Tag Archives: teachers

Sustainable Living: Big Picture, Baby Goals (Week 9)

We hit the motherlode Friday at two estate sales. For about $80, I got almost everything I will need to prep and can food with all the veggies I’m growing, plus some other stuff we’ve been patiently waiting to purchase used. Our haul included a canning pot with a box of medium-sized jars and lids, Sunbeam standing mixer, old high-quality blender with a glass reservoir, set of knives, set of cutlery, blanching pot, watering can, large cherub garden ornament, gas-powered weed whacker, porcelain-coated teapot, industrial food processor, splitting axe, two long planters, like-new window air conditioner, old cookbook (with a recipe for zucchini relish!), box of Christmas cards, hummingbird feeder, small manual grass seeder with grass seed, and two ornate wooden kitchen chairs.

To top it off, I brought some seeds and seedlings to a friend (pictured below), and she gave me some seeds. She likes to buy “weird” varieties, the kind I would never venture to try. So, I ended up with several previously unknown (to me) varieties of lavender, lettuce basil, lime basil, lemongrass, white cucumbers, beets, and apple melons. I didn’t record the exact names; thus, I can’t illuminate their strangeness. I’m prepared to be pleasantly surprised.

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This friend also showed me her compost pile, which I’ve decided to emulate for its simplicity. (I read several articles and blogs about it, too.) She just throws scraps in a fence corner and turns it every now and then. I don’t have a fence corner, so I will use chicken wire to fence off a spot in my yard for tossing buckets of kitchen scraps and whatever else. With the Week 9 goal only a matter of buying the chicken wire, I consider it accomplished.

As in the past weeks, I exceeded the goal. This morning, I resurrected a trellis for my peas made of small volunteer trees I cut out of the side yard last weekend. I secured the pots to the deck railing with bungee cords because the trellis now makes them vulnerable to wind. Viewing the picture I took of the trellis reminds me of when we saved our Quonset hut from going to the dump. Our Greek sculptor friend became too incapacitated to sculpt and had to sell his property. (The roadside attraction with some of his work is pictured here. George has since passed away. His obituary is here.) His wife allowed us to take a few items before clearing the property for the new owners. The Quonset hut is one of the items. We are now using it as temporary storage for our building materials as we remodel our town house. The hut will eventually become a permanent greenhouse at our country house.

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Of course, we continued to tend our seedlings, and I planted some new seeds this week, including spinach, cherry tomatoes, yellow peppers, and butternut squash. I intend to plant some onions yet today and maybe the basil and lemongrass. Happily, I can report that the potatoes and red peppers are beginning to sprout (Finally! I was starting to wonder.) Our Brandywine tomatoes and Black Valentine green beans are hardly seedlings anymore.

Finally, I’m delighted to report that my order of pectin and organic vanilla beans arrived. So, I need to stop by the Amish farm to see if I can purchase some frozen berries from last year. Then, I will be able to make the jam for the toaster pastries I’ve been wanting to make. With the organic vanilla beans, I’m going to make my own vanilla extract. (The bottle I intend to use is shown in the first picture in this post, making the extract functional and aesthetic—my ultimate desire for all things.) My use of The Homemade Pantry is underway!

As for next week’s goal, I’m going to keep it extra-simple because I suspect I will be super-busy with teaching responsibilities. (The end of the semester is near!) The goal is to plant more seeds, transplant seedlings, and cook some homemade food.

AND I will continue to spread the Sustainable Word wherever I go to whomever will listen! I appreciate your camaraderie and readership!

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Withstanding the Walkers of the World

A few years ago, I made a decision to make students my top priority despite the inevitable and constant political noise around us. Students are the reason I started teaching, and they will remain the reason I stay teaching. Period.

One of my students informed me that an instructor in another class asked all his students to watch their instructors for behavioral changes during this budget crisis. As observed here and in other comments, the prevailing expectation is that teachers will become distracted, leading to a reduction in teaching quality. My hope is that us teachers won’t succumb to threats from the latest bully in our midst because he is neither the first nor the last.

Let the Walkers of the world wield their whimsical words of the week to secure their precious re-elections. A commitment to students is a long-term one, of which politicians know little. A quick review of history reveals that at any given time, some insane minority has managed to gain power over the majority, subjecting them to rules of the most ridiculous kind. Alas, one doesn’t even have to read to learn of this tragic historical redundancy. As I have recently done, one can easily obtain movies like Martin Luther, Roots, The Poisoner’s Handbook, Lincoln, The Butler… . Of course, this majority always claims that their way is the only rational way, although the contradictions are clear. (E.g., slaves are like cattle, yet humans may breed with them. Yes, this was accepted as perfectly rational. In fact, it was seen as “God’s way” for more than a hundred years!!)

I hope this interruption of our regularly scheduled programming in educational excellence is temporary. As in wiping-his-feet-on-the-rug-on-his-way-out-the-door temporary while teachers stay the course for their students as they always do. Unfortunately, the rug is our state this time, and as Kunte Kinte so aptly demonstrated, we should never forget our roots and never fail to pass on our traditional public education values. We still hold the power to pass these values on to our students, no matter what the political sway of the day may be. We need to show our young people that we will not allow this bully to hold us down.

More later…