Life continues to be rich and full in the Miser Family Household. This week, in honor of my birthday, we are particularly abundant in cows.
Back story: a few years ago when I was in high school, I took "Calculus" with a bunch of punsters, so we called it "Cow-Class". To celebrate at the end, a friend gave me a cow, which led to another cow gift, and then another, . . . . Now I'm the proud possessor of a vast herd of hundreds of cows: cow staplers, cow toothbrushes, stuffed cows (but of course), origami cows, cow figurines . . . as I clean out my office I've brought home several full shopping carts full of cows. (Do you like my Merrick-cow Garland in the collage above?) And yet, late this week, a new economist walking by my open office door peeked in and commented, "I like all your cows". If it's black and white and has a face, there's a chance I own it. My sisters say, "It's not Christmas until Miser Mom gets a cow", so it's wonderful to get these cow photos today. Rich in cows; so very very rich.
|My actual "cow class" book from high school. |
(The school was moving to a new text,
so our teacher let us keep the ones we had).
Sometimes with these family updates, I do an interview with someone. I've had relatives asking me to complete my own interview questions, and since it's my very own birthday and my very own family letter, I am pleased to oblige. Here is a deeper peek into everything that is me (aside from the cows).What things were you doing a year ago that you're not doing now?
Teaching Calculus. That's also an answer to "what things were you doing a month ago . . . ?". I've been teaching calculus for 3.5 decades now, and now all of a sudden I'm done.
Also, giving math talks. I love public speaking, and there have been years when I've traveled around to give a dozen talks at different places. Last spring, we canceled three different talks I was scheduled to give because the pandemic just shut it all down. One of those events has been rescheduled, and I'll give that talk virtually in a few weeks. But I miss driving to different schools to visit with people who I can talk to about the cool stuff I like working on.
What occupies your days, nowadays? (Sometimes people ask, "what do you do?", meaning, "what's your job?", but many people in our family don't have traditional jobs or paid employment at all, so this is a more general question).
On a typical workday, I wake up at 5:45, throw on a bunch of running clothes, and run a few miles with my main running buddy.
Work starts around 8:00 (in calculus days) or 8:30 (nowadays), with a lot of alternating between Zoom meetings and email, or between email and Zoom meetings. For example, in the upcoming week, I have 20 different Zoom meetings already scheduled, and that's not counting the ones that will pop into my schedule as the week continues. Four of those are related to my research; almost all the others are committee meetings of one kind or another. The longest is 3 hours; the shortest is a half-hour.
In the evening, my husband makes dinner for me and N-son, and then my guy and I walk around the block together holding hands, and then after he does dishes, we watch a TV show. (Right now, we're in Season 3 of Une Village Francaise). I need to get to sleep pretty close to 9 because I turn into a zombie right around 9:30. Do not get near me after 9:30; I'm not nice then.
Giving people advice. I think I love that most of all. Do you need any? When it comes to advice, I'm full of it!
Also, making stuff out of things that aren't that stuff: like, making a bookshelf out of trash-picked dining room table, or canning fruits or turkey stock, or sewing a smiley-face mask out of an old bedsheet, or painting a gray wall so that it's a happy color.
Kind of related to the above, but different, keeping my family in contact of one form or another. (Because my family is made out of stuff that wasn't a family at first). I'm not particularly good at small-talk or reaching out with phone calls, but I'm pretty good at rituals, so I rock my strengths here and let the rest go.
Hey! That's the same as me! Crossword puzzles, chocolate, coffee.
Five years from now, what kinds of things do you hope you'll be doing that you haven't done yet or aren't doing now?
Yeah, good question. I'm about to become an associate dean for 3 years, and then I'll have a sabbatical, and then (the plan goes), I'll retire. So 5 years from now I won't be doing the committee stuff and maybe not the email stuff either.
What will I be doing instead? I have two book projects I want to work on; I also want to organize/digitize a bunch of family memorabilia and then get the physical stuff Out Of My House Darn It, and I'd love to enroll at our local technical school and learn welding. And start playing banjo again. I'm already doing crosswords-coffee-chocolate, but maybe I'll do even more of that 5 years from now.
I think I live in a magnificent world, and I keep being delighted by so much of it. After our bedbug experience was finally over, for example, I had a newfound heartfelt appreciation of the bath mats under my feet. If I can get all warm-and-fuzzy about bath mats, just imagine how worked-up I can get about other things. Here are a few of the many things that make my life happier than I think I deserve to be:
- my daily planner
- canning jars
- cordless drill
- hot water kettle
- quiet dishwasher (so quiet it's a constant source of jokes between me and my husband)
- roll-top desk my dad made for me
- power block weights
- soap that my grasshopper friend made
- purple porch bench that I made out of broken fence boards
- instant pot
- running shoes that I bought for $1 in 2009 that are still my favorite winter shoes
- stainless steel canning jar funnels (seriously, I smile every time I use them)
- my chalk boards, and my hagoromo chalk, purchase pre-pandemic in a bout of incredible good-fortune-ESP
- rechargeable bike lights
Are there any questions I should have asked you, but didn't?
"What did you get for your birthday?"
Ohmygosh, I'm glad you asked. My research students gave me an awesome proof of a theorem we've been trying to pull together for a bit over a year, and it's the kind of beautiful theorem that's going to spin off lots of beautiful new results and I'm very excited about that. I got cloth napkins from my frugal dad, and a quilt my sister made out of "pieces of fabric too small to save". I got warm wishes from lots of people, and a photo of my granddaughter that I'd asked for so long ago that I forgot about it and so it was a lovely surprise to get it. I got chocolate in glass jars that I can give back to get more chocolate in the future. I got new sewing scissors, and then I got lots and lots of pictures of cows.