Summer of real life

Some time ago, I wrote this in a draft post: “I miss real life. So much of what I do already involves staring at a screen: writing, grading, even quite a bit of reading, as more books get published electronically, and as it’s really not worth printing out every article I need to read. I’m going to have to start writing on paper and figuring out what other activities I can move off-screen, because I need more reality, not more screen time.”

I think I’m going to have to have at least one more Zoom meeting (but not more than two) in order to wrap up something for a professional organization, and then I can ditch online meetings for nearly three months. In order to do this, I’m taking the summer off from my writing group. Instead, I’ll be meeting with grad students for writing dates.

The garden is going to get a lot of attention this summer. I want to move the iris into a sunnier bed, thin out the hostas, clear the vegetable patch of weeds and plant veg and herbs, and plan a native-plant bed, possibly on a fairly grand scale. (I may not do the planting of that one this year.) I need to mulch a lot, and put weeding on my list of “habits,” things I do 3-4 times a week if not daily.

I have two road trips planned. Both will involve seeing Actual Live People as well as places that are either new to me, or which I have not seen in twenty or thirty years. We also have plans to have monthly dinners with another couple, and some other get-togethers with friends are already scheduled.

Writing on paper hasn’t been going particularly well for me, partly because so many of my notes (and spreadsheets) are already on the computer. I don’t know how people used to write as Derek Pearsall (for instance) is said to have done: longhand, page after page straight on from beginning to end of article or book. Maybe that worked because he was Derek Pearsall: I mean, once you get invited to contribute to things because you are a Name, perhaps editors don’t ask you to do a lot of revision. I still suspect that decades ago Oxbridge, or the schools that prepared people for Oxbridge, taught their students in ways that made thinking, organizing, and writing more straightforward, especially on purely literary subjects. Varying topics and approaches can make things simpler or more complex. Jon Jarrett’s recent post on the long and winding road to one publication made me feel much better about my own such quests. But I digress. Working out organization, and revising tricky paragraphs, are both things I can do on paper, even if I continue to do a lot of writing on the computer.

I want to go swimming, even if that means getting up at dawn to hit the local pool during their hideously early lap swim hours. Submersion in water feels very real.

There is a lot of unpacking and settling in to our “new” house remaining to be done. This is definitely a real-life project. I have finally painted the guest room, which means that room can now get properly organized. We may need to put some more bookshelves in there! I’d like to open all the boxes in the garage: some can be unpacked, some may be things we want to purge, some might be re-packed for storage. Speaking of storage, I want to do some house-related shopping, in real-life antique stores and junk shops. Another wish is some sewing: the guest room will also be where I set up the sewing machine.

It’s hard to get completely away from screens, even for an old-school curmudgeon like me who has no social media accounts apart from this blog. Apart from the writing and reading previously mentioned, I need to prepare the online sites for my classes, and there are some games I play online. Sir John and I like to watch TV/movies, and you better believe I’ll be watching the Tour de France starting on 1 July. But I’m definitely going to try limiting screen time to the extent possible. I crave experience and sensation. I used to think I lived more in my head than most people. That may even be true. But I’ve hit my limit.

Also yellow

I don’t know how I came to leave out the yellow rhododenrons, which might have been my favorites. I suppose it might have something to do with having a rhubarb soufflĂ© in the oven, and the timer going off while I was working on the post. My oven seems to run a bit hot; the soufflĂ© was a little undercooked although the top was too brown. It tasted good, though. Anyway, here are the missing flowers:

More than Six Rhododendrons

I should have done this post last week, but didn’t get around to it. On my recent trip to FamilyLand, I visited a rhododendron park. It was magnificent! I took dozens of photos. Everywhere I looked there was something even more beautiful. My “six” categories will be different colors.

First up, the reds.

#2, some purple.

#3, hot pinks:

#4, paler pinks:

#5, peach:

#6. Several at once.

I’m very glad that I went to visit family when I did. Usually I’m there at other times of year, and this was the perfect moment for the rhododendrons.

Six on Saturday is hosted by The Propagator.

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!