Archive for November, 2012

November 25, 2012

A Quiet Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving weekend has almost come to a close. It was a quiet holiday, but there was much to be thankful for. After a wild fall of weather, a quiet weekend was both welcome and relaxing. We spoke often of those who were not with us–or we with them. Of course, Alex topped the list. Ferd was right there with him. As I set our dinner table, I thought of Bobbie and used her silver as a way to insure that she and the memories of Thanksgivings past were well represented. It was sweet to reflect on last Thanksgiving and our fun visit to the Kuntz’s and Dawson’s at Lake Geneva. It was equally sweet to think of Frosts from Florida to Michigan, Texas to Georgia and the good times we have enjoyed together in the recent past.

I give thanks for my beloved spouse, for my three amazing children, for Dakota who makes me smile, for my extended family, for my friends both new and old, for my job and the security and sense of accomplishment it brings, for my crafts and the joy they give me, for good health and enough to eat and a roof over my head. I am thankful for my good fortune and mindful of those who have suffered especially this fall with the storms and I hope for the best for them.

Monday will bring the everyday rush and cares. The crazy run up to the Christmas holidays, but for the balance of today, there is time to savor and reflect.

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November 21, 2012

A Day In the Life of a Sub

The life of a substitute teacher can be surprising. Calls may come through for upcoming dates allowing for orderly planning and a clear expectation of responsibility. Calls can also come through at the last moment and they can carry surprises.

Substitute teachers may well be accredited for a particular subject area, but that doesn’t always mean that’s what they end up teaching. Just last week Jim had been hired well in advance to cover for the high school science teacher. Since Jim is a bit of a Renaissance man, he was quite happy to be teaching his pet subject. For the first time ever, he was free to expound on all things scientific and get paid for it. He had a lot of fun and I just bet those kids were pretty surprised that they had a substitute who was knowledgable, engaged, eloquent and quite interesting. Did I also mention loquacious?

It can, however, go the other way as well. Take Monday for instance. The phone rang around 6:30 a.m. and suddenly Mr. Chips was The White Shadow. Our favorite English teacher was called to take over for the girls high school phys ed teacher! Okay, so that isn’t quite the plot of the tv series, but I can take liberties.

He dashed around the house assembling his wardrobe and in the end he looked just like a gym teacher! He even found his whistle!

Of course, just because you look the part, it doesn’t mean you get the role. No sooner did Jim arrive at school looking the very image of the puissant phys ed instructor, he was reassigned. Reassigned to teach Italian! All he could really say was, “Do I get to keep the whistle?”

November 8, 2012

Visiting Royalty

We’ve had some truly lovely weekends lately, but none has been as completely delightful as one we enjoyed in mid-September. That was the weekend when we had the honor of entertaining visiting royalty.

Jim’s mother, Betty, has always had a soft spot in her heart for our house in CT. She has loved the Spring House since she first saw it and, when we visited them in Michigan in August, she expressed the wish to come visit. With Jim’s sister, Linda, in accompaniment, Betty and Bill came to visit for a long weekend. Linda was along to help them negotiate the trip, but having her was an extra delight. Linda hadn’t visited us in CT since the Big 50th Anniversary Celebration which took place the year Ellie was born (1993). She had never seen our house in Rye Brook I don’t believe.

Betty, Bill and Linda arrived on Thursday and spent the first day and night in Rye Brook. We had a lovely dinner and Peter was able to join us. Then Jim drove up to CT with Betty, Bill and Linda Friday morning. Ellie drove the green Subaru down from Smith. Peter and I were able to join them later Friday night arriving just in time for a nostalgic dinner at the Venetian. We had a delightful evening at the big circular table in the lovely front dining room.

The weather was ideal. The trees were just getting some color and the air was warm and had that early fall hint of falling leaves and changing seasons. We went to the Norfolk Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning and had a lovely sightseeing drive around the area. We all enjoyed just hanging out and chatting, reading and there was some napping done as well. Jim broke out his telescope which provided both entertainment and a novel view of the sun. It was perfect to have everyone with us with the exception of Alex. We had hoped he would be able to Skype us, but his training in Twenty-nine Palms was extended so we were unable to connect.

Saturday evening we dined at home. Sunday we enjoyed a big brunch and then everyone enjoyed sitting on the patio in back in the sun. Sometimes doing almost nothing is all the entertainment one needs.

After two delightful days, Ellie headed to Smith and we all drove back to Rye Brook. We had a last evening together before the intrepid travelers headed back to Birmingham. It was a hugely successful visit all around and we couldn’t imagine one thing to make it more perfect.

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Well, maybe if we had the entire Frost clan together–that would have been more perfect. That’s for another day. Heartfelt thanks to Betty and Bill for making the trip and the hugest thanks to Linda (daughter and sister extraordinaire) for joining in and making it both possible and even better!

November 2, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

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While we have all assumed Sandy was a woman, I would point out the “Sandy” can also be a man’s name. In either case, this will not be a popular name for a baby for quite some time.

As proof that I truly did not understand the storm to come, I had the excited, fevered thought that perhaps we would have a “snow day!” I don’t think I was alone in completely not understanding what Hurricane Sandy would do. Or that I would end up with five snow days.

We were driving back from Maryland. We had driven down on Saturday to visit Alex. Back east for special training, we had thought the five weeks he would spend just hours south of us would provide multiple opportunities for visits. Halfway to Maryland, he called to say his team would be working both days, all day, during the weekend. The storm threatened their training schedule and they needed to make up the time they might miss from a packed and expensive training session. We were already committed and continued driving despite our disappointment in the greatly reduced hours for basking in his presence.

We had a lovely evening; a good dinner and Alex said good night. He had a big test Sunday morning and needed to get in some study time. Sunday morning when we went for coffee, the wind was already picking up. Seeing Alex again would mean waiting until after 4 p.m. and driving home in the rain and beginning of the storm. We decided that it was time to head home and batten down the hatches—an all too apt phrase given the enormous storm surges and winds about to hit the East Coast.

What I am so thankful for. Of course, I am so thankful that our house is unscathed. Having lived through the catastrophe of downed trees crashing into the house spearing Peter’s wall with a powerful thrust and totaling the car, littering the yard like giant match sticks with fences and bushes crushed underneath, I see the other homes with damage and feel tremendous sympathy. I am thankful for hot and cold running water. What a huge difference it makes to have water for washing and cooking and drinking. I am thankful that our gas stove and oven work. What a luxury to have hot food. We have nothing to complain about. I am so glad that it isn’t the dead of winter and the chill in the house is not threatening pipes even though, as time goes by, the chill is less easily defeated with a warm sweater or fleece. Actually, as you can see in the photos, I am wrapped like a giant grape in a fleece bag which Jim gave me years ago. It was always too warm before, but it feels fantastic now.

Silence. It is so silent. All the noises we never notice and take for granted are gone; the sound of the furnace and the hot water heater; the sounds of cars passing by and the big trucks on I-287 braking by downshifting; the faint wail of the train whistle as it passes through Port Chester station; jets taking off from White Plains and passing overhead. The only noise during the day is the sound of chain saws as frenzied crews try to remove enormous trees and gain access to repair the downed lines for power and phones. Slowly the noises creep back, but it remains strangely quiet.

I do not miss the noise of the storm.; the howling and gusting wind which bashed against the house and caused the roof to creak ominously. I do not miss the fear I felt looking at our two plate-glass doors and worrying that a branch or object would crash into them, shattering the glass and leaving us victims of the storm’s raging. I do not miss the sudden banging noises when something flew into the house and we wondered what had come loose. I do not miss the feeling of being helpless in the dark just hoping that the night would end and we could see what had happened outside.

With each passing day, the lack of heat becomes more uncomfortable. There are no crews in sight to restore our power and I expect they have been busy in the city. Who would imagine that the entire south end of Manhattan would flood and be without power? It defies understanding. Walking around our neighborhood, the destruction is immense. Huge trees lying across roofs, power lines hanging useless in the air, yards unrecognizable under piles of branches and tree trunks, it all represents a huge toll on many, many people.  However, all that pales against other tallies: the increasing count of fatalities, the hundreds of homes burned when firemen couldn’t reach the fires, the hundreds of thousands of damaged homes, the flooded towns. It is on a scale rarely seen in our country. Even as the clean up continues, Hurricane Sandy leaves questions in its wake. Is this a new weather pattern? How do we minimize the damage from future storms? Is this our future?

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