Thank you all for the lovely and welcoming comments on my last post. I have no idea whether this blogging thing will take again, but weeknotes seem like the best way to get back into the swing of posting.
I read novels! I finished Percival Everett’s Telephone, which I’d started in December 2021. It was excellent. If you’ve read anything about the book you know that there were three published versions. They don’t differ that much, but the few changes do have an effect on the way readers see the character and also the way the ending is presented. I read the “C” version, which is probably the saddest but still has a feeling of hopefulness about it. The story involves a sick child, character deaths, and a less than entirely sympathetic narrator, so I can’t recommend it to every reader without caveats, but Everett is a tremendous writer and his depiction of academia and academics is pitch-perfect. I also read an early Maigret, The Saint-Fiacre Affair, which was also very good but had so many exclamation points. I don’t know if it was the translator’s choice or in the original, but I don’t associate Maigret with those. And I just finished A Far Cry From Kensington, by Muriel Spark. It draws on Spark’s experiences working in publishing and it’s wonderfully astringent. There were a lot of angry, extremely talented women in the 1950s, weren’t there?
If you’re wondering how I managed to read 2+ books in a week after taking a year to read 18, well, it’s winter break. And the latter two were short. I love a big baggy novel as much as anyone, but short novels are really handy when you aren’t sure your concentration will hold up, especially when they’re as well written as these are. It does make me want to read a 19thC doorstopper, though.
I had a couple of Zoom meetings, but for the most part it was still a break week. Next week the meetings ramp up a bit and I’ll have to get my syllabi and Canvas pages set up for classes, which begin on 18 January. We are online for the first two weeks of the semester, which means thinking about how to get the class going and the students engaged through a screen from wherever they are. I have some ideas but I haven’t fully decided on what I’m going to do. It also seems like a good idea to make sure the first three or four weeks, not just the first two, can work online. I have zero confidence that if the administration decides to extend online teaching we will be notified in a timely fashion, i.e., more than a few days before it happens. Missouri’s Delta-to-Omicron spike has resulted in huge surges in regular and ICU hospitalizations, and the Omicron wave started relatively late for us. I’d be surprised if we peaked before the end of January, especially given our (non)vaccination rates. Politicians seem determined to pivot to Covid-as-endemic, but what does that even mean when your hospitals are packed and your medical people are living on their last nerves?
Perhaps to distract myself, I embarked on a fashion-related challenge. Some of you may remember that I did one at the beginning of 2020 (the Project 333 challenge). I got a lot out of the experience, even though I only did two months rather than three. This time I’m going for another three months, more or less, but with one dress. Yes, you heard that right. I’m doing the Wool& 100 Day Dress Challenge. This challenge involves wearing one merino wool dress a minimum of 8 hours a day for 100 straight days. I’ve been eyeing these dresses and the challenge for a while, but it seemed completely ridiculous and impossible. Nevertheless, I ordered the Rowena dress and when it arrived and fit me, I decided to take the plunge.
Who knows if I’ll be able to stick it out for 100 days, but I’m writing about it here as a form of accountability since I’m not on Facebook or Instagram, where most of the other participants hang out. I’m sorry that I can’t join the Facebook group because it’s apparently a wonderful community and there are lots of tips on how to style The Dress (whichever The Dress one chooses for one’s 100 days). But even that can’t get me to give my personal (and work, and everything else) information to Facebook. Luckily there are blog posts, tweets, and a few YouTube videos describing participants’ experiences.
I started on Wednesday, January 5, and I’m taking a photo a day as required. I might even post some eventually! It’s been fascinating reading how women who completed the challenge experienced it. Oh, if you’re wondering, I ordered the Rowena in Marine Blue, in the standard length. It is the original challenge dress and has the advantages (for winter) of having long sleeves. It’s extremely comfortable and I don’t find it thin or see-through, as some people have.
I’ve been knitting on TheH’s Alpaca Wrap Thing fairly steadily, and progress is slow as predicted. It’s enjoyable, though, and the yarn is soft and pleasant to knit with (more than I expected), and it sheds only a little.
The Corgis are thriving. TheH and I are taking Ziggy up and down the hills of our road to try and burn off her excess energy. Sometimes it even works!