Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Saturday Six 8/13/11

Six things I love this week

1) Tomatoes & Cucumbers - It's that time of year in Illinois, where everyone's garden is coming due like a library book.  You planted the seeds/seedlings and now you find yourself wondering why you thought it would be a good idea to plant three tomato plants instead of two.  You look at the juicy pods of cucumbers on vines once tame, now threatening to take over the known universe.  You pray for enough counter space and decorative bowls for just a few more zucchini.  And you lament the fruition of your summer's hard work.

You can pickles, make and freeze buckets of marinara sauce, make zucchini bread by the pound - and it is not enough.  You keep a constantly refilling bowl of salsa/tomatoes & cucumbers in vinegar and it just keeps growing like Strega Nona's pasta. You make zucchini-tomato butter-stuffing, stuffed tomatoes, grilled zucchini, and gazpacho - and it still keeps coming.

You bring grocery bags of produce to work with you, and find yourself adding it to the growing organic pile that has taken over the break room/teacher's lounge table.  Your neighbors and family have stopped answering your phone calls because they know you will only find a reason to "drop by with a few garden goodies".  The paper-boy, sanitation workers, and mail carrier all work at double speed when they get to your house and pray they can make it away before you stumble out the door with no shoes on and a bag of zucchini to kindly force upon them. Finally, you reach the point where you send your own children out early in the morning with their little red wagon to leave random vegetables on your neighborhood's unprotected porches and stoops, like evil little garden elves of plenty.

Or, so I've heard.  Every once in a while, I lament the fact that there is absolutely no good place to put a garden in my yard (unless I dug one in the middle of my front yard).  Too many trees.  But not at this time of year - because now...everyone I know is trying to get rid of the stuff.  So, I do my heroic best to take them off their hands.

Me?  I'm having tomatoes & cucumbers in vinegar for dinner tonight.  Fresh salsa on my turkey dogs.  Zucchini Bread for dessert.  Word.

2) My niece and nephews.  This was my last week with the three of them, and after a wonderful summer, I can honest-to-God, hand on my heart say: "Dang! I'm gonna miss them!" We had so much fun, and I've never been more impressed with how wonderful and unique they are than to spend this amazing summer with them.  I think this is a reminder to me that I need to make more of an effort to be around during the school year.

3) School Registration.  What?  Yep, I said it.  I <3 me some school registration.  Why? Because not only do I get to personally welcome and make a short connection with all my brand new sixth graders coming in - I also get a chance to see my students who've moved on.  In fact, many times, I've been surprised by students who are finishing their final year in high school and make an appearance either to help out the younger kids with specific program like dance team or flags or band camp or because they're there to help out a younger sibling with their registration.

 It reminds me that, by virtue of being a teacher, I become something like a cultural touchstone in our community - like your favorite waitress at a local restaurant, or a librarian that always made you feel welcome. I've become a part of our community's nostalgia for its younger citizens.  That's cool.

4) Chicks N' Salsa - It sounds strange, but it's this wonderful little strip mall restaurant in Glen Ellyn that serves roasted chicken, fish tacos, and the absolute best veggie burrito in the business.  Awesome, affordable food without all the guilt of eating highly processed, fatty stuff. Every time I go to my dentist in Lombard, I treat myself to lunch there afterward.  Today was no exception. Grilled fish taco and a veggie burrito too big to finish. NOM NOM NOM!!!

5) Mid-Afternoon Rainstorms - we've been having some pretty bizarre weather this summer (even for Illinois!), but I have to say I love that it's August and my grass is still green. The world looks like it does in the first weeks of July - lush, green, and smelling of the rich, sultry aroma of wet earth. Even as I type this, we're having a little thunder-shower that's rumbling just enough to make Foxxy, my floofiest furry overlord head for the bedroom with her floofy tail low and nervous.  But it's not scary at all to me.  Luscious.

6) Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self by Danielle Evans.  This is a book of short stories that reads like memoirs from people you probably have somewhere on the fringes of your own life.  Each one has a distinct cultural voice, some made me laugh until I had tears - others provoked the tears for other reasons.  Every single story left me thinking, wanting still more of the colorful mind-movies her stories evoke.  Normally, I'm not a fan of short stories.  This one was recommended on NPR's FB page because Ms. Evans will be judging their next 3-Minute Fiction contest.  I picked it up thinking I'd skim it and see what to expect about her taste and writing style.  Once I finished the fourth page, I was hooked.  Word to the wise, it has language and situations that provoke some difficult conversations, and parents may want to pre-read.

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