Sunday, July 17, 2011

Just Realized...

I read a story in the paper yesterday about a woman who was celebrating the 25th anniversary of her discovery of some cure for some disease and it made me realize that I was harboring the hopes of someday doing something phenomenal like that. I didn't realize I was harboring that hope before I read that article. But there it there a little bit. And I realized I was almost ready to let that one go. That I would never accomplish something amazing like find a cure for a disease, make significant changes in the world or universe. Almost ready to let that one go.

But then I also realized that I would never put on a backpack and walk around in Europe, would never roam from hostel-to-hostel. That I would never travel by hitchhiking across the States. I realized that I would never drop acid, never run the Boston marathon, and would always regret that I didn't get to Woodstock.

Not feeling my mortality but just making note of things that are past their prime in my life.

And so it goes...peace~~~

Thursday, July 07, 2011

We Get By With a Little Help From Our Friends

A good Internet friend has been going through tough times. She lost her job and lost her house. Fortunately she is a strong well-centered woman who has great friends. One great friend gave her a home to live on her property. The property is great with horses and dogs and lots of space. Unfortunately the house isn't spacious. My friend moved from a three-bedroom home to a one-bedroom cottage. But she painted it up nice and it is cozy! She is starting to readjust and regroup.

I thought she might need some positive energy surrounding her, so I made her this lap quilt. I called it Staying Centered, because we all need reminding on occasion. I hope the cool calming colors--they remind me of a lush forest somehow--will help her remember how much she is loved.


Thursday, June 09, 2011

A List of Lasts

So many things changing. It is surreal to me. I always have summers off, so in some ways this feels like simply finishing up the school year. But the outpouring of cards and little gifts and flowers and parties speak a different story.
  • Had my last part-time instructor observation and conference two weeks ago.
  • Attended my last Curricular Committee meeting last Wednesday.
  • Gave my last lecture last Wednesday.
  • Gave my last final on Tuesday.
  • Posted my last grade yesterday.
  • Wrote my last report today.
  • Will leave my office for the last time, carrying out my last book and picture and trinket, next Monday.
There are time I stop and wonder what the heck I am doing. But I know this moment of grieving the loss of what was will soon pass and I'll remember the freedom of summer.

Excitement will come when the last file is completed and the reality hits.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

What Goes Up Must Come Down. Spinning Wheel's Got To Go Round

I have been joining a community education quilting class at the college for the past two terms. I have never taken quilting lessons--everything I have learned, I have learned from books or friends on the Quilting Bee forum (Delphi Forums). But I decided to have some once-in-a-while fun. And sewing with people, chatting, laughing...this is the best of times!

The first term we made bargellos. It was one of those types of quilts that seemed difficult, so perfect for a short class. I made my little piece the best I could, and like it hanging along my stairwell. The next one I make will have more movement, but it was a fun wallhanging.

The this term I have been working with curves. Again, not something I have attempted before. Mostly because I think I am a lazy sewer...curved blocks looked like too much work! But again, I found curves to be relatively easy and had fun with my new quilt.

Most the students decided to use a Drunkard's Path block. I have played with a Drunkard's Path in the past and it is too spiky a pattern for my taste. So I decided to make circles out of multiple colors of batiks. I used Hoffman's Bali batiks because they were on sale with 40% off at my local fabric shop: Fabric Depot (I am FULL of links today, aren't I?).

I decided to make it a standard size, even though I have no double beds. Mostly because I had enough blocks made to do this :) I also decided to have it professionally quilted, mostly because I no longer have the space to quilt anything larger than a twin bed.

Next up for classes? Paper-piecing in the fall! Life is good :)


Friday, May 13, 2011

Sign of the Times

The economy must be picking up!

I heard an advertisement on the radio recruiting for the CIA. It was a glamorous ad, describing all the wonderful world of travel, of meeting interesting people. But it also warned that you couldn't tell your family and friends what you do...

Listen to an ad similar to what I heard (link will open in a new page):

Could this be my next new adventure?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

And On to the Next New Thing

(The final chapter)

The most important part of being a teacher is bringing her passion to the students. It is caring about their learning because you care about their learning. If this passion slips, it is time to leave for there is nothing sadder than an old curmudgeon still teaching because he doesn’t know what else to do. A teacher is someone who holds this love in her heart, who wants others to succeed because she cares about what they do, how they go, what they learn. I recently read an article in the Oregonian about a man who won the NAACP Award for excellence. He was a high school chop teacher and was nominated by one of his students. The student said he deserved this award, not only because he was a good teacher but because he went out of his way to help this student through personal problems and decisions, through the teacher’s guidance. As I read this, I knew he was a teacher at heart. And I also realized about myself that while I used to be this teacher, the energy it takes to follow-through was no longer in me. While the passion and love are in me, the energy to follow through was not as strong. While it is true that I have just this week worked on helping a student who was very ill get her classes together for when she can return to school in the fall. And it is true that I visited her in the hospital and will make her a meal for when she returns home after open-heart surgery. And it is true that I worked with a student, listening to her carefully, and prevented her from filing a grievance against one of my part-time faculty. I still have the drive. But the energy is for those new to the gig. My goal has always been to leave teaching while still at the top of my game. For many years I have watched colleagues stay at PCC too long because they didn’t know what else to do. I have watched some turn bitter against the college and some just walk through the motions. I am still near the top of my game; there is a bit of slippage there now and it is time to leave.

For nearly 30 years I have been privileged to stand in front of students and presented them with information, theory, new skills, shining up rusty skills, and given them a piece of myself. And for nearly 30 years I have continually been infused with energy from these people, learning from them in more depth than they can ever possibly know. And it is time to step down from the classroom. It is time to find something new.

January 7, 1980-June 20, 2011. What an incredible ride! And this journey continues, bringing along with it new adventures…

The time has come," the Walrus said, "To talk of many things:
Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax—Of cabbages—and kings—
And why the sea is boiling hot—And whether pigs have wings."

May 1, 2011

To the Dean:

It is with a mixture of emotions that I write to you with my resignation, effective as of June 20, 2011. I have always wanted to leave PCC while I was still at the top of my game; I have reached this moment in my life. I still love what I do, still love doing it, and realize it is time to do something else.

I believe that teaching is one of the most noble of professions. To be a teacher is to have the privilege of sharing ideas and knowledge to others. To help guide students, advise them, work with them and then see the spark of excitement start to ignite their imaginations and creativity. To be a teacher is to wear your passion, dedication, and love of others on your sleeve for all to see. When asked what I do for a living, I have always been able to say with pride, “I am a teacher.”

I have been fortunate to have been able to teach so many hundreds of students at Portland Community College for 25 years. PCC has been a wonderful place to work, from the diversity of students to being able to be with so many people who share my passion. I have had the opportunity to learn so much, gain many lifetime friends, and been able to experience such incredible events. All because I have had the good fortune to work for Portland Community College.

I want to thank the college for entrusting me with so much responsibility: to work with the community, to guide students, to make decisions that can affect so many people’s lives. And I want to thank you for giving me every opportunity for growth, from continuing as department chair for so many years to slipping into your shoes for a year. It has been an honor to work with you these many years and I value our friendship. I would appreciate the opportunity to teach part-time on occasion for I still have a desire to bend students’ minds. I would be open to this possibility in the future.

Again, thank you for your leadership and friendship. I hope both will continue for many years.

“But I don't want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can't help that,” said the Cat, “we're all mad here.”


Sunday, May 08, 2011

Still Capping

As department chair, I have had the opportunity to mentor many new faculty. One of the most time-consuming and yet important parts of my position is to sit in classrooms to observe a part-time instructor’s teaching. It takes time, but the best part is the time spent with the instructor afterwards, talking about their teaching style, the things they are doing well, ideas for improving. It is the connection I can make, keeping an open-door policy, letting the part-time instructor know I am here if and when I am needed—that is what makes the task a joy.

I held the position as Interim Division Dean for a year. It was a very successful year as the faculty is extremely talented and work hard at their own crafts. They accomplished a great deal during the year and it seemed that everything they tried, they did well. It was their talents and hard work that brought these honors. My contribution was in creating a team who cared about one another, collaborating across the division together, building on our relationships.

All this remains outside the classroom. The most best delicious part of being a teacher is being inside the classroom. And it is this teaching that I love the most. When I was working with kids in special education, the best part was watching them “get it.” They worked so hard and hopefully the light bulb would come on. This thrill never went away. In college it is exciting to listen to students make the connections, start to think how they use the skills and knowledge for themselves, see the learning, the growth. It is watching the student with barriers learn how to roll with them, roll over them, learn how to deal with the bumps and slings. Each day I fall in love with teaching all over again.

Professor Ben Padrow was my mentor while in college. I was recently contacted by his daughter-in-law, asking for information about Ben as she prepared a portfolio for her Master’s degree program. Unfortunately Ben died long before she could meet him. As I prepared my answers to her questions, I came to remember what made him such a great teacher. Ben had an incredible passion for rhetoric. He brought this passion to his classes every day and assumed that his students held this passion as well. He didn’t question our feelings about speaking; he simply treated us as if we held this same passion. And we did. I compared my own teaching to his and realized that unlike him, I didn’t believe that my students had this same passion. Instead I hoped they did. Like Ben, I treat my students as if they did hold it, but not with the same conviction as Ben. Once again, he taught me something important. I may be surprised that students don’t hold the same love of speaking, but accept they may not…Ben simply took us to this passion on the wings of his own.

And teaching doesn’t stop as we walk out of the classroom for we never know where we have been a role model, a teacher. I remember once while in the Women’s Room, I heard a woman crying in the stall next to me. I quietly asked her if there was anything I could do. She was quiet for a moment and then said, “No. I’m fine.” A week later a young woman I had met while lecturing in a Sign Language Interpretation class came up to me, telling me that it was her in the stall the week before, and thanked me for my concern. She had recognized my voice when I asked if I could be of help. A year later she returned to the college and told me how much my offer to help, my sense of caring for a stranger, has helped her. It is this type of interaction with students and colleagues that help make this profession such an exhilarating. In 2002, I won an Excellence in Teaching Award. It was such an honor to be nominated and to actually win was incredible.

I returned to teaching after the year of being Interim Division Dean. The transition was not as easy as I thought it would be. The roughness I experienced wasn’t due to leaving the dean position, but rather was due to a combination of losing the connections with faculty I had created as dean and by not re-entering into a traditional classroom. When I returned to teaching it was to teach online courses. Over the past 15 years, I had worked to appropriately bring Public Speaking to the online venue. Initially I was one of two national pioneers of teaching public speaking online—I taught my first online public speaking course in 1997. I say “appropriately” because it could be and I did teach it online, but it wasn’t quite right. The technology was not yet perfected. Percentage-wise, students were as successful as in a traditional classroom, but I was not satisfied with how the students were being taught. I spent the next two years following my return to teaching in a virtual classroom. The amount of work it took to teach this class in what I hoped would be correctly was overwhelming, and it still wasn’t right. It still remained a one-on-one tutoring class. And frankly, doing this online almost broke my spirit. I hated my job as it had no rewards, or the rewards were so few and far between that there was no balance. It was true that I was working well with some students, that I received positive feedback from students. There were some positive “AhHa!” moments for them. But not enough to overcome the actual amount of work to get them there. I finally stepped away from the idea of teaching this course online and returned to a traditional classroom. After two hours on the first day of class, I stepped out of the classroom and felt my heart sing. I was once again in love with my job.

An on and on and on~~~

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Capstone Continues...

I began teaching college courses as a graduate student at Portland State University and was hired to teach at Portland Community College as a part time instructor before I had finished my Master’s degree. I continued to teach at both PSU and PCC for the next few years, as well as Clark College, and drove from campus, college, teaching site to campus, college and teaching site for about 500 miles a week. I became an educational prostitute: you pay me and I'll teach it. I taught an average of seven classes a term, mostly because I was afraid a class wouldn’t meet and I wouldn’t be able to feed my sons. I continued to work at the neighborhood store. I continued to collect newspapers. My sons grew old enough to have part-time jobs. We were breathing a bit easier by now.

Portland State University offered me a full-time teaching position on a grant. I was the first instructor to be hired in the department without a PhD. As a full-time instructor, I started the group advising sessions for Speech Communication majors, set the parameters for Speech minors and became the adviser for all minors. I juggled some 40 majors under my advisement as well. I stayed busy.

Meanwhile, I continued to teach at PCC, for I didn’t want to lose my classes if the grant money went away. When PCC offered me a temporary one-year teaching position, I hesitated because I didn’t want to lose my full-time position at PSU. But I decided I needed to take the risk—I needed a stable position not relying on grant money. When I told the department chair at PSU I was taking this position, he offered to hold the PSU position open to me if I needed to return. PCC also offered to hold my classes for me if I needed to return as a part time instructor. So I was a risk-taker who didn’t have to take any risks. PCC hired me, through an aggressive national search, as a full-time permanent-track the following year. I was on a tenure-track at last.

I started my tenure at Portland Community College teaching the required five classes and one overload. I also took on the position as the assistant coach to the Forensic Team. This meant I traveled with the speech team to all events, advised them, figured out the team budget, practiced with them, judged events, learning the whole business of Speech and Debate. The following year I became the acting director of the team. Each year we earned honors at nationals—both competing against other community colleges and against four-year colleges. The kids were just this great. Everything we tried, we did well. It was their talents and hard work that brought the honors. It was my guidance that created a team who cared about one another, working together, building on the relationships.

Over my 25 years at PCC, I have worked on many committees and workshops. I was one of the original members of the Diversity committee. I became the chair of the Student Graduation Speaker Selection committee, a position I held for over ten years. I worked on and then became the chair of Art Beat: a week of celebrating the arts, a position I held for ten years. I was a member of the Curriculum committee for many years, sat on the Educational Advisory Council for a few years. I created such courses as Nonverbal Communication, Gender and Communication, and Mass Media and Society for PCC. I created the Journalism program. I presented different topics and workshops for the Teacher Learning Center on campus at least once a year, often more frequently. I was a guest lecturer for many colleagues, from English Speakers of Other Languages classes to the Sign Language Program to Women’s Studies classes. I became the webmistress for the division, including the Forensic team, the Theatre schedule, the Northview Gallery, and Women’s Studies program. In 1994 I became the department chair for Performing Arts and continue to hold this position. In 2010, my chair position was split in half and I remained the chair of Communication Studies, Journalism, and Theatre Arts.

And on and on...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Capstone

I once read an interview with Anthony Bourdain, an American chef and author. He said he knows that deep inside him is a lazy hippy who’d be perfectly happy to lay on the couch, smoke weed and watch The Simpsons all day. He said he was afraid of that guy and his whole life was constructed to avoid reverting to him. So his motto has been to “Stay busy. Stay focused. Try not to mess up.” Like Bourdain, I have always been afraid someone would realize I was just this lazy drama queen who was simply sitting around on the couch, stoned every day, watching reruns of Perry Mason. So I have had to keep moving, keep working on hiding that lazy girl from the rest of the world. I finished high school, got pregnant, got married. My sons and I left that abusive marriage for welfare, moving on to find work as a teacher’s assistant in Special Education for Portland Public Schools. I surprised myself, having continually heard what a stupid fat woman I was, that within three years I had created a new position for Portland Public Schools and became the chair of the Special Education teacher aides. And then I stepped off the ledge to go to college at age 28. I wanted to be a Special Education teacher.

As I started classes, I worried that too many brain cells had died and I would not do well in school. After all, my sister was the smart one. So I just kept pushing myself. As an undergraduate student I wrote for the student newspaper, became the editor of the Marketing Association’s newsletter, and was a ghostwriter for a city councilperson, with the articles published in the Portland Observer. I also worked in the Office of Students with Disabilities, worked in the office of Speech Communication, all the while working 20-30 hours a week at a neighborhood market. I also worked as an aide for a man who was a quadriplegic, and in my spare time cooked and cleaned for a sweet little old lady who lived down the street.

It was important for me to graduate in four years—my sons needed me to start earning us a living—so I took 15-18 credit hours a term. I started teaching college courses while I was an undergraduate, even initiating two courses: Barriers to Communication: Communicating with People with Disabilities, and Communication and Obesity. At the end of my four years, I graduated with high honors as well as selected as an outstanding undergraduate student by the Department of Speech Communication. I earned a bachelor’s degree in Speech Communication and in Sociology, with a minor in Journalism. I was selected as the graduation speaker. I had obviously held off that lazy drama queen for a bit. I also no longer wanted to teach in Special Education. I didn't know what I wanted to do, but I knew it wasn't in Special Ed.

I graduated into a poor economy. The joke was, “How many Oregonians does it take to change a light bulb? Only one but 300 applied for the job.” I wanted to move to southern Oregon to live on the Klamath Indian Reservation as a house-sitter, and write as a freelance journalist. My former husband sued me for custody. I won the court battle, but it took such a beating on my sons I gave up this idea. I continued to work at the neighborhood store and earn money in any manner I could. I collected newspapers from the neighbors to turn in for money. I swept the parking lot at the store for $5. I turned in cans, sewed clothes for people, and lived frugally. Over the years as a student and then as a graduate we had our water shut off, heat shut off. We lived on food charged at the neighborhood store—bean and cheese burritos were 49 cents and boxed macaroni and cheese was a dime. We humbly received government cheese, powdered milk, pasta, and butter. When Portland State University called asking if I would be interested in earning a graduate degree as a teaching assistant, I didn’t hesitate. While I had no desire to earn a Master’s degree, I couldn’t overlook that PSU was not only paying for my education, it was paying me to be there. Ironically, out of the five graduate assistants hired my first year, I was initially the only one to complete my degree.

To be continued~~~

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Roosters Love Hens

Made this little wallhanging for a friend who loves roosters. She and her husband have been going through a tough time with illness and aging and, well, illness and aging. So I thought I would make her something fun :)

Problem is that the blue in the body bleed. Pre-washed and added a catcher when I washed it again. Still bleed. Hate to give an excellent quilter something that is not top quality.

But I will :) Sending my friend positive energy~~~

Saturday, April 02, 2011

What's Next?

I'm ready for something new. But I am not sure what yet.

I used to want to be a ballerina but I think that goal might not be appropriate at this time.

I also wanted to be a princess...but I have already surpassed and become a queen.

I could be a singer...except I don't sing well.

I could be a truck driver, visiting people across the nation.

How about a firefighter? Except I just can't do that much any more.

How about a dog trainer? I like dogs.

I don't know what's next. But something new is coming.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Mug Rug Swap

It has been quite a while since I have participated in a quilting swap with anyone. I have a large group of people on an online quilting forum--The Quilting Bee--on Delphi Forums. I used to swap fabrics or blocks or play Secret Sister. But I just moved away from all the playful activities when my work situation got so crazy. I didn't have the money or patience to play.

So when the Quilting Gallery posted they were doing a Mug Rug swap, I thought it would be a fun and easy swap. The "mug rugs" are 6"x10" quilts that are made to hold a mug of coffee or tea and a muffin or cookies. A quilted snack tray, in a sense. They looked fun and so simple. We are to make two--they don't have to match, coordinate, or even look good together. It can be any design, from a full crazy quilt to a pieced design.

I made they first one in all batiks, appliqueing a circle on the mug side and then piecing stripes on the second side. I decided to use a grey quilting thread and stitch 1/4 from the seams, then around the circle.

The second one I made with a wonky star and a braided chain. I thought about all braided--I really like the beauty of the braiding. But the wonky star called out to me. I decided to stitch in the ditch and discovered I am not longer very good at this skill! Obviously I should SITD more often! Both rugs were made from pieces of scrap, including the little backing.

I will send these off to my secret rug partner, probably Tuesday as I want to write a little note and perhaps find a little Made in Oregon gift. The gift isn't necessary, but it is fun.

So now that I have played a bit, procrastinating writing the exam for tomorrow's class...