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Odds and Ends

A day at home at last.  This weekend was quite busy with the dinner party, and then I had to be in London all day Monday and Tuesday.  I had grand plans for doing a ton of dissertation work today but before I could get to it I had to spend time with my poor neglected dogs (training and exercising, a total of about 3.5 hours), making bread (6 loaves), and finish a pot of chicken soup stock that I started on Monday.  Oh, and bringing in wood and catching up on emails and phone calls.  And so on.

All of a sudden it is 7:45pm and I’m ready for bed.  I still have to prepare lunch and organize my class for tomorrow.  So much for getting any dissertation work done!  Darn it.  This seems to be the case far too often these days.  I was supposed to just spend two days a week away from home, and then work the rest of the time.  But lately I have been managing about one day home out of every 4-5, and that day ends up being a catch-up day.  This must stop.  It doesn’t help that I have to travel so much to get treatment on my back.  This weekend I am heading back to Niagara for more osteopathic adjustments.  These are fantastic and I look forward to it, but the travel is disruptive.  This weekend I have to grade 160 exams as well, so likely I won’t be getting much writing done for that reason alone.  Hmm…. Time to get things back into balance!

If I didn’t have to go in to work tomorrow, I’d be perfectly set now to roll out of bed in the morning and start working.  I love doing this and (shockingly for such a non-morning person) work very well when I first wake up.  I think it’s the meditative state I am in when so groggy.  Starting next Thursday I have 12 days off in a row and I can’t wait!  My goal is to finish my transcriptions and get all the mechanical aspects of my data analysis in order, i.e. loaded into the analysis software and fully linked and coded.  If I can get that done, I will feel a lot better about where I’m at, and where I am going!

I just received notification that my proposal to the Canadian Association of Food Studies (CAFS) conference was accepted, so I will be presenting two separate papers within 5 days of each other at the end of May (the other one being at a Political Science conference).  Four months off but it feels like tomorrow.  Which is good as I need pressure and deadlines to really get working.  I organized these papers to each be the foundation of one of the chapters of my dissertation, so instead of being extra work I am hoping they will move me forward.

My latest batch of yogurt didn’t work out.  I have no idea why.  I thought I had things figured out, but no such luck.  What ended up in my jars was essentially milk with floating globs of a yogurt-like substance with a flavour too mild to be yogurt.  Drat.  Three liters of milk turned into dog food and I have to make yogurt again.  I won’t have time until next week either.  Fortunately my roommate left me some of hers (she has gone on vacation) so I can at least have breakfast tomorrow.

Right now I am making bread.  It is rising and almost ready to be baked.  I ran out of white flour and my book said I can substitute other types, including whole wheat and rye.  I had both so made one batch with only whole wheat, and two with about a quarter rye flour, the rest whole wheat.  It will be interesting to see how it all turns out.  Hopefully it won’t be more dog food!  Grain is not good for them so it will likely go to the pigs at a neighbouring farm (where we now have to deposit our compost because our bins are totally full) or to the squirrels.  Fingers crossed it will turn out!  I won’t have time to make bread again for at least another week.

I received some very good news this week: I have been offered a job for next year.  It is yet another 8 month teaching contract, but it is for a primary instructor position (to date I have only been a teaching assistant), running my own courses.  I’m very excited, although as I haven’t signed a contract yet I know it is still possible for things not to work out.  But hopefully it will as it is an excellent opportunity.  This job also settles my thoughts about leaving the area. Apparently I am meant to stay here for one more year at least.  Funny how that continues to happen, despite all my grand ideas about moving to the Kingston area.  The Universe clearly has other plans for me and there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot I can do about it!

While I will be staying in Southwestern Ontario, I am not sure if I’ll be staying in this house or not as other factors are involved.  For one, my roommate is not sure what she is doing and that needs to be settled first and foremost.  I really like living here and would be happy to stay another year, although the commute may be up to 3 days a week next year and I’m not sure I’m up  for that.

Furthermore, I would really, really like to have a garden again, and perhaps even raise a few chickens.  To have a garden here would require building a raised bed in the sunniest spot possible (which still might not be sunny enough) and that’s a fair bit of work and yet more investment into a home I don’t own.  As for the chickens, I would have to get approval from my roommate and my landlord, and also make sure it is not in violation of any by-laws (I don’t believe it is).  Then I’d had to fence in the property, which I am planning on doing for the dogs anyway, but again, more time, energy and investment into this house.

I had a discussion with myself on this topic today, first swinging in favour of doing all of the above, and then convincing myself that if I do put energy into anything like this, it should be into finishing my furniture projects that I can bring with me.  The garden and chickens should wait another year (or two, or…) until I get this pesky dissertation done and I am living somewhere I will be staying for a long(er) time.  I have never been good at being pragmatic to the detriment of my passions – and am not sure if now is the time to start (if ever).  I have already talked myself out of getting sheep this year, much as I am desperate for them.  But it really doesn’t do good things for the soul to year after year put off all our dreams.  Perhaps a few chickens and a lettuce patch is a good compromise.  Fortunately I do have a couple of months to figure this all out.

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3 Responses

  1. That’s wonderful news about presenting your papers AND getting a teaching job for next year. You should be very proud! I’m venturing into my Masters in the Fall (hopefully! fingers crossed everything goes well with my applications) I’m shuddering at the notion of marking 160 exams. eeek. I hope they’ll atleast be interesting for you.

    • That’s awesome! All fingers crossed… in what field may I ask?

      As for the marking, you should hopefully never have to do that many unless you do what I did and take on separate marking contracts. Most teaching assistant positions give you from 30-60 students to work with, but I have taken on two additional marking contracts, one with 160 students and one with 180, where I am the only marker (with no teaching duties). The essays for the larger class are indeed fairly interesting, which makes it not too bad.. still, I hope not to have to do this beyond this year!

      • That’s nice that you get to read some fairly interesting papers. I am hoping to go for a Masters in Environmental Studies, same as my undergraduate field. My research interests are mainly environmental business and social perceptions on controversial environmental issues. It is nice to hear about your PhD journey!

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