Monday, October 15, 2007

ships, rain, and grace notes

This cruise ship headed past our place yesterday while the weather was still quite decent. I think the ship in the distance to the left is the freighter that noisily lowered its anchor yesterday evening and is still there waiting for whatever tonight -- lights and engine noises weave themselves through my dreams, but at least there's no fog to bring out the foghorns.

The fall rains have resumed in earnest after almost a week's glorious respite. I managed to walk to school and back without having to get the umbrella out, but about an hour ago, it started hammering down on the skylights -- a pleasant enough sound when you're curled up inside watching, say, an episode of Ken Burns' Documentary on Jazz (that's some entertaining and fascinating watching!).
A lovely surprise in our Faculty coffee area today -- a beautiful tray of pastries accompanying a card addressed to the department with a handwritten note lauding our "honesty, vulnerability, and open-mindedness" as observed by a now-graduating student as he went through his studies over the past few years. As did several other colleagues, I received an individual card which specifically pointed out my teaching strengths according to this student and remarked on the difference I'd made in his life and learning. Even more impressive, perhaps, is that this student has done all this anonymously, although with a bit of sleuthing I do think I know who he is. I wonder if he realizes how much it means to all of us to have our work acknowledged so thoughtfully. I've had a number of students take the time to send positive comments by e-mail or drop off handwritten notes in the last few weeks -- I find it inspiring that they take the time to do this in the midst of busy lives. So often we only respond to complain, criticize, or try to effect change.


  1. We get lots of cruise ships here as well - sometimes two or three a day during the height of the summer.

  2. The most we ever get is two a week in the fall, Janine. I'm curious where you are that you get so many -- somewhere warm, perhaps?

  3. Do you think they know how much their little cards and notes mean? I keep them in a drawer and pull them out now and then when I need a teaching pick-me-up.

    The best ones come from students you had no idea were even paying attention. I love those--because they show you just never know what kind of impact you're having.

  4. Exactly right, puttermeister -- sometimes those notes are what sustain me, especially when they come from unexpected sources


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