Over at TLQ, some participants have expressed interest in my goal-setting, list-making, calendar-tracking habits, and rather than hog the comments there, I’ll write it out here.

Everything I said here is still true: I’m temporally challenged, rebellious, dislike alarms, need paper, in fact need multiple paper calendars because the more I write down an event, commitment, or task, the more I believe it will actually come to pass and that I’ll have to do something about it. Otherwise, it’s more like, “Oh, that was a real thing? Not fiction? Are you sure? I only wrote it in one place, so it can’t be that important.”

If I were up for a two-page-per-day calendar plus goals set-up, this is what I’d prefer.

Sir John has set up a shared electronic calendar for us to track events like his meetings, my meetings, dryer-delivery, vet appointments, and so on. I remember to check it . . . about every three days. I gather his side of it is a whole lot more detailed, but I don’t have to go there. He’s one of those people who likes to schedule everything, with little alarm bells, and will actually shift from one activity to another when the bell rings.

I’m the sort who resists (mightily) getting started on anything, and then once I’m into it, don’t want to shift my attention to something else when the alarm goes.*

For the last few years, my usual format in my Moleskine is to have a weekly “goals” page, followed by daily or half-daily pages. The goals page notes at the top which week of the semester or break it is, out of how many. In recent months, I’ve added a “habits” page facing the goals, where I check off things that I want to do, if not daily, multiple times per week: stretch, go for a walk, change the cat water, hydrate the houseplants, take out the compost. Goals are generally divided into the categories Health, Teaching, Research, Admin/Service, and Life Stuff. Goals may be either discrete (Write Thing) or process-oriented (spend 30 minutes/day on Project). This summer, I’ve been unusually resistant (even for me) to using the calendar at all. Normally I’m happy to play around with the notebook and set up weekly and daily goals, even if I wind up doing other things I didn’t plan to do. But there are a LOT of things I need to be working on, and another LOT that I want to do because they are fun, and a discouraging LOT of house/life-related things that feel too much like work. It’s all a bit overwhelming, and I wind up wasting time instead of either doing something productive or deliberately doing something fun.

So I made a list of All The Things. It revealed to me** that most of the worky things I need to work on (plan classes, write book) are big, on-going projects that I should be doing little bits of every day, while the fun and house/life things are more likely to be one-offs (or at least composed of no more than five steps). Little-bit-every-day things can go on the habits page! In fact, the habits page can also get a line for Thing That Will Stay Done.

For the time being, therefore, I’m mainly using the habits page, and trying to check things off some reasonable amount per week, rather than writing out goals that haven’t been changing much for the past month or two. Oh, hey, maybe I’ve been resistant because I’m bored! I can believe that. It would definitely be nice to have some new goals. No doubt they will come when classes start. I expect then I’ll go back to needing a page per day to keep track of commitments and make notes about things that happened.

*I am frequently astonished that I have achieved as much as I have in my life, with this attitude, not just to switching tasks but in general. Proof that there are many roads to productivity! And also that reading fast and retaining the knowledge temporarily is one of my superpowers.***

**This is obvious to anyone who is good at time management. I’m slow, okay? Or no, the PC term I used above is “temporally challenged.” Let’s stick with that.

***I don’t retain anything I read fast, especially if it’s a work-related Policies and Procedures document. That sort of thing gets purged from working memory within hours. OTOH, I retain the most astonishing bits of trivia, including verbatim quotations from books I read when I was 15. My mind is a dim, dusty, outrageously cluttered attic with generations’ worth of trunks and boxes and piles of junk. In my teens and in college, I was much like xykademiqz, preferring boom/bust work cycles. When I was dissertating, I planned to a fare-thee-well and more-or-less stuck to that schedule. For awhile, anyway. Also like xyk, I always used to plan classes the morning-of, though while driving rather than in the shower. Not commuting last year, plus being online, meant a lot of really different planning for teaching. I think I like systems but I like the systems to change. OK, now I want to go read more at these links, and their links, etc. Maybe reading about other people’s systems will inspire me.

5-minute stock-take

Combining the stocktake format observed here and the 5-minute format followed by Undine (following Gwinne and xykademiq), here’s what I’ve been up to:

Cooking: clafoutis, with strawberries rather than cherries.

Eating: duh, see above.

Reading: for work, Illegitimacy in Medieval Scotland; for fun, Yestermorrow, which mysteriously appeared on my bookshelves though I have no idea where it came from and never heard of it before (I suspect that I acquired it on some trip, possibly at the Other Change of Hobbit when they still had a physical store, then promptly packed it up because we were trying to sell the house, and forgot about it because we didn’t sell the house for three years. . .); for self-improvement, The End of Procrastination, which I got to via somebody’s blog but not the one I thought so who knows and I won’t link, and also The Writing Workshop which I found via The Fora (where the Chron Fora went).

Making plans to watch: The Green Knight, because a former student got in touch and I know students this fall will ask me what I thought, and I can’t have thoughts if I haven’t seen it (except that I watched the trailer and was quite taken by the talking fox).

Buying (recently or soon): green and white tea, pearl-grey fabric dye, services in the form of haircut and pedicure.

Meeting: with my RL writing group (Zoom), grad students (office!!! live!!!).

And that’s already 15 minutes, partly because of finding links and going to look at the title of the fun book that I finished Saturday and stashed back on the shelves with its two sequels, undoubtedly from the same trip.


We’re following the Tour de France on NBCSports, which for some reporting uses background music that sounds like it’s quoting from “House of the Rising Sun.” The melody then turns a corner and goes somewhere else, but it’s still enough to stick the tune in my head. With different lyrics, however . . .

There is a tour round old Orleans
Bob* calls the Tour Day France,
and it’s been the ruin of many a poor boy
who doped himself like Lance.
. . . . . . . .
O mothers, tell your children
not to take drugs that enhance
their times on sprints and mountain climbs
within the Tour de France.

*If you’re not in the US, you may not be familiar with Bob Roll, who insists on pronouncing the name of the tour in a very flat American accent.

Six on Saturday

Look, I’ve managed to get it together to remember that it’s Saturday, take pictures, and post, all on the same day. I expect I’m not the only gardener whose summer Saturdays fill up, one way or another. At any rate, here we go.

Deck tomatoes, one Roma, one cherry, have totally forgotten varieties:

The vegetable patch, much larger than when last photographed. I think you can see, in the upper right corner, one of the Cabbage Whites whose caterpillars are chewing through the collards:

The new flowerbed, installed a week ago. The scabiosa and Russian sage are doing well. The lavender is trying to die (WTF, I thought it liked hot weather), and I’m not sure the other plants that I transplanted from elsewhere in the yard are going to make it, but I have plenty more with which to try again in the fall or next spring:

Moving on to flowers for #4, coreopsis is doing great:

I’d forgotten that we had these beautifully colored coneflowers; most of them are pink or yellow:

And it’s day lily season:

Six on Saturday is hosted by the Propagator.

Vocabulary lessons

I learn the most interesting words from watching the Tour de France. For example:

*Pandemonious. “This is a pandemonious stage!” (Bob Roll)
*Incredulation. “Look at the incredulation on his face!” (Phil Liggett)
*Dareness. “Does he have the, the dareness to go for it?” (Phil)
*Misery loves comfort. (Christian Vande Velde)—as Sir John said, “That’s not the expression, but it’s certainly true.”

There will undoubtedly be more of these over the next ten days or so. Perhaps I will remember to share.

Who knows where the time goes?

July. Huh. Let’s say I’ve been busy actually doing things rather than blogging. Or enjoying the summer; that works, too.

What have I been doing, though? I painted the bathroom, though not all the books are back into my study yet. I created a flowerbed in the spot in the front yard where the grass doesn’t grow well, anyway, mainly by dividing clumps of plants from elsewhere in the garden, and am crossing fingers that the transplants survive. The new veg got planted out.

I finished revising the R&R that had become an albatross around my neck (part of the MMP, a part I thought I’d got squared away awhile ago, and then it came un-squared*), and sent it back to the journal. I returned to my book-in-progress and have written about 1600 words.

*I guess I never reported on developments related to this piece. The original journal rejected it, in the end, last year, about 10 days before our move. I muttered, “I don’t have time for this,” and within ten minutes had sent the revised essay to another journal that used the same citation style, before I went back to packing. Journal #2 accepted with revisions. As usual, revising led me to expand the essay by 25-30%, so we’ll see what happens now. I may yet be re-re-re-revising here. I am so tired of the MMP, which began as an offshoot of a book-in-progress that has been sidelined for longer than I want to think about. That is, not the current BIP. Another one.

We went to the wedding alluded to in my last, and everyone, including me, behaved properly and engaged in polite chit-chat as required. My dress was so appropriate that three of the bride’s four aunts were wearing some version of the same outfit. If Beau Brummel’s dictum about dress is correct, that is, that one is properly dressed when completely unremarkable, I was perfect. Fans were handed out as party favors, although the weather was more pleasant than expected. The fan was useful to hide behind when I needed to make sotto voce comments to Sir John.

I donated a large box of stuff to Goodwill and did some second-hand shopping while I was at it, netting two cotton cardigans and a linen sundress I intend to wear as a slip.

I found that M. C. Beaton wrote a series of Regency romances in which an elderly impoverished aristocrat starts running a hotel; high jinks ensue. Exceedingly fluffy and delightful as summer reading. For work, I read excruciatingly long medieval romances in their original languages, literary criticism dealing with same, copious amounts of historiography, and as little theory as I think I can get away with. I’ll leave the serious novels to people who don’t need a palate-cleanser at the end of the day.

Finding 4-5 hours a day to watch coverage of the Tour de France is actually kind of useful in terms of giving me some structure and forcing me to prioritize. Certainly one of the benefits of the pandemic and associated lack of travel is being home to immerse myself in the Tour, which, honestly, I watch partly for the pretty pictures of France. And what a weird Tour it’s being, this year. Yesterday there was a stretch where Sonny Colbrelli, a sprinter, was keeping up with Nairo Quintana, a climber, and Sir John and I were just looking at each other wondering WTF**. Eventually Colbrelli got dropped, but that was a very strange stage.

We’ll see if I check in again before August. Have a good July, anyone who reads this!

**Updated to add: and on today’s brutal and miserably cold stage (9, in the Alps), Colbrelli finished third, ahead of Quintana by over a minute. WT actual F?