Wednesday, August 31, 2016

"As a Boy, I Was Obsessed With the Baby-Sitters Club Books. I Have No Regrets."

31 August 2016: Today was an epically busy day. I got a ton done (though not everything on my list), which feels pretty good. But only now, at about 10:30, am I catching my breath and winding down. One of the first things I did today when I got to school, though, was open this link in a tab on my browser. I only had time to read a few lines before I dashed off to class. But even those few lines made me pretty confident that I had found today's good thing. A few minutes ago, when I opened up the tab on my home computer and finally read the piece from start to finish, my hunch was confirmed.

Y'all, I LOVED the Babysitter's Club books when I was a kid. I read and re-read them so many times. I learned so much from them. I still think of them fondly. So I was delighted by this essay, about how a young boy was equally intrigued and delighted by them, gender conformity be damned. If you loved those books, too, give it a read. I think you'll find it charming.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

"Poem for My Love"

30 August 2016: I taught a (different) June Jordan poem today in my Women's Studies class, but that poem lead me to this one: "Poem for My Love." I hadn't read this poem before--just read it for the first time tonight while doing some additional reading about Jordan. But it's quite lovely and today's good thing.

"Poem for My Love" 
June Jordan

How do we come to be here next to each other   
in the night 
Where are the stars that show us to our love   
Outside the leaves flame usual in darkness   
and the rain 
falls cool and blessed on the holy flesh   
the black men waiting on the corner for   
a womanly mirage 
I am amazed by peace 
It is this possibility of you 
and breathing in the quiet air

Monday, August 29, 2016

A surprise visitor

29 August 2016: As I was grading English 101 homework in my office this afternoon, I was delighted to get interrupted by a former student, Ashley, who was back in town to visit campus and say hello to her former teachers. It was really wonderful catching up with her--and not just because I got a temporary break from that grading.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

"Nate Parker's Past, His Present, And The Future of Birth Of A Nation"

28 August 2016: Today's good thing is this fantastic episode of Code Switch about the Nate Parker controversy. The panelists are so smart and thoughtful and, somewhat refreshingly, straightforward about their own attitudes towards seeing the film. I am still not sure if I'll see it...but this discussion gave me plenty to think about.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Twain and cats

27 August 2016: Slept in a bit today and when I finally went outside, I found a package on my doorstep. Inside was today's good thing: this amazing birthday present from Rita, Mikeee, and Ainsley.

It reads: "A home without a cat--and a well-fed, well-petted, and properly revered cat--may be a perfect home, perhaps, but how can it prove it's title?" --Mark Twain. 

 Bing approves.

Veronica likes the packaging.

Seventh inning hits...

26 August 2016: Friday evening was all kinds of awesome. Let me list some reasons...

First, I finally got around to using some free tickets I had for a Hagerstown Suns game, tickets I got last spring for volunteering to help with the "Brain Games" fundraiser. So baseball game.

I had four tickets and my friend Amy had two. Amy couldn't go, but my friends Emily and Carrie could, along with Carrie's husband and their two kids. These are some of my favorite people, so that rocked.

Third, the Suns were playing my old hometown team, the Greensboro Grasshoppers. (Here's a post from when I last saw them play in 2009). I was a bit torn as to who to root for, but in the end, I cheered for the Suns. A bit of drama, right?

Fourth, this game was great...the Grasshopper's pitcher went six innings without a hit and had a 1-0 lead in the seventh. Then the Suns got their only two hits that inning, enough to put them ahead and ultimately win. This was Carrie's kids first baseball game ever and (understandably) they might have been a bit bored until that point. After all, the quiet tension of a close, low-offense game might be lost on a baseball novice. But when those hits came in the seventh, we all stood up and cheered our heads off.

The cherry on top? Fireworks when the game was over. A lovely evening.

Right before the big hit that brought in two runs.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The world's expert on Martha Washington and spam

25 August 2016: Thursday's good thing was another no-brainer: it was Jane's birthday and she is one of the good things in just about every day. But specifically, I am going to shout out the ridiculous idea in this post's title, since, as was revealed in our conversation on Thursday, this is one of her very many areas of expertise. Just try to think of another authority on Martha Washington and spam. See? You can't. It's Jane, clearly.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

"Ring of Keys"

24 August 2016: Yet another Fun Home post! I was so charmed by this video when I saw it this morning. I actually tend to be charmed by lots of these "fan compilation" videos, but man...something about this one. What wonderful work this show has done in the world!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

This guy...

23 August 2016: So this guy is 70 years old today. This picture is a bit old (from 2008), but it's one of my favorite ones of him.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Women record-breakers at Rio

22 August 2016: As I finish up my first day of the semester (heading home to mow the lawn!), I realize I've been thinking fondly all day about this post, listing just some of the awesome women who broke records at Rio. It's got to be today's good thing.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sunday night gif trading...

21 August 2016: This evening, I've been trading messages with my grad school friends. Most of us have the first day of classes tomorrow so the conversation evolved (devolved?) into trading silly motivational gifs about how to walk onto campus and into classrooms.

Here's the favorite one I shared:

Here's the best one shared by a friend:

Yup: those (together) are today's good thing.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Tomato Fest

20 August 2016: This cute little town...always something unique going on. Today's good thing is one of those events: Tomato Fest. Check out all of these tomatoes!

You were to work your way down the row, taking a taste from each and vote on your favorite. I voted for something called "Old German." I hope it wasn't entirely because the name made me laugh.

Dinner with Anthony

19 August 2016: Anthony is a student from one of the first classes I taught at Shepherd. He took ENGL 204 with me--a special section for Honors students. He was in the group that went on this trip with me back in 2008. Even though it was the only class he took with me (he was a super-star business major who graduated early), we stayed in touch and he's become a friend. We had dinner last night and it was just really wonderful to catch up with him.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Ready for Monday (mostly)...

18 August 2016: Today's good thing? Having my syllabi copied, the first day's classes planned, all the readings for the entire semester scanned and posted, the website ready to go... In other words, in every way except emotionally, I am ready for Monday.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

New old hat

17 August 2016: A week ago, I posted about finally deciding to get rid of this old hat. However, even after posting that, I couldn't bring myself to get rid of it. It sat in the house for another week. When I was in NY, though, hanging on the door of his old room, I found three of Ryan's old hats. They are all fishing-themed--not really my thing, but kind of perfect for sweaty yard work. So I asked my mom if I could take one. "Take all three!" she (and my dad) insisted. So I did. (I actually wore one to the game on Saturday night, just to kind of make it like a piece of him was there with us.)

So the old Roanoke hat hit the trash today and I mowed the lawn in this new one. A free replacement for an old possession and one that reminds me of my brother? I like that a lot.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


16 August 2016: Today was a very busy day, but a good one. The highlight? Hitting submit on an email to a journal editor with a possible article attached. That was my last big goal for the summer and it feels great to have it done.

Summer rain

15 August 2016: I drove back down to WV on Monday, spending a lot of time worrying about how my flowers had done while I was gone. I knew it was even hotter here than in NY and my friend texted me that we had had no rain. So, as I made a mental list of things to do when I got home, I put "watering" at the top. How lovely, then, to arrive home and see a major rainstorm approaching. No need to water. Perfect timing.

Pool time...

14 August 2016: We had a little early 70th birthday party for my dad on Sunday. For me, the highlight was playing around in the pool with the kids. Man, I wish I had a pool down here. What's better in the summer?

Ducks Game!

13 August 2016: My family can be kind of wonderful sometimes. Saturday was so freakin' hot and humid. Sane people stayed inside and took advantage of air conditioning. But my family--my parents, my sister and her family, my brother and his family--went with me to see the Long Island Ducks play a home game. The tickets were purchased way in advance, before we knew there'd be a heat wave, but still...I wouldn't have blamed them if they complained more. But they really didn't. We stayed the whole time, even as the Ducks got their butts kicked. They even got my name on the scoreboard (in the list of birthday attendees) and--perhaps my favorite part--we got to see fireworks at the end. It was wonderful.

Colin creeping on my dad. 

Colin and Jeff 

Kelsie, Olivia, and Aidan. 

Tara, Chris, and I. (And Jennifer in the background!) 

Colin and I.

 My mom, me, and Olivia.

Colin, me, and Olivia.

Kim and Chris

12 August 2016: Friday's good thing is a no-brainer: my awesome cousin Kimberly married a really great guy named Chris. The wedding was lovely and fun and a great way to spend my birthday.

Walk through the old neighborhood

[Some catch up posts coming because I was out of town and my computer couldn't get online. Sigh.]

11 August 2016: You know how there are places you remember in that deep part of your memory? Places that shaped who you are? And then you go back to those places and see those things you do remember, but also notice things you never noticed before? Having just that kind of experience was Thursday's good thing.

I drove up to NY on Thursday for my cousin's wedding on Friday. (More about that in a future post.) On Thursday evening, even though it was very hot and humid, I just felt the need for a walk. (Probably had something to do with the long car ride and a general restlessness that settles in whenever I am in NY.) So off I went, walking for a good hour all over my old neighborhood--including streets and areas I haven't really walked through in years and years.

So much was the same, but I could go on and on listing things I never really noticed or saw the same way before: streets that function like min-neighborhoods, some feeling like quiet little worlds; little bungalows that never stood out to me when I was a kid, but are so very charming now; how much pride people in Rocky Point take in their yards; how the houses that were "new" when I was a kid look faded and worn now, but the actual old houses still look the same.

When I got back to my parents' house, my dad asked if the old neighborhood was like I remember. How could I begin to answer him? Memory is too complex.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

This old hat...

10 August 2016: I love this old hat. I've had it for about 12 years...maybe more? It used to be dark blue. Look how faded it is now. For a long time now,  since it started to fray and tear at the front, it's been my yard work hat. Lots of lawns mowed wearing this bad boy. Today, though, after its last trip through the washer and dryer, I think it's time to let it go. I mean, that brim is looking really rough. But it was a good hat and served me well.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Pun pals

9 August 2016: Another fun night with my trivia friends. We won, which is always great, but we had lots of laughs, too, including some groaners over bad puns. So when I got home and saw the image below on Facebook, I knew I had to share it with a couple of them. And I have already gotten some hilarious emails in response. Silly, fun stuff, which is just fine by me.

More early b-day fun...

8 August 2016: Sometimes I just marvel at how blessed I am when it comes to my friends. I feel like wherever God puts me, I end up meeting people who bring joy and light to my life. Two of those people are my friends Anna and Josh--who I first met when they were students in my classes, who actually started dating in one of my classes, and who got married about a year and a half ago. Monday's good thing comes straight from them. It's this box of goodies that they gave me for my birthday.

There's a cute little notebook, two hilarious magnets (love them both, but especially "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad."), and two Heidi-specific candles: one called "The Scarlet Letter" and the other "Walden Woods." So yeah, awesome gift from awesome friends.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

"We Belong"

8 August 2016: Love, love, love "We Belong" by Pat Benatar, It came up today on my iPod and that led me to look up when it was released, which led me (don't ask how) to this lovely instrumental version. Beautiful!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Lunch date

6 August 2016: A busy day today, with lots of things getting checked off my to-do list. The best part, though, was having lunch with two of my favorite students. One is actually a graduate; the other is her sister, a current student. They are just wonderful young women and it was fun to spend time with them together and see how, like so many sisters, they have so much in common but are also so very different.

Friday, August 5, 2016


5 August 2016: I was supposed to see Spy, starring Melissa McCarthy, when it first came out last year. I had organized a group outing with a bunch of friends and was stoked. Then I got a call from my sister that she needed me to come and babysit while she and Eric took their amazing dog, Vedder, who had put up a long and noble fight against cancer, to the vet to be put to sleep. So the movie had to wait and my friends went without me.

In March, I actually DVRed the darn film and it has sat on the machine for five months. I started it earlier in the week and finally finished it today while getting some editing and revising done. Anyway, what a delightful film! And yay for Miranda Hart! And hilarious Jason Statham! And Allison Janney! I could go on...but you get the point.

First movie

4 August 2016: I took Krista to her first movie-in-a-theater yesterday. There was a bit of trepidation on the part of the adults involved, but it went pretty darn well. Spoiler alert: Dory gets found.

Shout-out to whatever cartoon Krista watched in preparation that tells little kids how to behave in movie theaters. She carefully explained to me that it's okay to laugh, but not to talk. Of course, she very quickly forgot the "no talking" rule, but since we were at a not-crowded theater in the middle of a weekday, it wasn't a big deal. And because she's a kind of smart-ass, when I would remind her not to talk or at the very least, just whisper, she would pause for a moment and then fake-laugh, since laughing is okay. She's an adorable little jerk sometimes.

Outside the theater afterwards. 

 Ice-cream stop on the way home.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Mind at work!

Check out this most excellent early birthday present I received from my awesome friend Hannah. It will help me channel my inner Schuyler sister. I so want to be an Angelica, but am probably a Peggy.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

"Harlem Heroes"

2 August 2016: Today's good thing is this article about a new exhibit at the Smithsonian. Such powerful pictures! And yeah, I am planning to see the whole thing in person.


1 August 2016: As I sat in my office on Monday morning, still not quite believing it was already August and feeling a bit overwhelmed at the thought of not getting as much done as I wanted to, I was pretty darn grateful for some tunes that came up on my Pandora station--songs that fit that label of relaxing yet uplifting and motivating. That includes the song below.