Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I'm past the bittersweet part of August and into the reality part -- which is writing syllabi and getting ready for the semester. Work email has spiked (because everyone else returns from whatever they have been doing wherever they have been). My building has been extensively renovated this summer, so after an absence of four (!) months, I am curious to see it. Yesterday a reminder of the more unpleasant aspects of college teaching hit me in the face. I received a meeting notice. I suspect it is mandatory, although I cannot be there. It is a hearing on Friday for one of the spring academic dishonesty cases.

Are you kidding me? Four days notice for a Friday (gasp!) meeting over the summer, no less? I have never had to attend a hearing before -- my evidence is always irrefutable so there is never any point. Even at that, I did not refer the case to the university level. I didn't even issue a penalty, since the student would have failed even without the dishonesty. But I did report the incident (as is required) and it turned out to be a second offense, so it was automatically referred (as is required).

I'm not sure whether the meeting is something new in the process (could be) or if the student has demanded it, as is her right. I ruminated about it -- too much, as usual tearing myself into pieces -- wondering why. This will be another planned three-day weekend in Samsonville, going down there on Thursday night. So a Friday morning meeting is out of the question. Friends of Bob are visiting (enough said, not my story or at least the part that is cannot be shared here).  Then, my mother recently learned she has two herniated discs in her back and she must rest if she wants to avoid back surgery (and of course she does). She was insistent that all the things she does (which is a lot; think couch potato, and now decide what is the opposite; look in the dictionary and there should be her picture) are not very strenuous and she is being careful. But we decided that is not so -- strenuous or not, caring for horses involves bending and twisting and reaching, even if the lifting is not super intense (though 50 pounds is not uncommon).

So my sister took charge, convinced Ma (not easy! But she comes out to the barn and supervises at all times, and we promised to do the care to her standards) and drafted a schedule, and all of us -- siblings, siblings-in-law and one or two in the next generation are taking turns with the barn work. We are doing it twice a day on a month by month basis, since the doctors said she may heal in 6-8 weeks. It could be more, which is OK with us, although she has a goal besides taking her beloved barn work back over -- to go riding at the end of September (which she is not openly sharing with anyone except my sister and me, so hopefully no-one else is reading this -- if you are, leave her alone! It is a very motivational goal in terms of her taking it easy now).

Since I live 75 miles away, I volunteered for the weekends, including Fridays or Mondays when they are three-day weekends. So in addition to planning to be in Samsonville and having friends visit, Friday is a barn chores day for me.  Naturally one of my amazing family would step up if I had to face the accused, and under normal circumstances I might have to ask them, but in this case it would also involve Bob rescheduling his vacation day and the friends changing their plans. Plus, why should a dishonest student be more important than my mother and her horses? So it's not happening. I do wonder, though, at the timing. Are the parents coming along? Maybe rolling it into a Saratoga vacation? That's a product of my fevered imagination of course -- but it is not exactly a secret how I feel about such foolishness.

Ma and Cinderella, a rescued thoroughbred race horse. Cindy sez: "Screw you racing fans!" (She also sez "Just in case you had the wrong impression, all you helpers could never replace Flo.")

Later:  Now this is funny. Ma is tougher than these Giants!

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