The Professor & Her Garden

Good soil. Good students. And maybe some decent English peas.


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Blogging 101 Assignment for Today: Turns Out Blogging Is a Lot like Gardening.

Today’s assignment is to spiff up our blogroll.  Once I figured out that the “Blogs That I Follow” widget and the “Blogroll” widget are not the same, a whole new blogging world opened up to me.  I started getting so attached to my widgets, I decided I needed to change my theme since my previous theme required readers to click on the “hamburger” (that is blog lingo, by the way) so readers could see my widgets right away.  I was starting to get too attached to the widgets not to put them front and center.

And then it happened!  I changed my theme and lost my widgets.  I actually got a little panicked (like I said, I was getting very attached to these widgets).  Blogging community to the rescue.  I’ve got my widgets back.  And I’m tweaking here and there.  You could say that I am tending to my blog.

Just like my garden.  I’m new at blogging.  I’m new at gardening.  Each require a little bit of attention.  I’m also finding that the more attention I give them, the more attached I become.  I started the garden blog because I didn’t want to mess up my sabbatical blog, My Year Away.  But, now I’m feeling like my “real” blog is a bit neglected.  Maybe even a little bit weedy.

I guess it’s time to keep planting and see what happens.


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At Least I Can Mother My Garden.

My son and his wife (and my brand-new grandson, Baby Jack) live in the middle of the woods (i.e. nowhere) in Wisconsin where he works at a residential school for troubled high school boys.  He called me today, which is rare.  After several minutes of “How’s my grandson?  Send pictures!!” Graham got around to the real reason he was calling.

“I got a concussion at work,” he said nonchalantly, but I have enough of a Mother Radar to know that he really meant “I got hit in the head and I’m a bit scared about it.”  Unfortunately, I had just finished reading the recent article in Time (Sept. 29, 2014) about the high school football player who died after getting concussed at a game.  So, let’s just say that the Mother Radar was on full blast.

What could I do?  I live 1,500 miles away.  I ran through the list.  Did you fill out Workers Comp paperwork?  Are you doing what the doctor says?  Are you drinking enough water? Check.  Check.  And check. I told him that I loved him, to hang in there (and to maybe look for another job).  Then I hung up.

I don’t have a lot of natural mother instincts.  I’ve always had a job.  I was the high school mother who would donate money rather than spend time sorting band uniforms.  I didn’t let Graham bring his laundry home from college.   But my mother heart was sure beating quickly today.

Well, one thing I can do.  I can go to my little garden and talk to the baby peas and urge them to grow.  That won’t help my son heal.  But it might help me.  And I’d like to think it will help my peas.sept 26


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Sept 25 Blogging 101 Assignment: Own Up to Your Comment!

Yesterday, I blogged about the four blogs I found that were, in my opinion, poignant, original, fun–and especially well written.  In the spirit of community, I even subscribed to their blogs.  Only to find out that today’s assignment is to go down another level and blog about my comment related to the blog.  Hmmm. (Not sure what I think about this!)

I commented on the  Exploring New Opportunities blog.  The guy reminds me of my hubster:  Computer geek.  In “that age group.”  Looking for new opportunities.  It made me think about my own life, my age, my opportunities.  So I commented on that.  And now, I woke up this morning thinking more about what being in my 50s means.

I find myself looking forward and backwards on a regular basis.  I’m in my prime earning years.  Fortunately, as a tenured professor I don’t have to worry about my job.  (I know, I know, save it for another post!)  But, I worry just a bit about retirement.  Will we have enough?  Will we be healthy?  What will we do? What does retirement mean, anyway?

For me, it will mean leaving the university.  But I’ll still be able to write, do research (if I want), think grand thoughts.  For my husband, who has been a computer consultant for 30 years, it’s more complicated.  As any hard-core computer programmer in his 50s will tell you, they are moving into unchartered territory.  These are the Bill Gates and Steve Jobs guys (but without the millionaire life).  They are the ones who have been coding gurus for decades.  They are some of the few people in the world who can still program in COBOL in a pinch.  They also are now wearing reading glasses, have arthritis in their hands (have you ever listened to a die-hard coder pound the keys?), have trouble sleeping a full eight hours each night.  My husband has had his own business for 30 years.  At some point, he’ll have to walk away.  Figuring that out is, like I said, complicated.  The programming that he does actually matters.  A lot.  There’s not anyone coming up behind him who can do what he does.  But, he can’t do it forever.

We certainly don’t have the answers, but here’s what we do know.  We are incredibly fortunate for the lives we’ve had.  We are financially stable.  We have two adult graduate-school educated children who made great choices in spouses.  (And neither ask us for money!)  We’re brand-new grandparents.  We are physically healthy and active.  I belong to two rowing clubs and live in a climate where I can row year round.  My husband likes to build things, fix things, fix things for others.  If you’re interested, check out his blog, Gary’s Fix.

So that’s what’s great about being in my 50s.  I have a life to look back on and be thankful for.  (Granted, I was pretty appreciative in my 40s and wouldn’t mind a couple of decades of being a 40-year-old!)  And, I’m young enough to think about the future.  Which brings me back to Exploring New Opportunities.  I think we should all be exploring–whatever our age.

That’s why I’m gardening right now.  I don’t know anything about gardens.  This is a totally new venture for me.  But, watching these little pea plants poke their heads out of the soil gives me great hope.  How in the world do plants know how to grow?  How do we know how to do some of the things we do?  Go explore!  Now, excuse me while I check on my plot of dirt.  I need to explore.


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Blogging 101 Assignment for Today: Step up to the plate. Get involved with the Neighborhood.

Our blogging 101 assignment for the day is to comment on four blogs that are new to us.  It didn’t take long for me to find four intriguing ones.  Here’s what I chose:

Fit Loose Health has a post today about healthy pizza made with cauliflower.  Can you imagine?  The photos are beautiful and the recipe is clear.  I can’t wait to try it.  (I’ll have to wait until my husband is out of town, however, because he detests cauliflower.)  I also love the title of this blog.  I think it’s a keeper!

Metamorphosis of a Wallflower is a blog by someone who seems to be an incredibly smart and creative 18 year old.  She reminds me of my daughter back when she was that age.  (Ooh, that makes me sound old.)  What I love about the blogging community is that words pierce through typical barriers we have in day-to-day life.  I mean, seriously, how many 18 year olds’ writing do I get to admire.  In the classroom, on the rare occasions that I teach freshmen, I usually have to spend a lot of time explaining how to put a noun and a verb together.  Metamorphosis has that down.

Show Me What You Can Do has a post about a beautiful maze and what it can tell us about our lives.  I love posts that help me think about something in a new light.  I look forward to seeing what else Show Me has to say.

Exploring New Opportunities is a blog that those of us in the 55+ world can certainly relate to.  This guy can write.  And it seems like he might be a bit of a computer nerd to boot.  A great combination.  Check him out.

So, I left comments on each of these sites.  I’m following their blogs now as well.  And, I’m learning more about blogging and the blogging community.  Thanks, Blogging 101!


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What Do Woodrow Wilson and Rowing Have in Common with Gardens?

As part of my sabbatical, I am reading biographies of presidents as well as other books that intrigue me.  I just finished A. Scott Berg’s biography on Wilson.  And, I’m rounding the corner on The Boys in the Boat:  Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Olympics.  I’ve already written about the Wilson book here.  And the post about The Boys is here.

Gardens make an appearance in both books.  In Wilson, victory gardens pop up all over the country when the US finally joins the allies in WWI.  In Boys, gardens pop up as a way for one of the rowers to earn money as well as to provide a respite from the day-to-day upheaval of living through the Depression.  In both cases, people create lush gardens without having much garden knowledge.  The gardens in both books are about food.  But they are also about creating calm out of havoc, creating a retreat from the dusty world of work, and as a place to work on tasks that yield results.

To me, it makes perfect sense, then, that I have created my little sabbatical garden for My Year Away.  It’s just a tiny piece of land:  4 feet by 10 feet.  But, I’ve planted a variety of veggies that I love in orderly rows.  The little seeds are popping out at different rates.  I can’t always tell what’s a weed and what’s a pea.  I’m starting to see a pattern.  The garden is rewarding me.  I’ve got weeks (and maybe months) to go before cultivation, but I’m already seeing the fruits of my labor.

Every morning I’m at the beach, I pull on my rain boots, hop in the golf cart and race down to the community garden where I can check on my little plot.  If I know something is a weed, out it goes.  I stare at the beautiful rows.  I talk to the seedlings.  If it hasn’t rained, I water.  Then I hop back onto the golf cart and ride home.

And I start another day of my sabbatical.  Reading, writing, crunching data.  It’s not just my garden that’s growing.  I’m growing too.


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Go Wacko with the Widgets! Blogging 101 Assign. for the Day

gardenOkay, so maybe the assignment isn’t really to go wacko, but I’m afraid that that’s what happened to me. We were charged with adding some widgets, which I did. In abundance. They all ended up on my About page, however, which I completely don’t understand.

But, some things I’m learning and holding on to. For instance, I can now add photos. And, at long last, I know how to add a link without showing the clumsy address. For example, if you want to see the craziness of my wacko widgets on my The Professor & Her Garden blog, check it out. If you’d like to know that I am still sane, check out My Year Away. See how masterful I am with the links? I know for you computer savvy people, this is a piece of cake, but it doesn’t come easy to the right-brained people of the world.

By the way, my garden continues to grow. I am becoming quite obsessed with it. I’m monitoring and documenting ever miniscule change. I think my garden is happy. I know it makes me happy!


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Today’s Blogging 101 Assignment: Fancy Up My About Page

Okay, so now I understand (sort of!) why I had an “about” page on my other blog but my Gravatar bio on this blog. What do you know! I also learned about adding some widgets (although for some reason, I still can’t add the “blogging badge”…could be because I haven’t really earned it yet!). And, I finally learned about adding links rather than writing out the whole URL address.

So, I guess I’m growing as a blogger. My garden is also growing! It’s only 9 days old and I’ve already seen substantial growth. I wonder if I’ll have a harvest by the time this blogging workshop is over. Stay tuned!