Monday, February 29, 2016

February Book Report: Lost Lake

February’s book transported me to summer as I read.  Lost Lake, by Sarah Addison Allen, is set in southern Georgia, around a lake in the humidity of a Georgia summer.  I could practically hear the cicadas and see the fireflies as I read.

Like all of Allen’s novels, there were moments of magical realism in this story about a mother and daughter piecing back together their life.  For a woman who lives in a reality-based existence, it’s surprising how much I enjoy the magic in these stories.  That and a happy ending keeps me coming back to Allen's novels.  I didn’t enjoy Lost Lake as much as I loved Garden Spells, another Allen novel set in the warmth of the South, but the characters were well-drawn and it was a good and gentle read for the chill of February.  

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Kitchen Must Have: Handled Batter Bowls

The backstory:
For 2016, I plan to profile one of my kitchen must-haves items each month.  Whenever possible, I’ll include links to the item.  Links are not affiliated; they are just for convenience in case y’all want the item.

This month, we're talking handled batter bowls.  I have two of these bowls that are on heavy rotation in my kitchen.  At least one or the other is in use whenever I cook.  The clear glass bowl is useful for seeing the bottom of whatever recipe is being mixed.  It also has the convenience of doubling as an 8 cup measuring bowl.

I use it for mixing pancake and waffle batter; for stirring together potato casserole, for making salsa, salad dressing, and homemade boursin cheese.  It was a gift for my sister and I've had it for nearly 20 years.  I couldn’t cook without it.

My second batter bowl is a more recent acquisition, a birthday present I received last fall.  I liked it because of the polka dots.

It’s big enough to hold 12 cups and isn’t as lightweight as the glass bowl but is incredibly useful, especially in the Winter soup-cooking season.

Both fit quite neatly into my dishwasher and wash up clean, ready for the next day’s cooking.  And if I’m cooking, one of these bowls is surely in play.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

South Carolina Primary: Predictions

Between Friday’s announcement that the bluster and bully duo of Chris Christie and Donald Trump are stumping for T-rump in Texas and the coming apocalypse that is March 1st’s Super Tuesday, it would be easy to lose sight of the fact that South Carolina Democratic voters are headed to the polls today.  But they are headed to the polls and Hillary Clinton is about to score a solid win.  She’ll take South Carolina by more than 20 points, a sign of her robust support among African American voters who are a core constituency of the Democratic party.

Before the night is out, we’ll be turning our attention to Super Tuesday.  I’m still in the production game, so you’ll hear from me on Tuesday.  

Friday, February 26, 2016

Real Life Conversations with JT: Bookish edition

The Backstory: Last weekend, the District wrestling tournament was held.  We’re a small school with about 350 students in the Upper School so our team is relatively tiny to begin with.  We regularly compete against schools with 1500 to 3,000 students in grades 9-12 in a state where wrestling is BIG, so the District tournament is a pretty fierce competition.  Unless one of our wrestlers advances, this event signals the end of the season and the close of 6 days a week of wrestling practice.  That happened last Friday night.

JT: For the first time since the end of November, I can sleep in on Saturday.

Me (secretly relieved that I can also sleep in):  Yes, you can.

JT:  I’m going to sleep in and then I’m going to lie in my bed and read.  I love to read in bed.

Me (smiling):  Me too, son.

Internet, if you’re keeping track, it would seem that I brought the right baby home from the hospital.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

New Bloom Thursday: Week 9

Once the amaryllis stem starts growing, it’s rather unstoppable, getting taller each day.  There’s a flower hidden in there and I’m excited to see it.

This year, the growing amaryllis is accompanied by green stems peaking out of the flowerbed soil.  The late amaryllis is just part of the strange weather we’ve had in the last few years.  It’s been a mild Winter, but we had a huge snow storm; the biggest I've ever experienced.  Last night, a late Winter night, 60 degree weather blew in with  a ferocious wind and rain storm, the sounds of which reminded me of a hurricane.  I’ve yet to see the damage in the light of morning, but I expect debris and branches everywhere.  My basement pump is furiously busy, moving water out every 5 minutes or so.  It’s not yet March, but the lion weather has arrived.

Meanwhile, the amaryllis is in the window, turning toward the sun and light.  There’s a bold flower in my future.  That’s happy!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The GOP Circus is in Nevada Today: Predictions

The Democrats caucused on Saturday but the Republicans are in Nevada today.  Don’t try and make sense of this, just know that the Donald is looking to make additional inroads in the land of casinos and strippers.

Keeping in mind the fact that a caucus vote typically features low turnout, I still think that Trump will end the night in the 30% range.  I think that second place will go to Rubio, with a final result in the mid-to high teens, not because he’s done much in Nevada (none of these jackals really have), but because a low turnout event like a caucus is more likely to be shaped by the national media landscape, and Rubio is currently ticking upward as the mainstream GOP parks in his corner.  I see Cruz coming in third in the lower teens and fourth heading the way of Kasich, in the single digits.  Carson, who is still in a campaign, though I can’t fathom why, will roll in with a fifth place turnout, I suppose looking to hold on until Super Tuesday.  And make no mistake, March 1 is looking to be one hell of a political ride.  Here we go…….

Monday, February 22, 2016

12 Months of Miss Read: February

The backstory: At the start of 2016, I pulled out my very favorite Miss Read book, Village Centenary.  The novel is structured in months and each chapter explores a month in the year of a village school that is celebrating its 100th anniversary.  This year, my own school is celebrating its 250th anniversary and as we think of our past and look toward our future, I thought that Miss Read would once-again make a lovely companion for me.  Each month of 2016, I plan to read Miss Read’s reflection on the month.

Miss Read is a pseudonym for Dora Jessie Saint, an English author who wrote between 1955 and 1996.  Her novels were tales of every day life in small English towns.  Village Centenary is set in Fair Acre, an imaginary Cotswold community.  As is the case in nearly all of the Fair Acre novels, the novel is written in the first person and it is through our narrator, school teacher Miss Read, that the story unfolds.

February with Miss Read
In the January chapter, Miss Read and her longtime friend Miss Clare have tea and remember that come February 1 there will be enough light after tea for a walk in the fading light of day.  The imaginary village of Fair Acre is in the Cotswolds and thus several degrees north of central New Jersey in latitude.  Moreover, we don’t have a 4 pm tea time tradition.  But that observation governs my thoughts as February approaches and come the 1st of the month, I take myself for an outdoor walk to observe the slowly lengthening days.

One of the things I’ve learned from Miss Read novels is to stop and appreciate the joys of the natural world.  I’ve always liked the outdoors but reading Miss Read novels brought me a much greater self-awareness of the power of the natural world when it comes to shaping my own moods.   I read my first Miss Read book in 2006, when my life was abruptly altered and I became a single mama.  In that first summer, when virtually every moment of my life was touched by the pain of that break-up, Miss Read’s stories brought me a much-needed respite from unhappiness.  The characters were companions whose advice and worldview lingered well after I closed the books. 

So it is due to Miss Read that I pause and admire the Winter light in February, now aware that from the start of the month to its end, more than an hour of sunlight will be added to our days.  Even as the cold lingers, that light slowly marches us that much closer to the glories of Spring.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

A Primary, A Caucus, Oh My: South Carolina and Nevada Predictions

The American primary election schedule is a strange and mysterious beast with nearly no rationale and plenty of hubris.  Though various presidential primaries have been in existence since the early 20th century, they didn’t carry a great deal of influence until the 1960s, when both the Democratic and Republican party began to flirt with selecting their presidential candidates via primary elections instead of nominating conventions.

When that transition developed, New Hampshire’s primary was first on the calendar and became important.  The state held onto its first-in-the-nation status by making it a state constitutional requirement and strong-arming the national parties to agree to the arrangement.  Iowa had a caucus scheduled just before the New Hampshire primary but because it was a caucus (and, let’s face it, in Iowa), it was rather an also-ran until 1976 when a candidate named Jimmy Carter used his showing in the Iowa Caucus to demonstrate electoral viability that might translate to the national stage.  

Since then, the rest of us have been forced to believe that Iowa and New Hampshire are somehow worthy of getting a first crack at the candidates.  Though neither of these contests is famous for actually picking the eventual nominee, they typically serve to winnow the list of potential nominees.  This kind of influence is sought by other states, of course.

Enter South Carolina and Nevada, states that also lay claim to being useful for early contests.

In the case of South Carolina, a southern state, an early primary here does give us a glimpse about how candidates will fare in Dixie, which can still be called the solid South.  That’s more important for Republicans than Democrats, and South Carolina has thus wedged its way into the early primary calendar.

Nevada is a relatively new addition to the early voting race and the state’s contest is a caucus.  As a Western state, Nevada technically might show candidate viability in this region of the country.  In 2008, candidate Barack Obama’s strong showing in the Nevada contest gave the contest greater credibility and thus visibility.  Nevada is a state with a population whose demographics shift significantly from year to year, including a large and growing assortment of Latino and African-American voters, demographic groups that are important to the national viability of the Democratic party.  For the Republicans, Nevada is not expected to be a state that is part of whatever national victory the party pieces together in November, but its relative diversity is interesting for the national GOP, as they contemplate their future in an increasingly diverse nation.

In 2016, the national party’s primary calendars are not fully coordinated so today’s contests include a Republican primary vote in South Carolina and a Democratic Caucus vote in Nevada.  It’s peculiar and will rather divide our attention today.

Still reading?  It’s time for the heart of the matter: predictions.

Let’s start with Nevada’s Democratic caucus contest.  Even on a Saturday, a caucus is still a low turn-out event, especially for the party most attractive to working class Nevadans, as the Democratic party is.  Here, organizational groundwork is essential and that means the advantage goes to Hillary Clinton, who should win the contest by 4-5 percentage points.

The Republican contest in South Carolina will feature a truckload of evangelical voters and, like New Hampshire, should winnow the number of contestants.  In theory, evangelical voters should be looking to Ted Cruz as their savior but Donald Trump is funneling a lot of evangelical voters his way, perhaps a sign that Trump’s brand of discontentment populism is more salient to these voters than religion.  That possibility is worth exploring down the line, especially if Trump’s appeal in Southern contests holds firm.  Marco Rubio has the support of South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley; Rubio is increasingly the establishment’s candidate, a designation that has been important in previous years but doesn’t seem to hold the same weight in 2016 Republican circles.

So…how does this messy contest unfold?

Let’s dispense with the easy calls first.  John Kasich’s number two showing in New Hampshire won’t matter in the Palmetto state and he’ll finish fifth.  Fourth place will go to Jeb Bush.  Both of them will probably stay alive for the March 1st Super Tuesday contest, with high single digit-low double digit showings.  Former voter darling Ben Carson is going to come in sixth, with numbers in the low single digits.  His campaign is done.  

That leaves the top three finishers.

God save us, but it’s looking like Donald Trump will win in South Carolina.  If he’s north of 35%, then we need to start believing that Trump is going to be around for a while and might actually score himself the Republican nomination or foster a battle royale brokered convention.  I believe Trump will be north of 30% but just below 35% in South Carolina; still a cause for concern if you are the national Republican party.

I am not in that party; moreover I do not think that Trump can win a general election.  I do think he is actively bad for the Republican party; not to mention the republic.  I no longer find him the least bit amusing.  But this post is already way too long, so we’ll explore that rich vein later.

I will call second place for Marco Rubio by just a smidge over the persistently unlikeable Ted Cruz, with the two of them in the mid-20s.  The unpleasant trio of Trump, Rubio, and Cruz will then head into super-Tuesday with the gloves off.


Friday, February 19, 2016

Pretty Packages

JT turned 16 this week and birthdays mean presents, of course.

That’s happy!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

New Bloom Thursday: Week 8

As I slog out the last few weeks of Winter, the late-blooming amaryllis is a cheerful blessing, guiding me forward to the growth and resurgence of the coming Spring.  

That’s happy!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

16 Years

16 years ago today, I became a mama.  The run up to that day was exhausting but the day itself was exhilarating and empowering in ways I could have never imagined.  After my son’s birth, I felt whole and complete.  It was amazing to hold the baby I had so long wished for and the feeling has never left me.  16 years later, I can’t fathom life without this boy of mine.  

When I first held my little bundle of dark-eyed baby, my mind ran wild with imaginings of the boy and then man he would become.  16 years later, those musings are now alive and well in the form of a teenager who is sometimes funny, sometimes vexing, and always the boy who made my life feel whole.  We share podcasts and music, have lengthy debates about topics that range from baseball’s DH to the importance of criminal justice reform.  We’ve agreed to disagree about Pete Rose, though neither of us can resist the occasional pot shot on that topic.  We share a wry sense of humor and a bond forged by love and laughter.

It’s been a journey, getting to 16, and the years have flown past at a pace I could not have imagined all those years ago.  My job in the next two years is to prepare him to take flight into the world, a role that is both thrilling and bittersweet.  As tall and strong as he is, in my heart he remains the baby who hung the moon in my world 16 years ago.  Happy, happy birthday, son.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Springtime Table

I am ready for some warmth and Spring blossoms and, conveniently, T gave me some lovely tulips to enjoy.  

They are on the table next to a sweet cast iron bunny, also a gift from T.  Both are prepared to keep my heart warm in the February chill.

While the snow fell on Monday, the bunny got both a name and a bow.  That’s Flopsy sporting a cheerful gingham bow and otherwise putting me in the mind of Springtime.

Monday, February 15, 2016

12 Months of Miss Read: January

The backstory: At the start of 2016, I pulled out my very favorite Miss Read book, Village Centenary.  The novel is structured in months and each chapter explores a month in the year of a village school that is celebrating its 100th anniversary.  This year, my own school is celebrating its 250th anniversary and as we think of our past and look toward our future, I thought that Miss Read would once-again make a lovely companion for me.  Each month of 2016, I plan to read Miss Read’s reflection on the month.  

Miss Read is a pseudonym for Dora Jessie Saint, an English author who wrote between 1955 and 1996.  Her novels were tales of every day life in small English towns.  Village Centenary is set in Fair Acre, an imaginary Cotswold community.  As is the case in nearly all of the Fair Acre novels, the novel is written in the first person and it is through our narrator, school teacher Miss Read, that the story unfolds.

January with Miss Read
Village Centenary starts in January and so did my project, though it’s taken me to the month of February to finish my writing about January.  Miss Read’s month of January unfolds rather like my own, as she puts her holidays behind her and prepares for a the blustery cold first month of the year.  Part of her mind is directed toward thinking about her school’s 100th year, but most of Miss Read’s days are filled with the details of daily existence: keeping children busy and happy when they are stuck indoors; the moods of her irritable school cleaner, Mrs. Pringle; the wry observations of her school handyman, Mr. Willet.

Our first day back at school in 2016 featured an all-school photo, as we prepared to celebrate our 250th year.  Like many milestones, this one mostly lives in our subconscious, as the Winter school days unfolded in the typical fashion.  At school, January is a month when some serious schoolwork gets done.  There are occasional 3 day weekends on the horizon but we’ve 10 weeks between the January return-to-school and the arrival of Spring Break and by now the students have adjusted to the pace of academic expectations.

My January is filled with long days that begin in the dark and end with post-wrestling practice drives home in the dark twilight.  Like Miss Read, I turn my face to the sunlight when it shines, even if it’s a cold sunshine.  I wrap up in cardigans and set out scraps of bread for the animals who spend Winter in my back yard.  I mark the days on my calendar, aware that each week brings a few extra minutes of the sunlight that I crave in the Winter months.  I also pause to enjoy the stark beauty of Winter, aware that it is the months of Winter that make the colors of Spring and Summer so lovely.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Valentine Wish

When I was a child, my mother treated Valentine’s Day as a family holiday.  I have a vivid memory of a family Valentine’s supper when we dined by candlelight.  I was in first grade and still remember how lovely and special that supper felt.  My mother’s tradition was a good one and I embraced it in adulthood, especially when I became a single mama.  When I was on my own, my mother, not always one to express her emotions, made sure to send me a card so family Valentine celebrations with JT always felt special and less laden with hurt.  I always appreciated it.

These days I have a sweet valentine to love but I’m always aware that days like Valentine’s Day feel loaded for people whose heart is finding its way toward peace.  I spend my days with middle schoolers, an age when kids are both notoriously unkind and oversensitive, and so now more than ever I am aware that each of us has a private journey toward that sweet spot of acceptance of ourselves and others.

So that is my Valentine’s wish for us all.  Be kind toward yourself.  Wish on a star for unexpected joy to turn up more often in this life.  Find a little bit of grace somewhere each day.  For all of its trials, there is happiness in this world.  May it find you today.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

New Bloom Thursday: Week 7

After all my fretting last week, this past weekend the amaryllis finally committed to making me a lovely flower.  Behold, the stem is on its way!

Once things get started, it grows each day, nearly two inches by the end of the week.  I see the stem each morning when I come downstairs and I know it bathes in the morning sunlight.  We’re in the stretch of February when the daylight is growing by leaps and bounds.  By the end of the month, we’ll have more than 11 hours of sunlight a day, perfect for a flower looking to show off.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Bring on the Predictions: We’re in the Granite State

My Iowa assessment worked out pretty well and so I should be coming into New Hampshire feeling confident, or at least more confident than some of the candidates (looking at you, Governor Big Mouth).  Alas, I think there is is a lot of uncertainty in the Granite State.  The Democratic contest is an easy call; the state’s blue voters will feel the Bern and Senator Sanders will walk away from New Hampshire with a victory just north of 15 percentage points over Hillary Clinton.

For the Republicans, the outcome is less clear.  Even accounting for the dropouts of Huckabee, Paul, and Santorum, there are still a whole lot of choices available to New Hampshire Republican voters, a group who are less religious and more moderate than Iowa Republicans.  New Hampshire primary voters are traditionally last-minute deciders and most polls show that even as we head into election day, 30% of them remain undecided.  The same New Hampshire polls show that Trump is holding his lead, though it’s shrunk since Iowa.  I think that Trump will hold on among New Hampshire voters, but it won’t be a 20 point victory.  He’ll win first by 5-7 points, though I won’t be surprised if the win is more narrow or even if Trump comes in second.

A Trump victory clears the way for Kasich in second place, and I think that’s where he will land, by a few points anyway.  

Conventional wisdom is that Rubio’s Saturday debate disaster won’t cost him much but I think it will cost him second place,  and he’ll slot in third, but just barely behind Kasich.  Bush and Cruz will be next, both in the low double digits, not much apart from one another.  Christie comes in sixth with the high single digits.  This may cause him to pack it up and return to New Jersey; it will surely cause the money to dry up.

Speaking of dried up, Fiorina and Carson are done as of tonight.  The chance that they hold on to get South Carolina seems pretty slim given the fact that both are out of cash.

That’s how I think it will shape up.  What you got, New Hampshire?

Monday, February 08, 2016

Front Porch in February

Mild though it may be, it’s still Winter and the February front porch is stark for the season.  The snowman flag has come down, because I’ll not encourage any more nonsense on that front.  Snow clearing supplies remain at the ready because I may be hopeful that snow is over for the season but I’m not stupid.

The table has a blue cloth and basket full of pinecones because pinecones always look like Winter to me.

There’s a polka dot-ribboned heart wreath on the door.

The cafe lights remain.  Though the days are getting longer, the wrestling season means that we are still prone to getting home after dark.  The lights welcome us home and that’s most happy.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Real Life Conversations at School: Girl Power edition

The backstory:  My 7th graders are working with historical documents from the Louisiana Purchase era, including a series of letters President Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Senate about the purchase.  They are reading and analyzing the documents and trying to understand both how the documents  help us to understand the time period we’re studying and its differences with our own time period.  The letters are addressed to “Gentlemen of the Senate,” and one of the groups (3 boys and 1 girl, student M) were perplexed…..were there not “Ladies of the Senate” in 1803?

Me:  No.  Remember, women were not permitted to vote and they would not have been allowed to serve in the Senate had they sought to do so.  Women got the right to vote in 1920 (I opted not to explain Jeanette Rankin…..this group was already rather stunned).

M:  How many women are in the Senate now?

Me:  Well, how about you take a guess?  How many Senators are there?

Quick math revealed that there are 100 senators.

M:  50.  I think there are 50 women in the Senate.

Me (gently now, because this bright girl has no earthly notion of sexism or discrimination against women because of their gender):  There are 20 women in the Senate.

At this point, all the air left the room, as M looked at me and considered what she had just been told.

Me (still gentle but feeling like this reality must be understood):  That’s the most women who have ever served in the Senate.

M (looks at me intently):  Well, that’s a reason to support Hillary Clinton for president, isn’t it?

Me:  Yes, M, it is indeed.  It is indeed.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

New Bloom Thursday: Week 6

I’m impatient to see big progress in the amaryllis, much as I am impatient for the arrival of Spring blooms.  Quite frankly, I’m impatient for all sorts of things….I’m looking forward to Spring Break and packing away my Winter clothes.  I’m looking forward to March Madness basketball because it gets me that much closer to the start of baseball season.  I thumb through my gardening catalogs and I’m impatient to start Spring planting.  I think about the summer and I’m impatient to plan an adventure with T, to make some college visits with JT.

And here is where impatience runs up against my heart.  A look into my not-too-distant future reminds me that in just over two years, my baby will be moving out and heading to college.  That’s exciting and it’s what I want for him but it’s also such an unfathomable development.  Where did the time go?  How is it that I once had a bundle of soft, sweet baby and now have a tall and strong, sometimes still sweet, nearly-16-year old?

Impatience for the things that are coming puts me at risk for not appreciating the here and now.  So I’m going to stop and admire the amaryllis as it looks today.  There is time enough for the future tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Real Life Conversations with JT: Culinary Genius edition

The backstory:  I like to cook and I’m a good cook so it’s rather an irony that I gave birth to the world’s pickiest eater.  As he’s grown up, JT’s become less picky and whenever he discovers something new that he likes, he’s prone to acting indignant, as if this food has been purposely denied him for years.  The truth, of course,  is that I’ve avoided something for years because the whining about it is more than I was willing to endure.  Case in point: walnuts in chocolate chip cookies.  Though it is my most favorite cookie, I have avoided making them for 12 years, since a three-year-old JT spit a mouthful of walnut chocolate chip cookie on the floor, gagging as he did it.  Last weekend, I threw caution to the wind and made the kind of cookie I like.  JT tried them.

JT:  What’s in those cookies?

Me (cautious):  Walnuts and chocolate chips.

JT:  Those cookies are straight fire.  You’ve never made them before and you should make them again.  

Oh, the charms of a teenage boy.

Monday, February 01, 2016

2016 Iowa Caucus Predictions

Tonight is the Iowa caucus and this afternoon seems like a good time to offer my predictions.  I believe that Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic count but it will be closer than her campaign will like.  She’s got a good organization on the ground in the state and her behind-the-scenes white paper policy positions will motivate voters who really care about those issues.  They’ll come out to caucus on a cold Iowa night and she’ll win it by 2-3 percentage points.  But Sanders will do just fine and his prospects in New Hampshire, neighbor to his home state of Vermont, are good.  This contest isn’t over yet.

The Republican caucus vote seems like more of a crap shoot.  I know that Donald Trump believes that people who will wait in line three hours to see him in person will surely put in time for the caucus but I don’t share that belief.  Though he’s made some missteps in the last few days, that won’t bother his nutcase supporters; Ted Cruz has done the organization legwork in Iowa and he’ll prevail tonight, winning by 4-5 percentage points.  Number two will be the Donald (pun intended) and third place will go to Marco Rubio.   Bush, Christie, and Kasich will all perform poorly tonight.  But they will likely stay alive for New Hampshire, where all three have better prospects thanks to the fact that New Hampshire’s vote is a primary, not a caucus.  Because it’s a primary, New Hampshire Republican voters are a more stable lot than the Iowa caucus Republicans (how is that for damned by faint praise?).  So those three live for another few weeks.    But the same can’t be said for the remaining Republicans.  Surely, the Iowa results will drive at least one of them out of the race.  Will it be  Rand Paul?  Ben Carson?  Carly Fiorina?  Rick Santorum?  Those jackals are on life support before caucus results are counted.  Afterward, well.....tick-tock.

I’ve been grateful that I don’t have to teach about politics in this 2016 presidential cycle.  I like all the Democratic candidates but as both a citizen and a student of politics I have been horrified by the Republican display.  I think that the party is breaking up and, like most break-ups, it isn’t pretty to watch.  Neither side is conducting themselves well.  On NPR’s Sunday edition show yesterday, a group of young Republicans expressed the plaintive hope that their party would begin to stand for things rather than against.  That’s a sentiment the party should surely embrace.  Alas, that’s not yet begun.  So the Republican brawl continues and will play out in the coming contests.  I’ll be here with observations and predictions.    Here we come, 2016 contest.

In the Backyard Neighborhood: February 1

On the first day of the year, the backyard was experiencing a mild day, one in keeping with our rather temperate Winter.  Last weekend’s massive snowfall changed that up quite a bit, with nearly three feet of snow on this corner.  Just a week later, there’s been plenty of melting, thanks to some sunny days and the return of Winter mildness.  Yesterday, the sun shone and the temperature rose to nearly 60 degrees.  It’s not often that I drive with the window cracked when there is snow on the ground, but that seems to be the kind of Winter we are having.

Piles of white snow can be deceiving so it's hard to know how much of the icy white crystals remain. But it was more than I wished to brave, so all the pictures were made from the back deck.

Even when it’s cold and snowy, I find February to be a lovely month.  Sixteen years ago, a sweet baby was born to me in February.  Its 28 days feel that much closer to the arrival of Spring.  Even this year, with an extra day of Winter, there is a tantalizing sense of seasonal change just around the corner.  This corner of the yard is drinking in the snow, getting ready for some Spring blooms.

That’s happy!