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:

5/25: three

Putting away all my laundry.

Talking with a friend for hours.

Hearing that Chris' conference presentation went well.

5/24: morning journalling

I like to write in a journal in the mornings, mostly thoughts about whatever I'm reading.  But during the school year it's hard:  I've tried getting up an hour earlier to make writing time--but that would sometimes mean getting up at 4:30 a.m., which I can't do and stay productive for the rest of the day, so now journalling is a seasonal activity.  This week I started journalling in the mornings again, and for the past few days I've been writing on the porch--with my coffee, the cats, and the cool sweet air embroidered with bird songs.

5/23: reader reports

Today I got the second of two reader reports for an article I've submitted for publication.  Both reports were complementary and supportive, and the second one was especially wonderful to receive.  Whew.  There's revising to do before publication (that's par for the course), but I'm happy to move on to that stage of the process.

5/22: on the water at last

Good weather + enough free time + energy = the first kayaking-at-sunset of the summer.

5/21: another winner

It's no secret that I enjoy the books Persephone publishes, and today I finished another one of their volumes:  The Hopkins Manuscript by R. C. Sherriff.  It's a bit different from other Persephone titles.  In general, Persephone's books tend to be domestic, relatively realistic, often focused on female characters, and often written by women.  The Hopkins Manuscript doesn't really have any of those characteristics (though maybe it would count as "domestic" in some sense), and as a man's first-person account of the moon crashing into the earth it might seem far afield from Persephone's usual territory.  Yet I see how its sensibility is in keeping with Persephone's other offerings.  And I loved it.  It was emotionally difficult to read--a satire too true--but it was perfectly done.

5/20: ending the semester

It's been over a week since graduation, but the spring semester always takes a while to wind down--there are loose ends to wrap up and the year itself to reflect upon.  Today I made progress on the loose ends (by pressing my way through more paperwork) and on reflecting (by having dinner and a long conversation with a friend).

5/19: emails emailed

I get nervous about writing business-y emails, but today I gulped the nervousness down and wrote a bunch of them.

5/18: drafted

In just part of a morning I finished a full draft of a report I've delayed writing.

5/17: water-ready

I cleaned my kayak and am looking forward to this season's first foray onto the lake.

5/16: just sound

I have a hard time getting my mind to stop.  For a few minutes today, as I was walking down to the lake in the rain, the mental, verbal whirring paused and I got caught up in the mixed sound of my footsteps and the falling rain.

5/15: open-ended evening

There is always work (it feels like I should say that since so many people are under the impression that teachers "don't work" for 3 months of the year), but now that the semester is over it doesn't have to be at the full-to-bursting level of the school year, and that means that the after-dinner hours don't immediately translate into preparation for the next day's lessons.  Chris and I enjoyed simply sipping beer and shooting the breeze about nothing in particular this evening.

5/14: more ibbotson

I have to write a conference paper over the few weeks on two of Eva Ibbotson's novels (The Dragonfly Pool and A Company of Swans).  To get myself in the mood I started listening to another one of her novels (Magic Flutes) on my iPod.  It was a very welcome accompaniment to my dusting-of-the-blinds this morning.  And it is fun to find some of Ibbotson's favorite themes, details, and plot points in a new arrangement.

5/13: first monday of summer

The semester is over, so no getting up for school today!  Instead, we got up to clean.  And clean.  And then clean some more.  And there's still much, much more cleaning to be done.  It was good to get a start on it.

While I cleaned, I finished listening to Swallows and Amazons, and it is one of the best children's books I know.  I feel a little odd writing that because when I started to read it as a child I didn't like it enough to finish it--so maybe in some real way it's not one of the best children's books I know.  But listening to it as an adult and thinking about it in the context of children's literature in general, I have to say that I loved it.  I had one of those moments of crying at the end--not because it was sad but because it was ending and I didn't want to let go.  (There are sequels, but I don't know if I'll read them; it would be so frustrating and sad if Titty doesn't stay wonderful.)

We cooked our dinner tonight.  A real meal, at home and not cobbled-together.

The air outside today was full of the scent of roses and honeysuckle.

5/12: the excellence of titty continues

I'm still listening to Swallows and Amazons, and I'm loving the way in which Titty is getting presented, as if she's the best exemplar of the spirit of the book.

5/11: in the pink

Graduation.  We were asked to be on campus and lined up to process by 8:30 a.m., so I needed to treat it as a "school day" morning even though it was the weekend.  After my alarm rang I stayed in bed a bit, and at one point I looked up from my cozy bank of pillows and blankets and saw the sky bright pink with sunrise.

5/10: on the way

I paused by the lake on the way to work today, a moment of calm in which to focus myself.

5/9: done

An unexpected bit of unhappy bureaucratic work came onto my radar late in the day, but I did it this evening so I don't have to wake up to it tomorrow.

5/8: fridge first

I finished almost all of my grading for the school year.  (There are only a few more things for me to read and grade tomorrow when I receive them.)  I thought that yesterday and today would be a bit rough because of the sheer number of papers I needed to read, but the students did such nice work that it was easier than anticipated.  So I found myself this evening with some unexpected free time.  I thought about writing to a few friends, and I really am looking forward to being back in better touch with friends and family, but I realized that I was too tired and so was likely to get sentimental or self-conscious or strange in anything I wrote.  Instead I decided to clean the refrigerator, a task long overdue.  It was never going to be easier, since we've eaten through almost everything but condiments. Not a glorious way to celebrate the end of the semester, but a good way nevertheless.

5/7: color & chris

Chris found a game/app for the iPhone and iPad which he knew I would love:  Blendoku.  The point is to arrange colored squares in blending sequences.  It makes me excited about beginning (at long last!) the assignments in David Hornung's color workshop book.

5/6: questions

My upper-level Greek students delivered presentations on their research projects today, and they did a nice job:  I knew their projects would be interesting because I had read their rough drafts, but I was also so happy that they asked one another really good questions.

5/5: bumblebees & titty's victories

During our walk this afternoon we saw a couple of bumblebees climbing on and in bell-shaped flowers.  When I was little, I was scared of bumblebees; I'm so glad that that particular misapprehension has been set aright.  They are such sweeties, and now I always smile when I see them.

I'm listening to Swallows and Amazons on my iPod these days.  It's about the summer holiday of some siblings who have a sailboat and are camping on an island in a lake in England.  The middle child, a girl named Titty, got to do two heroic things:  single-handedly capture the boat of their friendly opponents in a game of "war" and (at the same time) hear where some real-life burglars were hiding their plunder.  It seemed too good to be true that Titty would be the crux, since all too often in the children's literature I've been reading girls' achievements get somehow undermined or subordinated to those of boys.  That kind of gender-based narrative punishment--which kicks in almost like clockwork--has been getting me (and Chris and my students) down.  But it looks like Titty's victories are pretty much in the clear!

5/4: on track enough

I'm mostly sticking to my grading schedule.

And my most recent blood test results show that my medicines are working.  They're not perfect fixes, in that they treat effects more than causes, but since the causes might not be entirely knowable or treatable, that will have to do.

5/3: while in the car

A good conversation with Chris about the ways in which side-kick characters (in books, movies, TV shows) get othered, and why.

5/2: lemon cake

I'm using up my free meals in the cafeteria before the end of the semester, and today I had lemon cake at lunch.  It's one of the few non-chocolate desserts that I enjoy.

5/1: good drafts

This afternoon I finished all my reading of and commenting on drafts; final papers will come in next week.  I enjoyed the drafts written by my students in the upper-level Greek course:  they've been doing careful thinking and come up with interesting things, even at the end of the semester when it's tempting to cut corners.