Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A Visit to the Rhodies

Over the winter, I read a D.E. Stevenson book set in Scotland, Celia’s House.  The descriptions of the scenery were lovely and as the Spring transitioned into Summer the characters packed up a picnic and headed out to the woods to “see the rhodies.”  Rhododendron season was a long way away when I read the novel in January but May has arrived and it’s rhodie season around here.  

These rhododendrons live on either side of my front steps, greeting the day when we leave for school in the morning.

And welcoming us home each evening.

May, you are lovely.

Monday, May 23, 2016

2016 Garden

Each year’s garden season is a much anticipated event for me and I am excited to be getting plants and seeds in the ground.  This year’s garden started in late April, with some plants from my dad.  On Friday, May 20, I took the day off to wait for my annual air conditioner service visit and plant the rest of my garden.  The weather was perfect for being outside and I enjoyed the planting and daydreaming about the veggies and flowers that will shortly come our way.

Things are in the ground and the adventure starts now.  There is still weeding and mulching to be completed, but it’s gratifying to know that the growing has begun.  

Sunday, May 22, 2016


In May, I’ve taken to making delicious Sunday evening desserts to ease our way back into the busy weeks at the end of the school year.  Last Sunday, I tried my hand at old fashioned coconut cream pie.

JT, otherwise the world’s pickiest eater, loves all things coconut, and this pie was no exception.  A slice of it while he watched Sunday night baseball briefly tamed the beast.


Friday, May 20, 2016

Prep B Champions!

As the baseball season playoffs begin, the team shrinks to the Varsity players.  JT is a 10th grader who is part of the core that remains.  He doesn’t get a lot of playing time but he is at practices and games, catching in the bullpen, warming up pitchers, serving as a loud-mouth in the dugout chatter, and at the ready should the opportunity arise.  It’s exhilarating to be here with the close-knit team and Thursday night brought home the thrill.

Though I am hard-pressed to explain the structure, athletics in this state feature a number of different play-offs, all with different value to the team.  There are county playoffs, featuring all the schools in the county: public, parochial, and independent.  There are state-wide league playoffs, featuring all of the schools in the conference (ours is the Skyland conference, which is state-wide).  Skyland has three divisions, structured by the size of the school; those playoff games start next week.  Finally, there is the Prep Championship, a tournament made up of all the independent prep schools in our region of the state.  That’s the tournament with the longest tradition at our school and it features schools we’ve been playing against for nearly 100 years, so there are long-standing rivalries.  Because of the history, winning this one is particularly sweet.  We entered the tournament last week ranked at the middling level.  Thursday night the boys won the Prep Championship in a 3-0 game against a team ranked number one in the tournament and in the top 20 state-wide.  The post-game team conference was euphoric.

As fans, JT and I have attended school baseball games for years.  We’ve seen sweet victories and team photos before.  But a team photo with him in it is a reminder of just how quickly time passes.  

It seems like it was just yesterday that I watched baseball with a little boy at my side.  

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Warning Signal

In my two years of high school sports fandom, I’ve noticed that teams are increasingly using music when they enter the home field (or wrestling matt).  Wrestling teams lower the lights in the gym and then the team runs in to the sounds of ominous music, most of it heavy metal.  The selections are designed to demonstrate that the opponent is about to receive a pounding.  

Only mothers are afraid.

Baseball teams often play music during warm up but on Tuesday, the opposing team took it to a whole new level.  For this team, each player had a walk-up song as he came up to bat.  My son thought it was great but I felt it was a tad pretentious (and since we beat the team, that made it worse).  Nonetheless, I came to school on Wednesday and announced this practice to my boss, a former baseball player and coach.   We spent the entire day plotting out our walk-up music.

Principal B is a big and imposing guy and he wants his opponents to be disarmed.  His proposes walk-up music by Barry Manilow or Whitney Houston; maybe a little Captain and Tennile.  I suggested that with those choices he’d better be hitting somewhere north of .900.  I want walk up music for my daily business.  I’ll choose something attention-grabbing before I start morning meeting, say the guitar riffs that start U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name.”  But if I’m headed down to hall to snag a guilty party, I want music that sets the tone……maybe the tolling doom of  AC/DC “Hell’s Bells."  Naturally, we’re now out of control with our walk-up options.  It’s a good way to enjoy the chaos of school in May.  

Cue the Clapton guitar.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

12 Months of Miss Read: May

Miss Read notes that May is her favorite month and I certainly share her pleasure in the month.  Around here, May tends to be mild and with trees leafed out; everywhere I look, there is beauty to be seen.  The month of May finds Miss Read contemplating the role of her school in the life of her town and, as she prepares a celebration of the school’s 100 years, she’s thinking about the school’s central place in the life of her town community:  from celebrations of the Queen Victoria’s 50th year on the throne to the school’s contributions to England’s war effort in the 20th century, the Fair Acre school has been at the center of it all.

My school is less a fixture in the community than it is the actual community; the center of the lives of the families with children enrolled in its grades.  For me, with a child in the school and a job in its hallways, the school is very much the center of our world.  At no time is this is obvious as the month of May, when school days have a frenetic pace as projects and work are completed.  Between early meetings and late baseball games, that day may very well last more than 12 hours.  I think that a school’s most essential contribution is its sense of community.  When that exists, children can take risks and push further, safe in the knowledge that a support net is in place.  For thirteen years, my school has played that role for JT and I and in May, as our school year winds down, it seems fitting to be grateful for that enormous blessing.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Lush Twilight

In the Winter  months, when the branches are bare and twilight arrives early, the light quickly fades to grey as the evening chill settles in.  On these days, I miss the embrace of warner days and have to remind myself of the pleasures of Winter.  There are pleasures to be found in the shorter cold days but the older I get, the more I come to love twilight when trees are leafed out, the lawns are plush with green, and the air is mild.  I never grow weary of seeing my backyard in this light.

Twilight in this season, with the lush colors and a light that fades on the edges as if I am gazing at an impressionist painting, is my favorite scene.  It feels magical to me, filled the promise of long days and fireflies still to come.  

Friday, May 13, 2016

Springing Bunny Mews

Like all real estate developers worth their millions, I gave my neighborhood a name.  

My backyard (and my garden) has proven a friendly home to neighborhood wildlife, especially tiny bunnies that live in the green hedges, hop about at dusk, and feed on the wild onions and, it must be said, my garden.  They charm me, even when they eat my produce.  The fairy neighborhood takes its name from those bunnies and the garden stake I found to match.

It’s pretty clear that I’ve lost my mind in the world of the fairy garden, by the way, right down to the fairy’s chicken coop and the fairy bicycle.  The fairies have an outdoor grill, of course, and they enjoy a bit of time in their gardens.

This summer, I will take some time each day to sit in a comfy chair under Old Man Tree in view of Springing Bunny Mews.  I’ll bring a book of course.  I’ll enjoy the peace and quiet of my mini imaginary world.

That’s happy!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Fair Acre Cottage

The final cottage in my fairy garden collection reminds me of the house Miss Read comes to call home in the Fair Acre series of novels.  It’s a small thatched-roof cottage tucked in the woods on the edge of the downs.  Miss Read’s small house is left to left to her by her dear friend Dolly Clare and is much-beloved because of its origins.  Mine is a perfectly-sized starter fairy home.

I’ve named it Fair Acre Cottage after the novels, which are among my most favorite books ever.  These days, making a visit to the fairy garden brings me the relaxation and happiness that the novels bring.

That’s happy!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Woodland Garden Cottage

If I were watching one of those HGTV log cabin shows, I would choose this cozy cottage.

It’s the fourth house in my collection and it’s a big hit with fairy families in search of a nice home.