grad school

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Graduate School is…

Posted by on 23 Nov 2009 | Tagged as: education, Gardens and Life, good things, grad school, Uncategorized

  • timeconsuming
  • exhausting
  • interesting
  • frustrating
  • hard work
  • fun
  • all of the above!

Which explains the dearth of details lately. This quarter, we have read many books, listened to history lectures, participated in workshops, and observed in three schools. The schools have been in different towns, at different grade levels, and have given us an opportunity to try to identify some of the concepts and strategies we are learning about — as they are being used, which sometimes is a bit different from theory!

My hip continues to bother me, and Tom has to set it nearly every day, but there is gradual improvement. Not enough to dive into yard work, yet, so the gardens continue to languish, I fear. But by Spring, I should be back in form!

Still, I notice that the trees and shrubs are happily “doing their thing” anyway. The flowering red currants already have pregnant buds on the tips of the branches, and the leaves, now half gone from deciduous plants, are revealing the intricate structures of the limbs. It is certainly one of my favorite four seasons!

Back to school. I have two more weeks in this quarter, which will be filled with revising one paper, writing a series of essays on the material we have covered this quarter, and pulling together my portfolio for review. I hope to accomplish a good bit of all of it this week, when I have “off” from classes.

Today, though, I spent painting ceramics with Mother and a classmate (hey C!), and hanging out with my faithful puppy on the sofa while I look over the revisions and update the draft on the computer. I also have the TV turned to HGTV, which I love to watch when I do homework and housework. Inspiration for my abundant “free time?”

Autumn Arrives

Posted by on 26 Oct 2009 | Tagged as: children, Gardens and Life, grad school, rain, school, Uncategorized, weather

The “first significant snow” in the mountains.

A lot of rain down near Puget Sound.

The leaves on the trees, that were so bright this past week, that covered the ground with a warm quilt of color, will soon turn brown and the light will filter through the bare branches. Except for the evergreens, which this time of year seem nearly black, silhouetted against a silvery sky.

The children’s routines are well established, and mine is coming together. Expectations have become clear, and a pattern has developed. I have odd, irregular hours, but overall my days now flow well and most of the workload, while heavy, is now manageable. The weekends are lovely, as I set my own time for “doing” and my own time for “resting.”

I am starting to look around and consider which box I shall empty next… but I am not yet at the “emptying” stage. Perhaps next week. Or over the week-long Thanksgiving break? One thing about time, we always have it. At least these deadlines, for home-centered tasks, are truly flexible.

Not so, my reading for this program. And so…

[the author vanishes behind a stack of books and papers]

Week two…

Posted by on 10 Oct 2009 | Tagged as: Gardens and Life, grad school, Uncategorized

and a normal routine has been established.

Monday, “free” for me to leisurely do housework and schoolwork without leaving home. I need this quiet time to recharge my energy level and reconnect.

Tuesday, a late start to the day, but I try to get to campus a couple hours early for reading or getting together with classmates. It’s a way for me to establish my “personal space” on campus, as a student. This is the formal “lecture” day, and a seminar session.

Wednesday, a short day, only one session on campus a sort of workshop each week. This week I was sick, but managed to stay for most of it. The afternoon is for at-home work or hanging out with the younger kiddo after I pick him up from school on my way home.

Thursday, observations. Have to be up early, but there is an opportunity to visit and discuss the experience with classmates afterward, and then time in the afternoon and evening to work on material that needs to be turned in first thing Friday.

Friday is another long day, starting with a seminar and ending with a workshop. It was nice to start with the in-depth discussion of our readings again, and to end with structured group activities.

So far, the workload allows me to have some time “off” in the evenings, to get to sleep early or to be present for the family and friends. It’s a rigorous schedule, but no worse than I would have if I were working a full-time job — in some ways, better because while I am putting in more than 40 hours a week, I have some flexibility for when I work, and can do things around the boys’ schedules.

And that’s it, in a nutshell. Irregular hours, but on a regular basis…

My first day…

Posted by on 29 Sep 2009 | Tagged as: education, grad school, Uncategorized

the new me

No alternate text on the above image, this is me this morning after only about 6 hours’ sleep (I was nervous all night). I am wearing a cool-nifty new shirt Mother got for me at Shopko. The falling leaves go around on the right side…

And class was fine. I like everyone, teachers and students. It will be interesting. Some things are overwhelming on this end, others seem deceptively manageable. A lot of the rest of the week will be spent just getting used to what is going on.

I may not be ready…

Posted by on 28 Sep 2009 | Tagged as: grad school, housework, Uncategorized

But the office is!

I am so happy that I managed to have not one, but TWO cleared spaces to work on. Both the workbench and the desk are now “good enough” for the moment.

You can see from the last shot that half the office is FAR from the way I want, but in my defense… I was lazy! About half the remaining boxes contain fabrics and craft/art supplies that I am still deciding whether to keep or toss. And easily half the clutter on the card table is papers that need going through when I am not feeling vulnerable. I have a hard time discarding “mementos” when feeling nostalgic.

So. Here for your viewing pleasure are the pics I JUST took of the office. I am so excited! I am going to school tomorrow!!!! First pic is looking through the door, the others are labeled.

through door

the workbench, the stack of papers on the right needs sorting, otherwise done!

the workbench, the stack of papers on the right needs sorting, otherwise done!

working part of the desk:  again the items on the wire shelf need final sorting, otherwise clean!

again the items on the wire shelf need final sorting, otherwise clean!

in the interest of full disclosure, there is actually open space in front of the window and under the card table.

in the interest of full disclosure, there is actually open space in front of the window and under the card table.

My last task is to figure out what to wear so I look tidy, but approachable… I am totally excited about tomorrow!

Quiet Day of Light and Shadow

Posted by on 28 Sep 2009 | Tagged as: children, education, Gardens and Life, good things, grad school, musings, parenting, Uncategorized

A week after the official start of autumn, and it’s cooler. Won’t get into the 70s today, and the sun keeps getting swept behind the clouds by the wind. It’s going to stay in the 40s at night and not get above the 60s much from this point on. I admit to some regrets that we didn’t settle in Hawaii sometimes. But the wetter weather that is on the horizon (literally, I can see the clouds coming) heralds one of the best times of year for me: harvest time, the turning of the year to a time of connection between past and future with the “now” at the fulcrum. A time to take stock of where we are in our lives and look at what we really want or ought to do.

I am taking it easy, my last day of freedom before my classes begin. I slept in, woke to listen to the radio and read email and news online. Played some of my favorite online games. Going to read for a while. Thinking about getting the rest of the workbench cleared off this afternoon… got the desk in working order last night.

I am ready for tomorrow, will check through everything one more time this evening, and put it in the car. Undecided what I should wear… will take some foods that I know to be safe since it’s an all-day retreat and I am always nervous when I don’t know what a kitchen staff is like. I might ask to drive in with Tom tomorrow — the retreat is near his office. A little time with the person who is being most affected by my time back in school. He is so patient and calm, a solid rock for my antics.

The children are off at school — so far they seem to be doing fine. Will know more in a couple weeks, once the full impact of the three college classes (a full load) hits the elder child. They are being good about pitching in with a few extra chores, and the house is not “clean” but livable again. We’ll keep working on it.

I helped several times at the younger child’s school last week, since it was lovely weather and I had the time. I will miss being there on a regular basis. But, I keep reminding myself that it’s okay for me to take these two years for myself, to learn and grow and get prepared for the second (third?) phase of my life.

Growing older doesn’t mean we have to stop learning, stop improving, or stop reaching for the rainbow.

As the sun casts longer shadows through the days, as the plants and animals get ready for hibernation, I wish you all the opportunity for rest, for reflection and for recreation. Don’t forget to play!

The turning of the season

Posted by on 21 Sep 2009 | Tagged as: citizenship, education, Family Matters, garden, Gardens and Life, good things, grad school, musings, Uncategorized

Last day of summer, first day of autumn, this is a bitter-sweet time of year for me. Usually (and this year was definitely the epitome) I had lovely plans for the summer which quickly filled up and became unmanageably busy. The two or three things I had longed for usually never happened, and the growing season passed by so fast that half the enjoyment of fresh fruits and veggies was lost in the rush to bake and preserve.

This year, I was overly busy with school, running kids back and forth, and working. I missed the blueberry season entirely. I missed the strawberry and raspberry seasons, too. I managed to can two batches of jam using the plums from our tree. I didn’t cut flowers once, for my own home or anyone else’s. I didn’t even manage to sit outside in the shade and read.

And I had little time to play or otherwise connect with and enjoy my family.

Those are my regrets for the season that is passing. The lack of connection is foremost.

For the upcoming season, I dearly hope that I will not have to ignore my children or my garden overmuch. I hope I will have time to play with the dog, even if it’s only a little time, each day. I hope that I will be able to rest, to dream, to cook and to sew.

I hope to revel in savory dishes, sipping hot cider as I study.

As we wend our way toward the thinning veil between this world and the next, I hope that I will honor my ancestors and inspire my descendants with brave, gracious and loving acts.

The waning light sees me contemplating whether I use it well — do I make the most of my available time?

Future generations will know.

PINK computer!

Posted by on 01 Aug 2009 | Tagged as: crosspost, grad school, Uncategorized

I have been lobbying for a smaller, tablet-style computer for school for some time now. While researching similar ideas for my mother who travels a lot, I read up on the new HP 110 series. Finding them in the stores, I was always impressed with the feel of the keys, the way the screen looks and the fact that it weighs less than my purse.

Today, we got a PINK HP 110-1037tablet. I will blog more extensively later (the Phage Biology meeting will be over in two weeks), but so far I like it.

For grad school notetaking, I needed something portable, and for power I can use the desktops on campus or at home. And yes, I still have (and love) my LiveScribe pen, but sometimes the ability to type is just as necessary.

And yes, to save time and just to get something “up” I am cross-posting between and LiveJournal this time.

It begins again

Posted by on 20 Jun 2009 | Tagged as: education, Gardens and Life, grad school, Uncategorized

I have a crazy schedule for the next few weeks: class from 9-1 Monday; and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 5:30 to 9:30; I am also taking an online class at the community college. I will be working at least 5 hours a week on the Phage Biology Meeting. We are trying to get our home office ready for our visitor who arrives sometime in July. Moving everything out, finishing the drywall, priming and painting, and getting a bed in there. The garden is started, but needs a lot of work. I keep telling myself: Five weeks to freedom… once July is over, the rest should be relatively easy.

Fingers crossed.

Proud Mama Moments

Posted by on 05 Jun 2009 | Tagged as: children, citizenship, education, grad school, Uncategorized

The elder stidkid has completed another year of high school band, as one of the junior members of the wind ensemble at his school, he was picked to perform with the symphony (strings) earlier this week in a full orchestra experience. What a treat. Then he performed again yesterday with the bands.

His next emphasis is on getting ready for his trip to Australia that begins in a little over 5 weeks. He’s not truly jittery yet (I am) but I can tell he’s thinking about it nearly constantly. I will have him help our family friend at least a couple times a week once his school is out, just to give him some focused time elsewhere.

Also yesterday, the younger stidkid had TWO concerts at his school, the afternoon one which I was able to attend and another in the evening that his father made. He plays the tuba in the regular band and the trombone in the jazz band. He also sings in jazz choir, which did not perform at those concerts.

At the end of the school day, while waiting to pick him up, I heard the following announcement over the intercom: “And for student body president, for next year…. *pause for dramatic effect* STIDKID!”

Well. the principal said his actual name… but otherwise. I nearly fainted.

And he had written his campaign speech himself. In a field of highly qualified candidates, he stood out (not just because he was the tallest, either). I think he will do a fine job.

So, yes. A proud mama moment.

Oh — and I got a nice scholarship from the graduate school — $200 towards books for fall quarter. Pretty nice, eh?

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