Wearing my grumpy boots

Lately I never seem to take them off.

Unfortunately, in the week since I got back from a trip, I haven’t been able to re-set to this time zone. I’ve gone in the wrong direction and seem to be living (well, sleeping, anyway) in Hawaii. This disrupts all my routines, and probably has a lot to do with the grumpy miasma around here.

Fortunately classes are over and I don’t have to be anywhere at any particular time, these days.

People who don’t accelerate quickly when they get on a highway on-ramp infuriate me. Yesterday I was behind a mini-van moseying along at 30 . . . 35 . . . 40 . . . while I was hollering “There are TWO TRUCKS BEARING DOWN ON US AT 65 MPH!!!! DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHERE TO FIND YOUR ACCELERATOR???

Fortunately the trucks were able to shift left so this all ended happily. The mini-van ended up going much faster than I did. All I want is to get to the speed limit and stay there.

Filling out LRU’s travel-reimbursement forms is a task I dread with approximately the force of tax-filing misery. All the efforts to get the right info in the right spot, to find the correct receipts, to check on exchange rates if I was out of the country, the worry that I’ll do something wrong and the form will come back to me with incomprehensible requests to fix errors that I wouldn’t have made in the first place if I knew what the hell the request meant . . . It’s almost enough to make me decide just to pay for conference travel myself.

Fortunately, Sir John understands this feeling (after years of similar filing for corporate travel). I would be even grumpier if I lived with someone who cared about such minutiae (unless said person were willing to do the forms for me).

Six on Saturday

Two weeks in a row! Maybe I’ll get properly back into the swing of blogging. Some of these pictures follow up on those from last week, and others are new. I thought I had a picture of the lilac when it was barely showing leaf buds, but I’m not finding it. I expect it to be fully in bloom tomorrow. Here’s where it was this morning (1):

The lawn (2) looks like squirrels have been digging in it. Really, really big squirrels. That’s because I’ve been digging out dandelions, not that my efforts seem to make a dent:

For #3, I’ll follow up on last week’s tulip + daffodil pictures, since I don’t think these will be around much longer:

Peonies are #4, this week as last; they’re now growing through their supports:

#5 is a view of the front-lawn flowerbed. The geranium is much bigger this week. I’ve also planted lavender, donated by my MIL. She ordered the plants for her balcony, which faces north, and I convinced her they would not be happy there. This afternoon I planted up some lobelia and sweet potato vines for her, which I think will do better in the space she has. I didn’t take a picture today, but maybe I’ll do that on some future Saturday.

And finally, some hostas (6). They grow like weeds. I keep resolving to thin them, vigorously and with prejudice. My one effort in that direction, this year, resulted in five small clumps of them being dug up and moved to a bare spot on the west side of the house. They’re already looking very much at home here, and it’s impossible to tell where they were before, since their brethren are rapidly expanding into their space.

Six on Saturday is hosted by The Propagator. I cannot believe his clematis are already blooming. And roses! Sigh . . . maritime climates . . . frilly tulips at the same time as roses and clematis, it’s the Earthly Paradise!

Six on Saturday: April retrospective

Some of these are from today, some from earlier this week, and some from earlier in the month.

First, the magnolia tree:

On a very Monday-ish Monday in mid-April
And today, blurry in the rain

#2, the flower bed I created last year is coming along well:

#3, early and late(r) daffodils in the back border:

Not the same red tulip/daffodil combination as the one just above

#4, the peonies are well up:

#5, grape hyacinths under the magnolia:

Must get after that dandelion

#6, bleeding heart in the rock garden:

Six on Saturday is hosted by the Propagator. His tulips are glorious!

Something something grumble grumble

Once again, logged in to post a comment to someone else’s blog, and thought I might as well stop by my own.

I don’t like this new(ish) WordPress new-post page. I know it’s been around for awhile, and I’ve used it, even at one time used it regularly (or more regularly than I have in 2022), but it just doesn’t feel friendly or helpful. I don’t like the marginal clutter or the way it tries to lecture you: “Paragraph: start with the basic building block of all narrative.” Oh piss off. Are you also going to tell me to start with a topic sentence? I especially don’t like the little bar of options (bold, italic, link, etc) that pops up at random intervals.

Now that we mention it, the things I don’t like about WordPress have a lot in common with things I don’t like about Microsoft Word, including the sans-serif font that is the default in the composer. There is a reason that the font you see on the blog has serifs! I hate sans-serif! For me, sans-serif fonts are harder to read, though I have been subjected to Accessibility Training that indicates sans-serif is easier for certain kinds of disabilities. My response to that is fine, download the syllabus as a Word file and change the font to whatever works for you.

Things I’ve done so far today: washed two loads of laundry, prepped for and ran a meeting, fed cats and me (twice all around), answered a student who needed advice on a paper, thought about a technological problem that may make teaching next fall difficult, admired the magnolia blooming outside my window, and worried about which Terribly Urgent task (some of which are also Important) I should spend the afternoon on. The meeting went well but it has sapped my strength.

Or maybe I just wasn’t very strong today to start with. I stayed up much too late re-reading a book I was considering teaching next fall, but which I think has dated in ways I don’t really want to deal with. So now I still have the problem of what to put in its place (I already rejected a lot of other things I’ve done before, because I’m bored with them or they didn’t go well the last time), and my book orders are late already.

O hai

It’s been awhile, hasn’t it?

Nothing awful has happened in my life, though it does seem like the world is trying hard to go faster and more steeply than usual to hell in a handbasket, and in the circumstances I’ve not made blogging a priority. But today I logged in to leave a comment on Jon Jarrett’s cat pictures, which appeared in my honor, so while I’m here, hello and happy Western Easter if you celebrate it.

Garden update: It looks like spring here, with daffodils in bloom and the magnolia just breaking into flower, but it’s pretty cold still. For now. We might hit 80 at the end of the week, which would probably be the end of the bulb flowers.

Cat update: Basement Cat and Reina have mostly settled down again, except for a bad week after she got out and hid under the deck for 36 hours and didn’t smell right when we got her back inside. We still miss Glendower, especially every time we open a door and there’s no need to keep him from getting out, or to admire his perseverance in fitting himself into the linen closet.

Work update: the end of the semester is in sight. Or else it’s an oncoming train. I traveled to give a conference paper. Discussions at the conference prompted the sabbatical proposal I’m about to turn in. Must.finish.book. (how many years have I been saying that?)

Family update: everyone still present and accounted for.

We’ll see if I can make a blogging comeback, even if it’s all pictures of the garden and cats.

Hail the new with Six on Saturday: snow

This is basically live-blogging the arrival of winter, with time-elapse photos taken from inside my front door, focusing on that lump of sedums and its environs, starting in the morning and going till around the time it got dark (apologies for the blue tint of the last one, it’s due to the light going). It’s not the first time we’ve had snow this year, indeed not the first time this week, but the last lot melted the day after it came, whereas I think we’ll have this around for a bit longer.

Around 10:30 a.m.
11:30
1:30 p.m.
2:30 p.m.
3:30 p.m.
4:15 p.m.

Six on Saturday is hosted by the Propagator: Happy New Year to him and all participants!

Still more Bowen

“I wrote by hand, as clearly as seemed possible–as when at school, two or three years before, I had been making a presentable copy of an essay. A bottle of blue-black ink stood on a saucer; I used a ribbed brown pen-holder with a ‘Relief’ nib. The writing block, which had cost ninepence, had lined pages: this I found an aid to clearness of thought. The importance to the writer of first writing must be out of all proportion to the actual value of what is written. It was more difficult then than it would be now to disentangle what was there, there on the page, from the excitement which had given it birth. There could be but one test of validity: publication. I know I shaped every line in the direction of the unknown arbiter. When I say that had I not written with the idea of being published I should not have written, I should add that I did not so much envisage glory as desire to know that I had made sense. I wanted proof that I was not prey to delusions–moreover, publication was the necessary gateway to being read. I know that I wrote then with no less, though also with no more, difficulty than I do today: as an occupation writing enthralled me, which made it suspect, but also killed me, which made it in some way ‘right.’ The thing was a struggle. I saw no point in killing myself for the sake of anything that was not to become an outright reality. For me reality meant the books I had read–and I turned round, as I was writing, from time to time, to stare at them, unassailable on the shelves behind me. . . . I had engaged myself to add to their number.”

“Encounters,” in The Mulberry Tree: Writings of Elizabeth Bowen, ed. Hermione Lee (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1986), 119.

Six on Saturday: November

We’ve had frost, and snow showers, though snow hasn’t stuck yet, and many of the trees still have leaves. Some examples below; #1 is the magnolia outside my study window, though this picture was taken outside, from a perspective that shows one bare tree as well as some bright color:

#2, the silver maple is now gold:

#3, the barberry is red (is this starting to sound like a children’s book?):

The Japanese maple is even brighter:

But Annabelle, next to it, has gone brown (#5):

#6, I have one flower still hanging on to some colorful petals, the scabiosa in the front bed:

Six on Saturday is hosted by the Propagator. Many participants still have flowers! Go there to enjoy.

More Bowen, on the writer’s subject

“The essential is that he be not imposed upon. He must know his own—that is, when it comes to subject. Truth is in his eye, in that roving eye: there are, and should never cease to be, unmistakable moments of recognition. Yet such moments may be daunting and unacceptable—’Must this be my subject?’ the writer sighs. He is not so young, perhaps; he foresees with dismay endless demands and challenges . . . .”

“The Roving Eye,” originally published as “The Search for a Story to Tell,” in the New York Times Book Review, 1952. I found it in The Mulberry Tree: Writings of Elizabeth Bowen, ed. Hermione Lee (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1986), 64.

Pronouns are those used by Bowen. In light of the weight pronouns have acquired in recent years, I find myself wondering to what degree earlier women writers felt empowered, rather than dismissed, by the “universal” masculine pronoun. I am certain that in writing of the writer’s subject, Bowen was drawing on her own experience. Did she think of her writer-self as a masculine alter-ego? Did she feel a mischievous pleasure in cloaking her woman-writer’s experience in masculine pronouns and making the readers of the NYT Book Review imagine a man who was actually herself? Or was this just what she did, a practice no more to be questioned than the use of articles?—not that a writer might not also question whether to use a direct or indirect article, or none at all, but that’s a very subtle stylistic point, I think.