12/31: meeting my deadline

I found out this morning that the deadline for a translation project I was working on got moved to mid-January, but I had already decided to finish it today.  Tempting though it was to change my plans and linger for two more weeks, I wrapped it up this afternoon.

12/30: outrageous and fun

Matthew Bourne's Gothic ballet production of Sleeping Beauty, that is.  My sister saw it live last year, but I had to be content with watching the DVD this evening.  It's gorgeously done, and also crazy.

12/29: new and nearby

I finished my translating work early in the afternoon, at just about the time when Chris realized that it was too overcast for him to go flying--so we went on a new-to-us trail at Bell Slough, which we often forget as a possible place to go for a quick hike.  In the brisk air I did more walking than picture-taking, but here's a photo of some bracket fungus from underneath.  I can attest from recent walks that fungus is flourishing in Arkansas these days!

12/28: good news

When our neighbor moved away this summer, she was especially worried about Leonard, a feral cat she had been feeding for years, but the new neighbors happily agreed to take care of him.  We haven't seen Leonard much recently, so we've been hoping that he's been okay.  Today at sunset some of the new neighbors came down to the lake and said that Leonard is doing splendidly--and is being much friendlier and more affectionate than they had expected.

12/27: making

Some frustration today with a translation project, and made more stinging by the fact that I caused myself that frustration--so I turned to other things instead.

I made a Roman sweet cake with rosemary, almonds, spelt flour, and honey from our hives, using this recipe (here).  And then I worked on an art project that I had been picturing in my mind for almost a year (yikes!); it's nice to have it finished and propped up on my desk now as a reality.

12/26: leftovers

Leftover crepes for breakfast.  Leftover orange non-chicken for lunch.  Leftover curry for dinner with leftover stewed apples for dessert.  All good the first time and still good the second time.

12/25: long walk

We went to Woolly Hollow this afternoon and did the 4-mile walk over the creeks and around the lake.

A milkweed pod in the midst of letting go: 

Water and light slipping over rocks:

12/24: good smells & sights

Smells:  coffee beans dropped off at our house by one of our neighbors, spiced apples cooked as part of this evening's crepe dinner, and curry sauce made in advance for tomorrow's meal.

Sights:  bluebirds and cedar waxwings at the birds' water dish.

12/23: private sun celebration

Attending Paul Winter's concert with my family this weekend made me part of a very large solstice celebration--hundreds of people were assembled.  Tonight I was back at my lake and enjoyed the post-solstice sun alone.

12/22: laski's village

I was so lucky with choosing books to bring on our trip!  Not only was Tove Jansson's True Deceiver fantastic company on the way to New Jersey, but Marghanita Laski's Village was a wonderful read on the way back.  I had read Laski's Victorian Chaise-Longue a few years ago, and I was glad to get to know more of her work.  Once again I'm thankful to Persephone Books!

12/21: new-to-me artist

My brother-in-law suggested that we could all go to the Zimmerli Art Museum, and we spent a quiet afternoon there.  I was especially glad to see the special exhibit focused on the works of Oleg Vassiliev.

12/20: solstice concert

My mother bought everyone tickets to Paul Winter's solstice concert at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.

The cathedral:

The peace fountain on the cathedral grounds:

And around the peace fountain are small bronzes cast from sculptures made by children.  I love this one, which reinterprets Pan's pipes, making it a pipe to smoke (à la "peace pipe"?) instead of a musical instrument:

12/19: with family

Chris and I spent the day with my mother, brother, sister, and my sister's spouse.  The Rutgers agricultural school is a short walk from my sister's house.  There weren't many animals out on a bitter-wind morning, but here's a photo of one of the barns:

And some holiday lights on my sister's porch:

12/18: the true deceiver

I read Tove Jansson's Moomin books when I was younger, so I was intrigued upon learning that she also wrote novels for "grown-ups."  I took her True Deceiver with me on the plane to New Jersey and I finished the novel just before we landed.  It was great, as well as beautifully translated by Thomas teal.  I look forward to reading more of Jansson's novels and maybe even revisiting the Moomins in the upcoming year.

12/17: auto-response

This was the last day of final exam period.  I set the auto-response on my work email to let folks know that I'll be away from it until the 27th.

12/16: very nice drafts!

My evening activity has been reading and commenting on the drafts of some seniors' final papers about Ovid's Metamorphoses.  They were really great to read--it was wonderful to see their ideas spelled out in detail, to spend time with their interesting thoughts, and to gauge how far they've come in the course of the semester (as well as in the course of their college careers).

12/15: interesting articles

On my way to the Greek final exam I slipped an old (but as-yet-unread-by-me) issue of The Horn Book into my bag, and I'm glad I did.  It was full of great features, really good food for thought.

12/14: foggy morning

I woke up this morning as if it were a school day!  I couldn't go back to sleep, so I went with Chris on his morning walk in the fields below our house.  The fog stayed with us the whole time we were out.  (Quite a bit of field plus the ridge beyond it is obscured by the fog in this photo.)

And the moisture in the air distilled itself somewhat magically on the grasses.

12/13: sorting

Time spent in my home office today sorting through months of accumulated things--all of it interesting but none of it ever urgent enough for me to take it in hand.  It feels good to have winnowed my way through it.

12/12: unplanned call

My sister and I missed our first-Wednesday-of-the-moth phone chat last week because we were both busy grading.  This evening I wrote her a quick email and she decided to call me as soon as she read it, which brought a smile to my night.

12/11: three walks

I haven't gone on walks much at all this semester; but over the past few days I've managed a few, and today I fit in three.  I joined Chris after lunch and before our afternoon appointments on his walk to the post office in town, and then I walked down to the dock in the late afternoon and again at sunset.

From the afternoon dock-walk:

12/10: a handful

Lunch with Chris at a sandwich place in Little Rock after my doctor's appointment.

A walk with Chris on some new "nature trails" on campus.  They're more manicured than natural, hence the quotation marks--but it was nice to walk on them before turning to an afternoon in the office.

Getting half of the Greek final exam written.

Red velvet cake in the cafeteria at dinner time.

Time to sweep the house this evening while listening to more of A Snicker of Magic.

Hanging out with the cats.

12/9: not having to worry about traffic

I spent last night in a hotel near a medical center in Little Rock because I had some screening scheduled for the morning.  Usually when I have to go in for tests I just drive down early--but the traffic is heavy and accidents (leading to long back-ups) are (unfortunately) common.  More than once, even when I've given myself double the time for the drive, I've been stuck in a jam, anxiously looking at my watch as my appointment time got uncomfortably close or even passed by.  This time I decided that since going in for testing is worrying enough there's no point in also getting worried about traffic--so I booked myself into a hotel less than 5 minutes from the medical center.  It was great to wake up this morning and have one set of worries off the table.

12/8: unexpected together-time

I needed to head out of town in the evening.  Though it's only for a night, I felt sad to be missing time with Chris and the cats.  But then Chris and I discovered that we could squeeze in lunch together on campus before I left, and when I got home to pick up my luggage I realized I had time for a quick romp with the cats before getting on the road.

12/7: caught up

As of 9:15 p.m., I have worked through all my sets of things to grade or comment on.  It's the first time since mid-October that I haven't had something waiting for me.  That's par for the course for me in the second half of a semester--as soon as one set gets done, another set appears.  But now I'll have a week before new sets arrive.

12/6: done a day early

I finished grading a round of papers that I thought I'd have to work on tomorrow, as well.  The papers themselves were interesting to read (it was exciting to see what aspects of our texts students decided to write about), and now my grading of a different set of papers tomorrow will be less pressed.

12/5: chris made dinner

I usually take the lead in making dinner because Chris does all dish-washing, but today I wasn't up to it.  I had a bad headache and was strung out from the day at school; nothing especially bad had happened, but I was worn thin and rattled nonetheless.  So Chris cooked up some tortellini and grated some cheese and it was warm and good.

12/4: back-up glasses & my eye office

While getting ready for school this morning I noticed that one pair of my glasses was broken.  It made me glad that I had fought the worry that getting two pair of glasses would be extravagant:  I was able to switch to the second pair without a losing a beat.  Thinking about how to get the first pair fixed was a little more challenging since time is tight these days.  But luckily I was able to drive across town after work today and catch the folks at my eye doctor's office before they closed--and they oh so pleasantly and quickly fixed my glasses.

12/3: looking back

When I'm teaching beginning Latin or beginning Greek I start each class session with a "thing of the day"--be it an interesting word or etymological connection, an historical person or event, or an ancient artifact.  Then, at the end of the semester, students can opt to take a bonus quiz on all the things of the day.  Today I compiled the master list of the daily things for the Greek course:  what a collection of tidbits and curiosities, and a fun way to get a snapshot of the semester and the ground we've covered.

12/2: swamplandia

One of my current students heard from one of my former students that I like Karen Russell's novel Swamplandia!, and he mentioned this to me today.  (Both of the students in question also like the novel.)  I hadn't thought about Swamplandia! in quite awhile, and it was so nice to share my enthusiasm with another fan and to remember how much I really do like it.  It's also sweet to have the opportunity to simply be a fellow fan with students, since our various readings of and appreciations for this particular novel weren't connected to our academic interactions.

12/1: postal bounty

A windfall of postcards in my in-town mail-box today from Belarus, Germany, the US, the Netherlands, Taiwan, Switzerland, France, the Czech Republic, and Finland!