About Me

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I'm a woman entering "the third chapter" and fascinated by the journey.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

What were they thinking?

A walk in this afternoon's glorious sunshine and warm (for February in the Valley) temperatures left me wondering what was on the minds of some of the creatures observed.

First, a quartet of Canada geese were chasing each other around in the rapidly-flowing Muskingum River. One would squawk, take off for a few feet a few inches above the water, and land back in the river, only to be overtaken by another doing exactly the same thing. They never actually left the river during the time I watched them, but just kept scooting around and making irritated-sounding noises. Establishing MY spot to float in? Mate selection? Playing? (I must confess to having no idea what geese think.)

Then two crows were engaging in a sidewalk conversation. I never actually saw the second crow, only heard it, but one handsome specimen kept turning in profile, allowing itself to be admired until I got too close. After downing some tiny gravel (or something in the tiny gravel--I couldn't tell), the crow flew into a dogwood and looked at me suspiciously. Its conversation partner had already fallen silent.

Then, something I had never seen before--a large flock of gulls engaging in some sort of aerial dance. They were swooping around each other, making intricate patterns like starlings in a murmuration, but when the sun hit at the right angle, light actually flashed from the birds' wings. Whether this movement had any purpose other than sheer beauty and joy, I've no idea.

Then, a human whose behavior left me wondering. Today was a lovely day, but no more than 65 degrees. I was not expecting to see a (very) pale male human in swim shorts, lying on a beach towel in his (or someone's) driveway.  What was he thinking?

Saturday, February 27, 2016


Having made the decision to end my full-time teaching career in December, this is looking to be a year filled with "lasts." This semester, for instance, marks my last Earth Day Expo as senior advisor for the college environmental organization, and my last freshman comp classes. There will be three sections of the research paper coming up in the fall, but this semester is almost certainly the last time ENGL 101 will be part of my life. (Looking at the stack of papers still to be graded before Monday, however, I am not certain that this is a  bad thing.)

Some more of this year's "lasts":
  • sitting through faculty in-service meetings
  • submitting textbook orders
  • advising confused first-semester students
  • serving on hiring, institutional self-study, or any other college committees
  • wondering how to cope with the latest round of state budget cuts and idiotic prescriptions coming from Charleston.
These things will not be missed. Daily contact with students will be.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Signs of spring

This is the time of year featured in an old John Denver instrumental, Late Winter, Early Spring (When Everybody Goes to Mexico), a title that meant nothing to me growing up in South Florida. People in an area that stays green and has something blooming year-round do not, in my memory, experience that yearning for something, anything, that is fresh and growing and, particularly, blooming.

We are getting such things here in our valley. The first snow crocus have been sending up occasional blooms for the last two weeks, the daffodil and early tulip foliage is poking up, and yesterday I noticed the year's first bittercress. It's blooming, so for now, I'll take it, even though the plants will need to be ripped out by their shallow little roots so that they don't take over. (Is it possible, though, for anything to take over in an area planted with violets and coreopsis? My guess is that those little thugs can take care of themselves.)

And a mystery plant has been showing signs of life. This little twig is obviously something I planted as it is surrounded by cardboard mulch, but since I don't generally label passalong plants, the identity of this gift plant was forgotten for most of the winter. (There was a time when my memory could be trusted, but those days are gone.) Yesterday, however, a brief study of the emerging leaves of the erstwhile mystery jogged my recalcitrant memory: the seedling is a tree peony, and it made it through the winter!!! This little exotic may not reach blooming size for a few more years, but anticipating its eventual magnificence is not a bad thing.

Several inches of snow are predicted for later in the week, but for now, we can imagine spring.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Another snow day

Being the weather wimp that I am, I certainly have no objection to campus being closed because of hazardous road conditions, but my poor Monday-Wednesday classes are getting the brunt of winter. Besides the usual closing for MLK day, those students have now lost an entire additional week due to weather. Winter makes one grateful for e-mail and the ability to post handouts online.

Snow days make it possible to spend a little more time observing the feeders (in between paper-grading, online-course-updating, and accreditation-report-reading, of course). I am pleased to note that, even here in the heart of downtown, we have chickadees, titmice, an assortment of sparrows, juncoes, goldfinches--and an irritated-looking pair of cardinals calling my attention to the near-emptiness of their chosen feeder.

Looks like it's time to get dressed and put on the boots and ice cleats. Duty calls.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The unexpected

It has been a very long time between posts. Work is taking me longer to complete than it used to, and there certainly is no less of it, since our department is down two entire faculty members. To be fair, enrollment is also down, and so is the number of class sections, but my four classes started out full--two of them, even oversubscribed--and are still reasonably so. Job security is a very good thing, but ninety students in writing-intensive classes--plus two student organizations, three committees, and a new task reorganizing the college's international offerings--take up a lot of one's time. At least the classes are full of interesting people with compelling stories to tell.

Winter Storm Jonas was not unexpected, having been all over the news for days, but I was not expecting the amount of shoveling required around our majorly downsized abode. Having lived for six years in a place with no sidewalks, I had forgotten how much walkway surrounds a corner lot.

This is just a tiny segment between the main sidewalk and Street #1. We had sixty feet in each direction plus a driveway still to do. But hey, it's cardio, right?

When the snow finally melted and I could get out for an actual walk by the river (which featured quite the skim of ice even then), I was surprised by a possum waddling through a yard at 3:00 in the afternoon. Our resident marsupials generally come out at night, but it turns out that they, like humans, take advantage of warmer temperatures for foraging. Our nights have been cold.

But today brought this sighting at the edge of the driveway.

 In the years that I have been documenting such things, this is the earliest crocus I remember: a welcome sight, but perhaps a sign of trouble to come?