The Crafting English Prof…

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Moved! 9 October 2010

Filed under: Ponderings — Rana Wilson @ 2:25 pm
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Well, I made a change.  I moved this blog and the Definitive Designs blog over to Blogger, and combined them.  Makes life much easier.  Go check it out!

See you there!



The brief adventures … of Boxie 23 September 2010

Filed under: Ponderings — Rana Wilson @ 3:11 am
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So, I found a box in my mail today.  She asked if she could come home with me, and told me her name was Boxie.  I told her yes, and here she is in my truck:

When we finally made it inside, she was so happy, she jumped for joy!  I had to catch her:

Here’s Boxie getting to know the kittehs, Dobby and Buttercup.  They’re not too sure they’re pleased about another member in the household…

Here she is hanging out in the craft room, inspecting the paper and the Forest o’ upside-down punkins…

Ah, waiting for dinner to warm up!  Boxie is really enjoying that Black Cherry cola!

So cute! All snuggled up on the couch!

Boxie stole the kitteh perch.  Dobby was not much pleased…

That Boxie is trubble, I tell you!  She’s whispering to me about the presents she’s hiding!

No help for it!  Gotta find the presents!

Look what Boxie was hiding!  A little package all wrapped up so pretty!

Ready to discover the presents!

What a good Boxie!  She brought me a star!

And what’s this? An envelope?

It’s a pretty, pretty picture!  What a sly Boxie to be hiding such treasures!

Here’s Boxie proudly displaying her gifts!

Boxie told me she came from Ms. Alyice, the Dabbling Mum, and the Grab Bag Project.  And she said to spread the word that she has lots of friends who want to come visit! Boxie and I think you should go check it out! 😀

Thanks very much to the Dabbling Mum herself, Alyice Edrich!  I had so much fun discovering the art!  That Boxie is a sly one to hide such treasures!



Don’t wanna do it no more… 17 September 2010

Filed under: Crafting,Ponderings — Rana Wilson @ 11:30 pm
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…and so I’m not.  At least for now.  See, I’ve spent the last 3 hours trying to do the schedule for the class that starts Monday.  And it’s not hard (in fact, it’s mostly done, I just have to condense a few weeks from the full-session schedule) but I just don’t wanna do it.  And since it’s Friday night, I’m not.  Instead, I’m going to ponder my latest project(s)for a bit, while I watch The Proposal (very cute so far.) I watched The Ugly Truth earlier.  Also cute!  This is probably contributing to my inability to concentrate on school.  And really, it’s Friday night, so why was I trying to work? Oh yeah, I remember, I panicked for a moment! I have another class starting Monday! eek!!! Eh, I’ll get it all worked out. I always do.

But anyways!  Back to my crafties!!!  So, I’m working on an entry for Plaid’s Trick Your Pumpkin contest.  So I took an exacto knife to the Michaels pumpkin I bought yesterday.  It was fun. Now, I need to figure out what else to do.  I have some ideas… we’ll see!  And, I found a stack of Ikea tealight holders I bought ages ago, and decided to play with them, too!  I made a punkin!  It’s cute.  Pics later.  And I bought a bird house that I started painting earlier today. Not sure exactly how that’s going to end up, but I’m sure it’ll be cute.

So I think I’m going to play a bit more in my craft room. I can’t wait to see what I come up with!  hee hee hee…



Super Crafty Fun Weekend!!!! 13 September 2010

Yup, I had a super-crafty-fun-weekend! and it was grrrrrreeeeeeeeaaaaat!!!!! (insert Tony-the-Tiger voice here…)

Okay, so, first, I decoupaged a box that that I’m using as a jewelry box for the pieces I want to sell (you know, rather than the cardboard box I had them in).  I even put a little handle on it and mirror inside it! It’s really cute.  Here it is:

All finished!

Now, of course, getting to this point, what with the Mod Podge and the cutting and the mess (you should see my sweat pants–covered in modgy fingerprints.  Oh yeah–and I used paint, too!) was quite a bit of chaotic fun!

I started with all my shtuff…

Like how I laid it all out so nicely for a pic? 🙂

And then, of course, about half-way through, I realized I needed more shtuff. No pics of that, though… So then I got to painting the inside.  Also, no pics.  There was far too much mess going on to pick up the camera. I’m gonna wait a few more months before I get paint on it.

And then I had to measure.  Well, sort of.  I did measure the sides so I wouldn’t waste too much paper, cause it was all pretty and stuff! But of course, I only measured the one time, and so my measurements aren’t all spot on. My father would be so disappointed (he’s a pro at the measuring thing…) But in the end, I did find a use for most of those left-over paper bits I did end up with (more on that in another post. Tomorrow, maybe…)  So, after all the measuring and the cutting and the modgin’ and the podgin’ was done, I ended up with this:

kinda cool, if I do say so myself....

So then, for the finishing touches.  I really wanted a handle on it, and I had visions of a suitcase like handle, but I have no spare suitcases, so I had to improvise something else.  I also wanted it to have a bit more interest goin’ on up top there, and I have these large chip-board butterflies.  I have no clue where they came from, but they’ve been in my stash for awhile. So I took some of that paper and ‘podged it up, and painted the ugly cardboard sides.  While I was at it, I took a length of pink ribbon and raided my bead stash for some large hole beads.  I found some great wooden ones, and strung those on the ribbon.  Then, to the toolbox I wandered!  With the help of my trusty staple gun, I attached the ribbon, and then used my E-6000 epoxy to attach the butterfly on top.  And wah-lah! A handle and some interest!!!

gotta love E-6000!!!!!!!

As the glue dried, I was pondering the inside.  Okay, truth be told, the glue wasn’t so much dried as still very glue-y when I thought “Hey, a mirror would be cool!”  And it just so happens, I had a perfect mirror to use!  Back to the E-6000, slapped some dollops on the back of the mirror, press it into the inside top, prop it open, and then a few minutes later, discover that the glue from the butterfly is now dripping onto the coffee table.  Oops!!!  So I flipped the whole mess upside-down! Eventually, it dried.  well, the butterfly bit did.  I discovered the next day, after I closed the  lid for a few minutes, that the mirror bit was still oozing.  So, back open it went!  Finally, that all dried.

Then, I realized, there’s no easy way to see yourself in the mirror if you’re playing with jewelry, since it just flipped all the way open… so, I had to add some catcher-thingies… I’m sure they have an actual name, but I know not what it is.  Anyway, I used more ribbon, E-6000, and eyelets.  And let me say, I need a punch that will punch a hole in ribbon… that was not fun… and in retrospect, this part should get done BEFORE the mirror goes in… But I made it work:

Just hammer those eyelets in there! And use the E-6000 to make sure they stay!

And that was it!  Here’s some more close up shots, after the fact:

And finally, filled with stuff!

You know, I’m really tempted to make another one to use as a purse. It’s too cute!! And more on the rest of my crafty weekend soon!



What a week!! 11 September 2010

Filed under: Ponderings — Rana Wilson @ 3:12 pm
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My, my, my, what a week it has been!  And you know, this week started out all sluggishly and stuff, what with the holiday and days off and really havin’ trouble getting back into the swing of things.  Some of my students really had a bit of a hard time; and I honestly can’t blame them… Long weekends are nice. But, that all worked out in the end.  And now, it is Saturday, September 11th, and we all have to remember the horrible events of 9 years ago. Not that we could forget.  I mean, come on–the first major attack on US soil in how many years?  Yeah, we’re not gonna forget that.  So, if you haven’t yet, take a few minutes today and think back. What were you doing that day?  Yeah, for my generation, this is like Kennedy’s assassination or the moon-landing for our parents’ generation–we all know where we were and exactly what we were doing when we heard the news.  And we’ll never forget.

Now, on to happier thoughts! And back to my week!  So, this was the last week of Beads-n-Blessings Art with Heart Viewer’s Choice contest, and I have awesome friends who helped me win that!!!  And I have to say, I am in some gorgeous (!!!!) company!  I mean look at those pieces!!!  I want the Twister necklace (well, really, I’d rather know how to make the Twister necklace myself…)  So hey, I have bragging rights now!  And as a friend pointed out to me yesterday, I am now an Award-Winning Artist (yeah, I have trouble really taking that seriously… LOL! after all, I’m still working on considering myself an artist!)

And, I managed to complete 3 projects this week!  The new phone case, the patchwork table, and another piece that I’m still waiting on it drying fully.  I’ll post pics and the story on that as soon as I get it all done.

And, I woke up today to learn that my little table has been featured on Creating the Hive!  How cool is that!!!!! And people like it !

Okay, yeah, I’m having a “They like me! They really like me!” drama moment here…

And I think I’ll just leave you with that.  Have a great day!



When decoupage goes wrong… 30 August 2010

Filed under: Ponderings — Rana Wilson @ 1:54 am
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Okay, so I’ve found a new hobby that I kinda love (like I needed another one of those…) and of course, up until last week, I was out of school and going a little stir crazy. So I decided it might be fun to decorate my iPhone’s case (I had a very boring gunmetal gray Incase slide cover thingy.  Good for protection, not really my style…) Now, me being me, I don’t really like to measure and be exact and stuff.  I’m much more an “eyeball it” kinda gal (also, this is how I bake! LOL!) So of course, god forbid I should actually measure anything to cover this case, what with all it’s very annoying curvinesses and whatnot. After 2 or 3 attempts, it was apparent to me that using scrapbook paper or anything remotely stiff like that would not work for me at all.  So I had to let it lie for a few days while I pondered some more.

As I pondered, I remember that I have a largish stash of tissue paper.  So, I found me some bright pink tissue paper, pulled the case off the phone, and went to town.  After about 5 layers of tissue paper, lots of Mod Podge, an hour or two of painstaking whittling (essentially) with an exacto knife (yeah I know, I won’t measure but I’ll use an exacto knife with great glee after the fact!) I had a nifty looking pink case.  It’s weird, you can actually still see some of the gray through the layers of paper, and it took on a kind of weird fabric-y look.

And then, to put the finishing touches on it, I used some iridescent-y butterfly stickers I had (I think I picked them up at Dollar Tree… I love the Dollar Tree…) And of course, then I needed to add a few more layers of Mod Podge to protect the whole mess.  And because Mod Podge stays a bit sticky, I sprayed the whole thing with an acrylic lacquer to protect it.  Here it is, in all its finished glory (and with a bit of Tim thrown in…)

Where’s the problem you ask?  Well, first, I can’t seem to get the case off the phone since I put it all back together.  Not that I need to, but still… and second, it still doesn’t seem to have totally set, if you will.  It has some odd creases and crack-like things (not actual cracks, but crack-like), and some bits are perfectly smooth while others seem to have picked up a bit of a pattern from somewhere.

So, I’m pondering ripping the whole mess apart and starting over. But we’ll see.  After all, I can’t get the case off the phone.  This could be a problem…




The Life of the Adjunct… 16 August 2010

So, I was just reading this debate info over at the New York Times page, on Professors and retirement and new professors and whatnot (here’s a link.) I admit, I didn’t read the WHOLE thing (it’s several blog entries and their comments, plus the original Chronicle of Higher Education article here) but I read a goodly portion.  At least enough to get all nervous and ancy again.

Okay, here’s the premise: What with the crappy economy and all, older profs aren’t retiring (mostly) before they’re in the 70s.  Now in the English department, I remember that the old joke is that English profs don’t retire, they just die (sounds really morbid, but really, it’s a tribute to how much most profs love their work–they teach till they can’t teach no more… for example–I’ve been teaching 10 years.  In that 10 years, in the Tampa/St. Pete area Community Colleges, I can recall maybe 8-9 TOTAL positions available in my field, and 5 of those happened this year!)This isn’t necessarily a bad thing–the not retiring until later in life, thing, I mean–because, ideally, the universities and colleges are retaining smart, motivated, engaging professionals who LOVE their jobs.  And most of these individuals are in that category.  But, there’re also the deadwood profs who are sticking around because of financial fears, and this is a drawback.

Another thing discussed in many of the responses, is who is replacing these full-time, tenured professors once they DO retire. Unfortunately, most of them are being replaced with 2 or 3 adjuncts, instead of one full-time, tenure-track prof. I call this “unfortunate” NOT because adjuncts aren’t worthy professors (far from it.  I’m an adjunct myself, and I am a KICK ASS prof) but because the lot of the adjunct is so very grim.  Dire, even.  Okay, admittedly, there are some crappy adjuncts.  Just like there are crappy full-time profs, and crappy police officers and office managers and fast food workers and, well, you know, crappy workers in EVERY job imaginable.  And yes, there are a few adjuncts who hate their jobs (they don’t really stay adjuncts for very long…)  But consider this: the lot of the adjunct professor.

I’ll use myself as an example, and I’m going to be absolutely frank here.

As I said, I’ve been teaching for 10, almost 11, years.  Since right out of grad school. I have a Masters in English, and do have vague plans to get a PhD. Now, for the most part, I love the classroom (admittedly, this coming session is not something I’m terribly looking forward to, but more on that in a minute or three.) I love interacting with my students, imparting my knowledge to them, and learning from them.  That’s the reason I became a teacher in the first place, whether we’re talking my preschool days or my college days.  I love working with students.  It’s a blast!  And consider, every 16 weeks, my routine changes.  That is AWESOME!!!  And, I love working with like-minded individuals who challenge me to be the best English prof I can be, and to learn more about, well, everything.  I’ve been fortunate to work, primarily, with colleagues and administrators who really are keeping the idea of learning in academia.  So, that’s the positive.

Here’s the negative: A regular full-time faculty member’s load is capped at 4, maybe 5 classes, depending on the institution.  Now, yes, they also have other duties they’re required to discharge, including advising and committees and whatnot.  And, they’re compensated accordingly (at least at the institutions I’m familiar with.) This compensation takes the form of what I consider to be a very nice salary, and benefits–you know, insurance, vacation days, sick leave, all that good, fun stuff. Now, here’s the negative I was talking about: I am an adjunct.  Technically, I’m a “part-time” professor.  That’s what adjunct means (actually, you can go here for a full definition of the word.  Let me tell ya, reading that was depressing…).  I teach for 2 colleges; 4 classes at one, 3 classes at the other.  PLUS, I do my own fair share of student advising.  I keep office hours, both face to face and online. Admittedly, I don’t have to worry about committees, but if I want to have a larger voice and presence in the institution’s life, I should attend some. And I would!  I think it would be fun!  But, I don’t have time.  Mainly because, as I mentioned, I teach 7 classes at 2 colleges.

Do I do this for my health?  Hells no!!!! Truth be told, I’m probably one of the unhealthiest people I know (laziness and lack of time.  But I am working on it!) I do this, the teaching 7 classes, just to make ends meet.  And I live, horribly but predictably, paycheck to paycheck.  I have no health insurance (thank you, Obama, for making that a possibility in my nearish future), I have no savings, and because of how academia works, I really have no funds going into social security (we have a social security replacement thingy–Tiaa-Cref…) I have no vacation days (although, yes, I do get quite a bit of time off in between classes.  That’s not as nice a thing as it sounds…) I have no sick days (if I get sick and can’t teach, my pay gets docked.) And, since I have no insurance, I only go to the doctor for the REALLY serious issues, when I can’t avoid it anymore…

Because I’m single, childless woman, I’m not eligible for ANY public assistance, and because my job is classified as temporary/part-time or whatever, I can’t get unemployment in my between months (and fyi–there are 2 months where I don’t get a paycheck AT ALL.) And I need stuff.  Biggish stuff… Expensive-ish stuff…. (like a new car… eek!!!!) How I’m going to get said biggish, expensive-ish stuff, I’ve no clue… I’m sure I’ll figure something out.

I’m not writing this post to complain.  Really, I’m not.  Because honestly, if I don’t like it, I can get out and go elsewhere and get a job.  It might take me a while, in this economy, but hey, I have a master’s degree, which basically means I am a DEMON on the research.  I can get shit done.  Trust me… So eventually, I’d be employed,and I’d probably be employed with bennies and everything (oh, paid vacation days, how I have missed you…) Rather, I’m writing this post because in all my online travels, I’ve never seen anyone give a frank, full depiction of the life of the adjunct.  Actually, I take that back, there was this blog post I read a few months ago… but yeah, I can’t find that blog post now.  Too bad, it was pretty good…. And I think a frank, full depiction of the life of the adjunct is a very beneficial thing to have somewhere, because we put up with a lot in order to stay in a profession that is, for many of us, a labor of love.

Okay, so why am I not really looking forward to this coming session?  Well, mainly because of the 5 full-time positions available this year, I interviewed for 4 of them. And obviously, since I’m still an adjunct, I didn’t get the job.  And that hurt.  And no, it doesn’t really help that I know another worthy adjunct got the job.  Dammit, that was supposed to be mine! (just sayin’) I’ll get back into it, I’m sure, and it’s not my students’ fault I didn’t get the job, so that’s what I’m going to keep in the forefront of my mind this week as I prepare for classes (all 7 of ’em…) I am looking forward to seeing the students.  So I guess that’s something…

So speaking of preparation, I should really get back to that…


UPDATE (8/30): I am happy to report, as of the 1st day of classes last week, I was all nervous and weird and stuff, which, in my world, means that all is at it should be.  I’m still happy to be in the classroom. so, you know, yay! and stuff… ~RLW


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