Saturday, July 14, 2012

18 years and counting...

This year, my husband and I celebrated 18 years of marriage by going to the Inn at Cedar Falls in the Hocking Hills, for dinner and to spend the night. Last year, we'd been there for our anniversary dinner and had really liked the place and the food, and this time we decided we'd try the inn itself.

Our room, the "Whir-poor-will," turned out to be spotlessly clean and lovely, and while it did not have a private balcony, is off this long porch.

The view to the back is to the inn's garden, where we espied a huge groundhog trying to get in to sample the greens that are protected by the high fence. The groundhog was not successful.

The view to the front was to the nicely kept garden, which, despite the lack of rain that has browned the grass all over the state, looked lovely and nicely kept, and afforded us a very nice stroll before dinner.

The sweetest surprise was the swallow and her babies, serenading us from above on an emergency light in the porch outside our room.

And the beautiful wren that my husband caught singing an avian aria while we sat to watch the sunset from the inn's rooftop garden.

That's where my husband also took this picture, a self-portrait of sorts, which I think is very cute. Not bad for 18 years together. No, not bad at all.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Eighteen years ago today, on a Tuesday during rush hour, my husband and I got married by the beach in Guánica, after the electricity and the water went out at the inn, and a shower sprinkled my father and me as we walked onto the path that led us to the judge who performed the ceremony.

All the seeming obstacles were a fitting metaphor for a marriage that has survived countless outside challenges but stayed strong, very strong, inside.

He is still the best thing that ever happened to me.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

En un soplo...

Like a passing wind, that's how quickly this June vanished for me.

First, I want to thank everyone who kindly contributed to my husband's and my efforts to raise money for the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation through the Take Steps events on June 16. We were able to raise $545, which was beyond our $500 fundraising maximum. The walk itself was very moving, especially because, before we set off, the mother of a 20-year-old who recently died of the disease gave the account of his last days and it reminded me of my own struggles with the disease. Next year, I hope to get a team going at work and maybe try to raise double what we raised this year.

The whirlwind that was June followed in the wake of a week-long trip to Boston in mid-May for more research at Harvard's Houghton Library and a visit to the Louisa May Alcott exhibit there and to the Emily Dickinson House in Amherst.

That trip also included a stop at my College Daughter #1's school (she is now a teacher), and I was definitely a very proud "college mother" as she took us to a favorite eating place and we took this picture in front of an 18th-Century bench.

The visit to the Dickinson house was magical not only because I was so moved to walk on the same stairs and ground that she walked on (she is my favorite 19th-century American poet) but also because we took the guided tour and I learned a lot that I will be using in my own class when I have the chance to teach Dickinson again, hopefully in 2013-14.

During that stay, we rented a tiny studio in Cambridge, in a building where Nabokov reportedly also stayed. The place, we didn't realize until our very last day there, was near a monument to commemorate the misnomer-ed Spanish-American war. Quite a coincidence (my father would say there was no such thing) when I was there to research Alcott's relationship to Cuba.

Although I did prefer the studio to a hotel room, the building smelled sickeningly of roach killer (a must in the old structures of Cambridge, where roaches abound), and the bed was not very comfortable. The bed sheets didn't smell fresh and something bit me in a couple of places while we were there so I got grossed out thinking it might be bed bugs and not just mosquitoes. The apartment also was an oven, even when the temperatures outside where very nice, but at least the owner had a window fan that we could use to survive in there during the day. Needless to say, I'll be staying at a hotel next time I travel to Cambridge, no doubt about that.

Once back, the month began with lots of preparation for the summer program I'll be teaching this month (starting July 9), and with a rush to finish my last chapter and Introduction before my Whiting leave ended. Still, that didn't preclude my husband and I making the most of glorious weather by hiking in one of our favorite Columbus Metro Parks, which is accessible now that we live in the tiny city near the capital.

This particular park has an observation deck from which you can see the city of Columbus in the distance. Thankfully, even though we hadn't been back in several years, the trees had not blocked the view.

June also included a trip to Puerto Rico to teach a two-day Seminar in Postcolonial Studies at the university where both my parents taught. Though I had never taught peers (fellow professors with advanced degrees), the seminar was a great success and I've been invited to return next summer for a Part II.

I love this photo of the first day of the seminar, not only because of the preposterous shoes I wore, but also because of my hilarious expression. The experience gave me renewed confidence in my teaching skills and I am eager to return to the classroom in about a week's time.

The great news is that, as of yesterday, when my Whiting leave ended, I had finished drafting all four chapters of the book manuscript, and the Introduction, and had outlined the Epilogue. Exactly as I had wanted to do and fully two months before the project is due at the publisher's.  Now I have July to put the finishing touches on the manuscript, with the help of an editor friend who will look it over for me, so I can submit it by early or mid-August to the press.

That way, I can use August to prep the new Honors seminar I am teaching for the first time and my other two classes, all of which start August 30. My promise this year to myself is to follow Thoreau's motto: "Simplify! Simplify!" I am eager to prove to myself that, in the same way that I can have the discipline to get my scholarly work done on my own deadlines, I can look out for and take care of myself by managing my time and commitments so that I am not overwhelmed.

It'll be a challenge for the erstwhile workaholic, over-committed me, but I'm ready to prove to myself that I have grown over this leave year, and that I can do this, too.