It was” Muffins with Mom” Breakfast at my local elementary school. I think the event went well and it was sponsored by the PTA. In my pocket is the membership form. I have stood back from joining each year because I saw it more of a social function. My neighborhood is low-income. There are stay at home Moms that dot the landscape. The PTA provides a way to have contact with other people.
I was a classroom volunteer for my child’s teacher last year. I did the Christmas party, field trips and sat in on a couple of other things. I saw this as a viable means of helping out the school . I ate lunch with my then third grader one day a week in the cafeteria. I wanted that direct interface with her peers and her teachers.
The first fours years I didn’t have time to volunteer at the school. I worked and went to school. Now I am eyeing that membership form a little more.
Traditionally I have kept away from it because of the social club type atmosphere. I saw that with my first two kiddos. Soccer Moms in sweat pants and diamond tennis bracelets ruled the world. In the small town we lived in it was evident that PTA was a big deal, but what was not evident was their purpose. I knew that other areas had these active groups who raised tons of money for their schools . These funds went for everything: from books to landscaping. I went elsewhere. I thought I was going to get blackballed by one band booster parent as I tried to get the bylaws of that organization in sync with Robert’s Rules of Order. In that rural area change was hard.
The PTA Moms at my elementary school don’t wear diamond tennis bracelets. Some are Soccer Moms. Some of their spouses play pick up games of big people soccer in the park not far from the house -world cup style. Most of them have that hard scrubbed clean look. One of them worked the line of Moms this morning at the event. She had a front pack carrying what could have been a sleeping six month old. Her first words to me were “Where is your dog ? Everyone in your family is here except your dog .”
Membership is only seven dollars . I just renewed by volunteer application online and will be sending the PTA money in shortly. It’s hard to say no when they already have me figured out.
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I still stumble into that feeling that she is at my elbow showing me how to stir, roll out the pie dough or where to put that stray daisy in a flower arrangement. That one special thing was my Grandmother could make jelly. She made mayhaw and crabapple. I remember there was also plum. She would buy the fruit through roadside vendors or through friends. Grandmother would process and freeze the juice and then make up jelly. We would jelly together. I knew the entire process from the five gallon bucket of fruit we bought to the doing the “How many jars and lids?” line up. I can remember her talking about pectin as something evil and how she could jelly without it.
We have joked often about the things people used to do and how we ever survived. Grandmother would fill baby food jars with jelly and seal them with Gulf Wax. They would go into the fridge. They still sell Gulf Wax and I bet people still do that,
I am not sure why she never bought jelly jars and canned .But as soon as I had my first bumper crop of plums I adapted the never- used turkey fryer pot into my canner, bought some jars and began to study canning mythologies.
When I moved into single life I never let go of the jars. I moved a couple cases of jars twice. I couldn’t let go of the dream. I was going to school full time, working and raising two kids. I had no time to stand over a pot and wait for goodness to turn to biscuit spread nirvana.
This year is different. It is a bumper crop. Pears and Blueberries have appeared. Twenty four pounds of frozen blueberries and a fifteen pound box of pears. I climbed on top of the washing machine to get the box off that really high shelf in the laundry area; the jars had been waiting for me all along. Things in my kitchen are never like the food network, but they come out ok. I had to buy a new basket for the “canning” pot and some new lids for jars.
There are twenty or so jars sitting on the hearth of the fire place. I am ecstatic at the fact everything has set up. I am out of crackers from test drives on the carrot cake jam. We opened the cranberry pear conserve and it disappeared between one meal of pork roast and the associated left overs. There are still more blueberries to jar. I see cold mornings with pancakes laden with Blueberry jam coming soon.
Somewhere in the chaos of things I have managed to put something together that absolutely shines. I can see my older kids opening a jar and knowing it contains love from Mom. Grandma would be proud. Those jars have a bit of her love, too.
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Tags: canning, cooking, family, foodie, grandma, memories, single mom
I get thrown into a classroom of college kids three times a week because I am a college student. I am careful not to really disrupt the pile of cards that make out class, but at times I have to sit on my hands. I really have to try to fit in. They are bright, but oh so very young.
The professor, an Indian, is my age and I often think of him of the Gandhi of the math department. After several really horrid things happening in the world of math I have stumbled upon someone who genuinely teaches and will back up an entire lesson to make sure everyone stays the course.
Last week he asked a question to the class and the information was right on the board behind him. The page in the textbook is projected there: so right about the level of his ears the answer to his question was in plain sight. I sat still. The room froze. The crickets chirped. Somewhere waves were running along the shoreline but no one made a sound. He asked the question a second time. I raised my hand and paraphrased the answer from the board. Everyone looked at each other- then I told them the answer was out on the board behind the professor.
I don’t always get everything. I understand that sometimes our peripheral vision changes when we get older. It will take much more time to understand statistics because it wasn’t something that we studied thirty years ago when I was young kid. I know there was the garden variety of math classes taught but I don’t recall statistics being out there.
I have an Arab woman in my class that is my age. We sit together so that we can confer on the answers. Usually we both get the right answer. Today we disagreed and I vowed out, thinking I was wrong. One of the younger guys led the discussion on how the numbers were formulated. I begin to catch it that my answer was probably right rather than my friend’s. My friend and I looked at our sheets and found her error. We remained on the same page together.
As the professor began to wind down the lecture he told us he might be late the next class as his daughter had a Dr’s appointment. He was trying to decide if he should cancel class. I asked if it was local and he said no it was downtown at an oncology nuclear medicine specialist. He watched me silently mouth the words “oh no” and then I asked if he was at UT Southwestern. He nodded yes. The hustle and bustle in the room continued as people were packing up their things. For a moment I was the only person there.
I was so lost in my thoughts I didn’t know the answer, or perhaps the thing to say. I went to the library and to the far study carrel by the window. I might have been the only person in the room that understood his comments. My Arab friend and I are the only two Moms in the class. We would be the only ones who could possibly understand why our professor would cancel class.
Because of the nature of our class we will all appear on Friday. If the professor is around we will go over a gosh awful series of charts that bogged me down most of the afternoon. If he is not present, the class will sit around and compare answers on the charts. I question telling the rest of them, but feel in telling us, he wanted us to know. It might be much later in life that they will understand.
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In my part of the world, the smart real estate developers who are setting on open spaces in the prime areas of North Dallas have planted wheat. It was a strange sight my first summer to see the pristine John Deere Combines coming in on trucks to harvest the five to six acres, only to pack it up and move down the road a bit to harvest another someday retail spot. As time passed I realized there were many pockets of crops and there was probably some advantage for them to lease the land for crop rather than pay someone to mow it.
On a recent trip to Austin we discovered that there were field of sunflowers planted along the freeway. They were in full bloom and attracting a lot of attention. People in Texas regularly stop their cars on the shoulder of the freeway to take pictures of their children and even dogs in the bluebonnets in the spring. The sunflowers were attracting this same phenomenon.
Then suddenly the buzz began around town. There was a crop of sunflowers blooming next to the local Walmart. Sure enough I spotted a slew of mini vans parked at the curb with people milling on the edge of the crop when I passed by.
I grew up with them growing in the alleyway behind my house. My mother would plant giant sunflowers. They are in my yard now. I dry the heads and use the seed to feed the birds. When I lived in the sticks the farmer across the street planted 150 acres in sunflowers. The first time I went out to see the property I came in the dark and spent the night with a friend. The next morning I woke up and discovered a zillion billion blooming heads facing the sun across the street. Every few years the farmer would plant a crop of sunflowers, which only made the dove hunters thick in the first week of September.. A crop duster would spray to get rid of the little weevils that wanted to eat into the heads. It was a normal part of life.We never had mini vans of people stopping in the ditch unless it was opening day of dove season (true rednecks- so desperate for dove hunting they show up in their wife’s mini van).
There is a little magic to the sunflowers. They turn their heads to face the sun, but I don’t know if the people taking the pictures realize that. I could see it happen from the kitchen window. Sometimes you could drive by and the entire crop was green and when you came home the faces had turned so all you saw was a field of yellow heads.
In a way it is a true feat of nature. In the wealthiest counties in Texas , next to a Walmart and soon to be opened Cracker Barrel with a Cabela’s across the freeway a crop of sunflowers survives. I recently saw a treed lot that pastured horses turn into a housing development in a matter of a month. In the years to come those kids whose faces show brightly in the photos with the yellow headed flowers will pause and wonder at where that picture was taken. Right now, in the land of concrete and glass houses, the little crop of sunflowers reigns supreme.
One year’s crop in the backyard.
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Tags: gardening, living, memories, sunflowers
It is the longest day of the year.
It has become the longest week of the year also. I am a stay at home Mom and only have one kiddo. It has been several years since I have been a stay at home Mom during the summer and the last gig involved moving. There were huge amounts of activity and on the weekends my children’s Dad took over while I disappeared. In five weeks time we moved out of the house and into our new life. From that moment on my concern was to get a job, and create a world for myself and two children.
But now I have just one plus a Grandawg who is visiting over the summer.
Familiar things have come out of hibernation. In the move I had saved all my canning jars. I tried to throw them away or send them to craigslist several times, but my heart still ached for the little plum tree I left behind. This week they came out of the garage to be used on a craft project and some jelly. My daughter tried to take one outside to catch lighting bugs and I vetoed it for a plastic container. There isn’t a unlimited supply. I might get a batch or so under my belt and make some pepper jelly for Christmas gifts. I can remember my Grandmother holding a jar of jelly to the window as if she was examining a jewel to see if it was showing any signs of cloudiness. I haven’t jellied in six years, but I can do this.
We walk every day. I did this every day when I lived in the country because I didn’t have a fence and the neighbors were not always the most savory people- so I would walk Bob the Dog two or three times a day. The little Rat terrier loves the backyard, but can’t seem to function without being on a leash. We have been walking for two weeks. I have already dropped a couple of pounds and it forces my daughter to get out and do something other than sit inside the house.
Earbuds are a blessing. All the choruses of “rubber baby buggy bumpers” my sister and I ever chanted probably made my Mother nuts. I can happily deal with entire weekends of solace. It makes me feel centered. The constant chatter of a nine year old day in and day out wears thin. The ear buds came out this week so I could hook into my Ipad and watch something. It didn’t really matter what it was-just something. I could sign up with a Downton Abbey or Frazier marathon, but my quiet time lasted approximately thirty minutes before the realization was made I was standing still and saying nothing. I have put my book to the side for another day.
My daughter spent her first week out of school she spent with her older sister and brother who live in Austin. This is her first week at home. We have made the trip to a thrift store. We have craft supplies, plus the ones we needed when we went to Austin for the week. We have gone to the grocery store twice, because we ran out of food. I have made chocolate muffins and blueberry pancakes. The field trip schedule is inventive. We saw the movie “Epic” yesterday. There was a trip to the sprayground one evening. Tuesday is my day to volunteer at the food bank, so she became my assistant shopper for the day. We came home and promptly packed up a box of books to donate to the Summer Reading Program at the community center where the food bank is located. There is a week at creative arts camp planned at the church. There is a small trip sometime late in the season back to Austin and perhaps to the coast.
This will be the last summer to stay at home. I will go back to a job somewhere in the fall. I begin to feel the pangs on the last day of school when I ate lunch for the last time with a third grader. She will leave again to vacation with her father around her birthday. I have to figure out the time table. We have things to do and time doesn’t slow down even in the dog days of summer.
“No matter how little money and how few possessions you own, having a dog makes you rich.”
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Tags: family, kids, parenting, simple joy, single mom, summer
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Tags: kids, life choices, parenting, Photography, simple joy, single mom
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