Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What a Day!

Hi All!

Today I am attempting to add some pictures to my post even though that means more work for me - trying to get the html code correct so everything shows up right.

What a pain in the neck!

Before I get to the pictures . . . yesterday was quite a day! It started off with a trip to my general physician for a check up. At that appointment I talked to Doc about my depression/anxiety meds and how I didn't feel that they were working well enough. That led to a gleam in Doc's eye and an "experiment."

Don't worry. There isn't anything radical going on!

The experiment is simply to see which is the more "overpowering" force - the depression or the anxiety. So - we really put a handle on one and see if the other is "livable." Doesn't that sound like lots of fun???

I am not too thrilled but . . . if it helps in the long run!

After visiting the Doc, I headed to the pharmacy to pick up the new meds. That wasn't too bad since I got to wait and read my book while I waited! These days I don't get too much time during the day to read so that was a bit of a treat!

Back home from the pharmacy I decided to check in with my "stalker" to see how her research paper was going.


It turns out that writing a research paper is a major stressor for her! It took me a while to talk her down and convince her to take a break. Then we agreed to meet before class so that we could talk about the organization of her paper - which is what was hanging her up.

I will admit that after that phone call I took a nap. Just an hour but I needed to recharge!

After the nap I got up, got some lunch, and headed to school. Now, I am not too crazy about the class I have on Tuesdays and Thursdays - as you may have figured out from a previous post! So - I wasn't too eager about going to school. Anyway - I got there and logged in almost three hours of lab time! I met with my "stalker" and we worked on her paper so that she felt better about the organization - now all she has to do is the actual writing. Fun, fun (am I saying that a lot this post??).

After class I headed home (it was still light since class ended early!!!!!!) and had some "down time" with Hubby and the cats. That was nice.

Today all I have to do is finish my research paper, meet with the insurance adjuster about the roof damage, and have my hair cut. Then I will worry about the video I need to have for tomorrow's class!

Now for the pictures.

My cactus is blooming. It is really blooming even more than shown in the picture but I haven't had time to get out and get new pictures.

I love the way the delicate flowers look along the nasty looking spines on the cactus!

This is the Sweet William blooming in our front flowerbed. Small but lovely!

Here is the "cage" I had to build to protect my Balloon Plant and Black-eyed Susans from the bunnies. I may need to get more fencing as the plants grow taller!

I hope I get through this week!


Voice Update: Still doing boringly well!

Monday, April 25, 2011

On Again Off Again

Hi All!

Happy belated Easter to everyone! There is nothing like Easter to really remind you what life is all about, is there?

Well, let's see what has been happening around my neck of the woods lately.

Do you remember our tree which died in the front yard? Well, as you may remember, we had the tree removed and the stump ground down in preparation for a new tree to be planted. However, we planned on waiting for Fall to plant the tree - that is the best time to plant trees in Texas. The reason for that is that we have such brutal summers - with hot, windy days - that the trees really root better in the winter.

Anyway. We planned to wait until Fall - we really still plan to wait. Our Home Owners' Association seems to have other plans though!

We have gotten two "friendly reminders" that each house is supposed to have two trees in the front yard. We have been told that if we don't plant a tree within ten days of the notice (I think we are past that timeline now), we will be fined and could be taken to court! Imagine that!

Hubby and I drove around the neighborhood last night to see if we were the only property with only one tree. Surprise, surprise! We are NOT!

Despite the fact that we believe this is a bluff from the HOA, it is sort of stressing me out! They also said they would take away our privileges - including use of the community pools! I want to swim this summer!!!

Such issues!

In other news, our air conditioner is on the fritz again. We just got it fixed last Tuesday and it isn't working AGAIN!

Do I need to tell you that this isn't the time of the year that you want your air conditioning to not be working? It has already been in the 90's here!

Luckily, it is cooler today since we had thunderstorms rolling through the area last night (more shingles off the roof!!). When I woke up it was only 71 here and I hope it doesn't get much warmer. I have already sweated it out for two weeks with no air before they fixed it. I don't really want a repeat performance! Just so you know - the AC guy is supposed to be coming this afternoon! I guess you get priority when they fix your unit and then it breaks less than a week later!


Voice Update: As boring as it seems, everything is still doing really well. I am shocked!

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Heavy Heart and a Lower Grade

Hi all!

Today I am going to vent. In case you don't know what that means . . . it means I am going to complain about something to get it out of my system.

I know that some people don't like reading posts that involved venting so I am warning you up front. If you are that kind of person - stop reading now!

So . . .being a teacher myself, I don't like to complain too vehemently about teachers. I honestly try to give teachers the benefit of the doubt because I have been there. I have done things as a teacher that must have seemed insane to some of my students so I try to cut teachers some slack.


When you are grading a project - any project - as a teacher it is always a good idea to have some kind of rubric to guide you as this helps keep you "honest." If you follow a rubric you can't arbitrarily give a grade to a person because they "normally" don't do well or because they upset you in class that night. It is also a very, very good idea to make sure that your students understand how you are grading them and just what you are looking for on assignments and tests. If you don't make your expectations clear students flounder trying to give you what you want without having any clue about what they should give you!

There is a teacher in my life, currently, who - as I am sure you may have guessed, has shown no evidence of doing either of my two recommendations. There have been rubrics from things like finals and some videos but papers (yes, we are back to papers) - uh-uh. Also, some grades are given with little or no explanation of why they are given.

One example from my personal experience is a paper on which I got one point off (yes, I know it is minor but it is an example of a way of doing things) while there was not one negative comment or mark on the paper. Just a random grade?!?

The only comments on the paper were positive so that left me wondering just why I missed that last darn point!

This "trend" of grading without clearly stating why points were taken off of why certain things result in certain amounts of points being taken off has apparently touched other students.

Last night I was faced with the frustration of a couple other students about the entire grading issue.

As these students vented (and I completely understood their frustrations personally), it also became clear that this teacher's grading ambiguities were causing a general sense of disheartenment (is that a word?).

These students, whom I consider to be promising students, are now feeling like they are not capable and that they should not continue in their chosen career path. All because of a particular teacher's grading.

Well, that and a seeming favoritism. You see, about half of the class had this teachers last semester for another class and somehow, that half of the class always seems to do much better than the half of the class who has never had the teacher before.

What can account for this?

When the semester started I thought that this was simply because half of the class knew how the teacher graded and how the teacher liked things done while we (yes, I am in the "new" half) had no clue. Sometimes this was verified by things that were expected but not explicitly told to the class. The teacher would later claim that the class had been told only to realize that it was LAST SEMESTER'S class that had been told. Fun, fun!

Another frustration is that another teacher (same program, different class)is close friends - VERY close friends - with several of the students in the program. This friendship is not hidden from the other students and is very obvious in many ways.

While I personally think that the teacher doesn't show favoritism in ways that could hurt the other students, some people believe that the friendship leads the teacher to provide opportunities to the "friends" that are not provided to the rest of the class.

How can the teacher avoid this when talking to the friends daily and being in constant contact with them and not in constant contact with the rest of the students?

Another issue with the friendship is that some of the "friends" are not very friendly to other students. Again- I haven't experienced this personally but I have seen it in action towards other class members.

There are inside jokes which are laughed at in class. There are comments made in class which can be taken as "we know this so we are better than you." There are looks and facial expressions (and women are so sensitive to these!).There are even comments about activities done by the "friends" and the teacher which, honestly, make the rest of the students (okay, maybe not ALL of the students but the ones I have heard from) a bit uncomfortable.

Not good!

As one of the more "seasoned" members of the class (read that as oldest!), I look upon this behavior, by the "friends" and the teacher, as rather immature and sometimes downright mean. This does make me pause though because several of the "friends" are old enough to know better.

They are old enough to know that there really should be a clear line between student and teacher. That there should be a reservation of behavior among people who are not included. After all, who doesn't know that you shouldn't pass out Valentine's to only SOME members of your class? This makes the people who don't get Valentine's feel bad! Some principle!

Is it only because we are talking about a program where almost all of the participants are female? I do understand that females are naturally catty - I think it is hard-wired into the brain. Yes, some (if not most) of us recognize our ability to be catty and work hard to control the urge but some . . . .just let it fly!

This behavior - both by the random grading teacher and the group of "friends"- is damaging people. It needs to stop.

The question is - how?

Am I personally strong enough to stand up and deal with this knowing that there will almost certainly be ramifications? (oh - did I mention that it seems like if someone other than the "favored" half of the class or the "friends" complains or questions something - they seem to get some retribution?)

I like to think I am a strong person but, am I THAT strong?

Even if I AM that strong. Should I be?


A special message for my friend Sarah - if she reads this - I am thinking about you and love you!

Voice Update: Boring as usual - doing well!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Papers, Papers, Papers!

Hi All!

It is Thursday already! Somehow it seems like it was just Monday yesterday. How did I miss two days??

Anyway . . . I went to class on Tuesday evening and it exhausted me! I guess I am not totally well yet. That is basically why I ended up "missing" Wednesday - I slept all day!

Tonight I have two classes so I am hoping that yesterday's sleep-fest will be enough to keep me going to both classes.

Speaking of classes - I have papers to write! Papers, papers, papers!

For one class tonight I have to write a text reaction paper over the required text for the class. This is the only thing we have to do with the text all semester. We haven't discussed it in class - nor will we! The book won't be on any tests - we just have to write this paper! Yuck!

It seems to me that if a teacher wants a class to read - and understand - a book for a class, there should be some kind of class activity - besides a paper - centered on the book. To allow the students to read independently with no discussion or guidance of any kinds allows the students to garner their own - maybe misguided - information from the book. Seems a bit weird to me!

Oh well! Griping about it doesn't mean I can NOT write the paper! *sigh!*

The second class requires a RESEARCH PAPER! I have done enough research papers to know that I really don't want to do another research paper! However, I have actually done the research and now all I have to do is to actually WRITE the paper.

The writing of the paper(s) isn't the hard part for me - it is actually just getting motivated to sit down and write the papers. This is especially hard when I really, really, really have no interest what-so-ever in doing the papers!

Maybe I will actually start on the papers when I am finished blogging . . . .

Anyone know the world's record for the longest blog post?


Voice Update: As boring as it is to report this . . . my voice is doing well. I shouldn't complain about this being boring to reports since it has taken me a long, long time to get to a place where my voice is good and holding its own.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Where is Miss Manners When You Need Her?

Hi All!

Happily, I am feeling slightly better than I was feeling yesterday - and that is an improvement over the past week! Hopefully, I am on the downward end of this nasty cold!

Tonight I have class and I am sure that I will make it. I may not be the brightest bulb in class tonight but, I will be there, red nose and all!

Yesterday was a day of contrasts. I felt well and ill (at different times of the day). I was invigorated and exhausted. There was good news (our AC will be fixed today!) and bad news (it looks like we need a new roof!). There was excitement ( police cars and the medical examiner at a house across the street) and boredom (just what do you do when it is 90 degrees and you have no AC?).

The police cars have brought up a question worthy of the infamous (or is it famous?) Miss Manners. While I was out getting the mail (and watching the police cars) I saw a woman sitting on the front steps of the house the police were at. I wanted to know what was going on but, I also wanted to know if the woman needed any help. Would it be impolite to approach the woman to ask if everything is okay? We aren't close neighbors - we pretty much never talk. My motivation is 75% curiosity and 25% concern.

I didn't go up to the woman. I just went back into my house and peeked out the windows now and then to see how long the police cars stayed (something like 4 hours!).

Nosy neighbors!

I hope everything is okay!


Voice Update: Doing okay. I haven't been talking too much lately due to the sleeping all the time thing but . . . my voice is still doing well.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Healing and Hope

Hi All!

Here is hoping that Blogger is better and I don't have to do the html coding myself today.

Lately I haven't blogged because I have been sick, sick, sick (the men are marching). I have had quite a doozy of a cold and I have been spending most of my time flat on my back in bed sleeping. Well, that and trying to get air into my lungs through my totally stuffed up nose. The same nose that now looks like it has been through the ringer (poor little chapped nose!). I had to miss classes on Thursday due to my progressing illness (and I NEVER miss class!) and then a wonderful opportunity to see the ASL comedian Keith Wann on Friday.

I was well enough (just barely) to take Miss Cleo to the vet for her annual check-up and everything is good there. However, as soon as I got home . . . I was back in bed totally exhausted from the hour long outing!

On Saturday, Hubby and I went to see Burn the Floor. If you don't know, it is a stage production of ballroom dancing. There were lots of beautiful girls and handsome men doing amazing steps on stage.

Ballroom isn't really my thing - I like it once in a while - but this was a good diversion. It was amazing that these dancers could keep going for the entire show - they were really dancing up a storm - or should I say that they were "Burning the floor?"

In other news, I was watching the neighbors' cats while they were gone on a long weekend. They have two adorable cats that actually come out to see me when I go over to take care of them. The older cat, Callie, is a bit of a curmudgeon but she actually lets me pet her. I just have to make sure that I stay well away from her teeth when she is done being petted!

Did I mention that Hubby baked me a delicious carrot cake (from a mix) while I was sick because I was craving cake (I always seem to do that when I am sick)? He is such a wonderful husband and he felt so helpless because he couldn't make be feel better. I love that man!

As I am quickly running out of steam and will probably need a nap before tackling my research paper, I will show you these . . . . pictures of my parent's goats. They are adorable little critters!

Have a super Monday!


Voice Update: Doing well despite the long days of sleeping. Could work on some extra massage because of my stiff neck and shoulders (thank you, cold!).

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wednesday Woes

Hi All!

I just want you to know that I really can't deal with Blogger's "issues" today so I apologize if this is difficult to read (due to lack of spaces, whatever). We will see how it goes.

This week has been busy, busy, busy! And . . . . "interesting."

I started off with a night assignment on Monday followed by a day assignment and class on Tuesday. Can you say "little sleep?"

Add into this mix the fact that I have been struggling with what I now believe to be allergy issues. Lots of drainage and a stuffy nose (NO air making it through) when I do manage to get sleep. The drainage makes my voice sound bad, bad, bad. In fact, Hubby commented on it this morning! I am doing my massage (even though my throat is a bit sore with the drainage) and exercises (just in a really deep, raspy voice!).

Okay - I can't stand the no spaces thing so I will do a bit of html editing. Gah! I HATE having to do that! Do I need to contact Blogger about this individually??

At least I am learning a bit of code to get the paragraphs separated. Not exactly what I wanted to learn but . . . I guess you do what you gotta do, right?

Maybe I will really get into the html stuff and just forget trying to do it the easy way.

And maybe I will be an astronaut too!

My parents have gotten a new "crop" of goats for the summer. This time they have 12 goats (they had 7 last year). They are cute little buggers! I can't wait to see what they get into this summer. They are always worth a few interesting stories!

Well, that is about all I have energy for so I am off for a nap!

Have a wonderful Wednesday!


Voice Update: I am sounding a lot like Bea Arthur at the moment. I am keeping up with my massage and exercises though in an effort to counteract the damaging effects of the drainage and the coughing which accompanies this "wonderful" condition!I have also been taking cough medicine when the urge to cough is the worst to try to circumvent that bad behavior (in case you didn't know, coughing isn't good for your vocal cords since it basically slams the cords shut as you cough - not good treatment for such delicate things!).

Lately I have been having a lot of conversations about my voice and my SD. I am not sure why but - I am still spreading the word about Spasmodic Dysphonia. Okay - I should say I am not sure why I have been discussing my voice a lot lately. It sounded like I was saying that I wasn't sure why I was spreading the word. I AM sure about that. More people need to be educated about vocal disorders so that they don't treat people who have difficulty speaking poorly.

Remember, people, think of how your words will be taken before saying something which could be hurtful!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday Musings

Hi All!

Happy Monday!

If only I felt as happy as I would like you to feel!

Well, actually, I don't feel too bad at the moment. There was a nice rainstorm last night (and I LOVE rain) and my morning walk was beautiful. I was greeted by this wonderful sunrise when I left my house.

Hopefully, I have gotten the spacing down on the blog for today - I am dabbling in HTML code . . . However, I still am not sure what I am doing with the pictures.
If this text is in the correct spot, it should be after the picture of my neighbor's tulips. I should have taken the picture yesterday because the rain got to some of the blooms!

Okay - this picture should be of one of the "lovely" ant hills which pop up right after the rain. Don't step in them!

I "helped" this frog get up on the curb to the grass before a car smooshed him. He didn't look too thankful.

Hubby and I finally go the last of the old shrubs out of the flowerbed (okay - only one half of it) and planted our remaining shrub. Now to get more mulch to finish the job!

In other news, I have been sufferring from some weird gunk. At first I thought it was just drainage from allergies but this morning my throat is sore when I cough (to try to clear the gunk - which is not good for my voice, I know!) and my voice sounds like it has gone down about four octaves.

I am supposed to have a night observation again tonight but I am wondering if I should cancel due to illness. Of course, am I really sick or is it just drainage? How do you know?

Did I tell you that our air conditioner picked yesterday to start blowing hot air instead of cold air? No? Of course, it had to be a day when the temps were hovering around 90 degrees!

Such are the troubles of living in Texas!

I do wonder just what is going on since the AC guys were out in February to check everything out and said everything was fine. I guess we will find out, won't we?


Voice Update: This morning it sounds like I have dropped a few octaves and that I am losing my voice. Again - is this due to "gunk" or is it due to illness? Who knows???

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Visiting With the Eagles

Hi All! It is time to check to see if Blogger is still insisting that there are no spaces between my paragraphs in my posts! Yeah! As usual, this past week has been busy, busy, busy! I am happy to say that I am now at 200 hours for my practicum class. So everything from now on will be "gravy!" That will let me relax a bit! I do need to "remove" some hours from a workshop so that I can write a paper on the workshop. That isn't good! I guess I will need to rack up some extra time to cover that! I don't think that will be too hard - I do have almost a month to go! Thanks to my mother I have a new "addiction." There is an Eagle's nest in Iowa which has an awesome webcam. There are three chicks and you can see them poking out from under their parent - still can't figure out which is the mom and which is the dad - from time to time. It is fascinating. At least to me. If you want to check it out, go here! Just be careful! It IS addicting! Trisha Voice Update: Doing my massage and my exercises like a "good girl!" I am hoping to spread out my speech appointments just a bit more!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cautious Steps

************ Note. When I originally wrote this blog there WERE spaces included. Blogger apparently has switched gears and needs some special "space code" to indicate where the spaces should go. Does anyone know what in the world is going on????? Hi All! The computer is on and I am logged in to Blogger. I am attempting to actually blog - without spacing issues. This post is sans photos to see if it is the pictures which cause the problems. This morning was a lovely morning for a walk - my second of the week! Yeah! The birds were singing and the wind wasn't quite as strong as it was on Monday (when I was almost blown off the sidewalk a few times!). There are some tulips blooming along my route (white ones in my neighbor's yard and some pink ones around the corner). The sun was peeping above the rooftops and tinting the sky a delicate pinkish/orange. It was a beautiful morning! Here is hoping that it continues to be such a beautiful day! Trisha Voice Update: Working the massage each time I apply lotion and starting up those exercises again (I forgot them yesterday!).

Monday, April 4, 2011

Spacing Issues

Dear Blogger, Why, oh why, do you insist on messing with my spacing? I make everything look so nice when I am composing and then . . . you mess it up when I post. What is up with that? You are just making me frustrated because I think my readers (the few people who read my blog) might think that the spacing issues are MY problems! Get it together, Blogger! Thank you! Trisha

The Corner Garden

Hi All! sf gjfsj It has been a while. sfjfsj Has anyone noticed?? sfjsfj Okay - I am done feeling needy for the moment. sfjfsj Last week . . . . well, it was a week. I had stuff for class to do and stuff for life to do and then I wasn't feeling very well so it just sort of flew by without me blogging. Or walking (not good, I know!). Or doing much of anything! sfjfsj That isn't true. I did stuff but nothing too memorable. During the weekend I went out and set to work in my corner garden.


First, I dug out another foot or so.

That was SOOOOOO much fun! The ground was hard as a rock since we haven't had too much rain here lately. dghdghk ***With that said, I should note that it rained/stormed last night and today the ground is much softer! After getting new soil mixed in and the border up I struggled with this fencing - in an effort to keep the bunnies from munching on my cone flowers. I am still not too happy with the fence and think I am going to put posts in at the corners. Eventually! I added two and a half bags of mulch - doesn't it look pretty and fresh? Some plants were rearranged.
And now the corner garden is ready for another summer of fun!


Hubby isn't too sure why I put so much work into the garden. He doesn't see much use in it.


Of course, he does like looking at the blooming flowers during the summer!


Speaking of flowers. I haven't decided if I am going to plant Moon Flowers this year or not. It might be nice to have a year off. Then again - they are lovely things.


Such decisions!


Here is to another busy week! At least I started off on the right foot with a walk in the VERY WINDY weather. We will see if I will be able to walk for more than one day this week!




Voice Update: Last Monday I went to see Susan. She was very pleased with my voice - no skips or breaks or anything when I walked in. That is a bit of a feat, I must say! Susan was happy with the work I have been doing at home but did have to work on my neck a bit to get the "crunchy" out. Can you say sore neck for the next three days? Now to keep up with it!