Flavors of Fall

Do you think some foods belong to a season? In my house a lot of different foods make a return visit for the cooler time of year. Salads as a main course disappear, which allows chili, stews, and hearty thick soups to make an appearance on the menu once the heat is out of the air.

Another seasonal food is pumpkin. I love pumpkin bread, muffins, pie, bread pudding, pumpkin dump cake, and best of all – a pumpkin concrete (a mixture of pumpkin pie blended into frozen vanilla custard).

Anyway, now that I have your taste buds warmed up I want to tell you a little story about a chocolate zucchini pumpkin cake. My memory was stirred by a sign over a gas pump advertising pumpkin flavored coffee inside. This did not sound appealing to me but it did make me smile as I recalled a memory from over twenty-five years ago.

My friend Rhonda is a wonderful cook and if we are invited to dinner I look forward to the meal with anticipation. She is not afraid to experiment with new recipes that intrigue her. Most of the time the results are a culinary delight.

“I just saw a recipe for a chocolate zucchini pumpkin cake, doesn’t that sound good?” she tells me over the phone. Before I can respond she continues, “And I can bake it in two round bowls, then when I frost it I will put the halves together and it will look like a pumpkin!” She was so excited at this fun cake she could envision, I hated to express my true feelings. But inside I was thinking chocolate and pumpkin? Not two flavors I want to blend. And throw in zucchini? I am thinking this is a disaster waiting to happen. But, I will wait until I taste it, maybe it will be good. (I have my doubts.)

So, on the evening I know she is baking this concoction, my husband and I walk over after dinner, with a bit of trepidation. I don’t want to hurt her feelings if I don’t like it. That was not going to be a problem. The sight that meets our eyes is one I will never forget. Rhonda is no where to be seen although it is evident she has been working in the kitchen. Mixing bowls are strewn across the counter, canisters of sugar and flour are open, and the cake is there on a cake stand. The cake has been attacked by a spatula. The weapon impaled  the baked batter of a chocolate zucchini pumpkin cake. Orange icing oozed down the sides of the half-sphere, it refused to stay put.

Rhonda’s vision of a pumpkin shaped cake never came to be. Although we never ate it, we will never forget it.

How Would Students Describe You?

I get a lot of school related email that I must have signed up for, but actually have no recollection of what brought me to that site. Usually I quickly peruse the information looking for nuggets that I could use or pass on to teachers. Then it is quickly deleted and I move on to other matters. However, the question of the day caught my attention and made me stop to ponder how I would answer this. The question on the computer screen was: What word do you hope students use to describe you?

As I thought, my mind wandered back to a conversation I had with my brother when I told him I was going to be a teacher. He questioned me,  “What will your students say about you?” My response was quick to him, “They will say I am nice and fair.” After all that’s what I wanted in a teacher. But once I finally stepped into that role I learned there was so much more to being a teacher than nice and fair. They are fine words and if they were used to describe me I would accept it with a smile. However, they are not the words I would select for myself.

Passionate is the word I would like students and teachers to use to describe me. When I was in the classroom, I worked intensely to get all my students to be the best reader they could be. Teachers know my passion for reading by the books I share each time I am with them. My newest passion is writing.  Now they hear of my journey as a writer through this blog.

Sometimes my husband wishes I wasn’t so passionate about books. Is it a bad thing that when I open a new tab amazon.com and half.com are permanent residents on the recently opened tab page? Of course the library system is there too. I can’t own them all. :(

You can visit the site and read words others have chosen here. After I chose my word, I read the choices made by others. I noticed passionate appeared several times. What’s your word?

View from a Car

Last week I made my way to the eastern side of my state for work. On a previous post I described how the terrain changes in a mere 270 miles. I hoped to see the hills ablaze with color, but that was not to be. Ablaze, no. Spots of color, yes. It could be that it was too early. Perhaps the trees are not ready to exchange their green coats for all shades of red, orange, and yellow. Occasionally a scarlet tree would stand proud among the greens, as if to say, “Look at me! Fall is here.”

The golden rod (a weed) hugged the edges of the road as they waved back and forth. My thoughts were “allergies beware.” The wild sumac stood just behind the golden rod. Every nuance of red could be viewed. That was the color I was searching for in the hills.

However, the most spectacular sight from this trip involved brown, green, and white. Driving out of the hills of the Ozark Mountains, I enter the flat fertile plains of the bootheel of Missouri. Stretching for acres and acres are the fields of cotton. Some plants have dried and turned a brittle brown. Some plants are in the process of drying, but they have a few green leaves close to the main stalk. But the most incredible sight is the white balls of cotton. They are riding high on the plant, like the foam of a wave. I wonder, “Is my future blouse out there somewhere?” Words can’t describe this scene, so maybe a picture will help.

I was able to pull off the highway near a field for a quick photo. I know other drivers wondered what the crazy lady was doing taking a picture of the field. Now for a close-up:

Of course I had to touch the cotton. The softness surprised me! Yes, I did pick one little stem. I happen to know a first grade class with a wonder table. It’s not bones but it is something that you won’t see on our side of the state.

A Guest for Lunch

In early August, my son (who lives in Irvine, California) said, “Mom, I think I might be coming to the midwest for work at the end of the month or first of September.” That news put a smile on my face for a week. It was still a go the next week when we talked. But as time passed the project was postponed week after week, until last week. “I’m driving the company truck and I will leave Saturday. So I should be there by lunchtime on Monday,” he announced.

Was the sun brighter today? Today my son will be here for lunch. If this were a musical, I would be singing as I prepared for the lunch. Monte Cristo au Gratin sandwiches were on the menu and Monster Cookies for dessert. Yum!

Monster Cookies for dessert.

The text sound binged on my phone and the message said, “Got a bad start this morning. Be there around 12:45. Hope that is okay.” What choice is there, of course this will be okay. Not ideal, but he lives 2,000 miles away, so lunch will be later. Everything will be later.

I have to leave after lunch for a 270 mile drive across the state for work tomorrow. My original plan was to be on the road around 2:00, but that didn’t happen.

After lunch we got a short tutorial on geophysics and the projects he was working on. I nodded as if I understood, but it was way over my head. When I looked at my son, I didn’t see the young adult sitting in the recliner, I saw the little boy who would continually drag home a backpack of  “cool” rocks. I know there was a smile on my face which reflected the smile in my heart.

Eight years ago when he drove away from our home to start a life in California my heart was breaking. Today when he drove away to continue his journey for his work, my heart was full of pride for the person he became.