What was I going to say?

I logged in awhile ago, and opened up the New Post page, and then got distracted. Possibly I had some really brilliant idea, but on the other hand, maybe I was just going to whine.

It’s mid-July, and past the middle of the year, and more than past the middle of the summer. Boo. I have not done those things I ought to have done. We are contemplating a road trip before the summer is truly over, and I feel (a) that I’m not sure I want all the hassle of driving and sleeping in strange beds and figuring out how to feed both of us with our different finicky diets in unfamiliar places, not to mention the struggle to find a suitable cat-sitter* and also (b) that I really want to do this because it will be a very Summer Thing To Do, nice to look back on, and great to see friends we haven’t seen in years (and years, in one case, due not only to The Covids but also to these friends’ normally very international lifestyle, as in, it’s difficult to be in the same country as them without going to another hemisphere).

Things I have done this summer: visited family, painted the guest room, cleaned my closet, planted a vegetable garden**, wrote a conference paper, drove to conference and delivered it (and stayed in swanky hotel and saw Real! Live! People!), accepted an invitation to expand it for publication, did at least a few hours’ worth of planning for all of the classes I will teach next year***, recycled literally years’ worth of Brita filters, made a date with a retired colleague, watched a lot of cycling and read a lot of trash. I’m negotiating with Queen Joan about a January trip to somewhere sunny, and hope to get reservations nailed down before I settle into the winter gloom in which I just endure circumstances rather than finding the wherewithal to do anything about them (aside from SAD light and pretending to be an iguana).

Things I have not (yet) done: nope, not going there, too depressing! The list is long. Let’s just say it contains various items that should have happened a year ago, and that really all my electronic items need updating.

If we go on this trip, I have about two weeks left (give or take depending on friends’ schedules) in which to do any work, and then another week (or so) after it, and then I’ll be on contract again, though classes don’t actually start till a little later in August. Ack. Ack! Will this realization make me buckle down and do some of the things I ought to have done? Or will I stick my head firmly in the sand and pretend that summer really is endless****?

*We no longer live near the vet-assistant person to whom Basement Cat objected here. I’m sure he’d rather have her than someone completely new. The cats think their normal human servants should never even have days off, let alone extended holidays.

**Have not yet re-planted lettuce and spinach seedlings after the wretched squirrels destroyed the last batch. Must do that.

***Any time now I’m going to have to concentrate on those for the fall, but I hope that January Self will be grateful to Summer Self for doing some advance work on next spring’s classes. I fear she will just wonder what the hell Summer Self was thinking.

****People who have retired (see my last post) might suggest that it is like having endless summer, but unless I can move somewhere with a decent climate, it’s no such thing. If I have to live with snow, I’d rather be working, because it’s a distraction and give me something to do that isn’t sulking at home in my iguana-cage, and Sir John actually likes it Here and does not want to move to Mexico or the Southwest, let alone Morocco, so here we are. My husband may be a winter-loving nut-job but I’m quite fond of him and would rather be with him than alone in a warm dry climate, even if I have to remind myself of that frequently from November to March.

On blogs, research, and not-retiring

Once again, blogging because I logged in to leave a comment elsewhere. JLiedl is back! Yay!

I read people’s archives not only because I miss their voices but because old blogs are so hopeful. Most of the academic bloggers who blogged back in the golden age of academic blogs were young, newly minted assistant profs or grad students, who wrote about turning their dissertations into books, about finding and decorating new apartments or houses, about relationships and babies: building their lives. Of course there were the cases of people who couldn’t find jobs, like Sisyphus, or didn’t get tenure, like New Kid, or, in a few cases, tragically early deaths of spouses. But mostly people were on the upswing, and it’s pleasurable to read the stories of how they got to be tenured, married, happily settled.

I wonder if one reason for the death of blogging (in addition to the Book of Face, the Realm of Twits, etc) is that there’s no more plot after that point. Getting to Full is often a bit of an anti-climax, after the tenure drama. People who become administrators generally have to stop blogging from a combination of lack of time and real confidentiality issues. I doubt anyone wants to read about the late-career person who could retire but doesn’t want to, who fears becoming irrelevant, bored and boring, out of touch.

I ask recently-retired friends what they spend time on (when they’re healthy, though in some cases there are a lot of medical appointments). The answers: look after grandchildren, take music lessons, art lessons, language lessons, wood-working, spend more time exercising and gardening, volunteer, run for local office. My (usually unspoken) reaction: shoot me now, don’t wait till you get home. The things from that list that I enjoy are things I already do, and which I do not want to do full-time. I like my job. I have a good teaching schedule, a nice office, and mostly nice students. If I retired, I would need to find something else that gave me contact with people while not requiring that I be really friendly with them (I am very introverted but need some interaction with other humans). People suggest volunteer tutoring, but why teach subjects I don’t care about for free when I can get paid to teach things that really interest me? I have one friend who wants to retire so she can ramp up a second career that combines sales and scholarship. I understand that. That’s retiring-to, not retiring-from.

I’ve been asked to prepare for publication the conference paper I gave last month, on a fairly tight turn-around. I said yes. I intended that paper to be part of the book, and it still will be. I haven’t published any other pieces of the book in progress, just given conference papers, so I’m not saturating the market; given the venue and editor, I don’t anticipate any problem with permissions when the time comes. I’m glad to be asked, and even for the timeline: it gives a clear shape to research for the next few months, a bit of local plot, so to speak. Can our heroine clear the hurdle? Even if the answer appears obvious, a goal with an outside arbiter helps to create narrative tension.

So this site will not turn into all garden-blogging all the time, not yet. I should do more cat-blogging, I suppose. After all, the internet is all about cats, right?

RBO end of June

Squirrels dug in the pots where I’d planted my grown-from-seed lettuce seedlings and destroyed them all, even though I’d put the pots up on a table to make it harder for critters to get to them.

I wrote and delivered a conference paper that helps to expand what I have for the final chapter of the Putative Book, and have just had an interesting e-mail exchange with a friend working on something related.

Sir John and I went on a road trip and had a great time. The cats obviously missed us terribly, though we had a friend visit them twice a day to tend them. Basement Cat met us at the door, yowling until we were actually inside, and Reina, who had been confined to my study, yowled until we released her. She hasn’t deigned to sit on either of us, but does do more rubbing against us and talking, while Basement Cat demands lap time and reclining snuggles with Sir John. They were separated while we were gone to keep them from fighting, and I was afraid we’d have to do some elaborate re-introduction routine when we came back, but it went fine, which is to say there’s only the usual staring and hissing.

I’ve taken everything out of my closet and washed it or run it through the dryer on hot, after I saw a moth near the beginning of the month. Now for cleaning the walls and then putting things back. Last night there was another moth in the bathroom, which I didn’t manage to kill before it disappeared against a patterned background. Reina couldn’t find it, either.

I’ve done at least a little bit of work on all four of the classes I will teach next year. Anything I can do now will help out my future self. There’s never enough time in the winter break to prep spring classes, so I’m trying to do some revision on them this summer.

I’ve also done a lot of fun reading, mostly fantasy, romance, and mid-century novels by British women, the sort of thing published by Furrowed Middlebrow. Sometimes the FM blog gives brief descriptions of now-unattainable books that make me want to head straight to one of the UK depository libraries and spend the summer reading through everything they have of this kind. If I worked on twentieth-century literature, that might even be a respectable research project. I suppose I could go work on a respectable medieval project and then spend evenings reading old novels in the not-medieval reading rooms, after the manuscripts room closed.

O hai

It’s been awhile, hasn’t it?

Nothing awful has happened in my life, though it does seem like the world is trying hard to go faster and more steeply than usual to hell in a handbasket, and in the circumstances I’ve not made blogging a priority. But today I logged in to leave a comment on Jon Jarrett’s cat pictures, which appeared in my honor, so while I’m here, hello and happy Western Easter if you celebrate it.

Garden update: It looks like spring here, with daffodils in bloom and the magnolia just breaking into flower, but it’s pretty cold still. For now. We might hit 80 at the end of the week, which would probably be the end of the bulb flowers.

Cat update: Basement Cat and Reina have mostly settled down again, except for a bad week after she got out and hid under the deck for 36 hours and didn’t smell right when we got her back inside. We still miss Glendower, especially every time we open a door and there’s no need to keep him from getting out, or to admire his perseverance in fitting himself into the linen closet.

Work update: the end of the semester is in sight. Or else it’s an oncoming train. I traveled to give a conference paper. Discussions at the conference prompted the sabbatical proposal I’m about to turn in. Must.finish.book. (how many years have I been saying that?)

Family update: everyone still present and accounted for.

We’ll see if I can make a blogging comeback, even if it’s all pictures of the garden and cats.

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.