The view from my desk

Undine started it.

I’m up to the eyeballs in online course prep and other Stuff To Do, so here, have some pictures of my new study. I work facing out, in an ergonomic desk chair; the wooden chair is for sitting and reading in the window (or for cats to look out from). I also have a desktop computer with large monitor on the wall to the right.

How about you? Care to post a picture of where you’re working these days?

Six on . . . sometime

The pictures are from Saturday, taken during an outdoors break, but all my computer time that day was spent on class plans / setting up the online Learning Management System (ick). It was a long day.

So was Sunday.

So was Monday.

But considering that I worked all weekend, I’m taking today off (slept till 8:30 and did a lot of errands, woo-hoo, what an exciting day off), and I’m going to post my pictures.


something is chewing on the bark of a Japanese maple. I did some online browsing to see what, if anything, to do about it. The state ag board urges leaving the tree alone, to try to recover, but putting a wire fence around it to keep rabbits away from it. I have plenty of clover and other greens around; why can’t they eat that?


a dead bush in what it pleases me to call the Evergreen Garden. It’s actually to the right of the similar, live bush, to the right of the second photo. I’ll need to take it out. Since I recently planted two juniper bushes (at last: I bought them a month ago) in that area, for a moment I regretted their placement; one could have replaced the dead one. But as the dead one is at the end of the bed that’s closest to the road, I think I’ll preserve that space for annuals. There always comes a moment in the spring (“spring,” that is to say, snow-melt) when I’m impatient for color, the stores have cheap bright annuals, and the perennials in my garden are taking their own sweet time, so I might as well have a designated space for the quick fix.

3, more happily, Truffula the globe amaranth is doing well:

and, 4, she fits right into the color scheme of the front beds, where the big sedum is finally showing its colors:

5, I don’t know what this is, but it just came into bud in the shade garden.

6, another squirrel sacked out on the deck:

I’ve been feeling a bit like that lately. Too hot, too much work, let me just lie here and stare at something green.

Six on Saturday is hosted by the Propagator. Last Saturday, he was afflicted by / enjoying plants that flung themselves into his shopping cart. I’m not going to turn up there three days late, but credit to Jon for inspiring me!

Six on Saturday, gladiolus edition

I think the former owners must have divided a gladiolus clump fairly recently, because I keep finding more of them around the garden, but in very small groups, just a few stems each. So numbers 1-4 this week are all glads:

For number five, we’ll go out to the drainage ditch and observe the baby’s thumb growing among the dayflowers:

And back to the shade garden in the front, before planting columbine recently, I yanked out a sapling that had got its feet under the table (so to speak) and uncovered a batch of small bulbs. I covered them up again, and now they have leafed out. Fall crocus? The columbine is either Alpina or Nora Barlow. I’ll have to make a note of which is where, next year.

Six on Saturday is hosted by The Propagator, who has just one glad this week among a lot of colo(u)rful flowers.

A not-so-excellent woman

I’m tired of having so many books in storage. And why did I think I could bear to stash Excellent Women away? Well, when I packed it I thought it would only be for six months or so. As the moment for retrieving boxes comes closer (bookshelves are now up in my study, and the living room is next), I am thinking of things I’d like to re-read, and Mildred’s story is one of them.

But last night I found myself thinking less of Mildred Lathbury than of Allegra Gray, the scheming widow who snares Julian Mallory, Mildred’s (Anglican) parish priest, then loses him when she is too obvious about trying to oust his sister from the household. Mrs Gray is a clergyman’s widow, and so Mildred and the Mallorys expect her to be a respectable, suitable person to rent their upper floor; but she is a little too glamorous (with matte apricot skin clearly helped along by cosmetics) and a little too lazy (urging other people to hem her curtains) and definitely too manipulative (getting the vicar to give up his hearth rug to her). In fact, the parish comes to see her as a sort of Scarlet Woman from whom Father Mallory has a narrow escape, and think that Mildred, the wise virgin, ought to get a chance—but Mildred prefers the austere anthropologist, Everard Bone, who seems a little bit splendid.

Why, though, does Allegra Gray set her sights on a vicar if she is such a racy character? Why not branch out into the wider, wickeder world? And how did she find herself married to her first husband? Does she have some sort of perverse inclination to seduce the clergy? Did she grow up in a clerical household and marry one of her father’s curates, then try to stick with what she knew? Is the problem that there aren’t so many men left, after the second World War, and the clergy at least have all their limbs? As Mildred herself points out, it’s not unusual for married people to want to be on their own; if the vicar and his sister don’t find somewhere that is Else for Winifred Mallory to go, Allegra might well start trying to find her own solution to the problem of the superfluous woman. Ought Allegra to resign herself to widowhood, having at least had one man, while Winifred, Mildred, and assorted other women of the parish haven’t ever married at all? She seems like such a mild sort of villainess that I want to take another look at her, and see if there are any further hints to her back-story.

Maybe there needs to be Pym fan-fiction about Allegra Gray.

Six on Saturday

I’m back at this, after a couple of weeks off. Two weeks ago, I had a migraine and couldn’t face either the bright sunlight outdoors or screens indoors, and last week Saturday just got away from me. There wasn’t much new or interesting in the garden, anyway. But a few weeks can improve matters.

If I could get a decent shot of all the squirrels that visit our deck, I could do a whole “Six Squirrels on Saturday” post. I think there are seven that come around regularly: Short-Tail, Three-quarter Tail, Black Nose, Big Ears, Mr and Mrs Fat Red (not truly red squirrels, but redder than the others), and Scrunchy, so-called because s/he has a ring around his tail as if caught up in a pony-tail holder. I think these two are the Fat Red couple.

Two, we have two gladioli. The first to bloom was lemon yellow, the second, scarlet.

The interior of the red flowers is white at the center, but I could not manage to get a good picture of that. Jon’s glad (at The Propagator) looks very similar.

Three, a pot left over after someone’s garage sale, so I picked it off the curb.

Four, another look at the pink coneflowers by the Wright-inspired light in front.

Now we’ll go round to the vegetable garden. Five, two shots of the squash plant, one with the catnip that it’s trying to crowd out, and one showing the baby crookneck squash.

And six, the first cherry tomatoes, first on the vine, then the ripest one posing on a collard leaf before it went into my mouth.

Six on Saturday is hosted by the Propagator. I look forward to seeing other people’s Sixes. I’m learning a lot by reading gardening blogs, especially those from other Midwesterners. I drool over English gardens, but have to deal with the climate I have; also, flowers like purple loosestrife are invasive in North America, and in general I’m in favor of having plenty of native plants, so blogs like those of Carolee and Chris help me figure out what I can do here. I hope to figure out a sort of English Prairie Cottage bed, eventually.

Tour de Pologne

I expect any of my readers who are also cycling fans have their own sources, but just in case you’re jonesing for some cycling, here’s the Tour of Poland’s live-text site:

It reads the texts aloud, so you can work on something else and get audio updates, which I find very cool. There are also some photographs. Today’s stage seems to have been mercifully uneventful, a good thing after yesterday’s spectacular and tragic crash near the finish. Fingers crossed for Fabio Jakobsen’s full recovery.


Another look back

Jon Jarrett just posted his report on K’zoo 2017, as part of an on-going effort to catch up on posts about research-related events in his life, and so I thought to look back at my experiences at the same conference. Any research-oriented notes on papers are in the conference program (yes, the paper version, you’re surely not surprised that I’m old-school), which is of course packed away somewhere, so the following extracts are from my personal journal, in which I was thinking about scheduling and how I was feeling, physically (generally, tired: I don’t sleep well in strange places).

I got to K’zoo about 7:00, collected my registration packet without seeing anyone I knew, and checked into the hotel. This morning I e-mailed presenters in the sessions I’m chairing to ask if they have any recent accomplishments they’d like me to mention. I’ve picked out sessions for today; there’s a —– Society Board meeting; I’ll have some time in which to come back to the hotel, eat, shower, change into fancier clothing for the Wheeler reception.

Thursday night’s reception was, as usual, loud. Val Garver received the Wheeler Award, and Lorraine Stock was giving money to the fund in honor of Alice Colby-Hall, who was there to be honored.

[Another morning] I chaired a session that went very well, though AV problems meant we started a few minutes late. The afternoon session also went well; my grad student got no questions on her paper, but I told her I’m the same way: we put together tightly constructed, well-argued and thoroughly documented papers, and no one can see what they might add, so they focus on the papers with more loose ends. At least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I also had the —–Society general meeting and reception, followed closely by a Frenches of Fordham reception, and later in the evening, the Early Book Society meeting.

I think I would enjoy receptions more if I could drink like other academics. It’s odd being stone-cold sober when everyone else is getting tipsy and loud. It’s not that I feel I need to drink to have a good time; rather, alcohol takes the edge off discomfort at being in loud, crowded spaces, and makes it easier to deal with other people at the end of a long day. But it makes me feel too ill.

Last night I slept for 3–4 hours, tossed around for awhile, finally got up at 5:30 and ate something, then went back to bed for another couple of hours. I skipped today’s morning session; there were several things I could have gone to, nothing that I felt was a can’t-miss, I was awake for 2–3 hours in the middle of the night, and I wanted to visit the book exhibit. But a book I was considering got away. Oh well. I guess I didn’t want it enough.

As Jon said, “I was there and I learnt things,” though I think he had more fun than I did. I did have some meals with friends, and it was nice to catch up with people, but 2017 wasn’t one of my really energizing Zoo trips.