Sunday, April 29, 2007

Jelly Making

I was out in the yard yesterday, burning limbs again (I'm going to have to do it one more time), when I remembered that the Mayhaws should be ready to pick. I filled a bucket about half full, cleaned them, and stuck them in a bag in the fridge until I could make jelly. I did that this morning.

The last time I made jelly was when I lived in Texarkana--I made Pyracanthia jelly. We had a huge Pyracanthia bush that hung over our garage. I climbed a ladder and picked a bucket full, then made jars and jars of jelly.

I went to the store this morning to buy jars and pectin (you need that to make the jelly set), then boiled the Mayhaws down, strained them, added the sugar and pectin and boiled everything. I had to boil the jars and the lids--I bought a case of 12 small jelly jars, but had enough jelly left over to fill up a mason jar! It's beautiful--a pinkish color. The Mayhaws smelled sweet, but, of course, the sugar is what makes the jelly sweet! I'm just wondering how long it takes jelly to set. This still looks too liquid. Oh, well, if it doesn't set by Tuesday, I can try it again. {Note: The jelly appears to be setting! 04/30/07}

Next year, maybe I'll actually get some plums off the mature trees and maybe the new trees will bear fruit, also. And, of course, maybe the peach tree will bear more. So far, the five or six peaches that remained on the tree when I planted it are still there. Hmm, maybe I'm ready for the chickens!

And, help me and all the other farmers out here--turn off your cell phones once in a while so the bees can find their homes! Thanks!

I've read all the final blogs, graded the reading summaries, and made a list of everything I need to do in the next week. Just looking at it makes me tired; really, I do know how my students feel; whether they really believe me is another thing!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Two Quick Observations...

The yellow tea rose that I planted at Easter is blooming, and, today, I saw my first hummingbird for the year!

Spring is really here, at last!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

A Good Day for Yard Work...

So I spent most of the day out in the yard, burning limbs that had fallen after the last big storms, trying to mow more of my yard ( a never-ending chore!), and planting a peach tree. I've included a picture of the peach tree (it actually has peaches on it, but I don't think they'll survive the transplanting!) before transplanting.

The garden is doing fine. I try to water it every morning, when I can. I've been monitoring it every day. Let's see if I can get a picture of that in here, too. The tomatoes and peppers are doing well; the squash may make it, but the watermelon is a goner. Not enough cold weather to set the plants, I guess.
I've read a set of papers, but I think I'm going to put off reading blogs until tomorrow. I'm pooped! And I'll have two sets of papers to read tomorrow, too. Sigh! But the semester is almost over and I'll be sad when these students move on, so I better enjoy them while I can.
Oh, and I almost forgot--I went to the star party at Worley Observatory last night. It was great. I saw the moon (several views), Saturn, and the Horsehead Nebula in the Orion constellation, as well as Venus. Totally cool! The next star party is on May 19; I think more people should attend, though the Astronomy Club had quite a turn out.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Rate My Professor

I love reading the postings that students leave on They are so strange and funny. I was just looking at my ratings, which I do every once in a while, and noticed that a number of them are "under review," and I have no idea what that means. The latest entry "under review" was from one of my 215 students who said something about me being "obnoxious and rude" and something to the effect that it was a shame the way I talked to my students. I copied the comment--here it is:

"This woman is so obnoxious and rude. The class may be easy but I had several times where I thought she should be kicked for the way she talked to us. She knows English and has her moments where she is likable, but they are few and far between."

Me? I'm still trying to figure out what that comment means. I think students ought to have to sign their names!

Must be terrible, being a student, feeling as though you have no power. It's so much easier to bash your teachers anonymously than it is to actually talk to them, but few students are brave enough to do that. I'm sorry the student feels that way, but, since he/she hasn't bothered to talk to me, I can't really do anything about it. And, actually, I still don't have any idea what the student is talking about.

Anyway, that's the only comment like that, out of 20 comments. Most of them are really nice and, I think, give potential students a good idea about what they can expect from me and my classes. I appreciate that. I think I'm fair and I try to be helpful, though sometimes I think I am too helpful! A borderline enabler! I'm working hard not to be (an enabler, that is).

I wish, though, we had a "rate your," but I think that would be too obvious. If I rated my students, they would know who did the rating! And I suppose that's what grades are for, though I really do believe students in my classes get the grades they earn.

Rate My Professor is a strange and interesting site. I suppose it gives students a way to vent safely, but I try not to pay much attention to it. If I worry too much about how my students "feel" about me, I'm likely not going to do what I need to do to help them understand whatever I'm teaching. I don't think professors should dismiss their students' feelings, but I don't think that teaching is a popularity contest. It's what I do, and I try to do the best I can.

For the most part, I have wonderful students. They work hard, and most of them want to get the most out of our classes. I appreciate their effort and I try to reward hard work. But, if a student wants an A without putting forth any effort, that student will be unhappy with me and my class. I don't think that's my problem (or "my monkey," as I say). I will do everything in my power to help a student who wants help, but I'm not "giving" grades that aren't deserved.

I both love and hate the end of a semester--I say this at the end of every semester, but I always mean it. I'll miss most of my students--the ones who put forth some effort, anyway!

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Pulitzer Prize in Fiction

The 2007 Pulitzer was awarded to The Road, by Cormac McCarthy, one of the best books I've ever read! It's Oprah's current pick, but don't let that deter you from reading it. It's post-apocalyptic fiction, stark--the language is spare for McCarthy. He writes the way Faulkner writes, usually, but, as the novel goes on, language begins to fall away and the conversations become more and more spare.

It's just a beautiful, awful, tragic, hopeful novel.

Read it!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Thinkin' About the Weather...

I should have followed my instincts and not planted my garden before Easter Sunday. It's just an old farmer's tale, but I ignored it this year. A student's boyfriend came over and tilled up some ground (I paid him for it, so there's no impropriety here!), and, in the process, the tiller belt broke. That should have been a hint, or, as I point out in my lit classes, "foreshadowing." I ignored it.

So, I planted my garden on Friday and then spent the entire weekend covering and uncovering the plants to protect them from the COLD temperatures. But, hey, what do I expect? This is Louisiana, and it's APRIL, for crying out loud--no way should we expect freezing temps. Tornadoes, yes. A freeze, no.

And, since we have had temps in the eighties during the daytime (until this weekend), I had turned off my heater. When I turned it back on for this latest cold snap, it wouldn't come on. Which means I had to call the heating guy to come look at it.

All together, a weird weekend.

But it gets better. Several members of my family, including my parents, spent the weekend in a cabin at Grand Bayou, which is about ten minutes away from my house. I've seen more of my family this weekend than I have since Christmas! They actually stopped at my house on the way to the cabin and on the way home. They never come out here because it's "too far" (which is silly because I drive 90 miles round trip nearly every day and no one thinks it's "too far" for me!).

Right now, I'm sore from trying to mow an acre yard with an electric mower. The guys who normally do this for me told me they would do this two weeks ago, and I haven't seen them since. I pay them well, but I guess they don't need the money that badly. But I hate when people promise they'll do something and then don't. That makes them liars, and I don't like liars.

I've been mowing the yard in increments; I managed to get a majority of the front and about a third of the back done, and I did it over three days. My next purchase? A riding lawnmower! Then I won't have to listen to people promise that they'll get it done. I can just take a ride around my yard and mow the grass at the same time.

But I did plant a yellow rosebush, my favorite color roses! Let's hope it survives the weather!