Saturday, June 21, 2008

New flags, old callings, and oh yeah, GRAD SCHOOL!

So I've made it through the first two weeks of graduate school and all I can say is "WHEW!" So far it's been about what I expected; not completely overwhelming, but not a breeze by any means. I've been blessed to have a good "cohort", a group of 11 other students who are all in the same classes as me for the summer, that is very easy and enjoyable to work with. What's also cool for me is that I have two other fellow Roosevelt grads, one of whom grew up right next door! My professors have been great as well not only in fostering worthwhile conversations, but really getting us to think critically about the material and what we think about it and why. Because I took my required education classes at BYU-Idaho while I was still a Music Education major, a lot of what we are covering in my two classes and a weekly seminar are things that aren't completely new. My first class is Psychological Foundations of Education and my second class is Principles of Secondary Teaching. The weekly seminar class gives us all training on how to properly write a scholarly article in the APA 5th edition style. At BYU-Idaho as an undergrad I took an Educational Psychology class and a Foundations of Education class among others, so going through these classes is just a higher level and much more in depth.

Not only did I start graduate school June 9, but I also got a new calling at church the day before. I am now the Executive Secretary to the bishopric in the ward. The bishopric consists of the Bishop and his two counselors who are the leaders of our ward (congregation), so I am their coordinator and scheduler for interviews and the like. And no, none of those positions, as is the case for anything at the church, are paid...all volunteer or "lay ministry." As cool as my new laptop is, I'm REALLY glad I have it now because it works perfectly to keep notes on for my classes AND for church-related things since I can use it in tablet mode as if it were a regular paper-and-pen notebook. It makes being organized much easier (with the help of Microsoft OneNote). I had thought I would be able to keep my calling in Primary as a teacher, but instead I am returning to my full-time role as pianist and am being released from being a teacher, so that has to be one of my shortest callings ever. I was just starting to get into it lasted less than two months! I am excited to be going back to full-time pianist though. It was my favorite calling and I was still doing it part-time for senior primary. So, in getting a totally NEW calling, I get my old one back too! In addition to Executive Secretary (which also involves meetings before and after church on Sunday) and being Primary pianist, I am still the unofficial choir director, the ward singles representative (which really doesn't require much of anything), and a home teacher.

My next item is one for fun...I bought two new flags for my ever-growing collection. I don't know how many flags I actually have since I have them in different sizes, but I have a good amount now. I have always enjoyed studying flags and flying them too. My two newest ones are both firsts for me in that they are historical flags rather than current flags of a particular country or state. I bought a 3'x5' Bennington flag and the classic Betsy Ross flag, both of which have their roots in the American Revolution. The Bennington flag is the flag best known for having 13 seven-pointed stars around the number "76" in the blue field and the red and white stripes are the opposite of the typical Amercian flag (white stripes are on top and bottom). The other is the classic Betsy Ross flag, which looks just like a modern U.S. flag except that it has only 13 stars arranged in a circle. I bought them mainly for the upcoming 4th of July as they are the two of the most identified flags of the Revolution, the Betsy Ross flag in particular. I found it interesting that there is question whether or not Betsy Ross even sewed the first American flag and if the Bennington flag was even flown at the Battle of Bennington in 1777, but even if neither are true, they are still respectively known by those names. In any case, mostly to try and get the fold lines and wrinkles out, I have been flying my two recent additions on my two poles on the front porch. The new flagpoles I got last year make it easy to switch the flags and adjust for any size, so I am able to fly more of my flags, though I have only been flying the current American flag and the Ohio flag since I got those poles last summer.

Speaking of history, that's another one of my great interests, not only general history, but LDS (Mormon) history and local history as well. Last Wednesday I went to a cub scout activity for the ward at Plum Creek Park in Kent. Right near the park is an old aqueduct from the Pennsylvania & Ohio Canal, built in the late 1830's where the canal crossed Plum Creek just south of the Cuyahoga River. Today the structure is still there, though it no longer carries the canal, but two sets of railroad tracks. I had been wanting to find this aqueduct for some time to get a picture, but wasn't quite sure where it was, so I just followed the creek itself and found it. It wasn't hard to find, but it was VERY hard to get close enough to for a decent picture. I felt like a trailblazer from the frontier days trying to make my way through heavy overgrowth and brush just to get to a good viewing distance. I finally got there and realized the best picture would come from standing in the middle of the creek, so I did my best to stand on some rocks (the creek is only a few inches deep), but inevitably I still got my shoes and feet wet. Oh least I got a good picture! There aren't much in the way of physical structures left of the old P&O canal, but two of the very best examples are right in Kent: that aqueduct and the old Kent dam downtown which is attached to an old canal lock. Since about 2004, the river is now channeled through the old lock to bypass the historic dam. I have special interest in the P&O canal because part of it ran through what is now my back yard. You can still clearly see the edges of the canal bed!

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