Saturday, September 14, 2013

It's Scuppernong Time and A Flashback to 1967

It was 63 degrees this morning, look at my grandsons, Isaac and Gianni, wearing long sleeves, us Southerners prefer 83 degrees.

One of my ah-ha moments came in the 1960s in ninth grade when my very pretty teacher, Miss Winslow, started a unit on vitamins and nutrition.  I was immediately hooked, fascinated and enthralled, and I subsequently set out upon a lifelong quest to discover which foods packed the most nutritional punch.

What if I'd had the flu that week and had missed school?  Would I now weigh 400 pounds, have heart trouble, diabetes, and be sluggish, having chosen my foods by taste rather than the knowledge I'd gained from paying rapt attention to that one unit of study in my home economics class at Thorpe?

I've never forgotten that one specific teacher, yet hardly remember any other teachers, and I have several advanced degrees so I've had a ton of teachers and professors.

But Miss Winslow?  Lovely and poised, completely unrattled by the raging 1960s, sporting a lovely French twist, and dressing beautifully, all by herself absolutely changing the course of my life.  I'd blogged about her here, here and here, I've told countless others about her influence on me that one school year.   I also learned to sew in her class, I made my daughters' church dresses up until I had 15 kids, that was when I kinda ran out of time.

I'd gotten a hundred on the nutrition test, I was a quiet student, heavily influenced by the politics of the '60s, the back-to-the-land movement, the birth of ecology, and I dove into my favorite genre of books that never has changed after all these years - nutritional tomes.

Yesterday on Facebook, a Virginia friend posted a picture at a Woman's Club meeting at the Hampton Yacht Club (which changed my brother Gary's life - he ended up coaching and directing Sailing in the Olympics for many years) a block away from the now torn down Thorpe, and I spotted Miss Winslow in a photo - 45 years since I last saw her.

I wrote her basically a love letter, I was so happy to be able to tell her a deep thank you after all these years.  She, by default, also heavily influenced the way I'd raise up Sarah - who's now researching an alternative, holistic advance degree in nutrition, the other 38 children learning what Miss Winslow had once taught me, thus eventually leading me to vegetarianism for 40 plus years, and now happily vegan.

Several of my daughters are now vegetarian as well, one vegan.  My brother, Gary, has eliminated red meat, poultry and dairy.  Even CW had remarked yesterday, "I used to find your food politics really annoying, but now I'm kinda grateful.  It's clear that we - all your kids - are much healthier than the general population.  Kinda makes me puke to see what other people eat."

I'm not saying we don't sometimes crave Krispy Kreme, I am saying we're likely in the top 5% of excellent eaters overall, chowing down on brown rice and beans of all varieties, fresh garden produce, whole grains, lots of sweet fresh well water to drink, and a bunch of spices and herbs as well.

I owe a debt of gratitude to Miss Winslow and I'm happy I got to express it yesterday.

That's me that same school year, I think about 1967, when I was a young Mexican girl, or so my kids say, as I embarked upon a lifetime of good eating, thanks to Miss Winslow and my Mama who'd then go to the only store in our town that carried yogurt way back then.

I was The Only Girl In The Whole Wide World back then not allowed to use peroxide on my hair, or Sun-In, or whatever the girls used to blonde up.


"Mom," Nando woke me up right before midnight, "There's a cat in the kitchen."

We don't have a cat.

I stumbled up out of my bed, going downstairs, wondering why my almost 12 year old had gone to investigate a noise in the kitchen when I have much older sons.

Sure enough, a commotion behind the sofa, "Are you sure it's a cat?' I asked Nando, afraid of a fox, coyote, or irritated raccoon.

It was a crazy enough feral cat, a large one too, in it's extreme fright it knocked over and broke two of my houseplants, slammed itself into the plate glass kitchen window, and just about pulled an antique mirror off of the wall.  Nando and I battled it for about 20 minutes, trying to get it to run back out the door my other sons had left wide open, like we live in a barn or something.

It's a wonder we don't have all sorts of wildlife each evening.  Usually I do lock up and make sure all doors are shut, but it was a Friday night and Martin was still out.  I'm claustrophobic and usually leave doors hanging open all day long.  Apparently he'd left the door open when leaving.  We're set back quite far off the dirt road, down a long, dark dirt driveway, a gate up on the dirt road, which is still half a mile from a paved road, 8 unruly dogs are gonna bark and bite anyone who's dumb enough to enter our house.  Lizzie, my oldest and loudest dog, was barking her brains out about this cat tearing up the kitchen.

With 21 sons my kitchen often looks like we've had a bar fight or two, me routinely hollering, "Why're all these dadgum chairs knocked over?"

Then I discovered that JoJo and Scotty had gone traipsing out with Martin to play paintball at the soccer fields without my permission.  I nutted up, hollering over the phone that Martin had about two sorry minutes to get those escapees back home before I called the deputies, now both are on restrictions, but they sure got home fast, the outraged cat immediately bit Scotty right in his karma, who wouldn't go to the doctor, but I'm fixing to make him do so anyway.  Dude never heard of cat scratch fever or the bacteria from a wild cat's teeth puncturing one's skin.  Google it.

Finally the pissed off cat was outside and everyone settled down, shutting the doors.

Yards sales, soccer practices and then we'd gone to Hazel's football game where she cheers, this after Lily informed me she had just 5 days to get a Homecoming Dress, and Bingo we found a nice inexpensive, lovely one immediately, Tabby's new closet door was bought, and yet another gallon of paint purchased to cover up all the fingerprints everywhere,.

Lily's so pretty she looks good in anything, but we found her a shiny, flouncy crinoline dress that makes her look like Stinkerbelle, you know that Peter Pan fairy.
And I haven't even asked Jesse and Lena's permission, but I doubt they'd mind me asking all the prayer warriors here to please pray for Isaiah who'd had a fainting spell, no one wants him to have to go back on heavy duty meds, he's making such progress without them.  He's so precious to us.