Back to School: Weekend Show and Tell

Okay, so I’m not technically going back to school this year.  It’s been a few years since I bought my favorite notebooks and pens before heading off to new classes.  I love school supplies though.  Love.  And I love the feeling of a new school year.  It was always bright and hopeful and exciting on that first day.

So to honor my love of back to school and all that it involves, here’s a show and tell of our weekend visiting Norfolk:

Blue BellThat is the single best picture I can imagine to explain the weekend.  I grew up in Texas, and Blue Bell ice cream hasn’t been available where I’ve lived since I moved away from Texas after college.  Since 2006, Blue Bell has just been a part of my past–a delicious, wonderful memory.

Not this weekend.  Blue Bell came to the Hampton Roads, Virginia area right before we moved away.  But, well… it’s kind of expensive.  It isn’t too expensive for celebrating with friends though.  We splurged on Blue Bell this weekend, and it was perfect.  There’s nothing like a weekend in a place that still feels a little bit like home with friends who feel like family and a bowl of ice cream that tastes just about perfect.

Peanut as SiAnd that picture is a merging of two of my favorite things–our dog Peanut and Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty.  Sometimes when I have a few spare minutes, I do things like give my dog a beard and glasses from the Duck FX app (which is free, and thus was downloaded instead of the more popular Beard Booth app).  I had a few spare minutes this weekend.  Those minutes were filled with coffee and friends and walking on the beach and long, flowing dog beards.

SquashThis picture is something we came home to–new home.  Our garden is doing alright.  Not everything has sprouted (there were two planting days, a few weeks apart), but the squash and the corn and the peas (Beans?  I always forget.) are thriving.  That is a close-up of some new leaves on one of the squash plants.  They’re healthy, and if plants had feelings, I think they would be happy, too.

It was a good weekend.

Crossing Guard Action

art by George Hughes, cover from Saturday Evening Post

Today is the first day of school for lots of kids in the area.  I forgot until this morning that that also means something for me.  It means that my friendly, neighborhood crossing guards are back.

There are two crossing guards on my way to work–one near my house and one a few blocks from the library.  They wouldn’t be a big part of my life if I tended to leave earlier for work, but I don’t and they are.

The crossing guard by the library is particularly memorable.  She has a neon vest, hat, gloves (complete with mini-stop signs on the palm), a different color neon belt, and shiny reflector shoes.  When it’s rainy or cold, she has neon gear for the appropriate weather, too.

The amazing amount of gear is actually only a small part of what makes this guard memorable.  The real craziness is that she’s posted at a spot where I’ve only ever seen one child (or person of any age) crossing the road.  She thinks she’s in charge of traffic regardless of whether children are crossing the street, and she often gives conflicting messages.  She’ll tell you to go and then angrily gesticulate at you when you do.  Or she’ll make you stop when there aren’t any other cars in the area.  Or, and this takes the prize, she’ll tell you to go when a child is in the cross walk.  That one didn’t happen to me, but it did happen to a co-worker.  Now my morning commute will require an extra deep breath or two, that’s for sure.

While I’m practicing my deep breathing, I’ll also be ignoring the fact that I’m an empty nester.  You watch them grow up (for an entire month and a half), and then they leave you.  Sigh.  I’ve been officially sans-roommate for 44 hours.  I’m very much looking forward to eating straight out of the giant yogurt container again and leaving laundry in the dryer for weeks, and my body is grateful for the extra sleep that might happen now that wedding planning isn’t part of my life.  None of that is really a substitute for having a good friend around though.

Maybe I’ll invite the crossing guard over.  We can become friends, and then I can gently suggest that she take a refresher course in crossing guard duties.  Or I could make her stay up so late talking that she’ll be too tired to work zealously the next day.  See, there are plenty of options if you’re resourceful.

I Dub Thee “You’ve Got Mail Day”

I’m revamping the “About” section of the blog day, so check it out and pretend it’s another post if you’d like.  It will be a couple of hours between this moment and the moment when anything is changed there, however.  Patience, grasshopper.

And now for the promised You’ve Got Mail moment.  That’s one of my all-time favorite chick flicks.  If you missed Meg Ryan mania in the 90’s, the movie is about a cute-if-slightly-bookish New Yorker who often feels insignificant and wonders what she’s doing with her life.  She runs a bookstore that her mother ran before her, and her life is turned upside down (just like the Fresh Prince) when a Barnes & Noble-ish store opens down the street from her.

Before all of the existential questioning and falling in love happens, she and an email pen pal share their feelings about fall.  Here goes:

Joe Fox: Don’t you love New York in the fall?  It makes me wanna buy school supplies.  I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.

After which my inner dork sighs.

I was one of those kids who couldn’t wait to start school every year.  Whether I was homeschooled or went to “real” school, I couldn’t contain the joy of having a fresh, blank notebook and a few new pens.  I organized my supplies just so in my bag or on my desk, and I waited anxiously for that first day.  Books and friends and more books were waiting for me just around the corner.  There were tests to conquer, hours and hours of solid procrastination to cram in, and all sorts of other unexpected happiness to come.

A friend did send me a bunch of new pencils when I started grad school, and it was one of the best care packages I’ve ever received (Yours are great, too, Mom!).  There’s something about fresh school supplies that will always take me back to those moments when I couldn’t wait to go back to school.  School wasn’t about pressure or success then.  It was about a new year, doing the best you could, and reading a trillion books.  It was good.

[Picture by Merelymel13.]