march?

Yep. It’s March. Almost April, in fact. Here’s a string of photos that pretty much captures what we’ve been up to since my last post:

march01

Quite the winter. Lots of shoveling, and several stunning sunsets.

march02

For my birthday, two of my favorite people gave me a mug that they made with (among other things) Boh’s face on it. I adore it.

march03

Boh has been napping…hard.

march04

And I’ve been working.

march05

A lot.

march06

Also, it was my birthday, and a dear friend baked me a cake!

march07

And Boh napped some more.

march08

A student who is taking a class in the greenhouses on campus brought me tulips.

march09

Fog sitting low.

march10

More dog sweetness. Happy spring, folks.

 

 

 

porch writing.

If you have to write a dissertation, I recommend doing it this way. Seriously.

Working from the porch means you get to watch the sunset.

This morning, I fried two eggs, added a little bit of green chile, and took it out to the porch.

It was a little chilly, so I pulled on my first handknit sweater. (This is how I know it is really fall.)

Fall (okay, and playtime with my neighbor’s dog) makes Boh sleepy. (I wish you could hear the snoring.) Another sign of fall?

Roasted tomatoes.

Roasted tomatoes on homemade pizza. With gorgonzola.

Also, scalloped tomatoes with croutons. I love this recipe. In conclusion, I love fall. (In case you can’t tell, it feels really good to set aside grading and fellowship applications, even if only for a couple of days, and get back to my project. I need to remember this, and aim for a bit more balance in my work-life.)

resolved.

One of my resolutions for 2012 is to develop a writing practice. Writing a dissertation is really different from writing a colloquium paper, or a seminar paper, or a conference paper, or an article draft. I’m not going to sit down and crank this out in a couple of weeks, deadline looming. And even if I could do that, I certainly don’t want to. This is my primary job for the next few years, and I want to like doing it. Which means I need a rhythm, a routine. And now that I’m done with my fall semester and its accompanying whirlwind of research travel, it is time to get settled — and serious — about developing the habits I’d most like to have as a writer, teacher, and historian. And so far so good. I snapped this picture this afternoon, before beginning day 3 of plan write-every-day. Right now, the goal is to form the habit. I’m not necessarily writing the dissertation yet, but I’m writing about it, and thinking in a more dedicated and targeted way about my sources, my actors, and my argument(s). And it feels good to me. (Note to self: remember this feeling.)

Here’s another shot of the office, from the porch looking in. I took this because of the view I was enjoying looking out on Monday. See?

So lovely. I was too busy writing to capture today’s afternoon and early evening light, but it was beautiful — sort of like this, but with flurries of snow.

And because in theory, we all show up here because there is knitting, here’s what I wore to campus (first day back there since the end of August) today: my stripe study shawl, boots, leggings, a dress, and a slouchy sweater. It was nice to say hello to the folks in the office, chat with my chair, and cross a bunch of logistical things off my list. Hooray!

Time for dinner, some knitting, and a book.

writing is hard.

Extra hard, you might say, with a work companion like this guy. I swear he gets cuter all the time. The good news? All those hours spent staring at my screen yesterday are turning into a bit more productivity today. And that’s despite having an absolutely lovely handspun sock to work on:

This might be the prettiest sock I’ve ever knit. It makes me want to spin sock yarn. Which I’ll do. After I’m done with this prospectus. Back to it!

earth hour.

Last night, after a frustrating couple of hours at the coffee shop, I looked up and realized it was 8:30. I packed up, rushed home, found the lighter and gathered my candles, and turned off the lights to participate in Earth Hour. (WordPress doesn’t want to let me insert a link, so check out http://www.earthhour.org for details.) Basically, people all around the world turned off the lights at (their) 8:30 pm. I spent an hour reading Lois Lowry’s The Giver by candlelight in the kitchen. (One of my reading groups is discussing this next week.)

I should turn off the lights more often — I needed to be reminded of bigger things, to focus on something more important than this exam.

More glimpses of the week:

Brain food: Friday’s breakfast.

Boh and a pile of books.

Boh had the right idea this morning — to not get out of bed. I am so tired. I have a lot of writing to do today, because my hope is to spend Monday editing, formatting footnotes, and all-around prettifying this paper before I turn it in on Tuesday morning. Almost there. (Well, with the first exam.)

day two.

Brokeknits has been hinting at this forever, with all of her gorgeous stripey shawls, but I think I had to figure it out for myself: stripes are good for academic productivity. How else can you explain that I not only met my word count goal for day one of my exam, but I also managed to knit several more stripes on my shawl?

I am in love with this shawl. That center-ish spot (you know, where the center would be if this were symmetrical) looks little less crisp than I’d like, but I’m thinking it might have to do with the fact that the dark grey trekking pro natura I’m using is slightly thinner than the local organic undyed wool, which is closer to sport weight. I’m hoping the poofiness of garter stitch after blocking will help with this — and do a better job of hiding the short row wraps.

And then there’s this guy. Such a good sport.

Alright, back to it.

ready.

Ready. The apartment is clean, the library book piles are tidy, and Boh is pouting.

[I meant to post this earlier today, but wordpress was a little finicky. Day one was okay. I’m aiming to write steadily every day this week, and if I can reach my word counts/section goals pretty consistently, I will feel good about the process.]

mirror, mirror.

Idlewood. Again. Clearly I need to make another — after my exams. I snapped this picture before heading to one of my reading groups, where we discussed an excellent graphic novel (Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home) and talked about memoir, history, and voice — and about what makes something not feel self-indulgent. Which got me to thinking about blogging, especially because lately I’ve been snapping pictures of whatever I’m wearing (knits or otherwise) and posting them here. (Which seems incredibly narcissistic.)

On some level, blogging is self-indulgent. Really, all writing is. And I’m okay with that. The question we were wrestling with on Thursday night had more to do with the reader’s experience than the decision to write (or blog), and we kept returning to things like empathy, linking the ordinary and the particular to bigger (in this case, literary) themes, leaving space for interpretation rather than limiting how the reader understands and situates a particular moment, encounter, memory.

I want to think more about blogging as a form and as a personal process. How do conversations about blogging connect with discussions about memoir? In these genres, how do form and content interact? Can we identify conventions particular to blogging? In my own work, I’m thinking a lot about how I use the first person — what am I signally by choosing the personal pronoun? Am I actually revealing something personal, or is it a technique to make the reader identify with the “I”? (I’ve taken to calling this the “pretend personal” voice.) How much do I protect or reveal — here? In my academic writing? Once I’m on the other side of these exams, I’d like to spend some time (and space, maybe here?) thinking through, or maybe more accurately, writing with these questions.

Time for another picture of what I’m wearing? Clearly.

No knits in this shot, just a scarf that hasn’t been in rotation for awhile. Still faking it ’til I make it, and most days, I think it’s working. I managed to grade 10 papers yesterday, all dressed up. (She says, still in her pajamas.)

I knit less than five rows on this sock, and soon I’ll be ready to start decreasing for the toe. Ideally, I’ll finish the first sock this week, cast on the second and get through the ribbing before my first exam. That way I’ll have easy knitting handy to help with hard thinking.

Finished the carrot soup leftovers yesterday. There is another pot of this in my (near) future.