Thursday, May 26, 2011

Wild life

With the semester finally and blessedly over, life has a different pace and hue around here, helped by sunnier and warmer days even though this has been a very wet May, fast on the heels of the wettest April on record in Ohio.

Today, for the first time, we caught a glimpse of our resident snake (should we name her Eve?), which is singly responsible for why several ranitas that have hopped all the way to our water feature to claim it as their own have not-so-mysteriously disappeared after our dear Mr. Frog died two winters ago.

Earlier this week, my husband caught this wild turkey strolling at the edge of our property, right at the entrance of our driveway, as she crossed toward the woods where her huge flock (of maybe 20-30 wild turkeys) live and where they routinely walk up and down these hills.

The wildlife around us is out in full force now that we're in late spring, which actually feels like early summer (we did skip the real spring this year), and that feeling of "I'm finally on break!" is slowly starting to sink in. That's why today I got a much-needed upper back massage, something I haven't done in a gazillion years, and my boricua friend and I went to have dinner at a favorite Indian restaurant, lo que nunca, which we are never able to do during the crazy busy semester.

I also spent a few hours in my office today readying my scholarly plan for summer: one proposed book chapter that needs to be done by late June and an accepted journal article that needs to be ready by late July, and then it's on to my book project.

Gathering my research together and starting to make notes on what I want to argue in that chapter is exciting and reminds me (after reading thousands of pages of student writing) how much pleasure there is in the creative art of academic writing. Although some students have actually told me that they think the words "creative" and "academic" are opposites, nothing is farthest from the truth. I thrive on the creative process of working to distinguish my interpretation of a particular text from existing scholarship and of attempting to contribute to a larger scholarly conversation about and understanding of an issue or a work, and I can't be more pleased that this kind of creative work will be the focus of the rest of this year and the beginning of 2012.

The pre-tenure review process went well so I have been re-appointed at my small college on the hill, I have a one-year research leave to write a book for which I have an advance contract, and I also received the junior faculty teaching award this year. As I've said before, I'm sure my beloved papito has had something to do with all this good fortune and that he is also basking in all the good that has come our way. He would be the first to remind me of all the reasons I have to be grateful -- Dios te vino a ver, he would say -- and to feel so incredibly blessed that I have all these opportunities and privileges.

Friday, May 13, 2011


Warmer temperatures finally arrived and, after Mother's Day, we are (supposedly) past the danger of frost so I've brought some of my plants back from the office and placed them on the deck, hoping that they'll remember their former glory.

Chiquita, the Chihuahua, is loving the sun and the heat, and all she's missing is a pair of Wayfarers and a pink bikini to be quite in her element.

The first Farmer's Market of the year was last Saturday and I bought fresh rhubarb from an Amish farmer (who always has the best vegetables) and made my first fresh rhubarb pie of the season.

In the backyard, the trees have exploded in green and the flowers are in full bloom, including my favorite late spring bloomer, the bleeding hearts.

This wondrous bush is also in full bloom and I don't remember seeing it last summer, or even the summer before, so perhaps the alternatively wet and warm conditions have helped it burst into show.

It's interesting that this backyard has so many purple flowers since the color of my small college on the hill is purple and while I'm not sure of what the first two plants are, the last one, a lilac tree, is also in fullest bloom and the perfume that it emits is simply glorious.

Even the hostas look like they're unfurling into giants.

Of course, the advent of late spring always brings with it the concomitant bugs, which don't add anything positive in my book (although I do understand their biological purpose) so there's lots of checking of the dogs and cats for ticks and lots of evicting all kinds of flying and other critters that want to invade our home.

At school, classes are finally over and the semester officially ended today. I am buried in grading (have about 200 pieces of student writing, of varying lengths, to grade between now and May 24), which doesn't contribute to being in good humor, especially since I swore to myself that I wasn't going to do this to myself again. But I'm trying to take it in stride and work relentlessly to get it all done well and on time, especially given that I am on leave next year so I won't have to worry about having déjà vu all over again.