The Calculator

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This coming week many young people will be heading back to school. The beginning of a new educational year. Their parents have been busy getting school supplies, school clothes, and other necessary items for their children.

I remember always looking forward to returning to school. I love learning. I enjoyed the classroom where I excelled. The classroom was a place where I could be myself, not worry about upsetting my mother. I may not do things right at home for my mother, but in school I was free from her constant disapproval. My father was always proud of my academic achievements.

I did not have many friends in school, actually only one or two the entire time in high school, and they graduated before I did. My last two years of high school, I was alone during lunch time. But it did not matter if I had friends or not, I had books, knowledge and learning.

The purchase of school clothes was simple, three pants, four shirts, undergarment, and a package of socks. When I started junior high, a P.E. uniform was required. These clothes had to last all year long. I would not get any other clothes until the following school year, with the exception of Christmas. At Christmas we all got a new package of socks, and if I was blessed a new shirt.

School supplies were the bare minimum for the year. The first day of school was just a pencil and notebook. I was to write down all the required notebooks and supplies from each class. The following weekend we would go shopping for the supplies. I remember my sophomore year, I was required to have a certain calculator to use in chemistry and geometry. My mother said “no, that is too expensive.” (Later I learned this was a lie.) So, for chemistry and geometry, I took scratch paper from home to solve complex mathematical equations with a pencil and my mind. Just before Christmas, I received a letter from my chemistry teacher to give to my parents. All school correspondence to my parents was seen first by my father. The letter stated that I need the calculator for class, it was required. I was called into the room my father used as a home office, door closed with my father and mother inside.

Now what is a child supposed to do? My father would not tolerate any untruth from me, and I am a terrible liar and poker player. My mother would be mad at me if I told the truth. I also knew that the truth would cause an argument between my parents. My father asked the question I knew was going to be said, “Why did you not tell us you needed this calculator?” Looking at the ground, not daring to look at either parent, I replied my mother’s words that it was too expensive. “How much does it cost?” my father asked. Keeping my eyes staring at the floor I replied with the cost. My father dismissed me, after I closed the door the argument began. That Christmas, in my stocking was the calculator, the only gift I received that Christmas.

Home was a difficult place. While I got along great with my father, I was always in turmoil with my mother. School was the place to get away from my mother.

Every year when school is beginning to start and I see children and parents purchasing school supplies, this memory comes forward. Yes, I became very good at chemical equations rounding the answer to five places behind the decimal. I was able to do the calculations as fast as the older students with their calculators. I used a lot of scratch paper, a forest worth. And every year, as I watch children and parents get school supplies, I hope a child does not have to go through what I did for a calculator.

amtolle

August Beginnings

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August is beginning and the mark of summer ending with the grandchildren preparing to start school in a few weeks. There will be no more visits with grandchildren until Christmas break. The softball season is over, and other sports practices been going on for a few weeks. The distance apart makes if difficult to attend any games, but we like to keep track on their achievements.

I have been putting the squash from my small garden up for later meals. We eat some and I freeze some. The work of growing food. The tomatoes and bell peppers do not produce fruit in the heat of summer. Once the temperatures start to drop, they will set fruit for a late harvest in November.

In the part of Texas where I live, people plant two gardens, a spring garden and fall garden. The spring garden has been struggling in the heat. Squash produces well in the heat as long as it has water. The tomatoes, bell peppers will produce when the temperatures drop. The brussel sprouts will begin to grow their fruits vigorously with the cooler temperatures arriving at the end of August. Pumpkins will continue to set fruit and grow until the first freeze in mid November.

In a couple of weeks I will plant radishes, onions and maybe some potatoes. These vegetables will grow well in the cool temperatures until we get a hard freeze in January or February. Cabbages do well in a fall garden.

The lambing for summer is done. Due to the drought, the sheep market is flooded with people selling their ewes and rams because winter feed prices are going to be higher than last year. People selling now, means there will be fewer lambs born in the fall. Less lambs born in the fall means fewer lambs for sell in February and March when the lamb market prices are usually high. I am currently breeding my ewes for fall lambing. I have faith I will be able to continue to purchase feed through the winter and hopefully make a good profit in February.

August is the time to settle down and do projects that were interrupted with visits from family. The grandchildren go back to school, and I go back to work building and repairing the shelters for the animals this winter. Projects that improve our place and home.

August is also the time to start the gifts for family and friends. Considering I did not plant cucumbers this year, I will not be making pickles and relish for Christmas gifts. I will have to make the Christmas gifts this year. One of my projects to get completed in August is the leather crafting work table. My husband wants to make belts for the grandchildren. I will need to have the leather work table done for him to be able to complete his Christmas gifts this year.

Another project is to finish some quilts I started last year for the grandchildren. I am going to set up my quilting frame in the spare bedroom, now that there will not be any visitors until Christmas. I hand stitch all the quilting on my quilts. A task that requires time and patiences of placing each stitch in the right place. When the quilts are completed, they are heirlooms for my grandchildren and future generations. Before I die, I want to have completed a quilt for each grandchild. Some have their quilts, but I have a several more to make and complete.

My year is marked out in months for certain activities and events. August is the beginning of work as the season for playing with family is over until Christmas time.

amtolle