1/31: in the dark

By the time Chris and I got back to the house, the sun had set, but we decided to walk along the ridge anyway, flashlights in hand.

1/30: five

Thought-provoking theoretical readings for one of my courses today.

Some time snatched to do more painting.

And to go on a walk while the sun was overhead.

Work on the PowerPoint for an upcoming presentation was more fun than expected.

And the water, as always, was wonderful.

1/29: paint

I painted some paper today, in preparation for future art experiments.  Who knows how the experiments will go, but just the act of painting itself--covering paper with color--was very satisfying.

1/28: one, two, three

A single bluebird zipped by my car, and at nearly the same time I saw two pelicans on the lake.  They were there when I went to town in the early afternoon and were still around when I came home later.  They were joined still later by a third pelican which I didn't see but happily Chris did on his way back from work.  (Chris has missed some of the past years' pelican sightings, so I'm glad he got in on this one.)

1/27: reading & re-reading

This afternoon I started reading Mark Haddon's Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (it's the next novel on the list for one of my courses), and I'm really enjoying it--so much so that I'm already nearly half done.

This evening I re-read my Midas paper since my talk (cancelled in December's snowstorm) has been rescheduled for next week.  I was relieved to find that I still like what I wrote!

1/26: company on the water

Chris came kayaking this afternoon--and we were also joined by herons and lots of wind.

1/25: first crocuses

Earlier this week it was very cold (single-digit degrees), but today is sunny and warm.  As we walked by a little patch of ground this afternoon, I remarked that I was surprised the crocuses weren't peeking up.  And then I looked closer, and there were a few of them, quite small still, poking out of the ground!

1/24: simple, solid pleasures

Remembering yesterday's waxwings, their yellow tail-tips so bright.

Some good reading today, both fiction and non-fiction.

Crisp air and warm sun during an afternoon walk.

Making cupcakes with Chris.

And cats in my lap, Emma in the afternoon and Tilde in the evening.

1/23: still on sabbatical

As the new semester starts up on campus, I'm glad that I decided to take a year-long leave.  I'll be happy to get back to teaching in the fall, but for now I'm relieved not to be dealing with the daily grind of campus politics.

1/22: done is beautiful

It took longer than I thought today to put the final touches on my dossier, but it is now done and turned in.  My parents used to say, "Done is beautiful."  This is a chapter of my work-life (and emotional life) that needed to be over.  I am ready for a new one to begin.

1/21: home stretch

My evaluation dossier has been on my mind for months and on my to-do list for weeks.  It is now due.  Today I proof-read and printed, leaving only the final assembly and one last look-over for tomorrow.  I have been somewhat haunted and hounded by the dossier, so it will be good to get it out of my hands.  Today I even managed to enjoy working on it.

1/20: shifting time

My schoolwork for today took half as long as I thought it would!  It was very warm outside (almost 70 degrees), so I converted the saved work-time into kayaking-time.

1/19: inside a poem

On Sundays I always do some work on Heron Tree--posting the new week's poem and preparing the PDF for an upcoming one.  It is fun to spend time inside a poem by typing its words, making its lines break, and proofing it all carefully.  The process helps me see and feel in a very concrete way how a poem ticks.

1/18: temporary clarity

I was in a kind of mental and emotional fog for much of the day, but standing on the dock in the wind at sunset was good:  clear air and bright light.

1/17: putting the hours in

We had a full-day workshop on campus today.  After spending most of my time in recent months in fairly solitary circumstances, this was quite a change of pace.  To be with other people, talking and thinking, for hours....

And when I got home I needed to keep working on my evaluation dossier.  After a walk with Chris to clear my head, I managed to put in my time at the computer and make some good progress.

1/16: moonlight

As we were driving by Lake Conway this evening, the full moon was casting a wonderful and gentle white light on the water.

1/15: surprised

It is rare for me to be taken totally unawares while reading a novel; I may not predict turns of the plot, but it's unusual for something to happen in a book that throws me for a complete loop.  Today it did, in the wildest way, in the opening chapter of Jack Gantos' Dead End in Norvelt.

1/14: three

I finished writing thank-you notes to people who had sent me cards, letters, or gifts after my father's death.  I had been blocked about writing those notes, but it feels good to have acknowledged people's kindness.

I did all my laundry, four loads:  whites, colors, pale delicates, colored delicates.

I heard from a college friend who has not been in touch with me in at least 6 years.  I have often missed her, but she never answered my last attempts at contacting her years ago and I didn't want to badger her in case she didn't want to be in touch with me.  I hope that we won't fall out of contact again.

1/13: wheeling

The seagulls circling, dipping, and diving in crazy orbits--in the morning on the lake, in the afternoon over the flooded fields, and in the evening in the yellow-orange-pink-purple light of the sunset.

1/12: tilde's anniversary

A year ago today we brought home Tilde the Kitten!  Having her in our family has been such a good thing, and she and Emma the Cat get along so splendidly.  They often sleep curled up together, something our dear other cats never did.  Usually Tilde will join Emma wherever he is, but this evening I saw Emma get into the cat-bed where Tilde was already sleeping.  He doesn't just tolerate the togetherness; he even seeks it out.

1/11: time with trees, and human kindness

I walked for an hour this morning along the ridge, half of which is wooded, so my eyes lingered among the trees.  And then this evening at the dock I photographed the sun through the stand of trees across the lake:

In the course of the day I got four lovely emails from friends, who are being so kind in the wake of my father's death.  Or, I should say, they are kind people always and in general--but I am feeling and appreciating their kindness in a new way today.

1/10: utopian picturebooks

I'm working through possible texts for the utopia course which Chris and I are teaching next year; we are each designing half of the syllabus, and in my half I'm planning to include some children's and young adult literature.  Today I found some possible picturebooks which might work, and I'm so excited at the possibility of adding them to the mix.

1/9: unexpected, unusual beauty

It was a difficult day, but we paused in the middle to take photos outside, where I was so grateful to turn around and find the amazing ice on clusters of alium:

1/8: organizing images

I have lots (and lots) of postcard prints of water pictures which I've taken over the past year, and I've been working off-and-on during the past few weeks to bring some order to their chaos.  I think I now have a system which will help me keep track of the prints in an archive as well as log to whom I've sent particular prints.

1/7: indoor walking

Oh, I don't go to the city walking track as much as I used to, but yesterday and today I went.  I always enjoy the atmosphere there--the big open-ness of the building, the variety of people, the action on the basketball courts below which I can watch as I make my circuit on the track above.

1/6: provisions

Afternoon grocery shopping (after over a month of no grocering?!), and the trip yielded some very nice bread and cheeses for dinner.

1/5: warm

It's cold, cold, cold outside, so I'm especially grateful for a heated house tonight.  And Chris made biscuits, which we ate hot out of the oven for dinner.

1/4: there and back again

A solo drive to Altus and back, and in between a long lunch and conversation with a friend.

1/3: new year, new camera

My old waterproof camera started to get glitchy, so I bought a new one. I took it out on the lake for its first spin on New Year's Day, and I can tell it will take me awhile to get used to how it reacts to light on the water. However, one of its cool non-water-related features is a "super macro" setting which can focus at 1 cm away from its subject. I've been trying it out; today, on a liquidambar seed ball:

1/2: barbara's tactic

I'm having some difficulties staying focused, so today I used a strategy I learned from Barbara:  just keep doing (and listing) things until you reach at least 10.

1.  Playing with Tilde.  She really needed some dedicated playtime.
2.  Making some plans for meeting up with people.
3.  Writing postcards.
4.  Sending out a couple of pieces of mail art.
5.  Taking a few photos to try out the super-macro feature on my new camera.
6.  Tracking deliveries of holiday packages; had to re-order one gift because of delivery problems.
7.  Cleaning the kitchen.  The start of a long-overdue Big Clean?
8.  Listening to Delirium on my iPod (while playing with Tilde and also while cleaning the kitchen--but I think it counts as a separate thing since I'm listening to the novel to decide whether to include it in a course next year).
9.  Writing quick notes to my mother and sister.
10.  Editing, writing, and posting a few Trollope glosses.
11.  Reading Ecotopia.
12.  Doing some Heron Tree work. 

Barbara passed away in the fall.  I never met her in person, but we were blog-friends who sometimes also exchanged snail-mail, and I learned a lot from her both practically and philosophically.  I am so grateful that our paths crossed; knowing her has taught me about ways to be good to myself and good in the world.

1/1: a traditional meal

Hoppin' John for New Year's Day.