Monday, May 17, 2010

So What Now?

So now that the spring semester has ended and I still have ten days before the summer sessions start, now what?

We are planting a garden.  I decided earlier this year that I wanted to grow some of my own food for once. It's been ages since I've had that opportunity and I wanted to do this. I figured I had already gotten the hang of preserving food from last summer's green chile. My friend grows a small garden every year and that really helps feed her family throughout the summer. Because she lives in the southern part of our desert state, she can grow certain plants all year round, providing she remembers to cover the plants on those nights when the temperatures are dropping below freeze level. 

So in April when I was neck deep in papers, my darling husband heard the same refrain from me: "We need to dig up the garden plot. I want to plant a garden." He usually heard that as I was returning to my computer to grade more papers. When we had a warm week, D dug up our garden plot.
                                  This was the first garden plot being dug. D expanded it later.  
              He found a ton of rock, old sewer pipe, a variety of broken glass, and more rocks.
  D had this idea of setting up a plot that used the maximum amount of space for gardening and leave
  enough space to work the garden. He staked it out and the added a layer of garden compost/
There is the garden plot, laid out nicely with spaces for me to walk and work while keeping the planting beds pristine.

Yesterday I put in the first seeds. I planted onions, Roma tomatoes, purple basil, eggplant, green bush beans, tarragon, oregano, sweet basil, bell peppers, and Genovese basil. I used muscles I haven't used in a long time. I sat in the dirt, listening the the birds chase off an intruder. I felt the sun on my face and later my back. I smelled the last of the lilacs blooming in the breezes. It was heaven.  

The other bit I've been doing is prepping for the summer sessions.  One of the problems I discovered last semester is that many students do not know how to write at the college level. Even though my instructions clearly state to use third person, too many do not know what third person is. I decided since I had a bit of down time between teaching, I should develop some aids to help my students understand what college level writing is and how it's used. Along with those aids, I'm developing exercises for the students to complete for grades. I'm hoping this will save me time later but also stick with the students throughout their academic careers.

I also discovered that students aren't reading their textbooks. It's hard to reach some students that they need to read their textbooks and notes. I've decided to also develop content quizzes to guarantee that my students read the textbook.  And I'm revising my notes because as of now, I have too many for most of my classes. Some of my notes are old and need serious updating. Some of my PowerPoints are also reaching antiquation, along with some of my lectures. This is spring and it's a great time for cleaning out the unnecessary or unneeded. 

I also decided to revamp my syllabi since I'm doing this major overhaul. Most professors hand out a couple of pages for their class syllabus and that's that. Have I warned you that I'm an OCD/Anal Retentive/Overachieving Nut?  Consider yourself warned now. My syllabi are easily 13 pages long. I include the required materials, ADA statements, student expectations, and my policies on academic dishonesty, assignments, grading, attendance, and the course calendar. Several of my students confessed that they didn't even read the class syllabi last semester. I suspected that's pretty much the case for all my classes and most of my students. So I decided to get them to read the darn thing by making it part of the course grades. :D I'm hoping this will alleviate the need for me to repeat the same questions about why I won't take in late work or why they can't have a second chance on their exams or why I won't bend with a little plagiarism here and there. *shakes my head* That's another story. 

The other thing that's been constant is the care of our cats. We now have one dozen house cats. Yes--I did say TWELVE cats. We didn't plan on it nor did we intend after the kittens to add any more cats to our finally integrated, well balanced household. 

Remember Buddy? He's been in the local newspaper and I've blogged about him? We desperately searched for a permanent home for him. We had two prospects. The first one turned out to be an impulsive whim that flared off like a bright spot and died quickly. The second one had a personal tragedy that forced Buddy's new family into the decision of not adopting him.  We had Buddy inside the house to get him prepared for his new owners and also because he was chasing off our ferals--mainly Swirly, MC, Blanco, and Fiesty. Yep---he was chasing the boys off the property. 

When the second home for Buddy fell through, we soon realized he had another bad mouth problem. His entire mouth was red, swollen, and had to be painful as all get out. Since we are treating Arby for acid reflux,  we are trying Buddy on a variety of medications and treatments. He's actually adjusted to being inside and gets along fairly well with most of the house cats.  We believe that he was chasing off the feral cats because he was in a lot of pain. This also brought up another issue since he has a chronic problem. Most people will not adopt an older cat, let alone one with chronic issues that requires daily treatment. *sighs* So our good intentions backfired and we now have one dozen cats in the house. 

So that's what's happening in our household. 

For Elizabeth--who requested these next photos.

  Quinn's Tulip
 Another one...
 With Daffodils


  1. Sounds like between the garden, revising your school stuff and all the cats your going to have plenty to keep you occupied until school starts again LOL. The thing is your still going to have all that stuff after school starts. You are going to be one busy person.

  2. I see it that way - if you can feed 11, you can feed 12. one more cat = more happiness. Maybe you can offer virtual adoption for the ones that you can't find a real home for....

  3. Your hubby designed a very sensible garden plot, it is always frustrating when you're stepping over plants to try to pick ripe veggies. However stepping over them isn't nearly as frustrating as stepping "ON" them. :(

    Hm, your updating of your notes, PowerPoints, lectures and syllabi sounds like intensive work. But once it's done it will not only be fresh for your students but for you as well.

    Poor Buddy! It is hard to find someone that will adopt a kitty with a health issue and Buddy needs not just medical attention, he needs love too and I'm sure he receives lots of both in your home. :)

  4. I'm so envious of your garden; D did a great job. It will bring you many hours of relaxation and enjoyment, not to mention the great food and herbs. There's always room for one more kitty, especially one named Buddy!

  5. So glad you're back!

    Garden looks great

  6. Your garden is amazing. We don't have much space, so we have a small garden, plus a raised garden and Irv plants a couple of things in pots on the deck. Yours will be wonderful and will provide you with lots and lots of good food. Way to go.

    Congrats on the new addition to your large family. :)

  7. What a great laid-out garden. I can just picture what it will look like with all the vegetables and herbs growing in it. It's wonderful that you put so much thought into what will help your students the most. So glad the inside kitties are doing well with Buddy.