Saturday, November 15, 2014

Icy November


When most trees in our small city had lost their leaves after the cold spells that November has brought, this maple still maintained its glorious radiance until yesterday, when it gave up the ghost and its leaves fell, turning the street into a carpet of crimsons and burnt red.

Meanwhile, the Cooper's Hawk that hunts at our feeder paid us a visit recently, scaring off every winged creature and lording it up for the phone camera.


I've been spending a lot of time in my home-away apartment near my small college on the hill, and Chiquita goes up there with me to keep me company so it's not too lonely. She likes to snuggle in this chair where she can keep an eye on me while I work.


She also likes to look out the picture window at the comings and goings outside, maintaining her self-esteem as a very effective guard dog, despite her tiny size.


Recently, upon leaving one of the many meetings I attend these days (I now know that it was no exaggeration when I was told administration meant a lot more meetings) the sunset put up quite the show as it set the sky on fire over the old cemetery in my small college on the hill. Simply breathtaking!




I'm still really enjoying the variety and challenges of balancing my teaching with my new job, but I'm very much looking forward to the break over Thanksgiving week. And then, when we return, it'll be just two weeks before the semester ends. It hasn't been an easy semester work-wise but it's been a breeze compared to last year when I was struggling with so many scary health problems. Being healthy is such a blessing that it provides quick and very good perspective on all other difficulties that might arise.

While it's not fun to think that winter is here again (and this November is feeling more like January!), it's inevitable so best to enjoy what we can and look forward to the spring of a new year.

Friday, October 31, 2014

I love Halloween!





The saddest part of Halloween is how quickly it arrives and how fast it's over. This year, despite better weather than last year when it rained, we had less children stopping by on "Beggar's Night" last night, though we did still ran through most of our candy (my husband always keeps a small reserved "stash").

This year he carved the best Jack-O-Lantern ever, and my sister sent me the best costume for Lizzy (as the Headless Horseman's horse) but it was too small. Still, we made good use of it and fun was had by all (except Lizzy, of course, though she did enjoy being petted by the very mannerly children who all adorably asked "Can I pet your dog?").

Goodbye Halloween! Until next year!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

October days

Like March and April in the spring, October is the busiest month for pretty much everyone at my small college on the hill, and it's even busier for me now that I'm doing two jobs at the same time. This past Thursday and Friday I was busy pretty much every minute of both days (yesterday from 8:30 a.m. to 9:45 p.m.) in events all related to work.

Now that it's over, I'm very grateful that I got to sleep in a little this morning and will soon be going back home to my husband and furry children. There's still piles of grading to get through, which I hope to finally get to tackle over the next two days. So no weekend break for now.

Because this October has been so over scheduled (in comparison with last year), and because we were in Ann Arbor last weekend also for a work-related conference, my husband made his delicious buttermilk biscuits on  Monday and it was the perfect way to start another busy-bee week.



Meantime, the fallscapes around my small college on the hill are at their peak, with trees getting routinely illuminated in their full color by the afternoon sun and the farm lands acting like the last green preambles to the groves of trees dressed up for fall.

And, of course, this month is Halloween and our house in the small city is already decked out for that purpose. Next week our small city has trick-or-treat hours on Thursday and that's a highlight of our life in that community so I'm very much looking forward to it! (Note to self: don't forget to get candy!)


I'll leave you with a video I shot of Chiquita, in my home-away-from-home near my small college on the hill, doing one of her favorite things: chasing a ball. She's not the best retriever, as you'll see, but she does love to chase that yellow ball as if she were.


video



Saturday, October 11, 2014

Luna de toros


This month, the moon was huge in the sky at night. The first picture is taken with my phone from the courtyard in front of my small apartment near my college on the hill.


The second photo, also from my cellphone, is the fuller moon a day or two later from our home in the city. Just looking at the photos makes me want to howl.

Friday, October 10, 2014

October break


When I started my administrative job, one of my colleagues promised that the amount of meetings I would attend would at least double. I smiled at what seemed like a funny exaggeration since I was already attending a fair share of meetings before I started as associate provost.

But, like many such predictions I've tended to disbelieve, this one was quite accurate. Some days, I have a hard time keeping on track when going from meeting to meeting to meeting to office hours with students to teaching my classes to meeting to meeting to meeting. Though this position is half time for now, it is obviously one that could easily be full time with the amount of work it's absorbing. Some days nowadays I find that the phrase "booked solid" aptly describes a schedule that goes from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. in meetings and class-time alone.

Still, I'm learning a lot in this new position and really enjoying the different challenges that teaching and administration bring. But it's not easy keeping on top of two new preparations for my two brand-new classes (even if one is modeled after the Honors Seminar I already taught) so I'm looking forward to next semester, which will be easier with only one class to teach (and that a class I've taught several times before). But we're already mid-term so I just have to pull through this first one as best as I can.

Not having had a chance to celebrate my appointment yet, my husband and I went to the Hocking Hills this past Thursday for October Break to enjoy "the colors" and to spend a night at our favorite Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls. This is a lovely place that we try to go to at least once a year, mostly for dinner at their restaurant, but we'd never stayed in their cottages before so we decided to try one of them.

We stopped at Lake Logan for a few pictures and even in the rain the area was just vibrant with fall colors and I could feel myself relax after the challenging first several weeks in the new job.


Once at the Inn, we got the Bluebell cottage, which didn't look like much from the front but was very comfortable inside. It also had a wonderful deck overlooking the forest and I can only imagine how beautiful it must be in warmer and better weather.





We had some time before our dinner reservation, so we decided to hike to Cedar Falls, which is now only a trickle, but which is beautiful during its peak seasons. It's a cliff area and there have been plenty of news stories about accidents and falls by people who stray off the trail so the signs are a little bit daunting. But the hike itself is very safe and easy, and well worth it since the views are breathtaking, even in the drizzling rain.











It is an ancient area, with huge sandstone configurations that speak of a time when the region was under water, and one can't help but be amazed when walking through the rock formations.

After the hike, we had a delicious dinner, a restful night's sleep, and we returned home yesterday. It was a quick turnaround, and I was a little sad that it was over so quickly. But I'm very grateful that we have such a lovely place not far from home. Hopefully, we'll get to go back soon.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

September


A whole month speeds by and feels like an absence in this blog after I'm appointed to a new position at the college so that I'm now working "half-time" in teaching and as Associate Provost of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. In addition to the new responsibilities, I'm teaching two new courses and holding the full five hours of office hours for my 30 students, one Honors student, and 17 English and other majors for whom I'm the faculty advisor. It's a full plate but I'm learning a lot and really enjoying developing the varied skills that these two different positions ask of me.

One of the pluses of the new arrangement is that I have a place to stay at my small college on the hill so that I don't have to commute any more often than I was. That means I get to enjoy taking a walk with the dogs in the mornings, when the campus is still quiet.


September also has brought with it my favorite donut--pumpkin--at our favorite donut shop in the small city where we live, and my husband surprised me recently by bringing me one for desert.


The end of summer and start of fall also brings with it the apple harvest, which in Ohio is a treat. My very favorites are the Honeycrisp apples and my husband enjoys the easily made fresh apple pies.


Also this month, we recently got a chance to take the Niñas, as I call my doggies, to a nearby park that has a turtle pond and where we love to go whenever we get a chance. It's about a mile around the pond and Lizzy, specifically, loves the smells and pulls at the leash, eager to catch something though I'm not sure she knows what.


September also marked the start of Hispanic Heritage Month and, as part of my new position, I get to coordinate efforts to celebrate the different multicultural observations. This time we had the most well-attended HHM Opening and Flag Ceremony in the 8+ years I've been at my small college on the hill.


Chiquita has gotten quite used to the carrier with all this going back and forth to the college, and today she had her yearly checkup and her vaccinations.


To celebrate the 80-degree weather a few days before fall officially arrives on Monday, we hopped on the motorcycle and off we went to our favorite buffet in the Hocking Hills. A perfect way to spend a late-September Saturday.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Celebrity


My honey giving a talk in Indiana today on his book of motorcycling stories! My book, whenever it comes out, won't ever be this interesting to strangers! :)