Mary Oliver

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?"

Saturday, September 29, 2012

What A Week!

Wow, this week flew by! First, let me share some photos from last weekend's trip to DC and the NatBookFest:

Melissa, getting a book signed by Junot Diaz, the sexiest author at the show.
I'm obviously stunned here. By the way, he kissed Melissa, but he didn't kiss me. Sigh.

I am such a sucker for sights like this.


Sandra Cisneros was my other favorite author. She was marvelously warm and kind, and I was able to ask her a question about teaching high school English that she graciously answered!

T. C. Boyle


Fibre Space, in Alexandria, on Saturday night. Poor Melissa, my non-knitting daughter, didn't see this visit coming, but I tried to make it quick! I love this store! I know, you're shocked by this news.

Walking through one of the art museums' garden:

Bob Balaban. He was the narrator in Moonrise Kingdom, he's in all of Christopher Guest's movies, and now he's an author of books for 7th graders!

Another beautiful sight.

The Frick Gallery of Art, a fabulous space to visit, especially when you need a moment of serenity.

We didn't get back until midnight, after a series of events that were stress inducing but ultimately minor enough, so I had to hit the ground running on Monday morning and I haven't slowed down all week! That being said, I can't wait to go back next year, as I absolutely loved it! I can't believe this is the 12th year of this event and it's the first year I managed to attend!

As for teaching, I am really getting into my groove, so to speak. It's definitely a ton of work, teaching a new curriculum, but the energy at this high school is fantastic. The faculty and administration are truly a team, which allows for wonderful things to happen. The students I taught the past four years are here and it is such a gift to be able to see them at this age and maturity level. So many of them are leaders of the school and I know they have exciting futures ahead of them. The bonus is, that when my students see all of these great kids come by to say hi and give me a hug, I get a little "street cred" with my new classes. And good lord, do I need it. If I only had true freshman, it would be pretty easy, but I have quite a few 10th and 11th grade-age repeaters who are beyond tired of taking English 9. Not tired enough to do the work and get out, but tired enough to make it difficult to ignite the energy in the class. It is definitely getting better, but it has been an uphill climb at times. But I am just as excited about teaching as I've ever been and I'm truly motivated to make English relevant to these kids.

And now, I get to grade a small mountain of papers on this fine Saturday morning. Have a marvelous weekend!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Reading in DC

Just a quick post to share a photo from my trip to DC for the National Book Festival. More to come, but this one is so pretty.

We were able to hear talks by Jeffrey Eugenides, TC Boyle, RL Stine, Geraldine Brooks, Jerry Spinelli, and Sandra Cisneros, and yesterday we went back to hear Junot Diaz. Oh my.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Again With the Food

Nope, nothing to see here, but plenty of whining. If you're not in the mood, come back another time, because this one isn't going to be pretty. I went to the doctor yesterday and he strongly recommended that I go on a no-carb meal plan. I need to lose weight and I need to get serious about it. So I started today, and as a result, I have a whopper of a headache. It might be unrelated, but I doubt it. So the upshot is that I will try and limit the complaining, but it may seep through every now and then, at least until I see some progress in the weight loss department.

To top off the day, I had an in-service during my planning time and a forty five minute parent conference that began at 4:00 p.m., and now I have a ridiculous amount of work to do when all I want to do is knit.

Ok, enough whining. Tomorrow is Friday, and on Saturday, Melissa and I are driving to Washington, DC, to attend the National Book Festival and have a girls' weekend. Fun is almost here. Happy TGIF!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012


I love the slant of the sunlight these days, as we slip into autumn. The air has a hint of coolness in the morning and a few trees are starting to look more brown than green, although the days are still quite warm.


I came home yesterday to find this lovely surprise in my mailbox; such a great little publication. It's the third issue and it keeps getting better. It reminds me of the early issues of Mothering magazine, back in the eighties, when breast feeding was such a big part of my life.

This was the scene of my organizing session last night. I was so happy to get everything sorted in a way that made sense. It gives me a sense of control, knowing where all these ideas are, ready to be implemented. Binders and dividers, plus a new pack of colored markers, just for fun.

Last night we ate a mash up of leftovers for dinner, but tonight was a treat. Frozen pastry dough is my newest pantry staple. I used one sheet to make a spinach tart and the other one for an artichoke tart. Both had scallions, a bit of Parmesan, a little goat cheese, and some fresh mozzarella. Delicious.

I also played around with the camera and Instagram app.
It's the little things, right?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Another Week

I had a pretty good second week, although I feel like I have to work like mad just to keep my head above water. One of the positive things I did this week was to call about 75% of my students' parents to tell them something good about his or her child. Doing this not only builds parent-teacher good will, it also never fails to make me feel good, because it reminds me of the fact that my students are someone's precious son or daughter. As important as curriculum is, nothing is more important than remembering that my students are first and foremost other people's children.

I spent the weekend visiting with family. Steve and I had a small cookout yesterday and had my parents and his oldest daughter and her husband over to eat. Afterwards, Steve, Lindsay, and Jon played tennis, while I relaxed and/or did some school prep. I also blocked the four shawls I made over the summer. Pictures of those will have to wait, as two are still damp.

Last night, Steve and I went down to the Norfolk waterfront to listen to the Virginia Opera under the stars. It was a perfectly lovely evening, just cool enough to need a light shawl.


Today we went to Richmond to take Stephanie out for brunch for her 22nd birthday. Isn't this the cutest salt and pepper shaker?


I managed to sneak in a little knitting time at Richmond's best yarn shop, The Yarn Lounge. Love this window display.

I slept the entire way up, but was able to stay awake on the home so I could knit. I'm making a pair of hand mitts for a friend, using Quince & Co. Lark in Marsh, and the pattern, Braided Mitts. Despite the well written pattern, I managed to mess something up and I just finished unraveling back to the cuff. Oh well, I have time to re-knit it, and Lark is such a nice yarn to work with, so it's not really that bad of a problem.

And quick as that, tomorrow is Monday. Hope you have a good one.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Weekend Update

My first week ended on a good note. I taught the students how to participate in a Socratic Seminar and despite their inexperience, I thought they did quite well. I think it's a great strategy to use to help kids think critically about a piece of writing, and sadly, it's usually reserved for the higher level classes. I'm mixing a lot of my AVID strategies with a gifted strategy or two in the hopes of getting the kids to become more active readers, which in turn, can't help but improve their writing. At least, that's the plan. Unfortunately, I am suffering a crisis of confidence since it has been so long since I taught English. Only time will change that, although Friday's lesson helped.

The dinner experiment has been going well, although we've eaten out quite a lot this weekend. This was the view from our table today:


We were eating on the porch of Chick's Oyster Bar, a casual burger, seafood, and beer place not too far from our house.



As for knitting, I'm over half way done with the edging for Anne's Wings, and I'm pretty happy with the way it looks! I should finish it tonight and if so, I'll need to pick another UFO to work on. Unless I start something new, that is.


I can't get the color quite right; it's really a true heather purple, not as blue as this looks.

For now, I need to do a bit of lesson planning. I have open house Tuesday night and I want to be sure to have everything ready. Looks like I'll be putting in a couple of long days this week. Hope you have a wonderful week!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Working for the Weekend

Monday: Slow Cooker Pork Loin, using red wine and vegetable broth, spinach & orzo, cucumbers in champagne orange vinegar.

Tuesday: Chicken & Artichoke Stew over rice

Wednesday: Tomato, Leek, and Goat Cheese Tart

Basil bouquet.

Even a little knitting. This is a new-to-me edging, from Anne's Wings.

And 9th grade English? Harder than it looks. Working for the weekend, baby!


Monday, September 3, 2012


Trying to set things up for the first week back with kids, so Steve and I don't end up eating out or eating cereal for dinner every night. I picked out five recipes from my collection of Everyday Foods, September editions only. Hoping very one is a keeper, but it doesn't always work out that way. Still, a meh dinner is still dinner this week. First on the list because of its amount of prep time is the Chicken and Artichoke Stew. It seemed a good one to make as a get ahead dish, especially since it made three quarts! Neither Steve nor I were very hungry last night, partly due to the ferocious humidity around here that has sapped our energy, so this dish was put in the refrigerator for Tuesday night. Done and done. I've also picked out a couple of ten minute prep meals, one being Tortellini with Peas and the other being Mini Spinach and Cheese Pizzas.


Steve and I went to the Virginia Beach Oceanfront Saturday for the American Music Festival, and we saw Southern Culture on the Skids, Soul Asylum, and Cheap Trick. I enjoyed the first group, but Steve was thrilled to see them all.


During one of the intermissions, we cooled off in the water. Steve totally set this shot up for his Facebook cover page.


Apparently, this is Cheap Trick's Dream Police outfit. I'm so out of it, but Steve went up to the front of the stage while I stayed put in the water or sat knitting in the beach chair. Still, it was definitely a fun day.

We also saw our yearly quota of tattoos, not that there's anything wrong with that.

After lots of yard and house work yesterday, I plan on doing a whole lot of nothing today. Hope you enjoy your Labor Day Monday too!