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In college I live with M and her family for a year, in Madison, Wisconsin.

M is caucasian, from Shady Valley, Tennessee and her husband is a good bit over 6 feet and african american. Their sons are in junior high and high school.

I was a baby when my parents were going to the University of Tennessee with M. My mother and M were in the art department together and my father in English, having quit Princeton and engineering.

"I am teaching your daughter the gentle art of canning." says M to my mother on the phone. M has a huge garden and this year the tomatoes are insane. Every day I arrive home when she is starting to can 6 quarts. I help.

"Good," says my mother, "because I hate canning." My mother is NOT a housewife. She is an artist and does art constantly. Every January she tries to do a watercolor a day and has 30 by the end of March along with tons of other projects: etchings, drawings, home made advent calendars, pottery, sculpy, whatever. Not acrylic paint, she scorns that as amateur and beneath her notice.

I was the only baby in my parents' circle of friends. I slowly realize that my mother was seen as the earth mother because she had a baby and she hated and rejected that role. My mother has approached the vaccuum as her worst enemy my entire life. And could care less about dust bunnies. Art is more important. And she inherits enough money for my parents to be independently wealthy at a poverty level.... if they are careful.

My parents are seen as "unsuccessful" by many people. But they do whatever the hell they want within their budget....

....and I am NOT independently wealthy at any level.

So I learn canning and everything else I can from M. Her paintings are oils and start at 3 by five feet. The triptychs are three paintings 5 by 8 feet each, together. And it is corporations that buy them, for huge walls...

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