Saturday, March 31, 2018

Eyes Wide Open

On this last day of the March Writing Challenge, I'm feeling good.  I may have missed a day of the challenge but I never missed a day thinking- thinking, "hmm...I wonder what I'll write about today."

One thing I enjoy about this challenge is the way it reminds me to take a closer look at what's going around me.  I hold my head high as I go through the day, always looking around in search of the slice of the day.

Some days a slice pops right out at me.  Other days it doesn't.  Either way, it's okay because what I like the most is the mere act of forcing my eyes to open just a little wider.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Giving Back

My grandmother made the sweetest chocolate butter cream Easter eggs I've ever tasted.  I can still remember how biting into one would make my teeth hurt.  Believe me, I like chocolate and at the age of 8, I loved all kinds of candy.  To think there would ever be something that I deemed too sweet to eat is hard to believe.  But for me, the chocolate eggs were too much for my young teeth to handle.

My grandmother didn't feel that way.   

A stroke later in life paralyzed her.  By the time I was in 3rd grade she was living, with her sister, in our house.  Mom Mom spent most of her day in a hospital bed.  Her sister, my great Aunt Mary, took care of her making sure she had food prepared for each meal and company all day long.  Aunt Mary also inherited the duty of making the sweet, chocolate eggs.  

My mother had told me not to give the eggs to my grandmother.  I suppose they were not really included in the diet of a stroke patient.  Even so, it didn't keep my grandmother from asking.

"Won't you get me one of those eggs?" she asked.

I knew I wasn't supposed to, but how do you say no to your grandmother?

I mean I'm sure she gave me all kinds of cookies and sweets against my mother's wishes.  So why not return the favor?

I don't remember a lot about my maternal grandmother as she died when I was only 10 years old.  One thing I do remember is the smile on her face, and the twinkle in her eyes, when she took a bite of that forbidden chocolate Easter egg I smuggled for her.

Thursday, March 29, 2018


I spent ten hours in the car yesterday.  Although the drive home from Indiana was a scenic one I was happy to be home and off the rainy roads.  As usual, my two cats were there to greet me. 

Once dinner was served both felines took up their usual evening positions.  Older cat Edgar hopped on his perch at the back window to check out the birds on the patio.  Alice spent some time in the front window before trotting over my way with a small tin foil ball in her mouth.  She dropped it at my feet and stared hopefully.

Alice has me trained pretty well, so I picked up the silver sphere and tossed it across the room.  She ran to fetch it and then quickly returned it to me once again.  I threw it once more.  She fetched it again. And so the evening went...

I was gone for 5 days, so there was a lot of fetching to catch up on. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Bat Trivia

The Louisville Slugger baseball bat factory makes a helluva lot of bats.  Streamlined machinery allows them to make a bat in about 6 seconds.  That's much faster than the 30 minutes it takes to make them by hand.

It's no surprise that the factory also produces a lot of wood shavings- about 1.5 tons a week.

When asked where all those wood shavings go our tour guide was more than eager to tell us.

"A turkey farmer uses them for bedding.  He's got the happiest fowl anywhere."

So punny.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Buttons, Buttons, Who's Got the Buttons?

I spent the afternoon walking around the small town of Madison, Indiana.  A trip inside the local historical society offered a peek at the many businesses that were a part of the area's history.  The one that surprised me was button making. 

Pearl buttons were created from mussel shells that lined the banks of the river.  Today I saw the white shell that remained.  The original shape was there, but the shell had eight or ten button-sized holes punched out.

Unfortunately, the working conditions were not ideal.  According to the Hoosier State Chronicles website, the use of hydrochloric acid and poor ventilation didn't help.  Injury was common as many workers lost fingers while stamping out the buttons. 

Eventually, the shell banks that had been so plentiful were gone. Before long, plastics made their way to the button industry so shells were no longer needed.  Innovation continued in the form of zippers and Velcro and the button factories of the Midwest were no more.

I love finding out about such little nuggets of history.  Thanks, Madison for making sure I learned something new today.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Porch Time

I sat, this evening, on a friend's porch- gliding on the swing that was hoisted on a chain overlooking the culdesac.  Closing my eyes I was taken back to my grandmother's screened-in front porch down in the country- the one where we all hung out each evening after a long summer day.

Back then my grandmother would pay me 25 cents to rub her tired feet.  The adults would talk about this and that.  As a child I would do my best to earn my quarters, all the while listening to the grownups talk about Watergate, Nixon and everything else that went over my head

Tonight, as I waited for a friend to bring me a cold beer,  I sat in silence. I gazed at the moonlit sky and blinked the tears away- my adult-self still feeling very much like a little girl, missing her granny.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

A Fresh Coat of Beautiful

The flat land of Ohio was a welcome change after an afternoon spent driving up and down the hills of West Virginia.  The scenery was beautiful as my rural route showcased farms, barns and expansive views.

Closing in on Cincinnati I passed a truck spreading salt on the roads.  A look ahead at the clouds spelled out my future- I would be driving the final two hours of the trip in the snow.

Fortunately, the weather didn't slow me down.  Well, not that much.  A fresh coating of snow just made all that midwest scenery that much more delightful.  It was hard not to slow down to get a better look.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Traveling Partners

I didn't waste much time getting into the swing of Spring Break 2018.  By 1:30 I was in my car and heading northwest.  For a good part of my trip, I hugged the Mason-Dixon line.  Once I hit 70 N. in Frederick I found myself in a driving sort of trance as I lost myself in the bright blue skies, snow-covered hills, and a good audio book.

At 5:30 I was pulling into the parking lot of my hotel in Bridgeport, WV feeling a little sad.  For the past 4 hours, Carly Simon was telling me all about her life.  And as the book came to an end I felt a little down thinking about the demise of her marriage to James Taylor.  But it wasn't just the divorce that had me down; I was also mourning the end of our road trip relationship.

Tomorrow morning I'll be back on the road feeling rested and ready to go.  I've got a bunch of Podcasts to catch up on.  So, Ira Glass- I hope you're ready for the ride to Indiana.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Springtime Shenanigans

Yesterday's snow is no more, thanks to the late March sunshine and warmer temperatures this afternoon.  The sledding hill outside my door is nothing but mud and worn down, brown grass. 

Lack of snow wasn't going to stop the two young men I spied as I walked to my car this evening.  The boys, about 8 or 9 years old, were equipped with two small pink trikes.  Well, one was a trike- the other was a small hippopotamus-shaped wagon designed for pulling by an adult.  They lined their vehicles at the top of the hill and surveyed the situation. 

Boy #1 remarked, "This is probably a stupid idea."

"Yea, it looks kind of stupid to me," I added.

Boy #2 cracked a smile.  "You're the smart one," I laughed.  "At least you're waiting to see how it works out for him."

The hippo wagon took off down the hill, Boy #1 yelling and laughing the whole way down. 

He made it safely.  I laughed right along with both boys and waited long enough to see the trike stop short before it even got a chance to get going.  Boy #2 did a face plant in the mud.

Not to worry though- he got right back up with a chuckle and a smile.

Yup, it's starting to feel like springtime.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Snow Day Productivity

Snow days are often productive days for me.  Unlike the weekend, where I feel like I'm always playing catch up, a snow day feels more like a breather.  Today's snow day was a productive one.  I was able to get a great deal of cleaning done. The kitchen floor is clean, as is the refrigerator.  Five loads of laundry got washed, dried and put away. I caught up on the last 3 episodes of the Netflix documentary about the Windsor family.

I didn't just take care of household tasks.  The essays that I've been avoiding got graded and I read over what my students were thinking about on their day off. 

Best of all?  I got eight and a half hours of sleep.

I think I can make it two more days to Spring Break.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

PT Time

For the last two months, I've spent two days a week working with a physical therapist sorting out a few back issues.  The sessions take place in an open space so there are usually 4 or 5 other patients there at the same time getting treatment from 2 or 3 different therapists.

The room hums with conversation as everyone chats about anything from the music on the radio, to what happened over the weekend, drink recipes, restaurants or even favorite kinds of cheese.

By the time I leave an hour later I've benefited from a deep-tissue massage on those tight spots, done a bit of strength training and learned a few things.  Really, it's not a bad way to work out the kinks.

Monday, March 19, 2018


I spent the day with 225 sixth graders at George Washington's Mount Vernon estate. Living so close to a plethora of historic sights is certainly a perk of living in the DC area.  Needless to say, I've planned, or been a part of, many field trips to places like the Smithsonian Institution, the National Gallery, the Washington Monument and Mount Vernon.  Anyone who has ever planned a field trip for a larger number of students and chaperones knows the tasks of creating groups, organizing parent volunteers, reserving busses and keeping watch over students can be exhausting. 

Apparently, one of our students didn't quite see it that way.

"So, you teachers have a pretty easy day, right?" he asked.

My colleague responded with a confused look.

"Yea," he continued, "you get a day at Mount Vernon and don't have to teach any classes."

The reading teacher answered with a laugh and a challenge. "When you're older, you should volunteer to take a group of middle school kids on a field trip."

"I think I will." He responded.

It's nice to know we make it look so easy.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

An Unlikely Choice

I awoke Saturday morning to 46 text messages.  Scrolling through the back and forth chatter on a family group text the surprising events of Friday night went from confusion to clarity.  Yes, many people around the world would be waking up disappointed in Virginia's loss to a little known16th seeded team from Maryland. 

Basketball.  It's all about college basketball.

My family has enjoyed filling out brackets together for many years.  There is no prize money involved, but there is always bragging rights for the year if one's bracket comes out with the most wins.

Men's basketball has never witnessed a 16th seeded team taking down a number one seed.  So it's unlikely that anyone would have chosen the team from University of Maryland Baltimore County to win.  My dad is an unlikely kind of guy.  His strategy for filling out his bracket is simple- pick the local teams and Jesuit colleges.  Thanks to his trusty algorithm, he now sits at the top of the heap in our bracket challenge. 

Way to go, Grandpa!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

July 2012 in Lisdoonvarna

In the spirit of St. Patrick's Day I'm reposting a little memory from my travels to Ireland six years ago.  I hope no one minds the replay...

"So, are we going to have this 11:00 to 11:00 schedule every day?"

That was the question posed by a weary American as he passed our table at a pub in Lisdoonvarna.

Yeah, you are.

You see the thing about this lovely little spot in Ireland is that the sun doesn't set until about 9:45pm.  That means it's easy to find yourself standing on top of the Cliffs of Moher at 8:00 enjoying the scenery against a perfectly blue sky (if you're lucky).  The only thing that may remind you that it's time to eat dinner is a little bark in your stomach and a hankering for a pint of something.

That's the way it goes when vacationing in these parts.  By the time our party of three heads up to our cottage atop the Burren the sun is setting.  And then all of the sudden it's midnight, or one or even two and we have to consciously declare the day over so we can get up and out by 11:00 tomorrow for another day of fun.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Tasty Pasty

If you've ever traveled to the UK you may have tried the meat pies on the menu of many pubs.  My sister and I were big fans of them when we were there a few years ago.  A warm pastry, filled with meat, vegetables, and potatoes- could there be anything better? 

Yes.  It turns out they taste pretty darn good with a cool, British brewed beer.

Tonight I was lucky to get a taste of both, sort of.

The Pure Pasty Company of Vienna, VA serves authentic, award-winning pasties, just like those served in Cornwall, England.  These hand-held meat pies were popular among Cornish tin miners in the late 16th-19th century.  It provided workers with a hearty meal that was easy to transport.

Perhaps it's best served with a Newcastle Brown Ale.  Tonight it went well with Guinness, because, after all, it is an Irish kind of weekend, right?

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Getting to Know You

My 6th grade students have been working on their own "Slice of Life" writing challenge.  Students are required to write at least 10 "slices" during the month.  They can also challenge themselves to write at least 20 days or really increase the ante and write each day of the month in hopes of writing for the next 100 days.

This is only my second year doing the end of year writing challenge.  My colleague has been doing it for years...and trying to get me to do it as well.  The only thing I can say is, "Wow! What took me so long?"

In my opinion, the over-emphasis on data has taken the fun and connections out of the classroom.  The expectation that one will keep pace with their grade-level colleagues means worrying about how one will keep up with the others if she/he takes time out to talk a bit in class.  In short, it's hard to get to know each of my 111 students over the course of five 42-minute classes.

Thankfully, the March writing challenge has allowed me to get a glimpse into many of their lives.

School violence is on the minds of many, as is having to learn about puberty in health class.  The science videos this week were characterized as creepy and most students are not fans of Daylight Saving Time.

Hey 6th graders!  It's nice getting to know you.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Bring It On

My cat is staring at me.  Yea, Edgar is sitting smack dab in front of the television glaring at me with his large green eyes.  I'm pretty sure he knows that the perch he's picked is making it difficult for me to see the news.

We got back from a visit to the vet's office about an hour ago.  The poor cat, he had no idea anything about his daily schedule was going to change.  Perhaps wondered why dinner wasn't served at the usual time.  Maybe he even noticed the cat carrier had appeared out of nowhere. Even if Edgar was smart enough to figure out what was up for his evening,  he certainly wasn't expecting the cold wind blowing into the carrier as we made our way to the car.

He probably wasn't considering the possibility of rectal thermometers, a harsh light in his eyes, nail trimmers, or eye drops.

Sorry, dude.  

On the bright side, he got extra food for dinner.  And even though I could move him from his current perch I won't.  Let him glare and make my life a tad miserable. I clearly deserve it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Pile-up in Alexandria

I recently told a neighbor that I have a high tolerance for living in mediocrity.  I can ignore a squeaky door, loose knob and a little bit of dust and clutter for quite some time.  Eventually, those little things add up and reach the tipping point.  That point comes at different times, as it is totally dependent on how busy I am with work.  

September is a tough time in the world of teaching so if one was to walk into my house unexpected at the end of that month they would definitely be shocked to see just how mediocre things have become in my home.  

March brings a little more light.  Not only is there more daylight, but there's also a light at the end of the tunnel of the school year that I can just make out.  So, it's about this time of year that I start looking around at all the things I'd like to clean up or out of my house.

Spring Break will allow me to get a start on things.  First to go will be sweaters.  With daffodils and forsythia in bloom, my body practically repels the thick sweaters taking up space in the closet.  I'll allow a few to stick around until next year, but anything that has lost its shape will be gone.  

Once summer comes I'll go through each room in the house in search of things that don't belong.  Donation bags will find their way to Goodwill.  Trash bags will multiply and make their way to the curbside for pickup.  With any luck, August will uncover a cleaner, more orderly household.

Before I know it, September will arrive and along with it will come the start of the next pile-up.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Where I'm From

Saturday afternoon, with a few hours to kill before meeting my niece for dinner in DC, my sister and I went down the rabbit hole.  

Christmas of 2016 found my dad and I spitting into a small test tube that would be sent off to Ancestry so the scientist people there could analyze our DNA.  The good news is that my father is most definitely my father.  Not that I ever doubted that, but can you imagine the kind of sticky situations a test like this may provoke?

My father has always been the one interested in the genealogy of the family.  He's gone pretty far back on his mother's side.  Far enough back that I was able to pay a visit to the grave of my distant relatives while in Ireland a few years back.  With all that information readily available I decided to dig into my mother's side of the family.

My maternal grandmother's family came from Germany, so feeling a bit intimidated by a language barrier I opted to look at my maternal grandfather's English relatives, the Middletons.  My mother was a tad worried.  I guess she was thinking I might find out something she didn't want to know.

She shouldn't have been concerned.  It seems my grandfather's family has been in Maryland since the mid-1600s.  The first pilgrims arrived in Maryland aboard two ships, The Ark and The Dove that landed in St. Mary's City in 1634.  I'm still trying to figure out if the Middleton that came over on that voyage is in my ancestral line, so I can't say my family has been around since the first settlement.  

I spent most of Saturday afternoon trying to figure out how my "immigrant relative" ended up about 60 miles north of that settlement by the year 1672.  Many roads lead to my 8th great-grandfather but I can't find that road that got him to Maryland.

So, even though I can't explain how that first Middleton ended up in Maryland at least I can understand why I feel such a connection (and longing) for my home state. Maryland- it's in my blood.

Sunday, March 11, 2018


If we're counting nays and yays in regards to Daylight Saving Time I'm going to cast my vote for yay, even though it takes some getting used to.

I went to bed later than usual last night.  After a late dinner with my sister and niece, I still had a slice of life to post.  By the time my head hit the pillow, it was about 12:30, although I made a mental note to consider it 1:30.

I was up at 8:00 with a confused Fitbit telling me I slept for 5 hours and 42 minutes.  Surely, that wasn't correct but everything is a little off as my body adjusts to the different flow of lightness and darkness.  The biggest adjustment will come tomorrow morning when my morning wake-up/get to work routine will once again be completed in darkness.

Over the last few weeks, I've enjoyed the early morning sunshine that greets me as I walk to my car.  Tomorrow's darkness will be a shock to the system.  In the end, patience will pay off, as it will only be about 30 days until that walk to the car is once again done in daylight.  As long as I can hold on to that future promise of light I think I'll be okay.

When that day does arrive, around April 9, I'll let out a "Yay!"- the same way I feel about DST.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

This Isn't My Mother's Monkey Wards

My first bra buying experience took place at the local Montgomery Wards.  I was whatever age you are when your mother decides it's time to buy one, so she was there as well.  We were wandering around the undergarment section of the department store when without warning my mom pulled a small white bra from a box on the shelf and strapped it over my clothes, around my chest, to check the fit.  I don't think I could have been much more embarrassed at that age.  I think that first experience must have really done a doozie on me, as I have never enjoyed the bra buying experience.

Until today.  Today my sister and I wandered into a nearby Jockey outlet store.  We were given a warm greeting by the salesperson who offered a free pair of underwear if I got a free bra fitting.  Well, I needed both, so why not?  These days fittings take place behind clothes doors with tape measures and plastic cup moldings.  Yes- it's a long way from my mother's "over the clothes" fitting technique.  Within 30 minutes I was out the door with everything I needed.  And even better, everything was on sale.  Now that's what I call a great shopping experience.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Is it Friday Yet?

Meley slid into her seat in homeroom this morning.  Her arms were crossed tightly across her chest.  Her posture dropped into a slump as her head hung down. With eyes half shut she yawned, "I feel like this school week has lasted 9 days."

I woke up at some point in the middle of the night and convinced myself it was Saturday.  I smiled and thought about how great it was going to be to sleep late.  The next thing I knew my alarm was blaring the arrival of another workday.

No one else said a word.  The other 10 students in the room at that time merely yawned and nodded in agreement.

You said it, sister.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Welcome to the Team

It's a mere two weeks until Spring Break and all my colleagues and I can do is talk about the very small possibility that Sunday may bring a snowstorm, and in turn (hopefully) a snow day on Monday.

My grade level team at school has worked together for quite awhile.  Science teacher Alex, Social Studies teacher Anne and I have been together for 12 years. Special Ed teacher Starr came on board a year after I started so the four of us have been together for 11 years.  As our working relationships have developed so have friendships.  We've celebrated the good things like a wedding, graduations, babies, and grandchildren.  We've also helped one another through the tough times that come with divorce and sickness.  I consider myself lucky to have such a great team of people to work with each day.

One other thing we've come to share is our love of winter weather forecasts.  We're serious about the winter weather.  The run of the mill local news forecast just won't do for us.  Our weather trust goes to only one outlet- the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang.  We don't ask about the possibility of snow.  Oh no, that's just silly.  We prefer to throw around terms like the European Model or the NAM.

Today as we chatted at lunch about the upcoming storm our new math teacher threw in her two cents worth.

"I was looking last night and I really like the look of the European model."

"Oh my god, Kelly," Alex smiled, "If you start talking about the GFS I may scream with joy. You are definitely on the right team!"

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Music Teacher and More

Class Pets.  That's one thing they don't teach you about in graduate school.  I suppose if I am considered responsible enough to spend all day in front of a group of 10-year-olds certainly I should be able to handle 2 gerbils as class pets.

Should be, but a teacher shouldn't have to walk in early one morning to find one gerbil going all cannibalistic on the other gerbil.  My family- we weren't really "pet people".  (See Praying Mantis story for more on that.) So when I happened upon the utterly disgusting sight a mere 20 minutes before my students were to arrive I was at a loss for what to do.  I mean, I knew what I needed to do- I just wasn't sure if I could do it.

The thought of reaching into the tank to snag the partially eaten mammal was more than I could stomach.  So there I stood, peering into the gerbil habitat, my stomach churning and my right eye wrinkled in disgust.  I may have stood there for the next 19 minutes praying for a miracle if the music teacher hadn't walked in right when I needed her.

"Mary," she interrupted, "I need to talk to you about changing the kids' music schedule today."

"Cora Lee, you can do whatever you want.  Change the schedule in any way you please, if you will just remove this dead gerbil from the cage."

And with that request, the music teacher grabbed a paper towel from the sink, plunged her hand into the tank, and plucked out one limp, chewed-on gerbil.

She must have noticed the shudder that went through my body.  Sensing my surprise at her quick action she responded, "I have a farm.  Dead animals are not a problem for me."

I had always been amazed at the way Cora Lee got a group of 5th graders to make music, good music, from a collection of glass bottles.  After that morning I was amazed by another talent of hers as well.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Settling the Score

Fifty years later it's hard to say whose idea it was.  Who, in their right mind, would pass off the responsibility of the class Praying Mantis to the unsteady hands of a 5-year-old kindergarten student?  Is it something I volunteered to do?  Or was it one of those responsibilities that everyone shared?  I remember other kids returning on Mondays with the small cage and insect in tow, so maybe it was one of those "everyone gets a turn" things. 

Did the powers that be know that at my house we'd already said goodbye to my brother's two water turtles?  Did they know that their demise was caused by human error?  I won't go too much into the story just because my mother hates when we talk about the time she left the turtles in their shallow bowl on the radiator...because she didn't want them to be cold.  Yes. That happened, but it was the 60s.  I mean we weren't even wearing seatbelts or bike helmets back then, so it was a survival of the fittest kind of time.

The Praying Mantis didn't make it back to school after the weekend.  Losing that insect was tough.  Back then the word on the street was that they were an endangered species so it was illegal to kill them.  I can't say that I was worried about the legal ramifications of my failed caretaking back then, but I took the loss hard.  In fact, it's one of the top memories of my Kindergarten year.

If only my 5-year-old self could have had a glimpse at the future.  If only I would have known that some thirty years later I'd be given the opportunity to make up for that loss.

I was in my early years of teaching when a colleague brought me what I thought was some sort of odd seed pod to show the class.  If she told me it was any sort of insect egg I wasn't listening because I placed it on top of the back shelf next to a bunch of other science-like artifacts and forgot all about it.  I forgot all about until I was forced to reckon with a cracking insect egg with upwards of one hundred tiny mantises scurrying about. 

The sight of so many tiny mantises crawling all over each other in search of warmth and a chance at life was an overwhelming sight at 7:00 AM.  Once I figured out exactly what was happening I jumped into action and tried to save as many of those nymphs as I could.  I can't be sure of the exact number of survivors but I know it was more than one.

Hopefully, that settled the score.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Challenge Accepted

Last year, at the urging of my colleague over at Walking the Dog, I introduced the 100-day writing challenge to my students. For the months of March, April, May and part of June students are asked to write in response to a variety of challenges.  Last week I introduced the "slice of life" challenge for March and provided with the details of the longer 100-day challenge.

Just like last year, the students who jump in with both feet surprise me.  Marcy is a student who struggles in school.  Her reading scores are low and homework completion is spotty at best.  She is often chatty during class making her a tad difficult to work with at times.

The writing challenge has allowed Marcy to show a whole other side of herself.  Not only has Marcy written each day thus far, she's also taken the time to comment on the posts of her fellow slicers.  

It's impossible to say how the next two months of writing challenges will go for this young writer, but that's okay with me.  Seeing her shine this past week has reminded me that there's a writer in all of us.  Being in a classroom community that brings that out is a pretty cool thing to be a part of.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Spring is in the Air

The sun was out in all it's glory today and the wind gusts I experienced most of the weekend had subsided to a gentle breeze.  A few branches littered the grass and street but I barely noticed them.  I was taken, as usual, with the sprouts of color that were popping up everywhere.

Across the way, my neighbor's yellow daffodils danced in the breeze.  Purple crocus added a pop of color to the brown soil near the stairs leading to the street.  Maroon buds could be seen on the tips of the branches that hung down above the cars lining the road.

All of these signs of spring reminded me just how beautiful DC is at this time of year.  Talk of Cherry Blossoms has begun as the National Park Service has announced the best guess for when the blossoms will reach their peak around the Tidal Basin.

The photographer in me looks forward to those blossoms and hopes that their peak coincides with sunshine, stillness and a Saturday or Sunday.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

To The Mattresses

The Baltimore Washington Parkway is a 34-mile stretch of road that connects the nation's capital to the nearby city of Baltimore.  I've traveled this road north and south between the two cities many a time in the 30 years I've lived in the DC area.  I'm originally from the Baltimore area so there's always a reason to be heading in one direction or the other.

This afternoon I found myself driving north on the parkway to take a friend to the airport. Traffic was slow in the usual places and for the most part, it was the usual scenery that I've come to know.  But then I spotted a truck pulled over on the side of the road.  That's not so odd really; it was the load of 5 mattresses stuffed standing up in the back of a white pickup truck that caught my eye. 

Okay, maybe 5 mattresses stuffed standing up in a truck isn't that unusual.  On its own, perhaps it's not.  But then as I returned to my home after the airport drop-off I spotted another truck, this one blue in color, with a load of 7 mattresses, maybe 8, stacked one on top of the other.  That's when my brains started churning.  Were these two sightings related in any way?  Where were all these mattresses going?

I continued on my way thinking about the hazards of the mattress stack.  The winds of yesterday have died down but I have to assume the breeze that is blowing could certainly create some sort of havoc.

Further down the road, about 25 minutes away from my home, I noted a car up ahead.  Tied tight on the roof were a mattress and a box spring.  

Seventy miles of driving.  Fourteen mattresses.  I'm not sure what it all means, but I'm wondering if there isn't a production of The Princess and the Pea somewhere nearby.  Or could it be that there is a helluva sale going on that I don't know about?

Friday, March 2, 2018

Marching In With A Roar

March roared into town overnight.  The howling winds, with gusts in excess of 50 mph, tested the root strength of the large tree outside of my bedroom window.  I listened from the relative safety of my bed as dry leaves swirled and distant wind chimes rang frantically.  Needless to say, it was a restless sleep.

My 5:00 AM wake-up time came much too soon, but fortunately the sound of the early alarm also brought a change of luck.  Schools were closed today, meaning there would be no classes for high school students and no parent-teacher conferences for the rest of us.  With a smile on my face, I rolled over and watched the sway of the branches at the top of that old tree until I fell back to sleep. 

The wind continued to blow and gust throughout the day.  Thankfully, the tree out back stayed in place and the power stayed on, making this unexpected day off a nice start to the weekend.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

To the Moon, Alice!

Last October, on a whim, I adopted a kitten- making me one cat short of a crazy cat lady.  Well, crazy if you consider three to be the magic number signifying feline insanity.  

Alice arrived on a Saturday afternoon- much to the surprise of the resident cat, Edgar.  It wasn't exactly a warm welcome.  In fact, the first sound out of Edgar when he spotted the new gray kitty, was a short, low growl punctuated by a quick, to the point, hiss.  Alice, not one to be easily rattled, perked up her head and jumped down to get a closer look at the older black cat.  She's been doing her best to follow him around ever since.  Edgar, on the other hand, has been doing his best to keep her at a distance.

Quiet evenings at home are often interrupted by a quick cat tiff.  Alice chases Edgar.  Edgar growls and takes a swat at Alice's head.  The chase continues and before long there is a ball of cats rolling around the living room floor.  Alice thinks they're playing.  Edgar thinks having a younger sibling is nothing short of a pain in the ass.

Eventually, the activity quiets down and Edgar settles in for a nap on the back of the couch.  Alice waits until Edgar's head is tucked under his paw signifying he's asleep.  It's only then that she curls up right next to him.

After all, he is her best friend.  Eventually, Edgar will feel the same way.  Until then, the fur will keep flying.