It has been a busy few days for Ms. E, and consequently a quiet time for me. She has had evening events at school, commitments with friends, and an all-day stint representing her school at the Philadelphia Science Festival today; I have had thrown-together dinners for one, a little work in the garden, an afternoon of baking, an extra yoga class, and solitary evenings. It's been nice--I like spending time by myself--but it will also be nice tonight, when she will be home from the science festival in time for dinner, and we'll get to talk to each other for more than just a few minutes before bed.
Hawthorn tree in bloom
This coming week will be my last week of teaching--perhaps for good, although I hesitate to make a statement with such finality. I haven't given much thought yet to what will be next. It seemed better to finish the school year before I really began searching and planning. Perhaps it will be different once Friday gets here, but for now I have no strong emotion about this ending. I'm just working my way slowly though my last stack of grading, and feeling ready to be done.
Hawthorn indoors, next to my grandmother's brass lamp
Last week I read Cowboys Are My Weakness, a collection of stories by Pam Houston. I read Houston's brilliant essay Corn Maze in Hunger Mountain a few months ago and was blown away by it, so when I saw this collection on the shelf at the library, I grabbed it. I'm not sure whether Houston just put all of her best stories in the second half of the collection or whether I needed some time to warm up to it, but the book seemed to get better and better as I went. At first, I felt there was a certain sameness to the stories: so many first-person narrators, so many women who always fall for the wrong guy, so many tough and "untameable" men. Maybe what I really needed was time to see through the sameness and find the way each story had its own voice, its own twist on the themes of the collection. My favorite stories were "Dall," about an ill-fated relationship, violence, and trophy-hunting in Alaska, and "In My Next Life," which left behind the focus on women and men in the other stories and instead centered around an intense friendship between women. An interesting collection, very much worth reading.
I had an orange in the fruit bowl, and I suppose I could have just eaten it or squeezed it and had a glass of orange juice, but I decided I wanted to do something fun with it. So: thin slices of orange simmered in a syrup of brown sugar until they're soft and very sweet, a thick batter made with ground almonds, baked together and you've got an orange upside-down cake. The effect is almost exactly what you'd get if you just baked a cake a topped it with marmalade, but the look is so much prettier!
And now I've made myself hungry, so it's time for lunch and then I will take my stack of grading out into the garden.