Saturday, August 22, 2009


A pretty regular compliment I receive from kids in my high school English class is "You're the most normal English teacher I've ever had." I have heard "You've inspired me to major in English,"...about four times in...twenty plus years, so it makes sense that I've decided to embrace the first complement. I don't like labels and "normal" is in the eye of the beholder, but I think what they're really saying is that I make them comfortable, which is partially because I'm a part of many of their lives outside of school since we live in the town where I teach.

Even though it's often incredibly frustrating to live in a small, conservative narrow-minded town, I love many aspects of it too. That's probably why I love the play Our Town, except for the end which I think is kind of freaky because I really don't get the sitting in chairs things after you die. (OK, I kind of do; I just don't like it.) You could argue that Thorton Wilder's theme about the "universality of the human experience" isn't so "universal" anymore, but much of it is still my "normal." There are tons of lines that I love from Our Town, but one of my favorite ones is spoken by Mr. Webb, the Grover Corner's newspaper editor. He says, "...there isn't much culture [in Grover's Corner]; but maybe this is the place to tell you that we've got a lot of pleasures of a kind here: we like the sun comin' up over the mountain in the morning, and we all notice a good deal about the birds...and we watch the change of seasons." Living in Central California, you have to watch really closely to see the seasons change a lot of years, but I appreciate the point of this quote. It's why I love gardening, and it's why when I was browsing through an online seed catalog that I had to buy some heliotrope seeds. I remembered a line where Mrs. Gibbs tells her husband, "Come out and smell my heliotrope in the moonlight." I love that idea of just enjoying simple things. Well, I've gone out in the moonlight all summer long waiting for a lovely scent to waft through the air from my heliotrope. It hasn't happened. They're not that pretty either. (They're the purple ones) Maybe I'll go back to trying recipes from food in books I love because the gardening part hasn't worked out too well.


In fact, I really do need to do some experimental cooking because I've spend a lot of money on food-related books this summer. My favorite by far is Molly Wizenberg's A Homemade Life I knew about her blog Orangette, and I have enjoyed reading it periodically, but the book is wonderful. What could be better than good stories and great recipes? I read it in a couple of sittings. Yes, I am showing off my bookcase again in the first shot and the nice chair rail and dual-tone wall that Russ painted this summer.

10 comments:

Willow said...

Reading cooking themed books is a good way to spend your summer. Perhaps I should have done that instead of trying and failing to grow my own summer squash. I'm an ok gardener but the only thing that actually grew properly this summer was the tomatoes. Oh, and a volunteer cosmos that dwarfed my basil.

Are you back to 'being a normal English teacher yet'?

Thimbleanna said...

Beautiful bookcase and paint job. I love that America's Test Kitchen cookbook -- I keep forgetting to cook from it, but everything I've made has been great. I've picked up Molly's book several times in the bookstore -- I just can't decide whether to buy it!

Rani said...

To have teenagers say your "normal" is a compliment of the highest caliber!! They can relate to you and as you said - feel comfortable. Not an easy thing to accomplish in the world of attitudes and hormones.

Thanks for your input for Huck. That was a WONDERFUL and difficult book discuss.

Rani

Hege said...

I think being a normal teacher is a compliment.
I love to read cook books too. And there has come a few new to my shelf to this summer ;) Now I just need to start cooking from them...

TheBlackSheep said...

Congratulations on the compliments! Coming from teenagers, that's saying a lot.

The garden is gorgeous. What a lovely place to spend time.

Tracy said...

Love Orangette blog! Cookbooks and food reading is ideal for summer. :o) (Oh, glad my tuna pasta dish inspired, btw!) Love all these glimpses of your books... You have lots like we do. We have books in all rooms, except the bathroom ;o) Loved hearing your thoughts on being an English teacher. Take that compliment--any compliment is usually a good thing. :o) Happy Days ((HUGS))

Anonymous said...

NICE paint color and love the bookcase!!! Hope to chat soon, we miss you all.

Ann/Lincoln

Beate said...

I left you a award at my blog.

JayJay said...

Maybe you had the wrong variety of heliotrope? Or perhaps they don't like southern California? We had some when we lived in Rhode Island, and as I recall they did smell lovely. Unfortunately, a hot spell and a lack of care led to an early demise.

I am jealous of your bookcases. We are short on book storage space at the moment.

marit said...

Hi, how are you doing, and how are you? Miss you;-)