Writing placement: last week, Ryan and I, along with some other grad students associated with the Writing Program, spent a grand total of about 30 hours over the space of two days attempting to sort through 200+ freshmen whose test scores had signaled that they might be in need of heavier support in our university freshman composition class. It was absolutely batty. On Wednesday, August 29th, we arrived on campus at 7:30 am, didn't leave until 7:45 pm, and took approximately two half-hour breaks during the entire time. The rest of the time we were proctoring, reading essays, answering questions, and advising students. Ugh. Thursday was similar, only we got to start a little later (8:30 am), and halfway through the day I got to go sit upstairs at an Orientation Fair table and answer questions there. I swear . . . we want to put the heads of the freshman advisers on pikes around the Writing Center doors . . . in a spasm of collective stupidity and inexcusable ignorance, it seems that almost all of them told their advisees that they should be taking freshman comp in the fall, and that they should come see us to get signed up. NO MATTER that they have been told/given memos/etc. that we have a process, and only students fitting certain criteria are given priority for fall placement. For some reason they all decided to ignore? forget? all of that, and send their students to us anyways. *grump* At least we got paid hourly and well for the time that we spent answering the same questions over and over and over. I became very adept at asking, "Did we contact you to go through our placement process? No? Then you're fine to take CAS 105 in the fall or the spring, no matter what your adviser said" without snarling and shaking the student who asked the question.
The first week of classes: for this, I have been reading through and commenting on new instructor portfolia. This, thankfully, is less frustrating than answering the same undergrad questions for hours, but it does have its own annoyances, such as wondering why I'm telling someone for the third time that they absolutely must give their students more than five days to revise their final research papers.
The harvest season: this is probably the most fun out of the bunch, if the messiest. Over the past two weeks, we've made peach jam, canned peach halves in syrup, canned tomatoes, made two giant batches of marinara and canned that, frozen corn, beans, squash, and blueberries, and dried herbs. The pantry is nearly full, with 50+ 8-oz jars of jam, 14+ pints of peaches, 14 pints of marinara, and assorted pints and quarts of whole or halved tomatoes. The freezer is loaded with gallon and quart bags of frozen produce. We've also continued to make mozzarella and ricotta (weekly), and made our first wheel of cheddar cheese, which is huge-- three pounds!-- so big that we had to drain the curds in two batches because there was too much for our colander. The mozzarella and ricotta are lovely, but we unfortunately can't taste the cheddar for a month, as it has to age a little. Right now it's sitting on our sleeping porch, leaking out the last bits of whey and developing a dry outer layer . . . once it's completely dry we'll wax it and leave it on a shelf in the basement, trying to forget about it until October. Stupid aging. I want to taste it now . . . its curds were quite yummy once they'd been drained and salted, so I imagine that the cheese itself is going to be lovely.
At any rate, those have been our activities of the last couple of weeks. I'm now looking forward to a nice, long, boring semester, where I have nothing to do but tutor a few hours a week, write a conference paper (on Warcraft, hehee), and begin the Gower chapter of my dissertation. Oh, how I am happy to begin this.