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55 It's not just a good idea, it's my age.

(Melissa Williamson) Permanent link

Yes, by coincidence the ends of the semester, of this session as a Student Blogger and the start of a new year for me have all come together today.  The title is a play on the slogan when the 55 mph speed limit was established in the 70s: "It's not just a Good Idea. It's the Law."  

Today started out as usual with getting the youngest up and ready for school and then down to catch his bus.  But the other two didn't have to go to the high school until about 10:45 A.M. since the H.S.A. tests were happening this week.   (The administrators prefer that students who aren't taking tests like the H.S.A. or finals not come in until the classes start. It makes finals week interesting; with more than one child on different test schedules it can make the D-Day Invasion look simple.)  So without having to get them going so early, I took a nap and it was very nice. Apparently a parent loses three years of sleep per child, so now that they're all 12 or older, I think it's ok for me to try and catch up a bit. 

Once the kids were dropped off, my husband called and asked if I would like to have lunch with him. We met at a favorite Chinese restaurant and had a very nice time.  Both my passport and my birth documents (I wrote about this a few weeks ago) arrived in the mail, so that's one more thing taken care of and I can get my non-Birth certificate put back in a safe place.  The rest of the day was full of going to the store, sorting and folding laundry, and trying to get parts of the house in order.  (One and a half pairs of teen shoes were found in the living room, for example). 

It feels odd to not have any assignments to do at the moment.  On the other hand I went to the public library and I've already finished one mystery, I'm about a third of the way into another one and I still have several more books in the stack. But it's not like I don't have anything to read.  We're starting to catalogue our books at a useful site called "LibraryThing". We're nearly to a 1000 and there's a long way to go.  "Books multiply like rabbits.  Bookshelves like elephants."

The next few weeks will be full of work and the end of the school year for the children, with the eldest graduating.  I hope that the summer isn't too gruesomely hot and that there is neither a major water pipe break nor a storm that knocks out the power for three days like last year.

I wish everyone a good summer and a bright year wherever you go, in school or out.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,



"Summer is I-Comen In" or It's nearly time for "School's Out"

(Melissa Williamson) Permanent link

 That's the first line of a very old song about this time of year.. It's the last bit of the semester. Final exams are nearly over. The professors will be going over things and then sending up the final grades. Some of us will be graduating (not me though, I'm still chugging along.) In a couple of weeks the MC campuses will be more quiet or at least less crazed. I'll bet that it will be easier to find a parking place sometimes. Oh, there are the summer session classes, but there aren't as many of them as during the regular semesters. I've taken some summer classes, but only on-line. With the children getting out of school in mid-June, taking a class in person then would have been an exercise in insanity.


This year I'm not taking a summer Distance Learning class since I now have a part time job. I'm also not sure at the moment what else I need to take to finish all of the requirements. I think that there's a requirement to take a Speech class, by that's the sort of subject that has to be taken in person. So I'll look into that for the fall. I also need to get the transcripts (in sealed envelopes) of a few classes that I took more than 25 years ago to the proper college official and find out which of them can be accepted. Right now they're in a Very Safe Place in the house. It's SO safe that I need to find it again. But if all of them are accepted and I get the Speech and any other requirements taken care of, maybe this time next year I'll be wearing a cap and gown and making plans for transferring to a four-year school.

Summer is coming in the weather as well. Right now I have the windows open and there's a wonderful light breeze. It's sunny and dry and I can hear a bird chirping loudly in the back yard. I couldn't about a hour ago because the elementary school near our house was having lunch recess and the children were making all kinds of exuberant and cheerful noises. I wish that summers around here could be like this all the time: not too hot, nor so humid that walking out the door feels like I've been wrapped in a heavy wool blanket that's just come out of the drier and is still damp. My husband tells me that if it didn't get hot then it would be bad for the tomatoes and peppers in general and in his garden patch in particular. Well, OK, I suppose that we do want sweet juicy tomatoes... but I still don't like it when the air is so soggy and thick that it needs to be chewed a bit before you can breathe it.

Here's a recording of the song, I hope that you like it

And a more recent song about the end of school

Getting started, doing what should be done and nature sound alarm clocks

(Melissa Williamson) Permanent link

 I've been thinking about starting things in the last few days.  In particular, about people getting started to do things that they need to do or ought to do like get up in the morning, putting things away, cleaning up messes, that sort of thing.  You can probably tell that some of this pondering came about from family life and dealing with my children. 

I don't like getting up much in the morning.  I'm definitely not a "lark" as my older son's college dorm request form calls one type of roommate (the other being "owl"). But this semester I've had to do it six days a week: Monday through Friday our clock goes off a bit before 5:30 A.M. so that we can get our youngest (the one who is in a Special Ed. Program in Gaithersburg) up and fed and dressed and down to meet his bus by 6:30.  On Saturdays I have the lab at the Germantown campus which starts at 9, but it's a bit of a haul from over here in eastern MoCo.  So I do get to lie about until 7 or so, if I'm lucky.  Some days our small son is up by 6 anyway and racketing around cheerfully.  Waking up to Elmo on Sesame Street or, for something more eclectic some of the "Wallace and Grommit" or "Shaun the Sheep" videos from the brilliant Englishman, Nick Park, at about 75 decibels.

But the teenagers often need to be pried out of bed with crowbars.  They respond when we call them, but then they drop off again.  Or they get up and might wander about and then when it's time to leave have to get things like books or coats.  I've even heard cries of "Where're my shoes?!"  My standard reply, I'm afraid, is "I didn't wear them last."

So how do people learn to be "self-starting"?  Not just for getting up in the morning, but also for longer term things like doing homework, or writing a paper, or planning a trip or a move and what will be needed for things to work out?  Sometimes things can't be planned, of course, but we human beings have some ability to plot possible paths to the future and affect what happens to us in some ways.  Waiting to be told what to do or for something to happen all the time is putting our lives into the power of others.

I don't want to give the idea that my kids are like that all the time.  They can plan things that they like or when the importance of a situation is made plain to them.  But getting them up in the morning is getting very old.  I wonder if anyone makes "Nature Sound" alarm clocks that start with rippling streams and chirping birds and progress up to "Elephant Stampede".

In case anyone hasn't seen any of Nick Park's work before, I found out that he has put a channel up on YouTube.


I"m late, I'm late for a very important... post?

(Melissa Williamson) Permanent link

 Ack!  I'm not sure if I'm just being the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland or just as "mad as the March Hare".  Either way it feels like I'm some kind of hurrying hopper.  I don't think that my blog post has ever been this late before, but I'm trying to get it in before Midnight.  Thank goodness tonight's class let out a few minutes early so I was home before 10:30.  So here I am. 

It's been quite a week with the semester winding down which means another exam next Tuesday, working with three classmates on a group project that we'll be presenting in a week and a half on a Saturday morning, and I still have to finish last week's lab assignment. The group project is an interesting one: we have to design a small city from the bare earth up in an area somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.  Everything has to be planned from streets to buildings to where does the electricity and heating come from and we have to work with the principals of "Sustainability" that have been part of the dyad class lessons. 

 Along with that, my job has been busy with some extra time put in because of an upcoming meeting and there are always home things that that need to be taken care of, like the many details that need doing so that our oldest can graduate from high school in about six weeks.   I mailed off the form and check for his cap and gown today, for example.

 That made me wonder whether if in a year I'll be the one who needs a cap and gown.  I've been going to school for 6 years (one class at a time for the first few years) and I think that I'm getting close to having all the needed classes and credits.  Once the semester is over, I think I need to go over my transcript and see what I'm missing. 

Another thing that I had to do this week was to apply for a passport. I've never had one, so I needed to apply in person with various forms and documents.  Fortunately, I found out that this can be done at many places including a lot of Post Office branches.  Then I needed to get the proper documents out of the bank, in my case the form from the U.S. embassy in France that states that I was born to American parents nearly 55 years ago.  I also have a little paper, in French, from the "Mayor" of the area where the American military hospital was located stating that a "fille" was born and officially noted. 

Whoops!  Sorry about that, I just realized that I was starting to doze off at the computer.  Do you ever do that?  Mostly it gives me a crick in my neck and a row of nonsense letters.  I promise that I'll try hard to get this in on time next week. 

Hopping off now



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