Friday, May 8, 2015

Home Stretch

Well, this was the last week of classes.  I'm sitting at home right now, marveling at how quickly the time has flown.  Seems like only last week I was sitting here, blogging away, as we dug out of a major snowstorm and the plumber fixed my bathroom.

I confess, I always find the end-of-semester grading far easier at the end of the spring semester than I do when it falls at the end of the fall semester, in December.

In the spring, I have options.  I can grade for a bit and then, when I start to feel a little too tied to the computer and potentially stir-crazy, I can go outside and do some yard work or garden.  And after I do, I feel ready for another bout of grading.

Not to mention there's something about knowing that, in a few short weeks, your time will be your own--to read and write and watch the world go by...

Speaking of which, I started a really good book about Abigail Adams, Dear Abigail: The Intimate LIves and Revolutionary Ideas of Abigail Adams and her Two Remarkable Sisters (2014) by Diane Jacobs.

I must say, there is something about reading about early American colonists that makes me feel like I'm such the slacker: I always feel like I should be knitting 12 pairs of socks while churning butter, forging a new form of government and firing a musket.

I had an odd experience with this book, actually: for some reason (probably because of the title), I had convinced myself that it was a collection of the letters of Abigail Adams and her sisters.  So I started reading and reading and kept waiting for it to just be the letters, not a narrative.

Finally, I thumbed through, wondering when "the letters would start," only to realize that no, it isn't a collection of letters.  Imagine my surprise.  I had totally convinced myself, and it took a minute or two for me to un-convince myself.

Luckily, I'm enjoying it anyway, so it isn't as if it matters that it's totally not in the format that I thought it would be.  I actually find Abigail Adams' life more interesting than reading about John Adams or Samuel Adams, but I think that's kind of because I've been annoyed about Samuel Adams ever since I found out that he advocated executing the "traitors" who took part in Shay's Rebellion in Massachusetts in 1786-1787.

When a group of farmers in Western Massachusetts became fed up with--get this--the exorbitant taxes being levied as a means of resolving the post-Revolutionary War debt, they stormed the courthouses in Great Barrington, Northampton, and Worcester.  They also tried to do the same in Springfield.

Once captured, Sam Adams argued that the participants in Shay's Rebellion should be executed.  I mean, how DARE anyone defy the government over something like, you know, taxes.  Really.  The nerve.

It kind of surprises me that no one at the time said, "Hey, um, Sam... here's the thing... there's probably still some tea leaves floating in Boston Harbor and all, so don't you think that maybe you should cut them a bit of slack?"

But of course, he tended to run in social circles that favored taxing the bejesus out of farmers and other plebeians, because the alternative would be to, you know, tax people like Samuel Adams.

And we can't have that, now can we?

So anyway, I'm enjoying reading about Abigail Adams (again).  It's particularly refreshing if I start to feel grouchy about grading or tired of gardening or whatever.

I read about all of the things she endured--war, smallpox, childbirth, bad winters, bad roads, bad food--and everything around me seems just fine.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy."