18 May 2007

apartment under new ownership

i really like our apartment. it's a one bedroom on the main floor of a house built around the turn of the 20th century. it's got tall ceilings, big windows and the kitchen is the biggest room in the house. oh, and it's got a yard with a huge garden spot to the east where we've had a butt-kickin' garden for the last two summers.

a week before we had Ash our landlady - who for all intents and purposes was a great landlady - called to tell us she was selling the house. in the words of our sixty-year-old neighbor, Lee it was a "dirty deal." three weeks later i was sprawled out on the futon talking with my sister about the hardships of being a new mom when the new landlady came to look at the place. since then she has bought the house, moved into the upstairs apartment and we're in a month to month contract. yeah, you could say we got lucky. she could have given us thirty days.

but in some ways i kind of wish she had. i mean, she's nice and all but it's been really tough to have her take over. she's got all of these plans and projects for the place, which is typical and expected for a new home owner. but the crappy thing is some of these plans affect us in a negative way. for example, she wants to put lawn in over the garden spot. fortunately English put his foot down insisting we need a garden so she said we could have half. she's going to sod half this year and half next year. why not wait and do it all next year? good question. i have to admit we took a bit more than half - about four feet more - and that chaps her hide. i happen to know this because i saw her out our window complaining about it to someone she was showing the place to: "the garden was supposed to end at that post." hopefully she'll see how great the garden is and realize that four feet is not a big deal.

in the mean time we're trying to keep a good attitude while drawing very specific boundaries with her (she's asked a couple time to bring her family though - grand kids and all - to show them the place while Ash and i have been taking naps). however, i can't help but think that she's got us on a month to month in hopes that she'll drive us crazy and we'll move. well, we've got the garden planted so i hope that's not the case.

porch decor: our bird feeder and her mobile made from beer cans and golf balls. no, we're not on the same wave length.

08 May 2007

check them grades

school is officially out. campus is quiet, Ephraim has lost about a quarter of its population, and i need to enter final grades. i actually don't mind entering grades. it's kind of a nice way to put the cap on a semester. but there's always that tug-o-war my sympathetic side plays when i know a student has a failing grade coming to them.

it's tough because i know they don't deserve anything better based on their performance in the class but i can't help but feel bad that they failed my class. i mean, honestly, i start every semester thinking that it will be the one when everyone passes. but alas, 'tis not so. i have to admit my hopes for such a semester grow dim when i have students who come to me minutes before the final critique and ask me to make an exception. or worse, they show up minutes after the final expecting to turn in their project. no, really. it happens.

a final in an art class is typically not a written final. it's usually a project, right? and more often than not there's a class critique as well. so i make sure to explain to my students how art finals are different but require the same amount of work - if not more - than their BIO 100 final and that they need to be present and on time for the critique. i try to be clear but i have to wonder sometimes...

for instance, as i'm getting set up for my 2D design final (the project is an artist's book) that starts at 9:30, one of my students comes to me and asks if she can present hers half way through the critique. why? because the photos that are supposed to be part of the book won't be finished at Wal*Mart until 10:00. are you kidding me? then as we're finishing the up the critique nearly and hour and forty-five minutes later, a different student comes in and sits down kind of behind all the other students - trying to blend in. after everything is finished and i'm putting my little post-it notes of comments on their projects, i happen to notice someone hovering around the table where all the projects are. i'm pretty preoccupied with writing down comments, recording grades and getting it all done before i need to get home to feed Ash so i keep working. as get to the last few projects i notice a book that wasn't there before and wasn't presented in the critique. you can't be serious. what do you take me for?

so that was design class. the drawing final is quite similar. everyone comes with their final drawings and we have a class critique. it usually takes one to two hours and i let the students know they have to be there for the entire time to receive credit. it went very well for those who came. then just as i'm stacking the graded drawings in a place where students can come pick them up a student comes in and asks if she can still turn in the final. um... no.

there's something both frustrating and satisfying about having to tell a student 'it's your problem' when it comes to botching the final. maybe that's mean but somehow i feel okay about it.