Friday, May 19, 2017

The Edge of Summer

Pine needles on the fire make a beautiful flame!

We're definitely at the point where we're ready for the consistent warmth of summer. Many of us are thinking fondly of planting gardens and wondering if we'll have another hard freeze before June (even me, the gal who kills every plant under her tenderly deadly care). I know my friends and family who live in the Valley already have all the warmth they want, and then some, since the temperatures in their area hit well over 100 degrees a month or more ago, but we're still experiencing occasional morning temps in the thirties, as well as jacket-wearing daytimes due to wild and chilly winds, and even an occasional light snowfall.

May 18, 2017: Justice, Jake, and Destiny around the fire pit.

Yesterday was one of those chilly, windy days, but when you live in the mountains you learn to make do. I was still at work when Dylan called to ask if I minded him inviting some friends to my house to use the fire pit that evening to make s'mores. I can't think of any reason that I'd ever deny such a request!

These flame photos (taken by me) aren't quite as magnificent as past pictures
taken by Dylan, with his amazing (and expensive) camera, but I like them!

The only issue for me was, well, the s'mores. I've finally (finally!) gotten back on track with eating healthy for the past ten days, but this week has been a minefield of temptations. After the kids came over to set up the fire pit, I was still in my office working at my computer when Jake came in and held out a lovely stack of graham cracker, marshmallow, and Hershey bar. I groaned, but found the strength to decline the generous offer. Later, though, I treated myself to a bowl of fresh strawberries and cream. It was the prefect replacement!

It isn't so easy when you're away from home, though. On Tuesday, the English department chair came in to observe Mr. V, my student teacher, during seventh period. I decided to make myself scarce, since I have a tendency to keep interjecting myself during class from my desk at the back of the room: "Stop talking!" "Pay attention!" "Why aren't you working?" I wanted this to be Mr. V's show, so I took some grading to the teachers' lounge.

One English class worth of study guides for grading.

The first thing I saw as I walked into the lounge was a huge pink bakery box on one of the tables. Please don't let it be donuts, please don't let it be donuts, I chanted wordlessly. I told myself to not even look, but I couldn't resist. I peeked into the box and was relieved to find it was just a cake, almost half of a full sheet cake, with part of the word "football" in purple-and-gold icing across the top. Apparently it was left over from the previous night's football banquet.

I usually find it easy to say no to store-bought cake, especially a day old. The cake is often dry by then and the frosting is usually so sweet that I scrape it off anyway. It got a little more difficult, however, when people kept coming in and exclaiming over how amazing the cake was with its raspberry and lemon fillings. Still, I stood strong.

All that was left of the cake after several groups came through.

Then, halfway through the period, a small group of students came into the lounge bearing freshly made-from-scratch donuts they'd prepared in their culinary arts class. So much for my no-donut plea. They receive extra points for sharing their creations with a teacher rather than eating it themselves, so they did their best to tempt me. It was harder than the cake, because those fresh donuts are always so delicious, but I was able to send them away with my thanks and no donut left behind.

On Wednesday another student tempted me with a donut, but I stuck to my guns. And then today a student in third period brought in popcorn for the class to enjoy during a film they were watching. Mr. V was in charge while I spent the entire period at the office in an IEP meeting, but when I walked back into my classroom my nose was met with a wall of that buttery popcorn smell that made me salivate. Plus there were three bowls of uneaten popcorn on my desk! When the dismissal bell rang, I placed each bowl in the hands of a kid walking out the door. "Take it, please!"

Mama bird is now sitting on her nest.

As we approach warmer weather, another change has been the completion of our little porch-bird's very ugly nest. I haven't had time to drag a chair outside to look into the nest, but she sits in it faithfully all day and all night, so I'm guessing she has laid her eggs. She only leaves the nest when someone is actually on the porch. Even the sound of my hand on the doorknob as I prepare to go outside sends her flying away in a rush, but she soon returns, when the threat of our presence is gone. It was really hard to sneak these pictures of her. She was watching me with a suspicious eye!

A few days ago, Mark and I were returning from a brief shopping trip. I had bags in both hands and was fumbling with my key to open the front door, and Mark was coming up the porch steps behind me with the rest of the bags. Suddenly, Mark said, "Whoa! You almost got hit in the head!" Apparently we'd surprised our little mama bird, and as she fled the nest she missed the back of my head by inches.

I'll look for a chance to check out the nest this weekend...

She keeps a sharp eye on me.

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