Friday, September 5, 2008

Before the Storm

The first week of school is always like a whirlwind, especially with the typical introductory half-days of Catholic school. The children come and go so quickly that I do not even attempt to get anything done that will require too much time or attention. My husband, toddler, and I take the mornings slowly, eating a leisurely breakfast while reading the newspaper. I do some light housework in the main living area, before bidding my husband goodbye and taking my little one out in her red wagon to wait for the bus to return.

School supplies having been purchased long ago, each child has a very specific list of exactly which supplies and books are to be brought in on which day. This used to drive me absolutely crazy. Fortunately, they are now responsible enough to take their own lists in hand and pack their own bags. Our summer work was not due until the second day of school, and so the first afternoon was spent putting the final touches on book reports and math assignments.

The second day we were free to go to the beach; our timing could not have been better. (On Friday the beaches were all closed in anticipation of a middle-rate hurricane expected to hit on Saturday.) The high tides over the weekend from Hurricane Gustav had wiped out a third of the beach, which dropped off steeply into the ocean. By Thursday the beach was clean and clear and the tide had dropped. The haze was so incredible; it settled down on the water so that swimmers seemed to disappear into another world.

We took our red wagon and settled ourselves among three deep holes that others before us had dug. The youngest one was afraid of the waves, and rightly so. She was happy to slide into the holes and find her way back up, over and over again.

Our fellow patrons were mostly middle-aged and older, with the exception of a few mothers with pre-schoolers in tow. A small group of college-aged youngsters showed up and shook things up for about fifteen minutes, taking movies of everyone with their cell phones and annoying us with their cigarette smoke. But they were easily bored and we were soon left in peace once again.

I had planned on leftovers for dinner and had a little free time on my hands after everyone had showered. I decided to try my hand at home-baked bread. I used the recipe for "quick bread" in The New Joy of Cooking. I mixed together the dry ingredients and let my eleven-year-old finished up. She was so excited to see the dough rise. Now I know why unleavened bread was used at Passover. Even quick-rising bread takes all night! They were all in bed by the time the loaf was completed.

My toddler loves bread, and this loaf looked enough like cake that she thought she was getting a real treat for breakfast. My husband thought it was good but a little “doughy”; and opted for store-made rye bread for his lunch. But when the kids got home from school, they finished off that loaf and my two older girls decided to make two more for the weekend.

I do not usually watch prime-time television, but my computer time has been taken up by the Republican Convention this week. I am so excited about Palin, a pioneering woman we can all aspire to emulate. Seeing the families of Palin and McCain together - What a tribute to a Culture of Life! I also loved when McCain said, "I hate war". People thought he was a war-monger but his position is so much more understandable after his life story has been expounded upon this past week.

While I work on my post, the girls come into the study every few minutes asking me questions to clarify the cookbook’s directions. I am trying to catch up on all my computer work for the week. After I clear out my e-mail box I then will set about removing all loose objects from the yard.

Hurricanes on Long Island are always fodder for excitement and speculation. The weather experts have long predicted another “hundred year storm” to hit us directly. Most of the time we get away with a few downed trees and power lines. We love to watch the weather channel. The kids hope for an electric outage so we can put our candles and batteries to good use. It seems like we’ve been cheated if we just get a little downpour; yet we are thankful when we are spared a catastrophe yet again.

Photograph taken September 4, 2008 by Elizabeth Kathryn Miller.

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