Friday, August 27, 2010

Assorted bits

Once again I've got a bunch of short stuff I wanted to share here. At some point I need to write an entry or two about My Cowichan Adventure (!), but that will come later...

We survived the first week!

We all (in my household) survived the first week of school. For a minute there on Wednesday morning, it looked like Pirate was not going to let Dexter leave...

But then he did.

According to Dexter, another way to think of SSR, which is supposed to stand for "sustained, silent reading," is "sit down, shut up, and read." We laughed about that one, but you know, I think he's right. Reading without distraction is a practice everyone needs to develop. I hope my students are good at this. Maybe at the university we should come up with another acronym that includes "turn off your cell phone and/or internet and/or FB" as part of the reading process... ("SSTOYCPIFBR"?)

Dinner was a bit sketchy last week, but I'm learning to accept that the goal was eating food, not necessarily eating well balanced meals made from local, fresh ingredients. *sigh* We did fine, thanks to Patrick coming to the rescue with spaghetti, but I sure hope I have more energy for meal prep in the next 14 weeks than I did last week.

Signs and wonders, part eleventy billion

On my way in to campus one morning last week, crossing the bridge where I enter my workplace, I saw this in the creek:

It was hard to make out at first, even in person, so I'll tell you what you're looking at: That is a SNAKE eating (swallowing) a FISH!!! The fish was about as big as two decks of cards laid end to end, so pretty big. The snake was huge.

When I was able to ask Denny, a retired science professor friend, what it might have been, he said he would bet, just from my description and the situation, that it was a Northern Water Snake, who are fish-eaters and have that kind of pattern on them. I was a-feared it was some sort of exotic pet set loose in the sewer, but he said no, it's local, and quite belligerent. You can't handle one of these, Denny said, without getting bitten; he said they have a sort of "Make my day" attitude. So I'm glad this one was busy with the fish. I thought also that maybe it had died because it was so still, but it was gone the next day, and Denny assured me it was just working on the fish.

Being a literature person, a story person, OF COURSE I have been thinking about the symbolic richness of this image. What message is available to me, having witnessed this event? Is it: Don't let the semester swallow you up? or perhaps: Don't bite off more than you can chew? Hmmm...

Writing Friday

For the first time since I was hired eight years ago, I am not teaching five days a week. I finagled having class-free Fridays, or what I'm referring to as Writing Fridays, in my schedule this semester.

I will keep my practice of having meditation/prayer/quiet time for a couple hours. (I've been leaving Friday mornings blank on my calendar for a few years now for this reflection time. It was really hard to do at first, and even hard to imagine--a couple hours in my schedule not available for work or appointments?? Thank goodness my friend and teacher Sage convinced me to try it. I think it's had a really good effect on my sense of well being, and certainly on my health. I still work about 60 hours a week, but for a couple hours every week, with the house to myself and plenty of quiet, I get peaceful, go inward, and breathe...)

I have set aside the rest of the day for writing--and not just any writing, but working on pieces I could eventually send out to be published or that I could present at a conference. I'm working up the courage to take those sorts of risks again, and excited about what I'm writing, so that's at least a good step. And on my first Writing Friday, I churned out five pages. Which I'm ecstatic about. They may be five rough pages, and very spotty in places where I need to look up or reread or investigate something, but they're five more pages than I had the day before. Huzzah!

I took an unusual route to school on Thursday, and saw this on the way, which I'm definitely taking as the best possible sign ever:

The neglected garden surprises me

I've been wondering lately if I should just give up on the whole veggie garden idea. (I made a raised-bed box for the veggie garden last year, which I chronicled here in a post about UnFinished Objects--some of which, I'm sorry to say, are still UnFinished!)

I usually don't get my plants in until late in the season because I can't manage to do anything with it until school is really done (usually around Mother's Day, which happens also to be commencement day. Every year. Happy Mother's Day to me.). We go away for as much as three weeks at a time in the summer, and our house-sitters are fine with watering the garden, but not really into weeding it and whatnot.

And while we're at it, I'm not that great at keeping up with the weeding. I hate weeding. Yes, it's one of those jobs where you can really see you've made a difference (I like that in a household task), but my goodness, by the next week you have to start all over again. And sometimes it's nasty work--especially when the ill-mannered dog next door has decided your raised bed makes a good pooping place. (Don't get me started...)

This year one of my tomato plants had a blight, so the yield has not been great--more discouragement. So just when I was thinking about not having a veggie garden next year, I went out there just before lunch and gathered these:

Beautiful. Maybe I'll do this again next year after all...

You'll notice that I did NOT provide a photo of the garden itself; until this afternoon, it was overrun with weeds, and the basil is so big it flopped over onto one of the pepper plants, and the tomatoes really overwhelmed the bamboo sticks that I tried in place of cages this year (good info. for next year). So it looks like hell, definitely not worthy of a photo. But it's still bringing me happiness--especially when I eat the teeny "sweet 100" tomatoes, which are really quite good.

I hope you make a pleasant discovery today!



  1. The snake-fish picture is amazing. I think the message I'd like to take away is something along the lines of: don't be afraid to take on something that others might think is too big for you to handle. I think it's totally inspiring. It also makes me think of Saint-Exupery's drawing of the snake that had just eaten an elephant, and the Little Prince is one of my favorites.

    I hope your Writing Fridays are wonderful and bring you exactly what you want.

  2. Lemon Gloria, thanks! I *definitely* like your interpretation of the snake-fish picture. Perhaps I was thinking about Le Petit Prince also, because I kept looking to see if I could figure out what else that snake had eaten recently... :) What poignant memories I have of that book!

  3. Karen, that is a crazy picture of the snake eating a fish! Thanks for sharing that. And I like Lemon Gloria's interpretation, too. Someone needs to start a blog all about Le Petit Prince!

  4. Thanks for stopping by, Meghan! Hmm, a Petit Prince blog... That would be cool. Or perhaps a book of essays where different people, some well known and some not, write about their experiences with that book. And it would include sketches. (Has that been done already? Has it got legs?)

  5. Oh my goodness... I think maybe the snake is biting off more than it can chew? (also, am I the only literary person who ever harbored a violent dislike for Le Petit Prince? I read it in French class when I was 15, so maybe I was too young, but it's never been able to redeem itself...)

    Thank you, Karen, for continuing to be inspirational. I want to be you when I grow up. :-)


  6. Thanks for the note, Terra! I'm sure you're the only person on the entire planet who didn't like that book. (That's a joke.)

    And thank you for the compliment. Actually, I am finding your work to be inspiring! And I wish I understood it better. I would love for you to come back to OWU and tell us about it at some point...

    Rock on! (That was also a joke--one you've probably heard a million times now.)