Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Spring glory

Every April these two trees regale us with their Spring glory. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013


Yesterday, I heard from the college president that I had been officially approved "for the promotion to tenure." The 11-year journey that began in 2002 when I started in the M.A./Ph.D. program at Ohio State culminated with that news.

Of course, this happened at the same time that I directed Honors for my department for the first time with 10 students being examined and five outside examiners. But, thankfully, everything went well so I am thankful and relieved.

Also yesterday, my husband decided to take an "official" portrait to post on my website, marking the day I was approved for tenure and also the first day of my first Honors weekend. On Friday, when I arrived at the college, my husband (the best thing that ever happened to me!) had colluded with a former student who now works as the department assistant to get a bouquet of flowers into my office.

I won't be able to feel fully celebratory until the semester ends this coming Friday, since there are still classes to plan and papers to grade and events to attend. But in addition to the physical and mental tiredness there is the immense satisfaction of a job well done, both for my department's Honors program and for the tenure process.

I am so grateful to my mother, my siblings, my family, my friends, my mentors, my professors, my students and everyone who, in one way or another, helped me through this process. And though absent, I know my father rejoices as well. We did it, papito! We did it!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Pink Moon

Every time I see the swollen moon, blazing on the pitch-black background, as if burning a hole through the skies, I think of that beautiful Andalusian romance about the bull in love with the moon.

For some reason I don't remember, I actually know part of the lyrics of this song but haven't heard it, I'm sure, since I was a child. I found it on YouTube (what can't you find online these days?)  and here it is!

For all the toros enamorados de la luna:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Time of the tulips

These baby pink tulips always sprout in early spring at the end of our backyard and they're always a feast to the eye. The beautiful yellow-and-red ones below also dot the front end of our yard but by now have been, inexplicably, beheaded by some creature, animal or bug. I'm glad that whatever decimates these hasn't found the others so I can still enjoy them every time I come in or out of our garage, or walk toward the alley behind our house.

This house also has a glorious magnolia tree in the front, which used to be overshadowed by the large maple that got cut down after a storm blew our neighbor's cottonwood tree onto it many years ago. After the maple was removed, the magnolia flourished, and every spring it regales us with its flamboyant beauty. An early spring storm, however, took down most of the flowers recently, so the show didn't last very long.

Of course, now I can look forward to the growing peonies, which get bigger every day, and to my bleeding hearts, which are also one of my favorites, a photo of which will be coming soon. Spring, by now, is undeniable, even if the temperatures continue to plummet unseasonably (we had two frost nights this past week and expect another tonight).

At work, the culmination of my year as Honors Director comes this weekend and all the t's are crossed and all the i's are dotted, so we'll see how that goes. When asked if I'm nervous, I point out that I planned my own wedding so I'm basically immune to major-activity-planning-related stress. I know something is bound to go wrong, so it's a matter of planning ahead and taking it in stride. Once Sunday afternoon comes, I'll be grateful to have done it and be done with it.

This is also the weekend when I supposedly hear the results of my tenure review, which strikes me as a bit ironic since I'll be so caught up with making sure Honors events all go as they should, especially for the students, that I'm going to have to remind myself that something important is about to happen to me, not just to the Honors candidates or the department. I worked long and hard for tenure, but I likely won't be able to savor it until after this semester is over, which can't come a moment too soon at this point.

Of course, I don't complain in any way, shape, or form since this semester has been significantly better at all levels than the last, and I've managed to strike a good balance (I think for the very first time ever) between work and rest, between maintaining my standards and keeping my sanity and well-being. I like to think that tenure is a reward for finally learning how to do this job in a sustainable way. Indeed, there is and will be much to celebrate once I finally have the time to do so.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

April showers

Disturbing environmental news of baby sea lions dying in California and of white-nose syndrome decimating bat populations in Kentucky have made this April seem a bit like it's been taken off a page from an End of Days story.

That sense of unease wasn't abated when my husband emailed me this photo, showing a pair of mallards right in the middle of our street after heavy rains had created some pooling. I also heard from a friend that they'd seen a pair of mallards nesting near a large drain pipe off the expressway, and I think I saw that very pair recently while driving home from school. I'm not sure if that's normal duck behavior but it doesn't seem like it...

Of course, no amount of news fazes Lizzy when she's decided to take the notion of "couch potato" to a whole other level.

Troubling news aside, April promises to be a very "social" month for us, with family, friends, and other visits beginning to dot the calendar. Former students have been emailing to say they're visiting campus, or simply shown up at my office door, and I've reconnected (or will soon reconnect) with long-ago graduates. It's wonderful to see how these former students are moving through their adulthood, and it's so gratifying to know that, in one way or another, they still feel a strong connection with their former teachers, in the same way that I still feel connected with my erstwhile professors, a few of whom are now my friends.

Last night, we met up with just such friends who recently moved to a new home. As a housewarming gift, I got them a nice bowl hand made out of Mexican blue glass and I filled it with home made arroz con dulce. Our friends visited Puerto Rico last year and we had the chance to show them a few of our favorite places on the island, and they loved the food, especially the coconut-based dishes. This sweet coconut and raises rice pudding, which also is a favorite with my husband, is an easy dessert to make and very, very tasty.

I'm so thankful that moving back to our small city by the capital has allowed us to reconnect with long-time friends. At this stage of life, close friendships are few and to be treasured. Our work culture often makes it improbable (if not impossible) to find time to connect and have fun, especially when there are other responsibilities to fulfill (like child rearing or caring for elderly parents or maintaining a healthy relationship with a spouse or partner). Regardless of how busy things get, making time for close friends is a priority. True friends, after all, are a blessing, not a given. They're like a dessert that adds sweetness to the daily uncertainty of life.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


That first day in spring when pansies are planted and grin at the sun.