Friday, May 25, 2012

The big myth

Here's the myth about school breaks and my job: It will be quieter, you won't have to teach class and you'll get "caught up."

This is now my fourth school break in this job (Thanksgiving, Christmas, spring break and now summer). And every time I fall for the lie. I make a long list of things I want to get done work-wise, and before I know it the break is over and I haven't crossed off a single thing on my list. Yes, summer is longer, and I will actually get time away from daily production. But when I'm involved in production, it will be crazier than it is during a normal semester.

There are students in the newsroom during the summer. There are a lot of eager reporters, and a new batch of copy editors starting next week. But this also means we've hit the reset button, and there's a lot of teaching and training to do. After a bit of grumbling about this on my part, a co-worker said to me, "It's still the first week of the semester." I replied, "The problem with the first week of the semester is that it comes right after the end of the semester." In other words, as soon as you get a crew well-trained, you have to start from scratch and the juxtaposition of those things is hard.

But because we have fewer students, there's more time that I'm the only person on the copy desk. I'm working mostly dayside shifts, and I don't have students to delegate to. As I realized this week, I am pretty ADD at work, jumping between several different things, and if someone asks for help on something, it'll take hours for me to get back to what I was doing. But when you have students you can delegate to, it's easier to see things get accomplished, and I can focus on one thing at a time.

Basically what I am saying is that this week I have felt completely scattered and crazy busy. And that summer work to-do list is looking overly ambitious.

But in three weeks I will be in Ireland completely disconnected!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Quick update

Well, I survived the GRE, and I actually did much better than even I expected. All the work ended up being worth it, and I never have to do it again.

A huge weight has been lifted off, and I feel like summer has actually started now even though class has been out for a week.

It was wonderful to have a carefree weekend where I wasn't thinking about studying or vocabulary words. I even grocery shopped and cooked on Sunday.

I have some garden updates (the green bean and okra are actually coming up from seed)! But I haven't taken pictures recently to show you. So more blog posts to come this week.

Monday, May 14, 2012

A long way

This weekend I was searching the blog for a recipe I thought I had posted about. Turns out I never did. But I came across some of those early posts when I got my first co-op shares two years ago. Here's a sentence from when I got my second pick-up:

"I've almost finished off the asparagus (I know my family is shocked reading that)..."

It was an accomplishment to finish off asparagus. Now I'm lucky to stretch one bunch over two days. I guess I have come a long way since then. And with most of the produce I get now, I just want to eat it as simply as possible. I don't need a complicated way to make it taste better because I like it as is.

In other news, the semester is over. I have finished all the grading and will have a quiet week in the newsroom before the summer crew comes in next week. 

I had to say goodbye to some seniors and masters students graduating on Saturday. The constant churn of students can be exhausting, but it amazes me how attached I've gotten to the ones that stick around for more than a semester. A co-worker strongly urged me to go to graduation, so there would be some closure and a real goodbye to those that are leaving. And I am really glad I went; I think it actually meant more as a faculty member than it did it when I was a graduate. There were some that it's a miracle they got to walk across the stage and others I would have loved to keep around for another year. And still some I didn't know were graduating, so I wasn't quite prepared to lose them. But a new batch will come through, and the cycle will start again.

And my life will really return to normal on Friday evening. I take the GRE Friday afternoon and will be so relieved to have it behind me. So I either won't post at all this week or will post more than usual to procrastinate. But hopefully more regular posts will resume after Friday.

Monday, May 7, 2012


The past few weeks and even months have been pretty crazy, and I've just felt like things around the house have been out of control. But after this weekend, I actually feel caught up, and I even got some cooking in. A few highlights:

I did some major house cleaning on Saturday. When you don't know the last time your kitchen floor was cleaned, that's a problem. But now I can walk barefoot through the kitchen and not be grossed out. I also attacked my shower/bathtub, which I bring up to share one tip. I found this on pinterest that says to mix up equal parts Dawn and white vinegar in a spray bottle and spray it on the shower/tub. I *almost* wished I had taken before and after picture, but then I would be showing how not yellow (its supposed color) the tub was. It took about three attempts (I said it was bad), but it worked a miracle on my tub. Now I've got to keep it from getting that bad ever again.

Even more exciting than cleaning was getting the garden planted. J did the raking and digging, and I put in the water/Miracle Gro solution and the plants in. He went back on Sunday and put in a fence around it to keep out the critters. I didn't think we had enough plants, but we actually filled all three beds and had some plants left over. Here are some photos:

There are tomatoes in the first bed; okra and green bean seeds and watermelon plants in the middle one; and zucchini, yellow squash, peppers, basil and rosemary in the last bed. 

Hoping the fence will keep the bunnies out. I'm convinced there's a colony of them in my backyard.

Later we went strawberry picking. It was the best kind of strawberry picking because it was free! J's parents have a huge strawberry patch we picked from. And the strawberries are some the best I've ever had. I took this on Sunday after we had eaten some, but this was full when we finished:

On Sunday I decided a good way to use them would be over pound cake. That's a classic dessert at my grandparents' house. I used a recipe for sour cream pound cake out of Better Homes and Gardens. It required a lot of time with the hand mixer, but it turned out really well. Almost as good as my grandmother's. I also made a tomato pie (with tomatoes from the farmer's market) and roasted asparagus (also from the market).

Now that the semester is almost over (just a final exam to give and grade), and the GRE will be behind me in two weeks, I'm looking forward to the summer and spending more time cooking. Hopefully, I'll have vegetables from my own garden to cook with!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A garden update

I picked out my plants on Saturday. There was pretty much a monsoon on the way home, so the plants are hanging out my kitchen. Here's what I got:

Tomatoes (sandwich tomatoes, roma and cherry)
Yellow squash
Sweet peppers

If they can survive the rest of the week in the kitchen, I think we'll get them in the ground on Saturday. I don't know what I was expecting, but it was much less expensive than I expected. The challenge now is keeping them alive and away from critters.

I'm kind of drowning in other stuff. My house is a wreck, and I barely have enough food to not starve. But all I can think about is getting through the end of the semester and my GRE test date. Life will return to some version of normal on May 19!