Note: this featured image is definitely not Houston. Boston would be my guess. I don’t know. I used a royalty-free image search on Pixabay so beggars can’t be choosers.
What’s Going On In My World
Good lord, could we catch a break here??
(I’m being for real, Lord. You are good and I would very much like a break.)
Here’s what happened with our polar apocalypse.
Two weeks ago, we started to hear rumbles of a big winter storm headed south over President’s Day weekend. We never have winter in Houston! Exciting!
The Thursday before President’s Day weekend, our principal told us to be sure to take our laptops home over the long weekend, because school might be cancelled on Tuesday in addition to the holiday on Monday from ice/snow. What! A four-day weekend! Hooray!
By Friday, we started hearing advice that this storm could cause some power outages, and to be prepared that wherever you’re spending Sunday night, you should be prepared to be stuck there until Tuesday morning. The excitement took on a little darkness around its edges. A blanket of snow came to Houston Monday morning.
Then it was like dominoes.
You’d hear that this person’s neighborhood lost power. Then the next one. Then the next one. Then people’s pipes started bursting. And then running water stopped. People with working phones were texting each other or going to social media for tips. My house lost power at 2:30 Tuesday morning, and by 6:30 we could see our breath indoors. Usually when we lose power I have fun for a while going into Laura Ingalls Wilder mode, but with this outage it was too cold to be anywhere but our bed. Too cold to read (even with gloves on) or do puzzles or any of the other things we could think of. Lots of staring at each other and shivering.
Truly though, we were one of the lucky ones. If I’d been living in my former condo, I wouldn’t have had any way of cooking food or boiling water until the roads cleared days later. Some people were trapped in freezing homes for more than three days. Some people had ceilings of multiple rooms in their house cave in from burst pipes; others had flooding. Pretty soon the whole city was under a water boil notice, so any water we could collect had to be boiled before drinking or cooking.
As someone who experienced Harvey only a few years ago, let me assure you: this was nearly as bad in a lot of ways.
Luckily, the roads were clear enough by Wednesday morning that we could trek out to my parents’ house 45 minutes away and my husband and I stayed there until our power came back on. Back at home, it was another couple of days until we had enough water to take shower, and by the following Sunday night, things were mostly back to normal. But again, my husband and I consider ourselves incredibly lucky to have had reliable transportation, a network of people who still had power and space to house us, and other luxuries we forgot were luxuries until last week. The storm was devastating to so many in our area.
Baby Teach was safe and tucked away in my tummy, and I tried my best to keep my stress level low during all of it. But I’m telling y’all right now, and I’m so unbelievably serious: any more life-threatening conditions, natural disasters that shut down the infrastructure of half of my state, or other emergencies this school year on top of our preexisting global pandemic and I am staying home and playing Zelda: Breath of the Wild and cuddling with my dog FOREVER.
I mean, wouldn’t you? Look at Bootsie supervising Mr. Love Teach’s crib construction.
Anyway. Things are mostly back to “normal” now, which is a huge relief. I never ever thought I’d be glad to return to my regular pandemic life. I guess that’s what a week-long winter power outage will do for you. I don’t recommend it.
One Great Thing I’ve Watched
Ted Lasso (Apple TV+) Pure joy and optimism bundled up into one man, with lots of little English neighborhoods and London-ish bits and bobs to satisfy your Anglophilia. It centers around a soccer team, but if you’re sports-averse, don’t worry; you’ll still love it.
In and Of Itself (Hulu) OK, I’ll tell you right now this will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but BOY HOWDY WAS IT MINE. It’s like a magic show meets story hour meets a stunning display of human connection. English teachers, indigo people, my artists and wanderers and bohemians: this is required viewing.
What I’m Making Right Now
I hopped on the TikTok trend of baked feta pasta and have never been more proud of my hopping choices. So easy, delicious, and NO CHOPPING!!! I’ve made it a couple times and tweaked the Washington Post Recipe to get to what I think is perfection. (If you are a Type A personality and your eye starts twitching with unclear recipe amounts such as “a handful” or “a few shakes,” go ahead and use the WaPo recipe : )
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes (I like to use a variety of different kinds for color/flavor)
- Your heart’s desire of garlic (you can use whole/fresh or pre-minced in those tiny jars, I won’t judge)
- 1/4 cup EVOO
- 1 block (7 oz/200g) feta cheese. It’s honestly best if you can find the block kind. I’ve tried it with crumblies. Not as good.
- 12 ounces dried cavatappi (or whatever inferior pasta you prefer/have on hand)
- A handful of shredded mozzarella
- Kosher salt and pepper
- A few shakes of Italian seasoning (I use Penzey’s Frozen Pizza Seasoning, THE BEST)
- A few shakes of red pepper flakes if you’re spicy!
- A few basil leaves. You can cut them up but if you really want to avoid any chopping you can leave them whole!
INSTRUCTIONS:Preheat your oven to 400.
Dump the tomatoes and garlic in a 9×13 (or something similar) pan. Drizzle in the olive oil and seasonings (minus basil) and give it a good swish around so all the tomatoes and garlic get some lovin’. Put the feta block in the middle of the pan, surrounded by tomatoes. Now flip it over so that the olive oil/seasoning side is on top. Stick the pan in the oven for 40 minutes or until cherry skins look burst-y.
While that’s baking, boil the pasta until al dente and strain. Reserve a cup or so of pasta water in case you want to thin out the sauce (I don’t).
When tomato/feta pan is done baking, take it out, grab a spoon, and get SO MUCH PERSONAL SATISFACTION mashing all the little tomatoes and mixing it with the baked feta until you have something resembling a sauce. While the sauce is hot, add in the handful of mozzarella and/or the reserved pasta water if you decide it’s too thick. Dump the cooked pasta into the sauce pan, mix, and the fresh basil.
Be extremely pleased with yourself for this ridiculously easy and delicious meal. Thank you, TikTok. Mama loves you.
From the Mouth of Babes
I have two this time!
One is a line from a poem one of my students wrote.
Flowers spring from old war grounds.
Isn’t that gorgeous? I put it on a Post-It and stuck it on the Plexi-glass wall I have surrounding me in at my desk while we all try not to catch COVID from each other.
The other is from a student I had in middle school who is now a freshman. I loop with my middle schoolers all three years (it’s the best), and she reportedly asked her freshmen English teacher at the beginning of this year, “On a scale of zero to Mrs. Treleaven, how hard are your quizzes?” LOLLLLL. Sorry for the quiz trauma, kids.
Your Self-Care Action Item
Do you feel like you’re a sad excuse for a teacher this year? That you’re an extremely un-fun partner or parent or roommate or friend? That someone in your life could write a memoir entitled My Year With _________, Garbage Person Extraordinaire? That you look like a very sad version of yourself right now, either because you’re tired or stressed or have put on a few pounds or aren’t sleeping or can’t be bothered to look put together or all of the above?
Ready for this week’s self-care action item? It’s pretty wild.
Be radically gentle with yourself.
Negative self-talk in the middle of a pandemic is a recipe for spiraling. Instead, go gentle and light. Give yourself a foot massage with a nice lotion. A pep talk. A fabulous bath. A night off from grading (it’ll get done). 15 minutes with your eyes closed listening to this sound bath. Whatever you would do for someone in your life that you really, really love and who is having a really, really rough time. Because newsflash: that’s you.
And if you’re like, “What on earth is Love, Teach talking about? I am THRIVING in this pandemic physically, emotionally, spiritually, and cosmetically!”, please teach me your ways. Or, I don’t know, buy me a spa day.
Texas teachers, if you had a week like I did last week (or worse), I’m sending you my strongest vibes and hope you and your home make a full recovery soon.
Teachers everywhere: I love you. Keep going.