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.


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


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


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! :)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Home, sweet home

Back home after my short Puerto Rican adventure, I'm counting down the days until school begins again (August 28) and enjoying these unscripted days of summer. Starting a week day (not just a Sunday) with my husband's buttermilk biscuits, accompanied by the Tupelo honey that a friend suggested I try in Savannah and which is now my favorite, has been a summer perk for me.

Crazy Hamlet, looking like he's "playing possum" and Chiquita, following me to the basement when I do laundry and waiting, patiently, for me to return upstairs, have been some of the highlights of these fast-ending August days.

It was dark today by 9 p.m., when we walked Lizzy, and it was sad to realize that the days are already getting shorter. Nothing good lasts forever, it's true. But while memory can do its job, there is an eternity in remembrance.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Puerto Rico time

This past week I flew to Puerto Rico to attend a literature seminar at the Universidad del Turabo, where my mom works as coordinator for the reading room created in her and my dad's honor. The lovely room contains many of the books my dad read and owned, and many of my mom's, too, and it's an ideal place to gather to think about and to enjoy literature. I decided to go because the person who gave the seminar, Mercedes López Baralt, is one of the most renowned scholars on the island and I just couldn't miss the chance to take a two-day class with her! And I wasn't disappointed. It was a great experience and I feel so privileged to be part of such an amazing group, led by my mom, of Puerto Rican professors at the UT.

Not only was the seminar terrific but the campus of the UT is a lovely place, including this glorious ceiba, native to the island, one of the few that remains.

My mom gave out certificates of participation and I got one, too!

My mom and I went to Bebo's for dinner, in Santurce, a place that specializes in Puerto Rican food. I was able to order a scrumptious salmorejo de jueyes with tostones de pana, my favorites! And we capped it all with the best flan de coco I've ever had. Bebo's has definitely become a "must eat there" kind of place when we go to the island.

This is the time of year when the flamboyanes and the trinitarias are at their most glorious and they were a delight to the eyes.


This is a short video I took of the Puerto Rican night, serenaded by our tiny coquíes, the tree frogs that make island nights so different from anywhere else in the world.

It was a short trip, only four days, two of which I spent at the seminar. Saturday I got to reconnect with an old college friend I hadn't seen in 14 years. That was rather bittersweet because while he was very important to me during my college years and was a true and supportive friend, he didn't remember any of the stories I told him of what a good friend he was to me. It's one of those lessons in life when you realize that someone may mean a lot to you but you may not even register in their (long term) radar. 
And that's perfectly alright. 

Then on Sunday, I was up before dawn to catch a flight back home. No matter how much I enjoy being away, returning to Ohio, to my beloved husband and furry children, is always the best part of leaving.