Delights: November 25 to December 1

November 25: “What in the world is a switch?” I asked. Pausing his explanation about the decline of the NBA “big man,” Nate grabbed two yellow water glasses and two red soda glasses and began to move them around. “Screen; switch.” The red glass moved right and the gold glasses swapped places. Again: the red glasses set a screen and the yellow glasses on defense adjusted. A final red offensive play; a final gold defensive response.

Nate’s hands moved deftly across the restaurant table. But Jeremiah had a question. Kevin, Nate and I leaned in. “Which is my Diet Coke?”

Bonus: Happy Birthday, dearest Nathaniel. You are a gifted teacher and a kind and generous man. I love you dearly. 

Happy Birthday, Nate! You’re still adorable.

November 26: I’d noticed a few months ago that someone had weeded and re-sanded the old horseshoe court in a quiet corner of our neighborhood park. Today, platters of food and a tournament bracket rested the adjacent picnic tables. Two men sat at a scorer’s table midway between the “pits,” two men pitched horseshoes, and the other players — one in a straw hat — watched the competition from folding chairs. Three wives chatted nearby. 

I stopped by to say hello to one man working the grill, who told me that the tournament was conceived a month ago by a neighbor; today’s spectacular weather was a bonus. The players, food, and tournament bracket were still there three hours later (the wives had gone home). I wonder if I should have stayed for the award ceremony.

November 27: In addition to being the date of the First Annual Thanksgiving Horseshoe Tournament, yesterday was Small Business Saturday. Each year I help out at our neighborhood book store, aptly named One More Page, by greeting customers, offering assistance or gift-wrapping. 

Today I recommended — and people bought — these wonderful books: 

* The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, by Daniel James Brown

* World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments, by Aimee Nezhukumatathil 

* Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, by Olga Tokaczuk (Noble Laureate and one of Jeremiah’s favorite authors; this short quirky novel features a cranky narrator investigating why her neighbors keep turning up dead)

* Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead, by Brené Brown

I hope those families have a festive holiday season! Meanwhile, I bought a few books of my own.

Now this is a “decision tree” I can actually use!

November 28: I sat in my coffee shop next to a 15-year old boy and 15-year old girl. I paid them no mind until I heard the boy confide to the girl,“Your parents terrify me.” 

Eventually, the girl said goodbye; the boy lingered a bit. I almost asked why her parents terrified him, but thought I shouldn’t add to his impression of moms.

November 29: Again this year, my bookclub gathered at Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens to enjoy Christian Dior-inspired Christmas trees, an exhibit of Princess Grace’s Dior wardrobe, and a delightful café luncheon. We marveled over Russian Imperial porcelain, Fabergé eggs and jewel-encrusted chalices. But we saved time for the most important things: book talk over beautifully iced cookies in the members’ lounge and, well, a visit to the gift shop. I walked away with autumn-themed soap, dish towels, lotion and an apron — $15 poorer (!) and infinitely ready for next Thanksgiving.

A Dior-inspired Christmas tree in the French Drawing Room at Hillwood.

November 30: Helicopters buzzed overhead between the Pentagon and CIA headquarters, so I raised the volume of my head phones as I walked. But the deafening sound actually came from the birds. Intrigued (and helpless), I turned off my audio book and listened to the racket. Hundreds of birds perched on a score of trees that stretched bare-limbed behind a dozen houses. For nearly half a mile, the birds practically shouted at each other — and me. A helicopter buzzed back. I’m happy to report that the birds were louder.

P.S. Walking home, I spied a hawk high in a barren tree, about two blocks from the avian cacophony. I wonder where she’d been an hour ago. 

This miniature oil painting at Hillwood is the size of a 3×5 index card. I’d never noticed it before.

December 1: “I like your purse,” a fourth grader said to me as we walked through the hallway. “Is it my tassel?” I asked. Before the first girl could respond, a second girl chirped: “Ollie the Octopus!” A third girl looked baffled. “You know, like a cheese stick,” the second girl explained. That didn’t help.

The second girl — and now I — recalled when at lunch one day I told the story of Ollie. A student had asked me to help her open a mozzarella stick. I pulled apart the plastic and handed it back to her. Then I told about a family vacation in Florida when four-year old Nathaniel had brushed aside the mozzarella stick I offered him as a snack. My snack supply was perilously low and we were still an hour away from lunch, so I turned to magic. 

Gripping the bottom of the cheese stick, I peeled eight strings of mozzarella until they flopped in a circle around the base. Nathaniel watched, fascinated; I was getting closer, I thought. Then I flipped the stick upside down, flailed the strings in a little leggy dance, and squeaked, “Hi, Nathaniel, I’m Ollie the Octopus. Eat me!” Nathaniel recoiled in horror. “Yum, yum,” I tried again, foolishly making the cheese wiggle a bit more. “No! No! No!” Nathaniel wailed, “I can’t eat OLLIE!” 

And he didn’t. Announcing that he was no longer hungry, Nathaniel watched as I carefully wrapped Ollie in a napkin and laid him in my snack bag. Fortunately, Nathaniel did not watch as, a few minutes later, I popped him into my own mouth.

Hillwood cookies in the members’ lounge. Too pretty to eat!

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If you’d like to browse my past delights, please consult the “word cloud” featured at the very bottom of this post. Find a theme or two that interests you and sift through the sands. Or learn a bit more about my Blog by visiting my Welcome page. You’ll also see links to four essays that were published in print magazines. I’m glad you’re here!

This Hillwood Christmas tree nestled inside a metal frame of circles and lines, perhaps evoking “the Cut” of Christian Dior’s line.

16 thoughts on “Delights: November 25 to December 1

  1. Hillwood Estate looks a lovely place to visit. What a fun week filled with all sorts of things…from a new sporting tournament to the lovely story about the mozzarella stick (and of course the book shop).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, my friend! The week unfolded in unexpected ways. I’m so happy to share it with you.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Now that’s the Nathaniel I remember. My goodness, do I feel old! I hope he had a spectacular birthday.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love this, Carolyn. Yes, he looks very different, but he’s still sweet in his own way. I’ll pass along your salutations!

      Like

      1. Thank you for sharing the joy and beauty of your week. And happy birthday, Nate!

        Like

  3. Does Nate read your blog? Is he about to find out that, all those years ago, his mom murdered poor, defenceless Ollie? Poor guy could be traumatised!! Great anecdote, though!

    I love the “decision tree”. Wine, chocolate and books, my idea of heaven…as long as it’s red wine, obviously!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You ask a good question, Mr. P. I don’t know if Nate reads my blog, so my secret might still be safe! (You’re so funny to think of that!) And I’m with you on the books, chocolate, wine decision tree . . . and there’s plenty of red! (“Read?”)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Those cookies do seem too pretty to eat, but I expect I would have succumbed to their sweet call. Nathaniel was indeed adorable—happy, happy birthday! But I do wonder…did Jeremiah find his diet coke? Love that bookstore. Will be adding Did You Plow over the Bones of the Dead to my TBR list.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Laurie! I’ll pass along your birthday greetings to Nate. And I do think Nate figured out which glass was Jeremiah’s Diet Coke — his question made us all guffaw, though!

      I’m glad you’re intrigued by Drive Your Plough Over the Bones of the Dead (the poetry of William Blake figures too, from which the title is taken). I was surprised how much I enjoyed it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I am swooning over your book club gathering … I imagine myself in this beautiful venue with the stunning Christmas trees, cute cookies and lively book-focused conversation. What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wish you could have been with us, Ju-Lyn! Our book club doesn’t meet in December, so this Hillwood “Christmas + cookies” has become an annual tradition. Every time I go to Hillwood I see something new. (And the baked goods are almost as pretty and tasty as what you and Younger Child create!)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi, Carol Ann – I especially love the Book Decision Tree.
    Wishing a very happy birthday to Nate!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Donna. I agree: the bookstore’s Decision Tree is so witty. I’ll definitely pass along your compliment to the artist (and your birthday greetings to Nate). I’m glad you popped by!

      Like

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