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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Distractions

Homemade Apple Butter
I'm supposed to be reading/responding to student papers, but instead, I'm doing all kinds of other things. Like making apple butter. And cutting out the raspberry vines. And researching having backyard chickens in town. I was hoping to have all the papers responded to by late this evening, but at this point, I'll be lucky to have one section of the four completed. With each semester, I'm finding it harder and harder to make myself sit for any length of time to read student work.

I had every intention of getting up early this morning to get started on the papers. I did get up at a reasonable hour. It was before 8 am, and for a Sunday, that's early for me. I fixed myself an egg white omelet along with some bacon and coffee, and read a new book while I ate. I figured I'd start in on the work after I finished breakfast. Instead, all I kept thinking about was the apple trees laden with lovely red apples we'd come across on a piece of property for sale not far from town. No one is living on the property as the house isn't even suitable for pigs to live in, so I said to Hubby, "Let's go pick some apples." We loaded up the ladder and set off.

This piece of property is about three acres, with a pole barn and another smaller, older barn that has three stalls inside. I can very easily envision having chickens, a couple of sheep, and maybe a goat. One part of the property is perfect for a large garden. There's the two mature apple trees as well as two mature pear trees. Though the house is a tear-down, I wouldn't mind living in a mobile home while we build exactly what we've always talked about having. Of all the properties we've seen over the years of my dreaming of moving to the country, this piece really does offer exactly what I've always yearned for. I was thinking this morning, after picking the apples (and no, I didn't call the owner for permission; I probably should have, but it was pretty obvious no one was picking them given the amount of apples covering the ground under the trees), that perhaps we could buy the property and make it our "vacation" spot during the next few years. We could pitch a tent every weekend and enjoy being there, cleaning it up, and prepping it for the house we want to build. Hubby doesn't think this is feasible. Yet, he is the one who took me to see it several weeks ago, saying, "I'm trying to buy you your house in the country." And now, now that I am really into it and can see a way to make this happen, he's suddenly stepping back, saying, "There's no way we can do this." Huh?!? Frankly, I think it was kind of mean of him to take me to see it in the first place. But I am glad to have found the apples.

So, now that I'm having to come down out of the clouds and back to the reality of living in town, I'm researching owning chickens within the city limits (it's illegal right now, but I'm going to see about getting this back in front of the city council) and planning more gardening through the fall and winter months. Both of these things are not helping me read/respond to student papers. I know, though, that my work will get done. It always does.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

This and That

Seems like I haven't written in quite some time. That's not to say I haven't thought about writing a blog post. I have. Nearly every day. But I just couldn't bring myself to sit down and write. I sound like so many of my students. So, taking the advice I always give to students who lament not knowing how to start a paper, I'm just going to write. The post will be a hodge-podge, so if you stopped by for something eloquent and insightful, you might be disappointed. Or not.

Back into the swing of things at work, and this semester I'm trying something new. For years, I followed what could be considered a fairly typical approach to teaching: creating a calendar with exercises and longer assignments listed, their due dates, and all students doing these exercises and assignments. If a student didn't do the exercise or assignment for a given due date, he/she couldn't make it up. The points were just lost. This semester, I still have a calendar with exercises listed, along with their due dates. The students, though, get to choose which exercises they want to do and which exercises they don't want to complete. For each concept I want to cover, I created two exercises: one that is involved and takes quite a bit of time to complete, and one that is not as involved. The more demanding exercise is worth quite a few more points than its shorter, less demanding twin. Students can examine each before deciding which one to complete. The goal is for each student to make his/her decision based on what he/she believes best suits him/her. So far, the feedback from the students has been positive. They like being able to decide which exercise to invest their time in. This week, the students had the option of meeting with me for a one-on-one conference, and as of today, the majority made the decision to come to my office, sit with me for 10 minutes or longer, and just chat about their work to this point in the semester. I've been pleasantly surprised at how many students took me up on the "optional" conference.

Before the new saddle, grips, rear rack, and lights
Recently I added to my bike fleet. For some time, I've been looking for a vintage town-type bike. I finally found one, a Raleigh Sport 3-Speed. The bike I actually went to see was a mixte, but when I rode it, I knew it wasn't going to work for me. It was too small for one, and I really wanted a step-through so I could wear dresses or skirts while riding. The guy selling the mixte had a yard full of all kinds of bikes, mostly older ten speeds. Amongst them I found the Raleigh. I rode it and fell in love. After convincing the guy to lower the price, I loaded my new love into the back of the truck and brought her home. I have since put a new Brooks saddle on her along with Brooks grips, a rear rack, front light, and rear light. She's one classy lady. And a smooth ride.

Lots of creating has been going on in my shop. I signed up for an arts/crafts show that will take place in November, so I've been busy working on having things for my booth. I had to come up with a name for said booth, and after much consideration, I decided upon The Happy Cyclepath. My hope is that people will be amused by the name enough to buy one of my pieces. I definitely have a lot of work to do, but I'm enjoying the process. I made a wind chime out of cassette gears and a brake cable; the chime it creates is lovely. I hope to make several of these, maybe adding one or two gears with stained glass in the center to each. I invested in stained glass materials and started practicing this evening, so hopefully in two months' time the results will be "good enough" to offer in the booth. I have so many ideas bouncing around in my head for pieces I want to create that I've begun writing down descriptions and sometimes even sketching out what I'm aiming for. I really want my booth to be awesome.

I'm still getting a lot of tomatoes from the garden. And peppers. Peppers galore. This two-week heat wave we've been suffering through has kept everything growing and producing nicely. I even had another round of red raspberries much to my surprise. I know soon I'll have to clean up the gardens and bed them down for the winter, but for now, I'm happy to still be picking produce.