Wednesday, August 31, 2016

morning fun

Today has been an excellent day.  I finished lesson plans for today and tomorrow last night, which resulted in some free time until early afternoon when it was time to meet my class for their daily grind.  Today we mucked around in Word, creating an overly-fancy memo.  In real life, most memos are emailed and plain.  Also, who takes time to add Word Art and graphics to a memo?  But, this assignment gave us a reason to practice the new alignment guides feature in Word 2016 and the Format.  My students also hopefully retained some idea of the traditional format of a memo (but that’s beyond the scope of what this class is about).
Sarah gave me a giant tray of succulents as a retirement gift.  All these lovelies just waiting to be appreciated and nurtured, but there were too many to fit into my existing succulent garden.  I ordered a bigger bowl from Amazon knowing full well the exact dimensions, but when it arrived, I convinced myself it was much too large.  The garden will have to occupy our kitchen table all winter…and it was just way too big…and where would that leave my poor African Violets for the winter?  So, last night in Lowes, I found a lovely sea green ceramic bowl for 50% off.  Life is good like that sometimes.  I bought it, brought it home, set it on the kitchen table, and declared it perfect for the task.  Just the right size, and very pretty too.

My mission, this morning, was to recreate a succulent garden – merging my plants from the old bowl with the tray of new ones, creating a magnificent masterpiece in the new ceramic bowl.  Cheerfully, I began the task, but with half of them planted, I realized the new bowl was going to be much too small.  My darlings would not be pleased to be so crowded, and how could they grow with so little space?  It just wouldn’t do, so I pulled out the Amazon bowl, telling myself there is no other way, and planted them all.  Even the big bowl does not leave enough space for what I had in mind…I was going to add many rocks,driftwood, perhaps some small sculptures.  Perhaps at some point I’ll add a tier to the big bowl to add interest, but for now, it is finished.  I do love it.

New succulent garden has been started


And what will happen to the new ceramic bowl?  Pansies!  I’ll plant a bowl of pansies for the porch just as soon as the greenhouse gets them in.  It should be soon!  I’m starting to see pots of mums for sale around the grocery stores.  Fall is coming.        

Saturday, August 20, 2016


August is flying by.  Heck, all time flies by these days.  Old age has warped my sense of time, or so it seems.

Someone spent two weeks in South Carolina with his familyin June.  In July, Emily spent two weeks in North Carolina with her boyfriend, and Sarah went to China for a few weeks.  Although Sarah’s trip was not really a vacation (she went there to perform music with a group), it was still a grand adventure.  Erin had been working most of the summer and I was not using vacation time for anything other than teaching classes this entire year, choosing to get paid for left-over vacation time.  Trust me – there was not much vacation left over by the end of June. 

Anyway, Someone told Erin that if she could get a few days off work, he and I would take her anywhere she wanted to go.  Anywhere.  Seriously?  It was completely out of character for Someone to make such a bold offer because he hates going to unfamiliar places.  He remarked to me that he was quite certain Erin would choose Myrtle Beach, Disney World, or maybe someplace she’d never been like Hilton Head or Wrightsville Beach.  Clearly, he fully expected her to select a beach or amusement part.  I knew better…and I fully expected her to select Las Vegas, New Orleans, or maybe San Francisco.
Erin surprised both of us and selected Chicago -  a place she had traveled through very briefly on a school trip and a place Someone and I had never been to.  I only had a few days to make reservations by the time she picked a place to go.  As it turned out, Someone insisted he just “couldn’t” take off work.  It was too expensive to fly on such short notice, I was not eager to drive into the big city and pay $40+ to park my car every day, so we took a train.

The train itself was a great adventure.  I rode Amtrak once when I was a kid, and Erin had never experienced Amtrak.  Our tickets were very reasonably priced.  I drove to Louisville and picked Erin up there, and then we drove to Lafayette, Indiana – a few hours south of Chicago.  Lafayette became part of our adventure; it’s a small and quaint college town, a place I selected by virtue of its location on the map.  We had time to drive around and walk around town.  Parking at the train station was practically nil, but we found a parking garage nearby (and paid nothing to park there for 5 days).  We spent the night in Lafayette.  We caught the train very early the next morning and found ourselves at Union Station in Chicago mid-morning on a Saturday.    

The whole train experience was very pleasant.  Lots of room in the seats and for our legs.  We had AC power right there at our seats, so we didn't have to worry about our batteries dying.  Northern Indiana and Illinois are mostly flat fields of soybeans, corn, and wind turbines - not a lot to look at, but we went through several small towns and those were interesting to see.  

Pretty church seen from the train window - somewhere in Indiana
While in Chicago, we did some typical tourist things – visited two museums (Fields Natural History and the Art Institute), the Navy Pier, Shedd Aquarium, and Millennium Park.  Of all that, I think the totem poles in Fields Museum were my favorite thing.  We went to the theater Sunday evening and saw The Book of Mormon.  It was great!!  Really hilarious, especially if you know anything about Mormons.  It was very inappropriate, and I know poking fun at a person’s religion and sexual orientation is not politically correct, but we both loved it.  The dancing was really excellent.  Great comedy, great show!  We ate deep dish pizza one evening because that is what Chicago is known for.  It was yummy.  We saw a fantastic fireworks show from the Navy Pier, and took water taxis several times – a boat ride along the shore of Lake Michigan instead of a taxi on the city streets.   Our vacation was a real treat for us.  What a wonderful time I got to share with Erin!  We both remarked that Someone (Erin’s daddy) would have been miserable on our vacation.

Entrance to the Navy Pier
Some of Chicago as seen from a water taxi
On the steps of Fields Museum - Willis Tower in the background (tallest building)

PrivateBank Theater, The Book of Mormon - our most memorable (and expensive) treat in Chicago  
Building diversity - newer and old

Newer buildings around very old building
Just inside Union Station (Chicago)
Union Station - marble floor, giant columns, guilded light posts...awesome building

University #1 is keeping me busy with three classes that started last Monday, and another class that will kick off on September 12th. For somebody who wanted to teach only online, three of my four classes are face to face.  No complaints; I’m grateful for the work.  University #2 has low enrollment right now.  After working steadily for a little more than a full year for them, I have no classes just now and no idea if or when I’ll get work again.  The next session also starts September 12th…I’m hoping they can give me a few classes.  Meanwhile, it’s time to update my CV and start applying again.  Rust never sleeps, and neither should I.