I haven’t blogged in a while. I haven’t had the energy for it, to be honest. It has been an eventful few months.
In late November, my grandmother died. She had had Alzheimer’s for the last ten years and was in really bad shape at the end. My dad faithfully visited her every day for the last few years of her life. I think he has really felt her absence in his days since she died, even though we all know it was a relief for her to finally be at peace.
In December, my mom started having some strange symptoms and went to the doctor, where she found out in January that she had endometrial cancer. It was scary. She had surgery a couple weeks later, and she was very lucky. They got it all. She got the cancer-free declaration just before my birthday. It is the best birthday gift I have ever gotten.
At work, we have been writing curriculum guides like mad people. I sort of love that, actually. We are designing our classes and our degrees. It is neat to be at a school where we have the opportunity to decide what we want our students to know, what we think is important. I am really excited about how our creative writing program is going to look. It is going to be awesome. Our students will get an introduction to creative writing class, three genre classes, and a genre intensive one-on-one class with a professor in the genre of their choice. Then they will do a capstone course where they will revise, apply to a program (hopefully), and do a reading in their chosen genre. They will also do an internship, either by taking the literary magazine class or by doing a program in the community. They will be incredibly well-prepared for their four-year degree program. Four of us have been working really hard at putting the program together, and it is pretty much finished. We have only a couple more classes to send through curriculum committee, and then our entire degree will go through, as well. Lewis and Clark State is super excited, and they really want our students. They are visiting classes after the break to advertise their programs. A lot of our students will probably end up at Boise State because of the location, but it’s wonderful that they have options.
This week is Spring Break, and it has been a busy one. A dear friend of ours lost her kind husband right before the break, and we went to his funeral on Sunday. He was a minister at a few of the UCC churches in Idaho, and we always loved visiting wherever he was preaching. He blessed five of our cats at a blessing of the animals service out in the little community of Payette. He had been ill much of his life and was a fighter. I always thought of him as having nine lives because he survived so much and rebounded so many times. I remember him always talking about the “great cloud of witnesses”. I think he is one of them now. I think my grandmother is, too. I have really felt that since she died, too.
On Monday, Bernie Sanders spoke at Boise State, and I went and stood in line for over an hour to be able to hear him. It was super exciting. I have spent a lot of time reading about all of the candidates, and even though I voted for Hillary Clinton when she was running against Barack Obama, I adore Bernie Sanders. I like his positions on everything (seriously, everything), and I appreciate that he is addressing issues that are so vital to young people. If Hillary ends up getting the nomination, she will need to do a lot of work to earn those votes. In my students, I see immense stress because it is a rigged system. I would like to see student debt, cost of education, cost of living (including minimum wages and labor rights), and healthcare (with the expansion of the Affordable Care Act) addressed. These are the issues that impact Millennials like many of my students. It isn’t the same world that I grew up in anymore. Whoever gets the nomination needs to deal with that and listen to the young people. The Guardian had a fantastic series on this recently. I was very irritated at the caucus when the mayor of Boise implied that young people only vote for Bernie because it’s the “cool” thing to do. (Seriously, you’re going to grow a “hipster beard” if he wins? You better start listening to your younger constituents instead of trying to mock them. I will have trouble voting for you again after that display).
So yes, we went to the caucus on Tuesday. The most polite thing I can say about that circus is that it was indeed a circus. That type of event, where people have to wait outside in line for up to four hours, privileges those who can wait in line outside for that long. Those who have to work and either can’t or can’t afford to take time off, who have health problems or disabilities, who are old or who have young children had trouble participating. It’s an issue of access. If it hadn’t been spring break, we would have had trouble going, too. My mother-in-law, had she lived here, could not have stood in the cold that long. My mother just had surgery and could not have stood in line that long. My dad has a bad back and could not (or should not) have stood in line that long. The doors of the caucus opened at 5 p.m. We got there at 5:15 p.m. We followed the line four blocks away, past where it split into two different lines. The doors were supposed to close at 7 p.m. We were still in line at 7:30 p.m., and the volunteer who gave us a ballot was grousing about the fact that we would still get to vote because the doors were supposed to be closed. I was unimpressed. They acted like it was a privilege that everyone in line by 7 p.m. would still get to vote. Um, no. That’s the law. I hope they go to a primary system next time. It is a more just system.
On a completely different note, I have been working on weeding the garden and getting it ready to plant. That is quite a job. It hasn’t been planted in a couple of years, so it has become quite overgrown. I enjoy the weeding, but it is very slow work. I appreciate my friend Patti’s recommendation of a garden claw because it has made the work a lot easier.I am going to install a drip system for the watering. We have a soaker hose that was left by the previous owner, but I think a drip system would be a lot better in terms of water conservation. I am going to plant radishes, onions, carrots, and beets on one level. I’m going to do all of the greens–collards, different types of lettuce, arugula, chard, and a bit of kale–on another level. I’m putting in two raspberry bushes and a marionberry bush in the back of the garden. Then I’m going to have a big area that I’m going to plant purple and blue potatoes in another area. Then I’m going to have a viney area, with lots of squash, melons, pumpkins, and hopefully cucumbers (I have never had any luck with those. I am taking my friend Jessica’s recommendation and trying lemon cucumbers this year). We also have a big area just for tomatoes, peppers, and tomatillos. If I am remembering right, there are spaces for 36 plants in that area. I may not fill all of those this year. We also have tires in the garden, two of which that are filled with rhubarb. The rest are going to have strawberries. So it is going to be huge, but it is also a huge space. If I have good luck, I figure we can donate leftovers to the food bank, because goodness knows they need fresh veggies, and to the soup kitchen. That’s if I have good luck, though! First I have to wrestle the infestation of goatheads and vineweed out!
Book-wise, the book I have enjoyed the most in the last few months has been Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. I have had trouble finding another book that I have enjoyed as much as that one. I loved The Beet Queen by Louise Ehrdrich. I am currently reading The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths. I like murder mysteries, but this one has been obvious in who did it. I am not even 100 pages into it, and I have it figured out. So I’m bored. I do sort of like the characters, though. I am excited to read Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley. His first book was awesome, and I have been looking forward to this one.