Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Fragments

Hmm...I'm beginning to think my lovely, thoughtful, fascinating blog is going to be reduced to Flartus' Friday Fragments.


Well, I know I've mentioned it a few times before, but let me be explicit about my sudden new work schedule. As my handful of regular--and very much valued--readers know, I recently accepted a part-time teaching position. Yay! Very exciting; an adjustment to the schedule, but after a few weeks, I knew it would be fine.

So my Monday through Wednesday evenings are taken. No prob; I still have the rest of the week, right?

WRONG! Ever hear of a little government program called Cash for Clunkers? Well, my day job is in auto loans, and our volume has suddenly tripled. Besides working 10- to 12-hour days during the week, my department has worked every Saturday since...well, sometime in July. And it's going to continue for at least another two weeks. The worst thing is, 50 hours a week still leaves us 3 days behind!

Now, I don't want to complain (not that I haven't been complaining on my tired, panicky days!). I'm paid hourly, so the overtime isn't hurting the bank balance. And Miss Chef has been working these kinds of hours for at least 4 years, so I know it's not the end of the world. But that's why I haven't been to the farmers' market in a month. And why I dropped the ball on the garden, the canning, the teaching stories and the food pics. There has been very little cooking in the Flartus household! Hopefully by the end of September, I'll have some more time to share with you all.

So, anyway, off to the Fragments!

Brussels sprouts THIS is how they grow:

They start out like any little cabbage plant. As they grow taller, you cut off the lower leaves, promoting larger buds. You can see some of the leaves on the ground around this plant. I didn't realize they would need cutting every week or two. But Miss Chef was the one who wanted to try these out, so I figured everything I did was extra, anyway. :)

Here's a close-up of the growing stalk.

Miss Chef's Birthday Well, falling on a Saturday, this was going to be another working birthday for Miss Chef. In fact, she and I both went to school Saturday morning: she to do a demo for the open house, me to work on my lesson plans (our computer was still down, so I needed to go onto campus anyway.) We had lunch together at O'Charley's, where our food runner turned out to be one of my students. That happened fast; I'd only been teaching for a month before I ran into a student. Anyway, we each went off to our separate workplaces after that.

But it wasn't all lame-o work stuff. As he did last year, Chef Adam made Miss Chef a cake, and they called me from the restaurant to come for post-service cake & drinks. Which meant driving half an hour and arriving at 10 pm. But you know I love the post-service family-meal time there, and Chef once again ended up telling stories and acting out weird previous employees, so it was worth the drive. Plus, the cake was really good!

Sunday we went to see a free Shakespeare Festival rendition of Julius Caesar. It was not as good as the Twelfth Night show we had seen the month before, but we met up with Michele's (of Bosky Acres) two oldest kids, and stumbled upon an excellent little soul-food restaurant for dinner afterwards. So it was still a fun change of pace.

Teaching I love realizing that my students and I have established a group relationship. They know my sense of humor, I know more about their interests, strengths and weaknesses, and I've encouraged a number of them through some frustrations and bad grades. I may have finally figured out how to use the book: have the students read the bare-bones content before class, then flesh it out next session with more examples, explanations and practice. I'll see Monday how that works.

I came up with a really good partner practice activity for last Wednesday's class. They had to describe their situation ("I'm thirsty") using some new expressions, and their partner had to suggest where they should go to solve their problem ("Tu vas au café"), using new vocabulary and a new grammar structure. Unlike some classwork, this felt very natural; they found it amusing, too, but best of all: they were communicating in French.

Sure, it was very basic, the pronunciation was mediocre, and they could cheat by falling into English. But walking around, watching and listening to them do exactly what this course is designed to do, is one of those rewarding moments that inspire me. It's one of the few times I can see the tangible results of my work.

Ted Kennedy It's been all over the news the last two days: how much he did for the disadvantaged, and how good he was at reaching "across the aisle." I don't know a whole hell of a lot about his history in either area (nor about Chappaquadick, which seems obviously absent from what I've heard; let us speak not ill of the dead, I suppose). Sounds like Ted did a lot for his country and probably was sincere about trying to help the citizenry.

But I keep hearing about how he would compromise, reach out to conservatives and back off some aspects of his bills to make sure something got done. How he had actual, true friends of the opposite political persuasion. And it makes me wonder if that's all done. Is there any hope of sewing up this conservative ~ liberal, Democrat ~ Republican, red-state ~ blue-state, us vs. them, name-calling divide? As a true blue liberal, I could easily blame the past administration, but as Mom always said "It takes two to tango."

Cut it out, Americans! Would you start looking past political opinions and maybe consider where that other person is coming from? There's got to be a reason they feel, believe and vote that way, and no, it's not because they're crazy or stupid. Just different. Every sane person generally acts from a basis of rational thought.

And yes, I need to heed these words myself. I'm no saint, either. But sheesh; where is all this hatred coming from? Is this going to be our new reality, or are we still capable of returning to a more mature mode of communication? I'm scared, people, very scared for our little 200-year old political experiment here. As George Washington said (I believe), "Democracy breeds mediocrity." Are we becoming just another isolationist, ignorant populace, led by the nose by our demagogues?

I hate to end on a down note, but that's all I've got for this week. Maybe something miraculous will happen at Ted's internment tomorrow, and we'll all find ourselves joining hands and singing "Kumbaya" together.

Hey, a girl can dream, can't she?


  1. on working hard and a lot of hours- y'all are young and I used to be high energy like that but somewhere along the way I pooped out. I'm 53 and now wondering how I got here so fast. I've worked at the same place for 25 years!

    I follow politics and sure wish it would get a lot less political. I'm now a registered Independent.

  2. You sould start officially doing fragments with Half Past Kissin' Time!

    New work schedule sounds tough but good to know there is a boost in business.

    Love the sprouts pic- looks like a spine.

    Sounds like Miss Chef had a great birthday!

    Love the teaching successes.

    And I agree on the political front.

  3. Hoo, boy! I'm going to love reading your Friday Fragments - you sure covered a lot of territory. I admire all you're doing - I'm retired, with all the time in the world, and I'm sitting on my big A in front of the computer instead of unpacking boxes. And I definitely agree with your final comments.

    Belated Happy Birthday, Miss Chef!

    Nancy in Iowa

  4. I sure agree with your final comments. I have always been a democrat but lately I have been disappointed in both parties. Don't worry if you post once a day or once a month, I love your blog and will still read it! I have only tried brussel sprouts once and hated them but they sure are a pretty and interesting garden plant!

  5. Flarto, I think the firm majority of Americans are like you(us) - everyone else is just louder right now.

  6. You have taught me so much about brussels sprouts! I really didn't know they grew on stalks like that. I figured they were raised in little miniature cabbage rows and harvested with little miniature cabbage hoes.

    But more important, you taught me how hard you and Ms Chef work and how glorious your life is and how I can be amazed so much by people I don't really know. But I'm proud to know you in the virtual sense and hope one day our paths will cross in a real way.

    Thank you Flar.


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