Sunday, February 21, 2010

Read 'em and weep

I have in front of me today a collection of things I need to read that's so disjointed, disharmonious, dis?? that it's hard to wrap my head around. The individual works in and of themselves make perfect sense; it's the mashing them together that's kind of wacky.

First, there is the homework for my Early American Lit. class: excerpts by Cotton Mather, noted Puritan theologian/historian (and witch hunter). We're reading part of his magnus opus Magnalia Christi Americana (approximate translation: the magnificent works of Christ in America) and a brief bit from Wonders of the Invisible World, in which he explains his use of spectral evidence in the witch trials. At the same time, I have been downloading some world music onto my new toy (the iPod Touch, which I have nicknamed my iCrackmachine).

(I feel like this activity might have made the time-space continuum a bit wobbly...)

Then, there's the purely practical: a chapter on report-writing from the textbook Business and Administrative Communication; I'll be covering this chapter on Tuesday. I need to say two things about this book. First of all, it's extremely useful. There is ALL KINDS of good info. there for people who are writing all the genres we encounter in the world of work--letters, memos, proposals, etc.

But, secondly, I must also note that it is sometimes dry. As the Sahara. Or the Gobi. Or the Mojave. Imagine the special torture it is for someone who pursued a Ph.D. in literature (a most impractical endeavor) because she loves to read, and now this is what she reads every spring so as to teach a course that students want to take. Pity me, my friends.

And, as a treat, I get to read one of my favorite Louise Erdrich novels:

... and on Wednesday I get to talk about it with one of my favorite students, who is taking an independent study with me on Native American women writers. I love this novel with a mighty, mighty love. I haven't read it in a while, so it's wonderful to be enjoying it again. It's like eating chocolate mousse. Or soaking in a hot bath. Or feeling the breeze on your face on a 75-degree day. Just wonderful.

It almost makes up for having to read about how to write business reports...

May you read something wonderful today!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Accidental magic

One of those days last week when I was walking to work, I saw my reflection, all suited up for the snow and cold, in the window of a shop downtown. It reminded me of the images I've seen (and very much admired) on Reya's blog, so I took a photo.

When I saw it on the little screen on the back of the camera, I thought, "okay, cool," and went on with my day. I liked the way it showed me all bundled up and puffy; I posted it on Facebook and called it my Intrepid Arctic Explorer disguise. A few minutes later, when I saw a bigger version of it, I realized there was something else going on in the photo that was Very Interesting...

It looks like there's a plant growing up my legs and toward my middle...

I hadn't even noticed the plant when I took this shot. But now when I see it, this image reminds me that, even in the deep of winter, in the snow and cold, the plants are making plans to come back to life soon. Life is persistent; it will come back. And that gives me hope...

May you see something magical today!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I'm so bored with the s.n.o.w.*

After that first snow it snowed again, and I took more photos, and I was going to write a blog post about it.

(I thought our shrubbery looked like something out of Dr. Seuss.)

(Cherries under snow, on my way to school...)

(Pirate got brave enough to visit the porch; since then, he's been all the way out IN the snow!)

(Miracle of miracles, the sun was coming out... a welcome sight...)

(... and here I tried to catch the way the sun was casting a gold glow on the snow, making sparkles appear. It was beautiful!)

(A wee snowperson outside my building at school)

(a bicycle on campus, obviously abandoned long ago)

Then we went sledding at a specially built sledding hill at a local park, and I took more photos, and I was going to write a blog post about it.

(check out the steepness of that drop-off!!)

(These guys really enjoyed themselves...)

(... even when they were falling off their sleds!)

(the trail to the sledding hill... but I wouldn't recommend going down it head first!!)

One thing to note here: on what I had already decided was going to be my last run down the sledding hill, I went over a big bump and had a dramatic spill off the sled, tumbling and getting snow up my sleeves & down my boots; the sled even bonked me in the head. And apparently I hit my tailbone on the bump, because it STILL hurts (now 4 days later--sheesh!).

Then it snowed yet again--for more than 24 hours--and I took a few more photos and was going to write a blog post about it... only by that time, the novelty of looking at what everything looks like in the snow had worn off. It's official, I guess: I'm tired of the snow. Or rather, I'm tired of talking about it.

(Here's one of our little mini-snow-plow-brush thingies toodling around campus late that last evening (Feb. 15), trying to stay ahead of the quick-falling snow.)

(Twilight on the cherry tree lane, hushed and darkening...)

(This is the next day; I wish I'd been quicker with my camera--the OWU kid who ran past me was wearing shorts! brrr!)

(everything's lumpy)

It still looks pretty, and sometimes otherworldly, but I want to talk about something else now. Like maybe how it feels to WANT to wear a short-sleeved shirt...

May you have something non-boring to talk about today!

*(The title is a sort of sideways reference to an old Clash song... and if you click on that link there's an extra song for ya. :) )

Monday, February 8, 2010

Cabin fever... I haz it.

So... staying inside and doing all that work? Not so much.

The snow continued all night and finally slowed down around 10 on Saturday morning. Shortly thereafter, I headed out--on foot--to my hair appointment. (Luckily, my hair person also lives within walking distance!)

The snow was beautiful, if hard to get through in spots. The temperature was perfect for walking--about 25 degrees. And, miracle of miracles, the sun came out!

It was a heavy, sticky snow; you can see here that it stuck to the trunks & branches on all the trees.

On some streets the snow was stuck on the north side of the trees; but here's the odd thing: on other streets, it was stuck on the EAST side. Our weather doesn't come from the east unless something weird is going on. Hm.

(Here's a photo, outside the window next to my desk, that shows the east side of the trees in my neighbor's yard.)

(Here are my neighbor's dogs, keeping an eye on folks as they trek down the street...)

I thought we only got about 6 inches total, but other folks have said it was more like a foot. A friend about 20 minutes away said she got a foot and a half! Sadly, because it started on Friday afternoon, no snow days were to be had.

Snowhio part II, coming our way tonight and tomorrow, may yield one!

I don't know if other places do this--is it an Ohio thing? a Delaware county thing?--but here, in our downtown, the plows shove all the snow to the middle of the road:

(looking north)
(looking south)

I was really motivated to keep my hair appointment; I wanted to feel spiffy for a special day. And it looks like someone else in my town (the owner of the theatre) had her special day around the same time!

And here I am in my spiffiness--the red stripes restored back to the shade I like best, the blonde stripe (not shown) touched up, and a new purple stripe!

O vanity, thy name is me!

I hope you're feeling spiffy today,

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Snowhio, Feb. 2010

So the big story, from here to the east coast, is the snow. I was amused at the Facebook updates from my DC friends that people were panicking--empty shelves at the grocery store, a run on all things snow-removal-related at hardware stores, everything closed or closing before it even started snowing... Such silly, silly people. And I bragged that, here in Ohio, we really don't get freaked out by snow the way people do in DC.

To an extent, I'll stick by that story--and I have proof that it's valid, at least in some cases! My Mom was here visiting one winter when we had snow. It was a typical Ohio storm, with just a couple inches predicted, the kind of thing we got EVERY WEEK the first winter we lived here. Schools went on as usual, and it wasn't even a very prominent story on the news. In fact, the news was so quiet about it that my Mom was shocked. In her neck of the woods, it would have been the top story on every channel; here, it was just "okay, here's what's happening" during the weather segment. No big deal.

Just as I was bragging on Facebook about how we take these things in stride, I started to hear some rumors... and then see evidence of freaking out... The university was still open (because we NEVER close--all our students live on campus or close enough to walk, so...). But some prof.s had canceled classes and were getting the heck out of Dodge. The roads were really slippery; one of my students said her car spun out on her way to class. (Why was she driving to class? That's a whole 'nother story...)

(This is the view from my building around 6 pm)

I walked to school yesterday, so I hadn't experienced the driving conditions, which actually were dangerous. (Patrick said he drove home at about 30 mph and still slid.) The walking was fine--a little slippy in spots, but quite lovely temperature-wise.

(We were on our way to the gym for the game when I took this one.)

So we decided to keep our plan to meet at a downtown restaurant for Friday dinner and go to the women's basketball game. Dinner was fun (one of my students was our waiter!), but the game was canceled. We walked home in the snow, had some interesting conversations (this Q from Dexter: do you think cats think in English, or in pictures?), and all was well.

(Here's our street as we arrived home.)

It's still snowing, so I imagine we'll be staying put for a day or two. I've got homework to read and a stack of papers to grade, so I won't be lacking for things to do. It's pretty to look at. And we'll be out and about again before long.

Enjoy the snow, if you've got it! And be careful out there!

Monday, February 1, 2010

A poem in honor of St. Brigid's Day

I'm participating in the great (Silent) Poetry Reading for Brigid! (Here's what I wrote about it last year.)

I typically have a hard time with the dark of winter. I make a point of noting the solstice--the day when it is most dark, but also, technically, it starts to get light out again. And I give thanks every St. Brigid Day (also known as Groundhog Day); that's the day when I can really tell that the dark is subsiding. We've made it halfway to spring!

I probably won't be the only participant posting this poem. I was going to go hunting for something else, but then yesterday, as I was walking to school, a really big flock of geese flew over, honking, heading south. My first thought: isn't it kind of late, guys? My second: oh, I guess I'm supposed to post that poem then. (Signs and Wonders, you know.)

I once saw something unbelievable: on the way to South Dakota, my 2nd trip to the rez with students, we saw thousands and thousands of geese flying. I couldn't even begin to estimate how many there were. They filled the sky for as far as we could see. I've never seen so many animals in one place at one time. It made me cry; I knew that I was witnessing something special.

May you hear their harsh and exciting voices today!

"Wild Geese," by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.