Swabbing the Decks – End of Summer Edition

swab_decksWell, classes on campus start this week which means that summer is now dusted and over, at least in terms of (no) job responsibilities etc. The really hot temps are going to be around for at least another two months (if not more), and the weather forecasters warned this morning of temperatures around 106 and 109 this week. Crikey. That’s a bit too hot for me. (ETA (later the same day): It was up to 115 degrees in my car today. Wah.)

Still, I’m ready for school to start and to get back into that routine. I really enjoyed the summer though and wouldn’t turn down a few more days of doing-not-much if it was offered to me! We have a week or so of school, then it’s Labor Day and then we’re back into the academic calendar for realz.

Seeing as it’s going to be sooooo hot this week outside, I foresee quite a lot of staying inside the house in the AC, so perhaps a jigsaw puzzle may be in order over the next day or two. I have a couple in the cupboard that I could finish and I haven’t done a puzzle for quite some time.

This semester, I’m scheduled to teach the same class but this time only having the lecture class. (So me talking to about 60 students about the topic). In previous years, I’ve typically had a lab as well as the lecture, which means that I get 20 of those 60 students mentioned above, but in a smaller computer classroom with lots of one-on-one time and lots of grading. But – no lab for me means no grading which means more extra time which is a nice unforeseen bonus. What to do with the extra time…? 🙂

Reading-wise, I seem to be over the lassitude of late summer (and fatigue from summer school) and now I’m reading up a storm. (Reviews to come.) I’d like to start picking up some more POC reads. Since the demise of Toni Morrison, perhaps I should read one of her titles? Haven’t read her for quite some time. (In case you’re curious, here are my thoughts on Sula, Beloved, and Jazz…)

Movies? We saw the latest Tarantino one – “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood” which is a slow-burning movie but pretty good overall. Tomorrow, I think we’re off to see the British movie, “Blinded by the Light” which has 90 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Curiously, the movie is also set in 1980s Luton, a small town close to where I grew up in England and a town where nothing much ever seemed to happen. Despite that, this year I’ve read a fiction book set there (The Thrill of it All) and now this movie… Who knows what will happen to that metropolis in the future? The world is its oyster, right now.  🙂

Hit the back-to-school sales for some new back-to-work clothing, but it’s far too hot to wear anything that is remotely related to autumnal sartorial choices. Right now – we’re probably going to hit the outside pool this weekend. (Wear your sunscreen, folks. A free PSA for you.)

Hope your seasonal changes are going smoothly as well!

Catch Up Time, Autumn Edition…

catch_upSince I seem to have a small break in the busy schedule of teaching and tech writing, I thought it might be nice to have a little catch-up and see how things are, now that we’re at the beginning of Autumn – my favorite season!

Speaking of autumn, here in West Texas, we’ve been having a great break from the close-to-100 degrees days. It’s been cool (60’s) and pretty rainy (lovely), and generally given us a rest from the never-ending summer heat and sunshine. I like the warm weather generally, but at this point in the year and after having about six months of solid mostly non-stop heat, I’m ready to pull out my cool-weather gear and enjoy some cooler temperatures. In fact, it was so awesomely cool that we even thought about having the heating on at night. (Didn’t actually end up doing so,  but still – nice treat and signals, perhaps, the beginning of the cooler days).

And – I found some leaves on the ground (as in they fell there since it’s almost Autumn, not that they got blown off in the near hurricane-winds we’ve been having with this stormy weather). Yahoo. I don’t mean to seem ungrateful for temperate weather, but summer gets a little weary at times. But – sunshine!

I’ve been making progress on the new office set-up in the front spare bedroom. Sold the bed the other day, so that’s freed up a lot of room. Next step, call the contractor to see about pulling up the carpet and redoing the wood floors. (Big job for someone apart from me!) After that, will be the new blinds for the front of the house, and then, baby steps for the remainder of the office furniture and space ideas.

One rather looming goal is that we received two big packages of pieces with which to construct the new desk. We’re a bit challenged (in terms of patience) when it comes to building furniture, so we’re psyching ourselves up for this. Hopefully, it will be pretty easy. (Fingers crossed.) Have to get the floor finished first, though.

Teaching and working are going really well and keeping me busy. Both of the courses have some good students in them, and I’m looking forward to working more closely with them as the semester progresses. My back’s been bothering me, so I’ve got two upcoming back procedures to help to sort that out. Face is still annoying, but I’m learning acceptance as it’s not going to go away, it seems. It certainly could be a lot worse, so grateful for something so manageable for the most part.

Did some culture last night, when we went to a new event called 10×9 (or similar) which is a storytelling event. Nine people have ten mins each to tell a true story from their lives, all on one particular theme. Last night’s theme was courage, and so that was fun to go to. Well attended as well, which I was happy to see. I wonder when the next one is…

And then I’ve been gloating over my new-to-me titles from the FOL book sale the other week. Now to find the time…. (Hollow laugh.)

Life is good. Hope you can say the same!

Fridays are more fun with this…


I saw some geese flying over head yesterday as they traveled on their journey down south to warmer climes. I was immediately reminded of this, one of my favorite Mary Oliver poems, and then today, I saw it posted by one of my friends on FB:

“You do not have to be good. / You do not have to walk on your knees / for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. / You only have to let the soft animal of your body / love what it loves. / Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. / Meanwhile the world goes on. / Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain / are moving across the landscapes, / over the prairies and the deep trees, / the mountains and the rivers. / Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, / are heading home again. / Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, / the world offers itself to your imagination, / calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting— / over and over announcing your place / in the family of things.”

“Wild Geese” – Mary Oliver.


Weekend Review…


Going by the almost record-setting temperatures here in Texas, it’s hard to tell that it’s the middle of October and autumn. It certainly looks like autumn as the tree leaves look a bit tired and are gradually turning shades of brown, but it certainly doesn’t feel like autumn: the temperatures were in the 90s yesterday. Sigh. I’m very ready for the cooler temps to begin. A cooler wave is forecast to arrive later in the week so fingers are crossed.

Another sign of autumn is the sudden onslaught of catalogues that are showing up in the mail box so I’ve been perusing those in amazement. They range from the sublime to the ridiculous, but still interesting all the same. With the meteoric rise of internet shopping, I was wondering whether people under the age of teenagers still go to the mall but they must as our local mall is undergoing significant renovations so that’s good. I’m not sure where the gangs of prowling teenagers would go on the weekends if this option wasn’t available! (And I’m not judging. If I was a teenager again, I’d be heading to the mall to hang out with my friends because where else would you go, really?)

Two weeks until I go to England – rubs hands with glee. I am psyched to go and get some English put back into my veins and see friends and family. (I’m not expecting 90 degrees over there during our trip!!)

We saw a Halloween-y play last weekend which was fun – “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”. The troupe of actors did a fine job with a somewhat challenging story line, so glad we went. It’s a tiny theater where the company produces so it’s a bit like going to a private event at times, and even if the play was a *tiny* bit confusing, definitely A for effort for all those involved.

Finished up a Virago read, “Ladies of Lyndon” by Margaret Kennedy. (Post to come.) It was a bit of an uneven read but picked up in the second half when it suddenly became rather funny. Lots of Maggie Smith-type comments from some of the characters which made me snort out loud a bit, but the plot still worked overall. Country house shenanigans from a title family revolving around who should marry who when and what to do if one of your relations is an artist et al. It wasn’t a comfortable cozy read, but it wasn’t the slightly prickly read that Viragos can be as well. No idea where I found this title, but glad I’ve read it.

What next? I’m not sure. I’ve been thinking about which titles will make the cut to travel across the never-ending Atlantic leg of the trip (and then I can leave behind when we come back), and somehow a few more titles ended up in my trolley at the thrift shop yesterday. Not sure how that happened really… :-}

Halloween is around the corner so pulled out the graphic novel version of “Dracula” to read, and then I’m thinking it might be time for a short story collection, an essay collection, or perhaps a collection of other short works. I’ll have to see what flings itself into my hands tonight. Choosing my next title is one of my favorite parts of the reading cycle, so I’m happy to dig through my shelves tonight. I’m also thinking that it might be time for a classic title of some description. Maybe I could balance a classic title with another year in the ongoing Century of Books project? Hmm.

Life is good. We’re heading into my favorite season, and maybe – just maybe – we’ll get below 90 degrees today. 🙂

Autumn TBR Pile…

Seeing as how my Summer Reading List (see here) worked rather well in terms of removing books from my TBR pile and *actually reading them*, I thought I would see about implementing a similar program for the cooler months of the year. (I say “cooler” rather hopefully as it will be 85 on Tuesday, but fingers crossed that the hottest temperatures are done for the year now.)

Same caveats as before (i.e. don’t have to stick to list, don’t have to finish them, and once off the list, out of the house).

So the pic includes the following handful of suggested titles (along with others, of course):

  • The Ring of Bright Water trilogy – Gavin Maxwell. Non-fiction about a guy who lives alongside a family of otters in Scotland (I think). Supposed to be funny and sad.
  • The Emperor of all Maladies – Siddhartha Mukherjee  (A continuation of the summer TBR pile.)
  • Short Stories by O. Henry (or another book of essays or similar). This might end up being some Edgar Allan Poe for Halloween-y reading…
  • Cadillac Desert – Marc Reisner. NF about the ongoing water shortage in the American West.
  • Couple of books about Queen Victoria and hubby…
  • Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood
  • How to be a Woman – Caitlin Moran (NF about modern-day feminism which has had good reviews). Read in Oct. – see post here.
  • The Worst Hard Time – Dust Bowl history – Timothy Egan (who is giving a talk here in a few days…)
  • Some odd bits and pieces of fiction that have been on the shelves for a while…

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. ~ George Eliot.