Thursday, October 29, 2009

I see the light!

Only 25 research papers left to grade. I have nearly made it through!

This is the first week since the semester started that I've found myself with a little time to relax. I can't tell you good it feels. Yesterday afternoon I left campus around 2:00. That's 2:00 in the afternoon, people! Before the sun had gone down! That hasn't happened . . . well . . . all semester.

I probably should have gone home and graded the remaining 25 papers, or put in some time on this translation project that I've recently been given the opportunity to work on (more on that later), but I just couldn't do it. I was feeling so good and giddy about shuffling home through mounds of fallen leaves in the middle of the afternoon that I decided to treat myself to some new fall pajamas at Target. (Nick and Nora's pajama line, I love you!) I must admit, I picked up a few other desirable, if not necessary, items while I was there. I never have time to go to Target, so it was kind of like a little mini-vacay on a Wednesday afternoon.

Now it's Thursday morning, rainy and dark, and it's time to get back to work. But by the time this weekend is over, I should be completely finished with all my teaching/grading/grade entering duties. I can feel my shoulders slowly easing back down to normal, not-tensed-up-to-my-ears, shoulder level already.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I am up to my eyeballs in stuff to be graded. At the beginning of the semester, it seemed like a good idea to have my students turn in a paper and a midterm right before Fall Break, because I would then have the extra time over the break to get everything graded, so when classes started up again, I would be free to do all the other things I've been putting off all semester.

Then the flu came along and ruined all my perfectly crafted plans. I didn't touch a single bit of grading until the Sunday night of Fall Break. And up until today, I haven't felt well enough to spend any significant amount of time on grading at all. Add to that the fact that I never finished grading a set of papers my students had turned in a week and a half before they turned in their final papers and midterms, and I am officially drowning in stuff to be graded.

Ugh. I'm sitting in the library, looking at these stacks and stacks of papers and tests, and dreading reading all their malformed sentences and poorly based ideas. Not that my students don't sometimes have great ideas and write really well. But sometimes they just don't. And that's disheartening. Especially when it happens over and over. And over.

It's a good think it's so dreary and wet outside today. There's no chance I'd get anything done if it were a beautiful, clear day.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sounding the All's Well

I just realized that my last post may have been a bit disconcerting for those of you friends and family members we haven't talked to lately. No need to worry, though. All is well in the Billing-Cartwright household.

We (or rather, I) had a little bout of what we think was probably the H1N1 virus last week. It's been pretty prevalent on KU campus already this fall, and I've had a number of students missing classes because of it. It was only a matter of time before one of us got it. I didn't actually go to the health center to confirm that what I had was H1N1 because they have been incredibly overrun with patients this fall, and I knew the only thing they could tell me would be to stay home, drink fluids, rest, monitor my temperature, etc. But since my symptoms were pretty much what everyone has been reporting with this flu, we're pretty sure that's what I had.

Lucky for me (or maybe unlucky, depending on how you look at it) I got sick just as Fall Break was about to begin, so I didn't miss a lot of class, and had plenty of time to rest and get better. Thanks to hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and general caution on our parts, Ben has so far managed to avoid getting sick. Here's hoping that good luck holds out.

And now our few long days of sleeping in and watching movies over Fall Break are over, and we're back to work, whether we like it or not. That's okay, though. I'll take work over the flu any day.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Just a Thought

I'm not certain that grading papers immediately upon recovering from what was probably the swine flu is in either my students' or my own best interests.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Here's Hyllningsfest. Well, sort of.

Ben and I took the weekend off (well, we took Saturday off) to go to Svensk Hyllningsfest in Lindsborg, KS. It's become a kind of every-other-year tradition for us to get away for the weekend, and spend some time with our good friends Shannon and Alex at Shannon's parents' house. (Shout out to Paul and Linda for putting up with us every couple of years!)

This year we didn't spend too much time at Hyllningsfest stuff, though, because it was freaking cold. Way too cold to be hanging out at the outdoor arts and crafts tent, or eating fair food, or drinking beer behind the Stuga--all of our usual Hyllningsfest activities.

Instead, after watching a bit of the Hyllningsfest parade, we browsed in the Lindsborg library's used bookstore for awhile.

Then we drove to nearby Salina to enjoy a few of Cozy Inn's famous burgers: little tiny bun-wrapped packages of oniony, mustardy goodness.

We hit a few other little places (Goodwill, a record store) in Salina before heading back to Shannon's parents' house to nap. But since it started snowing while we were sleeping, we decided to nix our previous plans (see the Stuga, mentioned above) and instead go to the mall in Salina to shop and eat.

I have to say, there is a special place in my heart for the Salina mall. When I was growing up in Holyrood, when we said "the mall," what we meant was the Salina mall. It was one of my favorite places as a tween/early teen. This was the first time I had been back there in about 13 or 14 years, though. Which explains why I bothered to take pictures (or post pictures!) of a mall.

Oh, Claire's Boutique, you were my pre-teen years.

Ben and I have been super busy, so we had to cut our visit short. We drove down on Saturday morning, and left to come home super early Sunday morning. But we packed a ton of fun into our little visit.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

and in news from nearly a month ago . . . .

I wrote this post long, long ago, the week of 9/20, I believe. But I never posted it because I was planning to add photos before posting. And then I never did. So this post just sat there. And sat there. And now I feel like I can't post anything else until I get this one up. So, in the interest of opening the way for future posts, here it is:

The past week has been a pretty crazy one. We are certainly hitting that time of the semester when all the deadlines converge upon one another at once. And of course, in the middle of all that, I got sick. Nothing too serious. On a scale of stubbed toe to swine flu, I'd rate it at right about miserable cold. But it was bad enough to make me miss a couple of days of class. Nothing like illness to add to the feeling of chaos.

Earlier in the week, before illness hit, we were both suffering from some achy muscles around here. Last Saturday, we went to Topeka to join Megan in running in the Race Against Breast Cancer 5K. The three of us had been planning to do the race for awhile, although I have to admit, I had a more idealized image in mind of my own preparation for it when the idea first arose. I certainly did not do any kind of training to get ready for that thing, and I felt the effects of it afterward.

Ben and I ended up signing up as walkers for the 5K, since neither of us has been spending a lot of time running lately. (Ben's actually been doing a really great job lately of getting up in the morning and working out on the stationary bikes at the rec center on campus, but for the past few weeks, my exercise routine hasn't consisted of much more than the 20 minute walk to and from campus every day. Oh, well--every little bit helps, eh?)

So anyway, Ben and I walked-jogged the 5k, and were surprised to find out that we could jog the better half of the route. We both finished at a better time than we thought we might.

Megs, on the other hand, has turned into some kind of speed racer! I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who will think nothing of finishing a 5K in under 30 minutes, but when I think back to the Megan of three years ago, who flatly refused to jog no matter what, I can't help but be impressed with how fast she's able to run 5K now. Go, Megan, go!

After we ran the 5K, we spent a few hours helping Megan move into her new apartment. She's having a house-warming party next weekend, so I'll have to put up some shots of her new place. It's super cute, with hardwood floors and a little fenced yard where her dog, Noodles, can run around in the morning.

So, that was last weekend, and the week since has been a bit of a blur of paper grading, homework doing, and used kleenex tossing. Tonight, Ben is in Wichita reading some of his poetry, while I'm trying to make up for the stuff I didn't get done all last week. Sigh. Maybe he'll have some great pictures to share when he gets back.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Heeeeeere's Phil!

It's hard to believe that we haven't gotten around to introducing our newest member of the family online yet! We've certainly talked about him a lot, and we've taken tons of pictures, but we haven't put those pictures up anywhere for anyone to see. Time to remedy that situation.

As you may know, our cat, Jon Bon Jovi (Yes, it's a mouthful of a name--you can call him JBJ, or Jovi, for short), is a pretty social guy. He doesn't do so well when he has to be all alone for several hours at a time. And, unfortunately, when we're in school, Ben and I are away from the house for several hours at a time pretty much every day. We didn't want a sad kitty on our hands, so, around the time classes started three weeks ago, we decided it would probably be a pretty good idea to find JBJ a new little friend. We went down to the Lawrence Humane Society to see if the perfect little kitty friend was just waiting for us to adopt him and bring him home.

Turns out he was, and his name is Phil.

Phil is a pretty rascally little guy. He's only 9 months old, so he's still a kitten, really, and he is packed full of kitten energy. Luckily, he hasn't managed to completely irritate our Jovi, who is turning into a bit of an old man these days. (Sigh, aren't we all?) The two are the best of buds, almost inseparable, following one another around the house. In fact, our friend Rob commented last night that Phil was a little bit like Jovi's shadow.

Evenings are wrestle-mania time for these guys. It's pretty exciting stuff. And immediately following wrestle-mania is bathtime. That's mutual bathtime, where they take turns bathing each other. Then it's chase each other into and out of the box and/or laundry basket time.

Then it's wrap the kitty bodies around Ben's head time. That's the best time of all! At least it is if you're not a Ben trying to get work done.

Phil likes to chill next to the sliding doors that open out to the deck

Phil in his natural environment, with his favorite toy, a rolled up ball of paper

Jovi's so happy since Phil came to live with us