Friday, July 29, 2011

Who is Cindy Anderson Deetz and why is she writing a blog?

   As a woman in my fifties, I count myself to be really lucky because I have had two completely diverse periods in my life: in fact, I often refer to these parts as my ‘two lives’.  These ‘lives’ have given me very different experiences and skills.  Both lives have been very challenging and educational in their own ways, and each life has given me unique knowledge and distinctive perspectives on the world.
Flaxcombe Saskatchewan
Life number one started in Saskatchewan, Canada.  First, I lived in the world’s greatest durum-growing area and then in the dairy-farm-studded woodlands area of the province.  In life number one I was the daughter of grain farmers on the family homestead.  I then went on to become a dairy farmer for twenty-three years with my former husband.  Life number one also included five wonderful children born in a short seven years.  These wonderful offspring certainly added to the workload of our mom-and-pop dairy farm.  
Capitola California
 Life number two finds me situated on the coast of the Pacific Ocean living in the eclectic culture of Santa Cruz, California.  I drive over the coastal mountains daily to teach high school in San Jose.  If someone had told me fifteen years ago that I would live on the coast of California, teach high school students with learning disabilities, earn a Master’s degree all the while championing the cause of marginalized persons and their accessibility to education and employment, I would have laughed out loud. If they had continued by predicting that I would crave raw fish (as in sushi), pick up little warm dog poops in plastic bags and love rap music, I would have roared in laughter!
I have thoroughly enjoyed both of my ‘lives’.  Both lives have given me so many opportunities to learn.  During my first life I raised five successful children (two teachers, one farmer/agricultural services salesman, one firefighter, and a psychiatric nurse-in-training) all while being tied to the regime of the dairy farm. I milked cows, delivered calves, gave needles to cows, dehorned calves and cut extra teats off heifers. I learned how to dodge lightning quick kicks and manure-crusted cow tails, to tail-jack cows to make them stand still, to halter-break calves, to identify the cows that were in heat and needed to be artificially inseminated and to bring them in and out of their specific stalls for milking. I was the surgical assistant at several Cesarean sections, gastric repairs and embryo retrieval and implantation procedures. I shoveled manure, washed milking equipment, had a huge garden, raised and butchered chickens (200 one summer) and kept laying hens to supply our own eggs and to sell in town. Once my youngest child was in kindergarten, I began to work off the farm as well. This first life also included many community and educational activities such as a 4-H club, serving on the board of a non-profit dairy association, working as a teacher’s aide in my children’s school, involvement with the provincial Spina Bifida Association, working at a sheltered workshop with developmentally delayed and mentally ill adults, working  in a group home, working as an addictions counselor, working as an employment counselor and acquiring my undergraduate degree in psychology.  It was a time when I gathered much knowledge and discovered the direction of my future endeavors.
In my second life I began working as a full-time high school Special Education teacher in Santa Cruz, California.  I completed two teaching credentials, one in Special Education, and one in English while working full time.  I followed up with a Masters of Arts in Education degree including a human research project and thesis.  Over the past nine years, I have worked with many types of disadvantaged students: emotionally disturbed, those on probation and parole, students that are parents, those fighting addictions,  students that are Autistic or have Aspergers’ syndrome, gang-affiliated students, second language learners, students with learning disabilities including cognitive delays, physical limitations such as ADD/ADHD, and students with processing disorders.  I enjoy the challenge of these populations. I think "normal" students would be boring!   
  Seldom content with the status quo, I am driven to pursue knowledge and progress, to try new things, to find new solutions to problems through diligent research.  I will always be a student! As a forty-year-old, I completed the undergraduate degree I began as a seventeen-year-old.  I found the biggest difference between my two sessions of university was that instead of wanting to know ‘just enough’ as a teenager, as an adult learner, I wanted to know it all! In my fifties, I completed my Masters in Education.
I love to take photographs, learn something new, read voraciously, write short pieces and dream of writing BIG pieces. In this blog, I intend to share some of my writing and photographs from the multiple perspectives of my life: farmer, former Prairie dweller, teacher, mother,grandmother,  perpetual student, current California resident, dual citizen of Canada and the USA just to name a few. I love to write but I also love to be read. I welcome any and all feedback. In fact, I crave it so that I can improve..

And now let the journey begin...................


  1. UR an amazing lady!

  2. I mean, you have a 'third' career to go? 'waterman'

  3. Happy Birthday!

  4. Happy Birthday Cindy! I am glad you are 17 years older than me now. ;-p

    Good first post, and I think I know more about you than before. Funny thing is that just this morning as I was waking up a similar thought about school popped into my head. I was comparing my different eras in post-secondary and came to the same conclusion (how as a youth I was about knowing enough to get out of school, now I read and research on my own to know everything!).

    Of course, I would like to know what you noticed about the impact of technology on learning. When I was in U of C and SAIT in the 90s computers were fairly new and the kids from more affluent families seemed to have access to the better software (prettier word processors and more powerful spreadsheets). When I went back in the 2000s, everyone had MS Office and decent desktops and laptops and the technology level was a fairly equal field. Now, I am wondering if Linux and Openoffice/LibreOffice is having any impact.

    And I think this next question may be up your alley; as a teacher, do you see if technology is having a 'negative' impact on learning? I am thinking "User Error" by Ellen Rose.

  5. Even though you didnt ask me, Cousin Len, I would like to put my two cents into your question. As a teacher, I think technology is having both a positive and a negative impact on learning.

    For one, students have unprecedented access to unlimited information and they need not even have to pay for library fees, let alone 'professor fees!' They truly dont even need bus fare. Also, if they have trouble communicating their ideas for any reason (learning disability, mental health issue, or even a physical disability)they can access many different types of software to enable them to communicate. Technology is, in many ways, a miracle in the classroom.

    It's also had a negative impact, though. Students very much feel that they don't need to fully learn or retain any knowledge. Their continual response when asked to put something in their long-term memory is, "I dont need to know this; I can look it up again if I need it." Let me tell you, you have to be pretty creative and pretty insistent to get them to 'know' anything. It's funny that they choose the word 'know' in this context.

    Another issue is that they, and this is only in my limited experience, dont read many things fully. They, very smoothly, skim for the answer to the question and move on. They hardly ever get caught reading anything they dont need to 'know' by accident, even. I watched a documentary about this once and it's because their brains are now actually wired differently than ours. They are faced with SO MUCH information on a daily basis that in order to be efficient (or even to survive maybe?) they must read and process information this way. This troubles me because it limits what they 'know' to what I've asked them to seek out. I am not foolish enough to think I've pointed my students in the 'most important' direction, ever! I cant imagine if all I ever learned academically was what the teacher pointed me toward researching. I cant imagine having never 'pulled' the wrong resource book, never having learned and read all the cool stuff that I did simply because I got a book that was slightly off what I was researching.

    Anyway, I have to shower before Big D wakes from his nap. So, yeah, computers have very-much leveled, and maybe even enriched, the playing field academically, but they've also taken away some important components as well (in my humble opinion).

  6. Oh, and Len, I would very much like to read 'User Error.' If you have it, may I please borrow it?

  7. Happy Birthday Cin ... I have no recollection of your sit-down B-Day dinner, so obviously Mom drugged the rest of us kids and had us stashed away somewhere!!!
    Enjoyed the story and hope you really enjoy & celebrate your birthday!!!

  8. Thanks to Big Len, Angela and Darren for your comments. Len, I really agree with Angela's comments that students don't retain as much info as they used to and I did actually read a report of a study this past month that supported that. Drat..can't remember where now! I agree that students are learning in different ways now and time alone will tell us if that is a positive change or not. What did Ellen Rose say that had an impact on you?
    Angela,I surely do appreciate your comment and I echo most of what you write. Maybe it is the shared DNA?
    Darren,thanks for taking the time to comment. I doubt that Mom drugged you (well, maybe, nawwwwwww...) I suspect that she sent you young 'uns to Grandma Mame's for supper that night!

  9. Hi Cindy,
    I am a very long distance (Australia) friend of your daughter Angela. After being friends with Angela on Facebook for many years, I feel like I 'know' you through your photos. I very much look forward to reading what you have to say too!

  10. Thanks Tiffany! I have heard about you and your wonderful hospitality from Angie.Thanks for reading my blog, and thanks so much for commenting. I will try not to bore you (or any other readers I may acquire) to death!

  11. I am finally commenting on your blog. As you know I had a techie melt on my first attempt. This time I have cleverly saved my response just in case I experience another cyber fluke which is entirely possible.
    My initial response was varied and generated several questions. What kind of critique were you looking for: substantive criticism of your writing or reactions to the content?What is your goal in writing the blog? Do you hope to pursue fiction, give your perspective on items of interest or just try out this writing thing and see where it goes. Do you want to spark debate and discussion? I suspect you are exploratory in your initial attempts as I don’t see a pattern or clear direction emerging as yet.
    I admire your energy and courage in putting your writing out for public view. Strength is required to read others opinions of your very hard work. I always suffered anxiety when I had to present something for others to read and critique which may explain why it has taken me this long to respond. All this being said I will share my thoughts on what you have written so far.
    I believe you have met a first hurdle that is the worry of any writer. I was engaged and remained interested. I don’t think you have found your voice or direction yet as you seem to go between experimenting with creative writing as in the “The Naked Ladies and teaching as in the blog on yoga and Canadian politics. I think your beginning blog answered half of your own question as it was more of a resume rather than telling the reader why you were writing.
    The blogs I found most interesting were those in which Cindy the person evolved. I guess I like people’s stories. I enjoyed The Socialist pinko-commie Canuck piece because I have seen it up close and personal with you and because its centerpiece was about love. But as a political junkie I couldn’t understand your and your countries lack of involvement or interest. Maybe it is because Canadians don’t have to worry about their government because they don’t have a bushel basket full of wacka-nut politicians who are driving Americans crazy.
    I got the feeling that “Naked Ladies” was a creative writing piece. You seemed to be experimenting with writing to create visual images with words and that you inserted the photographs to supplement.
    The parts of the piece on yoga that I liked best were your personal feelings. Your openness about your weight and health also made the piece compelling.
    As I reflect on your 5 pieces written to date I like when you tell your personal stories better than factual accounts. The birthday blog evoked warm memories of my own birthdays as well as gave a peek into you and your family life. I am a sucker for stories about childhood. I really related because my mom always made me 7 minute frosting.
    I think including the pictures adds to each piece as well as give concrete evidence of your interest and talent in photography. Bottom line I am enjoying not only reading your blogs but reflecting and reacting to them. My brain is engaged. Back off dementia! Yay! To minimize the danger of rambling on mindlessly I will close

  12. I'm with Chris. I like the personal pieces where we get to 'read' your humanity.

  13. ... and then identify with it and get a chance to evaluate our own feelings on the same issues and/or how we'd feel in the same situation. It also brings up old memories that one hasnt thought of in a long time. I'm a sucker for the memoir.

    I also agree with her observation on your writing styles. It does seem you are trying on different hats, if you will. While you write an excellent informational piece, it seems the lowest form of writing. Anyone (well, not quite anyone, but you get my well-meaning meaning)who has good sentence structure and research skills can write an informational piece. A memoir is tougher; not all people can be interesting, engaging, and to top it off, funny when telling their own story. You are all those. Plus, as one can see from your initial blog entry, you have much to draw on from your lives. Remember those old Canadian Participaction commercials? "Dont just think about it, do it, do it, do it!"

    I would like to see you practice your skills in the genre of memoirs. I'm sure you will get much feedback to work with as it seems, from your stats, that they are what people like the most.


Alright, let's get this straight. I CRAVE feedback and I am thick-skinned. I thank you in advance for your words!