Posted by: David | September 3, 2010

Back To School

Yes, it’s here. School has begun. The Class of 2014 arrived at the college today, about 420 strong. It’s great fun to watch this from our peculiar distance. My IT coworkers and I get to greet them as their families help them move in to the residence halls. Beats any TV “reality” show right to hell. Moms, dads, brothers, sisters, occasional grandparents, and the students themselves, emotions running all over the charts … My coworkers and I are on hand to help them get their computers connected to the internet, should they need it. It’s pretty easy and most of the kids figure it out on their own. The Enrollment Management folks do a wonderful job finding the most awesome people to come to our lovely little college. The day of their arrival is such a unique and populous event, a portentous turning point for hundreds of young adults as they launch into their grown-up lives. Next week I will see at least one of them in homesick tears on their cell phone as we pass in a parking lot. Happens every Fall.

Today I watched the convocation ceremony, standing behind the big crowd. From this vantage point I watched a mom, dad, and younger sister. I could tell, from behind, that mom was wiping tears away listening to one of the  speeches. The little sister held her camera at arms length to capture mom’s emotional moment, and passed the camera in front of mom to show dad, who grinned and winked. Mom took a look too, cocked her head slightly, still enveloped in the drama of the moment. Saying goodbye to her older child as he or she starts college. Right after convocation the gowned faculty and administrators processed out of the tent to form an “honor corridor”  through which the new students marched out, making so many uncertain faces at the continuous applause,  dispersed into the crowd, re-connected with their families to make their good-byes.  Move-in day is when you get to see all that unfolding before you like a time-lapse sequence of germinating seedlings. It’s another kind of garden. That sounds kind of weird, but it’s just a segue …

The corn is all harvested. It was another good yield this year. Small losses to varmints and pests.

ut what to do with the cornstalks? They’re so big and pulled so much from the soil.

I decided to try chopping them up into little pieces. With my Estwing hatchet.

t’s ridiculously tedious. I may be insane. I switch hands fairly often.

For about a week now, I’ve been pulling up the stalks and chopping them up into about 1-2 inch pieces after I get home from work. As I chop up the 7-foot stalks, I remember the day back in early June when I poked them into the soil one by one, each one 6 or 8 inches tall. It took a few hours to plant them, and it’s taking many more to chop them up. The idea is that the smaller pieces should be more able to decompose, become food for the worms, and go back into the soil over the winter. We’ll see how that works out.

We’ve got some nice pumpkins coming along.

y wife has acquired another giant pet. On the left is her new pony, Jessie.

If there are any really wealthy people who read this blog, please send a check for $15,000 as soon as possible. That will help my animal loving wife to deal with her equine addiction, and to pay off the money she had to borrow for this new acquisition. Obviously I want her to be happy. Dammit. Actually, wealthy reader, please send $50,000 to help pay for the expected upcoming purchases of carriage and truck. Oliver accompanied her on the trip to Pennsylvannia and New Jersey to pick up the pony. Apparently he was very well-behaved. Which proves the point that boredom brings out the worst in a creature.

Why would you expect anything less?

Photo credits to my wife for a number of the shots appearing above.

Hurricane Earl is not really helping us with any rain. We could really use it. Oh well. It will be a busy weekend anyway. Have to work Saturday helping to orient our new students to the various available e-resources on campus. So that is all for now. Thanks for reading and I hope all your autumn endeavors are unfolding pleasantly.


  1. 😦

    Something I learned today.

    If something is impossible and you offer it on the net, you will get 1000 hits.

    And since the thing that you offer does not exist, the post offering it will draw readers year in year out!
    That is why there are lots of people offering it!

    It took me all morning to find this out. I wanted to find a google translator widget that I had seen somewhere. I started at 8 a.m. and now it is 12 midday.

    The horses in the dark and the doggie in the dark look nice. The “table” that you use to chop the sticks on would be called a block, wouldn’t it? I think you need a higher block, and then you will chop those sticks much more easily.

    And there is nothing new under the sun. Since time began the impossible has been for sale, as there have likewise been the fools to pay their last farthings for it. The internet has thrown this market open as wide as it’s ever been. In the past one had to travel down dark streets, into cellars and dubious shops, or read the books, or be lectured to by all sorts of unsavory, unhealthy, greedy bastards who care about nothing but themselves.

    The chopping “table” was actually nothing more than a wood splitting stump. You’re absolutely right that it would have been better at twice the height. Over the course of the week that it took me to complete this idiotic task, I found myself often kneeling at the chopping block. The job is done now. 🙂

  2. Hey David! It’s nice to read an update from you! I’m not sorry I’m missing all the craziness of move-in weekend, but I am still missing NH! Nice to see photos of familiar types of landscape… you know, green things and animals. I don’t get to see a lot of that stuff these days!

    Hi Abby! Thanks for reading. It was really not too crazy after all. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. I haven’t origamied for way too long. But I did bring some paper with me today in case the Helpdesk was quiet. It wasn’t. But it was great to meet some of our new students and have a chance to chat with them while waiting for Microsoft Office to install on their computers.

  3. Ads by google inserted the line “Pell Grants for Mom” between the end of your post and the WordPress list of “possibly related posts (automatically generated)”… Well *I* thought it was funny…

    Yeah, that IS funny. I don’t see those ads as the blog author. So thanks for letting me know.

  4. 1. You have corn in your backyard?!
    2. That middle picture with the hatchet in the tree stump was kind of scary.
    3. You’re wife get a cool dog, a horse, and a man with good legs?! Lucky lady.
    4. You have pumpkins growing too???

    I really would like to say I grew something in my backyard and ate it, but it’s so hot here (Southern Cali) and I have the black thumb of death. What do you recommend I grow?

    1. Not the backyard exactly, but behind our horse barn. We’ve been growing sweet corn for years. It’s not really an efficient crop, but when it works it’s worth the trouble. This is the first time I’ve tried to feed the cornstalks back to the soil.
    2. Nothing like how scary your blog can be sometimes.
    3. She now has 2 horses. Thanks for the compliment, but actually, despite all my bicycling, I have chicken legs.
    4. Yeah, we always grow pumpkins too. This year is looking good. I totally love roasted pumpkin seeds. Good for my prostate, I understand …

    You could grow stuff year round in your backyard. If you have a backyard. If not then I’d recommend growing these.

  5. Well — this was a good one. First I would suggest cantueso use for translations. Second — my my I had no idea you had shorts in your extensive wardrobe!!! The garden looks awesome even though we are all suffering with drought (our well is very low!). The pumpkins look awesome. Also we would love corn stalks for our Sukkah roof — we usually BUY them. The pony looks lovely. All the best.

    Thank you Carol. Will have to try this, having no way to gauge its accuracy as a monoglot. Cantueso will have to let us know. She speaks Swiss German, Spanish, English, and who knows what else.

    We’ve had to do an awful lot of watering. Would love to give you some cornstalks, but I’ve chopped them all up now. Sorry.

    All the best to you too. Happy Sukkot.

  6. Thank you for this address. I spent about 4 hours looking before I understood the problem. The neat little Google widget I had seen was on a self-hosted blog. It can’t be installed on a Google blog, but nobody said so. I googled for “Google translator widget for WordPress” and obtained a dozen codes and recommendations.

    The official Google translator at|es|
    is good, too, but I wanted the widget because of its graphics.

  7. This post felt very welcoming and comfy to me, which is how I feel about Autumn 😉 …loved reading the “back to school” story, it was so sweet and nostalgic.

    PS: you live in just the coolest place…seriously, the ponies, the garden, the love that goes into it…sounds like a great home 😉

    Well that’s nice of you to say Romi. The academic year cycle has been a nice framework for me over the past 20 years or so. The past couple of days have been full of working with new and returning students, most of whom are filled with the hope and optimism that flows so freely at the beginning of the fall semester. Some are more to the deer-in-the-headlights sort of mien, but I always try to give them all my biggest smiles. That’s how it is in September.

    We do love our home/mini-farm quite a bit, so thanks for relaying your blessings upon it. Autumn is pretty wonderful, except for that slightly scary winter that comes along right afterward.

  8. New students as seedlings. What an apt analogy!

    Love the tale of school beginning in the fall. Always has been one of my favorite things. Such wonderful memories of my student years.

    Oliver’s pic makes me smile. Always does. I know you have a love/hate relationship with the little guy, but darn it, he’s got spunk!

    Thank you Pi. In spite of how crazy-busy this time of year is, I love to bask in the undiluted optimism of the start of the fall semester. The beauty and power of youth is a wonderful thing to witness, even with the cynical, grown-up knowledge of the applicable statistics lurking darkly in the shadows. This year our president has charged us with doing everything we can to help our students to not give it up when the challenges appear.

    Yes, psycho dog Oliver photographs very well. He’s got spunk all right. He’s very smart, but also very manipulative and narcissistic. Always trying to play daddy off of mommy. Little bastard. 😀


    Wow. Impressive! Pizza Hut or Papa John’s?

  10. Papa John’s Pizza.


    I used to miss it so…

    Yes, my friend, in the USA we have the 4 freedoms of which FDR spoke, and then we have the little-known fifth freedom, the freedom of wanting from breadsticks. But I’m surprised that you can get Canada Dry in Florida. Even more surprised that you had it in India. Or am I misunderstanding you?

  11. Well Canada Dry was a Cadbury Schweppes brand, and Schweppes used to be in India.

    Then (according to legend) Coca Cola bought them out in India and stopped serving them in altogether. 😦

    Although the Canada Dry was better back home…

    Thanks for that link Nimish. I thought I knew more about Cadbury than I did, since a one-time stepmother of mine worked for them. I had no idea about the Canada Dry connection.

    I look forward to hearing more about your culinary discoveries in Florida and how they may compare to those of your upbringing. As if they could. Perhaps our friend Romi can be of some assistance, should you experience naan withdrawal. 🙂

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