Day off!


It’s spring break! The students get a week off, and I get a day off.

I accomplished a few tiny things this morning (nothing like Claudia) and now I’m off to have lunch with a friend.

I’m actually sort of longing to hang out at home, all by myself, but I’m sure I’ll be glad I went out.

Looks like rain.


We have one of these, although this is not ours.

I’m just realizing that if it’s a currant it ought to have fruit, but I don’t think it ever does. Maybe the squirrels are eating it?

A mystery.

Anyway, today I am working with Indian serials.

Also, I took the car to the garage this morning and almost missed my stop on the train coming back. I had been reading and had no idea how much time had passed. Embarrassingly, I was reading Mockingjay. I have mixed feeling about those books. Mostly I think there’s too much whining about which boy is her boyfriend.

All right, back to the Labour Law Journal.

Also, Maddy told me last night that there is indeed an enormous black hole in the middle of the Milky Way. This is terrifying news. It’s eating asteroids.


I wish I was having the productive sort of week where I was getting thousands (or ones, really) of things done, but it isn’t.

But today I am actually going to try to get through a single thing.

It’s already nearly noon, but I am going to try anyway.

Here I go . . . Wish me luck.

more neighborhood prowling

According to a local oral history I read over the weekend, my neighborhood was once on the edge of wild, unsettled nature, although also just blocks away from the streetcar stop, a hotel, a butcher and a grocer. At the top of a nearby street grew a grove of bay laurel trees which was known as the King’s crown. It turns out there are still laurels up there.

I’m not sure these are a hundred years old. There’s a live oak up there that is certainly that old. These laurels might be the children of those laurels — I’m not sure.

I think this was the street that provoked local women because it went straight up the hill, and did not wind up the grade, respecting nature. They formed a club, whose mission was “to protect the hills of B____ from unsightly grading and the building of unsuitable and disfiguring houses; to do all in our power to beautify these hills and above all to create and encourage a decided public opinion on these subjects.” Newer developments took the landscape into account. Roads were built along the curves of the hills, and new houses were nestled into canyons.

These houses, mine, too, although mine is by no means a fancy house, all had sleeping porches, and reading this makes sense of that. My current bedroom is the sleeping porch, slightly altered. This makes me want to replace all the windows with casements that open. Not sure K would be entirely pleased with that idea.

news roundup

M sent me this. I think she is thinking this would be a great summer vacation. And it would. She is a little worried that actual Mongolians would sniff at us, though. I don’t think they would.

N sent me a text asking for this cake recipe. It makes an excellent cake. The cake itself is dense and moist and chocolatey and the frosting, since it’s just sour cream and melted chocolate chips, is tangy and not too sweet.

My brother posted a link to this article on Facebook this morning:

In what is being described as one of the most astounding power grabs in modern history by newspaper headlines around the World, President Obama has succeeded in his audacious plan to remake America into a full fledged godless communist empire barely one year into his term with the enactment into law by the US Congress of his mammoth health care plan innocuously named H.R. 3200-Americas Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 and described by one Kremlin legal expert as having “nothing at all to do with health, but everything to do with control.”

Apparently he is serious, although my cousin thought at first it might be a parody along the lines of the Onion. But it isn’t. There’s more. I’m not posting the link. Apparently healthcare is going to cause us to have to carry id cards, which are somehow related to the mark of the beast. The title of the article is “World Mourns as Communist Darkness Falls Upon America.” I think this can happen when you’ve got a big family — one member decides to become “that brother.” The one who believes that healthcare is a devilish plot.

I took an excellent walk yesterday. It was too wet to go out to the country, but there are lots of secret paths and walks in my neighborhood, including a path that leads to a secret waterfall. It’s amazing.

I came out of the park and wound my way around up streets and stairways all the way to the castle and then down again. From a park on the hillside some ways above the waterfall I saw this view.



The camellia I planted last year, or maybe the year before, is blooming!

When I first moved here, I hated camellias. In the first place, they are everywhere, and many of them are ugly. They start to turn brown before they’ve fully bloomed, and they don’t have any scent. They disappointed me by not being roses.

At some point I started liking them, though. If you look around you can find varieties beyond the universal coral, and I started noticing that some bloom earlier than others, some have nicer leaves than others, some even do have a scent. We had one in the front yard, and I planted two in the back — one a lovely pale pink which has not bloomed, and this one, with its big yellow stamens and glossy leaves.

So, there’s that.

How did it get to be so late? I spent yesterday researching the early history of my neighborhood and now am off to look for a series of three houses built by a man for himself, his wife and his mistress. !!! Early pictures show houses like chalets built of redwood logs on the bare hillside. They look like something out of Heidi. Hard to imagine now, when everything is covered over with, among other things, camellias.

If I am lucky, I will not get caught in the rain.


It’s a lovely chilly rainy day. It’s finally raining here, and that’s a very good thing. Odd that it is now colder here than anywhere else. I’m enjoying it.

I’m sitting up in N’s room watching the rain come down. There’s a small flurry of activity at the church across the street. It’s a big church with a small congregation, but I think this activity might be drainage-related rather than ecclesiastical. Hmm. Hard to know what they’re looking at there in the flower beds. Now there’s some interest in the sign, and one woman is clearly pulling weeds. Ah, they’ve gone into the big hall. I think it might just be a work party, and a man is replacing the sign — I’ll let you know what the new message is.

I think it’s the kind of rain that you don’t notice much when you’re out in it, so I think I will take a walk to the public library.

K has finished the taxes, but now has to complete financial aid forms. I.e., folders on dining room floor must remain in situ.

I’m actually starting to enjoy Russia House. The theme this time is that the institutions are so corrupt (the British Intelligence having completely succumbed to the Americans) that the agent, who was never really an agent to begin with, has to break away completely to do what’s right. That’s kind of on the way to the Constant Gardener, isn’t it? There’s a scene where the Americans, who look like Mormons, force the British get rid of an analyst because he’s gay. The Americans look bad for suggesting it. The British look bad for going along with it. Judging by the current Republican primary race it would still happen — how did we become such a country of nincompoops? It’s like the scene in Love Actually where High Grant stands up to Billy Bob Thornton, except that her, of course, no one does. We’re not all like that, you know. Anyway, I think it’s more the way that Barley falls in love with Katya– the way that everyone falls in love with Katya — that’s unconvincing.

I’m thinking about a project. I’ve got two months till the girls come home. It’s a good amount of time, I think. Details as ideas take shape.

Still no news on the forthcoming Bible Lesson for the Week. I’ll be sure to keep you posted.


It’s busting out all over around here. One of my lilacs is blooming. Do not be jealous. We have lilacs in March, but they do not smell anything like the lilacs of the midwest.

I was in North Dakota in May a few years ago for my uncle’s funeral. The lilacs there are amazing — enormous hedges, sometimes surrounding a modest house, and sometimes in the middle of nowhere, surrounding where a house used to be.

I’m thinking about houses these days — a little house I know designed to be a home now smashed between two commercial buildings on a busy street, or Victorian houses now turned into lawyers offices, or even our house, which is one of a set of triplets built in 1906 which have grown a little bit different over the years. Does it work to be in a house that has been turned into an office? I think it does, although I always want to figure out how the building used to work.

Not sure where I’m going with this. I’m thinking of the house book by Bill Bryson, At Home. I’m thinking of an earlier book by Winifred Gallagher called House Thinking. I’m thinking about Lucy Worsley’s book, If Walls Could Talk.

But then, oddly, I’m looking here and there, and I end up on Gretchen Ruben’s Happiness project blog, and I see this quote:

Gertrude Stein made a related point: “Anything one does every day is important and imposing and anywhere one lives is interesting and beautiful.”

That may be what I’m thinking about. Maybe the trace that leaves behind.


Okay — it’s the weekend.

Oh, of course there’s also Virginia Burton’s The Little House.

Spring developments

It’s K’s mother’s birthday today, and also my stepfather’s.

My colleague R is in today and she is wearing stripey socks, a stripey t-shirt, and the red of her jacket matches the red in the stripes of her socks. It’s very pleasing. She’s on the phone with her father. We’re all in the era of dealing with elderly parents, but I don’t think hers are in crisis at the moment, and this is good.

N is worrying. Thesis due soon. Next year not nailed down. I tell my colleague J over coffee. She reassures me that N is only 22 and will undoubtedly find something wonderful to do. She is right, of course. I try to pass this reassuring point of view along in a way that will not cause alarm.

Work is ticking along. I solve one worrying problem and crack the back of another. This is good, and I realize that I’m not horribly late after all.