The Hull fam damily

Just another evening with both of us at our computers, Sir John cursing loudly, regularly, and elaborately, me reading blog posts and wondering why it seems I have nothing to blog about when I’m not teaching. I didn’t think I wrote that much about teaching, but maybe it’s that interacting with other people stimulates thought in a way that holing up with books and computers does not.

I used to dream of sharing a home office with my partner, back when I still expected to attach myself to another academic. I imagined a large attic space, desks at opposite ends, looking out windows into trees. A screen in the middle would allow privacy if we wanted; or we could read to each other from funny student papers or interesting scholarly sources.

But it’s a good thing our offices are at opposite ends of the house. Whatever’s happening with Sir John’s work tonight does not sound good, and though I’m used to this sort of thing, I can’t say I enjoy it. I think the only time my work drove me to curse loudly enough that Sir John heard me was the year when, around the 5th of January, I realized that the spring semester started a week earlier than I had thought.

Reminders . . . .

Or, when will the NCS conference really end?

The toenail I bruised while running on the beach at Swansea is now about ready to fall off.

I thought if it were going to fall off, it would have done so much sooner than this.

More substantive posts soon.


Unlike many of the academic bloggers I read, rain does not make me want to settle down and do a lot of work. Rain makes me want to doze off again, lulled by the drops on the roof; get up late; bake cookies and eat them; read a novel, preferably one set in England or Scotland, to go with the ambience; take a nap; have a cup of tea and read a bit more; bake something else for dinner; go to bed early. If it goes on for days, then I lose the cozy feeling and just get depressed.

Sunlight, however, makes me bounce out of bed and head to my desk.

This is a learned reaction. Where I grew up, I had allergies pretty much year round, but they were worst in late spring and early summer. By my mid-teens, I had learned that on a sunny, bright, breezy day—when my peers wanted to ditch class in favor of swimming, cycling, picnicking or just making out on the lawn—the best place for me was a climate-controlled building whose windows did not open. That is, the library. Windows were good—I did like to see the sunlight, flowers, grass and trees. But I had to enjoy them from inside.

Later on, better allergy meds were invented. But I still have the sun > library reaction. I don’t know why I turn to such a slug in the rain, unless it’s just that rain is the best white noise ever.

Down and dirty

My Labor Day weekend so far:
Saturday, unplugged the kitchen sink.

Then I turned to the garden. Most of you probably realize that academics whose research requires archival visiting should not have gardens, and vice versa. But my version of having it all does in fact involve both.

And, of course, I am academically curious about any unexpected thing that pops up in the garden. One year, the unfamiliar objects that looked like artichokes rising straight out of the ground turned into Asiatic lilies, thus fueling my tendency to leave things alone and find out what they will become. Another year, the stranger became a wild aster, which looks quite pretty among the day lilies; it has small white flowers and gives the same general effect as baby’s breath in a floral bouquet.

This year my luck ran out. The interloper was not identifiable when I left for England, but when I came back, it was huge. Taller than I am, if it hadn’t flopped over the garden path. Thick stems. Large leaves. Not unattractive if you have all the space in the world, but I don’t. And still it took me a month to summon the energy to deal with this monster.

I dug a hole two feet deep, well into subsoil, going after its taproot. At that point, when the root broke for the 4th or 5th time, I gave up. It was tempting to use the hole for another rose bush, but I decided better not. A) I prefer to plant roses early in the season, to give their roots a better chance before winter; and B) I may be uprooting The Thing for some time to come.

Sunday I was strangely tired. It was only a two-foot hole.

Today I need to write up my library notes from Friday. Gardens, archives . . . who says the summer is over?