Weekend Coffee Share: A New Semester

weekendcoffeeshare

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that I can’t spend as much time as usual because I still have a few things to finish up for the start-up of my classes this week. I’m teaching Intro to Criminal Justice again (two sections) and a combination online/in-person (hybrid) Intro to Sociology course. This is my first hybrid course, and I just completed the training for it about ten days before Christmas. I’m looking forward to classes, but as always, I wouldn’t mind having a little more time before things started up. But I guess that’s always the way. But I’m going to head to a near-by coffee shop (3 1/2 miles away)  😉 to gather my focus.

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that I got my sewing machine set up this morning. Dave was so great about packing it up securely so that I could bring it back with me and not have to wait until he arrives in February. I’d also tell you that I think I’ve practiced the basic machine quilting enough while I was in Iowa that I can move onto the actual quilt, hopefully tomorrow.

Dave in Iowa 229

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that I finished all the revisions and the report to the reviewers for the co-authored article only to find out that my co-author confused the deadline with one of his other deadlines. We have effectively missed the deadline. He thought it was tomorrow, but it was actually last Tuesday. If we’ve lost the chance to get it published with them, I will start targeting other journals to submit it to, but it was a big disappointment.

Still, I’m still feeling very good about the direction life has been taking over the past few days, and I’m looking forward to the coming weeks.

 If you’d like to join in and have coffee or tea and see what everyone else has been up to this week, you can head over to Diana’s page for the details and the Linky to lots of people who are making the weekly coffee share part of their weekends.

*****

This post is also part of JusJoJan, Day 10. Another great place to connect with other bloggers.

jjj-2016

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Transition Friday with a BIG Dose of Good News

library coffee shop 004I flew in from Iowa last night and landed in Michigan at 11:15 pm. My friend Susan picked me up at the airport and brought me to her house where my van had been parked while I was gone. Three weeks ago, I spent the night at Susan’s place before we headed out early for the trip to the airport, and last night, I again spent the night there before heading out this morning back in the direction of my current residence.

However, since there was a fair amount of distance to cover, along with errands (like groceries and a potential visit to my daughter’s), I planned a leisurely route that would get things accomplished and get me home by evening–a day of transitioning from my time in Iowa to my life back in Michigan. This plan was workable largely because my classes don’t start until next week, and my private tutoring also got put on hold until then as well.

The plan had been to visit my daughter around lunch time, and I planned to stop somewhere along the way (about a 55 miles driver to her place) to have coffee and finish the revisions on my co-authored paper which is due Monday.

I decided to stop at a coffee shop that I’ve visited many times in the past, but not since my return to the US in late July. Today was the perfect day for it. I ordered a latte and a muffin and settled in to work on what I hope is the next to the last time I have to look at this paper.  😉 While I was working, my phone rang. It was one of the faculty from the university where I work. She was frustrated trying to put her course materials on our online platform, so I arranged to stop by before going to my daughter’s.

This colleague is the same one who is letting me stay in the house that they are planning to put on the market in the spring. But there has been something happening in the background. They also have a rental house that happened to become available around Thanksgiving. But they were trying to decide whether to rent it again (after a frustrating broken lease) or to just put it on the market again.

In a bit of a joke, she said, “too bad we didn’t know. That would be an even better location for you.” (Although at the time I moved here, I hadn’t started the tutoring yet, and my income was still a little iffy to take on rent.) But right before Christmas, she sent me an email and asked me if we were serious about it. Dave and I talked about it and of course, we were interested, but we were concerned about how much rent we could afford at least until he got here and we knew more about what we could expect as regular income. At our ages, we aren’t fooling ourselves about finding full-time jobs, but we’re both good at cobbling things together to create income.

So, I responded to the email, saying yes, we’d be interested if we could work something out rent-wise. Then we didn’t hear anything. I sent another email a couple of days ago, but no answer as of yet.

But after working on her course stuff, she brought up the house again. I gave her the timeline Dave and I were looking at, and she said she was willing to work out a rent that just covered their expenses plus a bit–and not a big bit. The end result was $20 less than my best hope for what we could get. I was delighted. Even if Dave didn’t get a job for a while, I could manage it if we cut our spending to not much.

Dave was planning to get a small truck to bring back a few of the pieces of furniture his sister doesn’t want–things we didn’t give to Salvation Army because they are things that we could use to reestablish a household again. And it looks like we’re going to have a place to put those things, and we can set up the lease on the new place to coincide with his arrival with the truck. We are quite excited!

I also got a call for doing three weekends work of music at then end of January and the first two weeks of February, so it was a rather awesome day. And I still got to see my daughter and spend time with her.

And a bonus? I will be able to move my piano out of my brothers’ house into my own place. A darn good day, I’d say!  🙂

*******

This post is part of JusJoJan

jjj-2016

 

Weekend Coffee Share: Welcome 2016

weekendcoffeeshareIt’s Sunday, time to gather with family and friends and catch up on the week’s happenings. Check it out at Diane’s page.

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that I only have four more days left in Iowa before heading back to Michigan to start up the new semester.  It’s been wonderful to be here with David and his sister, even if one of her dogs can’t decide whether to play with me or bark at me.

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that I’ve made good use of my time here. The revisions of my co-authored paper are moving into the final phase, and the editing job I’m doing for an accreditation site visit are moving along.

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that I’m finalizing my plans for my two sections of Introduction to Criminal Justice and a hybrid section of Introduction to Sociology. This hybrid course features five in-person sessions at the beginning of the semester and another five (including the final exam) at the end. All the stuff in the middle is done online. I’m enjoying the chance to create something that will get students excited about sociology while having the freedom to try new things.

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that in addition to the work I need to do for my own projects, I’ve been helping Dave with the sorting of papers and belongings, arranging for furniture pick up, and making the place a little more cozy, so his sister can really call it her own, now that Mom has been gone nearly two years. If Cathy’s tests at the end of January go well and the cancer doesn’t require any major surgery or treatment, Dave will be back in Michigan in February. Fingers crossed for all of us.

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that I finally got my sewing machine figured out and I have machine quilted nearly half of my practice quilt. I’ll be able to start the actual quilting on Jack’s quilt very soon — maybe even tomorrow!

I’d also tell you that My Weekend Coffee Share is going to double as a JusJoJan post. Head over and check it out.  🙂

jjj-2016

If We Were Having Coffee: Embracing October

weekendcoffeeshareSuch a fun way to recap the week with friends. Sometimes, when things get busy and I can’t find time to post, this medium is absolutely perfect for getting reconnected. Thanks to Diana at Part-Time Monster for hosting.

If we were having coffee,

GeniusI’d tell you that Jack (my new grandson) is now a month old! It seems like only yesterday that I was holding the day-old angel. It’s so cliche to talk about how time flies, but I swear this little guy will be in school before I know it.

Which is why I’d also tell you that last night I did some work on the quilt I’m making for Jack, and I plan to do more on it tonight. I’d love to show you pictures of what’s going on with it, but I gave Jack’s mother the option, and she prefers to be surprised, so I’ll post pictures AFTER it’s completed. Have no fear: I’m taking photos along the way.

I’d also tell you (or remind you) that Jack’s mother, Megan has an awesome blog featuring recipes, restaurant reviews, and lots of other amazing things at MegGoesNomNom. 

And finally (when it comes to Jack), I’d tell you that I need to get back to see that guy again!

If we were having coffee,

loganhatdayI’d tell you that I did see my other grandson, Logan, on Friday. He is four and a half and  is enjoying preschool, especially the bus ride on the way there. He even learned his bus driver’s name before his teacher’s name. He goes four days a week, so Friday was a good day to go visiting.

Logan likes wearing the days of the week socks that his paternal grandfather got for him. Not that Kate needs help keeping up to date on laundry, but Logan now has a vested interest since he wants to make sure that the socks are reading for the rotation when Monday morning rolls around.

I’d tell you how much fun Logan had with spirit week at school. On Monday, it was Sports Day, and Tuesday was Beach Day. The picture here is from Wednesday or Hat Day. On Thursday, it was Mismatch Day. Kate, who blogs at Sincerely Kate, took pictures each day before he caught the bus.

If we were having coffee,

enggment_photoI’d tell you that three weeks from today, I’ll be returning from Orlando and my eldest son’s wedding. He and Jessica are so happy. Doug waited a long time for this moment, and I’m glad he found someone who brings joy to his life. I think she’s pretty happy with him, too.  🙂

I’d also mention that it will be the first time in ten years that all four of my children will be in the same place at the same time. The last time was when we celebrated my 50th birthday (and my college graduation and acceptance to grad school). For the wedding in October, Jack and his mother won’t make the trip, but Jack’s father (son #3) will come down for a couple days, as he and his brother are both standing in the wedding. So family pictures are definitely in the plans during all these festivities.

I’d tell you that Jessica, my daughter-in-law to be, has worked at Disney for several years, and that after the ceremony at church, we will celebrate the reception at Disney. It will be my first visit to Disney.

Although my parents would like to go to the wedding, the trip from Michigan to Florida is just too much right now, so they will cheer from the sidelines, and we will make sure to bring lots of pictures back for them.

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that I spent some time yesterday with my mother going through the loose recipes she has. We started organizing them into categories and selected a few that looked especially inviting for the near future. I also did a lot of cooking yesterday: a pasta salad that will last a few days, a spaghetti squash, a tomato spaghetti sauce to go along with said squash, and some apple crisp. It’s actually kind of fun. It’s been so long since I’ve done much cooking that I enjoy it. I don’t think my parents mind either. I do take requests.  🙂 And I’m already thinking about what I’ll make next time.

If we were having coffee,

I’d wish you a great week and tell you how much I look forward to catching up again next week.

Join in the fun at: http://parttimemonster.com/2015/10/03/weekendcoffeeshare-first-week-of-october-edition/

57 days to 60: Week 2 at the Coffee Shop

heinz_57_sauceI probably should have resisted, but with today being 57 days to 60, I just couldn’t bring myself to ignore the obvious. Anyone who knows me isn’t really surprised anyway.

The poll results are in. This was the picture that readers could vote about:

casting spells

The results:

Three choices were given about what I’m doing in this photo from my last day of teaching the Japanese students.

21 people voted as follows:

  • Teaching a class   – 48%  (10 votes)

NOTE:  OK, you are right. But did you have fun being right?  🙂

 

  • Casting a spell – 38% (8 votes)

NOTE:  I have to admit, it was the first thing I thought of when I saw this picture. My favorite comment was from Emmely, who had this to say: 

Definitely casting a spell! You’re bewitching those students to love writing as much as you do.

  • Getting over caffeine overdose – 14% (3 votes)

NOTE:  I admit to setting the three of you up. When it comes to me and coffee, there is no such thing as too much.  😉

 

57 days to 60!

 

58 days to 60: If We Were Having Coffee with the Japanese Students

58If we were having coffee, I would tell you:

Today marks 58 days to 60. And since the Japanese students left last week, I thought I’d feature them in this week’s IF WE WERE HAVING COFFEE.

There is so much I could say about my time with the students from Japan. Teaching them was a special treat, and while I enjoy this program every time I do it, this year’s group especially touched my heart. I’d tell you that even though, I’m grateful to be able to catch up on rest and simple tasks like thinking, I really miss them already.

I’d tell you that in addition to the 14 hours of instruction that each of the two groups of Japanese students received from me, I had designed an extra activity for them before they even arrived in Taiwan. The idea was that I would take each group of ten students to the Tuesday night writing group at the coffee shop that hosts us. Ten students each night with a few of our regulars, and it would make for a nice group.

The plan:  Week 1 – Group B; Week 2 – Group B; Week 3 (just the regulars again)

The reality:  Week 1

Week 1-1Yeah, you might say my estimate was a bit conservative. What happened is that some of the students in Group B wanted to have their friends from Group A with them. I knew we could pull it off just barely, but then their English speaking TA’s ALL decided to come along. As you can see, the results were rather overwhelming for the space.

week 1-3I’d tell you that we survived it, and much fun was had by all. It took a long time to get drinks ordered and even more to take dumpling and noodle orders for the place two doors down that would deliver the food to us in the meeting room.

I’d also tell you that I knew with that many people (we had a total of over 30), we couldn’t actually do any writing activities. So I announced that the English TA’s could have dinner with us, but then they would have to leave except for the TA’s who were already assisting me. I told the departing students they could join the group in three weeks when the Japanese students were back home, but that the time was for them right now.

Whew! After dinner, eight people left. It may not seem like much, but it opened up just enough space at the tables that we could have some actual writing activities. By the end of the evening, we had agreed that now that we had the bugs out, maybe we’d do it again for week 2 with both groups. No point bringing Group A alone, when Group B didn’t want to come without their friends. Tomorrow, we’ll move on to week 2. Stay tuned.  🙂

58 days to 60!

 

 

If We Were Having Coffee: Year of the Goat Edition

year-of-the-goat-with-icons_23-2147502885I missed the gathering last week, but I’m back today to share what’s been going on lately and all the things that are gearing up to keep me busy.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you:

That the celebration of Chinese New Year is winding down. Each day, a few more businesses are open again and the streets get a bit busier, and by Tuesday, life returns to normal for just about everyone. In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying extra hours at the coffee shop. Tomorrow, Dave and I will go to Taipei to meet friends for lunch.

My new semester begins on Wednesday. Since Chinese New Year fell on almost the last possible day that it COULD fall, we are getting a later than usual going back to school. My new 18 week semester starts on Wednesday.

Two of the Tottori students from the 2013 visit.

Two of the Tottori students from the 2013 visit.

Weeks 2-4 of the semester will be especially exciting and busy. Twenty students from Tottori University in Japan will be visiting our campus for a three-week intensive English program. During that time, I will teach 14 hours of writing each to two groups of ten students from that University. This is in addition to my regular teaching. This is the third year Tottori University has brought students to Ming Chuan University for this program. It’s also the third year that I’ve taught the writing portion. I love the challenge of trying to change students’ attitudes about English writing in the tight time frame. 

admin-ajax.phpSpeaking of teaching, it’s a good thing that I like to use PPT (PowerPoint) presentations, because I was informed by the doctor last week that my shoulder is deteriorating, and that writing on the board is not something I should be doing for the next few weeks. So, we’re managing pain and resting it and using heat. So fun. I guess I’ll look for alternative ways I can torture teach students about writing.

Did I mention that I suspected this doctor is likely younger than my oldest son? Not only that, he had the nerve to tell me This degeneration is due to aging! AGING! Who does he think he’s talking to? I finally asked him at our third encounter how old he was, what do you know — I was right on. He’s the same age as my second son. Geez!

I’m in the final stages of preparing my job application for a job in the US for the 2015-16 academic year. For now, think good thoughts and I’ll tell more when I have more information, and maybe an offer.  🙂

This is an interesting birthday time in our family. My two youngest children, were due two years and a day apart. So their birthday are one week and a day apart, and they were both late! So yesterday (Saturday) was my son, Tom’s birthday. Next Sunday (March 1) is Kate’s. She’s the one who usually tries to talk me into doing some kind of Kate-friendly post for her birthday. We’ll see what happens.  🙂

It’s been great having coffee with you and catching up. Wishing you a great week.

Thanks to Diana for hosting our gathering:  https://parttimemonster.wordpress.com/2015/02/21/4149/

 85 days until 60!

Chinese New Year’s Eve in Taiwan: Locked in a Coffee Shop

chinese-new-year-2015_23-2147502883Today is Chinese New Year’s Eve. As evening approaches, the majority of businesses, restaurants, and other establishments will close and remain that way tomorrow and even into the following day. Places like schools are off longer. My university, for example, starts back on Wednesday next week. (Technically, the holiday lasts all the way to the 15th day of the new month, concluding with the Lantern Festival.) Now, that doesn’t mean EVERYTHING is closed. But other than the fireworks that will pick up in the next few hours, things will get pretty quiet. Many of the people in this area actually travel south to join their extended family for reunion dinners (on the husband’s side of the family) and then lunch with the wife’s family on the second day.

Now that you know that, I’ll tell you that I’ve spent pretty much the entire day at the coffee shop that I use as my pseudo office during the semester break. Naturally, I was wondering what they were planning for CNY. It turns out, they wanted me to know their plans as well. So through a couple of my students, they conveyed to me that they would close from 5-9 pm on New Year’s Eve for a family dinner. Then they’d reopen at 9 and stay open until their usual closing time at midnight. (We saw in the January New Year here at the coffee shop, so it seemed like a great idea to do it for CNY as well.)

A few days after telling me about the dinner on Wednesday, they posted a sign on the register and had someone translate for me to let me know they were going to go north of Taipei for the day. So they would be closed all day yesterday (Tuesday), but reopen today (Wednesday). They are also going to be open New Year’s Day (Thursday) and on. On Tuesday, while they were closed, my husband and I went to Taipei to meet a friend for dinner and coffee. So not only did we weather their day off well, I’ll be able to come here tomorrow, when most other places will be closed.

So now, back to tonight. I had (almost without thinking) made an assumption that since they decided later to go north yesterday, that they were NOT closing tonight for dinner. But I was wrong. So at 4:50, I had just gotten a new latte when I finally caught on to what was happening, as the last of the other customers were getting ready to leave. I quickly emailed my husband to tell him he should come right away to walk me home, or that I would come myself.

Through the magic of body language and charades, I was able to suggest that I just stay in the corner of the coffee shop and work here while they went upstairs for their dinner. I was half serious and half joking, but what the hell. Then through another kind of magic (smart-phones and translation sites), the owners were able to convey to me that I was, in fact, welcome to stay here while they did the dinner. They closed the shop, put up a sign that they’d reopen later, turned on some music, and I found myself locked in a Taiwanese coffee shop on New Year’s Eve.

Since my husband had packed fruit and veggies for me, and I have a fresh latte, I figure I am good until 9 when they return. At 9, my husband will join me, and we’ll see in the new year at the coffee shop.

As I write this post, I am nearly halfway through the four hours. It’s been productive and relaxing. A nice mix of work and introspection. It’s been a good day, and it promises to be a great beginning to my last Chinese New Year’s celebration in Taiwan.

One Week Later: Building Room (At the Coffee Shop)

Image courtesy of nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Last week, I rejoined the construction crew in Rome, and helped put the finishing touches on our very own coffee shop. You should stop by for a beverage of your choice. There is quite an extensive menu. It’s nice to take a break along with the other builders.

Speaking of which, it would be great to encourage some new and returning builders to join us. Bradley has put together this wonderful space to help us all build the part of Rome we most want in our lives. It’s a fun way to stay motivated, build community, and inspire each other with ideas and support. Spread the word!

So in terms of my goals for last week, I knew it was ambitious. I knew I would not complete everything, but the challenge was to throw it all out there and push myself to do more than I might have with a more “realistic” list. As you can see, this approach definitely had some benefit. Completed items are crossed out. Items in orange have been moved to this week.

For the week of February 9

Teaching

  • plan ppts for upcoming Japanese intensive English program
  • set up lessons for first four weeks for writing classes
  • sort papers for comments
  • pull document together for JJE project

Research Presentation

  • set up data collection file for last group
  • set up first round analysis
  • register for May conference

Job-Hunting

  • Finish CV
  • Write letter of intent
  • Send CVs for review

Editing

  • Finish G project
  • Finish current JR section
  • Start JL

Personal

  • Two blog posts
  • Go for appt on Friday
  • Catch up on Fast-Forward Fridays
  • Do some sewing for my play date

 

While several things did not get finished, many things did. With my helper, we got much further on the research data than I had hoped. In addition, my co-presenter needed some materials from me, and I was able to get that put together to send him. Since the main goal was to make a dent in this mountain, I am happy with the progress for the week.

That said, I am reminded that this outside accountability for one’s goals and intentions is really helpful. I like this weekly check-in. That’s also part of the reason why I encourage and invite people to join us above. It doesn’t have to be a big list. Maybe just something you’ve been putting off for a while. Break it down into a few steps, and put the first one on a list for next week. I’ll be there to cheer you on.  🙂

I’m crazily considering doing a long-range plan for the year and posting it in another ongoing challenge. I’ll report in about my experience if/when I take the plunge.

So, on to the new week! I am moving all my incompletes from last week to this week and adding a few more things. This is my last full week before the new semester begins, so there is lots of impetus to press on. See you in Rome!

 

For the week of February 16

Teaching

  • plan ppts for upcoming Japanese intensive English program
  • set up lessons for first four weeks for writing classes
  • write comments for JJE project
  • review thesis draft for TC
  • finish textbook answer key

Research Presentation

  • set up first round analysis
  • prepare ppt slides of first round of analysis
  • register for May conference

Job-Hunting

  • Write letter of intent
  • Send CV and letter for review
  • Prepare reference information
  • Submit main job app
  • Travel web-site

Editing

  • Finish G project
  • Start next section JR (20-26)
  • Write questions for JL
  • Meet with JL

Personal

  • Two more blog posts
  • Catch up on Fast-Forward Fridays
  • Do some sewing for my play date

Best of luck in whatever the week brings your way!

 

 

This ongoing challenge to keep people focused on weekly goals and projects provides both the method and the support to keep participants going. You can check it out here: Bradley Corbett at: http://greenembe.rs/2015/02/16/building-rome-week-7-for-2015/

Coffee, Quilts, and other things that go “K” in the night

year-of-the-goat-with-icons_23-2147502885Tomorrow is Chinese New Year’s Eve. For the first time in my six years here, we will spend most of the evening in Taipei. We are meeting our friend Joe in Taipei at 3:30 for coffee, discussion of a paper I’m helping him with, and dinner. I should say I’ll be doing the coffee and paper discussion part. Dave will wander around that part of Taipei and join us for the dinner portion of the afternoon/evening. To start the festivities, Dave and I will catch a bus from our neighborhood about 2:30 to go to the nearest MRT station that will take us to the Taipei station where we’ll meet Joe.

As most of you know, I have just over a week of semester break left. Once the Chinese New Year holiday is past, we will gear up for back to school. You may also know that during the break from classes, I’ve been putting in most of my “working hours” at a coffee shop about a half mile from our apartment. I do it because it takes care of a variety of goals and objectives in one fell swoop. Or at least on a regular basis without having to put a lot of time and thought into it. For example, my nearly daily trip to the coffee shop does at least four things for me.

  1. 100_0697It keeps me focused on my work without overtaking my home life.
  2. I get exercise walking here and walking home.
  3. I get great coffee!  ❤
  4. I have an interesting social group here, even though we don’t speak the same language.

OK, now you may wonder what the connection is among all of these seemingly isolated pieces of information. Particularly, how does quilting fit into it? (Coffee fits in with everything. Am I right?)

Any other day, if I were leaving for Taipei at 2:30 in the afternoon, I’d come to the coffee shop when they open and work for a few hours and drink coffee. But . . . . .

THEY ARE CLOSED TOMORROW!

Whatever will I do? Luckily, they will be open the following day, New Year’s Day proper. So I can’t fault them too much. They are, after all, only taking one day, when many places can take up to a week or more. For example, the neighborhood near campus will be quite quiet tomorrow.

mystery quilt fabricSo I decided that since they’re having their day off tomorrow, I’ll stay home and do something else that doesn’t contaminate my home space with work. I’m going to work on some quilting projects. Sure I could work on other stuff, but guess what? I’m not going to. I’m giving myself this gift of time.

The reality is I’m coming to terms with the fact that I can never really catch up. That I’m going to have to rethink my commitments and obligations, so that I can rearrange my life accordingly. In the meantime, I can have a nice chunk of sewing time tomorrow. I’ll be sharing some of the results of tomorrow’s escapades here. I actually feel more excitement than I have in a while. I think it’s a good sign.

 

91 days until 60.