Sunday, April 27, 2008

Another beautiful day

It's time to bear down for the home stretch, but before I do I afforded myself a relatively lazy weekend.

Did some reading: Chicago Tribune, research paper rough drafts, and a novel, Cleveland Anonymous, by NIU English professor Keith Gandal. Watched mindless entertainment: South Park Season 9 on DVD. Played some guitar. Had a wild, wild time watching my son Saturday night. He's a toddler and thinks it's funny to wallop me in the face when I least suspect it, and he laughs when I get upset. I remember a time, not so long ago, when Saturday nights were a little more festive than playing trucks and reading Dr. Seuss.

Cleaned the apartment. I should take pictures, it looks so good. I had printed and framed an old family photo of my maternal great-grandparents (Fiorello), including my grandmother Josephine as a baby. Also had printed and put in a frame pictures from both of Jonny's birthday parties. My photo wall is looking quite homey.

Today attended English department awards at Adams Hall at NIU and accepted the Jeannie A. Hainds Award for Excellence in Student Teaching. Whoo hoo. It was nice to see some of the bigwigs in the department who've helped me along the way -- Drs. Baker, Callahan, Day, and MacDonald -- give me congratulations. It was strange to have my parents, Esther and Jonny cross the divide into my academic life, but I was glad they could be there for me.

Roasted a whole chicken, corn on the cob, and red potatoes for dinner. Jonny was a crab cake until he got fed. Damn. Now that I recount my weekend, it no longer retains the air of repose I originally assigned to it.

One more paper.

One more test.

One more ceremony.

And then... wilderness....

Friday, April 25, 2008

Pics from Pecatonica River F.P. and Lowden S.P

Last weekend I went camping at Pecatonica River Forest Preserve and stopped for a two-hour hike at Lowden State Park en route. Here are some pictures I took at both.

Chief Blackhawk statue sculpted by Loredo Taft.

Dutchman's Breeches near the banks of the Rock River in Lowden State Park.

Bloodwort? I'm guessing.

The road to the camping area is lined with beautiful old pines.

My campsite on the edge of honeysuckle-choked forest.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Lotsa news!

Times have been especially hectic lately. Good, but hectic.

Instead of going into a long, drawn-out narrative, I'll opt for one sentence bullet points:

  • I was hired this week to teach in Elgin this fall.
  • I was also hired by the DeKalb School District to a .4 full-time equivalent job teaching the Life Skills class at Huntley MS I've been teaching for the past five weeks as a substitute.
  • I'll also make some extra dough tutoring at Huntley.
  • I find out next week whether I passed my master's exam and if I won the Exemplary Student Teacher Award.
  • I think the master's exam went well too and will be surprised if I fail.
  • I didn't win the Arnold Fox Award (for excellence in graduate papers). Congratulations to the winners, Elizabeth Bowman and Kathleen Turner.
  • My parent's 50th anniversary party went off marvelously and mom and dad appreciated the hourlong photo DVD I made for them.
  • I'm editing the DVD to add a few more photos and brother Mike is designing a label. If anyone wants a copy, send me an e-mail at
  • The herbs I planted a few weeks ago -- dill, cilantro, basil, sage, lemon balm, chives, and mint -- are all growing nicely.
  • Starter plants for tomatoes and peppers are also coming up.
  • The mothballs I laid out have not kept the squirrels at bay. One put its paws on my living room picture window, smack dab in the middle of the established NSZ (no squirrel zone).
  • My next option is to mark the NSZ daily with urine.
  • Everyone I've told about this thinks I'm crazy.
  • Jonny is well. His favorite words are "No!" and "Mine!"
  • He's grown two inches since December.
  • I took him to "our" first baseball game Sunday. He lasted two innings before getting antsy. That is insanely focused for a two-year-old.
  • Mark your calendars for Saturday, May 17 -- Graduation Party! More details soon.
  • The last two hurdles in this phase of my academic career are a 15-page paper for ENGL 507 and a sure-to-be-tougher-than-blazes ENGL 520 (semantics) final.
  • Life is slowly coming down to normal.
  • This manic wave will ebb soon.
  • Or not.
  • Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, May 28-June 13.
  • I will not see any roads or other overt signs of civilization the entire time!
  • Sweet...
  • And now that employment is secured, and I will soon know training schedules, deadlines, etc. for the new job, summer trip planning may commence.
  • Dad and I are definitely going to Yellowstone National Park in July. Most likely we'll visit Grand Teton NP and and stop off at Mt. Rushmore en route.
  • My goal is to sleep outside 100 nights this year.
  • So far, I've slept outside once, last Saturday night, in my friend Andy's backyard, and was awakened by a poodle barking at my feet.
  • Another goal is to finish my Rock River odyssey and write a series of articles about the trip.
  • That's all for now.