Stephanie Burgis
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Snow Day!
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Well, it's not a snow day in the literal (Michigan schoolkid) sense, since we have to go to work. But we woke up this morning to find a winter wonderland outside, with a thick layer of snow covering the cars and ground and the air comletely filled with soft, falling snow. Nika turned from a black-and-white-dog-in-a-red-coat into an all-white dog within the first three minutes of our walk this morning. Something about the first snow brings out the devil in her! Halfway through our walk (when she's normally sleepy, just trudging along the road), she dropped down to a crouch, her tail began to swish, she gave me a mischevious look, a single, taunting bark, and took off on her extendable lead across the grass! She tore around me in circles, kicking up snow with her paws, wagging madly, bouncing off me, enticing me into chasing her and making me laugh and laugh, even though it was the first time I'd gotten up so early in a week. It's so great to share your life with a dog. I'd never expected to have so much fun on an early-morning duty walk.

Sorry for the lack of blogging last week! Patrick was off work on holiday, and I was trying to share as much of that as possible while also preparing/teaching three classes and working on my thesis. On Thursday morning, straight after I'd finished teaching my last class of the week, we got in the car and drove off for my birthday present to Patrick, a trip to the Lake District. He didn't know where we were going, so I gave him minimal navigational directions all the way. We ended up at Crossfield Cottages, a group of self-catering cottages on a farm in Kirkoswald, one of the most beautiful and peaceful places I've ever stayed. From our bedroom balcony, we looked out onto a lake that started just five feet from our front gate. Ducks quacked away on the lake, but otherwise it was the most purely quiet place I've ever been. At night, the stars were amazing. We stayed from Thursday afternoon until Monday morning and had a wonderful time, taking long hikes every day up cliffs and past waterfalls, and spending every afternoon writing. I wrote about 13 handwritten pages of Music of the Stars (which will probably translate into 17 or 18 typed pages), putting me well into the middle of the climax of the whole book. Woohoo! Goal: finish by the end of this coming weekend. It's feeling a whole lot more do-able now than it did before we left town. Patrick's birthday was on Sunday (yay!) and we celebrated by making chocolate birthday cake and cracking open the free bottle of wine that the landlady had given us when we arrived for the weekend. What a nice touch!

Today we're back to work for real. Sigh... But the prospect feels so much better now than it did before we left. I'd been feeling so stressed and overwhelmed by the whole process of catching up on teaching and thesis-writing after the long labyrinthitis mess that I'd just hit a state of paralysis, especially with the thesis itself. After a long, energizing weekend away, the current thesis chapter looks both finishable and fix-able, and I actually feel like I can do it. Hurrah!

And now to get down to it...

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