Sunday, 22 June 2008

Gardening in a small area

I'm not sure how small my front garden is but it is quite small. Unfortunately, it is the only area on my lot that gets lots of sunshine. That makes it the only place to grow vegetables in the summer. At some point before we moved here, someone graveled the entire area and so it it just easily to garden in pots. It does present certain problems, one being that the pots can dry out quite quickly. This summer that could make things difficult because we are going to be away a lot. Next week we go back to Othona for 8 days, in mid-July we are off to the American Association of Teachers of French convention in Liège, and then at the end of July we are back at Othona, this time with Naomi and James (oldest daughter and son-in-law). Luckily, I have someone to check and water but it's never the same as you being there.
(Back to the garden) All seems well at the moment. The tomatoes are covered in flowers, the green beans are climbing and blooming, and flowers appeared on the courgettes (zucchini) today. I may have a pumpkin out there masquerading as a courgettes. We'll have to wait and see. I also have herbs - marjoram, parsley, chives, mint, and rosemary.
At the back of the house, the apple tree seems to be producing a bumper crop, as does the grape vine. Our grapes are never very big but they do ripen and they are lovely to eat. I won't count my crops till they actually present themselves but I must admit that I have been thinking of apple and blackberry pies as I pass the blackberry bushes just up the road. It's wonderful to be able to get such a wonderful crop for nothing, just by wondering the lanes with your container picking what you find in the hedgerows.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Bored, bored, bored! And fed up!

Do I need to write more? School is nearly over and I must admit that I have completely lost interest. As a matter of fact, so have my students. We are all holding on by the skin of our teeth. (Have you ever written something and suddenly wondered what in heaven's name it means. What does it mean when I say 'by the skin of my teeth'. Now can you see how easily distracted I am. I go off on a tangent with no encouragement necessary. I was tempted to write 'at the drop of a hat' but was worried where that might take me. If any one knows what 'by the skin of your teeth' really means I would like to know.) I have to give exams and my students have to write them but neither they nor I have much interest in the process. I want to say, 'let's forget the exams and watch a French movie' but I know that my department head and principal wouldn't take kindly to that. Exams really are meaningless. I can't remember the last time a student surprised me on an exam by getting a much higher grade than I expected. Generally, they disappoint you but really is that much of a surprise. They are studying for countless other exams, not having enough sleep and as they are writing yours, they are thinking about the next one. I can tell you the level of each of my students (as can any teacher) so why bother to put us all through it at the end of the year. All of this bores me. Rigid, in fact!

I meant to talk about a book I was reading. I came to my laptop with that in mind. It's called Netherland and it's by Joseph O'Neill. I read about it first in the Guardian. They talk of it as a novel that will change the American novel. And it's about cricket and 9/11 and the immigrant experience and a marriage. I got it today and so far, I'm impressed. I'm also ready to visit the cricket club of the book, Staten Island Cricket Club. More to come on the book as I continue to read.