Sunday, September 28, 2008

Friends of the Library

We had a long phone call to our daughter in Tunis, who is having a marvelous time. Really, it sounds more like she is on vacation than going to school! This morning she told us that her host mother taught her and the other 2 exchange students how to make couscous in steamer-like pans. It is nothing as easy as pouring it into boiling water, covering, removing from the heat and letting it sit 5 minutes. Oh no! In the lower part of the steamer goes the vegetables, broth, chicken and spices. The couscous is rinsed and sifted through your hands several times then put into the top of the steamer contraption and cooks uncovered as the meat and veggies boil to a tasty finish below. She has put a new post on her blog that details her recent visit to Carthage.

Then I had a 4.5 mile run. It was a little later than I would have liked. The neighborhood dogs were awake and that always puts me a little on edge. A Chihuahua and a Yorkie came yapping and nipping after me only a block from home and the hefty owner was breathless as she kept screeching "Peppy, Peppy!" Peppy's hair made a Mohawk down his back and his growl meant business. I would've kicked his teeth to the tip of his Chihuahua tail if he had come a centimeter closer. I am not overly fond of dogs. The dogs I am friends with have owners who can control them.

Then we headed north of town to the Friends of the Library book sale. It was half price day and I spent only $5.00. I got a few books for my classroom. I needed a few more 'Early Readers' and easy chapter books to add to my independent reading selections. This class is an unusual composition. I have four students who are fluent readers and at least that many who don't know even the names of the letters in their name. The age span is from 5 years and one week to 6 years and 4 months, two of my students are cousins and two more are cousins with children in the adjoining kindergarten. There are 2 'early entrants', 7 ELL, 2 with IEPs, and on Monday, one more is coming back from first to make the total 27 students! I am not at all happy about the class size, particularly after the principal assured me last spring and again this August that this year we could stop our class size at 26. One thing I will say though, there are more compatible personalities in this class; they are more peaceable as opposed to being competitive. On Wednesday I had my first 'belly laugh' with them. We had finished making fabric collages (Fabric is the first unit of Science). The scissors and glue had been collected and the extra fabric scraps were tucked into baskets,and I sat down in my 'story chair' to begin a class discussion of the various attributes of the fabric in their collages. I get up from the chair to write their comments on a poster and this little voice pipes up from the back, "Excuse me Mrs. G. there is something red on your pants." There were no giggles or anything, just that polite little voice. I felt my derriere and craned my neck and sure enough, a piece of red netting from the fabric collection had attached itself to my behind! I was probably as red as the netting. I quipped, "Well, that's another attribute of fabric, sometimes it sticks to other fabric, even without glue!" and I burst out laughing and they joined in with their guffaws. Maybe it was one of those things where you had to have been there to appreciate the humor. Anyway I am hopeful that they learned that it can be healthy to laugh at yourself!

After The FOL sale we went to the U-District and ordered avgelemona and a gyros platter at the Continental Greek Restaurant. Get this, the owner still remembers us from the old days (1977-1979) when we lived only blocks away and ate there at least twice a month. Since then we might eat there once a year. They are such friendly people and the food is great!

On the way back to the car I meandered through the Pea Patch and took the photos you see in the slide show below. The weather was SO lovely. I had to garden if only for simple tasks like watering the containers on my deck and planting False Spirea I bought last weekend. It seems that my container of lettuce needs thinning; that will be part of tonight's salad.

And I will end this post with political humor: go to HULU to see SNL's Palin/Couric skit from last night.

University District Pea Patch

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Last Blush

The roses are at their last blush. Today I picked my last rose bouquet of summer....fall begins tomorrow. While some things look spent and faded, you can still see plenty of color in my garden. I got out in the yard for a couple hours and it actually was warm enough to take off my sweatshirt as I pruned and weeded. But tonight I hear the rain again. So what else occupied me this weekend:
-Tutoring 2 older Vietnamese people from my church in preparation for their citizenship test. (I must be insane because I am certain they will vote Republican if they pass!)
-Reading the newspaper and reading blogs
-Two loads of laundry
-Went to a garden sale at Herr Garden Shop in Burien; only bought 3 perennials
-Made an Apple Crisp and Paella with plenty for leftovers tomorrow
-Went to a wine tasting (Ripasso wine) and enjoyed visiting with friends.
-Watched a dismal Packer-Cowboy game
-Avoided work for my classroom as much as I could and now I have a few loose ends that are going to become nightmares if I don't go upstairs and look in my 'book bag'

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The time was.....

3:25PM in Tunis and 6:25AM in Seattle as I woke up this fine morning to the sound of pitter pattering raindrops on our grey deck that matches the grey sky which has covered our Emerald City all of today.
Yes, we have one clock in the house (pictured above) which is set to Tunisian time so that at a glance, we know just what hour of the day our daughter is experiencing in Tunis. She had called us in the wee hours of Wednesday morning (3:35am) to let us know that she had arrived in Tunis all in one piece. But today we wanted to know if we could contact her. We tried once, twice, a text (That worked right away!), and third time a charm; we were talking! 50 minutes of interstate phone card time became a truncated nine minutes and then our card ran out. But we had heard her voice and now we know that it IS possible to reach her across the miles of continents and oceans. The other arriving students were mostly from Oregon and mostly friendly. The French classes would be easy. Truth be told, TOO EASY. She and some other OSU students had made their way to a Mediterranean beach yesterday and enjoyed a swim in balmy turquoise waters. The food is delicious. The women don't all wear scarves but you notice more than in Seattle. They don't wear shorts; not even long shorts. There are a number of women who wear tight, TIGHT pants. I got the impression that although females don't show a lot of skin, it doesn't necessarily mean they dress like nuns. She plans on meeting her Tunisian host family tomorrow. She will most likely be one of two students assigned to a family. She prefers to be the only one so as she would be forced to become acculturated more quickly, but she is ok with being one of two. She is suffering internet withdrawal; she is not certain that she will be able to post on her blog as often as she would like. She has been to the Medina and she made mental notes of gifts that she might buy for friends and family (Goodie, goodie!) Then they walked beyond the Medina to a lovely tiled plaza where she took pictures of a spectacular view of the city. That is all I can remember of the nine minutes; that and the sound of her voice, happy and confident.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Did you watch SNL?

So, if I had not been out enjoying Damien Jurado playing music at the Triple Door I would have been enjoying a good chuckle watching Tina Fey as Sarah Palin on SNL. Go to the Chicago Tribune for a review of the skit or watch it here:

Remember those curtains....

the ones I labored over during Labor Day weekend? My daughter sent me photos of the completed project, hanging in her apartment windows. I'm totally thrilled with how they turned out. NOW I can say it was worth the effort.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Humongous Bouquet

I am well aware that late August is the correct time to prune Hydrangea Macrophylla 'Nigra', but it was flopping every which way so I went ahead and lopped away, well aware that I may be sacrificing next summer's blooms. I ended up with this enormous bouquet and being that our house is NOT a McMansion I could not find a suitable spot for it's display so it ended up on the deck table. As for what else I did today:
-An early am 4 mile run in the fog; I love, love, LOVE my runs!
-House cleaning; my weekly vacuum and scouring of the main floor.
-Lesson plans and tea at my house with my teaching partner.
-A yummy birria (goat) torta from Paisanos in nearby White Center for lunch
-An unexpected and happy IM session online with 'Honey Girl'. She is back in Chicago and we were so delighted to hear that she had received our most recent 'care package'. On Tuesday she leaves for Tunisia! Exciting times ahead for our 'one and only'!
-Pruning and weeding for 2 hours
-Blogging and reading online.
-And for tonight... We are going to a Damien Jurado concert. It starts at 10:00.
Time to 'sign off'. There is no way this middle aged woman will be awake at 10:00 without coffee!

And just so I am ahead of the is my photo for Green Thumb Sunday:

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Breezy Blooms

It is a lovely September day: blue skies, sunshine and breezy. it was difficult to get any blooms to sit still long enough to capture with my camera. Here are Yellow Wax Bells (Kirengeshoma) waving in the shade. I like the shadows on the leaves as much as the blooms.
And white Japanese anemone waving on tall and slender wand-stems.
The bees are abundant as they work the asters in my sunny bed.

The pink Japanese anemones multiply every year. They are one of the best fillers in every West Seattle garden!

Monday, September 01, 2008

The Color Purple

O.K. I know I am a day late on posting for Green Thumb Sunday but the photos were TAKEN on Sunday. I shot them in a hurry and I was rather surprised that they turned out so lovely.

My Porch Plants

I did not have time today to work in my yard as I would have liked but I couldn't resist taking a few photos in my front yard. I especially like the triangular flowers and fuzzy leaves on the Wandering Jew.

The August Pie

The August Pie is a blackberry pie, luscious and juicy. Usually I pick blackberries on Labor Day weekend; not a hard thing to do in Seattle where the bushes spring up in every untended yard, park, or roadside strip. The curtain sewing job was mine so that left the berry picking to the husband/daughter team. They whined about the thorny canes and the sticky, icky spiders and webs, but they sure were quick to eat blackberry pie ala mode!

Curtain Call

For the past two weeks I have been going on home visits to the families of the students who will be in my classroom AND I have been working in my classroom; labeling and laminating, putting up posters, moving furniture, setting up files, attending meetings and collaborating with colleagues.

But for this holiday weekend I set school aside and I sewed almost non stop to finish curtains for my daughter's Chicago apartment. I used to sew, in fact I sewed a lot. The machine I bought when I was in college, sometime around 1975, is the same machine I struggled with this past weekend. Every few inches the thread would break off or tangle on the underside of the fabric. So every hour I seemed to be consulting with the manual and changing something; I changed the needle, the pressure on the foot, the tension in the thread, the tension in the bobbin (yes, the sacred and finicky bobbin), I even changed thread. I finally stopped and dusted it's innards and oiled every moving shaft and gear. The machine did not get the best of me and finally the four lined 47" by 77" panels were finished. I even hand hemmed them. I wouldn't say I won the 'battle' with the sewing machine but I can say "Mission accomplished!" Thanks to me, my daughter will be able to get her beauty sleep, unperturbed by the street light outside her windows. Seems to me I should've made her an eye mask instead.