Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What will I do today?

In addition to yardwork, I have a very long list of things to do this summer. One of the blessings of academia is the summertime. The curse, however, is that we (I?) plan to do everything that occurs to me all year long during the summer, which can make for its own breed of stress.

Research and writing:
  • I want to finish and send out this article on G. I've drafted it, but it needs some contextual underpinnings. I'd like to send it out by August 1.
  • Review this 800-page book I volunteered to review. 800 pages!!!
  • Get about 90% of the annual bibliographic essay done. I think that I'm at about 60% right now.
  • Draft a presentation for a colloquium in the fall; this should be pretty easy.
  • Think in some kind of serious way about that sort of book-like project that I'm kind of sort of planning. What's the first step, though?
School stuff:
  • Get my syllabi in order. I only have one new class this fall! I don't think that I've ever had fewer than two new preps before--unless you count that anomalous semester when I only taught two classes.
  • Read the one book that I'm teaching and haven't read before (I read the others earlier this summer).
  • Get course packs together.
  • Revise and reprint the Honors program handbook.
  • Clean up some files.
Crafty things:
  • Finish knitting my shawl--I'm almost done!
  • Knit an afghan.
  • Finish a pair of socks (and probably start another one).
  • Make paper and bind it into journals for Christmas presents.
  • Sew three new curtains for the kitchen (I did one over spring break, and it looks so lonely in there!).
Housy things:
  • Organize some files and whatnot.
  • Um...the house is in pretty good shape, actually.
Fantasy career things:
  • I have a novel that I would like to try to get published, for real.
  • I have a few short stories for which I'd like to do the same.

    I don't actually want to be a creative writer; it's too weird and exhausting. The truth is that I really like working with people (who knew?); I also find that being absorbed into a story of my own creation, while exhilarating, is also really draining and disorienting. So I don't include this category of projects because I want to move out of academia--I don't. What I would like to do is to try to move some of my better stuff out into the world, so I don't have it hanging distantly in the background of my mind forever. I love me some closure, I do. And if it doesn't get published, at least I'll have tried.
All righty! What'll it be today?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Home ownership = Watching your husband garden

Three posts in one day! What am I, some kind of blogger or something?

Anyway, as I promised about 8 minutes ago, here are some updated pictures of the garden. (As for the subject heading, I guess it's appropriate if, as I indicated about two years ago, marriage = owning a lawnmower.)

First, here's the front of the house. The dandelions have given way to clover. But don't you like my flowers? Assuming that you can make them out at all?

The sidewalk has come along a little bit. It's proving to be a ton of work. But look! The trees have leaves! And you can see the no-mow-zone over on the right. Don't be confused by all the tall weeds that surround it--it is in fact a distinct area.

Here's the smaller garden--asparagus in the back, artichokes and eggplant in the front. Those are also various peppers and some melons mixed in there.

And the bigger garden: tomatoes, lettuces, chard, cilantro (gone to seed), more eggplants and peppers, beans, zucchini.... That structure in the background is the garage.

Just for kicks, here's the back of the house (which faces our neighbors) and the garage. We put in the flower boxes on the deck. In the foreground is a chestnut tree, with a container of soapy water in which to capture Japanese beetles.

I forgot to mention our compost bins and bramble patch! We have blackberry and raspberry bushes (no fruit yet, though).

And here you can see the strawberry patch against the garage; the retractable clothesline is just visible up there, too. Against the house are the herb garden, our new rain barrel, and some landscaping that came with the house.

TM did the vast majority of this, by the way. Am I grateful? Why yes, yes I am. (He's in the kitchen fixing us a salad right now, too--with the very lettuce that he's picking four pictures up.)

Home ownership = Weeding

Sisyphus has asked for house pictures. Well, Sis, sorry to say that the house hasn't changed much since you saw it last--here and here--but what has changed is the yard! So perhaps you'd like some yard pictures? Since dealing with the yard is one of our major occupations this summer?

First, I shall whet your appetite with a picture of our glorious magnolia in full bloom, as it was in mid-April, seen through the living room windows.

Second, I shall bore you with our yard issues. Here are the realities that we daily confront:
  1. Our yard is freaking BIG.
  2. Our property is on a corner, so we don't have much of a back yard--most of it is bordered by the street, which means that it's not very private.
  3. It's on a hill, too, so that adds to its non-private nature.
  4. All of this is to say that our weedy, dandelion-filled yard is highly, highly visible to everyone.
  5. We hate lawn.
  6. We hate mowing.
  7. We are obstinately committed to not spraying with poisons, because of all the toxic run-off and poisoned groundwater and all.
  8. None of our neighbors seem to share the views expressed in 5-7. We are surrounded by chemically enhanced, oft-mowed, immaculate lawns. Note the contrast in the picture below, which was taken from our front porch:
Welcome to Dandelion Town!

Thus: We are determined to get rid of as much of the lawn as possible. We'll keep the southern patch around the magnolia, where the retractable clothesline goes, and which would make a perfectly reasonably-sized yard in its own right; it's less weedy, and the dandelions haven't fully taken over in there yet. Even in the picture above, you can see the dandelion-density difference between the north (right) and south (left).

So what are we doing? Well!

We have TWO large vegetable gardens! An asparagus row! Two new (small, but expandable) flower beds! Six fruit trees! A tiny little redbud tree! Two chestnut trees! A no-mow zone which we will convert to wildflowers next summer! A large area where we're killing the grass to replace it with blue-rug juniper! Plans for a blueberry hedge, a second (and larger) strawberry patch, two big beds for native plants and flowers, another lilac bush, and more! (Everything preceding the last exclamation point will have to wait for next year or the year after, however. Petit a petit le oiseau fait son nid, etc.)

We've even introduced ajuga into the lawn in the hopes that it will take over! Desperate times, man.

I don't have any pictures of the current state of affairs, so you'll have to see what it looked like in mid-April.

TM checking the asparagus. (Isn't his hat darling?)

The first garden (before anything had grown there--it's coming along nicely now).

Here's where I dug the sod out and arranged old bricks to make the two new flowerbeds.

One more thing: There's a buried brick sidewalk running through the front yard, which we're slowly uncovering. Here it is at an early stage. You can see the newly-planted fruit trees in the background; they're bigger, now, and have actual leaves.

Clearly, I need some more recent pictures! Stay tuned (assuming that you haven't totally lost interest yet).

What Makes Me Blog

I've been aware that I needed to post for a long time. I think that I've had ONE post in the last month? (Traveling with family, visiting family, having family visit = not posting. I don't blog when there's a chance that my parents will catch me. And then I just got lazy, and then overwhelmed by the non-blogging, and the cycle continues.)

But I'm posting now, because...I'm grading!

Yes! I have a paper from the FALL that I'm about to start reading. I know. It was a very legitimate and not-begrudged Incomplete (family health emergency, all kinds of awfulness), so I harbor no ill will towards this paper. Or the student, for that matter, whom I like very much. But I have had the paper for three weeks and have not been able to bring myself to open it. Now, it is open. Now, it WILL BE GRADED.

The awful truism of grading: One paper is harder to grade than twenty. Why is that?

And now that the ice is broken, perhaps you'll hear more from me this summer!

Friday, June 17, 2011


is there a DEAD FISH under the pine tree in the neighbor's yard? --the tree, I might add, that is right up next to our property?

Why, exactly?

And for how long will the smell pervade the Eastern end of our yard?

(I realize that this is a peculiar return to blogging after nearly a month's hiatus. But it needed to be said more urgently, apparently, than anything else that I could impart.)

(More soon.)