Sunday, September 28, 2008

Squirrel Season

Anyone who knows me in real life knows my dogs are two of my highlights. I'm one of those nutty people who treats dogs like children, even though I do know there is a significant difference between the two. At our house there are two dogs, Ditto and Dinah. Ditto is Jack Russell Terrier whom we have had since she was seven weeks old. She'll be ten in October, and although she's still going strong, I can definitely tell she's not as young as she used to be. There is, however, one important exception to this:


Every year around this time, our little dog turns into a monster. As fate would have it, we happen to have two full grown walnut trees in our back yard. You'd think one of us might have thought about the implications of this when we bought our house, but nope! Squirrels are foraging and scampering back and forth at all times of the day right now. Ditto is in seventh heaven, while I on the other hand, am in hell. I don't just love dogs, I love all animals. I usually won't even kill bugs or spiders, so you can imagine how I feel when Ditto gets another victim. She gets at least one unsuspecting prey every year, and usually two or three. Oh the sounds they make when captured...screaming in terror as they are being murdered right before our's absolutely horrifying!

The hardest part for me is that it's not even Ditto's fault--she's simply doing exactly what she's been bred to do, hunting. She doesn't even do anything with the squirrels after she gets them, which is her trait. Jack Russells are bred to "go to ground," locate and kill their prey, then leave the goods for their master to do with as he or she pleases. In our case we DON'T please, so our little hunter is left wondering why we take the prize and put it in the ground. Actually she's probably not, I'm sure I'm anthropomorphizing with that statement, but can get pretty interesting around our house this time of year.

I found a poem online that sums up the personality of our little JRT to a tee:

The Jack Russell Terrier
by Diana Langford, from the Jack Russell Terrier Club of Great Britain

"Find me a Doberman, I'll cut him to size --
And tear him to pieces, in front of your eyes!
I'm cocksure and bossy, the King of the patch,
Bring on your Alsatian, it can't be a match!
I'm a dirty street fighter, my language is foul,
I'll fight to the death, never throw in the towel.
Don't step near my missus, don't push me too far,
Get right off my pavement, take your hands off my car.
And when she's alone, I sit on her knee,
She knows she's quite safe, relying on me.
Don't walk by my lorry, when I'm at a show,
When I'm guarding my ponies, I'm lethal you know.
I'll follow a fox, to the depths of his lair,
But I like creature comforts, get out of my chair!
I'll not walk at heel, or sit when I'm told,
But I'm loving, protective, brave, loyal and bold.
My life is full of the moment, importance and bustle,
I know I'm the greatest --
I'm called a Jack Russell."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Soaking it Up

My lot in life these days is similar to that of a sponge. I'm immersed in new information, new experiences, and new people. I'm learning so much and soaking it all up...sometimes I wonder how much more room there can possibly be in my brain. I don't mean that in an arrogant way...just that there are already so many other complex databases of storage in there (photography, the lyrics to oh so many songs, former people and places, the technical mumbo jumbo from 5+ years in the computer industry, on and on.) Yet somehow I still manage to cram in the new, while holding on to the old. I guess that's what we all do as we age and continue to learn new information? Last semester, a professor told me that if you learn something new, and then don't use it within the proceeding two years, the information will be lost. I find that interesting, and I'm not entirely convinced it's true. I can remember the words to a myriad of songs I haven't heard in years, and that's only one example.

I find the topic of memories to be incredibly powerful, and interesting. To me, one of the most fascinating aspects of our capacity to remember is that we each fixate on (and therefore remember) experiences differently. My husband and I have two entirely different sets of memories from the 11+ years we've been married, yet we've lived through many of the same events. Each year on our anniversary we take turns recalling some of our favorite memories over the years, and I'm always amazed at the differences (and similarities) of what he has held onto all these years, versus what I have kept sacredly stored.

All this also brings to mind thoughts of the devastation brought on by Alzheimer's disease. What a tragic fate at the end of one's life, to lose something we all hold so dear. If I ever have money to spare, a large chunk of it will go to Alzheimer's research. Not only for the sake of my dear grandmother, Ruby, who lived and died with Alzheimer's, but also for the sake of, and wonder I feel towards our human capacity to remember.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Kicking & Screaming

OK...not really, but I am dragging a little. Yesterday was my first day back to school and it was...well...hectic! This is the first semester I don't have a class starting at 8:00 a.m., which means parking is a disaster! Yesterday I arrived on campus at 10:20 for my 11:00 a.m. class, and there was literally not one place to park. I looked everywhere, including the huge overflow lot on the edge of campus. Finally, in exasperation I used the paid lot. This was immensely frustrating for two reasons; first, I've already spent $75 for a parking tag this year, and second, there weren't even any real spots in the paid lot! I had to pay $2.00 to park on the curb in the paid lot. My original plan for this semester was to go and observe in the classroom on Tuesday and Thursday mornings before my classes, but that clearly isn't going to work. Now I'll have to talk to my cooperating teacher to arrange some other way to complete all the observation hours I need. Anyway, after a rushed walk up the hill and across two buildings, I made it to my class ten minutes late...pouring sweat and already in a funk. I hate being late to classes and really try hard to avoid being rude...being late on the first day is double rude, so...yeah. The class (Reading 300) seems like it will be good, and also a lot of work. Professor read us the chapter from Charlotte's web where Charlotte dies. That made me feel a lot better, OR SOMETHING!

Next I spent my entire lunch break circling the two lots I thought might open up. In other words, creeping along behind people as they left, in hopes the parking Gods would smile upon me. I hate being a parking space scouter! I hate it when people do this to me, and I hate having to do it to other people! By this time I was so frustrated, hot, and grumpy that it was just ugly. I finally managed to find a small spot wedged between two trucks, which was interesting to say the least. Finally parked and able to breathe, I ate my lunch in a rush and then checked my schedule for my next class. Wouldn't you know it, there was no location printed on my paper copy. Here we go again with the stress. Class was about to start in 20 minutes (mind you I still had to walk there) so I called Michael to see if he could find the class location online for me. He tried a number of times, but EMU's online system is so completely dysfunctional and hard to navigate that he couldn't find the information I needed. So by this time I was just about in tears. I managed to control myself, but I was seriously just plain overwhelmed, and I think I was sort of bitchy to my unsuspecting hubby who was only trying to help. Doh! I quickly headed over to the Porter building and (again hot and sweaty) got to the office at 1:57 to see if I could locate the room number for my 2:00 class. Luckily my classroom was right there on the printout and wasn't far from the office, so I made it to class by 2:03. The room was full, but the professor hadn't started talking yet so I didn't feel quite as rude this time around. This class (Curriculum 304) also seems like it will be challenging but rewarding. We played a fun name game that was new to me. She handed us each a piece of paper with about 20 boxes that contained "defining characteristics" on them. We had to walk around and talk to people to try and get one name in each box. They were things like; "commutes from off campus," "has a GPA higher than 3.5," and "always knew you wanted to be a teacher." This was one I hadn't seen before, so it was fun and it did get people talking.

Next I was off to my Political Science class in the most torturous building on campus, Pray Harold. This place is huge, archaic, and just truly a nightmarish place to try to learn anything. As the freshman building on campus, it kind of encompasses everything I don't like about Eastern. My experiences in this building are the ones that make me feel like I'm WAY too old to be in college. My 4th floor classroom is hot, crowded, and basically miserable. Thankfully I got there with plenty of time to spare this time, but the room was already almost full. By the time 3:30 rolled around the place turned out to be absolutely packed. There were 45+ desks in the classroom, lined up along the walls and even up on the teaching platform to make more room. These seats are the old deskchair kind with the wooden seat and metal legs...uncomfortable to say the least, especially for someone who isn't a size 2! So whatever...I managed to live through those 75 minutes of discomfort, but I wasn't loving the experience. My professor, at least, does seem to have some sort of clue. He siad he's going to try to make the class interesting and pertinent to this year's election, so if nothing else, my timing is good. Hopefully it will be OK.

By this time 5:00 was approaching and I was finally able to go home. Normally I will have a class to worry about on Thursday nights, but this one doesn't begin until next week. I got home and relaxed for a little while, but then decided I should check my online classes. I have one that's completely online, and one (the Thursday night class) that's a hybrid. I got logged in OK and was looking through my course work for the online class, Field Experience for Teacher Education. The assignments look like much work, but also like they will help me focus my observation time into some controlled lessons. I was feeling pretty good about all this when I came to the realization that this class actually has two co requisites. I knew about and am enrolled in one, but was unaware of the second. CRAP! So I emailed my professor to ask her what I should do and then sat here worrying about whether or not I would be able to continue my classes in light of this mistake. It was too late to contact the department of teacher ed by that time, so I just had to let go and try not to think about the what-if's. I was really concerned, because even when I registered back in early June, all the sections were full. I had a rough time of getting the classes I needed back then, so I knew that if a change was needed for me now I would be SOL. Cut to this morning, one of the first things I did was call the department of teacher ed. She told me the class I'm not enrolled in IS recommended to go along with the field experience class, but that they don't enforce this. She said it might mean I have to work a little harder when I am in the educational psychology class, because I won't be doing coursework in conjunction with lessons, but that it is doable and many people do go that route. WHEW!

So...yeah...if you made it this far, congratulations! You made it through my first harried day of school with me! I know from experience that once the semester settles in, things will get better, and I will be proud to be an EMU Eagle again. Right now I'm feeling a little worse for wear, and a little like a child who's being forced to do something she doesn't want to do. Next week will bring a few more challenges with my 6th and final class on Tuesday night. I'll also be meeting my cooperative teacher for the first time on Tuesday. I'm observing in a 5th grade classroom, and hopefully I can arrange to work there at a time other than what we've already agreed upon. I don't really know how this is going to work with my schedule, but I suppose it means I won't be subbing all three non-school days of the week as I had planned. Maybe I can do my classroom observations on Mondays or Fridays instead...? If this works out, I will hopefully be able to assuage my parking problems by going in early to study or something. Who knows...I am aware than in the grand scheme of things, all these problems are small beans, but when you're juggling them all at such a fast pace, life can get a little overwhelming.

Here's to better days ahead!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Dana & John

I finished up the photos from Dana & John's wedding today. I've been working on these off an on for the past few weeks, and they will be receiving their CD tomorrow. The wedding was beautiful, one I'm proud to have photographed. Without further ado, here's a sampling of the happy couple's special day, as seen through my eyes:

(and I'm sure Michael would like me to point out that this particular part of the day was seen through his eyes...great photo, Michael. :)