Friday, July 30, 2010

A Little Like Christmas In July

Summer is done.

Today I loaded up the car and headed over to The School to unpack and get my room set up.  Amazing how long that can take.

Every year we have to box up and pack up our rooms.  For those, like me, who have absolutely no built-in storage, this means EVERYTHING.  Mrs. Eagle had cabinets and all sorts of counters in her old room so it was simply a matter of just putting stuff away.  My room, however, has nothing of the sort, so I have to box it all up so that the janitors, bless their hearts, can empty the entire room to strip and wax the floors.   Then they haul all the stuff back in and, thankfully, read the little map we tape to our doors so they know, more or less, where things go.  I have to give them credit - this year I didn't have to hardly move a thing.  They were rock stars.

A few years ago I got tired of the Spring hunt for boxes with which to pack up my room and instead bought big plastic tubs to store things in.  This has turned out to be one of the smartest things I've ever done.  For one thing, it increased my storage during the year.  Four of these huge tubs can sit under the work table by my door.  That means I can store things in these four tubs during the year.  The other ones I simply stash in an out-of-the way corner (I do not have a square room so there are a lot of weird little corners) and then I pull them out every Spring and pack them up again. 

I do not, however, label them with what's in them.  Because that changes every year.  Which means that today was kind of like opening presents at Christmas.  Wonder what's in this tub?  Oh wow, books, pipe cleaners, and my precious red Swingline stapler!  Cool!  

I did get a lot accomplished.  Still need to get out and hang up posters, and figure out kid seating, bring in the plants and clean a few things, and then I should be ready to go.  Heavens, I even got the technology up and running and working.  That can sometimes be a disaster but this year worked out fine. 

Now if I can just find a way to fit a rumored 34 kids per class into a room that's made to accommodate 28...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sign of the Times?

Seen today on a drugstore's electronic sign (where they advertise specials and stuff).

"Flu Shot Gift Cards!  $29.99"

You gotta give them credit for thinking outside the box.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Winding Down

Summer is pretty much over in terms of vacation, but definitely not in terms of weather.

Amazingly enough, a few districts in the region started yesterday, but we don't get our kids until the 6th.  Still, it's time to wrap up those last few in-services (I think I already have something like 18 hours), get into the room and get it put together, and get ready. 

It's been nice hanging out a lot with Hubby, and the Felines, but I'm ready to go back and see my friends, especially the Guidance Group, and my fellow teammates.  I actually almost kinda miss the kids.  I didn't get everything accomplished that I wanted to but that's pretty much par for the course for me.  

My garden has, for the most part, been a disappointment.  I think the early heat in June did not help any, which is why I hardly have any tomatoes this year.  We have massive huge tomato plants but they are just starting to set fruit, which is way late in the season.  I should be canning tomatoes by now and I'm lucky to get any to put on a salad.   The broccoli (which was an experiment) got pretty much ruined by heat and worms so I've tossed that all on the compost heap.  Same with the potatoes.  The beets did well, the lima beans are starting to produce, and the peppers are doing fantastic.  I think I'll do a fall planting this weekend of some of the cool weather vegetables and see if I have better luck with them.

I have planted a lemon tree.

Yes, I know, I live too far North for citrus, but I got this idea that if I could plant a dwarf lemon tree in a pot, and bring it into the kitchen during the winter, I might be able to get lemons.  My folks had a drawf Meyer lemon tree in a pot on the patio when I was growing up, so my dad found one for sale on line, I bought it, and now I've got it planted.  It is 8 inches tall.  (No lemons, obviously).

All this because I hate paying 69 cents a piece for lemons.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

No, I Haven't Fallen Off The Face of the Earth, I'm Just Summering...and At War With a Rodent

Sorry for not posting much.

However, life is pretty calm when I'm not herding teaching seventh graders. It's time to catch up on reading, deep cleaning my house (you have no idea what a wreck it gets during the school year), clean out closets, work on lessons for next year, organize my office, knitting, and work on my yard and garden. And of course, getting to spend time with Mr. Bluebird and The Feline Children.

And naps. Naps are important.

The heat has been pretty unusual during most of June and into July. That means that my yard work has to take place pretty early in the morning or fairly late in the evening when it isn't so hot. Weeds can grow overnight in our climate, so there's quite a bit of weeding, and feeding of the plants, pruning, and even watering. Hard to believe we had floods in May and now we're dry, dry, dry.

And then there's the chipmunk.

Every year we put out a vegetable garden. This year we've moved the tomatoes over to another part of the yard, and the center raised bed has red and green peppers, jalapenos, beets, lettuce, carrots, bush beans, broccoli, and cucumbers. This garden is fenced off with what we call our "rabbit fence" because we do have quite a number of rabbits that call our yard home. Another fenced off area contains some lima bean plants as well as some potatoes.

For the record, I've never grown lima beans, potatoes, or broccoli. My garden every year resembles a science experiment because you never quite know what's going to happen. I think our cold wet spring, and the early heat wave in June has impacted some of my experiments, so to speak. The broccoli is all leaves with no vegetable part yet, which may be due to the heat - broccoli is somewhat of a cold weather plant. I'm thinking that may be the issue with the potatoes as well as the plants are kind of floppy and leggy and not bushy like the Southern Living Garden Book said they should be. As for the lima beans, they got put in late because the first batch rotted after our flood in May and I had to replant. The jury is still out on them.

Anyhow, back to the chipmunk.

I have never, in nearly twenty years of growing tomatoes, had a rabbit eat a tomato. They just don't seem to like them. So, as a result, I've never put up a rabbit fence around my tomato plants. It just wasn't necessary. However, this year we have a new resident in our yard, and he's starting to really annoy me.

We've spotted him a few times including one time when he was on the sidewalk out front of my office window and I nearly was able to get a picture of him (but of course he spotted me and ran off.)   He's tunneled around the flower beds both in the front yard and in the back.  And of course, he's now eating my tomatoes.

The holes in the yard I can deal with.  But to eat my tomatoes?  That's uncalled for especially since my plants really aren't producing all that many tomatoes to begin with.  For some weird reason all the fruit on the plants is low to the ground (within chipmunk reach) and there's not even a whole lot at that.  I'm starting to suspect these plants, all of which are different varieties, may have had a hard time adjusting from cool, wet weather and then sudden plunge into a heatwave. 

It appears that I may have to put up a chipmunk fence now.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Freaky Fair Food

One of the things I like about Summer are fairs, especially county fairs and state fairs. I've been to some pretty small, but fun, county fairs, especially when I lived up North. I've also been to some really wonderful county fairs that can give state fairs a run for their money. And of course, there are some wonderful state fairs (the Ohio State fair comes to mind) that just absolutely rock for fun.

There's just something about fairs. I love the animals (who can't love a little lamb?), plus the exhibits (gardening and of course knitting are popular with me) and the different vendors.

And there's the food. There really is nothing quite like fair food. You name it, and you can probably get it at a fair.

And even if you can't name it, you can probably get it at a fair.

A few years ago I was out visiting Momma Bird in San Diego when the county fair rolled around. This is one of the best fairs I've ever been to, and it a regular ritual for Momma Bird and her friends (and me if I'm there at the right time). The big talk around the fair that year was a new fried food treat - deep fried avocado.


Now I don't eat fried food that often to start with, but I do enjoy fried zucchini (available at the fair) and fried dill pickles (seriously good, discovered them Up North but they've migrated down here now). However. Deep fried Twinkies, Oreos, and yes, avocado was a bit much. I mean, I like avocados and all that, especially in a good guacamole, but deep fried? Not for me. Momma Bird and I had a good giggle over that one as we split a basket of deep fried zucchini.

And now every year Momma Bird reports to me what the new trendy, wacky, and outright strange fair food is for the year. And as luck would have it, the theme this year is Taste the Fun.

Momma Bird called to report that deep friend Klondike bars were new this year as were deep fried Pop Tarts. Now, I can kind of see these working out. I've had fried ice cream before at a Mexican restaurant, and fried Pop Tarts would kind of be like a fried pie. Then Momma Bird added in a few that were a bit too weird for me.

Like deep fried butter. And chocolate covered bacon. And finally, a chocolate covered dill pickle.

I am not kidding.

Honestly, it sounds like something my seventh graders would invent just to be disgusting.