sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

April 30, 2021

day off, salads, and riding home
posted by soe 1:29 am

Tidal Basin

Three beautiful things from my past week:

1. Work has announced they wanted to recognize how hard we’ve all been working and has given us a four-day weekend for Memorial Day.

2. Rudi and I have been had two lunch salads made with greens from the garden (topped with delicious strawberry poppyseed dressing from the farmers market).

3. My bike ride home along the river after volleyball this evening was lovely. I had to race down, so there’s nothing beautiful about that, but the ride home included a stop for zaatar fries at the Wharf, the last pinks of sunset over the Tidal Basin, and finally a true appreciation for a face mask as I rode through several minutes of gnats by the Reflecting Pool.

How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world lately?

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April 29, 2021

final april unraveling
posted by soe 1:43 am

Final April Unraveling

Just last night I wrapped up Murder on Cold Street, the latest Lady Sherlock novel by Sherry Thomas, and I’m still feeling a bit of a reading hangover from my favorite series, not quite willing to let go of my thoughts about Charlotte and Livia and Mrs. Watson and Ash. So I’m not quite sure yet where I’ll land yet on a print read, but it might be the comic collection of Check, Please!: Sticks and Scones by Ngozi Ukazu, about a hockey team at a small New England liberal arts college. I also wrapped up an audiobook this week, but I’ve moved on to A Deadly Inside Scoop by Abby Collette, the first in a new cozy mystery series set at an ice cream parlor in the Cleveland suburbs. I’m finding the reader’s style distracting and, for the first time, have sped up the speed in an attempt to see if that makes her less off putting. If it doesn’t, I may need to switch to paper on that one.

With my rainbow socks at the heel, I’m also feeling a little disconnected from my knitting. But I’ve started carrying around the bag that contains the Lightning Shawl, my oldest semi-active UFO, so I’m inclined to think that wants to come out of hibernation again. When I pulled it out of the bag to photograph, I discovered the needle and project had become detached, so some actual unraveling was necessitated to get the two reconnected once again. I think this had gone into timeout in its final strip because I’m working with scraps at this point and there was a weird blending that happened at the very midpoint of the shawl that looked unpleasantly obvious, so I don’t think that will end up having been even a minor setback. But wouldn’t it be great if 2021 were the year this finally became a wearable item, eight years after I started it?

Head over to As Kat Knits for the weekly roundup.

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April 28, 2021

mentoring in a time of covid
posted by soe 1:12 am

Sunset from the Park

Tuesdays are always a late night for me this spring, because one of my interns, a junior at a college in the Central Time Zone, has a class this term that occupies her daytime hours four days a week. To let her stay on with us, I’ve arranged to let her work evening hours thrice a week, and we meet Tuesday evenings after her class lets out to discuss priorities for the week and to check in on how she’s doing.

One of the things that has come out of the confluence of a shift to remote workplace and some colleague departures is that I ended up supervising our interns. We have four, two undergrads and two grad students, and I’m the main point of contact with our organization for them.

Add in the colleagues that I supervise/have supervised, and I’ve been a mentor to six young adults in the first half of their 20s in the past year.

Even when I’ve been failing/flailing at other parts of my job, I’ve taken this role seriously. I meet with each of them weekly to check in on their lives during the pandemic, ask about classes and extracurriculars, and try to provide career/workplace advice, even as I’m handing out assignments and supervising projects. I’d like to think I’m pretty good at it, and our interns have been very kind with their comments about what a surprisingly positive experience this has been for them.

We are currently in the process of doubling the size of our department and included in that is the realigning of certain job responsibilities. Supervising interns is going to be one of those roles that shifts away from me, and selfishly it’s the one that I’m having the hardest time recognizing is the right thing for the department, despite knowing it’s a necessary change.

I have to recognize this doesn’t mean that I can’t still provide mentorship, but it does mean that I’ll need to give more thought to what that looks like moving forward and do a better job of being proactive in my approach.

It will look different, but different doesn’t have to be bad.

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April 27, 2021

top ten favorite animals in books
posted by soe 1:09 am

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic from That Artsy Reader Girl is favorite animals (real or imaginary) in literature:

  1. Paddington, from the eponymous series by Michael Bond
  2. Pickwick, Thursday’s pet dodo from Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series
  3. Dog Monday from Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery
  4. Charlotte, she of the web by E.B. White (let’s be honest; while Wilbur was fine, she was some spider!)
  5. Mrs. Frisby, who led the rats of NIMH in Robert C. O’Brien’s novel
  6. Lowly Worm from Richard Scarry’s various picture books
  7. Empress of Blandings, Lord Emsworth’s pet sow in the P.G. Wodehouse novels
  8. Glerk, the poetry-composing swamp monster from Kelly Barnhill’s The Girl Who Drank the Moon
  9. Winn-Dixie in Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn-Dixie (actually, she has tons of great animal characters; I could give her ten just herself)
  10. Ivan the kitten from The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart

Plus a shout out to the animal ensembles who abide in the Hundred Acre Woods and the Harry Potter universe. I couldn’t pick one, so I applaud them in toto.

How about you? Who are some of your favorite literary animals? (You can once again tell me in the comments, because we figured out the fix. Apologies to anyone who tried to leave me a comment in the past two weeks.)

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April 26, 2021

late-april weekending
posted by soe 1:45 am

Digging Up

I could have been more productive this weekend, but it’s not like I completely shirked off:

The apartment is still a mess, but I made some more progress in the garden, dislodging more of the bunching onions and violets. (The violets grow tall and wide, meaning that plants that were in a fine spot a couple weeks ago are now overshadowing the plants I put into the garden. The onions have just been allowed to linger in a metaphor for all the things that were once a good idea in my life but that have been allowed to root deep without consideration to how much they’re still wanted.) I salvaged all the violets off the plants that came up without dirt, picked a bagful of salad greens (tomorrow’s lunch!), and strung up some ladders for my peas to climb.

I didn’t get to any bookshops, although I did make it to two grocery stores.

I picked up enough quarters to do a load of laundry, but have yet to take it out of the washing machine.

I finished an audiobook, but not the pair of socks that’s sitting on my table.

And I finally determined that it wasn’t that you all suddenly hated my posts, but that adding a new security certificate to the site is eating all your comments. I just haven’t figured out a fix yet, but I’m working on it (tomorrow’s task!).


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April 25, 2021

movie watching
posted by soe 1:56 am

Because I spent so long at the garden this afternoon, I didn’t make it to a bookstore today. But, keeping in mind it was Indie Bookstore Day, I pulled up The Bookshop on Kanopy. What a mistake that was!

First up, let me say that the setting and the acting was phenomenal. However, what a bleak movie!

Which brings me to a larger, long-time musing of mine: Why do people want to watch movies (or read books) with depressing stories and demoralizing endings? I can see slogging through a gloomy movie if the ending brings a turn of fortune, a payoff galore for a character who’d persevered through wretched circumstances. But I cannot understand why you’d want that character to just … come to terms with being downtrodden. I mean, who wants to watch It’s a Wonderful Life if George Bailey goes to jail?

I know there’s the argument that it helps you come to terms with real life. What a crappy reason! Why would I want to come to terms with the idea that life is just going to keep sucking as much as it does at my lowest? Or that, hey, my life isn’t so bad, because it could be so much worse!

I watch movies and read books because I want to believe life can be better. That people can be kinder. That situations can be overcome. That circumstances can improve. If it’s just going to be all bleakness and “at least I’m not them!” I might as well just go to sleep instead of giving myself over to the story. At least that would get me some rest in my escapism.

Do you like unhappy movies or books? Can you shed some light on this?

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