Where the day went

Before I started work, I fed the cats, did yoga, ate breakfast, watered and fertilized the tomatoes, watered the African violets, brushed the cats’ teeth.

Checked e-mail and answered a couple of messages. Declined an “opportunity” that would interfere with time I want to use either to do research or to prep my grad class, though technically I’m “free” at that time.

Wrote 567 words.

Commented on all the undergrads’ discussion board posts. Assigned points to both classes’ posts. Discovered that I have loaded to Blackboard all but one assignment for each class (I thought I was missing more than that for one class, so this made me happy). Made notes toward the two assignments I still have to write up in detail.

Attended a committee meeting online. Volunteered for a subcommittee.

When the meeting ended early, I used the “found time” to swing by the grocery store (half an hour) and move some boxes around in the garage, then started unpacking one box of books (another half hour). ILL’d a book I need, only to have the request cancelled because the book is already checked out of one of the libraries that has it; another is a non-circulating library; the third claims to have it but in fact hasn’t ordered it yet. Thppppbtt.

Dead language group meeting, online.

Talked to Sir John while completing the unpacking of that box of books. Sorted out a stack of books to give away. I’m pretty sure that box of books never got unpacked in the last house, so it was easy to distinguish between the books I was glad to see again and those that made me wonder where and why I got them in the first place.

Checked in online with my dissertating students.

Ate dinner. Went for a walk. Unpacked a new batch of masks from Etsy that arrived in today’s mail.

While watching the Vuelta, answered more e-mail and started reviewing an article I’m teaching tomorrow.

You might as well blog

I should probably turn this into a “very local news” post. That’s a step up from random bullets.

Celebrity sighting: here is Glendower looking beautiful. Well, he always looks beautiful. Here he is posing for the papparazzi:

Health and beauty: it’s random bullets, I mean very local news, because I have forgotten how to sleep (again), and I’m too tired to do much of anything. I do all the right things and still can’t fall asleep till after midnight. Sometimes I manage to sleep in, so I do wind up rested, but then the day goes to hell because the schedule is off. Sometimes I get up at dawn so I can get some exercise while it’s still just hot (as opposed to unbearably hot), and then the day goes to hell because I’m too tired to think straight (like today). But! I have had a real haircut since I last blogged. That is, in a salon, cut by someone who is not me. It came out too short, but it’s hair, it will grow.

Politics, feline: they all seem to be getting along acceptably well lately, but Reina is reluctant to eat in her usual spot, atop a chair, and wants to be on a bookshelf or under a table. I am not sure whether her paranoia is due to other cats, humans, or just Secret Messages From The Spirit World telling her this is what she has to do now.

Politics, human: we’re going to a family wedding soon. I think most of the people on non-speaks will be present. My side still doesn’t know the reason for the non-speaking. The main culprit says “if you don’t know, I don’t have anything to say to you,” so . . . yeah, that’s helpful. I doubt we’ll learn anything on this occasion. Secretly I hope for a flaming row that might clear the air, but I expect everyone will stiff-upper-lip it and just manage to be on the other side of the room from each other.

Fashion: I am going to wear a Lands’ End poly-rayon sheath dress to the wedding (outdoors!), and probably boil (did I mention outdoors, and unbearably hot, see under health), because when I got out my linen-blend Ann Taylor shift dress that is my Summer Wedding Guest go-to, it looked terrible, even after I steamed it. The fabric puckered, the bust darts are in the wrong place (I guess I’ve sagged with age? Or just gotten pickier about fit? Let’s say I’m pickier, I like that better), the color is unflattering now that my hair is much greyer than the last time I wore it. My back-up dress is a rayon floral that is pretty but wrinkles if you look at it, and I have had it with looking hopelessly crumpled. I’m giving those two away. The Lands’ End dress fits, is a reasonable color, and doesn’t wrinkle. It’s unremarkable and appropriate. Maybe I’ll carry a fan as an accessory.

Economy: because I am a person much affected by salary compression, I got a raise. Yay! Because my salary is computed on a nine-month contract, but I get paid over twelve months, I’m not sure how much money I’m actually getting. Boo! I suppose if I spent awhile on the uni website I could figure out how many pay periods they think there are in my contract, and apply the appropriate multiplier. But see above about fatigue. I may just wait till next year’s W-2 is available and see what my annual salary is then. But raises are good. Thank you, union negotiators.

Agriculture: I’ve fallen off the Six on Saturday wagon, but here’s a report minus pictures. Chard, collards, and cilantro are doing fabulously. The bok choi bolted ten minutes after I planted it. For a couple of weeks I kept pinching off flowers and hoping it would pull itself together, but today I gave up and pulled it out. I harvested enough leaves to put in a stir fry. Still in pots, I have another tomato (a freebie from a neighbor), more chard seedlings (rescued from a sale table), and some sage and basil. Another dozen plants can totally fit in the space where the six bok choi were, yes? There is a strawberry plant vining its way out from under the mint. It has put out three flowers and set one fruit. I’m not sure if it’s a real strawberry or one of those mini groundcover things, and I expect a bird will get to the fruit before I find out, but I’m letting it alone just in case. Also, the peony finally bloomed. It is now nearly done and needs to be dead-headed, but here’s one picture; look how pretty:

Decorating: I painted my study. It is now a pale, attractive color and seems larger and more welcoming, now that it is not institutional green. There is a spot over the closet that I need to re-touch, because the paint advertised as one-coat coverage isn’t, quite. Next up, the bathroom . . . after I finish moving books back into my study.

Books: I read Rachel Neumeier’s The Sphere of the Winds, and enjoyed it, but it’s a little too much like the first one, somehow. But if The Floating Islands floated your boat, the sequel is the sort of thing you’ll like. I loved Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor, and I’m excited that a sequel is coming soon. I re-read Elizabeth Fair’s six novels, starting with Bramton Wick, and enjoyed them just as much as the first time. If you like Barbara Pym, you’d like E. Fair. You may gather that I like books where not too much happens. I like to explore other worlds without feeling harrowed.

The sports section got lost, and the writing reporter failed to turn in copy on deadline. Anyway, this is plenty long enough already. Have a good weekend!

The very local news

It’s a little more focused than random bullets.

Politics: Basement Cat and Reina generally observe their détente, except when mealtimes are approaching and Basement Cat would like to eat his feelings only there is nothing to eat yet because the hoo-man servants have fallen down on the job. Then he stalks Reina and she growls at him and this gets the attention of the neglectful hoo-mans.

Crime, indoors: minor vandalism from Basement Cat, mainly chewing on things the hoo-mans would prefer him not to chew.

Crime, outdoors: some weeks ago, I found the corpse of a rabbit on the side steps to the deck. Since it was less than intact but not dismembered, I theorized that either a coyote had been interrupted or a bird of prey had managed to kill it but could not carry it away. I dug a grave and buried the rabbit. Today I found that the grave had been exhumed. This time, I definitely blame coyotes.

Economy: tax documents dropped off at the accountant. Income normal. Unusual expenses: new roof, new washer and dryer. Contemplated expenses: power lawnmower, re-surfacing of driveway, paint for two or three rooms.

Agriculture: bought a selection of Swiss chard, collards, pak choi, and herbs yesterday, to be planted in the vegetable plot.

World of work: Although a few student papers came in early, I have been ignoring them and taking the weekend off. Grading will resume tomorrow. It feels very strange not to have huge amounts of class prep to do.

Lifestyle, decorating: studying paint chips for bathroom, guest room, my study. I keep thinking light turquoise or pale green might be nice in my study, but looking at samples on the wall, I feel that it would be like trying to work inside a tube of toothpaste. There’s a super pale blue that I like, now, but it might seem too cold in winter. I also like a “chalky purple” that to me looks like a super pale mauve: could I live with it long term, or would it wear on me as the pink bedroom I chose at 10 wore on my 13-year-old self? I’d love a pale, glossy lemon yellow, but yellows are so hard to get right.

Lifestyle, cooking: instead of just grating carrots on top of greens and adding herbs, mayo, and dressing, I grated four carrots in the food processor and added chopped fresh dill, lime juice, mayo, dressing, and salt, and let it marinate for a few hours. Sir John and a visiting friend had seconds, and there was still enough for me the next day. I think I should mix up a batch of the stuff once or twice a week, and save the daily effort.

Society: a friend I met at a wedding some years back (on the trip that inspired these reflections about tea and coffee) came to visit from a couple of states over, celebrating the fullness of our vaccinations. She and I walked around the neighborhood, critiquing the architecture, then we had dinner à trois and talked about architecture, books, and pets.

Weather: clear, sunny, cool, with warmer temps predicted for the next couple of days. A good time to get my veg planted, if my ribs permit digging.

Health, human: I am fully vaccinated. Sir John has had one shot. I pulled some muscles around my ribs a few weeks ago, and have been resting them ever since. Improvement is noticeable. Some of my other aches and pains have also cleared up, including my wonky hip, which only started hurting again when I carried books home from the library about half a mile away. I think I might need less yoga and more strength work.

Health, feline: Glendower has had a lot of hairballs recently, despite brushing and Laxatone. He has a re-check for his IBD coming up this week, so we’ll see what the vet suggests.

Sports: Reina demands that I wave the fevver toy every night before I go to bed, so she can chase it. Sir John is cycling regularly. I am cautiously walking a mile or two per day and hoping my ribs and hip won’t object.

Books: my visiting friend reminded me of the Agatha Raisin series, and I found I was about four books behind, so I went and got the most recent ones from the local library. They are even lighter-weight than most of the “light fiction by British women writing between the wars” that makes up a lot of my leisure reading, but that’s fine for end-of-term brain candy.

Basement Cat at it again

It’s been a long time since Basement Cat’s evil youth. These days, he seems to have left his life of crime behind him. But I fear he’s starting up again.

This morning I’ve had both texts and e-mail from Angie’s List suggesting that I get Black Cat Remodeling to bid my project. Given our housemates, I am highly suspicious that Angie’s List has been hacked.

The bid I expect: “We’ll have Basement Cat chew through that, and then we’ll claw here till we break through. Then there will be a big hole we can hide in. Make sure the cupboards have doors we can open, and that the window latches are cat-operable. Finish? What do you mean, finish? There’ll be a nice thick layer of cat hair over the top, that’s the finish. In black, of course. We don’t do color options here at Black Cat remodeling. We shed in any color so long as it’s black.”

Going back in time

On Friday, I thought I’d try tracking where I was every hour on the hour, sort of like in those “photo an hour” posts, but minus the photographs.

6:00 a.m., putting on my socks in bed, prior to sitting up for the rest of my clothing.

7:00 a.m., drinking tea in the rocking chair, Basement Cat in my lap, enjoying the early sunlight.

8:00 a.m., in the middle of a stretching session.

9:00 a.m., breakfast over, folding sheets from the dryer.

10:00 a.m., working on readings for my grad class.

11:00 a.m., same.

12:00 noon, finished putting PDFs, links, and self-typed files onto the CMS, about to eat lunch.

1:00, making notes in journal about what I’d been doing.

2:00, reviewing applications to LRU’s graduate program in English.

3:00, talking with Sir John about technical terms for roofing materials.

4:00, in my car, nearly to the town where I used to live, where I was going to pick up a new pair of glasses (old pair broke a couple of weeks ago).

5:00, shopping in the grocery store I used to shop in, larger than the local branch of that chain.

6:00, in my car again, almost to my exit.

7:00, gathering ingredients to make brownies.

8:00, watching a DVD with Sir John.

9:00, eating brownies with Sir John.

10:00, dozing off in the bathtub.

11:00, in bed with lights out.

It was strange being in my old town. The houses seem much closer together, the streets more crowded. More people were wearing masks outside, which makes sense for the denser conditions. One large building has now been completely dismantled, so that corner seems oddly empty. There was a new assistant at the shop where I picked up my glasses, though the optician I’m used to was also there. I noticed the flatness all over again. I feel much more at home here, with hills and, if not views, at least vistas.

It was a longish day, but not nearly as long as Fridays used to be when I got up at 5:45 to leave the house by 7:00 for a campus meeting at 8:30, and sometimes stayed on campus till 6:00, sometimes went to a social event on the way home, sometimes stayed up far too late reading to counteract the day full of people and events.

Where a day went

Yesterday, not today. In her Thursday post, Ganching said “It is very difficult to write a blog post every day when every day is almost identical. So what was different about today?” And I thought I’d have a go at answering the question myself.

I got up in time to see a very bright, glowing sunrise (red sky at morning, sailor take warning). I drank green tea while enjoying the sky’s color. Then I fed the cats and myself. For days I’d been trying to fit in a trip to Target to get new furnace filters, Brita filters, and assorted personal-care items, only to have other things come up (work; a last trip to the storage unit on Tuesday), and I decided, since a storm was moving in, that I wanted to go while the roads were clear. So I set off after breakfast.

It was really quite decent out: breezy, but above freezing, and there was some thin sunlight. The nearest Target had much of what I wanted, but not all of it. I had thought I might take a walk around the high school nearby, for a change of scene. I was correct that its sidewalks were clear of snow. However, for at least half a mile all around, all the streets are “no parking” all day long on weekdays. So that didn’t work out. I went home and walked to the post office to mail a package and buy stamps, instead, since the predicted snow was still holding off.

Back at home, I fed the cats and myself (yes, this does happen on a regular basis). I sat down to do some work in the hour or so I had between lunch and our cleaner’s arriving. It started to snow, fast and heavy. Sir John needed to go out to pick up cat meds, and had something he needed to get done before departing, so he asked if I’d shovel the driveway. I shoveled the entire driveway and the front steps while the cleaners were working. Snow continued to fall, more slowly than at first. I got on a video meeting, a minute or so late. When it was over, there were another couple of inches of snow on the driveway. I wondered if I should start re-clearing it, but Sir John called to say he was nearly back and not to bother. I decided that as it was late in the day and I’d done almost no work, I was going to say that Saturday fell on Thursday this week, and work on Saturday to make up. Since I wanted to say I’d done something fun with my day off, I started a jigsaw puzzle. Sir John joined me in working on it for awhile, but he had a video call with a friend during the evening, so I lingered over the puzzle on my own.

Before bed, I stretched and took a hot bath. I can feel that I shoveled snow yesterday, but I’m not too stiff. Today I cleared the steps again, but left the driveway to Sir John.

Some random bullets

Mostly of Very Local News.

The semester has started. I spent too much time resting up over winter break: that is, too much to prep my spring courses, but about the right amount to feel like I recovered from the fall and could face starting up again.

It’s not too hard adapting my undergrad course to online delivery, since I’ve taught it before and have assignments and notes I can use, and since basically I’m trying to treat it like a regular course (with synchronous meetings), just a little more scripted, with some discussion board work and posted notes for classes.

But the grad class. Yikes. The syllabus is still not complete, though I’ve made a lot of progress on it. That’s a new course, and when it originally landed on my plate, about 14 months ago, I thought I’d prep it in summer 2020. Well, summer 2020 went to moving and getting ready to teach fall courses online. So . . . it’s nice to have a batch of very understanding grads who are cutting me some slack.

Speaking of slack, I need to see if some people who took incompletes in the fall would like to meet with me.

Speaking of moving, the new house’s roof is leaking, of course in my study where the highest concentration of books is; I’ve moved lots of books out to the living room, so now when I reach for something it is not to hand, and I have to get up and go search for it among the disarranged shelves. Grevisse is in with the English history, and (since the living room was supposed to be for fiction) Godefroy’s Dictionnaire de l’ancien français is snuggled up to A Billion for Boris. It took awhile to find my Latin dictionary this morning, because the classics are all over the place. Some books had to be shelved by size; others just would up mixed as Sir John and I carried books in bunches from my shelves to the living room. So far, two roofers have come and told us that we would be better off replacing the roof. One estimate is literally double the other. I think we need a couple more estimates.

Basement Cat seems to be feeling very anti-Reina again. I don’t know what his problem is. Sometimes he can co-exist perfectly happily with her, and then he’ll wake up, walk across the room to where she’s sleeping peacefully, and provoke her to growl at him.

In many ways, I like this strange new life. I can do things on my computer while I’m in a faculty meeting, I don’t have to drive long distances, I don’t have to drive in bad weather, when a night class is over I’m already home and don’t have to drive at night when I’m tired, and I’m a little less keyed-up from teaching because online interaction affects me differently from being in the physical classroom. I miss in-person teaching, but as the introvert’s introvert, this life is not bad, for me. I miss travel, and friends, and . . . that pretty much sums it up. Bookstores.

I wish I had more to blog about. Day to day life is peaceful, which is to say boring. Maybe I should keep in mind that quotation from O. Douglas that I posted in September, and try posting every day, or every other day, and see if there’s more to tell that way.

Hail the new!

My intention for the year: roll with the punches. I’m sure there will be some.

That doesn’t stop me planning. I’ve re-booked a trip I had hoped to take last year, mainly (TBH) because the voucher I was holding was about to expire. The airline wanted me to use it within twelve months of when I first booked the trip. Well, ha very ha, sorry, but that’s not happening. It took quite awhile, but I did manage to get the trip pushed out to May, so we’ll see if that’s time enough to get vaccinated and for the library I want to visit to re-open. Considering that the alternative was just giving up and losing the money entirely, I’m willing to gamble.

Today I did two things I’ve been putting off for months: potted or re-potted some house plants (two African violet plantlets had been rooting in water since August), and hung pictures. The plants took under two hours, including setting up and cleaning up afterwards, and did not spawn any off-shoot projects. I certainly have had spare chunks of two hours in the last four months, but not the bandwidth to deal with getting out the new pots and soil, shutting up Basement Cat, clearing the kitchen table, actually dealing with the plants, putting everything back, and cleaning up. I spent my spare time reading fluff or going for walks, rather than embarking on multi-step projects, although I did at some point buy new pots, also drywall screws for the pictures.

Hanging the pictures took a little longer. There, the steps were find toolbox, get out drill, dig around for drill bits, discover that the little doohickey that tightens down the bit holder is missing, take everything out of the tool box to look for it, find that it is entirely missing, test various Allen wrenches and screwdriver heads to find something that will sorta-kinda replace it (and make note to get a real replacement on a day that is not a national holiday), measure various walls, make holes in walls, screw in the drywall screws, hang pictures, put everything away. I managed to lose the hammer at one point, but found it in the bag with the drill. The hammer was part of an off-shoot project; one picture frame was loose and needed to be tacked down again. Fortunately I recently turned up a little packet of the right sort of tacks.

It’s the propensity for off-shoot projects that keeps me from tackling tasks like this. So often, the steps go Find Object A, Discover that Part B is Missing, Spend C Amount of Time Looking for Part B, Spend D Amount of Time Going to E Stores for Replacement Part B, return home to discover that Cat F has Damaged Object A, Say “oh fuck it” and Pour Wine or Eat Chocolate.

I have also started setting up calendar stuff for January and beyond, which I’ve been putting off for a week, I think in rebellion against the entire idea of calendars and task lists.

Today’s productivity may or may not be a good sign for the rest of the year. Nonetheless, if I do nothing else but worky-work for the rest of the month, at least I’ve done these two things that will Stay Done (for awhile, anyway; eventually the plants will need more attention), so I’m claiming that I have Won January.

Fast away the old year passes

And thank Cat that’s over . . . except that one of my principles is “it can always get worse,” so I’m not entirely thrilled to see 2020 go. We’ll hope for the best. In 2020, I got to move, and discovered that I don’t hate teaching online as much as I expected to. As the introvert’s introvert, I’m very happy to be at home with Sir John, my cats, and lots of books, all the time. Life is good, though I miss traveling.

2020 saw an international trip in January, the only trip I made this year. I re-submitted an old R&R, which was rejected a few months later (I immediately submitted it elsewhere). I made strawberry-rhubarb pie for Pi Day. I lost track of the weeks at the end of the pivoted-to-online spring semester, and still came up with a final assignment that the students enjoyed writing and I enjoyed reading. It might not have been wholly rigorous, but this year, I’m taking continued student engagement as a Big Fat Win. We finally got an offer on our old house and went into contract on it. I did a whole series of posts about house-hunting, starting here; it was somewhat stressful staring down a closing date and having to move during a pandemic, but we were so happy to be getting out that really it was all okay. I did my last old-house Six on Saturday.

We love the new house. Basement Cat and Reina have achieved détente here, although the dialogue reported in this post is still enacted regularly. I considered five decades of changes in my life. For a couple of days, the surface of my desk was visible. I enjoy the new garden.

I discovered Maria Nikolajeva’s blog, and am sadly reminded, today, that I have to put together my documents for annual review. It’s a comfort to know that even the wildly accomplished hate the process. I emulated a minor character from Barbara Pym. Once the semester was over, I thought about all the things I needed and wanted to do over winter break, far more than there is really time for. A good bit of the break has gone to reading and doing jigsaw puzzles, and we have also managed a couple of runs to the storage unit for more boxes, so I’ve happily done some re-discovery of Books I Have Missed.

I found at least two books in the fantasy/YA stash that I have no recollection of either reading or buying. I am guessing that I acquired them not long before the Massive Declutter Effort, now some four years back, when I thought the house would sell quickly and I’d only be without the packed items for six months or so, and that I packed unread books thinking that they’d be an incentive to unpack once we moved. I wonder what other unexpected treasures I’ll (re)discover once the weather cooperates enough to let us go for another load.

I plan to celebrate the New Year on Nova Scotia time and go to bed after that. See you in 2021!

Winter Break, day eight

CATS!

I’ve taken my notes on the big fat ILL book, and I’m going to take it to campus, scan some bits, return it, and pick up other books that I need for planning classes and finishing that dratted essay revision.

Speaking of which, after a week of procrastination (during which I drilled a lot of Greek, read the medieval Spanish art exhibition catalog from the Met (http://www.metmuseum.org/art/metpublications/the_art_of_medieval_spain_ad_500_1200), started Sénac’s Charlemagne et Mahomet en Espagne, which I purchased five [!] years ago in Paris, read two mystery/ suspense books in full [https://clothesinbooks.blogspot.com/2020/12/reprint-of-year-award-2020.html], baked two batches of cookies, ordered flowers for the dowager Lady Hull’s birthday, bought presents for my great-niblings which will no doubt arrive after Xmas, and talked to two different friends on the phone), I got back to said revision this morning.

First I opened up the four most recent documents I’ve been tinkering with. Then I printed one, a series of topic sentences, and cut them up to spread out on my desk in an effort to ensure that the whole thing is well-organized before I start messing with large hunks of prose.

Glendower came in and, ignoring his food dish on the floor, leaped to my desk, sliding in among the little slips of paper. I rewarded him for this bad behavior by putting his food in front of him, because we’re always trying to make sure he eats enough.

Hissing in the living room was followed by Sir John yelling at Basement Cat for harassing Reina. I went out to see what was going on, and encouraged Basement Cat to stay upstairs. Then I went to the bathroom.

Back in my study, Basement Cat was definitely encouraged to stay upstairs—he was on my desk, eating Glendower’s food, with the slips of paper in even greater disarray than before.

Dear editor, it’s not exactly the-dog-ate-my-homework but it’s definitely in that genre . . . .

I may have to take my slips of paper to campus with me and spread them out in my office. Good thing I have to go return that ILL.