Archive for the ‘Out and about’ Category

Conference, conference, conference, garden

April 30, 2017

I’ve been a busy academic lately. A week ago, my university hosted the spring conference for the Historical Association that I’ve been an officer of for the past couple of years. As local host, it was my responsibility to coordinate session rooms, catering, meeting spaces, and other practical details. I’ve been working on those practicalities since last summer and it was very gratifying to see everything come together. The conference went off almost without a hitch (there was a little last minute confusion in room booking, but we got it sorted out) and people seemed to be having a good time, so I’ll call that a success.

Also at the conference I was elected vice president of the Association for next year. The vice president’s job is to organize the conference panels. I didn’t have to do that as local host, I just found spaces for the panels to meet in. So, next year, I won’t have to wrangle session rooms and catering, but I’ll be collecting paper submissions and assembling panels for both the fall and spring conferences.

The Association’s custom is that after one year as vice president, you become president for a year, so I have that to look forward to. The president’s job is mostly ceremonial—giving a short address at lunchtime at the conference. I look forward to that. (And it will look nice on a CV.)

In other academic news, I just had a proposal accepted to a conference in Edinburgh this December, so I’ll be making a quick trip across the pond.

Somehow, in the midst of all this academicking, I’ve also fond time to plant my garden. I’m trying corn, green beans, and cucumber this summer. I’ve tried various setups with deer netting to try to keep critters out of the garden in the past, and now that I’m giving corn a shot, I know that I need something a little more serious, so here’s the frame I built for this year.

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Congressfolks

April 14, 2017

We’ve been to a couple more “town hall” meetings in the past week, one with our Representative and one with one of our Senators. Both were very well attended, with crowds of several hundred who filled up the spaces. At both events, the crowds were energetic and positive, full of motivation and passion. At the event with our Representative, a couple of hecklers at the back of the room tried to start chants of “USA” and the current president’s name, but the rest of the crowd hushed them up. Our Rep even took a question from one of them (a rambling, incoherent “question” full of Islamophobia and anti-immigrant hate), which he handled seriously and graciously.

It’s still hard living in these times, but I continue to be heartened to know that we have people like them in Washington working for us, and to see how strong the support for them is locally.

Town hall

February 5, 2017

This past week we attended a “town hall” meeting in a nearby city with our Congressional Representative. This was my first time attending a political event of this sort. The room was filled to capacity and beyond. It was incredible to see such a turnout. The crowd was an active one that let their feelings be known, and those feelings were running strongly against the current president. Our Rep was responsive and clear, listening to people’s concerns and answering their questions directly and without a lot of spin.

It’s is good to know that we have at least some people in Washington who are on our side and not afraid to say so. I was heartened by the energy and spirit in the room. People expressed anger and fear, but even more so determination and hope. We need a lot of those right now.

Conference

October 24, 2016

This past Saturday I was at a regional history conference. I wasn’t presenting, but I chaired a panel, which I enjoy doing. After my panel was done, I attended a couple of others. One was a roundtable discussion of professors, grad students, and undergrads about their experience working on a project to research and write biographies for women involved in the suffrage movement. The other panel was an eclectic group of papers which included medieval warfare, pirates, and heavy metal music, but there were interesting themes running through all of them about how we construct cultural and social responses to traumatic violence. It was a very enjoyable day.

The spring conference, next April, will be at my university and I’m taking the lead on organizing space, food, technology, and so on. Fortunately, I’ve got a lot of the work already done well in advance, but it’s still going to make for a busy spring.

Outdoor adventures

July 11, 2016

We have three wild turkey hens who come poking around our back yard. Lately they’ve been having sand baths in my garden patch. They don’t seem to hurt the plants, but they do keep digging up my potatoes. I keep having to go out and pull or rebury them.

A few days ago we took a day trip out to western Massachusetts to visit our friends M + M at their summer cottage. We had a lovely lazy afternoon chatting, eating good food, and swimming in the local swimming hole. On our way home, though, we ran into every construction site in the state. It took us twice as long to get home as it did to get out there.

I was just pulling apart our stone steps from the driveway into the backyard to rebuild them since some of the steps have gotten a little off kilter. I disturbed a hornets’ nest and got stung on both legs and in the face. Ugh. Not at all fun. That project will have to wait.

No shoveling

January 25, 2016

The weekend before last we were at Arisia, a fantasy/sci-fi convention in Boston that we’ve been to before. We both had a pretty good time. There were lots of things to do. Last year we focused on a lot of panel discussions about writing. (Most of the programming at the con is panel discussions on various topics, but there’s also music, dancing, theatrical performances, and other events.) This year, we both wanted to branch out and sample some of the other things on offer.

I went to see a play based on the premise of Holmes and Watson as women. It had some interesting ideas, but sadly it didn’t quite live up to my hopes (and some of the cast were really not up to the demands of the script). I also went to a sea chantey sing-along, which was delightful. I learned lots of new songs that I’ve been humming ever since. (I enjoy singing, but I’m not good at it, so sea chanteys are perfect for me, since they’re songs meant to be sung be people who aren’t good at singing.) We looked in at a zombie-themed regency ball together and went to an excellent demonstration of historical sword-fighting. We also went to a lot of interesting panels, either separately or together. We ended up spending about half of our days together and half in different places, which gave us plenty to talk about when we got back together.

A huge blizzard just whammed the east coast. Everywhere from New York and Virginia got hit hard. Early forecasts had the storm hitting us, too, but as it turned out the storm tracked south of us and we barely got an inch out of it. It’s a great relief, although our friends and family farther south are having a rough time of it and we send them all our sympathy.

I’ve been sick for the past several days, not as bad as the flu, but a persistent cold. I was able to keep working through it every day. I seem to be on the upswing now. I still have a sniffly nose and sore throat and I’m moving a little slower than usual, but otherwise I’m managing.

The Future of the Town

November 14, 2015

Last weekend we went to a “visioning” session to discuss the future development of the town. It was held at the brand new elementary school (which it was nice to get a chance to see) and drew about 30 people. We were not quite the youngest people there, but pretty close. There were facilitators who led us through a series of exercises and discussions to try to elicit input about the town’s strengths and challenges and who kind of changes we want to see in the next twenty years. It was a lot like a small-form town meeting. There were the usual annoyances: old grievances being played out, schisms between different populations and generations laid bare, everybody shilling for their own pet causes. But there were also the good things: getting to hear from people we don’t normally have contact with, meet some new neighbors, and hear different perspectives on common concerns. In the end, we seemed to arrive at a depressingly circular conclusion: we need more small businesses to thrive downtown, but that will require a big overhaul of the town’s water a sewage systems, which we can only pay for by expanding the commercial tax base, which can only happen if more small businesses move in downtown. If nothing else, at least I think the select board has a clearer picture now of what problems they have to try to solve.

Town meeting

May 5, 2015

I went to the spring town meeting last night. It went on a long time and even though there weren’t any major issues on the warrant, there was the usual small-town politics on display. The most amusing (in an ironic way) part of the night was all the stingy old codgers who were so set against spending money on a new school a couple of years ago and are now righteously insistent on spending money to build a senior center in the now mostly vacant old school building.

New in town

August 23, 2014

We used to have a favorite local restaurant in town. There was nothing terribly special about it, but it was good grub that we could walk to. The place folded over a year ago and we’ve missed being able to walk out for dinner and a beer. The building has sat untouched all this time.

Earlier this summer we saw people starting to work on the building and soon it was announced that a new restaurant was going to move in. We eagerly waited all summer to see what would come in. A couple of weeks ago, with very little fanfare, the place opened. (We had been expecting an announcement or a banner out front or something, but one day they just opened the front door and that was it.) We’ve been in a couple of times so far, once for dinner and once for brunch. So far, we are very impressed. The menu is a little pricier than we would really like, but the food is excellent. We’d have to go a long way to find anything as good. We’re especially excited that they offer sushi, as one of the very few things we have missed from New York is good sushi nearby.

We may have found a new favorite hangout. I hope this place manages to stay afloat.

Hippo birdy to me

September 22, 2013

I had a very pleasant birthday. Thank you for all the good wishes.

We’ve been having a run of warm weather, and my birthday was no exception. It was a sunny, cheerful day that made us want to open all the windows and go stretch our legs on the lawn. I started the day by going to the pool to swim. I’ve been heading to the pool for a couple of weeks now since the nights have turned cold and that brings the pond’s temperature down rather fast. I had a very nice swim, although there was a group of little kids who came in to splash around in the shallow end for a while, too.

E. and I took the afternoon to play World of Warcraft together, something we haven’t had the time to do very much lately. In the evening, we went out to have dinner and see a movie. We picked a movie called The Mortal Instruments, something we’d seen previews for back in the summer and that looked interesting. It’s late in the movie’s run, so the two of us were the only people in the theatre, which was good, because the movie turned out to be a real turkey. We got to laugh at it and make snarky remarks to each other without worrying about bothering anyone else.

Back at home we played a little more before heading to bed. It was a lovely, relaxing day to spend together with E. I haven’t gotten many of those lately, so I appreciate them when they come.

My first couple weeks of classes have gone well. I’m getting a feel for my classes’ personalities and they’re mostly good. My first Homer class is a little hesitant to talk, but we still manage to have a conversation. The rest of my classes are very well engaged and get into the discussion.