Archive for the ‘School’ Category

Last swim

September 3, 2016

I had my last swim in the pond today. The nights are getting cold and our pond is so shallow it cools down very fast in the fall. We’ve also been in a drought all summer long, which means the usually fairly mucky water is getting extremely mucky, made worse by the late-summer algae bloom. It’ll be the pool for me from now until next summer.

Classes start again next Wednesday, which is also the day we’re expecting the dregs of hurricane Hermine to blow through. That will be an interesting day.

In just a few days my first sabbatical will be over. It was a wonderful, productive experience and I’m going to miss the freedom and flexibility. I am excited to get back to teaching, which is my real love, but I’ll miss the days of just sitting in my office and writing all day long.


Barbarians outline done

August 31, 2015

My goal was to finish the outline for my barbarians book by the end of August and I made it. The outline comes to 52 pages and covers 14 chapters. I need to do some serious thinking about how long I want the book to be and how much I need to condense things to cover all the important topics. Tomorrow. Tonight I’m relaxing.

Almost done

May 3, 2015

I have had my last undergraduate classes of the spring; just one grad class left to go. I have graded everything but the final exams, which will come in next week. I have two meetings still to go to before the year is over, but the end is very nearly here. It’s a strange experience to have free time, especially after this winter where everything else had to be fit in around the snow shoveling.

On Friday evening my office-mate and her husband came up to join us and we walked out together to our local favorite place for dinner. It was a great way to celebrate and relax.

We had a few weeks of cooler weather, but now it’s turning really warm. The trees are just fit to burst out in leaves and the grass is starting to grow again. I’m getting ready to start things in the garden.

Counting the weeks

April 11, 2015

The spring slogs on. I have three weeks of classes left to go and three weeks has never felt so long. I am so very ready for my sabbatical. My office-mate is about to leave for a very exciting two-year fellowship at another university, so we’re both getting itchy to get out.

We still have snow on the ground, although the past week has seen most of it melt. The front yard is almost entirely clear. I don’t know why the back yard always takes so much longer to melt, but it does.

Construction has started on the new house on the lot next to us. It has made for some noisy days. I hope it will go quickly and we won’t be living with construction for most of the summer.

A few good things

February 21, 2015

A few good things from the past could of weeks, despite the snow.

I gave a talk to some middle school kids early in the semester about Roman archaeology in Scotland. Its’ a gig I’ve done before in previous years and it’s always been fun. Last week the school sent me a lovely box of pears as a thank-you gift.

I have a wonderful office mate who brings me banana bread and cocoa on snowy days and makes me laugh. I’m lucky to have such a good friend at work.

My stick figure comics have been getting a lot of attention lately. Apparently born-again Christians like them. I don’t think they quite realize which side of the laughing-with / laughing-at line I’m on. (My laughter is more Horatian than Juvenalian, but still…)

I made a carrot cake that came out pretty well. I’m not generally very good with cakes, so this is an accomplishment.

We had some warmish days and some strong sunshine that gave us a little melting in the driveway. It was tremendously satisfying to go out with my new ice chopper and whack away at the crumbly bits.

Other than that, we’re hunkered down waiting for the winter to end.

Flu and snow

January 25, 2015


We’re both sick. I got it first and probably gave it to E. Sorry about that. It feels like a flu, which feels pretty bad. I’ve been knocked pretty flat for the last couple of days. Today I’m starting to feel a little better– at least in the sense that feeling like you fell down four flights of stairs is better than feeling like you fell down five. I had to cancel classes on Friday. My next classes are on Wednesday, and I’m not sure yet whether I’ll be well enough by then, but that brings us to the next problem.

The next problem is snow. We got a few inches of it yesterday, but from Monday into Tuesday we’re expecting a storm to blow through and drop thirty inches or so. Normally, E and I can clear our driveway by ourselves, even after a dump that big, but when we’re both so weak from flu that getting out of bed is a challenge, that’s not going to happen. We’re looking into local companies that do snow removal, but with the storm still several days out it’s really hard to predict when they can be around the clear us out.

So, those are the things making life tough for us right now. It’s relly hard to see how the week ahead is going to go. We’ll get through, of course, one way or another. It’s just a question of how many more classes I will have to cancel, when we will get to the grocery store next, and how much this is all going to cost us in money, sweat, and time.

Ready for spring (semester)

January 14, 2015

I have finished writing up my syllabi and getting things posted online for the spring semester.  Now I can spend the next week doing all of the stuff that got put off while I was rushing to finish my syllabi.  This afternoon, for starters, we’re going furniture shopping.

Fall begins

September 18, 2014

A few weeks ago I was swimming in the pond, wearing t-shirts, shorts and sandals, sleeping under just a sheet, and enjoying the last few days of vacation. Now I’m swimming in the pool, wearing long pants, socks, and long sleeves, sleeping with a quilt and blanket, and teaching long days twice a week. The fall has come on fast.

My classes have been enjoyable so far. I have four in a row on Wednesdays and Fridays, which leaves me exhausted and a little sore-throated by the end of the day, but I like being able to do them all in one go and then have time to recover in between. One out of my four classes has been a little more challenging than the others, but I think we’re making progress and people are figuring out what I expect of them.

Almost done

May 4, 2014

Classes are over and the other business of the semester is wrapping up. Last week I spent more time in meetings than in class. Now I have a full week of not having to be on campus and it’s great. I still have a bunch of final projects and final exams still to come in and be graded, two graduation ceremonies to attend, and a big department meeting to wrap it all up, but the end is in sight.

It was a rough semester. I had some problem students and some difficult days in class. The weather just made things worse as we had a long winter than just wouldn’t go away and spring has been cold, wet, and slow to get moving. I’m always tired at the end of the semester, but this spring has been particularly exhausting.

The bright spot of the spring is getting tenure. I expected that achieving tenure would feel good, but I’m still surprised at how much it has changed my outlook. For years now I’ve had the thought always in my mind: “I ought to serve on this committee / apply to this conference / write this article / teach in this program / etc. because it will look good on my tenure application.” Now that’s gone. Now I feel more clear-headed and less conflicted about doing the things I care about and bowing out of the things I don’t.

I have few big plans for the summer. I mean to send out an article and work on preparing a book manuscript and looking for a publisher. I have the usual work of preparing for fall classes. I’m going to try growing peas and cucumbers out back and see if I can get some fruit off the trees this year. I will definitely be visiting Maine (though we’ve decided not to go to Finland). Right now, though, I just need to take some time to sleep, cook, write fiction, play games, be with E, and the other things that help restore my energy, because this spring has wiped me out.

Spring semester update

February 5, 2014

We’re a few weeks into the spring semester and I’m very happy so far. It’s a little disorienting since this is the first time I’m teaching four different classes at the same time (before I’ve always had at least two sections of World History 1) but all of my classes are going very well. This semester’s interesting development is: ancient Greek. A group of students came to me last fall and asked me to teach them to read ancient Greek. With some help from the language department we got a class set up and I am now teaching elementary ancient Greek to a class of seven students. There were more people who expressed interest, but I’m glad to have ended up with a small class.

The introduction of the new core curriculum continues and that means lots of work for us to do in the department. Things are very unsettled right now as no one really knows which classes students are going to sign up for and which may end up getting canceled. It will probably take a few years for things to settle out and become more predictable.

The winter continues to buffet us. The pattern still holds that we get big dumps of snow followed by warm spells that melt most of it away. Today we’re in the middle of another big storm. I expect to spend the late afternoon and early evening shoveling. E. and I have both gotten very busy with work and not had a lot of time for each other lately, but we’ve planned a little getaway in the spring that should give us a nice break.

I have a batch of farmhouse blueberry ale bubbling in the carboy right now. I used some of my new equipment from Christmas and it made the brewing process quicker and easier. Last night I made baked mahi-mahi with a soy-ginger glaze, rice, and green beans; tonight I’m going to make a pot of chilli to warm us up after flinging snow around. And life at Heather House goes on.