8/31: kind words and kind people

I don't write much about people as "good things," but recently some people have been especially kind to me and have written me really nice notes--in email, on postcards, on Facebook, in phone texts.  One old friend even called me "fabulous," which made me smile a big, big smile.

8/30: post-it notes

Picturebooks are part of my academic life this semester--yay!  I've already written here a few times about the myth and picturebooks seminar, and in an independent study (on the representation of poverty in children's literature) a student and I will be looking at picturebooks for a few weeks before we move onto other kinds of texts.  Working with picturebooks makes me grateful for post-it notes:  though I don't have a problem writing notes in other kinds of books, I really don't want to write in/on picturebooks, so as I read/look/analyze I add a post-it to each page where I record my thoughts and reactions.  It was a pleasure this morning to sit on the porch with my picturebook and post-its (and coffee).

8/29: closet cleaned & photos found

The closet in my home office needed some attention (i.e., sorting and winnowing).  Today it got it.  In the middle of sifting through boxes I paused to look at old (analog) photos I came across, including some of Wilkie when he was a kitten and of Chris and myself when we lived in Los Angeles, and (from a time even earlier than that) pictures from my junior year abroad in Greece and Italy.

8/28: work and play

A good work thing:  Chris and I are co-teaching a course for the second time this year, and we changed the syllabus a little this time around in order to include Hawthorne's "New Adam and Eve."  We taught it today, and the proof was in the pudding:  it was a good tinkering to make.

A good non-work thing:  The air and water and light were kind--oh so soft and kind--tonight.  I had meant to go out to a state park for a walk in the evening, but I left work too late for that and so decided to kayak instead.  I'm glad I was able to be on and with the water.

8/27: lunar calligraphy

As I was coming into the cove in my kayak this evening (how rare to be able to kayak during the school year on a weekday!), the moon was rising over the tree-tops.

8/26: making arrangements

...for independent studies.  I'm looking forward to the content of the independent studies (one on Greek, one on representations of poverty in children's literature) as well as to the chance to work with each of the students involved.  They are nice people and good students.

8/25: past work pays off

Writing syllabuses and assignments today was so much easier because I could use work I'd done in the past as a springboard.  Nice not to have to start from scratch, and nice that past-me could be helpful to present-me.

8/24: coalescing

The syllabus for my Myth & Picturebooks course is coming together.  There are many threads to weave together.  The weaving is slow, and some of the weaving/planning will be ongoing through the semester, but I feel like I've reached the point where I need to be in order for the class to begin.  Which is good, because the class begins tomorrow.

8/23: progress

Chris and I are working on assembling the annual print volume of Heron Tree, and today we took several good steps forward.

8/22: better introduction

I want to give my Myth & Picturebooks seminar an initial reading that provides a survey of the kinds of things that picturebook scholars think about and look at.  I had found something over the summer that was good but a bit jargon-y; it would have been fine, but I found one today that will be better.

8/21: photo finally

All summer Mississippi kites have been perching on the very top of the dead half of our grand willow oak.  They are very good at noticing when a camera is pointed toward them, even from indoors.  But today a young one let me take a few pictures in the morning.

8/20: tidy

I spent much of the day cleaning my office at school; it now feels ready to work in.

8/19: morning sights

Geese flying low overhead, one tree gone all autumn-yellow already, three bunnies, and two bluebirds.

8/18: good bookends

It was a tough day emotionally at work.  But early in the morning, before work, I got a great text from my brother, and in the evening a friend (who didn't know I was having a difficulty day) wrote me a very welcome email.  In the evening I also re-read an email I received the day before from a former student, and one of the sentences in it in particular is like a perfect back-to-school gift.

8/17: catching the light

I was back on campus today, and I got home later than I expected.  But I ate some food quickly and then went to the lake.  In the hour that I was out in my kayak the light on the water did many different and amazing things.  Here's one of them:

After a day inside it felt good to be in the light.

8/16: on the lake and up the mountain

Chris led me to some lovely things outside yesterday, so this morning I led him in our kayaks to the cove where more lotuses than ever are blooming.

This evening we went to watch the sunset from Petit Jean Mountain, a trip which is becoming a kind of back-to-school ritual each year.

8/15: down the hill

Chris came in after a walk this morning and said that just down the hill there were spider lilies and fiery skippers on thistles.  He led me to see them.  I couldn't get a satisfying picture of the lilies, but here's a skipper:

8/14: in actuality

My good thing for 8/13 was the idea of a boat as a heterotopia, but my body was too creaky for me to enjoy my boat in actuality.  Today I was able to take a spin in my kayak at sunset.  And it's good that I was feeling better:  the weather site said that winds would be about 3 or 4 mph (basically meaning gentle movement on/of the water), but in truth they were more like 8 mph (which means concerted paddling).  I like the determined paddling sometimes because it feels like I am powering my little boat, and I was grateful that my body was able to do that.

8/13: an idea

Not my idea, but Foucault's:  that the boat is a quintessential heterotopia.  I read his essay "Of Other Spaces" this morning and it concludes with this notion, which makes me love my kayak all the more.

8/12: mixed drink

While getting dinner ready I sipped a gin and tonic, made with the gin from the Wishkah River Distillery which we bought on our trip to Washington.  It's seasoned a little differently than other gins, and I really like it.  I even forewent the lime in my g&t lest it overpower the taste.

8/11: seeing a student

While on my way to a meeting this morning I crossed paths with a student who was in the freshman seminar that Chris and I co-taught last fall.  It was really nice to see her.  And--on top of that goodness--she said that our class was her favorite one from last year.  That seems an auspicious way to start a new semester.

8/10: rewards

After the first afternoon of back-to-school meetings on campus, it felt like I was getting prizes when I went to our in-town mail-box and found postcards and notecards waiting for me.  I then spent a good part of the evening writing postcards, so I hope that some of the recipients will feel the same way when they find something from me in their mail.

8/9: two luxuries

I don't wear fancy clothes and I don't style my hair, but I like to iron my clothes each morning and blow-dry my hair.  While we were traveling over the past week, one place we stayed didn't have an iron and another didn't have a hair-blower; I hadn't packed either since most places tend to supply them these days.  It was nice to return to my getting-ready rituals today.

8/8: back and unpacked

Our travel day back home was less grinding than our travel day out, and I'm grateful.  So that I wouldn't have to wake up to luggage to unpack I did all my unpacking right away.  This may be a first?

8/7: punctuating the drive

We had to drive to Seattle today to be ready for an early flight tomorrow.  We stopped halfway at Millersylvania State Park to eat lunch and walk among some old, tall trees.

8/6: on the beach

We went to Westhaven State Park to walk and watch the sunset.  There were hundreds of sand dollars on the shore.

8/5: not a disappointment

We spent most of the day at Cape Disappointment State Park, and it was not a disappointment.  Views of the ocean from cliffs, time spent on the beach, walks through fern-thick forests and wetlands, and the Lewis and Clark interpretive center.

This is the lighthouse at North Head:

8/4: outside & advice

The view from just outside the back door of the place we're staying tonight, in Willapa Bay, Washington:

We went to a small local grocery store in the early evening, and as we were walking through the bakery section another customer recommended the brownies with cream cheese icing.  We promptly bought some.

8/3: writing

...14 pages of thoughts about Emily Dickinson's work and the books I've read about it this summer.  There's more I want to write at some point, but I had to stop because my thumb had gotten sore from holding the pen.

8/2: a text message

...from my brother, to let me know that he read the book I sent him for his birthday a few days ago.  I was touched that he read it so quickly and that his text message was so sweet.

8/1: air, conditioned and un-

I am grateful for air conditioning.  It's hard to imagine living in Arkansas without it.  But every summer at some point the air conditioning messes up my sinuses, and today I reached that point.  After years of this mid-summer syndrome, I know what medicines to take.  And by this evening, though I wasn't feeling completely well, I was well enough to go out on the lake to watch the sunset.  Now I'm sitting on the porch with the cats.  Time in the unconditioned air is helping.  (And it's wild to be surrounded right now by the sounds of thousands of frogs and crickets in the dark--the cats' ears are at attention.)