I talked to A. late last night…

…her last night in Montana before leaving for the research site in Arizona early this morning. The picture above shows the baggage she brought with her last summer to the same site. Last summer she was a temporary researcher, though, and was only responsible for her own gear. This year, she is in charge of the temporary researchers and all of the equipment needed for the summer’s work, so there is quite a bit more gear involved. She has spent the last week packing, and, this morning, if all goes according to plan, a convoy of three Chevy Suburbans will pull out of College Town for Arizona.

When you think of all of the awful things that convoys of Suburbans could be involved in these days, it’s kind of nice to think of three of them tootling down the highway full of bird scientists and camping equipment. (And one gun, of course. These people aren’t fools.)

Last night was the final class of the semester in my writing program. I wish I’d had the wherewithal to chronicle the class as it unfolded: it concerned “syntactic revision,” which meant much time spent devising “parallel, complex appositives” and “summative modifiers” and the like.

I even learned how to diagram sentences, which wouldn’t be worth mentioning if I hadn’t also learned why I should bother: because diagramming a sentence gives you a surprisingly accurate visual means of understanding the balance and relative heft of the expression of whatever ideas the sentence concerns. That said, I haven’t yet been tempted to do any of it on my own. I suspect that few other MA writing students encounter classes like this one, and it’s been a valuable experience. It came at just the right time for me and I could almost go so far as to say that the whole program will have been worth it, even if I don’t end up transferring to another program out west, just for this class.

So now that my class is over, the summer looms unrestricted and up to me (outside of work, that is), which is good, because there is a lot to get done in preparation for the move and for renting out this house. In the next few days I’m going to cook up an exhaustive list and share it here, particularly the steps I’m taking that are required by tenant law here in Baltimore, as record and as a resource for others.

Renting is looking doable, though, especially after showing the house to a couple whom A. met through volunteering at the Aquarium. They are interested in ending their lease on a place in Bel Air, where one neighbor plays bass-heavy music at a volume that causes their bed to move, and where the upstairs neighbors sound as if they enjoy a hobby of moving cement blocks while wearing clogs. The couple said that they are definitely interested in the house, although until I see a signature on a lease and on a deposit check, I’ll consider this interest purely theoretical. They’ll need to give their current landlord notice soon, so I hope to know more within a few weeks.

This week, I’m having some improvements made to the house. An electrician is coming tomorrow to ground some outlets, and a plumber is scheduled for Saturday to, among other things, install a new water heater. The only other major job is a new tub insert; I’m still researching this subject, and it’s a confusing one, so if anyone has any ideas…

My father arrived last night to spend a week here at the house while he keeps a couple of medical appointments scheduled with his longstanding doctor in Silver Spring. (My parents recently moved to West Virginia, although it’s a more complicated situation than that: my mom is still working at a school near Silver Spring and staying with friends to finish out the year for various reasons, including honor and a more favorable retirement package.) And tomorrow I’m speaking to students in the American Studies department at my old school about how they can best follow my career path. (Ahem.) So it will be a busy week.

Edit: I am informed that only one Suburban departed today. The other two will follow later. A truck pulling a trailer also departed today but traveled separately, so there was no convoy of bird scientists after all. Sorry.