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.