Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Late Show

The day was warm enough, 74 degrees, so we thought we'd take a walk around the Tidal Basin. Because there is barely a bud, much less a blossom, on any tree in the area, I was surprised by all the traffic down there. We circled the entire basin once looking for parking and then settled on Lot B, beyond the 14th Street Bridge and next to the train tracks at the top of Haines Point.

A short hike later we joined the throngs walking beneath the bare branches of the cherry trees. Sure, there were port-a-potties aplenty, and concession tents, and even a lone singer on the festival stage performing to one or two folks dotting the otherwise empty rows of wooden benches. In the white pop-up souvenir shops they had cherry blossom pencils, cherry blossom key chains, cherry blossom tote bags, cherry blossom puzzles and phone cases and scarfs, cherry blossom magnets and ornaments and lapel pins, and they even had cherry trees in tea tins to take and plant on your own, but those were the only cherry blossoms in sight on this day 12 of the three week festival.

As we sat on a bench under what will be a spectacular bough in a week or so, a woman approached us. "Can I ask you a question?" she started. "What's up with the cherry blossoms?"

We laughed, feeling a little apologetic for our home town. "They're late," I shrugged. "It's been kind of a cold spring so far."

Far from being disappointed, she seemed relieved. "I knew it!" she said. "My friend said we had to go to a special place to see them, but we couldn't figure out where."

"It's here," I told her, "it's just not now. It's supposed to be warm this week, though, so they might be out a bit this weekend," I added hopefully.

She waved her hand. "Just in time for us to leave!"

Monday, March 30, 2015

Technically Lost

34 minutes. That's what the GPS app on my phone said the trip down to the nature park would take. We'd been there before, but not for years because of the annoying policy about dogs on the boardwalk trail, which is definitely the best walk in the park. Even so, the warmish weather and sunshine called for an outing, and this place seemed like a good choice.

As we headed south into outer suburbs we don't often frequent, I checked my memory against the step-by-step directions my phone was spewing. Sure, traffic patterns change-- roads are widened, lots are developed, but midway there I wondered at what possible evolution might be guiding our route. On we drove, though, and when at last we turned into a subdivision of squat red brick ranch houses that seemed untouched since 1968, I knew that we were either going the best way ever, or we were completely off track.

Three blocks and a left turn later, the GPS told us we had arrived. Sure, there was grassy field and some woods beyond, but we were on a dead-end street in a sketchy neighborhood. I pulled over, and phone in hand sought to make sense of our location, but time and again, the map app insisted that we had arrived.

Finally I gave the screen a vicious pinch and scanned the network of roads around us. The names were unfamiliar, but there was something about the dog leg that one of them took on the far side of the shaded green area that represented our desired destination that jogged some distant memory, and with that I snapped off the phone and headed out, my own navigator once more.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

I Always Dance When the Movie is Over

It seems like not so long ago that our house was often filled on the weekends with children, and we still have many of the toys and craft supplies to prove it. We got a chance to pull all those fun things out of the attic today, when we did a little babysitting as a favor to our friend Susan.

Ellie, 6, and Abby, 3 spent the afternoon while their parents and Aunt Susu went to a play and early supper to celebrate their mom's birthday. The girls know us slightly, mostly as Isabel's people, but they settled in easily and quickly to what promised to be a fun few hours.

Following that teacher maxim that it's better to plan too much than too little, we had a lot of options for them when they arrived. Frog and butterfly cookies were baked and ready to decorate, the playground up the hill was a must-do destination, there were also DVDs, shrinky dinks, and bracelet kits, but it was the Play Skool barn and plastic tea set, that got the first squeals of approval.

And the fun rolled on from there. The cookies were elaborately sprinkled, and we used the tea set to enjoy them with ice water and strawberries. The playground was next, mostly to burn off some of that sugar, and those girls did not disappoint-- they ran the track, drove the fire truck, and flew the space ship for nearly an hour and a half. Back at home, they chose the movie The Lorax to relax with, and at the end, Abby sprang up and invited us all to dance with the end credits, which we did, gladly.

"Noooooooooo," they cried when their parents came to the door. "We don't want to go home! We want to stay here forever!"

We rolled our eyes and laughed, and helped pack them up to go, but man! I totally knew what they meant.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

A Little Chicken

I couldn't just buy a rotisserie chicken. No. I bought a chicken and planned to cook it myself, which I've done hundreds of times. But there was the rotisserie element. I had it in my head to serve and eat a chicken golden brown all around, crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside. I have a rack I bought a few years ago that lets one cook a chicken standing up. I've used it outdoors, but 34 degrees was just a little chilly to fire up the charcoal, and so I removed a couple of racks and punched in 400 convection roast. As the oven preheated, I slathered my organic chicken with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and the popped that bird in. "Should there be smoke pouring out of the oven?" Heidi called up the stairs a little while later.

Doors open and fans venting full blast did not prevent the smoke alarm from going off. Smoke has been detected in the hallway. Evacuate the building, it warned in between the harsh repetition of its clarion horn. I dashed for the step ladder; the cat passed me three times looking frantically for an escape, each time her fur and tail were bigger. At last, I removed the batteries I had placed in there not long ago, so sure they would only keep us safe in an emergency.

An hour later, quiet prevails, the chicken is finishing in the oven, but we have yet to see the cat again.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Fried Peppers

Oh dear! My little pepper sprouts missed another spritzin, and things are not looking good for a good third of the crop. I know that's why we over plant, and if they all thrive we'll be swimming in peppers come August. But survival of the fittest seems so harsh, especially to one who spends her days nurturing young learners with the expectation that none will be left behind. Oh, I gave my peppers a little extra boost to perk them back up, and I have high hopes they will be reaching for the lights come morning, after all, they don't call it Miracle Gro for nothing. Do they?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Like a Lamb

Oh, how I will regret saying farewell to the month of March when we turn the page on the calendar next week!

Sure, April with its longer days and mild weather takes a giant step toward summer vacation, but come fool's day, the daily reflections from my slice of life friends and students will fall like cherry blossoms in the warm spring breeze: there will be no more regular meditations on snow days, swim meets, bowling, laundry, road trips, murderous hawks, and heros until the lion roars in 2016.

I'll miss them!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Sharp as a Claw

We were a little concerned when the cat didn't eat her dinner last night. We don't run an "all-you-care-to eat" joint for our pets; they are fed a measured amount twice a day, so in general, they eat quite enthusiastically at meal times.

Since our cat is getting on a bit– she was around two when we rescued her 11 years ago– such an incident is a wee bit worrisome. Or it was, until we went upstairs and found that she had heaved open a 15 pound dresser drawer in order to retrieve and tear open a bag of treats.

She was just too full to enjoy her dinner.

I guess she's not declining that much at all.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Free and Appropriate

When I was in college I took a variety of six-week courses to fulfill my PE requirement. Weight training, racquetball, golf, and bowling were all on my schedule at one time or another. Despite the requirement part, I enjoyed all of those classes considerably, and it wasn't until after I graduated that I realized people paid good money to access such recreation. I suppose that's what you get when you go to a school that also has its own ski hill, but I still kind of think that exercise, especially fun exercise, should be very affordable, if not free.

Fortunately, bowling fits into that category, or at least it does if you're a group of a hundred sixth graders, and today we took advantage of that opportunity with a field trip to the bowling center located on the army post not far from our school. The kids had a blast, but it seemed as if many enjoyed the snack bar even more than the actual bowling. In fact several kids were looking a little green as we gathered our group to go back to school.

It was nothing that a little fresh air and even more exercise couldn't cure, because even if bowling isn't free? Walking is–

and today we logged ourselves three miles,

round trip.

Monday, March 23, 2015

What Senior Moments?

I forgot to write avocado on the grocery list this evening, and when I remembered I forgot, it reminded me that I had also forgotten to water the pepper seedlings currently residing in our powder room and check their grow light. As I spritzed the sprouts, I considered what else may have slipped my mind. I'm pretty confident there's nothing else pending at the moment.

It's a system.

It works.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Big Guns

When in doubt, you're never too old to call your mom.

I was busy in the kitchen cooking dinner when Heidi came in with a pair of winter white cords. "Help!" she cried, "I think these are ruined." She flipped one of the legs over to show a washed-out gray splatter pattern staining the calf. "This must have happened in the slushy weather earlier this week," she sighed. "I want to Google it, but I'm not even sure what to call it."

I shrugged sympathetically. "Road salt? Snow stain?" She sat down at the computer and began her search, but it must not have gone very well, because the next thing I heard was the trill of FaceTime.

Heidi was consulting an expert who lives in a place where they get a lot more snow than we do– my mother in Minnesota. Mom was not too optimistic, especially since they had been through the dryer, but she suggested oxyclean as a possible solution.

They said their good-byes and Heidi dialed up a second opinion– another expert who also lives somewhere with a lot of snow and slush, her own mother in Buffalo, who recommended taking the pants to the cleaners.

With a sigh, Heidi ended the call. The experts had spoken. "I guess I need to find something else to wear tomorrow," she admitted.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Faint Vision

My glasses broke the other day, and I have been out of sorts ever since. I don't keep a spare pair, because my eyesight is really not that bad, and the prescription for my trifocals would attest to that, were it not expired. And that's the problem, see: I can't get new glasses without an eye exam, and my eye doctor is going away for two weeks starting Monday, so the first available appointment with her, or anyone else in the practice, is the week after that.

That leaves me in my cheaters until late April or early May, and while they do the trick with little things, they just aren't the same. My whole world is a little out of focus, and consequently?

So am I.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Hide and Sequel

As popular as it is, I confess that I have only read the first volume in the Divergent Trilogy. Oh, many of my students swear by the series, and all the copies in my classroom library are tattered from constant circulation, but I never got past the first few chapters of the second volume. No worries, though. The movie is coming out today, and as much as I encourage students to read the book before plopping down in front of the silver screen, this time it will be me on the edge of my seat because I don't know what's coming. To be honest? Sometimes I prefer my movies that way.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Key Note

On one of those rare, out-of-school opportunities, I attended a professional development workshop today. Presented by Apple trainers, the class was also held in one of their offices about 45 minutes from my home. I wasn't sure what to expect, but when we stepped off the elevator on the sixth floor, the bright halogen lights, white walls, and natural wood floors were very familiar to one who has been to several Apple Stores.

Pushing open the floor-to-ceiling glass doors, we entered an office suite with a wall of windows and several Apple products on display. We were directed to a presentation room down the hall, which was essentially a 40 seat theater with a gorgeous, massive, wall-sized flat screen monitor, a side bar set up with several Macs, a cart with 25 iPads and 10 MacBook Airs, and a simple white board.

It was funny to see that they were using AirServer to mirror their iPads, just as we do at school, and a little disheartening to see a typo on the title slide for the presentation. Three hours later, I had learned a few things about writing iBooks for and with kids; the time spent was not a waste.

But it was even later in the afternoon when I heard the news that Apple is planning to introduce their own television service this fall that I could really see some exciting potential– imagine watching TV with that set up!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


I like to think of myself as, if not a true foodie, at least foodie-esque. How can it be, then, that on a list of 30 places to eat in my home state of Virginia before you die, not only have I not eaten in any, but I don't even recognize a single one of them?

I guess I'll have to turn in my membership card, but I'll do so with the words of Groucho Marx:

Please accept my resignation. I don't want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Grow an Inch

Oh, St. Patrick's Day in middle school...

The last few years have offered us a reprieve through snow days and weekends, but pinch-mania was back in full force today and worse than ever it seemed, possibly because of the down time. I myself made sure to wear green this morning, as being properly attired gives more authority to your authority when you shut the pinching down.

And shut it down I had to. Beginning with my walk into the building this morning, when several kids were skittishly jigging about while others rubbed their arms and cheeks ruefully. They were only too happy to point out the culprit, who I knew well– she is in my homeroom– a student spiritedly sporting a white t-shirt with kelly green sequin letters.

Her gray zip-up hoodie was blocking the letter 'O',  so it appeared that her shirt said "Hell,"and I said as much as I made it clear to her that there was to be no pinching at school. She in turn told me that the shade of green I was wearing was considered "garbage green" and didn't really count as green at all, which must be why I was ruining the fun.

I glanced down at my forest green fleece and asked her to come with me. There was no more pinching from her after that.

A little later, the boisterous energy with which my first period came in the door was a startling contrast to their usual 8:15 lethargy. Of course it was because of the pinching. Some students had taped green paper shamrocks to their shirts for protection; still others rolled their pant legs to more easily point out the wee green stripe on their sock; one girl wrote the word "GREEN" in marker on her forehead.

Before they resorted to tattoos or dropping trou to show off their teeny greenies, I made a general announcement about the wearin o' the green.

"How fun it is to celebrate St. Patrick's Day," I started through gritted teeth, "and yet not everyone cares to do so. Please respect their choice by not assaulting them." But alas my speech was too late.

"Ouch!" cried a girl in pink. "My shoelaces are green!" she continued indignantly.

"Out!" I pointed to the pincher. "I will speak to you in the hallway."

I got the class settled and to work and then stepped out the door to chat up the naughty leprechaun. To my surprise, he was not wearing a single thread of green. He was remorseful, though, and it was with tears in his eyes that he answered my question, "Why'd you do it?"

"Those people in green think they have so much power," he snuffled. "The whole thing is so dumb!"

I had to give him that.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Million Dollar Teacher

How thrilled was I to hear the news today that Nancie Atwell, my teaching idol, won the so-called "Nobel Prize" of teaching, the one million dollar Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize?


This year was the first for awarding what the foundation promises to be an annual honor for worthy teachers across the globe, and in my opinion, they couldn't have chosen a more deserving inaugural recipient. I have written a lot about Atwell in this blog over the years, including a reflection on the week my friend Leah and I spent with her in the teacher intern program at her school in Maine, and another on a workshop our school's whole English department attended.

I encourage you to click on the tag below to revisit a few of those posts.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Dog, Walking

Since we were heading to Union Station to pick Josh up  after his first ever college spring break, we decided to take another walk with the dog through our fair city. The sunshine today brought a lot more folks out than yesterday, and our route took us up and around the Capitol. As we strolled, Isabel was a bit of a star, especially with the children; lots of kids ran over to pet and hug her, and one dad even asked if he could take her picture with his toddler son. It was really no surprise to us, though. She was groomed earlier this week, and after a bath?

Her fur is as soft and fine as her temperament.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

An Evening Stroll

It was soggy to be sure, but not really raining, when we loaded the dog in the station wagon and headed downtown for a change of scenery and some fresh air. At 5 PM most of the museums on the National Mall were closing and so we had our pick of parking spaces. We chose one right across from the iconic red stone castle and started our walk through the gardens in the back.

Spring has not yet sprung– the beds were brown and barren– but the soft weather and mild air promised it would soon. We continued on our way past the sculpture garden (no dogs allowed) and on toward the Capitol. While waiting for the light to change to cross 4th St, I glanced to my left and, seeing the National Building Museum looming above the courthouse, suggested we turn there.

Threading the needle between the East Wing and the National Gallery to cross Constitution, up we climbed through John Marshall Park and on by the Canadian Embassy, around Judiciary Square, and into the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial where we were captivated by the all the lion sculptures. Another quick left and we found ourselves on the way to the Verizon Center. Left again, past the Crime and Punishment Museum, and after a stop at Red Velvet Cupcakes, we were headed back to the Mall via the National Archives and Natural History Museum.

An hour after we parked, we loaded our dog back into the car and headed home, clear-headed and full of appreciation for our hometown.

Friday, March 13, 2015

To Have and to Hold

Over the course of my career, I have been fortunate to be in the vanguard of educational technology. 20 years ago, I had a computer and printer actually in my classroom, when most of the others were in labs. I wrote a grant for a phone line and modem so that my students could have email pen pals back in 1996, and the same year I asked the principal for an LCD projector so that we might watch movies and view other electronic presentations in our awesome theater. Not too long after that, I had one of the first SmartBoards in our school, and I also introduced the document camera to the building (by offering to pilot it, of course!) There is a strong web-based component to my English class, and it's been years since final drafts of anything were hand-written.

I share this history not to boast, but rather to establish that I appreciate technology, and although I am not a digital native, I like to think I earned my citizenship a long time ago. Even so, the recent push to automate everything and go as paperless as possible does not sit well with me. Does something really exist if you can't see it without a charged battery? I think not. I'm a little too analog for a totally virtual world.

That's why the latest writing assignment my students are doing, collaborative stories written in letter form, will ultimately be published in tiny chap books, one for each author, and a couple for the classroom library.

I've showed the students how to assemble them as they've finished their pieces, and the reaction has been remarkable. "You mean we can have it?" one girl asked me today, incredulously. And when I nodded, she hugged it to her chest. "That's so cool!"

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Group Hug

It happens every year...

Like turns to love, and the students in my class go from somebody else's children to *my* kids.

I think you can see why:

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Fleeting Obsession

In the wake of the most recent snowfall, our dog has decided that she only likes to pee on snow. Anytime she has to go, she seeks out a patch of filthy slush and perches precariously on its icy surface to relieve herself. It's very amusing, this new neuroticism, and at eleven and half, she's earned a few eccentricities, especially those that can't last.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Open Doors

I searched my email for the keyword "door" this afternoon. I know. It seems odd, but we're having a door poster contest at school, and I wanted to review the "rules" to make sure the creation of my homeroom students was regulation, since they chose to focus on one book each with a quilt motif, instead of one for the group. As pleased as the kids were with their labor, I'd heard a little pushback from a couple of adults.

My query returned 31 results from September 2011 until yesterday, ranging in topics from albinism to wrestling to adolescent development, the main entrance to our school, and the contest in question. There were also a couple of messages from poets.org. Whenever I subscribe to their poem-a-day, there are always so many that are too good to delete, and eventually I have to unsubscribe so my mailbox won't overflow.

One of those poems I treasured was To the Thawing Wind by Robert Frost, but I had no recollection of it and so clicked on it today to refresh my memory. It started like this:

Come with rain, O loud Southwester!
Bring the singer, bring the nester;
Give the buried flower a dream;
Make the settled snowbank steam;
Find the brown beneath the white;
But whate’er you do tonight,
Bathe my window, make it flow,
Melt it as the ice will go;

Astonished, I looked up from my monitor and out the window at the rain melting the snow. How could a poem published 100 years ago be so fresh and relevant?

How could it not?

In the end, I needn't have bothered with the mail search at all– the colleague running this friendly competition complimented our poster this afternoon and shrugged off my question about qualifications with, "Yeah... They're pretty loose."– but I was glad I did.

Monday, March 9, 2015


"Can we write a song to go along with our quiz?" a student asked me this morning.

I raised my eyebrows in confusion. Was this some kind of DST hallucination?

"You know, like a jingle," he explained.

The class was working on activity where they have a set of question starters organized in Bloom's taxonomy, from lower to higher order thinking skill. Their task is to compose a five question quiz based on the memoir we are reading. Each question must be from a different category and they also have to provide an answer key. Then they give the quiz to another student (and take one that someone else has composed), grade the quiz that they created using the key, and have a conference with the other student about the results. 

It's a waaaay better assessment than most any I might create, mostly because they are very engaged in the activity, which brings us back to the student this morning.

"Sure," I told him, and when he handed his draft in for me to check, this was scrawled across the top of the page:

Yeah, yeah, take the quiz baby, yeah!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Redistribution of Time

There's one day a year when I barely need think about what my topic will be when I sit down to compose my thoughts to write, and that day is this– the dreaded dawn of despicable daylight savings time. The challenge has become how to freshly frame my rant.

Fortunately, an Internet meme making the rounds today perfectly expresses my opinion of this outlandish construct:

Only a fool would think that cutting a foot off the top of a blanket and sewing it to the bottom would make the blanket longer.

Well said, World Wide Web, well said.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Minor Detail

Heidi's old friend Tom is in town this weekend. The two of them went to grade school in Buffalo together, and then in one of those small-world twists, he and my brother-in-law worked together for a time in NYC. Back then, whenever we drove up to the city to see Courtney, my sister, Heidi would give Tom  a call, and the five of us would meet up for an afternoon or evening. The food was always good and the conversation fast and funny, and we passed many fun hours together that way. 

That's why my brother-in-law was a little surprised when he and Tom were talking about Thanksgiving. "Courtney's mom will be there, and her brother and his family, and Tracey and Heidi," he told Tom.

"Why are Tracey and Heidi spending the holiday with Courtney's family?" Tom asked.

"You know Courtney and Tracey are sisters, right?"

Turns out, that was a surprise to Tom, one that we still tease him about all these years later. "Well," he laughed tonight when it came up for the umpteenth time, "that did clear things up for me!

Friday, March 6, 2015

I Can Dig That

The air was crackling clear and the sky the sharpest blue when I headed out this morning to pay the price for our four day weekend. Six inches of snow cloaked my car and even deeper drifts cupped the tires to their hubs. Fortunately the snow was light and powdery and easy to shovel, but even in mittens my fingers stung from the cold as I bent, scraped, lifted, trudged, and dumped. Oh, I could have had help– there were willing hands inside– but once I started I kept at it. The sun on my face and cold air in my lungs was exhilarating, and my fingers warmed as my heartbeat rose. From the woods I heard the chitter and trill of a bird and turned to find a single robin perched on an icy branch, waiting, perhaps, for winter itself to be brushed away like so much snow.

Thursday, March 5, 2015


The fact that school was canceled today has not kept me from my appointed rounds. No, my students have been posting their slices of life all day, sending news of igloos, sleds, and snow ball fights, and I have been right here, in my pajamas, even, replying to each of them, in between baking bread, making soup, watching The Sopranos, and reading by the fire.

According to CNN, virtual school days in place of snow days will likely be a reality in the near future, and as a teacher I have mixed feelings about it. There's no denying the magic of waking up to a world of white and finding that school is canceled and spending the day outside playing in the snow and inside playing in the warm with your friends and siblings, but some of my students today wrote about being bored at home with nothing to do. For them? It's pretty much a waste of a day.

Certainly, there is middle ground; with a little thought and planning, any online activities can be flexible enough to offer learning but also to leave time for play and relaxation. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Company You Keep

I've been teaching sixth grade so long that I am often accused of acting like one of my students. And that's why you teach middle school, friends and family will say in response to, for instance, my pointing out that they said, "do do" (as in, what we do do in that situation is...)

I don't mind though; heck! I consider it a compliment. If you're only as good as the company you keep, well, my company is energetic, creative, open-minded, spontaneous and funny. I could do so much worse.

Bonus: With a little extra time at the end of class today, a student leaned on my desk. "So," he started, "why can't you hear pterodactyls when they use the bathroom?"

I was stumped for a moment, but then I began to laugh. "Does it have anything to do with silent P?"

"Yep," he answered as the bell rang.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


I try to provide a wide assortment of books in my classroom library so that every student can find something good to read. Recently I added Meanwhile, by Jason Higa, a graphic novel in choose-your-own-adventure format. It was immediately a big hit, but how could it not be, with thousands of options, all stemming from the simplest of questions, Chocolate or Vanilla? From there, the main character, Jimmy, heads off on an amazing adventure featuring a mad scientist, mind control, and a time machine, all controlled by the reader's choices on every page.

Just today several students in one of my classes were excitedly talking about it.

"What book is it?" another boy asked.

"Meanwhile," they told him.

"Oh yeah," he nodded. "I beat that book last year."

"Wait, what?" someone said, "How did you beat it?"

"Easy," he shrugged, "I got the happy ending."

Monday, March 2, 2015

And Would Suffice

We were homebound yesterday, trapped in a glittering prison of ice. (Or, as one of my students posted in his slice, Elsa has hit us and everything is frozen!) As pretty as it was, we had a few errands left un-run at the end of the weekend.

Not to worry-- sub-freezing temperatures overnight preserved the skating rink quality of most sidewalk and streets in our district, and so school was canceled. Out came the sun around 9 AM, and balmy temps of 41 banished most of the ice by 10, turning our ice day into a nice day for catching up on chores!

And it was definitely not the end of the world.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Ice and Fire

The weather here today is both treacherous and beautiful: a wintery mix has encased everything in a solid coat of ice. Although it is nearly impossible to leave the house, the crackling fire offers an awfully convincing argument to just enjoy the view of the sparkling world without from the chair between the window and the fireplace.

I think I will.