Thursday, April 30, 2015


Today is payday, and so today is pay-the-bills day. That task is done, at least for the moment, and things are more or less well with it. I still have some money left this time, surprisingly enough, although I know there are more bills coming that will take that money away. Still, the family finances are in a slightly better place than they were at the end of the month last month, which suggests that there is some level of improvement happening, and I cannot argue that it is a bad thing. I would like to have more money in the accounts, though. That would make things a bit better.

I could also stand not to have had the ragged night I had last night. Unfortunately, such was not to be; I had the privilege of waking up repeatedly in the night. Twice, I snapped awake in response to the sound of gunfire--in the early morning. If somebody was fighting off a home invasion, okay, sure, defend the home. I was raised in Texas, after all, and I well understand that kind of thing; I am not at all sure I disagree. That I recognize the necessity and worthiness, however, does not mean I appreciate its iterations when I have to hear them. And, yes, I am aware of how much privilege I am expressing in making such a statement.

I was also awakened several times by Ms. 8 crying out. One of them saw her cry out in her sleep; she quieted as soon as I put a blanket over her. Another, though, between four and four-thirty this morning saw her wake more fully, having wet herself (although not the bed--it did not feel so when I checked). I changed her diaper, because the Mrs. works today and I am at home, but she resisted and worked herself up. I soon took her to another room to wind down, allowing my wife to sleep and getting another hour or so before I finally got up for the day.

Today, I expect to be as busy as ever. I have an assignment to grade in advance of another coming in and preparing for final exams; it should not take long, but it needs doing. I also need to see about picking up a book, one way or another, so that I can have something with which to work for my conference paper. (I know I am cutting it close. It is not a mark in my favor, certainly.) There is doubtlessly work around the house to do, as well, and since the Mrs. will be working outside the house, it is fitting that I tend to the work inside it. And I have the care of Ms. 8 while the Mrs. is at work, as well. I am fortunate, then, that I am able to do so much, even if there is less money than I should like and even if I got less sleep than I probably actually need.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


Things go more or less well for me and mine. Yesterday saw me plow through three classes' assignments, and while there is another assignment waiting for me to grade, the larger grading burdens are now set aside--and thankfully. No more freelance work is on offer at the moment, which is of mixed benefit; I will not have the freelance money coming in. I will have a bit of time, though, to attend to some of my conference responsibilities, with which I have been all too lax of late. Too, the weather around Sherwood Cottage promises to be better today, which will mean that the house can be open to light and air, and so I will not have to pay for so much of either as might otherwise be the case. There might be some opportunity to take a walk, as well, which Ms. 8 will appreciate--as might the Mrs., depending on when such a thing might happen (she works this afternoon).

My circumstances closely mimic those of last year at around this time. I am not as far ahead of things now as I was then, which is less pleasant, Ms. 8 sleeps her toddler sleep (she does toddle about, so the descriptor is appropriate) in another room, and the Mrs. slumbers, herself. The division of labor to which our schedules then conduced continues to work well for us; after a year, we have figured out a few things. Doubtless, we will learn more as more time passes and we pay attention--and Ms. 8 certainly commands attention. She enjoys it quite a bit, in fact, although whether it is because young children tend to do so or because she has inherited something of the performative bent common to at least one branch of her ancestry, I am not certain.

I am certain that there is such a branch, though. I have mentioned my great uncle before--usually in association with some lewd comment or another. While the way in which he was known to the family is as it is, the way in which he was best known to the world was as a musician, one who in decades past played mightily and well with luminaries of an older musical world. He was often on stage, and often at the center of the stage, and in all honesty, he was not always gracious about sharing that place. Coming from a family of musicians as he did, and from circus performers at some remove, the pleasure in performance makes sense in him--and because Ms. 8 derives in part from those same roots, it makes sense to me that she might well take a similar pleasure. But that is, at present, only supposition.

What is not supposition is that my family looks to have a decent enough day today. There are tasks to which we can turn our hands, and we can hope that news we have awaited will come at last. Even if it does not, however, there is much to do, and there is some joy in doing it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Yesterday evening, instead of getting started on my grading or raging entirely impotently and ineffectively against the events going on in Baltimore (because, let us be honest, not a damned thing I say or do is going to matter there), or commenting without certain knowledge about the happenings at Texas A&M at Galveston, I worked on sharpening several knives and a hatchet. That they needed attention was brought to mind by a little project my wife and I conducted a week and a half or so ago; when my parents were visiting, the Mrs. and I took advantage of the extra child-care and consolidated our toolboxes, reducing our holdings down to one solid set and setting aside duplicates for donations. For the most part; as we went through my wife's tools, we came across a number of pocketknives that had been sitting in less than ideal conditions despite being actually quite nice. Yesterday evening, with a bit of time that I could have spent otherwise, I began to attend to them.

Doing so put me in mind of my father, actually. I remember seeing him many times sitting in his recliner, an old t-shirt draped over one knee, oiled whetstone atop it, honing the edges of his pocketknife. I said as much to my wife as she sat across the table from me, watching me sharpen the steel we share. It was a remarkably homey moment, a connection to what may well be a tradition--although I do not know if my father similarly watched his father, or his father his. I am and remain somewhat disconnected from that history for reasons that do not bear explication here. In some ways, it does not matter; what I have is more than many, and it should be enough.

As this April at Sherwood Cottage continues to follow the pattern laid out by the greatest of Geoffreys in two lines of verse (it is still National Poetry Writing Month, is it not?), and as I make ready to assess student work amid taking care of Ms. 8 while her mother is at work, I find myself considering other disconnections in my life, other removals from communities that I may or may not have some right or duty to engage with. I have noted more than once a desire to put down roots in a place where the soil is rich and deep and I need not expect to be repotted soon. (Sherwood Cottage is not such a place.) When I have had the experience before, and I have, I do not know that I appreciated it; lacking a frame of reference is doubtlessly the cause. Sometimes I did. Now, though, I feel myself about to face a new Dust Bowl, a lyric in one band's two cents' worth coming to mind, and I do not know which way the wind will send me and mine. Wherever we end up, though, having a sharp knife ready is likely to be of some benefit.

Monday, April 27, 2015


One thing is done
Another looms
Yet another stands behind it
Still another lurks
And another
And another
And another
Far past how far I can see

How many more are for me to do
How many more are for me to face
Something mightier than sword in hand
And dash away with many strokes

If I do not do them
Another perhaps will
And that other will benefit
And I will not
And mine will not
And I will not
Allow such a thing to be

I sharpen what I have in hand
Dip it again in mindblood yet to be spilled
And flail about
Hoping that some of the strokes will land truly
The path they carve a good one
As other things continue to come on

Sunday, April 26, 2015


I noted yesterday that I recently completed a volume in the journals I have been keeping for some ten years, now. I started another one yesterday, as well. In the past, I have told myself at each new beginning that I would be better about keeping up with entries than I had in the previous volume, and I have been disappointed with myself in each volume. I skip days, sometimes for weeks at a time, and a journal that should take me some two months to fill eats more than twice that. The journals I currently use are hardly thick, so the delay in filling them is not something that argues strongly in my favor. This time, however, I have told myself no such thing. After a decade of limited success, I think it is time to recognize that I am not going to be better about the thing than I am and to accept that my level of performance is as it is. It is a lesson I will doubtlessly have cause to learn about other things.

My current journals contrast with those in which I started my formal journaling (not the binder-bound legal-pad pages from before), although I buy them from the same store. They are more elegant, certainly, more refined, but the disjunction annoys me for reasons I believe I have noted. Admittedly, they hold less, and they cost more. But my current journals, unlike the kind I used to use, are at least in part made in the United States, while the cheaper ones I used to favor are imported entirely. And I do appreciate having the nicer volumes in which to write. It seems to me that they will endure longer than the cheaper ones, and the impression they create is more like that to which I aspire (admittedly without so much success as I should like) than the earlier ones. That my shift to them more or less corresponds with my moving from pre-professional to "professional" status reinforces the impression, of which I approve.

It could be the case, though, that some of what I discuss in my December 2014 CCC piece applies, that I look for the particular impression to be created serves as a sort of security blanket for me, helping me to believe in my own abilities rather than reflecting those abilities to others. That my journals are not on pubic display--as the office accoutrements I discuss in the scholarly publication were--reinforces that idea. They are secreted away, kept where only I and a very few others can see them, and although those people are the ones about whose opinions I ought to care most, they are also the people who are already convinced of my excellence and value. They are not the people I need to assert myself to as being who I am and want to be--with one exception whose identity should be obvious at this point. And that one seems to need much, much more convincing.

Saturday, April 25, 2015


I finished another volume, the twenty-seventh, of my journal last night. I had meant to reflect upon the experience today, to comment about the ten years of work on my journals in bound volumes rather than the hole-punched and binder-gathered legal pad pages that precede them. I was going to talk about how the journaling maps onto my graduate and post-graduate experience, since I made the switch to the bound volumes after completing my student teaching, at the end of my undergraduate days, and I switched the kind of volume I used at much the same time that I began my job search--the hallmark of the newly-minted PhD--in earnest. But I looked back at entries in this webspace and recalled that I have recently done that very thing, within the month, in fact, and so I will not wax so eloquent about my erratic, inadequate, and decade-long nighttime writing as I had intended. (I will note, though, that there is likely a metaphor in there somewhere.)

If I am going to follow a retrospective impulse, though, I might note that it has been some two years since the news came that I would be out of work in The City, and that I remain somewhat annoyed by the circumstance. A year ago today, I offered a wry comment about winter holiday shopping, not even realizing or recalling it to be National Poetry Writing Month. This day in 2012 saw me rant about something I read in the New York Times, which I read when I lived in The City and was better able to keep abreast of events in the world. It echoes, or mimics with greater ferocity, what I wrote on this day a year before, discussing my reactions to the quadricentennial of the Authorized Version (which, in its original printing, includes such works as Bel and the Dragon and the Book of Tobit, in case people think the KJV is absolute and unchanging). 25 April has evidently been a good writing day for me across the years; I should probably look back over my journals to see if I have been as god in them as I have in this webspace, at least about this day.

Retrospection will only do so much, though, particularly when it can only be indulged for short times--and I cannot at present spend more time on it than I have. There is, as ever, more work to do; the freelance piece I have begun needs finishing, and there are assignments submitted that need my comment and assessment. Other projects also require my attention, although several of them look back on other things entirely, and not always through the lens of the real. Perhaps sometime, when I have cleared out more of my docket than I currently can claim to have done, I can spend more time poring over such records as I leave on occasional nights and in the mornings and find something within them that I had not before seen.

Friday, April 24, 2015


Shrieks in the night
Middle and half thence to dawn
Not single
But extending
Across hours that seem like days

Nothing is wrong
Go to sleep

It eludes
Chased away by the noise
And something else not given us to see

Today will be a long day

Thursday, April 23, 2015


I am not so optimistic about completing the freelance work today as I was yesterday. Reading went more slowly than I had anticipated, in part because there were other things that needed doing (getting food is somewhat important), and so I was not able to begin work on the writing in earnest. How much I can get done today will depend on Ms. 8's nap schedule; at fourteen months, she is active and mobile enough to need more or less continuous attention, and I cannot give it her while I am sitting at my computer and doing the writing the freelance work requires of me. Strangely, I can attend to her more or less decently while I am reading, and I still have some catching-up to do in that regard, so this will be a combined reading and writing day.

Yesterday was a combined day, as well, as I spent it reading, writing, and teaching. The first, as noted above, was directed primarily at the freelance work. I was able to finish plowing through the 860+ pages of the novel I will begin to write up shortly, which pleases me, although less than it might have had I been able to do it faster. Writing had me post yesterday's blog post to this webspace, as well as a post to another webspace with which I am concerned. (You should go read it and leave comments. Submissions are welcome.) Teaching, of course, was as it is expected to be, although it was one of the days that worked better for the students, so that was nice.

Really, the idea that actions are discrete and independent from one another is somewhat fallacious. We are all doing several things at once; we can hardly do otherwise. Whether we are aware of doing them and consciously guide the processes is a different matter, of course; few attend carefully to their breathing for long stretches of time, yet they breathe consistently, and the inner workings of the mind can only be dimly perceived despite being ongoing. The idea that the tasks to which we attend are not inherently intertwined falters upon closer examination--particularly among such activities as reading, writing, and teaching. Reading requires writing but typically precedes it in skill-set, and teaching informs both, directly and explicitly or not.

But I perhaps do ill to wax philosophical in this way; my ideas in this line are as yet ill-formed. It is better to have a structure in place, and to have a useful shell hanging from that structure, before attempting to apply polish and, through much work of putting on and wiping away, bring about a gleaming shine--only to see that shining fade against the world and need reapplication again and again. At present, I have only the members of the frame, and they are not yet welded together in their proper places. (I do think I have a useful metaphor here. I wish I had had it when I was teaching more automotive students than I now am.)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


I woke this morning with a strange sensation: hunger.

I do not normally eat soon after waking; experience tells me that my stomach tends not to handle sudden filling well. Usually, I shower and get a cup of coffee or two in me before I go to eat, partly because of my experience, and partly because it takes that long for me to become aware of needing to eat again. (I enjoy eating, far more than I do sleeping, but I am just about as thrilled to need to eat as I am to need to sleep: not at all.) Today, though, I rose from bed with a hollow gut, and I am not certain why. Dinner last night was decent enough (kind of a half-assed ramen/soba dish involving soft-boiled eggs and tasting pretty damned good, actually), and I was not terribly more active after eating the evening meal than I normally am. It does not make sense to me.

What does make sense to me is why the author I am currently reading for freelance work is a best-seller. I will have more to say after I get the freelance job done (which will likely happen tomorrow throughout the day), but I note that the book I am reading reads quire well, indeed. If it is typical of the author in question, I completely understand why the author's books sell widely. It is a welcome contrast to some of the pieces I have had to read, including badly-written vampire pornography that managed to be prurient while eliding much detail. Why people go in for some of the schlock they do...

I suppose, though, that I am no better. The kind of writing that Tolkien and his successors do is often decried as juvenile, fantasy being seen (correctly) as escapist and thus (incorrectly) as reflecting an inability to handle the "real world." Asimov and his like are regarded similarly--with the added bonus of being "incorrect" in their predictions, and of being badly acted, since more science fiction than fantasy is put on screens silver and small. I take in such works gladly and with abandon, which surely does not position me well among the traditionally erudite. (I would note, though, that I am a medievalist by training, if perhaps not so good at it as I ought to be--my Latin is quite rusty--and so I am steeped in the traditions often prized by the ultimately conservative establishment that is Western formal education. I cling to it in the hopes of landing a job.) Then again, at least people who read such works as annoy me are actually reading, and voluntarily. I have to count that as a good thing, both because it means people are reading and because it means people are in the market to buy the kinds of things I produce in my freelance work, meaning there is more money for me to earn.

My reading of popular fiction at least earns me a few dollars along the way...but that does not make it better than others'...

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Work continues to continue. Students are nearing the ends of their major projects in my classes, so my grading load is about to increase sharply; I have fortunately cleared my grading docket for a bit in anticipation of it, but there will still be much to do. Conference work is picking up; while I received notice that I will not be presenting at a particular conference in the fall, I do have to finish a bit of paperwork on it, and I have another conference's paper in progress. Freelance work also continues; a new order is waiting for me to pick up, and I will get started on it today (although not for a bit yet, as I do need to do more work on the conference paper and paperwork). As such, I continue to be quite busy.

The weather around Sherwood Cottage continues to show itself fit for spring. Lows are quite cool, although well above freezing, and highs are remarkably pleasant all around. Rain recently passed through, and the slice of sky I can see right now hints at more to come. We still need it, certainly, although I am worried about the effects when it comes time again to mow the yard. The combination of days dry enough and my having time to attend to the task has not yet come, and I think the grass and its accompaniment of clover and other plants I do not recognize will be somewhat hesitant to be cut by the time I can get the mower out again. I can use the exercise, of course, sitting so much at my desk as I do, but that does not mean I necessarily look forward to the work.

Ms. 8 continues to thrive. She is walking more, and she seems more to have a few words and to be trying to acquire yet more. She is also playing silly children's games, now. Yesterday evening, she emptied one of the cloth cubes in which we keep many of her toys and wore it on her head as she walked and crawled around the living room. I could not help but join her, although I did not make the mess of emptying she did. Her shrieks of laughter and bubbling giggles were a delight to hear, and it was flatly funny to see her pajama-clad body sticking out of the bottom of a green cloth cube. Ms. 8 is and remains a source of joy for her mother and for me.

We are in need of such delight, as this year has not been the best we have had. There are good things about it, certainly, but there are a number of things that are far less good, and we find ourselves in a situation we have seen before. We had hoped we would be past such a situation, that such would not befall us again, but that particular hope seems to have been in vain. Perhaps others my wife and I currently nurture will not join it in vanity--but that is yet to be seen.

Monday, April 20, 2015


420, heh.

It is a day to mow the grass
To smell the smell the cut leaves leave behind
And maybe to dispose of the cuttings by burning

I imagine many will do so
In Colorado
In Washington
In apartments on Parkside Avenue
In towns and in the countryside
With and without fear

It is not a thing to my taste
And I have smelled such smells before
In truth, I prefer to it liquid bread
But that is me
And my belly bloats for it

I wonder, though
Have any traded the cut-leaf smell
On such a day as this
For getting the vapors
And how would that work anyway?

I am the wrong kind of doctor to find out.

Saturday, April 18, 2015


Gray cloth looks to ripple above me
Faded banners hanging over pillars
Strewn with emerald and jade
Overlooking carpets of the same
With occasional bits of amethyst accent pieces
High-pitched flutings and pipings and twitterings sound out
Oscillating and undulating through the air
And I am not out in it

Friday, April 17, 2015


The home extends the self
Making inside outside
And separating inside from outside
Self from other

I feel myself about the house
Feel my commingling with the others who live here
Who also expand into the home
Each of us a source of home
Each of us benefiting from it
Giving each to others
Taking each from others

I have company over
And I can feel them inside me
Not just the me that I let be outside of me
The me that expands into being a home
But also the me I inhabit
Insofar as body and mind are separate
A principle of sympathy at play
That may itself breed added sympathy

Thursday, April 16, 2015


Standing in the shower
Washing away the night
Soon after
Scraping the previous day from my face
Thoughts occurred

Perhaps a headache ensued

One day was a reading day
The next, a teaching day
Today, a writing day

Perhaps I have it wrong

Perhaps it should be
Reading day
Writing day
Writing day
Writing day
Reading day again

And today is a writing day.

It is time to get to work.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


Happy Tax Day to those who live in the United States! Happy Wednesday to the rest!

I have been giving thought to the skill-sets I possess--and I do have some, despite Shaw's oft-repeated (but seldom-cited; I wonder why) adage about those who can and cannot do. Because I teach, in fact, I have some (multitasking, personnel management/leadership, detail-oriented assessment, writing, a number of computer skills). But that does not mean I have as many skills and skill-sets as I should like, and so I have thought about taking additional training. (Go figure that a scholar would look for more schooling as a way to improve. I am vested in the process, obviously, and I know from both sides of the experience that having a guide works well.)

Of particular interest for me are courses in accounting and in graphic design. The reason for the former should be obvious: job prospects. There are many, many positions that ask for expertise in accounting, and I still do not have a continuing-line job. Additionally, if I ever do follow one of the more prominent "American dreams" and start a business of my own, being able to keep my books well is something that will be of benefit. Even within the context of the job I have now, though, having the coursework would help, as it would allow me 1) more, and more relevant, examples to use with a number of students and 2) more information from which to assess the work that those students will submit.

The graphic design coursework would also be of benefit. I write much and often, although not as much or as often as I should like to do. As I teach many of my students, and as is obvious from even the most casual survey of current media, text and image integrate with one another; writing is increasingly an exercise in visual (in the sense of image and design as opposed to text, which is often taken in through the eyes) presentation. It is something I have addressed, if glancingly, before, and so it is something that suggests studying further how to do it well. Also, professional writing increasingly asks for proficiencies with design programs--and while I am good with word-processing software and other office standards, I am not as up on the fancier design programs as I ought to be. Graphic design coursework often runs to training in such programs (if the curricula I have reviewed in doing my freelance work are any indication), and so it makes sense that I would look into taking some to improve my professional prospects. Again, too, even in the current position, the courses would help; I would have more knowledge from which to teach.

Even so, where I would find either the money or the time to do such things, I do not know. I have not much of either that is not already spoken for, and what little remains gets spent in rest or saved. Someday, perhaps, things will slow enough that I can afford to take on the added studies--but that day is not today. Today, I get to watch as others frantically scramble to speak to what they owe for what they get--and I offer my thanks to those who pay their taxes, since I benefit therefrom.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


Before I read the newest Nora Roberts novel (I get paid to do so; shut up), a NaPoWriMo offering:

I have written of facing a hydra
The thing has blood enough
To fuel all of the new heads
Two emerging for every one I strike off
Because I cannot bear a brand so quickly
As to sear the stumps I leave behind
With each stroke of the sword's superior

It does not help that I do not carry a torch
So much as nurse a small fire
Built from dry dung
Smoldering sullenly in small batches
While still-liquid piles scraped together
Sit in the sun and stink
As they slowly desiccate
Waiting for me to pick through them

Monday, April 13, 2015


Rain is falling on Sherwood Cottage, following a line of storms that pushed though at around four this morning. As they did, something happened that rarely does, something that can be guessed at from the fact that I can note the time: the storms woke me. Normally, the sound of rain acts to soothe me and ease my sleep, and the rumblings of thunder rarely register, but this morning acted differently. I do not know why. I do know that it put me a bit off of my normal schedule; I have taken to waking at half past five, and I am able to do so well most days, but this was not one of them.

We need the rain, of course. While the grass in the yard is green and was already in need of mowing--I was working all day yesterday, grading and writing the freelance piece I noted needing to do, as well as another such, but not tending to my other writings, sadly--the rivers are still down, far down, from where they ought to be. They have been down long enough that shrubbery and trees have begun to reclaim the bared beds, signaling the onset of a new normal that does not bode well for those who would live here or those who are obliged to live here. That much, then, is welcome.

I seem often anymore to comment on the weather; four of the ten entries in this webspace prior to this one open with or feature comments about the weather, and my written journal entries, few as they are, often discuss it in some detail. Yet I am no meteorologist. I am, as I have repeatedly noted, a literary scholar (although I probably do not do as much work in that area as I ought to do). If I am looking at the weather, should I not be searching for the symbolism in it rather than simply marking that the temperature is such and the precipitation is so? Should I not care for it more on the page than in the world around me? For I ought to bind my world between covers and put it on a shelf, where it can expect to collect dust for days and years to come. Or so such thinking goes, although I am not at all sure whence it comes.

Perhaps I simply grow older, though, and settled further into ways already well-trodden. Perhaps, growing older, I mimic what I have seen of the old before me, anticipating being one of them as my hair grays and I find myself less and less connected to the currents of mainstream popular culture. What I have seen from them is often attention to the heavens in the day, reflecting an old affinity to the work of the outdoors with which that weather interacts but which is less and less often the work I or any whom I know do--or even they do who still look at the sky from under it and speak to one another of the water falling therefrom.

Sunday, April 12, 2015


Work continues, as should be no surprise. I spent the whole day yesterday grading, managing to clear out one set of papers across the breadth of the day (seriously, from a few minutes after yesterday's post to after ten that evening; I definitely quaffed from the wrong flagon). There is still grading left for me to do, although it will not take so long, as the assignments are far shorter than those I treated yesterday. And there is a 1,500-word freelance piece staring at me--with a much longer one to drop on Tuesday. Conference work still needs my attention, as well, both in dealing with a couple of panels and in drafting a paper. And I probably ought to put up another piece on the Tales after Tolkien Society blog; I've yet to do one this month, and we are almost two weeks into it. (Contributions are welcome; let me know.) So, yes, as ever, there is much to do.

Work is not the only thing that continues, either. Ms. 8 continues to grow and develop. Although she has not acquired any new words since last time I noted her vocabulary, or none that I have heard her voice or am able to recognize, she is walking a bit more than before, and a bit more steadily. She also interacts with her environment more, making changes to it that are not simply throwing things around; she is beginning to build things and rearrange them for her comfort and convenience. She is also mimicking her mother's actions and mine more nearly, acting as if reading books; she turns pages and moves her mouth as if to sound out the words printed thereupon. I have to wonder if the Mrs. and I are starting Ms. 8 on the same dark path we have walked, that which leads through academia to...somewhere, I guess. I'm not there yet, I think and hope.

If this is the end of the road, it is not exactly paved with yellow bricks. Then again, it also does not lead through a land where semi-sentient straw-bundles stand with sticks up where the sun doesn't shine, and Talus's descendants or Olivaw's forebears do not rust where they have attacked thinking trees. The large, floating, disembodied head that is itself a lie seems to factor into the surroundings, though, and in plenitude; I am still looking for the curtains, but whether to uncover what lies behind or join those who operate the machinery they seek to hide. It seems a better racket than what I am doing now, and not less temporary than my current position seems to be.

Saturday, April 11, 2015


There are many flavors of powdered fruit drink
Whether in the name brand
Or the off-brand
Quarter or dime per packet
Sometimes even a nickel

We all drink of one type or another
I think I drank the wrong one

Friday, April 10, 2015


The weather at Sherwood Cottage has decided to offer a reminder that it is yet spring. Temperatures were in the 30s Fahrenheit when I woke this morning, although the upper 30s, so that the floors were chilly and the air brisk. They should reach the 70s, which will be nice; the Mrs. should be able to open up the house later in the day. I will be at work, of course, teaching my classes and attending a meeting, and we will be running errands afterward, so I do not think I will be able to enjoy much of the nicer weather today. I got mine yesterday, though, as I wrote for freelancing, and I will get more of it tomorrow as I grade the stacks of papers that are mine to handle. Somehow, I will get things done.

Doing so is a matter of time and timing, and having reliable clocks helps in managing both. I like to have clocks in sight; my inner sense of time is somewhat erratic, so I rely on external indicators. Unfortunately, some of the clocks in Sherwood Cottage are tricksy, usually in that they run fast. The clock on the microwave, for example, picks up a minute every now and again. The microwave's plug gets jostled often enough, though, that the clock is reset perhaps every week, so the occasional minute gained goes away before it can cause too much trouble. (There are some people who could usefully follow its example.)

It is not alone, though, and it is far from the worst offender in the house. That is probably the clock in the back bedroom (currently a guest room, soon to be Ms. 8's bedroom--and it should have been already). That one has an interesting history. It found itself dangerously close to the litter boxes in the van my wife and mother-in-law drove from The City to Sherwood Cottage when the Mrs. and I relocated, and it suffered consequences thereof that should be obvious. I was inclined to dispose of it then, but the Mrs. decided to clean it and keep it instead, and I did not argue--but it went to the back room. There, it is supposed to automatically update itself; there is some kind of received transmission involved, I think. But it does not. It sits and gains time, making for quite the jarring experience for me on occasion. This morning, I thought it had passed seven when it had not. In the past, it has been a half-hour ahead--or more.

I am inclined to think the problem is in having been an unwilling cat-toilet. But I am steeped in science fiction and fantasy literature, and the thought occurs to me that perhaps the time in that room does run differently than in the rest of Sherwood Cottage. And if that is the case, I have to wonder what would happen if I left the room through the window instead of the door...

Thursday, April 9, 2015


The weather around Sherwood Cottage confuses me. It stands far away from water; there are no rivers in town, and the thing the locals call a lake is more of a pond, really, created by a dam and on no axis so broad that its opposite side cannot be seen. The sea is a state away, at least, and one of the largest, at that. Yet somehow, the humidity here is high and has been for days, provoking a needed rain and therefore welcome in that regard, but not so desirable for being out and about--or being in when the place in which one is is so open to the elements as Sherwood Cottage is. The walls are hollow, the windows thin, and the doors do not seal, and so the outside is slowed but not stopped from making its way in.

Amid such interesting meteorological circumstances, work continues. I have a stack of grading waiting for me, and it will be joined by another stack of grading tomorrow; I probably ought to attend to it today, lest I have multiple sets at once, which is never desirable. Freelance work continues, although presently with smaller jobs that I should be able to push through in haste yet well. Other writing continues to beckon, and that will entail additional reading that I have done but not for some time, so that I need to refresh myself. And preparations for conferences in Kalamazoo and Nashville should be further underway than they currently are. The situation seems fairly normal, therefore.

Ms. 8 continues to develop. In addition to having begun to walk (although she still does a fair bit of crawling), she is beginning to make words. "Hi" seems to be frequent, as does "Mama." ("Dada" does not happen often, if at all, and I confess to being saddened by it.) I am pretty sure I heard her exclaim "Cheese!" while I was feeding some to her yesterday, a piece of string cheese given to her in bits while she was on my lap in the early evening. "Kitty," I am reasonably certain I have heard from her, as well, and I think she asked for "up" yesterday when she woke up from a nap. Many older parents have told me to be thankful for the quiet I have had from her, for when she begins to talk, she will not stop, but I find it frustrating to guess at her problems, and her acquiring language should help reduce that frustration.

I find many things frustrating. The world is not as I would have it be, after all. (Clearly not, or I would already have tenure somewhere--or I would have won the lottery one of the few times I played it, and employment would not be a problem.) I do what I can to order things to my liking, taking advantage of the space that is mine and working to convince those who share other spaces with me to align them as I would. (The latter is only partially successful; needs differ.) Still, what I can do is not as much as needs to be done, and I am not sure how to do more.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


I did, in fact, spend most of yesterday sitting at my computer and writing for money. And that meant I re-read a novel, which is not necessarily the worst thing to do while trying to avoid the heat that presages summer. That meant that I had opportunity to consider the words I was re-reading more closely than I had the first time I went through and read, and while I could not necessarily write for pay what I would want to write, this webspace offers a bit more...flexibility to me. Hence the following:

Steve Berry's The Patriot Threat (ISBN 978-1-4668-6260-9, $12.99 as a NOOK® Book) continues the Cotton Malone series as it follows Malone through pursuit of the fugitive Anan Wayne Howell and into a decades-long conspiracy to bilk the populace of the United States. In the world of the novel, the Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution is fraudulent, certified as in effect by a secretary of state who knew the certification to be false, and knowingly retained by those in power through FDR's administration, when documentation about the falsehood was lost. Malone and the federal agents who accompany him, as well as officials at the highest levels of government, uncover the conspiracy and destroy the only surviving copies of the documents that prove it, ensuring that the secret can never be uncovered again.

Throughout the novel, Berry's characters rail against taxation and the social policies put into place by the FDR administration while praising such capitalist icons as Andrew Mellon. Malone is perhaps most moderate in his comments, but even the President of the United States lambasts his predecessor, joining several others in doing so. Although the novel disclaims itself as a work of fact, it clearly stakes out a position aligned with the fugitive Howell--whose reasoning is accepted by a number of characters, including Malone, even as its fulfillment is denied in favor of retaining the system of revenue generation upon which the United States has come to depend--and against the validity of the income tax system at work in the United States. The obvious historical research informing the novel and conducing to its substantial verisimilitude (which is, in all honesty, something for which to commend Berry) also vitiates against the formal disclaimer in the authorial notes at the end of the book. Such a disclaimer reads much as Chaucer's Retraction, either a pro forma thing meant to insulate or a knowing, tongue-in-cheek comment that would be delivered in an overwrought voice if read aloud and indicating therefore the actual belief in its opposite. In effect, the book is a paean to the falsity of the Sixteenth Amendment. That it was published near the end of the tax season is perhaps coincidence, but a telling one if so.

Again, I know that some will say "It's just a story." I have addressed the point before (here and here, if not elsewhere), and I will state again that stories inform perceptions and approaches to the world. The heavy-handedness with which Berry's book approaches the issue of taxation--indeed, of conservative socioeconomic ideology, generally--will doubtlessly serve to reconfirm for many readers a worldview conducive to regression. As a medievalist, I know that the "good ol' days" were not so good; I do not look forward to their return.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


The weather at Sherwood Cottage is predicted to remind us that summer is not too far away; temperatures are expected to reach the low 90s Fahrenheit, and humidity is up. I had been relying on fans and open windows to keep things feeling decent, but I may well have to turn on one or more of the window units the house has for cooling. Medievalist though I am, I have no desire to return to the medieval; I like such things as climate control, indoor plumbing, and information technology. (The last should be obvious. That I am not the only one for whom it is true should also be obvious.) Fortunately, my work is such that I get to stay inside for the day, and I need not undertake any heavy lifting.

That does not mean I will do *no* lifting, of course. Since the Mrs. is at work today, I will be taking care of Ms. 8, and she still likes to be picked up a fair bit. She still *has* to be, in fact, for although she walks (haltingly) and climbs (perhaps more than her mother and I would like), she can only get so far and so fast. I do not mind, though. Holding my daughter is a pleasure in most events (most because a full diaper is hardly nice to have around, and Ms. 8 is sometimes vigorous in the placement of her feet against her potential brothers and sisters), and I am not anhedonic. Rather the opposite, actually, and likely more than is good for me, as my flabby belly attests.

And it is flabby; I have not been as good about exercise and diet as I ought to have been. That is hardly new, of course, and even when I was being quite good about exercise, I carried a gut. Eight to ten hours of competitive judo practice each week did not strip it from me; nor did ten or more hours of aikido. Then again, I like beer, and while what I eat is usually reasonably good for me, I eat more of it than I ought to, my appetite a holdover from days when my work *was* outside and involved heavy lifting, my metabolism was that of a man a decade younger than I am now or a youth farther removed yet, and the cooking to which I had access still modeled after the farming life my grandparents knew and my parents glimpsed.

I need to drink more water.

Today will not be the day I correct such failings, however. Today will instead be a day of writing work, wherein I sit and stare at this screen for stretches of time and put words onto pixelated pages in the hopes of earning more money for myself and my household--when Ms. 8 allows me to do so. And when that is done, there are other tasks to which I must attend, as there ever are. As much as anything else, their presence accounts for my continued gut--and I know I am not like to change.

Monday, April 6, 2015


It seems that the page views for this webspace are largely dependent on full (+/- 500 words of prose) entries advertised on (other?) social media. As noted, I was in a rush on Friday last and away for the weekend; my page views dropped considerably. I am back, though, and back to as close to normal as I ever get, so things ought to resume their previous shape.

My wife, Ms. 8, and I spent the weekend just past in Arkansas, visiting my father-in-law and his wife. As ever, they welcomed us warmly, and as is usually the case, I was able to get a fair bit of rest. Saturday night going into Sunday morning, I slept for nearly ten hours--I woke several times in the night, sure, but fell right back to sleep. It is not common for me to do so for at least two reasons (Ms. 8 is on something like a regular schedule at this point), but taking the opportunity to do so seems to have helped. The return drive yesterday went well, and I feel pretty good this morning.

Ms. 8 Enjoys the Holy Saturday Festivities
Ms. 8 seemed to have a good time, too. There were a few moments of upset for her, as waking in an unfamiliar place does not always go over well with her, but she was for the most part her usual happily smiling and laughing self. She largely understood the Easter egg hunt we had on Saturday, giggling quite a bit. She tried to eat the eggs throughout the event, although peeling them seemed to escape her. Her family delighted in it, nonetheless, and we have quite a few more pictures than this one of her traipsing about in the grass. (And, yes, she walks. She just recently started to, in fact.)

The weekend is over, though, and things at Sherwood Cottage and with its residents are returning to the semblance of normalcy they typically maintain. I have another freelance order waiting for my attention, and there are stacks of student papers waiting for me to mark them. I also have conference duties to which to attend in earnest now, since one deadline has passed and another conference as a whole is gearing up. I am glad, therefore, to have gotten the rest I did over the weekend. I have a feeling I am very much going to need it.

Friday, April 3, 2015


I know that I am late in posting what will be a brief note. I was working this morning, cranking out a freelance piece of several thousand words. It got done, and I am glad of it, but it prevented me from putting fingers to keys for this earlier.

I am not sure whether or not I will be able to post updates over the next couple of days, as I will be traveling once again. Doing so always mucks up my ability to get this kind of writing done, as a recent entry indicates. I am well, though; there is no need for worry.

Thursday, April 2, 2015


I managed to get through yesterday without falling afoul of any pranks, which pleases me. I perpetrated none, which I am certain pleases others. In all honesty, the allure of such things is greatly reduced for me anymore, and it has been for some time. When the falling-away started, I am not entirely sure; my memory is not quite as good as it needs to be for me to recall that detail, and cessations that happen as falling-away rather than deliberate choice do not attract much attention. Still, I think the last time I did any kind of pranking was while I was in graduate school; during a phone call to my parents, I told them that I had gotten my now-Mrs. pregnant (we were only dating at the time, not even engaged). It provoked a much different reaction than my announcement of the actual event. (Admittedly, they got a different notice than the blog post: "Hey, Dad, I have a new name for you...Grandpa.") Since then, though, I *might* have offered an off-handed comment to my students--but even that has not happened for a while and did not happen yesterday.

Writing of graduate school reminds me that it has been close to ten years since I started post-graduate education, that it has been something like ten years since I learned I would be accepted into a graduate program and allowed into higher academic study of the humanities. It was not something for which I was truly prepared, and it was not something about which I was adequately informed--although the latter is as much my fault as anyone else's. Events have fallen out relatively well since then, of course; I feel that the work of earning my doctorate benefited me greatly, and I am quite pleased to have the family I have as a result of going into graduate work. Even so, there are things I would have done differently, had I the thing to do again. I would have worked to publish more of my papers earlier, for one...

It has been some ten years, now, too, that I have kept a written journal; I recall beginning it at the end of my undergraduate student teaching days, although I did not date-stamp most of the entries I made in the earlier volumes of the journal. I have not been as diligent in writing it as I ought to have been--and I am still not. Nor do I necessarily do much to review the journals I have written, although I do occasionally look back at my travel-journal from 2012. Still, the set of journals is precious to me, and I think to keep it for a long time, even if the disarray of volumes in it annoys me; I would like the set of journals to look like one piece of work, since they are a single piece of work, if one attended to with insufficient rigor. Like my research, perhaps I will get the journals in order and under diligent pursuit, and in another ten years, I can look back on things with less regret.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


Only a few brief notes today:

Much of what I wrote last year at about this time still holds. The world is foolish enough without adding to it on purpose, and work continues. The Mrs. and I are still wrestling with the idea of how to safeguard our books; right now, we are juggling our shelves about, but that is only having so much of an effect. Spring advances this year as it did last, with a general warming trend and more light available for the eyes without bulbs needing to be fed at a cost.

Some things are different, though. I am making more money through freelancing now than last year, which is good, and there is somewhat less grading at the moment, which is also good. Ms. 8 is also still going and growing, which is even better. While last year saw her learning to crawl, this year sees her learning to walk and talk; crawling, she has down pat.

I did get a few submissions to my SCMLA session, which is good. Over the next couple of days, I am going to review them along with the panel secretary to determine which ones will be accepted and noted to the conference. I think there will only be the one panel this time; while I have in the past received enough submissions to build two, it is not the case this time. Despite my protestations here and here, as well as elsewhere, it seems interest in the medieval is not as strong as it perhaps ought to be. I am not entirely pleased by the event, but there it is.