Six on Sss…sunday

Late again! I took my photographs yesterday. Then I put away a load of laundry, did some weeding and watered the potted tomatoes, took an eBay return to the post office and did some other errands, went for a walk, ate dinner, and watched a stage of the Vuelta. I suppose I could have done a blog post during the TV-watching, if I had remembered, but I didn’t.

It seems to be the time of year for white flowers, again: here’s #1, Honorine Jobert, in bud.

And again like last year, the garlic:

For #3, the autumn clematis, now in bloom:

#4, the hydrangeas (Annabelle, I believe), not yet white, but they will be:

The sedums are pink, but some of the little flowerlets are still whitish:

#6, on the other side of the clump of sedums, is the one dwarf marigold I have this year. I do not know what happened to the marigolds. Last year they bloomed like mad, both in front and in the veg patch. I figured at least some would come up from seed on their own, but I also saved seeds and tried to start some in little pots, and threw some around the veg patch again. Not one of the dozen that I carefully planted came up, and neither did any of the others, till this one. I am glad to see it:

In non-gardening news, I met my writing goals for the week, and graded two sets of short assignments, one from each class. I hardly recognize this efficient self . . . except that I haven’t done most of the other things on the week’s list, so I guess it’s still me. At least I’ve done the most important things!

Six on Saturday, which is supposed to happen on Saturday, is hosted by The Propagator. He also has Honorine and Annabelle this week.

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.

Quick Sunday round-up

I’m not going to say “five minutes” because even five minutes to write turns into 15 to post and fill in categories. And it won’t be ten things I did today because it’s not yet noon here.

Gardening update: the groundhog broke through the newly patched fence by Thursday (when I discovered the damage). I’ve piled heavy pavers in front of the hole, and bought some new metal fence posts that I plan to use to hold the chicken wire in place, and also just to block access. Honorine Joubert is coming into bud. Most of the late-starting volunteer tomato plants have fruit on them, so maybe I will have tomatoes for Halloween.

Reading: though it should be all for teaching and research, this is me we’re talking about, so I’ve read Katherine Heiny’s novels and short story collection because Moira’s posts made her sound like fun. I liked the short stories best. Standard Deviation seemed very familiar, never quite so familiar that I said “Oh, that book, I don’t need to re-read it,” but always with the sense that I knew [whatever event] was going to happen once it did. I’m not sure if Moira did such a good job reporting on it that I expected everything, or if I really did read it a few years ago and forget. I’m also not sure if I was slightly bored because of that sense of familiarity, or because nothing much happens, or because I’m tired of books about privileged New Yorkers. I definitely found Early Morning Riser dull, in part because the setting is so very familiar (small midwestern town). It had some funny lines, but I thought we were in Anne Tyler territory (not literally, since AT writes about Baltimore and its environs; in terms of how random events and long-standing loyalties shape lives), and that Tyler does it better. It made me wonder if Moira and her British commenters like Heiny so much because for them the familiar aspects of her work are slightly exotic, the way I only read British chick lit because I prefer the tone and settings to American chick lit, which usually feels a little cloying and/or claustrophobic to me.

Also reading: Elly Griffiths’ series about Edgar Stephens. I do not like it nearly as well as the Ruth Galloway series. I thought the villain of the first book was completely unbelievable. But at least it’s Elly Griffiths, so they’re readable, and as picky as I am about my fun reading, sometimes readable is good enough.

Researching: I’ve managed a couple thousand words on my book in the past couple of weeks. Yay!

Teaching: I more-or-less finished the most troublesome syllabus a couple of hours before that class started. I still have to write a bunch of assignments. Why is it just as hard to turn an online class into in-person as the other way around? I thought it would be easier going this direction.

Washing and drying: I am enjoying having the new washer and dryer, which were delivered while I was in Familyland, but the washer does have a tendency to twist clothes into ropes. However, both machines have the settings I want to have, and are not so fancy that they want to communicate with the smart phone I don’t have, or decide for themselves how to wash or dry the clothes. I want to be the one who bosses the machines, not the other way around!

Exercising: not enough. It is much too hot out most of the time to go for walks, and I’m not getting up early enough to go out at sunrise when it’s bearable, because we’re staying up late . . .

Watching: the Vuelta à España.

Another five-minute post

I’m home again, which means exchanging a view of blue salt water for a sea of green grass and green trees. This should not be anything to complain about, but I do miss salt water here in the middle of the country. If classes move online again, I may just go to my brother’s and teach from there (this does not seem fair to Sir John, so I might not be able to pull it off).

I absolutely must work on syllabuses and class plans. I feel very very disinclined to do this, although in response to a query from a colleague I looked at a syllabus & course site from last spring and experienced warm feelings toward those students, which helps a bit. I wish I could be sure we’d be in the classroom for the whole semester! It’s partly the uncertainty that is off-putting: I want to plan the course once, not work out a whole lot of contingency plans.

I have always worked at home a great deal. When I was a student, I found it difficult to concentrate in the library (other people, so many books), and the shared TA office was used mainly for office hours, and sometimes for computer work, but we had to schedule time on the computer. Later I got my own computer. In my final year of grad school, I was on fellowship and could work at home every day if I wanted to, but I usually went to campus at least to swim and/or spend time in the library, because I got cabin fever spending all day every day in my studio apartment. Once I had a job, I was delighted to have an office of my own. I still did research at home, mostly, but loved having an office in which to do class prep. Over the years, I wound up doing more and more “real work” at home on non-campus days, because having a long commute meant that campus days filled up with teaching, meetings, library trips, all the things that required a physical presence on campus. But after last year, I’m really tired of living in the office, and want to go back to campus, so that working at home in my study feels, again, like a privilege rather than a requirement.

Eight minutes. Publishing now.

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.

Things I did today

Drank black tea as well as green.

Reviewed and commented on a graduate student’s outline.

Looked over an undergraduate paper draft that changed very little since the last version.

Grappled with late classical Latin.

Struggled with ugly medieval Latin.

Read about 20 pages of a Middle English text.

E-mailed with a colleague about an awards ceremony.

E-mailed with a friend about our honors students.

Met briefly with my (currently non-)writing group to talk about summer plans.

Climbed a ladder to inspect our new roof.

Cooked rice and fish.

Walked around the block.

Unpacked the stereo plus the cushions and old sheets that lined the boxes.

Agreed to write a recommendation letter.

Done!

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.

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.

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.

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!