Sunday, May 12, 2019

The Grading is Done

The grading is done. At least for the students who have been paying attention, which is the majority. Those who have not been paying attention will find out sooner or later, most likely after grades are submitted and they see they failed the class. They still have four days to get late assignments in. But experience tells me they won't take advantage of the grace period. They'll have to repeat the course.

During these last few days of grading and seeing some students shoot themselves in the foot, I've been muttering about these students and their bad behavior. Angel Baby will hear me and say, "Mom, let them fail." I know he's right. Still, I have a tough time watching this happen.

I've already heard from one student who is upset over my not accepting his final papers sent to me via email rather than submitted into the LMS. He stopped attending class quite a while back, five or six weeks ago. Because he wasn't in class, he didn't get the information about how to submit the final drafts in the LMS. He messed up but wants me to accept the papers, is insisting I meet with him to discuss this matter. I'm fine meeting him. I'm not fine with his tone. The course has an attendance policy. He wants me to bend the rules for him. I could, but I won't. Perhaps if he had taken a different tone with me, I would consider it.

Then I think about the young lady who failed the course last semester and signed up for my class again this semester. This young lady owned her failure and worked so hard this semester to get all the assignments in on time, to revise her work according to the suggestions I offered. She gave up her Friday lunch hours to meet with me in the writing center. In the end, her efforts paid off. She realized what she needed to do to pass the course and she did it. All the while never once complaining about any of it.

The grading is done. I now have time to just sit, breathe.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The Clean-Up

During the walk-through of the unit Angel Baby and I will be moving back into, I had no doubt whatsoever that I am making the right decision. I am connected to that space. I even told my landlord I plan to stay for years, which he is perfectly fine with. I'm happy. He's happy.

The last few days, I've been working to bring the unit back to being happy, too.

My first job was to clean the basement to rid it of the dog crap smell. I went ahead and did the vinegar wash followed by the Pinesol wash, thinking that would at least disinfect the floor. I burned some sage afterward, to cleanse the air.

But I could still smell the dog crap.

I walked around the basement, which isn't big by any means, and saw a couple pieces of cardboard leaning against the back wall. When I moved them aside, I found the culprit: a pile of dog doo that had been swept into the corner then covered by the cardboard. Once I removed all of it, the smell diminished significantly. Today, it seemed as if the offensive smell is completely gone.

The second job I undertook was washing all the downstairs windows. When Lovely Beautiful Daughter and I walked through last week, I noticed an oily film on the windows. I pointed it out to LBD and she said, "He vaped. That's the oil from the vaping." Every window had the oily sheen. It took two rounds of washing each window to get all the oil off. Now, when I stand in the middle of the living room, I can see the entire back yard so clearly through the clean windows.

Mr. Handyman and Mr. Painter have both been in and working already. Mr. Landlord decided to take out the carpet in the room I'll be using as my bedroom, as the dogs had done their business all over it and chewed the carpet pretty good at the opening to the room. When he made the decision, he turned to me and asked, "Do you want carpet or hardwood?" I opted for hardwood. Today, Mr. Handyman brought in the boxes of flooring. When it's all finished, it's going to be beautiful. As are the walls after Mr. Painter is done. He filled all the holes today and will be back tomorrow to sand and prep a bit more before painting.

It won't be long before the unit is back to being very happy.

Not sure if white is a good option,
but it would definitely lighten the space.
Bright green and white: what's
not to like?
The one room I've been trying to figure out how to make more inviting is the bar off the kitchen. It's a very dark room. Though it does have two west-facing windows, the floor and the walls and the ceiling are dark wood. I'm not planning on using the room as a bar since I'm not much of a drinker and I don't keep much liquor in the house, so I've been researching houseplants that do well in low light, using mirrors to reflect light, and floor treatments that lighten up a room. Plants, mirrors, and a bright throw rug just might do the trick.

Like shown here, I have space on the wall
where a mirror could reflect the window, thus
giving the illusion of another window.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Assessing the Damage

The neighbors are out of the unit, and me being nosy me, I went in after dark last night to see how the place looks. I was worried after peeking through the windows Monday that they might leave the mess I could see. Thankfully, they cleaned . . . some.

But . . . but, the basement reeks of dog crap. I mean, it really reeks.

A couple of times during the last six, seven months, I noticed the neighbors would be gone for long stretches of time, once close to two full days. I knew the dogs were in the house because I could hear them bark every now and then. At the time, I worried the dogs, being left inside so long, might be making a mess of the house. I couldn't figure out how they could be left for so long without being let out to do their business.

I learned the answer to my question the other night, when nosy me peeked through the basement window. Dog crap littered the floor.

Even now, I'm still stunned by this. I simply don't understand some people.

So, I'm trying to figure out a way to chase the stink out of the basement. Lovely Beautiful Daughter sent me a text with an idea from the cleaning ladies where she works: a vinegar wash followed by a Pinesol wash. I'm going to give that a try, but I'm not keen about the strong odors from each that will be wafting through the house. Definitely better than the stink of dog crap, but still. Another idea is to burn sage, which will also chase away the bad ju-ju. I can't imagine the anxiety and fear those dogs must have felt, being locked up in the basement alone, for days. That just breaks my heart. The sage smoke, hopefully, will kindly gather up all the negative energy and take it away.

This afternoon, in daylight, Angel Baby and I walked through the house. Since the neighbors had the electricity turned off, I couldn't see much last night. In the daylight, we saw the damage. Much more than I had initially thought. Walls need to be patched, and all the rooms need to be painted. In the living room, there's something pink that had been splashed against one wall. Looks kind of like a strawberry shake. In an upstairs bedroom, the kids had taken different colored crayons to a wall and made some lovely art. In the kitchen, the knobs to turn the burners on are all gone, as are the grates that go over the burners. The overhead light, a long rectangle of a light, was taken down and replaced by a ceiling fan with lights. A large area of different colored ceiling shows where the previous light had been, along with a crack in the ceiling that snakes out from the ceiling fan. The vertical blinds that had been at each sliding glass door are gone, and we couldn't find them anywhere. The walls right above the doors have large holes where the hardware had been.

It's just really sad to see what they did to such a lovely space. They truly didn't deserve to live there.

I don't think Mr. Landlord has been inside yet. I've not seen him, and I've not heard from him. I have a hunch that when he does go inside, he's going to be quite annoyed by what he sees. I'm already itching to get in and help bring the place back to what it was like when we lived there. I guess we can look at it as an opportunity to make it even more lovely than it was before.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

I, For One, Have Nothing to Complain About

Sunday evening, I watched episode 3 of this season's GOT. I'd not watched any of GOT until November 2018, but after the first season, I was hooked. I watched each season until I reached the end in late December. That's a lot of GOT to take in over a short time.

I loved every single second of it. One of my favorite parts out of all the episodes to then was the Battle of the Bastards, particularly the scene when Jon Snow's army charges forward on the horses, and the camera pans, going slowly from the horses' heads back and down to their legs. Just a beautiful image of the horses running. The artistry with which some scenes are made is truly amazing.

I felt the same about several moments in Sunday's episodes. But it really wasn't any particular scene in this episode that touched me so much. Rather, it was the music. The music that started when Sansa and Tyrion were hiding from the undead running through the crypts. That music, aptly titled "The Night King," carries on until Arya kills the Night King. It is just so beautiful.

Since Sunday, I've listened to friends and students complain about the episode. Too dark, couldn't see what was going on. Too many of the main characters lived. Too many bad decisions by the characters. Where was Mel and why did she show up all the sudden for this battle? What was the point of Jon and Daenerys' flying the dragons and not doing anything to help? Etc. Etc.

Me? I loved every single second of this episode. I thought the artistry of the episode trumped the characters' decisions and every other aspect people are finding fault with. Watching the flaming arakhs of the Dothraki get snuffed out broke my heart. They were such a fierce people. Seeing the dragons fly above the storm clouds, into clear skies, sent shivers through me. A beautiful night sky with stars. Peaceful. While below chaos was running rampant. The cat and mouse game in the library with Arya made me hold my breath. The White Walker's strand of hair lifting slightly, him turning his head just slightly right before Arya comes in over their heads--a small detail, but one that breaks the feeling of everything and everyone being doomed.

Then the music. The proverbial icing on the cake.

I don't recall ever watching an episode of anything more than once. I've never been the person to get so completely caught up in a TV program. One view is usually enough for me.

But with GOT, I've watched this episode twice now, thinking about watching it a third.


Sunday, April 28, 2019

Can't Stay Away Any Longer

I've missed this space so much!

So, where to start?

My landlord asked the neighbors to leave. When he stopped by to tell me they were moving out, I asked if I could move back into that unit. The smile on his face was all I needed as an answer. He told me I made his day. He then clued me in about the conversation he had with them, telling them he wasn't going to renew their lease, them being angry over this, the mom of the young man calling my landlord to plead with him to let them stay, him not budging, them saying fine, they'd be out by the end of the month even though their lease isn't up until the end of May. He told them he'd give them back the last month's rent, which I thought was really nice (though if I had to guess, the last month's rent was paid by the mom of the young man, so it will really go back to her). They've been in the process of moving for the last two weeks, with a moving van showing up this morning to get all the big items. I will not miss them.

And I can't wait to move back over there. I've never felt so connected to a house like I am with that space. I've missed it terribly.

Another semester is nearly over. Just two weeks of class left, then finals. It's been a good semester, too. I have two hybrid classes, and the worry with them is attrition, so I worked hard to keep as many students as possible. I started out with 22 in each section. The rosters are currently showing 17 in one section and 18 in the other. Of those students, one or two in each section might fail, but these numbers are far better than they were in the fall. I'm really happy with these numbers.

My writing project is moving slowly forward. I'm so, so close to having 35,000 words. My goal is to have a completed manuscript by August 1. I worked the math, and if I calculated the numbers correctly, all I have to do is write 278 words a day to reach my 60,000-word goal. Just 278. That's very doable. Sometimes I'll write five times this much each day. Other times, I write nothing. But now I have clear numbers. Now I know what I'm up against. I can make this happen.

With each part I finish, I print it out and add to the existing manuscript. It's really exciting and motivating to see the manuscript grow. On top of having the hard copy, I'm also saving the document in four different places--my computer, a travel drive, OneDrive, and Google drive. I can't imagine the dismay I would feel if I lost it all and had nothing to start over with. That would be awful!

Angel Baby and I have been fleshing out our Iceland plans. I'm hoping to keep my pack under 30 pounds, so we've been figuring out who is going to carry what. Since we'll most likely have to carry all the food we want for the week's hike, we'll need to split the food between us. That's the one item that can get pretty heavy. We're also hashing out the sleeping situation. One tent or two? I'm for one tent, but I can understand Angel Baby feeling kind of weird about this. Working with him to get the trip in place has been wonderful. I've loved discussing gear, flights, food, and all the other things with my youngest child.

I've been cycling to work as much as the weather will allow. Last Sunday, I took my first long-distance ride of the season: 44 miles. I started out thinking I would do 20 miles. The weather was so beautiful I decided to go longer. My legs were protesting around mile 30, so I got a good idea of where my threshold is. But it was totally worth it.

So, yeah, that's what's been going on.

Oh, and spring is in full bloom. Finally.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Taking Some Time Away from the Blog

Last day of spring break. And it's a beautiful day right now. This morning started off with big, wet snowflakes falling, but presently it's sunny and warm. A great way to end the week off from work.

So, I've been thinking a lot about taking a break from the blog. For a few months. I just want to spend as much time as I can working on my project. My writing friend has indicated he thinks I have something pretty good going and I need to finish it, try to publish it. That's what I'm going to do. Removing a couple of things from my plate will help me get further along with the project, and the blog is one of those things I can remove from my plate.

Happy St. Patrick's Day, and happy almost spring! Just a few more days until the calendar says it's officially spring. I hope you all are well and happy!

Monday, March 11, 2019

At Least It's Sunny and Warm

My project is currently at 26,000 words. Almost halfway to my goal of 60,000 words. Actually, I'm shooting for 60,000-70,000 words by the time I'm done. That'll give me a good starting place to go in and revise, maybe add to what already exists. Every time I see the wordcount roll past another thousand words written, I get stoked. Even finding out I have to pay a couple thousand in federal taxes can't diminish the happiness I feel seeing the writing coming along.

I went in and did my taxes last night, figuring I better get on it, and by the time I was done, I was just shaking my head over how much I have to pay on top of what was taken out of my yearly salary. I couldn't figure out why I owed so much since I had gone to HR and revised my withholding, so I went out to work today to see if I could make another change. I'd like to avoid having to write a check to the IRS every year. After talking with our payroll person, we figured out what will work. Hopefully. I guess I'll find out next tax season.

Which means quite an additional chunk being taken out of each paycheck now. I also found out a few other things regarding tax laws, like the IRS is really nasty to married couples who file separately. What's up with that? And the underpayment penalty? Seriously? Let's just rub salt in the wound, why don't we. Not only doe the IRS get a nice slice of my pie each paycheck, but it can decide I'm not paying enough each paycheck even though if I don't pay enough I'll end up paying them what I owe by April 14 each year. That, evidently, isn't good enough. The IRS then applies an underpayment penalty. Where did all these arbitrary rules come from? And the fact that we just plod along accepting it is crazy.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for paying taxes as they do help fund a lot of wonderful programs. I'll gladly give from what I make to be sure these programs are kept going. What I have a tough time wrapping my brain around is how I and many others end up paying a significant chunk while big corporations pay nothing. ON BILLIONS OF PROFIT! How does this make any sense?

I stopped trying to make sense of a lot of things over the last few years. It does nothing but cause inner turmoil. And thankfully I have the wherewithal to save enough through the year to pay what I owe once tax season rolls around. Still, I find myself, even right now, shaking my head at the very obvious unfairness that exists in this world. When it doesn't need to be this way.

But hey, at least it's sunny and warm today for the first day of spring break. What's not to like about that?