Tag Archives: teaching

A cop-out of a post

I’m a bit of an emotional mess from today being the last day of school (teachers have to go in tomorrow for meetings and such, but that really doesn’t count), especially because I have to change schools again for next year, so instead of saying anything about school or work (and instead of apologizing for not having written in months), I’m going to inundate you with pictures of the farm… or at least pictures of my flowers from around the farm.  I’m hoping to write a real post soon.

 

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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.

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.

Summer vacation in September

Many of my teacher friends have been somewhat all-consumed by the strike.  They post articles on Facebook and organize rallies.  They support each other in turns, for as one’s energy and optimism wanes, another’s peaks.  I’ve felt distant and removed from the whole situation, mostly by choice due to my job situation – I didn’t feel emotionally prepared to deal with teachers complaining about how they wanted to be back in their classrooms when I didn’t have a classroom to be back in.  So I, for better or worse, stayed on summer vacation.  To be honest, it was almost completely for the better.  I arranged flowers, spent innumerable hours canning, and read books.  I knit (of course I knit… probably less than I would have on the picket line though).  Certainly I read the articles about the strike that had been posted, and if I ever went to town anymore I would have gone to the rallies.  But I haven’t gone to town, so I didn’t go to the rallies.  I talked to people about the strike, and encouraged others to get involved.  I wrote letters to the Education Minister and to Christy Clark and to my MLA.  But I stayed home and hung out in my hammock and farmed.  I went to the beach.  I continued to spend time in the sun.  And I felt a little guilty, but not enough to do anything about it.  I think if the weather had been different, or if the farm wasn’t so awesome, or I didn’t have a million things to do to keep busy I would have been more present in the strike.  But it wasn’t.

Until Wednesday when I was offered a job, which made today the last day of my summer vacation.  As Jeremy said, I get to ease back into working life… I’ll be going to hang out on picket lines, but I won’t be doing it all of the hours of the day.  I’ll still be able to knit lots.  I’ll be hanging out in the sunshine (or the rain, but thank GOODNESS it’s not snowing here, like it was in Calgary or in Fort Nelson).  I am certainly grateful to have a job, but the end of summer break is always a bit of a heartbreaker too.  I don’t feel like I’m exuding as much excitement here as I should be… I wasn’t able to write this yesterday because I was so happy.  This morning, the first thing I said, while I was still half-asleep was “I got a job!”… so if you read this and think that I’m being indifferent, read it differently, or at least realize that’s not where it’s coming from.

My job, for those of you who care, is a 4/5 at Miracle Beach Elementary.  English classroom, not French (crazy!).  Yes, it will be a further commute, but it also gives me continuing status, and it’s a job which will pay for me to go to University.  Plus, the school is pretty much on the beach.  Tomorrow I go to meet some of the staff.  Maybe one day I’ll even get to meet my students.

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…

The September that wasn’t

It’s a hard thing being a teacher on strike going into September.  It’s a harder thing being a teacher on strike going into September without a job.  I joke about how it means I’m still on summer vacation… and, sure enough, I am.  But it also means that my whole sense of time and rhythm is off.  A significant part of my identity is associated to the profession of teaching, and it sucks not knowing what that’s going to look like this year.  Plus, everyone wants to talk about the strike right now.  Everyone wants to know how I feel about it.  Most of this “everyone” doesn’t know that I don’t have a job, so when I tell them that, whether or not BC teachers are on strike or not doesn’t affect whether I get a new class list and a new group of students, everyone feels a little awkward.

So, to get over the awkward feeling, I’ll show you some pictures from OUR vacation (note: this is the vacation that Jer and I took together, not the vacation that I took by myself.  Note #2: it was awesome.)

The juxtaposition between being a teacher on vacation and being a farmer

Summer  vacationMaking bouquets is a bit of an oxymoron around these parts… summer is the furthest thing from a vacation on a farm, especially with the growing season that we’ve been having.  As long as we keep everything watered (and by we, I mean Jeremy), which takes at least 3 hours a day, we are going to continue to have an incredible amount of food.  We’ve come to that part of the season where therThey're ripening!e’s hope for new spinach and radishes and turnips, but all of the delicious fruits and vegetables full of sugar are ripening too.  I could write an ode to the perfect tomato, but I won’t.  Maybe you should instead.

Anyways, about that vacation thing.  Sure, I take some time off in the summer.  I read lots (in the heat of the day), swim lots (in the heat of the day), and spend time with friends (often in the heat of the day).  But our alarm goes off at 6 am and I spend a lot of hours working.  I am not on summer vacation for at least 4 hours and often 6, every day.  Except, of course, for Pickathon.

Pickathon sails over a horse paddock

Pickathon IS my summer vacation.  It’s wheThis is what summer vacation looks liken I get to go away and reflect fondly on being a farmer and being a teacher, but when I don’t have to actually BE either of those things.  It’s a music festival outside of Portland, and I’ve been for the past 3 years.  I get to bask in the sun and swim in the river and listen to music and dance and sometimes even enjoy a mash pit.  I wasn’t sure I was going to get a summer vacation this year, but I did, and it was awesome.  I’m going to hold out hope that I can do it again next year, in the midst of my Master’s, but we’ll see…

Hungarian purple peperAnd, as is true with most vacations, coming home was one of the best parts.  My dahlias are starting to bloom, and EVERYTHING is ripe.  Beans, tomatoes, basil, onions, cucumbers, peppers, the endless zucchini.  We pickled zucchini today.  We have zucchini cake in our freezer and had zucchini pancakes with zucchini relish as a garnish the other day for dinner… so faStrawflower - helichrysumr we’ve stayed on top of our zucchini, but this is going to become increasingly difficult as we begin to experience a glut of other things, especially tomatoes.  We even had our first corn this week… but that might be a secret, because I don’t know if we have enough to share, so don’t tell.

But one of the other things about coming home from my summer vacation is just that… that I’m home, which means that my summer vacation is over (many of you know that Jeremy and I happen to go on a kayak trip every summer as well, but we do that together, so that’s OUR vacation… here I am strictly speaking about MY vacation… obviously).  Which, of course it isn’t… but it is.  There’s crazy things starting to happen outside, and the crickets are only a small part of it.  I can pretend to notice that the days aren’t getting shorter, or that the mornings don’t have a bit of a chill-factor to them, or that it’s AUGUST 10TH ALREADY.  I can pretend not to see pumpkins turning orange or apples starting to ripen… I can pretend a lot of things, but the quantity of things is starting to arrive at that precipitous place where I don’t know how much longer I can pretend for…

Finishing setting up

So in this moment, I’m going to go do more vacation things, like read my book (Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver) and knit socks.  Tonight I’ll do more farm things.  I am certainly NOT going to do school-year things like wash my feet or have a shower.  There really aren’t that many more days when I’m allowed to have feet that look the way mine do, and I’m going to take advantage of every single one of them that I have.

Shade sails at Pickathon

We posed!