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!


I’ve finished grading . . . for last semester.

Yes, the students who took incompletes actually finished them. Yay for them!

I still have several sets of grading to do before I’m done with this term.

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 d├ętente 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!

What urban soul?

Apparently, all I need to trigger a sense of home is hills and hemlock trees. The new house is in a town that has hills (this is a big deal in my part of the midwest) and lots of evergreens among the deciduous trees, including hemlocks. From my front door, I see two hemlocks silhouetted against the sky, and they make me feel so peaceful and happy. Despite the vile heat and humidity, suddenly I have no desire ever to move back to my home state, or to the one where much of my family live now. I don’t ever want to go anywhere again.

Well, I would like to go to the UK and visit some manuscripts. But apart from that, I’m fine right here.

Earlier this week, we went back to our former town to do some errands. It seemed like years since I’d been there, and very strange to think that I had lived there for so long. What was I thinking? Why didn’t I want to leave? I love the new house and the new town.

The enormous yard makes this place like living in a park. It’s tremendously relaxing to look outside and see so much green, and so little that has to do with other humans. We have squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, birds, and probably other animals who are more nocturnal; I’m sure there are also deer, possums, raccoons, and either foxes or coyotes.

I’ve been looking up old posts on Clarissa’s blog because I recalled her making a similar transition when she bought a house surrounded by greenery. She went from liking concrete to preferring leaves. She felt like she’d become a completely different person. She could see herself in that house at 80. Well, maybe by 80 I’ll be ready to move somewhere with no stairs. But I’m amazed by how much at home I feel here. Clarissa is one of those bloggers I find interesting precisely because often we are so different, but on this topic it’s like we’re soul mates!

Maybe it’s because humans in general need to be exposed to nature a lot, and it’s good for us. I spent a lot of time outdoors at my old house, gardening, going for walks, shoveling snow (oh, you know what? if you don’t have sidewalks, you don’t have to shovel them), and there were plenty of trees and other green things to see from the windows. But this is a whole new level of nature, and it makes me feel like a whole new person.

To be sure, there’s a grocery store and other shops about a mile away, perfectly walkable, so it’s not the level of isolation that both my brothers have, which always makes me long to rush back to civilization. I’m not willing to drive ten miles to buy groceries, and I think my feelings on visiting family influenced my sense that I needed to be urban. But now I think the suburbs are a fabulous place to be (even though I don’t recognize myself). I feel like I get to spend the rest of my life on vacation.

The long nightmare is over

I no longer own a big, beautiful, old house.

I hope it’s the house of the new owners’ dreams; that they appreciate its beauties more than they mind its shortcomings; that they love the oak floors, the inlay in the floors around the fireplace, the gas fireplace itself with its marble surround, built-in bookcases to either side of the fireplace and in the room that was Sir John’s study, the light from its many windows (most of which we had to replace), the closet space, the outdoor fireplace and the garden. On the ground floor, some doors have clamshell hinges that were only made for a brief period around 1913-16, which is the sort of thing that appeals greatly to some people. The second floor is an addition from around 1990, so it has large rooms and big closets, as well as two more bathrooms.

Besides those things, it had a narrow, cramped entrance at the front, a chilly, awkward set of stairs at the back, bad traffic patterns and airflow (running the fireplace sent heat straight up the stairs, so that it heated the upper hallway, where the upstairs thermostat was located, keeping the heat from coming on and thus making the bedrooms freezing), and it had settled considerably over the years, making the floors and trim crooked to various degrees in different rooms. It had structural problems due to a badly done cathedral ceiling in the master bedroom, which we corrected, but the additional weight of the tie beams made the house settle a little more. Having grown up in an earthquake zone, I wasn’t bothered by this from a safety point of view, but aesthetically the crookedness irritated me, and Sir John couldn’t stop worrying that the house would fall down (since he hasn’t had the benefit of experience with condemned houses that I’ve had). The basement was dank, with cracks in the concrete that let in water during heavy rains. It flooded twice before the city replaced the storm sewers; after that, no more floods, but it was still damp. Some things stored there were ruined in the floods. Others just got musty from being down there. The garden turned out pretty well after I spent years digging out the creeping bellflower, but since it infests many other neighborhood gardens, it’ll be back unless the new owners are also vigilant.

Within about six months of moving in, we wanted to sell it. But Reasons meant we couldn’t get it on the market as fast as we hoped to, so we missed the top of the market. When we did put it on the market, it took three years to sell. In 2018, we had some viewers but no offers. In 2019, no one even came to look at it. In 2020, the first people to see it, bought it. Go figure. We sold for less than we paid for it, never mind all the work we did to it, but now we get to Move On.

The relief is profound. Modern suburbs, here I come!

Academic fantasies

  1. Journal editors will learn that when they ask me to add historical context and maybe some discussion of (more) manuscripts, they will get that IN SPADES and will just publish what I send them in the first place without quibbling.
  2. Journal editors will learn that when they ask me to add historical context and maybe some discussion of (more) manuscripts, they will get that IN SPADES and will start asking me at conferences what I’m working on now and if I’ll just send them a rough 15 pages or so they’ll tell me what to add so I can go in the right direction from an early stage.
  3. I will actually figure out by myself how to structure an essay so that it has the right historical context from the beginning instead of making essay-writing a years-long, multiple-draft process with two or three or more submissions before I’m finally done.

At any rate, I have now re-submitted the last chunk of the MMP, which was the first chunk that I started writing, long ago, and I think the second to be accepted (pending revisions). I have an automated e-mail to prove it is in the system. All that slow chipping away finally did the job. I hope. It’s about 40% longer than it was when I last submitted it. When I re-read the new introduction I wondered if my thesis was clear enough, but if the editors ask for clarification I am just going to add the dreaded words “In this paper I shall argue that” and other clumsy signposting because I don’t think I can stand to re-work this piece again.

During my absence from this blog I have also answered the copy-editor’s queries about the Huge Honking Translation (one-week turn-around on a MS of over 350 pages), and graded a set of papers.

I want to take the rest of the day off but I have more grading to do and a lot of work admin and Life Stuff to try to catch up with. I think I will take a break before tackling all that, to get outside (or, depending on the temperature and wind chill, go to the gym) and try to enjoy the feeling of being done with something.


Mirabile dictu

I’m down to footnote-grooming: where’s the first reference, have I used short references thereafter, is everything correctly formatted for this journal, that sort of thing. I’m still hoping an ILL will turn up so I can add another note, and since I’m unsure of a page reference I just ILL’d something else to double-check, but this is all-over-bar-the-shouting territory. At last.

Of course I’ll be back to do the shouting when I actually send the sucker off. But this is progress enough to be worth noting. Get ready for a big celebration of the final final no really this time I mean it END of the Macedonian Marginalia Project and all its progeny.

Wait till next year

It is not really the end of a decade. Start counting at 1, not at zero. You knew I’d be pedantic like that.

Day 12 of steady research/writing, still working on the long-overdue R&R, but I now have 1600 words in the new and improved version, so I’m at least 1/4 of the way there. I gave up on the document that has all-caps notes to myself saying things like “ADD PARAGRAPH ON ANGLO NORMAN SOURCE HERE” and just started over, although of course I can transfer large hunks of material from that document into the new one. It’s easier to think on a blank page, and faster to just do it my way than try to argue myself into doing it some other way.

I hope to keep the chain going. However, Queen Joan and I are off tomorrow on one of our royal progresses to warmer climes, so we’ll see. I also have class plans to work on. I hear vacations are lovely, but I’m fine with working in a more exotic setting. It is a great pleasure to noodle around with something interesting on my laptop while looking out at blue seas and tropical birds, rather than staring out at snow and bare branches. So I look forward to putting in an hour or two every morning before we go out sight-seeing, then come back to work on a jigsaw puzzle.

We know how to have fun! Tonight we’ll be turning in around 8:00 because of an 0-dark-thirty departure tomorrow morning. Woot! So Happy New Year now! Enjoy the Eve, and happy writing (and other pursuits) in 2020: finish off the decade with a bang!

25 December 2019

Right, it’s that day when nearly everything is closed and people with happy families are together being all alike.

I’m going to do some writing, as I have managed to get back into a long-postponed project; go to the gym (open for a few hours, yay); open presents with Sir John if we can get to them before the cats shred all the wrapping; and spend the afternoon at his mom’s. Just us: the rest of his family is doing their individual-family thing.

I have not spent Xmas with my family since 1986. For many years, it was my policy to avoid them on major holidays. In the last decade, Sir John and I have twice gone to mine for Thanksgiving. The first time was lovely, except that Sir John came down with a cold and spent most of the visit sleeping. The second time was an unmitigated disaster and has led me to a renewed determination never, ever, to visit for a major holiday. They are having a big shindig today that, given the list of attendees, has the potential for major drama. I hope it will all work out fine, but I am very happy to be a couple thousand miles off-site.

Whatever your situation, I hope you have a lovely day. I vote for peace and comfort over merry and bright, but you do you.

Another one finds a home!

In May, I trapped/neutered/released two cats, both the Glendower look-alike and another, when I set the trap again just to see what happened. The second was a tabby with white feet.

Yesterday I got a call from the local shelter about cat #2. Some people have been feeding him for about a week, and were hoping to adopt him. Their kids love him and he gets on with the cat they already had. First thing this morning I went down and signed paperwork relinquishing my claim on him so he can go home with his new people.

This makes my day. In fact, it makes my week. Maybe the month! I love it when cats decide they want to come in from the cold.

I’ve seen not-Glendower once in the last few days. Since he likes to hang out with a neighbor’s indoor-outdoor cat, I hope that eventually he’ll find himself a home, either with that neighbor or with someone else. He’s very pretty, and once the testosterone is out of his system, he might calm down enough to let himself become someone’s cat.