Friday, August 28, 2009

Final Summer Project

I always begin summer with a pretty ambitious "to do" list. The ever-evolving list sits in the top left corner of my laptop, written on a digital stickie note. I must say, I am not unhappy with what I have accomplished this summer. My reading log lists nine books, two of the books rather large tomes (The Story of Edgar Sawtelle and The Mists of Avalon). I knit two pair of socks, oodles of washcloths (look at earlier post), a chemo cap, a pair of bulky mittens and two felted purses. Sewing projects included skirts for both my daughter and new daughter-in-law, a lunch bag, and lining for one of the felted purses.

Our son got married to a beautiful woman on a glorious summer day. We biked, vacationed with family, enjoyed our grandson, ate at an Amish farm, visited our son's new classroom, and sat atop Mount Nittany to celebrate Jim's birthday dinner. I canned, cooked, and froze enough to content my homemaking heart and fill my freezer. Gracie, our darling cat, arrived to live and lounge among us. I regret not cleaning more (but not overly much) or working outside as often as I typically do; overall, I pronounce it a very good summer.

Monday, school starts...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Back to School

For those of us in the education world, the year is divided into definite seasons, the year beginning now with Back to School and all that brings. I feel it as August arrives, accompanied with a sadness that the summer days now are all too fleeting. I have an urgency to accomplish more, and no matter what I do, it never seems enough. I start drifting into school more, perusing my teaching space and discovering where our janitors "re" positioned tables, desks, bookcases, etc. The emails begin, my back-to-school packet arrives with letters from our superintendent and the opening days schedules. I have breakfast planning meetings or like this year several presentations to make to in-service groups of para-professionals or guest teachers. The high school band practices, and the stores fill with all kinds of Back-to-School paraphernalia, clothes, and bargains. Truthfully, I have always liked this aspect of teaching: the entity of the school year--its definite beginning, middle, and end.

This week in addition to working in my own classroom, I visited my son's classroom and the classroom of my friend Chrissy who is moving to another school. Chrissy and I have been teaching together for four years, and in that four years, we have eaten lunch together almost every day. I know I shall miss the ease of her presence in my classroom, and I know I shall miss hearing the stories of her family as I eat my packed lunch without her. I found a great pattern from Favorite Things pattern designs--The Lunch Bag. And as I checked out Chrissy's new room, I delivered a lunch bag to her that I made. So, even though I won't be with her in body, I will be with her in spirit.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Doth not the appetite alter?

I think my DNA is primarily Germanic. While my mother’s family is a melting pot of largely Scottish, British, and a little German mixed in, my father’s family is, as far as I know, exclusively, German (or Pennsylvania German). And I think I am too. The older I get, the more I remind myself of my grandmother Herman, my “Grandma.” I am built like her, shorter and sturdier than the other women in my family; I think I keep house like her (neat but not immaculate and functional but not overly focused on decorating: I-have-it like-I-like-it-and-I-like-it-fine...for a long time). I am a school teacher just as she was, and I suspect my quiet sense of activism (perhaps even my quiet sense) comes from her. I recently found a black and white photograph of her (second from the right) fronting a banner advertising the United War Fund. I am proud she stood for something, and I proud that she did something.

I, thus, attribute my new fascination to making and eating relish to an ethnic hardwiring for pickling vegetables. This week I canned 15 half pints of Dixie Relish, a concoction of cabbage, sweet and green pickles, and the usual vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, and celery seed.

Did you know you can do a lot of things with relish? Put it in potato salad, macaroni salad, deviled eggs, and my daughter tells me it is quite tasty in tuna salad. You can serve it with hamburgers, hot dogs, and as a side with any meat. I like it with turkey wraps. I also read that it is good mixed in with meatloaf or meatball mixtures or stirred into yogurt for dip or mayonnaise for sandwich spread. Additionally, it is good for tarter sauce or thousand island dressing. Who knew there were so many uses for relish, simply pickled vegetables.

I never ate relish before, never fully “got” the notion of the relish tray or the Pennsylvania Dutch propensity to put out Chow Chow or some other pickled delight with a meal. But tastes do change….

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Relishing the bounty of summer

The vegetables are ripening with a flourish now. Last night for supper, we had morning-picked sweet corn, sun-ripened tomatoes, sweet white onions, and beautiful green peppers. Oh, and we had hamburgers from the grill too. A perfect summer meal.

This morning, I canned 7 pints of corn relish, a condiment I love to slather on the turkey wraps I am fond of packing for my school-day lunches. I still have peaches ready to be jammed and peppers ready to be chopped and frozen; tomorrow it is back to the Amish farm stand to see what else I can preserve of summer.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Lazy dazing days of summer

I guess the anticipation and lead up to the wedding was more taxing emotionally and physically than I thought it would be. This week consisted pretty much of days coasting in neutral; I felt I accomplished very little and sort of walked around in a daze. However, today, (thankfully), I began to see some return of focus and energy.

I had an eye doctor appointment, spent time doing preliminary work for a workshop I need to present on writing, and took a 10-mile bike ride with my husband, cycling some off paths around State College. Tonight, I made a homemade Magherita pizza with tomatoes and basil from our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box. A glass or two of wine helped as well!

With my knitting, I have been playing with a design for a felted tote bag.

For a teacher, August somehow signals the beginning of the end...of summer. I am starting to think about new units already.