May. 21st, 2017

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Saturday morning, I dragged Darwin to the hardware and garden store.  He always complains about these trips, but once I get him there, he doesn't want to leave.  So many pretty, shiny things!

I needed to replace the hanging plants and planter flowers that our unseasonable frost had killed.  We also needed rocks to line a gutter overflow area and a new hose caddy.  We spent considerable time collecting all these things and gently arguing over what color flowers worked best.

When we arrived home, it started to rain.  And rain and rain and rain.  This meant I couldn't do anything with all the stuff we'd just bought, but that was okay--I had a huge pile of papers to grade.

It's difficult grading freshman research essays.  They range wildly from really good to barely legible.  The biggest problem is that there are so MANY of them.  Thanks to budget cuts, I have over 130 freshmen.  They rightly want feedback on their essays, but with 35 students in a class, I simply can't give the careful critique I did back when I had only 21 or 22 students per hour.  I'm forced to read quickly and rely on circling numbers on a rubric, which isn't nearly as helpful.

I already had about a quarter of them done.  I spent the entire rest of the afternoon, evening, and night grading these.  I started before lunch and finished at 11:00 PM, in fact.  Now you know why teachers have summers off.

Sunday, I refused to have anything to do with work or writing.  The guy we hired to power wash the deck came and set to work, with water rushing in all directions while I caught up on small things around the house.  When he was done and everything was sparkly clean, Darwin and I put the front porch furniture out and hung all the plants.  The front porch is shaded all day in summer, and I use it as a second office.  It stays cool all day, it has an electric socket for my laptop, and it's screened from the neighborhood by generous foliage.  The plants everywhere make it feel even more homey, and I sit out there quite a lot.

Out back, we put out the patio furniture.  One project for this summer is to re-furnish the back deck.  We need something to shade the back deck--in summer it gets a lot of sun and is flatly unusable.  I want to get a cantilever umbrella and some more comfortable deck furniture than we now have.

I also set more potted flowers about the deck, then planted the rest in the old tomato boxes.  Two years ago, Maksim and I tried to grow tomatoes in big boxes, but our yard just doesn't get enough sun, so the plants died.  The boxes have been sitting with their dirt, unused.  I dragged them out and planted purple petunias in them, and they contrast nicely with the yellow ones in the pots.

Just as I finished, the rain arrived again.  It poured!

But that was okay--I had to make supper.  The menu: roast lemon and herb chicken; grilled naan bread; baked carrots; roasted asparagus.  The latter was because Maksim had never had asparagus and wanted to try it.  Darwin said he hates asparagus, but I told him that's because he's never had it prepared properly.  "I'll bet you've always had it steamed or boiled at a restaurant with a glob of margarine on it," I said.  "Nasty!"

I tossed it with olive oil, salt, and pepper and put it in the oven for ten minutes.

Everything was tasty.  It was a seven-pound chicken, and almost nothing was left by meal's end.  And even Darwin liked the asparagus.

Whew!

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