Sunday, April 17, 2011

Thermo Cats Story

Do you remember…? This is a favorite topic when gathering with my family. I have so many memories of my childhood home—both bitter and sweet. My favorite is one I call “Thermo Cats.” When I was growing up my family tried to conserve energy and our finances by keeping the thermostat set on the low side. The thermostat was on the hallway wall just around the corner from the kitchen table. It was about 4 ½ feet from the floor and had a gold dome with a round, toothed dial on the front that you could turn to adjust the temperature of the house.

For some reason our heat kept being turned up. Dad was angry and blamed us. My two sisters and I claimed our innocence while secretly wondering which one of us had done it. No matter what we said, Dad thought we were guilty until…

…One day we were sitting at the nearby kitchen table eating supper while the cats ran around the house like their tails were on fire. As if tearing up and down the hall at full speed were not enough to keep the cats entertained, (It was not a long hall as we lived in a five room ranch-style home at that time.) they started jumping up and swatting the thermostat on their way by.

Dad immediately realized that the cats were the culprits and we girls were indeed innocent. With much chagrin he quickly apologized! Forty years later, we still enjoy a satisfying chuckle when we recall this time of our childhood.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Maple Sugaring

The best part about spring in New England is maple sugaring! There’s nothing like sipping the slightly sweet, slightly maple-y sap out of little paper cups. Step into a sugarhouse and it’s as if you’re stepping into a maple-sauna. The cloud from the evaporator steams your glasses and you can’t see a thing! But the smell…heaven!

Over the years, my family and I been to several sugarhouses but our favorite one is Maple Corner Farms in Granville, Massachusetts. ( Not only do they have a fabulous sugarhouse, they have a full restaurant set up as well. You order at one counter and they give you a wooden carved maple leaf with a number or letter on it. Take a seat and wait as patiently as you can for the wait staff to deliver your breakfast! Trust me, it’s worth it.

The most amazing thing about maple syrup is how it is made! I find it astonishing that it takes about 50 gallons of sap to boil down for one gallon of syrup! The Ripleys, owners of Maple Corner Farms, hope to produce 1,000 gallons of syrup this season! That’s a lot of sap!

The nights are freezing; the days are warm. Sap is flowing. Maple season doesn’t last long—get to a sugarhouse before you miss out!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

April Fool's Day

I don’t like April Fools’ Day…I love it! It is so fun to pull simple pranks on people. I don’t do anything hurtful, just mischievous. This year I started small: just pointed to the floor and said to children walking by, “Be careful!” They looked down and I said, “April Fool!”

Prior to the children arriving yesterday, I set my big plan of the day in motion. I left a note for the school secretary to call my classroom at 10:15 AM. At the prearranged time, the phone rang. “Hello. What? If you say so. Thank you,” I said into the receiver. I told the students we had to evacuate the school but not to worry. We were going to the high school to wait for their parents to pick them up. The best thing, I continued, was the milk shake machine in the high school cafeteria. We’d have a treat while waiting.

So we packed our bags and put on our coats. We walked to the cafeteria. My students sat at a long table and looked at me expectantly. I leaned forward and said, “April Fool!” They were angry, which I expected. Nobody likes to be made a fool. I had also lost their trust. I knew I would have to do something to gain it back. I decided to tell them we were having a pizza party after lunch. I knew they wouldn’t believe me, which they didn’t. But that was the point.

Meanwhile, the kids pranked me. They put on band aids dotted with red marker and told me they got a really bad paper cut, used red marker on facial tissues and told me they had a bloody nose, and hid under my desk. They tried to get me to look out the window or go out into the hallway but I didn’t fall for everything they did.

With some help from a coworker, they got me--twice. When I got back from ordering pizza, they were sitting in the wrong seats, pretending to read silently, trying not to giggle. We had a good laugh and got back to work. Soon it was time for lunch and I reminded them to not eat too much as we were having pizza after. “Yeah, right,” they all said, very skeptically!

After lunch we settled in and played a game of division bingo. When the secretary came in the door with a large pizza box, their eyes lit up, their jaws hit the floor, and then they yelled, “Yay! We really are having a pizza party!”

At the end of the day they got me again. My coworker told me the principal wanted to see me in her office. Those words struck doom in the pit of my stomach! Was I in trouble due to my hijinks of the day? I reluctantly went into the office and asked where the principal was. The secretaries jumped up from their desks and shouted, “April Fool!” They were in on it too, apparently!

When I got back to the classroom I told the class, “You got me good!” We enjoyed a good laugh and all agreed it was a fun day. It was a welcome relief from the tension of our high stakes testing and as some kids said, “This was the best day ever!”