Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Spa Day

Well, it wasn't *exactly* as I pictured it, but it was good anyway. I got up, went for my walk, saw my schnauzer buddy, then showered and went up to the main building. Things were hoppin'. Apparently they had some kind of grant application due and had calls coming and going, so I finally decided to just get on the trolley and ride. After all I had chosen the spa because it was near a trolley stop.

At least the trolley stop by the Colony is in the shade. It ended up being rather warm today (well below Houston levels, however). I got to the spa -- no one there. Hmmm. I tried the hotel next door since they seemed to be linked: gone for the day! Well, I had noticed another spa further back that was not only on the trolley line but had a nice OPEN sign outside. Of course when I got inside it had Eureka Springs' most ubiquitous sign, "Will Be Back At" and a clock. The hands pointed to 12.30, but without a watch (or my phone or my pda/sampo) I had no idea what time it was. Oh well.

But as I walked out the door back down the street, I heard a voice say "Did you have questions about a massage?" Fortunately, it was Heather who ended up scheduling me for a facial/massage at Health Works for later that afternoon. So off I went to have lunch in town, deciding finally to try the Mud Street Cafe where I had a rather sour glass of cab sav and a very tasty Mediterranean wrap. I dawdled at the library afterward, reading magazines. Fascinating fact: it's one of the original Carnegie libraries, still educating the common folk. Well, trying to do so -- there was a woman at a computer treating it like her own personal office, taking cell phone calls ("Yeah, I'm in the library...": scintillating) and another young woman chasing a toddler all over the building.

Anytime you look for a trolley, there's none to be found, so I left plenty of time. Naturally, one showed up immediately, making me a bit early for my appointment. Fortunately, Heather was ready for me and oh, how relaxing it was! I told her they should call this the writer's special, as it gets to those tense muscles in the neck and shoulders, and the repetetive stress in the hands and arms. I think I may have to go back for the foot massage next week. And of course, small town that it is, Heather turns out to have worked some time ago for Crescent, one of the founders of the Writers' Colony.

Of course this adventure means no work done yet (except for the edits to the book review that Gene helpfully suggested), but the recharge was worth it. Mmmmm.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Memorial Day

I saw a white squirrel. Well, partly white; he had a regular squirrel colored head and the rest of his body was mostly white with some spots, as if he were wearing a cloak. Can one be a semi-albino? I suspect not. Cross bred with a possum? Naaah. Who knows--but a (even semi-) white squirrel definitely stands out.

It's memorial day, so a bit quieter this morning. Except at the top of the hill; I was surprised when I walked past the apartment buildings up at Pivot Rock to hear the loud roar of a vaccuum cleaner. Who would be vaccuuming in a (no doubt) thin-walled apartment building, eightish on a holiday morning? When I walked back past a TV was blaring--perhaps it is an on-going war of annoying sounds. Makes me appreciate the quiet here at the farmhouse even more. Rebecca asked me whether next time I would request one of the suites in the main building, but I don't think so. The first few days, facing the daily climb up the hill, I would have said yes in a minute. But now that I have got back a little wind--so the walk isn't quite so hard--I don't think I would. We're more isolated here, the sounds of town muted somewhat. The main bldg is right on the busy road to the Crescent Hotel. Besides, the deer, the fox, the groundhog and the turtle are all here.

I'm dragging my feet on the book review I need to finish. Not sure why--maybe because it's not as "creative" as the other things I have been doing, that I'm here to do. But it will be an academic publication, and that's a good thing. Perhaps I'll bribe myself with a visit to one of the local spas for a massage and facial when I finish. I'll just put those brochures over here on my desk to motivate me. What could be more motivational than a chocolate lover's massage?

Sunday, May 29, 2005

A Murder of Crows

I passed the murder of crows just now, while they were at their confab in Harmon Park. The meeting broke up as I walked past; perhaps they were discussing the alleged GSHS irregularities. I'll probably never know.

Last night we did the writerly thing and had a few drinks. Mostly we used the opportunity to tease Rebecca because she thinks Agymah and I do not talk nearly enough. I told her we chatter like anything the rest of the time, we're just quiet around her. But it did lead to a discussion about performance and just how bad many academics are at it. Funny, you'd think that people who have to be in front of an audience daily would become wonderful performers. Despite all arguments about pedagogy, the bottom line is we need to have a little ham to coax our students into learning. I told the story of my first Kalamazoo (the first image, of course, was stopping at the entrance to Valley III because there was a stretcher coming out with a collapsed medievalist on it; "wow," I thought, "must be a brutal conference") where I went to my very first medieval panel: humor in the Old Norse sagas. I thought it was going to be wonderful--after all, the sagas are filled with that mordant humor, a biting line usually followed by "and then he fell down dead." I figured the panel was going to be great.


It was the most tedious 90 minutes I think I may have ever spent. Not only were the papers long and lacking insight, but the readers droned on and on in buzzing monotones. How difficult is it to be a little animated? It's one thing when you're new to the work and nervous, but these were senior scholars.

So last night we all talked about how much fun it is to do a reading, to respond to an audience, to feel that electricity (or not! even a bad reading experience is interesting). Why wouldn't you want to shine? But I do remember my first day in a class room, feeling sweat ooze from every pore--why oh why did I wear that silk shirt that quickly became stuck to my dripping back. They all could tell, surely, that I had no idea what I was doing! But I went back the second day and kept struggling, until that wonderful day that I got stuck at the DMV. I rushed into class with bare minutes to spare, a hasty lesson plan concocted on the winding road from Willimantic slapped down on a sheet of paper -- and I had the best class ever. In retrospect I realize why: it was the first class where I made the students do most of the work. I had over-prepared every day before that, terrified that I wouldn't be ready for some picky, probing question that never came.

All I needed to do was help them figure it out for themselves--and we all had fun because of it.

Sometimes doing less yields more. I have to rely on the muses to be there, but I have found that they are generally hovering nearby. If I listen closely and pay attention, really be in the present moment, the words flow, the thoughts arise, and everything goes fine.

I think I'm going to go do less now--it's a beautiful day.

Saturday, May 28, 2005


I realize I have been using this online journal as a kind of dumptruck, to steal from Dylan, to unload my head. It gets all the stray buzzing thoughts out before I sit down to write. Bizarre things: like noticing there's one bird whose call sounds like "chee'burgie, chee'burgie" like that old skit on Saturday Night Live; or trying to decide whether this guy is brilliant or crazy or just needs to get out of Iowa City (thanks, Gene); or wondering where the squirrel's body went--did it wash away down the gully with the rain, or -- as Robert would no doubt suggest -- did someone take it home for dinner?

Inquiring minds and all that.

I think today will be a non-fiction writing day, 1) because I have a due date and 2) because I feel fairly bereft of ideas at the moment. Sometimes it's worth just toughing it out, staring at the same page until, grudgingly, the words start to come as if they slept late and don't want to come to work (cue Humpty Dumpty and his portmanteaux). And other days, you just do something else.

I do need to do laundry...

Friday, May 27, 2005


I must have looked like a I was laboring hard going up the hill, because a woman stopped and offered me a ride today. I had left a little later, it was a little warmer, and the hill doesn't get any flatter. "Or are you exercising?" I said I was, laughed and thanked her. It was almost tempting.

Agymah and I were talking over dinner last night and I mentioned how I had the illusion that while here at the writers' colony I would be able to write so much faster (cue Rosalind Russell typing madly in His Girl Friday). We both laughed, and he said "It never gets any faster, does it?" But I guess in the back of my mind was the picture of me, freed at last from all my other responsibilities, fingers flying, muses chattering--I realize just how much this is fantasy when I notice that it also pictures the sheets of paper piling up beside me. Without a printer, no pages are piling up! There was at least that tangible proof of effort back in the days of typewriters. Too often now I don't want to waste paper, so I seldom see things I've written in physical form until they appear in print.

So I resign myself to being no faster, but then speed is a relative thing (cue the "Speed 3" episode of Father Ted). And if I write no faster, I do have more time, so as Gene keeps reminding me, I should be glad for what I am getting done, not lamenting what I have not yet done.

The workshop yesterday seemed to go well. A small group, which was probably best for the format, and very eager. I played a little kantele, even sang a song ("Mieleni minun tekevi") and we talked about sound and rhythm in writing, the power of myth and the ways creativity gets crushed or dismissed. I had them do a writing exercise describing their own personal muse, which had surprising resonance for many of them. Their writings had that vividness that calling into being a needed supporter gives. One woman said she tried to shape her muse, but finally had to give in to the real vision that came through. Another woman described with lively detail her little Chihuahua. We chuckled, but she made a convincing argument for the loving support and encouragement she gets daily. Unconditional love is a wonderful thing. By the end everyone seemed to have had a good time. A few said it should have been much longer.

CONGRATULATIONS on ten years invoking the punk muse at WECS, Marko! (Argh, the signal keeps cutting out--but I heard that :-)

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Time and Idleness

It's been overcast the last couple days, so I'm never really sure when I wake up what time it is. This morning I lay in bed, initially just being lazy, assuring myself it was early yet, then just mulling over my dreams. After that I was thinking ahead to today's workshop (eek) and of course, rehearsing things I might say. The workshop title is "Calling on the Mythic Muse" and I hope to draw on my own experiences with the Kalevala stories, and the power of that kind of storytelling freedom. I remembered back to when I was a kid and would make up long, elaborate (and immediately forgotten) story songs as I walked back and forth to school. That's the kind of creativity that I believe is innate in us all, but usually gets drummed out by the relentless practicality of life and peer pressure. "Stop daydreaming": how often do we hear that? We're a nation of Puritans--idle hands are the devil's workshop!--and seemingly pointless reverie gets equated with wasted time.

In the last few years, I have been trying to recover that easy creativity. I guess it was never gone completely--I never did stop daydreaming--but it becomes a kind of frightened critter, cowering from the daylight. We don't trust our muse, we don't trust the pleasure of spinning an ephemeral story, one that need not last a lifetime or several, but entertains for a short while, makes us feel united in our separateness.

It's taken me a while to quiet the Puritans in my head, and I'm not sure it's done yet. But this time in Dairy Hollow is helping immensely, and while I am hungry to write and write more, I am feeling mostly content. Or trying to do so.

Last night when I walked back after dinner, a couple of deer were eating right in front of the farmhouse. The doe ran off at once, but the young buck (three pointer) stared at me for quite a while. He ran off about ten yards and stared some more. How will we know anything if we don't take a look once in a while? He eventually ran off, white tail bobbing, but he seemed satisfied.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Guess who I just saw?

Another Story Completed!

Well, when I say "complete" I really only mean a first draft. I like to get some feedback or at the very least, set them aside for a while and see how they look with a little distance. At least this time it is one of the Unikirja stories, so I feel like I am finally doing what I am supposed to be here to do at Dairy Hollow. The story is called "Vipunen" and is based oh so loosely on Runo 17. It's a light-hearted story and--how odd for me--has only male characters. I have started another story based on one of the Kanteletar ballads and it seems to be moving along, though not as fast as the first day of inspiration. I have two other Unikirja stories begun but languishing over the last few months. Much to do--not to mention tomorrow's workshop!

Those who control their passions do so because their passions are weak enough to be controlled.
— William Blake (1757-1827)


So it wasn't entirely my fault; there are/have been termites in the floorboards here at the farmhouse. Sean showed up to start repairs on the broken board--broken since yesterday when I sat on the corner of the bed to watch the amazing thunderstorm. Extra amazement came when the bed suddenly fell through the broken floorboard! I moved the bed but I couldn't get the wheel back on the frame and hold the bed up at the same time, so I finally went down and knocked on Agymah's door to get another pair of hands. And yes, my shoulder does hurt today!

While Sean and Wynn went to work on the floor, I went off on my morning walk. It was still early enough to be cool and the dew was still shining on the grass. My little schnauzer pal was waiting for a good patting. The school was hopping with drop-offs of late-comers. I made it all the way up to Pivot Rock Drive finally--top of the hill. Gave me some sense of progress--as long as I go a little further each day, it's okay, but visual markers help.

Speaking of visual markers: the squirrel is down in the gulley beside the road. Deterioration will take its due course.

Speaking of deterioration: the Queen of Everything passed along notice of a newly proposed bill that would make censorship law (terrifying, ain't it):

American Library Association against proposed bill to federally mandate school library purchases

(WASHINGTON) The following is a statement from American Library Association (ALA) President Carol Brey-Casiano: "The American Library Association is deeply concerned about H.R. 2295, which would deprive schools of much-needed funding unless the community adopts a federally mandated review panel to judge books purchased for classrooms and school libraries..."

You can read the rest on the link: the bill's sponsor is Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC). Feel free to express your ire to him and any opinions on the dangerousness of this kind of thinking.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

All Kinds of Time Wasters

Saw this on someone else's blog and had to try while I am lamenting things I will not be able to see in London:

William Blake
You are William Blake! Wow. I'm impressed. Not
only are you a self-made artist and poet, but
you've suddenly become a very trendy guy to
like. It's not that we doubt that you have all
your marbles, it's just that we're not quite
sure what you did with them to come up with
those terrifying theological visions. The
people of your time were nowhere near as
forgiving as that, and all your neighbors
thought you were a grade-A nut job. But we
love you, so rest happy.

Which Major Romantic Poet Would You Be (if You Were a Major Romantic Poet)?
brought to you by Quizilla

All Kinds o' Critters

I'm pals now with the little schnauzer down the street. Sure enough, as his owner promised, he's a real sweetheart once he gets to know you. I gave him some good back scratching and he didn't want me to leave. But I had a ways yet to walk, so I was on my way. The crows were squawking up in the pine trees as I went up the hill. I fancied they were keeping me company until I saw the newly dead squirrel by the side of the road. What a terrible tolls cars take on these little ones. I guess entropy will be part of my daily walk--unless the crows drag the body off. On the good side, the little turtle was gone, so I am hoping it had a full recovery.

Speaking of critters, my friend Susan just forwarded this item about a raccoon at Duke.

And congratulations to Perilous Cheryl -- graduating CUM LAUDE! from Eastern Connecticut University with a degree in history: all hail fabulous women!

Monday, May 23, 2005

Such a night --

What a thunderstorm last night! It woke me a little before three, lightning flashing like strobe lights and thunder almost constant. The sound was moving all around, sometimes to the east, sometimes to the west. It was quite wonderful. I sat and watched it for a while, but I had to keep blinking--the strikes were so bright.

This morning everything is drenched (including a spot of wallpaper near the fireplace). It felt great when I went out for my walk this morning. It is really humid, but it's still cool enough to feel good (although my glasses fogged up). A lot of birds and critters out shaking off the rainwater. Saw the groundhog down the road, trying not to be seen, probably breathing a sigh of relief when I passed on by. Up near the crest of the hill, I found a little tiny box turtle upended. Maybe hit by a car, not sure, but it seemed intact--though probably a little scrambled. I set her upright, but by the time I passed back that way she was still pulled inside her shell, blinking. So I moved her further off the road into the bushes, in hopes that she will eventually recover.

Last night I finally saw deer. Everyone else has seen them--at dawn or at dusk--but not me. I guess not being up at dawn or busy writing at dusk has some influence on that. Yesterday after our onerous journey to the grocery store (trolleys only run one way, so you have to loop around the entire town--this is how I finally saw the back of one local attraction, the gigantic Christ of the Ozarks near the Passion Play headquarters), I spent a leisurely hour or two chatting with Terri on her porch. We both marveled at the luxury of just sitting, watching the cars (and carriages) go by. No time for that in real life.

Walking back to the farmhouse, just about dusk, there they were--up on the side of the hill, below the farmhouse, three does. They were staring at me as I walked to the bottom of the hollow, ready to flee. As I turned and walked on toward the road up the hill, they went back to eating. Maybe like everyone else around here, they recognized me as one of that bunch--"those writers." "You're one of those writers": we hear that a lot.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Rarebit Fiends

After talking on the phone with my sweetie yesterday, I was persuaded to go out to lunch with fellow writers Terri and Rebecca. After some meandering around, we decided to lunch at Chelsea's -- a good choice! I had a great char-broiled mushroom and swiss burger, decadent onion rings, and a nice cold Bass. After walked back to the colony we decided to meet for dinner later (weekends we're on our own without Cindy's fine cooking). At least I remembered my flashlight when I walked back up. It's a dark walk back to the farmhouse.

Rebecca had brought some vodka so we had a couple of screwdrivers each, then decided we should just order in (funny how seldom alcohol and ambition go together). Of course then we found out that delivery service has yet to catch on in Eureka Springs. We finally found a pizza place that delivered, but after hemming and hawing for a while, we decided just to eat the tortilla chips we had. After all, those burgers were still very much with us.

We sat on Terri's terrace (her accommodations are not quite as spartan as mine--she's working on a cookbook in the culinary suite) and talked away for some time. At one point a bat flew down and swooped around us. Terri had never seen a bat and was a bit ruffled, but I hastened to explain how they eat moquitos. I had seen many overhead in the darkening sky, but this one had become adventurous and went round and round the table, looking like it was just having fun--a hot-rodding teenager maybe. It eventually flew off.

After a good deal of talk, I made the dark walk back to the farmhouse. Quiet as it is and comfortable as I have been at the house, somehow walking back in the dark is still a little spooky. Maybe it was the walk and the rich burger (after a week of very healthy food), but I woke up about 2.30 from a dream about zombies--relentless, mindless, swarming zombies. Ugh. Took a while to get back to sleep. I woke up a few hours later from a dream about taking a German test! Worse, it wasn't a language test, but a sort of pop culture exam. Wish I could remember what sort of questions were on it.

About 7.30 though, the rain came down, and as always I found that very soothing. I fell back asleep and didn't get up until 9, which made this morning's walk a little hot and humid. The little schnauzer still barks, but now I know he's all bark and no bite, though he won't yet be coaxed over to me. I finally saw the woodpecker we've been hearing for days, and he's the honest-to-goodness Woody Woodpecker kind, very big with the pointy red top.

I forgot to take some breakfast with me when I left the main bldg, so I only had an apple this morning with my tea. But now that I've cleared my brain, it's time to get to the real writing.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Book Review @ Matrifocus

Wow! Thanks to my good friend and fellow writer Diane Saarinen (hmmm, when is she going to get a website?) I find that there is a review of Pelzmantel at Matrifocus, the Cross-Quarterly for Goddess Women. It's a fairly glowing review -- I blushed to read it. It even quotes from the novel in a couple places and says wonderful things like, "Laity's storytelling is magic in itself. The language is beautiful and weaves vivid pictures for the reader's imagination." Thanks Dahti Blanchard for a kind and generously complimentary review!

Friday, May 20, 2005

All Kinds of Nature!

The groundhog was back today, munching right outside my window. But I got up too quickly and my haste betrayed me; she quickly scooted away and I was disappointed. A little while later I heard some rustling and thought, "A ha! She's back." Surprise -- it was a turtle. I looked it up: apparently it's a Three-Toed Box Turtle. Very colorful.

All right, back to work --

Twa Corbies

There are a pair of crows that live in the Hollow and I often see them when I'm out on my morning walk or going up the hill for dinner at 6 (our only regularly scheduled event). I hear them calling back and forth, or see them hopping around in Harmon Park. They left a feather for me, so I took a picture of it on the beautiful blue and white quilt on my bed with the stone I found that has a fossil shaped like the rune tyr.

Somehow, walking along and thinking about the crows (and all the other birds--I've seen flickers, which I haven't seen since I lived in Michigan, jays, robins, cardinals, finches, a few others I'll have to look up) led me to Flash Girls' songs. So now I have "Twa Bonny Maids" in my head (at least it finally got the Dictators out of my brain, thanks Marko). But I was also thinking about being apart from Gene so long, which put Donne's "Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" in my head. I always have an uphill battle teaching Donne to my students. The first stumbling block for that poem is that they don't know there's another kind of compass than the one that points directions (my desk here faces east, home of inspiration, by the way). But Donne uses that wonderful image to assure his wife that though he travels to the ends of the earth, like the two legs of the compass they can never be parted, and the perfect circle they draw assures they will always come together again. Beautiful.

Donne, Blake and Marlowe -- somehow that triumvirate have been much in my imagination for the last couple years. A weighty trio of singular individuals who all seemed to swim against the prevailing tides; I guess I have something to learn from them.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Poetluck Reading

It was good -- but was it Branson good?

I overheard some people talking on the shuttle who said we were less than 50 miles from Branson, so they were going to drive up. If you don't know, Branson is sort of like the Las Vegas of Missouri, except without the gambling, hookers and celebrities. What does that leave? Andy Williams doing cabaret. Or so I've heard.

I was the featured reader for the "poetluck" dinner and I did actually start with a poem. Not mine of course, but the poetic chant from Æcerbot, the Anglo-Saxon charm to return fruitfulness to a field. I recited it in Old English then translated it into modern English, and explained what it was for, then used that to connect to the idea of linking to the past and its stories, as did the Kalevala and as I am trying to do with Unikirja.

I talked about the disparagement of fantasy in this country, contrasting it with magical realism--a much respected genre if you're South American. If you're Garcia Marquez, magic is wonderful; the rest of us are relegated to paperback. I mentioned the Finnish writers whose "realism" seems much more elastic, like Niemi and Sinisalo. I explained the idea behind Lönnrot's collecting of the poems for the Kalevala, that attempt to capture a swiftly disappearing heritage, and linked it to my attempt to imagine a heritage often lost even among his collections--the stories of women [those of you who have read "Kerttu" can see what I mean].

Perversely perhaps, I read from the incomplete story "Vipunen" which has only male characters, because it deals with the clash between rationality (in the person of the narrator, an MBA student) trapped in a mythological struggle between the rune singer Väinämöinen and the giant Vipunen. Well, I'm not sure how well it went over with the mostly memoirist crowd, but people did say I read very well, and at least a couple people told me they were very interested in the workshop I'm doing next week.

There were a wide variety of readers after me, including a couple of the other residents--Rebecca had some wild sexy poems that really got the crowd going, while Terri related a memory of her Cajun grandmother teaching her to cook. Other folks offered an equally diverse array: one woman's memory of being an 8 year old fleeing Germany with her mother and brother, in fear for their lives; some lively poems about the memorable little moments of life; a travelogue of Vicksburg and the caves employed during the Civil War; and the despairing thoughts of a longtime activist facing the relentless cruelty of the current administration.

A good night!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Hard to Reach Spots

By the way folks, I will be even harder to reach than usual because I have only dial-up access (the horror, the horror!) and my phone is telling me it's roaming, so I will not be using it except in emergencies. With luck, there won't be any. Perhaps it is just fate making sure I do what I'm supposed to do here at the writer's colony, but I have to admit the email is especially hard. I feel like saying, "Hi, my name is Kate and I'm an email-oholic!" I finally realise just how much emailing I do. No wonder I have those repetetive stress pains.

On the plus side, I finished one story today (yay!) and have tried to decide what to work on next. I may be reading an incomplete story tomorrow in addition to a couple short things. Haven't decided for sure, but that's me.

On the Arts Calendar

Gene actually found it first; I just found out yesterday, but I will be the featured writer at the Poetluck Literary Salon this month. Guess I better figure out what I'll be reading!

Last night I got ambitious and laid a fire in the fireplace. How wonderful to sit before a crackling fire and read Lord Dunsany. It's the perfect setting. I get up in the morning and go for a walk, looking for birds and other critters along the way, getting barked at by the little schnauzer down the street. Everything is so lush and green, and the weather has been wonderful -- of course anything less humid than Houston feels like heaven!

Well, back to writing --

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Out my window

A little ground hog (cousin to the wombat!) just ambled down the path outside my window as I sit here writing. She's poking through the grass across the dirt road, near what will be the composer's cottage but is at present a shack awaiting repair. She digs a little, puts her nose up to the wind, then shifts around to another spot. Ah, nature!

Monday, May 16, 2005

Down in Dairy Hollow

Actually I'm on the side of a hill, but I'm here! Pictures forthcoming, but I am in the Iris studio in the farm house. It's halfway up a hill, surrounded by trees. I have a working fireplace! Oooh.

Friday, May 13, 2005

At the 'Zoo

This past week I made the annual pilgrimage to the International Medieval Congress held, incongruously enough, in Kalamazoo MI. This year I flew into Detroit to meet gal pal Wendy. We picked up the rental car and met my high school friend, Susan, for dinner. The only thing better than knowing witty and intelligent women is being able to introduce them to one another. We had a great conversation, then Wendy and I got on the road to Kazoo.

For once, I had to give my paper on Thursday. It was great to get it out of the way at the beginning of the conference and relax. (FYI: my paper was on the Corrector of Burchard of Worms and I got good feedback.) At the wine hour I wasn't able to locate someone I had been trying to meet up with--it gets more crowded every year! But Wendy and I met up with my co-editor Scott and off we went for a fine seafood dinner.

I played hookey Friday to finish writing an article, but still managed to run into a bunch of people the rest of the day. I had dinner with my older brother, Steve, and Wendy. It was a momentous day--the last car rolled off the line in Lansing's Oldsmobile plant where Steve works, but as a carpenter, he's not too worried about keeping busy.

Saturday was a busy time: attending panels, meeting with a publisher, running into lots of folks (including Meredith, whom I'd been searching for since Thursday). Wendy and I met up with another grad school pal, Carolyn and her husband Brian, and had a lively dinner discussion. Of course, the big Saturday night dance is the cap of the week--nothing like a bunch of medievalists dancing to disco hits and classic rock. Naturally I took the opportunity to demand my advisor buy me a beer (fortunately he complied). As always we left late, sweaty and tired.

The drive back to Detroit was pleasant, especially after we stopped for a big breakfast. It's always good to share a long car ride with a good friend, and Wendy and I had a lot to catch up on. Of course, the end of the journey proved less fun--my flight was rerouted to Dallas without notice to avoid the storms around Houston. Ugh. Four and a half hours late, we finally arrived in Houston. The Kalamazoo curse strikes again!

Friday, May 06, 2005

For this you get a medal?

I am very pleased to announce that I won the University of Houston-Downtown's Award for Faculty Achievement in Scholarly and Creative Activities (I think that's the correct name). This is quite prestigious; indeed, one of my colleagues said he didn't think an Assistant Professor had ever won it before. Wow! Better yet, our department swept the awards. My colleagues Jane Creighton and Nell Sullivan won the Teaching and Service Awards (respectively) for their work. Proud department chair, Bill Gilbert, took us out for a celebratory round of drinks at a nearby restaurant (whose service was so atrocious, I won't bother mentioning them).

I never got to make a thank-you speech before. I thanked the supportive members of my department for creating a welcoming, nurturing atmosphere; my dept chair for supporting most of my requests for travel (I even tried to capture his laconic phrasing "well, I don't see why not"); my two colleagues who have helped so much, Sandi Dahlberg, who's been a real mentor to me, and Pat Golemon, who from the very first day on campus has been a friend; of course, I also thanked Gene, as my cheerleader and reality-check, my editor and inspiration.

And I did get a medal -- and a plaque for my wall and a tidy little sum that makes the trip to England this summer (and to MKI this August) much easier!

Here's me with fellow English Babes Nell and Jane.