Oh, yeh… I have a blog!

Hey, there!  Anybody ever come to this site anymore…?  🙂

I turned in the last of my grades this morning and am just finishing up preparations for my new on-line summer class that starts on Tuesday.  Ah, but then… then I’ll have time at last to write!  And to catch up with all of my blogger friends whom I have not visited for ages.  I hope you are all well.

Stay tuned…

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Isn’t March SPRING…?

Yeh, well, so I think Spring is coming….  March is supposed to be Spring, right?  Only not so much today.  This weekend was in the low 60s and today five inches of snow.  Hmmm.  Well, at least my son enjoyed it…

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He created a bow out of some branch that came down int he last storm plus some string he found.  Thena  neighbor kid gave him one of his arrows (my son had created one of those, too, but it was pretty wobbly).  Teh thing is that with snow on the ground, archery is a lot more fun.  (1) You can see the arrow better against the white snow, and (2) It sticks into the snow much more firmly thatn th ground, so one can easily see how much one “rocks.”

So, I’ve been hunkering down lately and doing a lot of grading.  I just checked tonight and saw that I have already surpassed the total number of posts to my on-line students from all of last semester by about 30% and it is only midterm.  I decided they needed more attention this term, and it is paying off.  But 362 posts in six weeks is a bit much!  LOL

Other than teaching and snow, I have nothing at all to report.  I am an empty-headed writer who has no time to write right now.  Oh, wait, I almost forgot.  I’m a liar fo sure!!   An essay collection that I’ve been editing and trying to find a publisher for, let’s seee, it has been a few years…well, anyway, I secured a contract at last.  Yay!  So I guuess I have been writing.  Just not Grandma’s book.  Sigh.  But I’m happy to get our collection published at least.

And now on to that stack of Freshmen essays….

“writing assignments for bad kids…”

Hmmm.  Well, that’s what showed up on my wordpress dashboard yesterday as the search terms that led someone to my site: “writing assignments for bad kids.”  Nothing like promoting the idea that English is torture. 🙂  Give ’em some grammar exercises, too, why don’t ya?!

I have a student this semester who is so far beyond being a bad student that he is a caricature, a cartoon.  Yet, I’m not sure for all that I’d call him a bad kid.  Compulsive liar?  Sure.  Morally repugnant?  That’s a given.  Passive aggressive?  Duh, of course.

But I hadn’t stopped to think maybe he’s just bad to the bone.  I was more thinking that his lack of any sense of personal responsibility for his own learning has led him to get absolutely nothing out of college.  And his lack of work, any writing really of note, is what led to the F on his midterm that I just passed back.

I tend to find that the worst students are the ones who are NOT writing, not doing their work.  So my answer to the person who queried about “writing assignments for bad kids” is to say the problem is not in the assignment but in the student’s work ethic or attitude or study skills, etc.  “Bad kids” or “good” — they all need to write.  Motivating a kid to write, well, if you figure out the answer to that, I’d like to know!  I already discovered long ago that grades rarely motivate struggling students.

Kreativ Blogger? Wow, thanks!

I want to say a big thanks to Montessori Mama, who has given me the Kreativ Blogger award!!

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You know, it feels kinda good.  I needed the boost — thanks again, MM.  Coming from one of the most creative of all bloggers I know, this award means a lot!

Now, on to the rules:
– List six things that inspire my creativity
– Pass the award on to 6 more kreativ bloggers
– Link back to the person who gave you the award
– Link to the people you are passing it on to and leave them a comment to let them know.

so…

SIX things that inspire my creativity:

  1. family night — We decided to rotate the responsibility to each family member each week  to choose an activity for Friday night that the whole family would enjoy.  Last time that it was my turn, I chose painting, and we had a marvelous time just hanging out and painting together. Never done such a  thing together ALL three of us at the same time.  Cool!
  2. Christmas — Something about that holiday brings out my creative side.  I relish the chance to make things beautiful, to use my hands to create something new out of something old (ornaments, table decorations, handmade cards….)
  3. teaching a text that students seem to find boring — Ah, I love that challenge! That’s when I revert to drawing crazy pictures on the board, jumping on top of furniture to act out a concept, bringing in wigs and hats for students to stage an impromptu dramatization of that boring 18th century poem, etc.
  4. dinner parties — I know you aren’t really “supposed” to make up new recipes when you have company coming, but I love to get creative in the kitchen for my friends.  Almost always there’s enough delicious food (if I do say so myself) in the meal to make up for anything borderline.  Even the flops are food for funny stories later on. 🙂
  5. scrapbooking — Okay, I admit it.  I actually like doing this activity.  I haven’t been able to work on anything for years, but I love how it is both a creative (making something new) and retro- and intro-spective activity.  I need to find a way to do this craft again, as it gives me much pleasure both in the doing and in the viewing later.
  6. Grandma’a life — I find my beloved grandma to be incredibly inspiring.  Writing her book is one of the most meaningful things I have undertaken in my life and one of the hardest.

Now, on to listing SIX more kreativ bloggers:

The Sruggling Writer is a wonderfully creative guy — I like how he just keeps on writing despite being busy with work and his young family. I’ve seen a noticable change in the quality of his writing, too, clearly proving that practice makes perfect. Paul, you’re awesome!

I read Kitty’s delightful blog  The Show Must Go On almost every day.  She is witty and hilarious and kind.  Check her out!  But bonus…she is also a gifted photographer and has another blog The Cuckoo’s Nest filled with interesting pixs.  This gal can do anything.  She even turned me on to cooking cabbage (yup, Kitty, I finally bit the bullet and cooked that thing in the bottom of my fridge — delicious!  Who knew?)

Ginny over at Praying to Darwin is a crack up.  Always makes me LOL when I read of her and her family’s escapades in the great white north of Canada.  I’ve actually snorted with laughter when reading her before.  Thanks, Ginny, for cheering my day!

I love handmade paper products (books, cards, etc.), and I really admire Diane Aldred’s work, often showcased on her blog Much of a Muchness.  She has a real knack for choosing just the right design.  She’s also a good writer, and despite my jealousy over her exciting travels, I’m nominating her as well.

I don’t recall exactly how I first found Katie Hoffman’s blog Paint Fumes, but I have enjoyed visiting it and viewing her paintings for a long time now.  I always find something worthwhile to contemplate there, and I’ve enjoyed learning more about the art wold from her interesting written posts, as well.

When I first began blogging a year and a half ago, I was searching the blogosphere using the keyword “grief”  and came across Linda’s mysteroriley, a “blog I never wanted to write.”  What strikes me so much about this blog is Linda’s courage and the strength of her creative energy in the face of the painful loss of her 20-year-old son.  Linda, I admire you both as a writer and as a human being.  You inspire me!

So, there you have it folks!  And I want to encourage everyone to visit Montessori Mama‘s site, too.  She is a gifted artist, teacher, and a great gal. Thanks!

Holady Shopping… Typos Matter, Even at Christmas

I am NOT the grammar police, okay?  But, honestly, sometimes I can’t help but draw attention to signage errors.  I mean, I’d want to know!   I live by that Do Unto Others credo, so shoot me.

I was at the mall this weekend buying a few last Christmas gifts, when I was surprised to see a See’s Candy shop.  Where the heck did that come from, I wondered.  I am quite certain it wasn’t there last time I visited the mall.

I hustled over to the store, though, to pick up a couple of boxs of nuts and chews and assorted chocolates.  Sees is not only delicious candy, but it brings back lovely memories of my grandma.  The company began right there in Sacramento, California, near my grandma’s house, in fact.  I am delighted that the company has done so well that it now has a store in the Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua, New Hampshire.  Go figure!

But as I was reading the description of one of their items to see which candies the box included, my eyes bugged out at this typo.  Can you SEE it?

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How appetizing!  Just what I want to buy for my son’s stocking: a box with six soiled choco balls.  Mmm! Delicious!  Sample anyone? 🙂

I hesitated but then thought, goodness, this has to be fixed.  Or at least laughed at.  So I showed it to the two sales ladies, making it perfectly clear that this was, no doubt, NOT their fault.

Clerk One: “Yes.  Uh huh….  So you’re a teacher?”

Me: “Well, yeh. Er, I am. Ha ha.” 🙂

Clerk One: “And you teach…?”

Me: “English.  Sorry.  Typos just have this way of jumping right off the page at me, especially this time of year when I am grading so many student papers.  I can’t help it.”

Clerk Two: “Where do you teach your classes?”

Me: “At the University.”

Clerk Two: “I want to take an English class.  I need to learn English.”

Me: “Well, there’s community colleges.  They offer such classes.”

Clerk Two: “What I really want is a tutor, just someone to sit down with me and help me understand better.”

Me: “Our local library has such a thing — literacy tutoring run by volunteers.  You should see if your town has that.”

After the Clerk One lady rang up my purchase, she slipped three butterscoth lollipops into my bag and smiled. I guess she didn’t mind my pointing out the typo after all.  Still, someone should fix that sign.  Made me think I should carry around white out and a black marker.

Has anyone heard of that guy who goes around, on purpose to fix people’s typos? Now THAT’S annoying!

Remembering why I teach…

Because students like B. come to my office and are confused when they sit down and shakin their heads and looking at the floor. And when they leave, they high-five me. Seriously. High-five.

Because students like M. write an essay about how their mom was just diagnosed with lung cancer and they are terrified of losing a loved one, and I can write back how sorry I am and make them feel as if college is not some impersonal place where nobody cares.

Because when students like C. whose cell phone went off in class for the SECOND time in five weeks now has to bring me chocolate as payment for disrupting class, and I get to come off as the funny professor for at least half a second instead of the mean lady who is always making us work so hard.

Because when students like S. act like idiots I can rise to the challenge of how to reach this immature young person who has no clue about appropriate behavior and maybe I’ll get through to her and one day people will actually begin to like her.

Because students like L have figured out where to put the comma because I showed him how the rule actually makes sense. Yes, punctuation, usually, makes sense!

Because of students like C. who asks me what I’m teaching next semester so she can take another class from me.

YES. That’s why I teach. Well, and it pays the bills, too. 🙂

Dear Grandma…

Dear Grandma,

I miss you.  Lately these flashes of memories keep intruding on my day.

Your laugh.  You looked so regal, so classy.  But your laugh was down home, real folk, spilling out of you whenever the smallest opportunity for mirth arose.  How much we laughed, working on your book, our book.  Every Sunday night when I called you on the phone, we inevitably found our way into a laughing fit.  Such simple things, too. Silly, really.  But you and I, fifty years apart, found so much to chuckle over.  No cynicism in you.  Honest and kind good humor.

I miss you.

Your reassurance.  When I sometimes had not had a chance to work on the book that week and we spoke on Sunday, I knew you were disappointed, but you always said such kind words. You knew I had other responsibilities. You never pressured.  You had faith in me to carry on after you were gone.  And I feel so bad that sabbatical is over and the book is still not finished.  I’m sorry, Grandma.  I’m still working on it. I thought I’d get farther.  Of course, I traveled a lot to research the book settings and stories.  And that was a jolly good thing I did since I found so much usable information that the book is being transformed into a much fuller account.  You’d hardly recognize chapter one anymore, Grandma.  Did you know that Grandpa Skaug’s mom was illegitimate?  Did you know your Dad’s relatives were soldiers back in Sweden?  Did you ever hear about the shipwreck at Kløkstad, Norway?  Did you know our famiiy church was built in 1240 and is still standing?  Did you know that the sea off the coast of Bodø can be as still as a pond and turn savage within minutes? Did you know in Sweden they had a big stick in church to poke people with when they fell asleep during the sermon?  No, you never knew these things.

I miss you. Lately all I want, suddenly, is write your story.

But timing is everything.  I know you’d say now that I ought not to be too hard on myself.  That I have to work and take care of my family.  You’d never begrudge me that.  I was thinking only the other day about the story you told me of when my mother was a baby and Grandpa wanted to go to a movie (always go go going, that Grandpa).  So you swooped up the baby in a blanket and got your coat.  In the theater, you wondered what was poking you, only to find the coat hanger still inside the coat you were wearing.  I understand such exhaustion. I know it’s okay with you that this project is taking a while longer than anticipated.  After all, we moved at a snail’s pace, and I asked you if you wanted me to speed up.  You said, “Do it right!  It’s more important for it to be good and to be read than for me to see it finished.” So you died without seeing it.  And here I am pluggin along over two years later. Still.  I’m sorry, Grandma.

I miss you.