It’s been too long since I’ve written, but I was relieved to know that it’s only been 3 months.  Let me share some of what I’ve learned and done.

I’ve learned a lot about teaching.  It was just occurring to me how much I’ve improved.  I’ve found that my teaching style largely relies on a friendly, “let’s help you” attitude – it gets the best results.  If they’re having a bad week and I start to resort to harsh tones and threats – of course, there’s a place for the tone – they typically get indignant, even if they are supremely guilty.  My teaching style also necessitates that students feel free to discuss, share, move around, and get creative.

At the beginning of the year, I relied on groups a lot.  But as it turned out, it’s too great a temptation for talking, even if I tell them that there will be an assessment on the content I’m telling them.  So I became more free to move people around from rows to groups as needed, relying on rows for default.

rainbow off the side of the bridgeMy commute is about 45 minutes on a good traffic day.  I live in East Baton Rouge Parish and work in Iberville Parish (which is west of the Mississippi) and I’m travelling in the morning around the time of the sunrise, so some days, the morning sky over the river is a glorious start to the day.  It rains a lot here but not so much that it gets depressing.

Late last year, one of the plants along my commute had a chemical spill.  It was an interesting experience.  I had stayed late to rehearse for the faculty Christmas performance.  And they redirected traffic around the back of the plant – actually closer than the main road.  And yes, those are the only two ways up the river to the bridge unless you go at least half-an-hour out of your way.  I could also have taken the ferry but that route takes over two hours.

smoke floats across the highway
DOW Chemical chemical spill 2016

Last year’s garden didn’t go well.  The garden flooded frequently in the summer, drowning or washing away most of it.  Then after I planted the fall crop, we had a drought.  I didn’t keep up with the watering.  Over the winter, we had some cold temperatures and, despite my DIY efforts to cover the few plants remaining, I lost the tomatoes that had finally thrived in the milder autumn weather (as opposed to the scorching summer).  It also affected the broccoli and the cabbage plants, which I’ve left in the garden but they look like they’ve quit.

prepared gardenThis year, I dug furrows and planted the seeds on the high ground.  I planted seeds in January (Northern girl in me says: “THIS IS CRAZY”), and most day temps were warm enough, but not all night temps were.  So I ended up stretching and staking landscape fabric over most of the garden (I forgot the section of lettuce at the end).  The temperatures were perfect for the spinach but too cold for the tomatoes.  I also bought bamboo stakes – I think they’re 6′ tall.  Maybe 8′.  When the tomatoes grow in, I’m going to run string between the tall stakes and use the Florida weave to trellis the tomatoes.  That method was working well on the last crop until the frost got the plants.

I also planted garlic late November.  I’ve never tried garlic before and I fear it’s already not going well.  But I’m going to fertilize this weekend and keep watching and researching.

This is a long weekend – they take Mardi Gras seriously around here.  So we’re going to dig a plot for peanuts!  Can’t wait to see how that goes.

guinea pigs
Cowpea and Hazelnut

I also got guinea pigs!  I love them very much.  I don’t spend enough time with them but I hope to do so over the summer.  They take treats from my hand and will crawl into a tunnel to be lifted into their play pen, but they don’t let us touch them.  Cowpea (which is another name for black-eyed peas), my white and grey piggy, used to be much calmer about being picked up, and then I realized she had an ear infection; and after a couple weeks of anit-fungal cream applications, she was cured and became much livelier.  She’s smaller than Hazelnut, my red pig, but she can take care of herself for sure.  I’m going to build them a bigger cage.  They’re getting bigger and they need more space to move around.

I love my life.  It’s not my dream life, but it’s a good one.

What I’m listening to: Home Free, Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash, Hugh Laurie, and The Dead South

What I’m watching: The Crown, just finished Parks and Recreation and Grand Tour, re-watching Friends and Cheers

What I’m reading: The Kite RunnerAnimal FarmA Book of American Martyrs by Joyce Carol Oates (