John Mahar's Blog

Education, Spanish, Travel, Poems, Bonnaroo reports, and more.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Humor me and take part in this exercise in poetic thinking: which mountains do these piles of gravel in the picture resemble? To fully participate, photoshop pictures of the real mountains to prove how right you are.

You could take this as a sign that I have been living out of sight of mountains for too long. But you can see mountains in the distance from the higher points of Knoxville, and I've had plenty of adventures this year, especially considering I have started a PhD program. Especially considering how tiring the first half of the year was. Especially considering everything else. I was living in Pike County and Knoxville, driving back and forth every week. I worked a couple or three days at Belfry and then would come back to Knoxville and work on the new house or skype-teach. It will take years to offset my carbon footprint. It took a month or so of sitting on my new front porch to regain some steam.

By now we are fully integrated into life in Knoxville, which is quite different than living on the side of a mountain in Pike County. We haven't eaten at Applebee's in over a year now! Our next door neighbors, whose house is about ten feet from ours, have a metal band, and we hear every drum beat and bass note. As anyone could expect, there are trade-offs.

I have started my PhD program and teach a small number of the future teachers of Tennessee. I suppose that means my scope of influence is growing. It's only a matter of time until I have created an army of over-pragmatic teachers that will work painstakingly towards incremental institutional change! In a sure sign of the impending obligatory talks and publishings that go along with future professor-dom, the first paper I have ever submitted to a conference was accepted. I will be going to Birmingham, Alabama, to present a paper on service learning as the ultimate combination of educational theory and practice. I'll use fancy words and convince the (likely) small crowd that I know what I'm talking about.

The learning part of the PhD is going well, too. With a little help from friends and family I will eventually be able to write a coherent paper all on my own, and not only did I learn a lot about education, psychology, history, and philosophy, but the classes I took even changed my perception on the world a little bit.

Lahla is gaining steam with her business. I am very proud of the work she has done, and if you can't get a chance to come down to her studio or the farmer's market in Market Square, I've attached a picture that shows you just how beautiful her set-up is. You can find her online shop on etsy here:

Our animals are often photogenic (especially Stevie), but not so much when forced, as you can see in another of the attached pictures. But they make us laugh a lot and enjoy sitting with us. We thought that taking Stevie out of the country might help preserve the woodland creature population. I'm sure it has helped, but the city creatures have suffered greatly. He brings in some kind of prey about once a week, with his most popular catches being mice and snakes. He has shared a rabbit with us as well. That was ugly, and, unluckily for Lahla, he saves the real carnage for when I am gone. I was at my tenth college reunion at the time. Lahla sent me some all-caps text messages describing the gory scene. Luckily for her, she's tough (or just resigned, I don't know).

I had another great October climbing trip at Table Rock, North Carolina. Everyone should come camp or climb with us next year! The first weekend of October, I met up with some friends and family and we did some climbing and played some music. We also ate some very good food and did some star-gazing. We will do the same next year, let me know if you're interested. It's a great time to visit the area.

I wish everyone a merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, happy new year, feliz cumpleanios, and an even better year in 2012.