Enter the MOOC: free online education

“You can go downtown,” I used to say to my son, “but you can’t just hang. You have to have something to do.” I abhorred the thought of my kid just hanging around Main Street, looking bored. 

I’ve felt sort of like one of those teenagers these last few weeks. Just hangin’. An aimless Hum-de-dum-dum, not wanting to do any of the things on my to-do list. You know the feeling.

Before I retired, I yearned for unstructured time. Now that I’ve got it, I find myself yearning for some structure! Thus my feelings of contrariness.

No, I don’t want to go back to work, so don’t even suggest it.  I just want a little something-something in the way of a schedule. Because I’m not as good with unstructured time as I thought I was.

In my working life, I was an administrative assistant at Yukon College.  One of the great things about working there was being totally immersed in an atmosphere of teaching and learning.  In fact, practically my entire life revolved around teaching and learning. I taught dance classes for 15 years, I traveled “outside” regularly to pursue my education as a dance artist and teacher and I took an assortment of college courses in the evenings.

As I sit here writing, I realize that that’s what’s missing. Teaching and Learning! Especially the Learning.

Enter the MOOC.

MOOC is an acronym for Massive Open Online Course. These are (non-credit) university courses that are open to anyone, anywhere. As long as you have access to a computer and the internet, you can take a course. And best of all, the courses are free!

Part of retiring early (early 50s instead of mid-late 60s) was accepting the challenge of learning how to live successfully on a tight budget. So you can imagine how attractive the word FREE is, especially when followed by the word EDUCATION! Lol!

The other day I discovered The Open University’s Future Learn program. Within minutes, I’d signed up for a course: Start Writing Fiction.  The course starts at the end of April, and I can’t wait for class assignments, assigned readings, critical thinking and deadlines! I realize that makes me a bit of a geek. Too bad, so sad. It’s the way I roll. I might even sign up for a second class!

If you are interested, here’s the link to the courses Future Learn offers.

What would you like to learn?

Alaska Highway, Whitehorse to Watson Lake one year ago today

One year ago today I drove away from Whitehorse, embarking on a solo journey down the Alaska Highway in -30 something temperatures. I stopped along the way to take some photos and jot down some poems. Here is that post.

Day One: Whitehorse to Watson Lake (December 2, 2013)

This is the Alaska Highway: 037

 

 At 10:45 in the morning my car’s thermometer is pegged at-30: as low as it will go. I do not know how cold it really is, only that it is colder than 30 below. After an hour on the road, there is still ice on the hood of the car and the clutch is still as stiff as tar.
040 042

 

I am driving East, into the rising sun, with everything I own.
032

Poem:

When the road ahead
is drenched in molten gold
I know to raise my hand
in anticipation of being blinded,
until
the road slides west
and sunrise
falls

behind me.

044Haiku:

outhouse in December
someone has left the seat up
amber icicles

046

Poem:

Driving east,
sarah brightman
eases the pie jesu
into the rising sun

as brilliant bursts  of liquid bronze and gold
splash champagne,
while shadows
chase the sweetness
of the melody
across the hillsides.

039a

Poem:

Telephone poles stretching
one after the other,
t-braces white with frost,
a thousand messiahs
with knees and feet of alabaster

and frosty brows bowed down,
connected by living wire,

carrying my whispered voice
from christ jesus
to christ jesus

to christ jesus
until it reaches
your
ears.

This is a short video of the road, shot holding the camera on the dash as I drove. It’s beautiful. Click here if you can’t see it.

In the Spirit of Play (or how I spent my April allowance)

Last January I posted my about word for the year: PLAY!

So, in the spirit of that resolution, I spent almost my entire April allowance on playful inspiration: books!

013I want to knit something bigger than a sock or a hat, but I know myself…I will make the front of something, or a sleeve, and then put the project away. Why? Because I just hate sewing the seams. I actually have an entire knitted sweater – front, back and two sleeves sitting in my basket. It’s been sitting in my basket since…um…gah! I am embarrassed to say it: about 1998. Needless to say, it no longer fits. But the yarn is good! It was expensive! So I’m in the process of unraveling the entire thing so that I can make something lovely with it. Knitted tops with no side seams! Yay!

012Prairie Children and their Quilts because I love anything to do with history and story-telling, and I’ve also become fascinated with miniature quilts. AND Mastering Quilt Marking because I want to expand my hand quilting beyond using purchased templates. I’d love to quilt some of the beautiful, intricate feathers & fans etc. I have the skill to do the hand quilting, but lack the technique of how to get the markings onto the quilt top. Maybe I can practice on a miniature quilt! Boo yah!

014Bread from Sourdough to Rye because I’ve been given the wonderful gift of heritage Yukon sourdough starter (read all about it here – it’s a cool story!) and I’ve been experimenting with baking bread. This book also has breads from all over the world, from challah to chapatti! And The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook by Jaden Hair because I follow her blog, which is all about yummy Asian-style cooking. (And Jaden is also a quilter, so duh….)

015And then BONUS! Look what my extraordinarily fabulous son of mine sent me for Mother’s Day!

All the indoor rainy-day bases are covered! Over the next couple of months I’ll be saving my allowance for outside play…new hiking boots and a day pack.

A spending allowance is built into our retirement budget.. I’ll post about it soon!

How did you spend your allowance last month?