Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Anything can be a musical...

30 March 2016: Long day today, but this clip from The Late Show really made me smile. These two are so charming.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


29 March 2016: So "Waterloo" came on in the background while we were at trivia this week. It didn't even matter that I was in public. So much chair-dancing ensued.

Coin check!

28 March 2016: So excited to get my rewards for supporting Radiotopia--a cool new t-shirt and my 99% Invisible challenge coin.


27 March 2016: I continue to feel blessed to have Erin and her family living close enough that we can spend Easter together. Spending the day with them was lovely. A few pictures...

Krista with one of the silly gifts I gave her.

Checking out the eggs.

Green eggs and Ham. (The dog's name is Ham.)

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Favorite tree in town...

26 March 2016: My favorite tree in town is in bloom again. In fact the whole town is just gorgeous now. Welcome, spring! (And give this poem a read/listen, too.)

Good Friday memories

25 March 2016: This Good Friday found me feeling very nostalgic, remembering how important and marked by ritual Holy Week always was when I was younger. Most influential were the Tenebrae services when I was at Suffolk Lutheran. Even as a child, I found the symbolism so powerful and moving. Reflecting back on all of this, I realize once again how lucky I was to grow up this way and how it has continued to influence my life.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Look at that stride...

24 March 2016: Another reminder today of how social media can do lovely things: one of my best friends from when I was kid--someone I hadn't spoken to in probably a decade until we reconnected on Facebook years ago--sent me a message today with this picture in it.

It's a statue of my man Walt at Bear Mountain Zoo/Park in New York. My old friend was there with her kids for a nice afternoon, complete with picnic. Look at that statue--that stride, those clothes...that's Walt. Love it. And love that she saw it and thought of me.Walt would be proud.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Moon shot

23 March 2016: Lots of good things to choose from for today's post, but I am going with how beautiful the moon was tonight when I took my walk. I am not very good at taking pictures--especially at night--but trust me, the reality was much better.

Forced distractions...

22 March 2016: Tuesday was a very busy/stressful day. On my way to trivia, I was thinking, "For the first time, I wish I could skip. I just don't have time for this." But I went anyway. And a couple of hours later, when the game was over (and no, we didn't win), I realized that for two hours, I hadn't felt stressed or overwhelmed. I had simply had fun. Yeah, I was still behind when I got home and had to stay up late that night and get up early this morning, but going to that game and taking that break was a good thing.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Sympathetic audiences

21 March 2016: Sometimes you just gotta rant for a bit, and when you do, it helps to have an understanding audience. So today's good thing is actually two people (bad grammar there, I know): Carrie and Tim, good friends from work who allowed me to launch into a pretty emotional bit of ranting. (Too long and complicated to explain the subject of said rant.) That wonderful thing happened that happens sometimes when you rant: you feel better when you are done.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

"The best antihero now isn't a badass"

20 March 2016: Today's good thing is this great piece of TV criticism about Better Call Saul, a show that is so much better than I ever hoped it would be. 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

"First Flight"

19 March 2016: Our students represented Shepherd University quite well today at the West Virginia Undergraduate English Symposium. All six gave terrific presentations. One of them won the prize for best written essay (one of my students, in fact) and another won for best presentation. The symposium itself was interesting and congenial--just a great experience for everyone involved.

One of the highlights was the keynote address given by Marc Harshman, West Virginia's Poet Laureate. His talk was moving, inspiring, and delightful. He shared this poem by Louise McNeill, which you just need to read. It reminded me of this moment when was about seven, running down the road on a summer's day, convinced that my new sneakers made me run faster than any car. (Probably the last time I ever thought of myself as fast!) It was, like this poem suggests, magical.

Once when I was little and played on the hill,
One wondrous evening, I dream of it still– 
Mom called me to dinner, impatient, I knew– 
So I lifted my arms up and flapped them and flew.

I lifted my arms up and flapped them, and lo!
I was flying as fast as my short legs could go.
The hill swirled beneath me, all foggy and green;
I lit by the yard fence, and no one had seen.

I told them at dinner, I said, “I can fly.”
They laughed, not believing. I started to cry
And ran from the table, and sobbed, “It is true– 
You need not believe me; I flapped and I flew.”

I told them next morning, I told them again– 
For years I kept telling; they laughed and I ran– 
No one would believe me; I ceased then to tell;
But still I remember, remember it well– 

One soft summer evening up there on the knoll,
Before life had harried the reach of my soul,
I stood there in twilight, in childlight, and dew– 
And I lifted my arms up and flapped them and flew!

Back to Wheeling

18 March 2016: Friday found me on my way back to Wheeling, WV for the West Virginia Undergraduate English Symposium, along with my work husband Tim and six of our students. Wheeling is an interesting place, always making me think of Rebecca Harding Davis. I hadn't been there is several years (since the last time the symposium was there), so it was kind of cool to be back there. After we arrived, Tim and I took a walk through an old neighborhood with lots of lovely old homes. That night, we took the students to an Italian restaurant we went to the last time we were there. All in all, a good day.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Birthday Bing

17 March 2016: Of course today's good thing is Bing's 14th birthday. Whether he liked it or not (he sent mixed signals), he allowed me to do a brief celebratory photo shoot.

 Just waking up as I approach with the camera.

 Umm, okay. Let's do this.

Handsome close-up.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Rock star!

16 March 2016: Today I drove down to Charlottesville to see my good friend Gretchen talk about her book at the Virginia Book Festival. It was awesome. She's awesome.

 Holding the mike like a boss.

Signing books like a super-star.

Puppy pick-me-up

15 March 2016: This Spring Break has been especially busy and packed--there's a lot I want to get done and not much time to do it--and so on Tuesday I found myself trudging to my office on campus, eyes cast downward, earbuds in, feeling a bit stressed and anxious. Then I overheard someone calling my name. I turned around and it was my friend, Amy, also up on campus getting some work done. With her was Luther, the guide dog she is training. I gotta tell you, a minute of puppy time was just what I needed to snap out of the incoming bad mood.

Monday, March 14, 2016

"Written by Walt Whitman, a friend"

14 March 2016: A student mentioned this story to me last week, but I didn't actually come across it myself until today. Beautiful. Gives me chills.

My favorite part: "'I think Walt's time was the most important gift that he was giving these men,' Budell says. 'Really they just needed someone to sit by their side.'"


13 March 2016: As I keep noting in these posts, the political atmosphere these days is downright depressing. After seeing Zootopia yesterday, my friends and I were joking about how some of our presidential candidates need to see this film. I mean, really. It's fun movie--not super-great, but very good--but its message is sweet and affirming and good for the world. Maybe it's not the candidates who need to see it; it's the voters.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Flowering trees

12 March 2016: Spring is my favorite season, of course, and the flowering trees play a starring role in the reasons why. Today is the first day I noticed that a few are already in bloom--just in time for Spring Break.

Potters' Bowl

11 March 2016: Friday was a very long and tiring day, but a clear highlight was the Potters' Bowl, a fundraiser for a local charity. Besides contributing to a good cause and getting to eat some seriously good soup, you get to pick a handmade bowl to take home.

Here's Bing inspecting my bowl. I think he approves.


10 March 2016: She snuck up on him while he was asleep, but here are they, actually kind of sort of cuddling up together. Not counting when they are crowded into an open window, this is the closest they've been by choice while relaxing. Baby steps!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

"If There Was No You"

9 March 2016: Today was a strange day. In some ways, it was terrific--good classes, a nice lunch with some colleagues, some good conversations with students. But you know how some days you just A bit anxious or down? A bit worried about ineffable things? I was having that kind of day, at least in fleeting moments. Then this lovely song, one of my favorites by Brandi Carlile, came on and, well...I felt better. And I hit the "repeat" button. And now I am going to hit it again.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Hitting the "send" button again...

8 March 2016: Man, it feels good to send off the third of four pieces I need to get done between early February and June 1. This was an article about Sarah Winnemucca for a volume on Realism aimed towards a student audience.

Three down; one to go. (The biggest one, I should note, is the last one, but I hey, I am getting to it a whole three days early.)

Monday, March 7, 2016

Mojave Phone Booth

7 March 2016: I was utterly captivated and charmed by the latest 99% Invisible podcast episode called "Mojave Phone Booth." What a cool story about remote locations, random connections, and evolving technology.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Another sign of spring

6 March 2016: Here's a view from one of my favorite spots in the neighborhood: this little wooded area with a stream running through. I was struck today by how vibrant and green certain patches are. Keep 'em coming, Mother Nature!

We saved the world...once out of four times...

5 March 2016: Check out this Pandemic board. That's a win, my friends, and it was an impressive one. We didn't even use any of the good event cards. (Yes, I know this means nothing if you don't play Pandemic, but trust me, it was impressive enough to snap a picture.)

We lost the other three times we played, but man, we had fun.

Friday morning snow

4 March 2016: You know I usually hate the stuff, but the snow on Friday morning (which didn't stick to any roads or sidewalks) was my kind of snow. And it was gorgeous. The pictures don't do it justice, but here was the view from my favorite part of campus on Friday morning.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Women of Hamilton + Feminism = Perfection

3 March 2016: Today's good thing is a no-brainer.

Co-winner goes to my yet-to-arrive baby niece, whose face I saw today in an email that included an ultrasound picture and video. Baby Girl will make her entry, God willing, into a world that is getting much cooler about embracing feminism.

"You'll Lose a Good Thing"

2 March 2016: Talk to some of my friends and they'll kind of laugh about my enthusiasm for oldies. One friend used to say, "You and my dad [who is over 70] would get along very well." But every once in a while I hear an oldie I've never heard before and I am like, "Where has this song been my whole life?" The song below, which popped up on Pandora a couple of weeks ago, is one of those tracks. It popped up again on Wednesday during a particularly rough grading session and made me do a bit of chair-dancing (mellow chair-dancing).

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Early blooms

1 March 2016: On my walk today, part of me was almost a bit sad to see these little buds, a sure-fire sign that spring is around the bend, because there might be snow on Friday (yuck) and I fear for the little guys. But I am embracing the positive sign that this will probably be the last snow (fingers crossed).

"February 29"

29 February 2016: Leap Day's good thing is this post by Katy Waldman about "February 29," a poem by Jane Hirschfield. Great poem; lovely analysis. I really like this part:

"The poem’s spare, unassuming images (someone stumbling after he’s had too much to drink, a cracked door) gracefully bear the weight of abstract ideas. Hirshfield compares the leap day to a small consolation, a little more time with someone you’ve lost: 'a letter re-readable after its writer has died.' (Notice how gently her two rooms, illuminated and dark, stand in for life and death.) Throughout, the poet underscores the sweetness of this small cosmic excess, unnecessary, unremarkable, but inspirited in the same way a space feels inspirited by light, or by a person passing through it."