Friday, June 26, 2009

It's Summer

The other day I really had to concentrate hard to think about what day of the week it was. I had to back track through all of the days and activities to figure out if we were at Tuesday, or Wednesday, or possibly Thursday.

Summer is here.

Yes, I realize what a luxury it is to have part of my summer off. I am grateful for this time and have been enjoying it to the fullest. We went to two baseball games in two days this week. I have been sipping lemonade with meals or alone. We had to turn on the A/C for the first time this season when the heat and humidity were unbearable. I made pesto.

Ah, pesto. Something so easy and fresh, makes my mouth happy. I love that in less than a half hour, I can have fresh, straight form the garden pesto. I even forgot the garlic at one point in the process and took a taste. Even then, without one of the most important ingredients, it tasted good. I think I may have even said, "Mmmm" out loud to myself, I don't know. I added the garlic, took a taste and just nodded my head. Yes.

When Stein called later that day, we had our usual end of the conversation question. "What do you want for dinner tonight?" I already had the answer. Pasta with pesto. I was going to add some more ingredients, but I didn't know what at that point. Roasted red peppers? Artichokes? Tomatoes? Mushrooms? After consulting with Rich on some flavors, I decided to keep it simple: pasta with pesto and tomatoes. A caprese salad of sorts with pasta.

I found myself on the other side of town later that day, so I popped into Zingerman's for a loaf of bread. Their bread of the month - Rustic Italian, caught my eye. That will be perfect with the pasta, I thought. And it was.

When Stein came home from work, I ripped off a hunk of that bread and slopped up some of the pesto. I brought it to him. One look at the bright green paste and he knew what it was. He popped it into his mouth and smiled.

Yes, it's summer.

Monday, June 22, 2009

If You Give a Mouse a Paintbrush

You may be familiar with the If You Give a Mouse book series, where the mouse is given something in the beginning, like a cookie, and then he needs a glass of milk, followed by a napkin to wipe the milk. You get the idea.

This weekend, we felt like the mice. Our kitchen ceiling had a leak at one point which we ignored for a while. A couple months ago, we decided to get the origin of the leak fixed and then have the kitchen ceiling patched as well. To save money we decided to paint the ceiling ourselves. Yet as we looked around the kitchen, we realized that there was some other painting that could be done as well.

When we moved into our house, we painted everything except the woodwork and trim. Those two things were still in decent condition, and we saved some time and money by ignoring them. Even when we were painting the kitchen cabinets white, we didn't care that the whites of the trim and ceiling didn't match the white of the cabinets.

Now they all match.

So, what started as a ceiling-painting project led into a kitchen painting (sans the walls) project. The cabinet doors were removed and repainted. The trim was given a new coat of paint, and the ceiling was done. It feels good to have it all done, but I really hate painting. I said to Stein when we were about a half hour into it, "I don't know how my grandpa did this for a living. I really don't like this." But eventually it got done.

Now if only some magical mice would show up (like those in Cinderella) and give us a new kitchen floor...

Friday, June 19, 2009


I'm sure that I have a post similar to this written last summer, or the summer before that. I don't know, I'm too lazy to check. But here we are in the beginnings of summer, and I'm feeling it once again.

The possibilities.

My time is unstructured and unscheduled. I can do whatever I want, wherever I want, without thinking about time. After being in the very structured and scheduled environment of school for nine months, this almost feels foreign to me.

But then I remember summers when I was younger, when this yearly occurrence wasn't so foreign. I became an expert of sorts at it, having an unstructured routine, if that was possible. I think back to those days, when my mom would go play tennis promptly at 9:00 every morning. Some days I would go to the park with her and play at the playground across the way, or play in the dirt just outside the fenced-in courts.

Other days I would choose to stay home, and be with my siblings. We were left to our own vices then, which consisted of any breakfast food topped with ice cream, and TV. My mom created the ice cream thing, I have to say. She came up with the ingenious idea of putting ice cream in-between 2 frozen waffles for a dessert after dinner. We just took it a step further by eating the breakfast foods (frozen waffles, leftover pancakes) for breakfast, but still incorporating the ice cream. Just call it invention. After all, it is the father of necessity, right? We needed to eat.

Oh, and the TV. It is amazing to me that I don't remember much fighting surrounding what we were going to watch. At least during the summer. We were all fans of sitcoms, so inevitably it would be something like The Jeffersons followed by Alice. One summer I distinctly remember being enthralled by the show, Please Don't Eat the Daisies. We all wanted to live in a huge house like theirs, along with their set of twins, Trevor and Tracy. We would top off our TV watching with a few game shows, if we had time.

We weren't couch potatoes all day. We would always get outside, find the neighborhood kids, and get into some trouble somewhere. I say trouble, but it was usually harmless. Breaking windows with hard-hit baseballs, cutting through neighbor's yards to get to our friends house. Again, the possibilities were endless. We didn't know what we were going to do each day, other than eat breakfast, lunch (maybe), and dinner. Freedom at its finest.

So for the next two weeks (I start summer school in 2 weeks) I'm going to embrace that eight-year-old girl and that feeling of having endless possibilities.

If only we had some waffles. And some ice cream.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Remember these?Look at them now!
The adult version (we bought these just in case): Tomatoes (I may have gotten a little overzealous with the seeds - there are tons of tomato plants in this pot):The adult version we bought just in case (they are flowering already!):

Peppers:Cayenne Peppers (we bought this one too):

I know the science behind seeds and growing plants, but it never ceases to amaze me that this happens.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

School's Out

Actually, it's been out for about five days now, but I'm just now taking some time to write about it. We've been on the move since it got out. End-of-the-year party, a trip to Chicago, and some sunny days have been taking up my time.

It's raining today. A perfect excuse to get some things done inside the house. Maybe I'll get some things organized for summer school. Or maybe not. Maybe I'll read a book. Or maybe not. You see, that's the beauty of summer. The possibilities are endless.

But before the summer gets away from me, I want to tell you about the last day of school. Traditionally at my school on the last day, there is an assembly mid-morning, where some people are thanked and if people are leaving they are bid farewell. My principal made a comment to me one day that led me to think I would be getting something at the assembly. She wanted to make sure I would be there for the last day of school.

I had a feeling it would be similar to the assembly last year. Since I was the long-term sub for the fifth grade then, I was given a gift and everyone clapped as I stood up at the front with a couple other people who did similar things.

But this year, I was called up alone. My principal said a few words about what I did this year, the whole time the kids near me were turning around to look at me. My eyes started to well up, but I kept it together as I walked up to receive my gift:

A dozen beautiful pink roses! (I took this picture this morning, so they have opened up a lot.) The sentiment was touching, to say the least. As I stood up in front of the school, several kids from various classes came up to me to give me hugs and cards like this one:

It was at this point that I was really getting choked up. My principal asked if I would like to say a few words, but I declined. Really, who wants to listen to a weeping idiot in front of a microphone?!

The day felt bittersweet, actually. I still don't know my fate for next year, and the prospects are slim, but I know I won't be at the same school again. This was a great opportunity I had for a whole year. I got to know all of the kids in the school, because I saw them on a regular basis. I won't have that next year if I am a day-to-day sub.

I am certainly thankful for the opportunity that I was given. It was a great trip.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Enough to Remove My Writer's Block

I haven't been here, I know. I've had thoughts swirling around my head about the most random topics lately, but nothing has made its way from my brain to my hand. I wanted to write something about the Air France flight, but Karen and Amy did a darn good job channeling my thoughts in their blogs.

Today my dander is up, so to speak. I was driving home this afternoon with my thoughts somewhere in la la land when I heard NPR say something about "A shooting at the Holocaust Museum in DC. Suspect in critical condition. Guard fatally shot." I closed the window and turned up the radio.

I got home and pulled up the internet. There on Yahoo's home page was a picture of the museum with the latest on the story. The killer is a supremacist. He believes the Holocaust was a myth. He walked into the museum and took the life of a guard who was doing his job this morning.

I've been to that museum. I went there with Sara, Karen and Stein one summer when we tromped around the mall acting like tourists. (Well, Stein and I were tourists, Sara and Karen were the tour guides). As we stood in the long lines just to get tickets for a time slot later that day, I wondered how this museum would stand up to actually seeing a concentration camp firsthand.

Later that afternoon as I stood in front of the many chilling images on the walls there, I thought it definitely did it justice.

Today my thoughts instantly put me back in that museum. Although I don't remember every detail of that somber place, I do remember how it made me feel. There were so many questions that kept creeping up as I read each display about the history of the war, the morale of the people, and the man who orchestrated it all. "Why?" of course was my main question.

Today I find myself asking that same question. For exactly the same reason. Why did this person do this? What was his background or upbringing that made him think and act this way?

What this person doesn't want to believe is in the place where he committed this awful crime, there is a message that rings loud and clear. It's a message that the museum hopes will spread. The Holocaust did happen. Unfortunately the Holocaust happened because of people's beliefs similar to this man's. We need to remember the Holocaust, so it never happens again. And what this person doesn't realize, is because of his act of violence at this place, people's dander is up. From places around the world, people are awakened once again by the importance of remembering.

We remember.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Trip to the Farmer's Market

Some of the goodies we picked up at the market this week. We went with Linda and wandered around a bit. The place was packed. But there was such a buzz there, people so excited to see all the vegetables and breads and fruits waiting to be bought.
Sometimes by the middle of the summer, there is an overabundance of stuff and it becomes a bit overwhelming. Then in the fall I think people start to get a bit depressed because they know that winter is coming and all that will be available are root vegetables. I know I get depressed then. But let's not think of that, okay? Let's hold onto this time of new stuff, colorful fruits, and the green all around.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Fringe Benefits

Every so often I get gifts from the kids at school. They're mainly pictures that they've colored, or random cupcakes or cookies that a birthday boy or girl may bring to me. Since I don't have my own classroom, I haven't built huge bonds with most of the kids I see. I don't see them enough times during the week to do this.

Last week the gift in the picture above was delivered to me in the morning. By the mom. She works at the school in the morning and at lunchtime, so I see her around school a couple times each day. I don't know her name, and I don't think she knows mine, but we exchange good mornings and hellos when we see each other. Her daughters are two of my favorite students, and it's obvious that they come from a great family with good values.

This particular morning the mom walked into the library carrying something wrapped in tin foil and then a Wal-Mart bag. As she walked toward me, she kind of lifted the package up, and said, "This is for you". "Wow," I said, "What is it?" She simply said, "Bread". When she handed the package to me, it was still warm on the bottom. I asked her what time she got up that morning to bake it. "Eh," she said as she shrugged her shoulders, "About 4 or 5". What a gift. This woman baked bread from scratch, before school, so she could deliver it to me. A woman who doesn't even know my name. I'm now ashamed to say that I don't know hers.

I asked her 4th grade daughter what she usually eats with the bread. "I eat it in the morning for breakfast with tea and a little milk," she said with a smile. She knows it's a good thing.

I took the picture above with the knife in the picture to give you an idea of how big this loaf of bread is. I ended up cutting it in half and freezing half. The other half I have been noshing on, and also used it to scoop up some spinach dip (it reminds me a bit of Hawaiian bread). What a special treat. I definitely felt special receiving it.