Saturday, May 31, 2014

Randomday, with grading

At least someone is getting some relaxation during finals week.  If I could just train him to check vocab lists and verb conjugations...

All my final exams are graded now.  I gave them yesterday morning, and it's been about 9 solid hours of mind-numbingly tedious grading since then, I estimate.  I'm so grateful for the students who actually pay attention.  Their sentences, even if they make a few mistakes, are easy and quick to grade.  It's the ones who flounder, who write anything that seems close without trying to learn vocabulary at all (seemingly) who push me into despondency.  I have to write out the correct words, longhand, for every word, every phrase, every sentence they miss... so I'm basically taking the test myself for each one.  Do they realize how much personal attention they're getting?  No, they're in middle school.  Which is, essentially, the cognitive dissonance of my life.  By the time they snap out of the brain fog, they'll be breezing through high school Spanish and I'll be drilling the next set of awkward-age kids.  Ad infinitum, or until I can't do it anymore.

Tertia's school play, a new take on Snow White, was a lot of fun for her.  We went to Thursday's performance, and she gave her handful of lines very clearly, which was delightful to witness.  Today she had a cast party after the matinee performance, then swimming and a friend's birthday party.  She had pizza and cake two times.  The rest of the family enjoyed a cookout meal, grilled by Daniel, including extravagantly yummy salmon (what happens when I send Steve grocery shopping is he isn't paralyzed by the price of meat.  I'm still trying to follow my mom's old rule of thumb, nothing over $2 a pound.  Yeah, that doesn't work so well 30 years later).  I was just glad not to have to cook.

Daniel's allergies are really troubling him the last few days, especially as he has a job doing outside work now.  Hoping he is able to get them under control so he's not so miserable.

Recently read books: The Monuments Men by Robert Edsel.  If you have seen the movie, it is a bit of an eye-opener about how many liberties the movie took, and how much detail was left out.  It has the same theme, the task and difficulties of preserving civilization's great achievements, as How the Irish Saved Civilization, by Thomas Cahill.  Just several centuries apart.  There is something appealing about the idea of being a scribe in a remote Irish monastery, especially if I could help produce something as beautiful as the Book of Kells.  I'm also reading The Book of Lost Books by Stuart Kelly.  This last one makes for melancholy reading for a literature major.  An astounding number of ancient books have been lost to history.  It makes me wish for a time machine to go hunting for them.

Or maybe I should just get back to grading.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Design Wall Monday and 1st Stash Report

Okay.  Bear with me.  This is what my design wall still looks like:
Except the long pieced strips.  Two of them are almost finished being sewn to Celtic Solstice.  One needs to be unpicked and adjusted a bit.  That is how little sewing I have been doing.
And I am going to post my very first stash report for the year.  This is my prize from the Sew Mama Sew giveaway, from Quiltz by Stephanie.  I'm estimating the yardage at 4 yards of the charming Olivia fabric.  I may not have been sewing much, but I haven't been buying fabric, either.  I'm hoping to change that lack of sewing in the near future.  I did a tiny bit today, but that fussy business with the Celtic Solstice borders is hard to work up to.

Stash Report

Quilt Fabric:

Added this week: 4 yards
Used this week: 0 yards
Added year to date: 4 yards
Used year to date: 0 yards (oh, the shame!)
Net for 2014: 4 yards in

Knitting Yarn:

Added this week: 1200 yards (thrift store reclaimed sweater, black wool)
Used this week: 0 yards
Added year to date: 1200 yards
Used year to date: 0 yards
Net for 2014: 1200 yards in

I have been supremely lazy about tracking this for some time, and I can't promise I'll be regular, but Spero Meliora.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Randomday, with Olivia

In the midst of my blogging wilderness, crafting purgatory and end-of-year teacher exhaustion, I won a lovely package of Olivia the pig fabric in the Sew Mama Sew giveaway week, from QuiltzbyStephanie.  Thanks so much, Stephanie!  It made my day to get it!  I have another fat quarter of Olivia fabric somewhere that wants to play with this.  The possibilities are all fun.
Only another two weeks of school, but it's going to be hard.  My neck and shoulders are already so tight it hurts.  Tertia's play production is next week, and though I don't have a graduating senior this year, I know a lot of them and there is a vast round of social obligations in the next few weeks.  To top that off, there are all my students, some of whom love learning a dead language but many of whom, as is typical of their age, are always looking for creative ways to avoid memorizing vocabulary or studying verb conjugations.  And I get to grade all their papers, and find things to say that will not set their parents permanently against me or make them think I am persecuting their precious offspring.  All of this while fighting exhaustion and fielding requests for extra Latin Jeopardy days.  I think I do all right, most of the time, but I'm too bone-weary to hear anything but the negative comments.

I finished the French language "tree" on Duolingo and started Spanish.  I'm trying for a full house of the Romance languages, but I'll probably jump ship to German soon, and then to Dutch when it becomes available.  Nothing wrong with wanting to be a polyglot, is there?  I still want to work on the Proto-Into-European books I got for Christmas.

All of this means very little progress in quilting or knitting.  I think it's going to have to wait a little bit longer, but just as soon as school's out, I'm locking everyone out of the house while I blast Celtic music and have a rumpus in my sewing room.  At this point there is no chance of finishing graduation, wedding, or baby gifts so I don't know what I'll sew.  But I need to produce something.  There has been a tragic dearth of hand-crafted items from me ALL YEAR.  That tears at a person's soul at least as much as workplace stress.  Oh sure, I have made about 8 inches of progress on the body of my sweater, but I haven't finished anything.  In five months.

We are grilling -- or I should say, Daniel will be grilling -- tonight for the first time this year.  Quarta is working on cleaning the house to "pay" for her Red Cross babysitting course.  Daniel donated blood today and Peter is working to accumulate some community service hours for school.  I'm hopeful that he will be able to count some of his National Guard training toward that requirement, because his free time is going to get increasingly scarce.  Steve has been puttering in the garden and planting the zucchini plants he just bought.  We have a fairly nice garden put in, but the jungle is always trying to reclaim it.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Getting Near the End

Peter came home from his first training weekend with the National Guard with this stylish haircut.  It accentuates the scars on his head from his adventurous childhood.  I took him to get his i.d. card made this week, which is not as flattering a picture as this one.  They told him not to smile, that the sergeants tease you mercilessly if you smile, with the end result being that his i.d. card is... not his best picture.  I prefer when he smiles, but maybe that's just me, and I have never tried to be a drill sergeant.  He also gave his Junior thesis presentation today, and is very glad to have that over with.  He did a fantastic job, on the theme of leadership, and did not look nervous at all.

Daniel is working this week at a temporary job that gives him some experience with public transportation into Portland.

Tertia is in the midst of practices for her school's production of Snow White, in which she will play the part of a maid at the castle.  We took her this week to visit her high school for next year, and she signed up for the bowling team and the color guard (Peter's reaction: "Does this mean I can't make fun of the color guard anymore?")  We'll see if she actually does all the activities she'd like to.  If I had my way, all my children would be recluses.  I am not so sold on the American minivan Mom role at the moment.

Quarta received a perfect score on the National Latin Exam Intro level this year, which comes with a letter of commendation for her from the organization.  I'm just a little bit proud of her for achieving this honor!

The school year is grinding us all down, not so slowly but very surely.  I am neck deep in grading the Dies Irae, part 2 of 3.  It is that quirky dark sense of humor that we Latin teachers have that makes me assign the 18 verses of the Dies Irae in the last quarter of the 7th grade year.  I have a class that appreciates such things this year, at least a little bit.  Dividing it into bite-size chunks helps them, but especially me, with the grading.  And here is a link to a fascinating bit of musical history regarding that medieval hymn.  I bet you will be surprised at all the places it shows up in modern movies.

Tomorrow I give my classes their pretest for the final exam: this is a quiz that contains two pages of information from the final exam, and if they get a B+ or better on that material, they do not have to take that portion of the test next week.  In 8th grade we finished our last required Caesar reading and we're trying to finish up the story of Odysseus.  In 7th grade history today we talked about the Fall of Rome.  I guess the end of the school year must be really close.  But all I can feel is utter exhaustion.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Randomday with Marching Bands and Muppets

This week was a busy one at school: an inservice on Tuesday, Grandparents' Day on Friday and an evening of Senior Thesis presentations.  At the assembly during school I helped hand out the National Latin Exam honors -- Quarta was the only student in the school to get a perfect score and so received a purple certificate.  Lots of purple ribbons for high achievement on the Intro to Latin test taken by 5th and 6th grades.  In 7th grade I had 3 gold medalists and 8th grade had 2 silvers.  It's always nice to see students rewarded publicly for their hard work.

Peter left for his first training weekend with the National Guard yesterday afternoon.  Kind of weird sending a little boy off to the Army.  Only, as Steve reminded me, he would be a senior this year if he had entered school on the same schedule that the two of us did, with our Fall birthdays.

Daniel had quite the adventure coming home from Pennsylvania.  First of all, his wallet was misplaced and presumed stolen for about 3 hours the evening after his last final exam, and he had to go through all the hassle of putting a fraud alert out on his accounts.  It was found in a different part of campus in a bag, unharmed, and returned to him, so that was a relief.  But then his flight to Newark from Pittsburgh on Wednesday morning was cancelled because of a fire in Chicago, and he and his friend had to put up in a hotel for the night to meet their substitute flight to Houston on Thursday morning, only to find out that it was seriously delayed.  At this point Daniel was able to get a different flight through Chicago (which presumably had recovered from the fire by then) which got him back to PDX a little less than 24 hours later than originally planned.  As my Dad commented, "Life's too short to be marooned in Pittsburgh."  But he's home now and we're really glad to have him.

Today was the annual Hazel Dell Parade of Bands, an extravaganza of small town Americana that has to be experienced to be believed.  Quarta and Minuet hung out together most of the day.  I levelled up in French on DuoLingo -- by the way, I started French on DuoLingo last week, I can't remember if I mentioned.  I was able to test out of 22 skills in one fell swoop earlier in the week, which was most gratifying.  Tertia and I did a library run, at which she picked out 3 Tintin books and I picked out a Norwegian knitting book, 2 Indian cookbooks and the newest Hamish MacBeth mystery (Death of a Policeman, which is ominous).  The entire family went out to Burgerville and then to see Muppets Most Wanted.

I still have a stack of verb synopsis quizzes to grade, so I'm off in search of a movie to soothe the pain.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Randomdays and Mondays

I started writing one of my Randomday posts on Saturday but it never got finished, Saturday was so random.  I didn't feel like celebrating Mother's Day, and we roll right around again to the random beginning of the week.  Double random.

There is still no finished knitting to report, no finished quilting, no pretty handspun.  I did add about 1200 yards of black wool (aran-ish weight) reclaimed from a thrift store sweater, to my stash of yarn.  I guess this makes my first stash report of 2014.  I should format it officially, but... not today.  Monday's edit: today either.

Daniel is halfway done with his final exams and will be coming home next week.  It is hard having him so far away and will be great having him back for the summer.  Of course, Peter will be leaving for basic training at the end of June, which will be doubly weird.  Life gets so much more complicated when your children are nearly grown.  Suddenly, the daily routine of school and family seems to get a lot more intense, and sometimes the comforting routine vanishes altogether.  Witness my lack of regular blogging, which is a comforting routine for me if for no one else.

Amazon kicked me off their "associates" list because I didn't bring in any referrals.  I never was any good at selling things, and it took me a long time just to figure out how to put in the links right.  I'm still trying to figure out how hurt I should be.  I will still write book reviews, but as far as I'm concerned, you should just get them from the library and save your money!

I have this wart that I'm trying to get rid of on my right thumb, just next to the nail.  I thought it was an oddly-shaped hangnail for quite some time.  Now there is this weirdly fascinating science experiment going on as I keep it marinating in apple cider vinegar to starve it of nutrients and make it fall off.  Five days and counting now, and it's a constant dull stinging presence.  I can't stand to keep the dressing on overnight.  Monday's edit: it's mostly gone after yesterday, just a tiny bit still to go, and the pain is much better.  Another day or two of smelling like salad dressing should do it.

To distract myself from the pain in my thumb I've been doing extra DuoLingo lessons. I finished my Italian "tree" this morning.  I'm officially ready for my vacation to Rome now!  I can't pay my own way, but if  you pay mine, I can order the gelato!  I added French to the mix last week, and tested out of  the first several levels.  My goal is to finish that tree quickly (I was a French major in college, after all, but the vocabulary has faded), and then try for German.  By that time, Dutch and then Russian should be available in Beta.

I need to go and teach school.  And I think I need to stop for gas in the van on the way.  And after teaching, I need to go to Costco, and then run the afternoon carpool.  Sometime this week, I have to find time to write the calligraphy names on the certificates for the National Latin Exam winners.  The only trouble is there is never any time when I can spread the work out when there isn't somebody who isn't supposed to see it around.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

We are Back to the Random

Well, it was certainly a lovely trip last weekend, and I am so glad life contains some of these glorious moments.  To see people I haven't seen for 25 years, or 10 years... to sing ethereally beautiful music with them and honor nobility of character; these are not privileges granted on a daily basis.  Daily life, in my house, is far more mundane... and so I observe Randomday.

Topping the random events list of the week: on Tuesday I apparently cracked my lower left molar while eating some banana crunch cereal for breakfast.  A little bit of silver filling fell into my mouth on Thursday, and when I went to the dentist for a check on Friday, she said she could see the crack, that I would eventually need a crown, that I should wait for a few weeks to see if it will "calm down" on its own before committing to such a venture, and that the piece of filling apparently came from another tooth.  Since she obligingly pointed that tooth out to me, it has started aching too.

Quarta had a field trip last week too, with the 5th and 6th grade classes going to Oregon on an overnight trip to do aquarium stuff. I love this picture of her and the crab.

It was more than a week ago, but Tertia wanted to make sure I took a photo of the silly face she made on her tortilla.  She finally decided what to spend her Christmas stocking money on: Lego Harry Potter game (years 5-7), a Tintin game, and the video of Frozen.

Peter had a busy week: Junior Thesis final draft due and Spring Protocol event on Friday, and then the SAT today.  He is celebrating being done by heading out to the Nike employee's store with some friends rather than doing the sweeping of the kitchen floor, which is his chore this week and sadly needs to be done.  The cat (Bilbo, the same one who clawed me in the face right before my reunion when I was trying to encourage him to go outside) was a little too eager to go out of Peter's window this week, and knocked the screen out, breaking the frame.  Steve is on his way to try to order a new one.

We've been doing a lot of the "This Old House" purchasing this week, actually.  A "custom control knob" for the stove had to be ordered from Jenn-Air, and a couple of plastic parts for the dishwasher, a water filter for the fridge and a furnace filter.  We've had temperatures from the 80's to the 40's and everything in between.  Steve has been doing a lot of gardening when he can.

I had a bucketful of grading to catch up on this week.  I took to playing Netflix on my Kindle while marking the Lingua Angelica worksheets and quizzes.  As I recall, it was 2 episodes of West Wing on Wednesday, 1 West Wing and the pilot of Lost on Thursday, and 2 West Wings and the pilot of the Office on Friday, plus a few hours of theoretically quiet time to do data entry.  Sixth grade recently completed the Stabat Mater, 7th grade is 1/3 done with the Dies Irae, which I am dividing into three parts this year, and 8th grade is in theory chugging away at the Nicene Creed.  I believe these are very beneficial exercises for them to do, but there is no denying that they are supremely tedious to grade.  So if I have to defy Neil Postman a little to get through it, I am more than willing to do that.

I have made it past the 1500 word level on DuoLingo's Italian course, and have set myself the goal of completing the Italian "tree" by the end of the month.  It should be do-able, since I only have 8 skills left to learn.  I've started dabbling with the immersion/translation interface online, but I'm not completely sure how it works.  But in any case, I'm ready for my Roman Holiday anytime now.  After Italian I plan to test out of as much French as possible and pick up German and maybe Spanish before Russian or Dutch is released in Beta.

It has been more than 4 months of 2014, and I have still not completed any quilting or knitting projects.  I wound and washed some reclaimed yarn today, and I have been sewing on Celtic Solstice.  Maybe the great craft famine of 2014 is coming to an end?  But not very fast.  I'm still feeling like falling asleep about 8:30 every night.