today.

7/13: a happy discovery

I'm working on the artist Hervé Tullet for my final term project, and today I found him on record as saying this:

"You are just someone, and then you have an idea, and you become someone else.  It is magical."

I think even the quotation is magical.  Tullet is not speaking just about himself and having his own ideas; he's talking about the self-transformations he wants to spark in his young readers by getting them to think and be creative with/through/in his books.

I love the concept that every time I have an idea I become a new person.  And it's not only beautiful, it's also true, isn't it?

7/12: cleaning and cats

My summer course is entering the home-ish stretch, and I find myself for the first time in decades having to write my own term research project instead of grade others'.  I've been thinking about the project since the first week of the course, so it's been baking in my mind, but tomorrow I have to start putting the words down.  To set the stage, I did a lot of tidying up today.  A cleaner, clearer space will help me think.

On another good front, Emma the Cat eagerly licked up some high-calorie goo this evening.  He's needing to gain back some weight, and our others cats haven't liked this stuff, so I was expecting resistance.  I am happy that Emma seems to like it, and I hope it will help him.

With my solicitous-ness toward Emma, Tilde the Kitten seems a little surprised that she's not as much the focus of attention, but today I was sure to spend some extra quality time with her, and I could tell that she was happy about that.

7/11: professor/professional day

I've been enjoying being a student, but today I donned my casual summer suit for an afternoon meeting with a colleague who teaches Latin in a nearby high school.  It was great to talk shop with her, and it felt good to be in my suit.  I've been a little in the dumps recently because Emma the Cat is having some serious but as-yet-unidentified health problems, and I think it did my spirits good to pull myself together and have to present myself as a professor today.

7/10: three

Morning:  I bought a new birdbath recently, and when I pour fresh water into it each day I feel a little like Galadriel.

Afternoon:  An editorial meeting and then a chat with co-editor Sandy.  Planning for the first print edition of Heron Tree is underway.

Evening:  Rain.

7/9: a little breathing room

Because I finished my paper yesterday, I had some extra time today to read some of a novel and talk to a friend about Auden.

7/8: tiger lilies

Growing up, I loved to see tiger lilies by the roadsides in the summers.  Now I have them in my yard.  I didn't plant them--the prior owners of the house did, and I am grateful.

7/7: clearer, cats, and kind

A paper for my class is due on Tuesday.  I've known for a few days generally what I wanted to write about, but I didn't have a tidy and realistic mental outline for it.  Today I stepped back a little, and the outline came.  Now the words need to come tomorrow!

Emma has been under the weather, but he's been more playful last night and today.  I'm very glad for that.  And Tilde curled up with me and purred and purred several times today.

So many of my fellow students are really sweet and kind in our online discussions.  Not all graduate courses have that, so it's something I'm definitely grateful for!

7/6: all good parts

The morning on the porch with books and the cats.

Afternoon at a coffee-shop talking with a former student.

Sunset on the lake.

An evening at-home viewing of Miranda July's Future.

7/5: happy coincidences

I was talking to a friend this afternoon, and I mentioned that I was working through a homework assignment which included Santa Calls.  It's not a particularly famous picturebook, so I was surprised when she said that she knew it.  It was fun to share thoughts about the brother/sister relationship in it.

I watched Me and You and Everyone We Know in the evening.  I had read reviews of Miranda July's work (films, performance art, books), but didn't have any first-hand knowledge.  Kind of sweet for my first viewing of a Miranda July film to be in July.

7/4: lots of ground

I stayed home all day, but I covered a lot of ground in my mind.  I thought about:  Pride and Prejudice and The Lizzie Bennett Diaries; open-source modifications for videogames in the light of adaptation theory; Saussure, Barthes, and Foucault; little sisters (as a sign and subject position) in Santa Calls and The Tunnel; Lois Ehlert's picturebooks (which I didn't know before taking my class); Gettysburg.

7/3: sighting

I took this picture while kayaking this evening:


The pale line is the rippled reflection of a tree trunk.  It's a tree in which herons sometimes perch, but I hadn't seen one there yet this year.  When I finished taking the photograph, I looked up into the tree, and there was a heron--but not in the perching posture I'm used to seeing.  This heron had half-opened its wings (as if akimbo) and stretched its neck and beak up to the sky, with the light of the setting sun full on its chest.  It was an amazing sight, and the heron kept the position, so still, for some time.  I didn't take a picture because herons don't like having cameras aimed at them, but the little bit of grey you can see in the photograph on the left-hand edge might be part of the heron's reflection.

The heron was still in the tree when I paddled back an hour later, but it had turned in on itself for grooming.  Even the sublime needs self-maintenance.

7/2: progressively calmer

The day started off with some stress because Emma the Cat had to go to the vet unexpectedly.  I was anxious about him, he was anxious about himself, and he doesn't like going to the vet at the best of times; on top of that, the vet's driveway was blocked by construction, so I had to carry Emma in his carrier through a loud construction zone, and that did not improve his mood.

But the vet and his assistants took good care of Emma, one of the men on the construction crew was so sweetly apologetic, and I was able to bring Emma back home before lunch.  Since then we've been having a quiet day.  I had a large writing assignment due this evening, so I worked on that while Emma recuperated from the physical and emotional drama and Tilde dozed.  Though the morning wasn't great, I'm glad that the day is ending on a more peaceful note than it began.

7/1: hiatus over

A full day, but one that included sunset lake-time.  I hadn't taken my kayak out during the second half of June because I had been working every evening.  It felt wonderful to be back on the water.


6/30: reclaiming the floor and more

The floor in my home office had become unmanageable:  I had piles of stuff from school, from the conference I went to earlier this month, from my picturebook course, and from my article revisions.  Then the piles collapsed into one another and I let the chaos spread to my desk.  Over the past week I've just been dipping into my office when necessary and then bringing whatever I needed to a large table in the  main room to work on.  Today I sorted and cleared.  I now have both a functional floor and a useable desk.

And here's another good thing from the day:  a sighting of this highly articulated creature on our deck.

6/29: sent

I just submitted my revised article.  I am glad for the thinking and learning (of many sorts) that have occurred in the process of researching, writing, and revising it--and today I am especially glad that my work on it is done for now.  There are have been many unexpected bumps and delays on its path, and I'm hoping that the next steps will be smooth.

6/28: building speed

For many years I've had the luxury of being able to be a slow writer--I arrange my obligations so that I have enough time to write very deliberately and very carefully.  This summer I have to be deliberate and careful but in a compressed time frame.  It's good exercise to stretch myself this way, and it's confidence-inspiring to realize that I can put more words together in a day (and still in a cogent way) than I would have imagined.

6/27: remembering and ordering

I remembered some recent good things which I forgot to write about amid all my thoughts about work.  For my picturebook course we had to make some "scary pictures" along the principles outlined by Molly Bang in Picture This: How Pictures Work, and my fellow students were very complimentary about mine.  Also, I saw two bluebirds enjoying the water in the birdbath Chris set up.

I ordered more Hervé Tullet books for my picturebook course final project, and I'm looking forward to getting to concentrate on it starting next week.  I also ordered some cardboard playhouses for Emma the Cat and Tilde the Kitten.  Emma especially likes boxes, but we haven't received any really big ones in the mail lately for him to enjoy, so I decided to get some particularly for him.

6/26: today's homework

On the syllabus for today:  3 chapters of a theory-of-picturebooks book, plus close analyses of multiple picturebook versions of Little Red Riding Hood and Snow White.  There's not much time for things other than work these days (so I apologize for work being the topic of so many recent posts), but as work goes, this is pretty sweet--and a welcome relief from yesterday's emotionally taxing reading and writing.

6/25: just footnotes now

I think I just finished the last of my article revisions.  Today's work was emotionally difficult (psychologically challenging subject matter plus the pile-up of emotional baggage about this piece over the years), and I spent most of the day working obliquely, in snatches and side-long.  There are still footnotes to write and/or tidy up, but that's a practical matter.  Although I won't be done much before the 6/30 deadline, I won't be late (knock on wood).

6/24: second paper

My picturebook course is a summer intensive class, and as a result of the compressed format I have two papers due this week.  Today I finished the second one, even taking some time out to watch a matinee-at-home of Moonrise Kingdom with Chris.

6/23: first paper

Today I submitted my first paper for my picturebook course.  (I think the last time I handed in a paper as a student was in 1996, when I turned in my dissertation prospectus.)  I tried to implement all the advice I give students in my own classes; it's interesting to be on the other side of things for awhile.

6/22: farm loop

I finished my writing early enough today that Chris and I could go on a drive through some farm-land around sunset.  It's something that we used to do often and that we had promised ourselves we'd do soon, so I was glad we made the promise a reality.


6/21: celebrating solstice on the porch

Sunset, then twilight, then dark.

Chris, the cats, and conversation.

Fireflies, crickets, whippoorwills.

6/20: work & play

Today's work went much better than I had anticipated.  I'm having a hard time working on revisions, but I made substantial headway this afternoon and evening, thank goodness.

Chris and I also made our "Moon and June" cake today.  I think we've both been a little down about the way in which June has entailed more work and less rest than we had hoped; making and decorating the cake really helped to boost our spirits and gave us an excuse to do something together for sheer pleasure.

6/19: honey harvest

Chris took some extra boxes of honey off the hives in the late fall, and then we froze the frames to be sure that nothing's in the honey that shouldn't be in the honey.  Today we finally did the harvesting.  We've done extracting enough times over the years that now we know what works for us and what doesn't, so today's process was efficient, clean, and unstressful.  Yay for actually learning from experience.

6/18: reading, thinking, writing

The days are full--lots to do this month for my picturebook course, my article revision, and the adaptations group project.  I've put other projects on hold until July.  Even so, there are moments of panic.  And there are also moments of realizing what a luxury it is to have so many good things to be working on and chunks of time to work on them.  (Chris ran errands today so I'd have even more time--very generous of him.)

6/17: black beauty

Half-way through my trip home yesterday I finished the novel I was reading, so I went into a bookstore in the Houston airport and bought Black Beauty.  We had an abridged recording of it when we were young, and we listened to it a lot, but I'd never read it.  I had forgotten that it's presented in Black Beauty's own voice, and it's wild to think about the rhetorical and philosophical implications of that choice.  Today I found out how influential the novel was on legislation involving horses in Britain and on general attitudes about the treatment of animals in a number of countries.  Way to go, Anna Sewell!

6/16: back home & green light

I'm back from a conference in Biloxi, Mississippi. Going to conferences is a good thing--hearing new ideas, sharing my own--but I am very glad to be home.

My online course on picturebooks began while I was at the conference, and it was a good thing I took my computer so that I could begin my homework.  This week we have to sign up for the illustrator we'd like to do our final project on, and the professor gave me the okay to work on Hervé Tullet (even though he wasn't on the list of suggestions).  I was so excited that I ordered a bunch of his books right away!

6/12: travel companion

I took some work-related reading on the plane today and told myself that I couldn't start a novel until I finished the reading for work.  I powered through and still had several hours during my travels to sink into--and thoroughly enjoy--my novel/reward, The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey.

6/10: teeny tiny

As we were kayaking last night I paused to take some pictures.  Chris kept looking up at a tree, so I asked him what he saw.  It was a little hummingbird coming in and out of the shadows.  I had to wait awhile for it to appear, but it did.  It was the smallest bird I have ever seen.

6/9: listening

I've been listening to The Wind in the Willows recently, and today I finished it while cleaning house and playing with Tilde.  The mystical, lyrical parts with Rat and Mole are just amazing, and though I enjoyed the satirical adventures of Toad less, I got very excited by the presentation of Toad's return to Toad Hall as a parody of the Odyssey.

And then I started listening to The Day Boy and the Night Girl by George MacDonald.  So, so Platonic!  As well as strange and gorgeous.

6/8: margin

I got more done on my paper yesterday than I had planned, and that's a good thing because today I was too sick to my stomach to read or write.  Now I'm not ahead, but at least I'm not behind.

I was still feeling unwell at kayaking time, but I decided to go anyway.  (I figured that if I was already sea-sick-ish, being on the water might not matter.)  I'm glad I went.

6/7: in the air

Geese flying so low this morning that I could hear the rhythmic woosh of their wings.

Reading on the porch with the cats in both the morning and evening.

Kayaking extra long on the lake at sunset.

6/5-6/6: started

I'm giving a paper at a conference next week.  I wrote an abstract for it back in January, and I know the texts I'll be discussing pretty well--but it's always a challenge to arrange words on the page so that they say what I want them to and in the way I want them to (while still sticking to the time limit).  I think I've made a good start.

6/4: landscape

This summer, another professor and I are in a working group with some students focused on adaptation studies.  We're all reading Linda Hutcheon's Theory of Adaptation together, and then we're each pursuing individual adaptation-oriented projects.  One of the students is experimenting with turning a short story by Margaret Atwood into a screenplay.  The story is "Death by Landscape," and I read it for the first time this afternoon--wow.  (If you're interested you can read it by clicking here.)  It gave me a lot to think about as I kayaked through my own landscape this evening.

6/3: more to think about

I recently bought and read The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy, a children's novel by Nikki Loftin, because a blurb mentioned that it used Classical myth.  I thought it would be a quick lark of a book to read, and it pretty much was.  But its use of the story of Hansel and Gretel combined with the myth of Demeter and Persephone turned out to be much more interesting than I had anticipated.  I enjoyed writing about it today in my morning journal, and there's more I want to write about it in tomorrow's journalling session.

6/2: alliterative good things on the lake

My kayak, camera, and Chris for company.

6/1: clearing

The cool rain clearing the air.

Sorting and filing one of my email accounts so my inbox is only one page long.

Leaving the school year progressively behind and beginning to think about new things ahead.

5/26-5/31: away and back again

After his conference Chris went to New Jersey, where I met up with him and some of his family.  A little trip felt good, and it also feels good to be at home once more.

From the plane:


At the boardwalk:




At the beach:


And Margate's Lucy: