Friday, June 27, 2014

Not at ISTE

Okay, when the invitation to apply to ISTE for this year came out back in November, I kind of had this moment of dread.  I just didn't want to fly all the way to Atlanta.  San Antonio just about killed me last year - plus, I was all excited about the possibility of teaching Summer School. 

Now, I am half way through Summer School, and the folks all left yesterday for ISTE, and I am watching Twitter and feeling mildly sorry for myself for not being there.  On the other hand, they met at the airport at noon yesterday and only landed a few hours ago, so yeah, getting there sounds like my own personal vision of hell.  But...all that excitement, all that new stuff to learn, being in the same state with my 3rd child and making sure he's okay.... (I do admit reason three is lame, and the umbilical cord was cut 16 years ago!).  Also, I always put off a certain kind of session, because there is so much to do - and now I wish I experienced and Ignite session.  I feel in need of some "passion igniting" right about now.

I come home from work earlier than I ever can during the regular school year, but I am about 10 times more exhausted.  I think it is because each day is like 2 and a half regular days worth of lesson planning and work.  I want to do so much with these kids, but there is only so much a human brain can get at a time.  I'll have to re-think some concepts next year - especially if I leave this open to 10th graders, again.  They really aren't ready for it, in general.  Not all of them, I have some super 10th graders in the morning session and a couple in the second session, but most of them need an essay writing class first - which is how we did it at my old school.

No gardening or even cleaning is getting done (by me, at least).  My husband did an incredible amount of laundry over the last few days.  He took the opportunity to clean out the son's room while he was gone.  I can't believe how many clothes that kid has - he got some from his brother, some from his cousins, some from me, and apparently, he hasn't had to do laundry for something like 3 months.  I am barely exaggerating, and yes, I know that is disgusting.  Oh my goodness.  Piles and piles of folding.  (I helped with that.).  He's coming home to a reduced wardrobe. 

Two weeks left and then I can do at least one project before the real school year starts! 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Griddle Done!

I am so happy with how the cast iron turned out.  I had to spray the griddle three times with oven cleaner, but it looks great, now.  What a satisfying project. 

In the process, I have also discovered coconut oil.  I like it!  I bought it because my daughter wanted it for her hair, but it worked wonderfully for the cast iron.  I cooked eggs with it, and ham, and it didn't taste coconut-y at all.  Even though I bought it, it is nice to think that if I were so inclined, it is something that I could make from locally grown plants. 

I have two and a half weeks left in Summer School, and I have all these dreams of finishing my quilt and getting my house in order in what's left of summer.  The reality is that I really only have a couple of weeks left, and some of them are extra volunteer work days for technology in-services and SAT prep in-services.  So, maybe I can do part of one project.  I want to ride my horse (a project all on his own, since he's so skittish) and get a few blocks done on the quilt - but I really should do those big household projects that get put off to major breaks.  The other reality is that even though this Summer School class is a blast, the schedule is exhausting.  I am plum worn out, to be honest. I haven't figured out how to teach without making myself so worn out by the end of term that I need to sleep for 3 days.  

Part of the tiredness is that the youngest daughter came up with huge post auricular lymph nodes, which necessitated various doctor's trips and blood tests (I really don't like driving into town much  and worrying is tiring all on its own)  and resulted in a rather amusing incident where I asked to feel her spleen and we got the giggles.  It is probably Cat Scratch disease, but I am also wondering about leptospirosis, because of a family expedition to a waterfall. Both of those are scary, but she just seems mildly ill - like a cold, although if she runs, her abdomen hurts a bit (hence the spleen request).  Her running coach is probably irritated, but I am not risking a ruptured spleen for June conditioning. 

At least I got the cast iron project done.  

Monday, June 23, 2014

Restoring Old Cast Iron

I was inspired to go out into the old cabin and find the cast iron we had.  It was in pretty bad shape, and I was wondering if I could fix it.  A bit of googling, and I decided I could try. 

I sprayed both pieces liberally with oven cleaner.  I do have a self-cleaning oven, but the last time I used the function, the oven box developed holes.  I don't want to make the problem worse, so I am stuck with the oven cleaner and trash bag method. 

This did work very well with the Griswold small frying pan which only had surface rust and not much gunk.  The skillet is much more gunky and I had to re-apply the oven cleaner several times.  I am considering a wire brush if I can't remove the gunk with a rag this evening. 

For the frying pan, I sprayed it twice and let it sit for about 24 hours.  I rinsed it off and then let it soak for about an hour in a vinegar and water solution and scrubbed it with Hawaiian salt to remove the rusty bits.  I heated the pan over the stove and then rubbed it with coconut oil and popped it in the oven.  I had two different directions open - one said 450 degree oven, and the other said use the smoke point of the oil.  I went with the later, which meant an oven at 350 for 45 minutes, with an additional couple of hours in the oven with the heating element off, but still warm. 

The pan came out black and the scrambled eggs I made for dinner didn't stick at all!  I am pretty proud of my self, and I hope I can have a similar success with the skillet. 

I did a little research on my pan, and I am figuring it was made somewhere between 1920 and 1950, which is pretty darned cool.  I haven't braved the thick coating of oven cleaner on the skillet to find its providence, but we'll see tonight. 

I feel guilty that I let them sit out there for 10 years (!) without a second thought.  I never had good results with cast iron - thing stuck to the pan and I didn't quite know how to clean them properly, but after research, I kind of got excited about the whole subject.  I do have a Dutch oven made of cast iron that I really like, but I have been having mixed results with taking care of it.  I live in a rain forest and there is a lot of environmental moisture, which complicates matters.  I am looking forward to reseasoning it with coconut oil rather than olive oil (it kind of stays tacky and sticky) and seeing if I have better results. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Just Call Me MIA...

Sorry, it's been a crazy few weeks.

Yes,  I am done with National Boards - at least until I find out I didn't pass (although I certainly hope I do!)  I took the test on May 30 - it was actually so much fun.  I quite enjoyed reading the new literature and writing about it.  By the 6th essay, I must admit I was pretty tired - and that last one is a piece of student work. You pick out errors and tell what you would do to correct them.  (I am allowed to say this - the directions are available online).  I was so tired and the sample had so MANY errors, I kind of got stuck on where to start.  I wasted 10 minutes of my 30 just looking at it and thinking, "Umm, all these errors are massive.  Where do I start?"  Other than that, though, I got done and felt a bit disappointed it was over. 

I am sure I qualify as a geek. 

I had a very short break, in which I tried to clean the house and organize things, and then I started Summer School.  We're only on day 4 of Summer School, and I am totally exhausted.  Teaching two 3 hour classes is much more strenuous than teaching four 80 minute classes and one 20 minute class.  I think it's the fact that lunch is only 30 minutes.  Also, I have 23 papers to grade every three days - detailed grading with a ton of descriptive feedback.  It's a lot of fun, but I am tired. 

Over the weekend, I walked 12 miles (my usual walk, two days in a row) and then we hiked to a waterfall and swam.  It was a very nice weekend. 

The hens started laying a new spot and now it's like Easter all over - they keep moving their laying spot.  My husband is getting there on the new chicken coop with the fancy laying boxes, though, so hopefully, this will be a problem of the past soon. 

I have looked at the greenhouse and thought about planting lettuce - isn't that lazy of me?  We have two coffee berries on one of the larger seedlings - which is exciting, but isn't going to make anyone even a cup of coffee.  Maybe a teaspoon of coffee.