Tag Archives: Master’s

Sleep and the lack thereof

Once upon a time, about 5 years ago actually, sleep deprivation was all about a mink eating our chickens in the middle of the night.  To be honest, eating isn’t a fair representation of what was happening, as the mink in question (and pretty much every other mink) mostly drain their prey’s blood and then move on to the next prey.  This way, they can massacre a whole flock pretty fast.  Now, I digress… 5 years ago, we weren’t sleeping because our chickens were being massacred.  Now, our chickens are still being massacred, but mostly because we’re not sleeping enough to remember to close them up at night religiously, and a raccoon has figured out where there’s food.

And why, you ask, are we not sleeping?

Well, because of her.  See, last year we grew more than vegetables (and flowers.  We grow a lot of flowers these days).  Last year, we grew a human.  She decided to start hanging out on the outside of my body on February 15th, and since then, we sleep less than we did before.  More some nights, less right now because she has a cold and snorfles when she breathes, and then the snorfles don’t get her enough air, and then she cries, and then we don’t sleep.  It’s pretty hard to sleep through some of the snorfles too.  So we don’t sleep.  I’m learning to cope on less sleep, but the coping sure is pretty meager sometimes.  I certainly don’t feel very intelligent, and I struggle regularly with finding words.  Like always.  Words are tricky monsters.

So we grew a human.  Now, we’re back to growing vegetables and flowers, and I’m still growing a human.  The vegetables and flowers were taking a bit of a back seat, which was okay because the spring was horrid (as was the winter and the fall… remember October when it rained every single day?), but now it’s hot, and the vegetables and the flowers need to become more of a priority, but that’s hard without the sleep.

Anyways, I hope that I’ll be back to hanging out on the blog more now that I’m not growing a human inside my body and not starting (and finishing!) my Masters every moment of spare time I had.  I also, of course, am hoping for some sleep.

The garden at the beginning of April

April 1st – First day with dirty fingernails

I think I’ve come to accept that the kitchen, in spring, will always be used to start seeds…

Seeds are growing

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Grateful, even with the bucket

I told people over the weekend that I was done school.  They thought that meant I was done my Masters.  That’s not what it means.  It means that I’m done for the summer, and that’s not even true.  I have to edit a colleague’s paper, and then read over how she’s edited mine (but at least I have a good first draft, which is 11 pages more than I had yesterday!), and then I have to edit my ethics application, and THEN I’m really on summer vacation.  Then I have 2 courses, some research, and a thesis to write, and then I’ll be done my Masters, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  First I get to go on summer vacation.  Granted, I’ve done lots of summer vacation things already this summer, but mentally, emotionally, and physically (I was living in Nanaimo for the most part dammit!) I have definitely not been on vacation.  Jeremy can attest to that, but he probably won’t unless I’m not around, because he might be a little afraid of my reaction.  I can’t say that I’ve been the most patient this month (even though I used to say that patience is for chumps, I didn’t mean that being patient with your friends or partner was chump-ish… I just meant that you shouldn’t wait to do things because waiting is dumb).  I can’t say that I’ve been especially thoughtful this month (although I did knit Jeremy an entire surprise sweater, which is pretty thoughtful.  And which really hurt my wrists, which makes typing 11 pages in a day hard.  Dammit again).  I can say that I swam almost every day this month, that I spent time with my flowers every chance I got, and that I was almost always grateful for where and how I live.  You would be too, I think.  Except for maybe the toilet part.  I don’t think everyone would be grateful to give up their flush toilet for a bucket.  I can’t think of very many who would be, actually.  I certainly wasn’t initially… but I am grateful that I don’t use gallons of clean water every time I pee.

All of these things may be too much information.  The sunset’s really pretty right now.  I’m going for a sunset stroll.  Look at the pictures.  You’d be grateful to live here.  Even with the bucket.

The things we do, or don’t do, for education

I’m living in Nanaimo right now, doing the residency portion of my Masters.  One of the first friends I made on the coast just coined that term – residency – and I think it’s especially apt because Jeremy’s aunt Susan recently spent some time in Lantzville doing a residency of her own.  Anyways, here I am, only 100 km or so from my real home, living in this cute but fake home, and feeling pretty far away from home sometimes, especially right now because I have two special and amazing and really spectacular friends who are going through something (one is wearing a neckbrace, and one is going to be wearing a dress that would typically be white, but I don’t know if hers is going to be, and she’s wearing it all the way over in Bali, so I won’t find out unless I ask her pointedly or wait to see the pictures), and I wish I could be there for both of them, but I can’t really be there for either of them because I’m here, questioning the entire education system (like reading!  READING!  I’m questioning whether we actually need to teach all of the people, all over the world to read, especially when that education comes at the cost of losing one’s culture and traditional knowledge.  I know, crazy.  Watch this film), which I’ve been questioning for a while, but I’m questioning it in different ways than I have before, and that’s good too, but maybe not quite as fun as watching someone wear a white or not-white dress say nice things to and about someone wearing something that’s probably not-a-white dress, and then having that other person say nice things to and about them, and then toasting the things they said afterwards.

This is where you pause to take a breath.  That was one sentence.  Actually, that was 3 sentences, but the first two sentences were of normal length.  The other sentence was a little more lengthy, but I like it, and I’m not changing it, but you should take a breath if you didn’t while reading that sentence.  Just a thought.  Oh, and yes, there were sentences in my parentheses… but those don’t count.

And while my masters (especially this course) may be more “fun” than supporting a friend who’s wearing a neckbrace, she probably isn’t having very much fun and could probably use any kind of not boring loneliness I had to offer (I read recently that loneliness was as bad for you as smoking.  Go get yourself a dog or a cat or a fish lonely people!  Or a person, but you should probably ask them before you “get” them.).

Anyways, I wish the two people I love who are going through these things luck and happiness and unloneliness.  I love you both.

My top 10 Spring Break activities that actually happened

So I’ve been writing this post in my head over the past few days, while weeding the strawberries of nettles (I am, by no means, against the nettle plant.  I am, however, against all sharp and spiny and stingy [not stingy as in miserly, but sting-y, as in nettle-y] plants interspersed with my berries or my flowers.  NOT FAIR.), or while formatting pictures for this poster I had to do for school, or while driving up and down that island beside this island.  So I have ideas about this post, but they’re all pretty meandering.  I would not be surprised if the post is the same, even if it makes a claim to be a list.  Just thought you should know.

Climbing rose

Climbing rose

Kerri’s top 10 Spring break activities that actually happened

10.  Finishing my poster.  I had to do this poster for my Master’s.  It took way longer than I thought it would.  I finished it.  It was pretty.  It felt good.  Now I have this poster that I spent 2 days making and I don’t know what to do with it.  I guess there is always the woodstove.

Baby asparagus.  Only 2 more years!

Baby asparagus. Only 2 more years!

9. I got my haircut.  I’ve been wanting to cut my hair for a long time.  My mom told me not to shave any parts of it.  Then she said that I shouldn’t listen to her.  So I didn’t.

8.  Weeding the strawberries of nettles.  Also the blueberries of wild blackberry.  While I, for the most part, enjoy weeding, I especially enjoy weeding when the roots are really long and tangly, and the ground is pretty soft, and the weeds themselves are pretty big.  I like getting a big pile of weeds without a lot of work, especially when a significant part of that pile is root mass.  I get enjoyment out of it similar to the enjoyment I get when I pop an awesome pimple.  You should try it sometime.  The weeding part I mean.  We have lots of blackberries you can try it on, anytime.

Tractor sign.

Tractor sign.

7.  Beer on a patio.  In the sun.  A whole lot of years (6?  7?  I don’t remember) Jer and I went on our first date on Easter weekend.  We had beers on a patio in the sunshine.  A seagull shat in my beer.  Friends joined us and things got raucous.  It was an amazing day.  This was not that, but it was beers, on a patio, in the sun, with friends.  In April.  Win.

Jeremy made me alder buttons for my sweater.  I win.

Jeremy made me alder buttons for my sweater. I win.

6.  Fancy cocktails with friendfamily in the city.  I like fancy cocktails.  I like beer too, but fancy cocktails are special, and when we were in Calgary we went out with my cousin to a hip place and got to pretend that we weren’t bumpkins for a few hours, and there was a painting of a turtle in a suit, and we drank cocktails with names like “The Dirty Pigeon” (with tamarind and a salty cucumber!) and “The Meat Hook” and “Corn and Oil” and it was a lot of fun.  It made me feel young.

I made me a sweater.  It's orange.  It has handmade, homegrown buttons on it.  Seriously.  I win.

I made me a sweater. It’s orange. It has handmade, homegrown buttons on it. Seriously. I win.

5.  Rock and stick throwing parties.  When we got our land stumped last year, a bunch of rocks came to the surface.  Some sticks too.  Then Jer bought a tractor.  Rocks and tractors don’t get along so well, so I decided to have a rock and stick throwing party.  I thought friends would figure that I wanted them to work for me for free.  They didn’t.  One of them even googled “rock and stick throwing party” before deciding that it was probably a weird Denman Island thing, and hoped that it wasn’t going to be too competitive… I think it’s awesome that my friends trust me enough that I can host a work party with an unclear name and they’ll come and work… before going to the beach and drinking beer in the sun.

See?  Homemade sweater, homegrown buttons.  Orange.  WIN.

See? Homemade sweater, homegrown buttons. Orange. WIN.

4.  Planting all of the flowers.  Well, not ALL of the flowers.  But lots of trays of the flowers, and 2 50-foot rows of the flowers, and there are still all of the flowers coming in the mail.  My lilies are dividing and conquering and growing tall, and my starts are starting and they’re coming.  It’s going to happen!  Be ready for all of the flowers!

"Goats, eating fire-starter".  Almost "Goats, on a fire."

“Goats, eating fire-starter”. Almost “Goats, on a fire.”

3.  No diggity by a campfire.  In harmony.  On an acoustic guitar.  That is all.

2.  Hiking in the mountains.  In the sunshine.  On Vancouver Island with a friend and in Canmore with my mom.  To lakes.  In the sunshine.

The rhubarb is growing!

The rhubarb is growing!

1.  Not working, and especially not commuting.  Do you know how much time I would have in my life if I didn’t spend 5 days a week going to work?  I could ACTUALLY plant all of the flowers.  The blackberries would be exiled to the fences.  The nettles to beyond the fences.  I would knit all of the sweaters and blankets and shawls and hats and socks.  I would hike all of the mountains.  I would drink all of the cocktails and sleep in for all of the mornings.  Until at least 7.  I would miss my job, as I do (a little) right now, especially after drinking all of the cocktails and buying all of the yarn for all of the sweaters.  I would miss my job, but one of the best things about having a job is the days you don’t have to go.

This carrot top was haunted.  Naturally.  As in we didn't carve that face.

This carrot top was haunted. Naturally. As in we didn’t carve that face.

The lack of fingernail dirt

I knew when I started my Masters that I would be giving some things up… namely the month of July and the joy of dirty fingers and toes, music festivals and late nights and lake swims and beach fires that month entails.  I knew that I would be living in Nanaimo for the month of July, completing two courses, and I knew it would be hard. Of course I knew that the schoolyear part of the year was going to be hard too.  Life already seemed full before I went back to school… being a farmer and a full-time teacher was a lot.  2 and a half hours of commuting every day takes a sizable chunk out of my waking hours… I was busy last year.  I remember being busy.  At least I think I remember being busy. This year I’m busy.  Like officially seriously busy.  Like I don’t write a blog anymore busy.  Like there has been a serious lack of dirt under my nails busy.  I don’t take many pictures either.  I don’t walk my dog enough and I certainly don’t do enough dishes… although I have done them twice in the past 10 days (and Jeremy didn’t even have to rewash them), so that must count for something, right?  I do still knit.  Every day.  I don’t know how busy I would have to get in order for that to stop.  I don’t actually know if it’s possible – I would probably just sleep less.  I think I already am sleeping less.  Hrm… Things are good.  I’m not going to tell you what things, or how good, but they are.  Spring break is coming up and Jeremy is planning a trip and I don’t have to and my dog is coming with us and that makes me happy.  I’ve (almost) finished 2 out of 5 chapters of my thesis, and that also makes me happy.  I just finished knitting an orange cardigan and it’s the prettiest thing and Jeremy’s going to make me alder wood buttons and, well… orange cardigan with handmade buttons?  And then there’s the flowers… my hyacinths are blooming and I think they have the prettiest smell in the universe, and my lilies are all poking their heads out of the ground, and so are all of these other plants that I remember planting but didn’t label (because I’m like that), and we have trays and trays of seeds in the windows (including 3 of flowers) and they’re all sprouting and my fingernails are still clean and I should probably go do something about that 2nd chapter that’s (almost) finished, because soon almost won’t be enough, but not before I give you some pictures. I’ll try to come back soon.

Potatoes and corn

I didn’t disappear, I promise.  I was here, all along, just writing (and reading) other things… lesson plans, year plans, essays, literature reviews…  Summer vacation ended (and boy, when it decided to end it ended FAST) and I got busy.  Who knew that having a full-time job and a farm and doing my Master’s was going to be a lot of work?

Ink blot potato test

But I handed in my first significant assignment on Friday, and I have my week planned at school, and yesterday Head-sized potatoit rained so I knit and knit and started to warp my loom, and then today I got to play outside.  It was sunny (SUNNY!) and it’s still sunny and I dug potatoes and dug gladiolas and walked to my neighbours’ and I had coffee and got vitamin D from the sun instead of from a bottle.

Jer grew this amazing corn this year – it’s called Painted Mountain – and it’s a dried corn that’s supposed to be good for making cornmeal.  What it’s REALLY good for is being absolutely stunning.  Like STUNNING.  If I was corn, I would be this corn, and I would rotate through different colours every day of the week.

.I want to be them all

Imagine eating cornbread that looked like this.

Imagine eating cornbread that looked like this.

Corn.  Jer grew that.

Our cheepcheeps have grown into brawkbrawks and the one that I thought was a rooster turned out to be a…

rooster.  His name is Rosco.  The hens started laying eggs this week and they’re wee and I like them.  Soon we’re going to have more eggs than we know what to do with.  I’m going to end there, and post some pictures, and hopefully I’ll have something else to write about, that doesn’t involve quotations and references and weird verb tenses before 5 weeks from now.

Some days are just inherently bigger than others

I just finished Walking on Water, a book by Derrick Jensen about teaching writing, the failures of institutionalized education, and the ways modern civilization is killing our planet.  There was a lot in it that I agreed with (most of which I won’t get into here… but it’s a super easy read for those of you who are interested), even though the way he teaches certainly wouldn’t work for me.  I doubt that I’m as dramatic as he is, and if I were to throw chalk at the board to prove a point, I would probably miss and hit a student or something equally terrible (my boss?  I’m trying to imagine that going down and the absolute mayhem that would ensue… mostly because the students would probably all lose their shit.  Totally lose it.  In all of the ways.  Every singly way).  Mostly what I wanted to talk about was one of the ways he assigned grades.  You see, as per his premise of institutionalized education really just being a way to enforce conformity to a standard that benefits almost no one, and grades being a significant part of this enforcement, he decided to assign grades completely differently.  He would have foregone them completely if he’d had that choice, but as he taught writing at a University, his Dean told him that grades were a requirement.  Additionally, not everyone was allowed to get 100%.  So he gave his students checkmarks for completing a piece of writing.  However, they (he and his classes) decided that other things were causing them to learn more than just the act of writing.  Like doing new things.  Doing new things makes us learn a whole lot.  So those got checkmarks too.

All of this to say that this weekend, I did new things (lots of small new things, but 2 big new things).  I learned a lot.  I had a few meltdowns (2.  I had 2 meltdowns.  Don’t worry, I’ve already apologized to Jeremy.  He forgave me.  I bought him grapes as an “I’m sorry” present.  He’d already forgiven me, but he really likes Concord grapes and said thank you, cuz he’s like that).

DSC_0030The first new thing, while not being in the forefront in nearly the same way as it was on Friday, was that I did my first wedding flowers ever.  Did, as in I grew them, arranged them, and delivered them.  It was a super casual wedding at my neighbours’ house, and I was allowed to do whatever I wanted with the flowers… any colours, any style, anything I wanted.  The boutonniere had quinoa in it.  It was a perfect first wedding to do flowers for, and it made me so happy, and the couple loved them and it was fantastic.

The second new thing is still keeping me up at night.  I started grade grad school (I just spelled “grad” wrong and then wondered if it was a Freudian slip, and whether it meant that the BC government would get to their senses and at least TALK to the BC teachers union about what anyone can do to get this strike over and done with so people – students, teachers, support workers, librarians, custodians, clerical staff… EVERYONE can get back into the schools… but, seriously?  I’m not hopeful.  Pull up your bootstraps ladies and gentlemen, this is looking like it’s going to be a LONG (or short?  Maybe epically short…) school year) on the weekend.  I went back to school, in a totally completely different way than I ever have done before.  I’ve started my Master’s in Educational Leadership at Vancouver Island University and when I got home on Saturday my brain physically hurt.  It was awesome.  Then I had a meltdown, but we’ve already discussed that.  I’m better now.  I’m super excited and am really looking forward to the next weekend (there are 14 of us in the program, and we spend Friday evenings and Saturdays together every 3 weeks).  Yes, I’m already procrastinating from doing my readings, but that’s not important.  Or maybe it is.

Anyways, I did new things.  They were terrifying and exciting and I felt super energized.  I still do.  I’m giving myself checkmarks.

This is my best "delivering wedding flowers" outfit.  I really need to spend more time off this island...

This is my best “delivering wedding flowers” outfit. I really need to spend more time off this island…