Thursday, July 31, 2014

Musical offices

Someone must have heard me saying that it's time for the fun to start because all week I've been involved in a multi-player game of Musical Offices. At various times during the week I have received the following messages from people involved in the transition:

1. I'd better mark the furniture in my new office so the Physical Plant staff can remove what I don't need!

2. The Physical Plant is working on other projects so no one is available to move furniture.

3. I'd better pick out a paint color so the office can be painted on the earliest rainy day!

4. See point 2, only replace "move furniture" with "paint offices."

5. With no one available to help with this move, maybe we'd better postpone it until winter break.

6. Someone else has been promised my current office but can't move in until I move out, so I'd better get moving!

7. See points 2 and 4.

8. Well okay, maybe some people may be available for moving furniture, but I'll have to do the painting myself, so I'd better hurry up and pick out some paint colors! 

This afternoon I'm playing phone-tag with the person who can give me the final definitive word on the topic. At least I hope it's the definitive word. I'd hate to be the last one standing when the music stops.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Open letter to a former student

You threw some words out there--balance, honest living, career paths, extraordinary relationships, and birds--and asked for feedback, thoughts, advice. Big words they are, but I'm not Yoda so guide you I cannot. All I can do is play with words:

Birds balance on a phone line living as honestly as they can, guided by instinct alone (we assume) and never taking a moment to worry about career paths. Extraordinary relationships are hard to balance with career paths because you need to work hard to maintain both or they will fly far away, like birds living honestly. Honestly, living is a journey so circuitous that the path becomes clear only when your feet are so worn out from walking and your heart from pursuing extraordinary relationships that you wish you could fly like a bird to someplace more simple but life isn't, anywhere, simple or balanced. We just do our best. That's life!

Does that help?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The party's over, and the fun begins

I had high hopes for all the things I'd get done yesterday, but instead I walked around the house in a haze, feeling as if I'd been playing all-day whiffleball except I was the ball. Couldn't think straight. Couldn't stay focused. Couldn't keep moving in any given direction without stopping to wonder where I was going. A typical post-party slump, in other words.

Today, though, it's time to get back to action. Classes start four weeks from yesterday (!!) and meetings start the week before that, but I have a pile of things to do before then, starting with moving to a new office!!!! (There really aren't enough exclamation points in the world to express how I feel about getting a real window--and how pathetic am I that all it takes to make me ecstatic is a pane of glass and a little sunshine?)

With short time and many tasks it's time to take stock:

Journal article: waiting for final edits and then it's off to the submission process.

Anthology chapter: lots more research to do; must get to the library.

Syllabi: one done, one needing a few final tweaks, one requiring a final look-through, and one a total mess.

Other course preps: must set up class pages on course management system, post tons of documents, finish a Prezi on deep reading, write paper prompts for two classes, write first-day diagnostic writing prompts for all classes, meet with Learning Community partners to coordinate syllabi and plan events, and other important things I'm sure I'm forgetting.

Committee work: tons of prep work for the tenure and promotion committee (I'm chair, help help!), plus posting a new bulletin board for the English department and scheduling some meetings for the Faculty Publishing Group.

Home: mowing, weeding, cooking, cleaning, the usual.

Fun: a few more canoe outings and a trip to a Cleveland Indians game, hurrah!

That's an awful lot to do in a few weeks' time--and did I mention that I'm moving my office?!!! Must find boxes, pack books, sort through piles of old the time August is over, I'll need a vacation!

But wait: that's just when the guests will arrive for the next party--the one we call Fall Semester.

Monday, July 28, 2014

This place is crawling with cousins

"Ba! Ba!"
They were all over the place yesterday--tossing frisbees in the meadow, eating watermelon on the deck, sharing family stories in the kitchen. Cousins from all over Ohio gathered for the annual opportunity to make me feel really short. The genes for height are well represented in my husband's family, making the merely average feel small.

I'm not sure how many were here (they wouldn't stay still long enough to be counted), but they demolished two and a half gallons of homemade ice cream. A few even helped turn the crank on the old-fashioned ice cream churn. It's always fun to see some strapping young person say "I can do it!" and attack the crank with great gusto only to poop out pretty quickly. 

My husband was in his element presiding at the grill and then leading a garden tour while the young folks tossed the frisbee. "Ba," said my adorable granddaughter, but it didn't bounce like a ball. She enjoyed having multiple dogs to pet. Hopeful was initially reluctant to welcome a visiting cousin's dog into her home territory, but they got along fine after some mediation. Isn't that just the way with families?
So maybe I'm not the only one feeling small.

The young men are happy to give their uncle a turn at the crank.


Not quite the first tomato from the garden, but close.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Don't call the headhunters!

If you're looking for the skeletons in the closet, I've found them. Or parts of them, anyway. Just the skulls. About six of them, I would estimate--but don't call the headhunters! They're plastic skulls, leering gleefully and decorated in bright red and yellow, the sorts of things you'd use as table decorations for a display about the Mexican Day of the Dead.

Q: Did you find them in a storage cabinet in an office formerly inhabited by a Spanish professor?
A: Yes! And if he gets to the other end of his cross-country move and starts looking for his skulls, he's going to be disappointed. Maybe he should call a headhunter.

Q: What were you doing gazing into a skull-infested storage cabinet in your former colleague's former office? 
A: Trying to determine whether to transform my lamented former colleague's former office into my future office.

Yes, I realize that I just moved to a new office two years ago, and if I move again, the skull-infested office will be my fifth office--in 14 years. Of course, some of those moves where mandatory: the department chair must inhabit the chair's office; the Center for Teaching Excellence director must inhabit the great big new wonderful office in the library; the ex-director of the Center for Teaching Excellence must move to the only office available at the time, even if it's in the dungeon--er, basement.

I've been in the basement for two years now and I've worked very hard to love my office, but I just can't. It's dark, damp, cold, and clammy, and nothing I do to cheer it up makes it feel comfortable. If I can't fall in love with an office in two years of trying, it's not going to happen, so when the Powers That Be suggested that I might want to move upstairs to my former colleague's office, I jumped at the chance.

First, though, I had to have a good look at it. On the plus side: good location, built-in wooden bookshelves, big window with lots of light. On the minus side: skulls. And not just skulls, either, but all kinds of stuff left behind in the desk, on the shelves, and in the storage cabinet: computer printers, books, boxes, party favors, maps, and piles and piles of other stuff. Including skulls.

I told the PTBs that I would be delighted to move upstairs into the skull-infested office, but only if it gets thoroughly cleaned and painted, but now I wonder whether cleaning is enough. Can anyone tell me which campus office is responsible for exorcisms? 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Summer sun fun

A brief round of summer fun before we get back to yard work, weeding the garden, and house-cleaning: a softball game last night and a canoe outing on Seneca Lake today. The mosquitoes were out at the softball game last night but a bluebird kept swooping around to snatch them. Today on the lake we paddled amongst lotuses and pulled up to a secluded beach to explore an island. All that sun and sweat took a little something out of me, so I have nothing the least bit interesting or witty to write. But here are some photos to show that the world remains a strange and wonderful place.

How long are you in for?

Lotus seed pods or alien invasion?

Lotuses blooming everywhere we looked.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Now she's playing with dolls?

A million things I should be doing and I'm sitting here washing a rag-doll's face.

She's not just any rag doll, of course--she's the three-foot-tall Raggedy Ann I made for my daughter around 25 years ago, but poor lonely Raggedy Ann has sat in a little red rocking chair in the corner of the basement fun room gathering dust since my daughter grew out of playing with dolls.

Now that particular corner of the basement has over the years collected a hodgepodge of stuff too inconsequential to keep close by but too sentimentally valuable to throw away--old trophies, children's art projects, knick-knacks collected in our travels, and, of course, Raggedy Ann. Looming over that corner, though, and threatening to take over the known universe is my husband's collection of very tall and spiny cacti, frequently decorated with cobwebs and providing a welcoming environment for various types of bugs (and, once, a small bird). 

I don't clean that area often because the cacti hate me and manage to insert spines in my fingers no matter how carefully I attempt to avoid them. This coming weekend, though, we'll be hosting an onslaught of in-laws as it's our turn to host the annual Hogue Ohio cousins' reunion, which means I'll be doing some deep cleaning and prep work every day, so down I went to the basement fun room to dust and vacuum and clean windows. 

Did I mention that the cacti sit right up next to the big French windows? 

So I ended up with a few cactus spines in my fingers, but as I was cleaning, my eye fell on that little red rocking chair. "That's just the right size for my granddaughter," I thought. "I should take it upstairs and clean it up, but then where would Raggedy Ann sit?"

Stupid question. I took the chair and the doll upstairs and gave them both a thorough cleaning, washing Raggedy Ann's clothes and giving her a thorough sponge-bath. (In case you ever need to clean a large rag doll that can't go into the laundry lest her bright red yarn hair turn everything pink, here's the secret: Oxy-Clean.) I even got out needle and thread to fix the loose threads hanging off of Raggedy Ann's nose. She's not perfect--in fact, she's just a little raggedy--but you look at that bright red hair and big broad smile and the little embroidered heart on her chest that says "I love you" and you can't help smiling right back.

My whole house, in fact, is just a little raggedy despite all my efforts to fix and patch and clean it up, but when all those cousins come this weekend I hope they can look past our flaws when they see our big crazy hair, beaming smiles, and open arms that say "I love you." There isn't enough red thread and Oxy-Clean on the planet to prevent us from being the Raggedy Hogues, but I hope they will enjoy our home anyway.

Extra-credit trivia question: The title of this post is a slightly altered quote from an obscure piece written by a long-dead Ohio humorist associated with my favorite magazine. Bonus points to anyone who identifies the author! Super-extra bonus points if you can identify the context of the quote!