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Sunday Salon: Miscellanea

By August 14, 20115 Comments
The Sunday
In the tradition of Sunday Coffee at bibliophiliac, one of my favorite blogs, I’m rambling this Sunday. Sometimes it’s all about the rambling.

– The oppressive heat in southern Indiana finally broke this week, leaving us with humidity free cool mornings and nights. I actually used the blanket on my bed for the first time probably since April, and that was without the air conditioning. It’s been possible this week to walk around town without feeling afterwards like your body has actually absorbed the moisture out of the air rather than sweating it out. This is not at all what August in southern Indiana is usually like, but I’ll take it. What a lovely, late summer gift.

my tomaotes
– Perhaps Mother Nature was lending some sympathy to the schoolchildren who had to go back to school much earlier than usual around here. My stepdaughter had her first day on Wednesday of this week, while the neighboring school system started a week earlier. With the new “balanced schedule” in its various forms, the kids around here are all starting a good 2 weeks earlier than usual. It’s odd having our daughter go back to the school schedule while we still have another month of freedom before classes start on Labor Day. And nice to be getting up a little earlier to get her off in the mornings. One day this week I had weeded a flower bed, emptied the trash and recycling, watered our flowers, cleaned out the litter boxes, and turned our compost bins all before 10 in the morning.

– I put up my first canner of tomatoes this week. After a slow start, our garden full of tomato plants gave us a bushel and a half’s worth last week, and something must be done with that many tomatoes. Last year was my first year canning tomatoes on my own (though “on my own” means constant calls to my mother to make sure I’m doing everything right). This year, I just needed to call to remember how long to keep the tomatoes boiling. And every jar sealed, which is just the most satisfying feeling. Hopefully, this will be the first of many, as my mother’s not canning whole tomatoes this year, so we’re on our own in supplying ourselves with tomatoes over the long winter.

– On Monday, my husband, father, brother and I went to a Reds’ game. My husband had bid on and won a super, local sports package at a fundraiser for Girls, Inc., and it included some very nice seats to the Reds’ game on Monday. My husband is a baseball fanatic, but I remember the first Reds’ game I went to with my soon-to-be-husband was the first Reds’ game I’d ever been to without my dad. I know a lot more about baseball now than I did when I was little (for love of my husband, I sat through all 18 hours of Ken Burns documentary), but, as is probably true for a lot of people, baseball will always be a sport that makes me think of my dad. The sound of baseball on the radio is the sound of weekends with my dad, following him around as he did his various projects and begging him to help, which now forms the totality of my experience with fixing things. Or going to at least one Reds’ game every year on the free tickets we got for getting straight A’s in school, and Dad showing us how to keep the score card. And, of course, Dad playing catch with us, teaching us how to hit a ball, catch a ball, and suck it up when you got hit in the chest with a baseball and it knocked the wind out of you. When you watch 18 hours of a documentary about baseball, you discover that for most folks, the love the baseball is really about the love of their fathers. It was good to be watching a game again with Dad.

It stormed a bit at the game, too

– The summer is waning even for us free and frolicsome college professors. Syllabi must be worked on and meetings will begin the week before classes start on Labor Day. It becomes harder and harder to deny that I will soon, in fact, have to go back to work. My sabbatical will really and truly be over. What will happen then?

A friend of mine from college sent me an e-mail the other day to say she reads my blog and wonders what will happen when I start working again. She also said she was glad to hear I was happier than I had been back in college. On this sabbatical, I have discovered that for me, there’s a distinct correlation between not working and happiness.

Everyone keeps asking whether I’m ready for classes to start, or looking forward to classes starting. And I have to confess, at the beginning of my sabbatical, I thought I would miss my job, and I didn’t particularly. Like any job, it’s easy as a professor to become bogged down in all the things that have nothing to do with your students or the classroom. I work at a college that is thankfully all about the teaching; I couldn’t survive long at a research institution. But even so, it’s easy to get tangled up in many things that are not at all about teaching. And it’s easy to fall into something of a rut with your teaching, so that sometimes you look at your syllabus and think, “Why am I doing that? Why did I ever decide to do that in the first place?” But when you’re caught up in the constant cycle of the school year, you don’t often get time to reflect on why you’re doing what you’re doing. And that’s a good thing about sabbatical.

I still don’t know if I miss my job, but I miss the students. I don’t miss all the students, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes at your very best moments you can open minds. Sometimes you can change lives. Sometimes you can help in big ways and small. Not all of that feels particularly uplifting or even fun while you’re doing it, but it’s a worthwhile endeavor.

So I guess I’ll go back. And perhaps take a little bit of my sabbatical with me, in the form of knitting and fiddling and, of course, blogging.

– Tomorrow, tune in for this week’s Madison Monday feature on the All Good Things soap shop in lovely Madison. Oh, the bubbles!
– Great writing quote of the week, from a great website, Advice to Writers:
I write to give my life a form, a narrative, a chronology; and, for good measure, I seal loose ends with cadenced prose and add glitter where I know things were quite lusterless. I write to reach out to the real world, though I know that I write to stay away from a world that is still too real and never as provisional or ambivalent as I’d like it to be. In the end it’s no longer, and perhaps never was, the world that I like, but writing about it. I write to find out who I am; I write to give myself the slip. I write because I am always at one remove from the world but have grown to like saying so.




  • Doris says:

    Because of the drought here in Texas my tomato harvest was slim. We had a few beef steaks for grilling and sandwiches and our Sweet 100s for salads. Hopefully next year I can get back to canning – it will be a long winter with only the waxy store bought kind.

  • I love the excerpt at the end! It really sums up why some of us prefer writing to some of life's grim moments.

    To create our own version of the world.

    My granddaughter is one of those who had to return to school this week. She posted on Facebook that she is “exhausted” after the first week.


  • A sabbatical can be very refreshing. Hope you enjoy your time back!

    Here's this week's post: Sunday Salon: Wanna Be 25% Happier? And don't forget to sign up for the Readerbuzz August Giveaway!

  • Love that photo from the baseball game! A sabbatical is sometimes just the thing to reset ourselves and make us realize that all things in moderation really is a good idea. It is easy for me to get completely swept up in work (at a high school) so summer helps me to realize that blogging, reading, family, walks, etc also need to play a bigger role in my life during the school year

  • Robyn, I love the comment about the correlation between not working and happiness. I completely understand this, and that is why I only work part time. This is a good topic for me to address in my blog. We'll see if I get around to actually doing it….

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