New Era, more work but different

I turned in my semester grades on Monday and went to a work luncheon with 100s of employees yesterday. It is technically finished for me, now I have to clear out of my office eventually and then work on the most pressing things that are here at home.  Last night we mowed the lawn for the first time this spring for about 2 1/2 hours and that was good because now it is raining again. I should be out using Miracle Gro on some of the plants that need some sustenance using the wonderful rain water that collects in the rain barrel. I love that utilitarian yard piece. It is a simple, functional 50 gallon tub that collects water from the garage roof and house roof. If not caught, it is a LOT of the water that otherwise would just go into the ground.

It is necessary to stay ahead of the weeds and there was itch weed that I took out last night and need to replace that area with something else like daylilies or something invasive but pretty.  I also need to clear out another garden from weeds because we will paint the shop before our century farm celebration in August.  Much painting to accomplish with some of our other outbuildings and while the temps are cool enough is the right time to do it.   We also need to get a professional painter to come and help with our indoor painting up the stair ways.  When we first moved into this century old farmhouse I had done the painting of this tall ceiling but now I am ready to pay someone to do it instead.  It was scary to negotiate the scaffolding.  I also took that nasty fall a year ago, people don’t let me climb up a chair that is two feet off the ground.  This ceiling is about 20 feet high!

I have flowers to repot and put in the ground and then there are rooms to clean out so we can use them again.  So much has piled up of the museum work I have done or the writing I have done in the past several years. Time to clear that out and file it away so we can enjoy our upstairs rooms again.  Then there is teaching stuff that I need to purge or save, depending on how good the material is, how relevant to today’s students.

Attached is a photo of my great grandfather with his four sons, I don’t know the order of who the sons are (George, Hans and Andrew) and where they are standing. I DO know where my grandfather Ameel is standing. But that is another thing I want to accomplish this summer is figuring out my Dad’s side of the family before the Century Farm in August.  That would be a nice gift for my dad but also for all our relatives who are coming for this event. Sooo this may be a new era of not teaching but the work seems more intensive while I’m not paid to do it.  How does THAT work?

1895 ca FRONT Torkel Torkelson_ BACK unknown, unknown, Andre (1)

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Should be weeding the gardens or cleaning house

Yes, it is that time again to delay the inevitable…we have many gardens that need tending and the weeds just grow bigger by the hour if I don’t do it. The lawn will need cutting soon and also the plum trees are blooming like never before. Even in our ditches we know that plum trees that are growing wild are blooming…we didn’t know they were there before.  Such a dry spring and an early one at that.  Well, I hope to have a GREAT harvest of plums when the time comes…I’ll give away what we have by having people come out to pick their own.

The semester is done, I just have to submit the grades for my 29 students, some failed but most of them got As and many Bs. These students worked hard and I am proud of them.  In fact some got published in our local newspaper for the last five weeks, next week will be the last story about their grandparents that they wrote for my first assignment back in January.

There is the house to clean which is always true but I have to find some pictures that belong to a man who asked for them back. Uffda, I put them in a safe place so now I have to retrieve them wherever THAT is!  I have to make sense of all the history things that I have made photo copies of or have gotten copies from the Carnegie or museum.  I have to start a filing system so I can go to an article of interest and not have to go through piles of STUFF to get to what I need.  I’m glad I have a summer vacation.

Well, whatever you call a vacation, I will have a summer intern working with us and that means I have to be one step ahead of him with things for him to do in the 25 hours that he is working for us from May 15-Aug. 15th.  The board of directors met him last night and I think he left a good impression with all of them.

So, besides outdoor chores and indoor tasks, there is always the Carnegie to get straightened out before Ox Cart Days in August.  We have painting of out buildings here on the farm before our Century Farm celebration.  IN the meantime also, I want to find out more about my Dad’s grandfather. We don’t know much about him.  I am supplying a photo of what he looked like with his sons, one of them is my grandpa.  They had to work hard but it looks like they enjoyed hunting with their four dogs.

Okay, back to work.1895 ca FRONT Torkel Torkelson_ BACK unknown, unknown, Andre (1)

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So we finally have spring after May 1st arrival

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI should be grading my students’ final papers because grades will be due for this spring semester by next week.  I have distracted myself with doing everything BUT grading.  It has been a good semester with great students, with a few bumps in the road, but we are ALL glad it is the end of a semester.  I should be out cleaning gardens but instead I have been framing old pictures for our Carnegie building for Ox Cart Days in August.  We had a film crew come yesterday from the Twin Cities to videotape what we are doing in Crookston.  The Carnegie and our museum was chosen to be in a 7 minute spot.

So, the time goes quickly when you are having fun. I hosted my folks to a dinner theater with “The Complete Works of Shakespeare: An Abridged version.”  It was VERY funny!  We have talent at our university with young energy.  Okay, I should move on to other things but I’ll post some photos of our landscape so far. The apricot tree was blooming several days ago, now we have plum trees that are looking glorious. Such is spring!


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Spring weeding, weeding and planting

Mid April and we are already planting in northern Minnesota, at least the farmers are. It is also very dry and we could use some rain. I need to get out to my 13-14 perennial flower gardens and restore them back to health.  I have tulips that are up six inches so they will be blooming soon.  About four days ago I repotted about 15 elephant ear bulbs.  Left them in their big containers outside and hopefully they didn’t get zapped in our 22 degrees one night, the other night it was 25 degrees.  I’m hoping that since they are close to the house on the south side that they didn’t feel the shock and will survive. I want to put these big eared plants out in front of the Carnegie building when it is warmer weather.

For now, it could still snow and be nasty up to the end of May, we have 1 1/2 months left of weather that could be winter like again. Today, it is a sunny beautiful day with promises of getting up to 70 degrees again.  So, I need to beat the wood ticks and get out to do all the necessary weeding that needs to be done to get ready for summer. My husband tilled up one of our vegetable gardens so that is looking good and ready for planting. I’ll leave that for my mom and hubby to do.

I’m glad I can finally look forward to my summer plans. This week I had TWO  lengthy talks with the same student about his grade. He is averaging a C for the first 13 weeks of the semester, he is really struggling at 72% and he expects to get a B.  Turns out he got a D in Comp I before and then he took Comp II from the same teacher and got a B!!!  I had to go talk to her and find out if this information he gave me was true.  It was.  So, I believe that his receiving a C grade is appropriate and that there is NO amount of negotiating to get that grade up.

The light bulb went off for him when he found out that it is necessary to revise. He was telling me that there are no perfect writers. I agreed with him but the ones who do write well also know how to revise well.  I think he must not get that and when he is doing is APA formatting which meant the last three required assignments, you have to alphabetize your sources in the References page. He cannot do that.  Maybe he doesn’t know his alphabet? I’m bewildered by that.  Anyway, I do not want to have this student come to my office again to talk for 45 minutes to an hour about why he should get a better grade.  Yesterday I handed out to each student the part in the syllabus that shows what an A paper looks like compared to a B paper all the way down to F.  It also said in my syllabus that if there is a grade dispute that the student needs to put it in writing within 24 hours of when they received the grade to try and improve it.  What this student did was complain about the third required paper 3-4 weeks after the fact.

I told him that I would throw those 150 points out and that he would only have 1,150 points to deal with instead of the 1,300 points.  He agreed with that but then he came back to my office to say that he was okay with keeping in that paper in the grade total.  I think this is a control issue.  He is majoring in communication but moving to another school after this semester is over. He is unhappy here.  I’m thinking this student is NOT ready for academia.

I believe weeding my overrun gardens will be easier than convincing this student that he is an AVERAGE student and does NOT deserve a B!  Yes, I’ll go out now to do that and think about other things.

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Good Friday, Good Day so Far

Thankfully I went through two classes of composition and none of my students pulled any tricks on me on April 1st, at least that I know of.  One student wanted his grade so far for the semester and we just finished week 12, but I don’t think that was an April Fools prank. He sincerely wanted to know his grades for each of his classes, mine included.  Seems strange because we still have four weeks left but I guess that is needed for this one class he is taking.  THAT’s what I should be doing right now in my quiet office today, while no one is around this day off, Good Friday is GOOD! Yes, I should be putting my students’ papers together in their respective folders and figuring out what the first 3/4s of the semester has been for each of my students, grade wise.

This particular student was very helpful and compliant at first and then he turned nasty and disrespectful about a month ago. Enough so that I talked to my supervisor about him…at length in my office.  Now he is all sweet and kind again, back to his old self from the beginning. It seems each student has been taking turns in their small fits of rebellion. Then next, over spring break, I had a very capable student argue with me by e-mail about using the research databases that our university provides. The main objective of this comp class is for students to discover the benefits of academic, peer reviewed journals and NOT to click the google button for everything.  They need to know there is a scholarly approach to some subjects…that is what the university prides itself in.  However, these young 19 year old students have grown up with the click of a mouse to find out info.  They don’t even know what it was like to look up things in stacks of libraries or to open up a 15 pound dictionary or encyclopedia. So, that spat was over but I had blind copied the head librarian to say that this student didn’t think there was anything up to date about precision agriculture.

Then, this past week, I had to write up an academic dishonesty report on one student who handed in his third required paper on human trafficking. It went to the Chancellor of Academic Affairs, to my supervisor, his advisor, etc. As Comp teachers, we have the “turnitin” feature with our Moodle assignments, the closer to 0% you have, the more likely it is the students’ own words.  However, we can allow for up to 10% on the Originality Assessment reports.  Sadly, my one student who I had in TWO classes last semester, who should have known better, came up with 81% of copying someone else’s paper.  He took from ONE paper and not patchwork from other papers all put together…flagrant copying on his part!  I told him he had to do this paper over or he would NOT get his potential 150 points.  THEN, I got an e-mail from his father who lives in southern U.S., copied to all his son’s other instructors, asking how his son was doing.  I didn’t tell him anything because legally, I am not supposed to unless a certain form has been filled out electronically and I’ve gotten the okay from the student.  Whew, I think I got cleared of that…again I notified my supervisor about that.

Well, that is three male students all taking their turns with not behaving right…who will be next in these last four weeks?  I have to be on my toes and make sure that I have all the assignments done right and turned back to them when they hand there next rough draft for Paper #4 to me next Monday.  For now, I am glad that we had Good Friday off today and I’m looking ahead to a good Easter service on Sunday. I’ll play my violin for the first time and hopefully that will go well.  I haven’t played publicly for about 35-40 years so this is a stretch for me…I bought a new violin to be in the university’s orchestra so I might as well use it.

Good Friday…good things are on the way!!!

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So glad it is Friday and “Little by Little” progress in the classroom

This week was a creative mess, the students were well behaved after a week off with Spring Break. It helped that I got back on board first, as an example, and know exactly how some of these students felt.  I did NOT want to go back to school again after the week off. It felt like two weeks because I packed so much into those seven days off.  Therefore, in order to be proactive, I set up a calendar schedule of what the assignments that are due, when, so that the students could plan the end of their spring semester accordingly. They seemed to resonate with that plant. However, the problem was that I didn’t put all the assignment requirements in the little boxes…but that is what they were referring to when assignments were due today.

Oh my, at least they read that and my powerpoint but didn’t read the LAST slide where it was clear I wanted an introduction, working bibliography and outline of their fourth paper.  They missed the “outline” part and so I got things in fits and starts today in class…and AFTER class by e-mail. I put up a list of all the approved topics they will be writing about in their 2,000 word research paper with 8 academic sources for the APA formatted reference page.  Little by little I will get them to work on this project.  Some are really excited to do a paper on what they are knowledgeable about. I had them give feedback to others on their topic so they know they have an “audience.”

Here is a “Little by Little” poem that I put up several years ago on this blog.  Someone wrote the following for me and added extra stanzas than what I had.  “I eventually ran upon an archive of the Rockland County Journal (NY) dated December 9, 1865, with this poem titled Little by Little, attributed to the London Band of Hope:

One step and then another,
And the longest walk is ended ;
One stitch and then another,
And the largest rent is mended ;
One brick upon another,
And the highest wall is made ;
One flake upon another,
And the deepest snow is laid.

So the little coral workers,
By their slew but constant motion.
Have built those pretty islands
In the distant dark blue ocean;
And the noblest undertakings
Men’s wisdom hath conceived,
By oft-repeated efforts
Have been patiently achieved.

Then do not look disheartened
O’er the work you have to do,
And say that such a mighty task
You never can get through ;
But just endeavor, day by day.
Another point to gain,
And soon the mountain which you feared ;
Will prove to be a plain.

“Rome was not builded in a day,”
The ancient proverb teaches ;
And nature, by her trees and flowers,
The same sweet sermon preaches.
Think not of far off duties,
But duties which are near ;
And having once begun to work,
Resolve to persevere.

A little more looking, and it seems the London Band of Hope, or UK Band of Hope, etc., was/is a temperance society formed in 1847.”

I’m thankful for my readers of this blog, it has not been getting top priority from me for several years but I still care about Kazakhstan and maybe I will go back one day.  I’m thankful for my comp I students, little by little they will persevere and finish this course. I want them to succeed.

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Happy Nouruz and Happy Spring

Carnegie north wingfixed up North WingNot sure how to spell the Kazakh holiday but I DO know what spring should look like around here.  We have been fooled into thinking spring is here and then BOOM, we got an inch of snow surprise several mornings ago.  We have a faint layer of snow on the ground now but that won’t last long if the temps rise above freezing today.  We survived Daily Light Savings time switch a week ago. Of course, I felt tired for losing the one hour sleep but I think I am back to normal now. I just finished having a wonderful spring break for ONE week and so it felt like I was away from teaching for TWO weeks because I accomplished a lot.  I will show pictures of the Carnegie building we have been working on.  One is an older photo, the other is a photoshopped photo.

We had a committee meeting with six of us talking about the future of the Carnegie and how we need to raise money to do all the renovation that is necessary in order to have it a place for community gatherings.  Lots of GREAT ideas for five months from now, but also lots of work. We have 200 boxes full of OLD books that need to be processed.  I am buying up 4×6 and 5×7 inch picture frames at thrift store so that we can put colorful pictures or etchings from 100 year old books behind glass. We will sell these mementos for $25 a piece and hopefully raise at least $25,000 to start work on what needs to be done first in the Carnegie building.  So much work to do in the downstairs basement area where the archives will be. Glad to have two librarians and an archivist working with me on the book purging that we are doing.

Well, tomorrow I am back in front of my students and they don’t want to be back as much as I don’t want to be there.  I worked on my lesson plans for the next month so there is a light at the end of the tunnel for ALL of us.  Yes, give me summer but then there is the tyranny of the weeds to pull in all 15 of my different gardens outside. The snarly weeds got the best of me last year because of my accident, so now I have to serve double time to get those chokers out.  I’ve lost some of my perennials to weeds but maybe I can get out and do the work that needs to be done.  Which work do I prefer, Carnegie or outside gardens? That’s a toss up!

Happy Nouruz to all my Kazakh and Central Asian friends!

carnegie library looking SE

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