Sandra Boynton’s whimsical animals have been delighting kids for 40 years – The Washington Post

I love this profile of children’s book author Sandra Boynton. Mentioning it at family dinner tonight elicited gleeful reminiscences of the favorite books the kids read (and were read) when they were little.

Sandra Boynton lives on a farm in rural Connecticut. She works out of a converted barn, surrounded by pigs in overalls, frogs wearing cowboy hats, a clutch of bemused chickens and a few skeptical sock puppets.Standing there, you get the feeling that at any moment they might all come alive and break into a high-stepping song-and-dance. Which they probably will. Because this is Boynton’s world, and in Boynton’s world, animals do whatever she wants. And what she wants them to do, mostly, is make her smile.

Source: Sandra Boynton’s whimsical animals have been delighting kids for 40 years – The Washington Post

The N&O called him an ink-stained traditionalist. Watch what happened next!

Courtesy North Carolina State Archives

I spent my lunch hour tromping through the woods, showing the N&O’s Craig Jarvis the ruins of Isaac Hunter’s tavern. Craig had discovered my posts on the tavern and wanted to see it for himself. When my vague, emailed descriptions of the spot didn’t get him there I offered to take him there myself. After five or more minutes of us ducking under fallen trees and getting all turned around, I practically cheered when I found the foundation stones again! Craig was just as excited as I was, snapping photos on his phone and pondering how it all once looked.

I was happy to share it with him and didn’t think twice about meeting him there. I don’t know anything about the story he’s writing nor do I know (or particularly care) if I’ll be mentioned in it. What matters to me is that he’s telling the story of a place that was very important in making Raleigh what it is today.

OK, so maybe I was a little hard on the News and Observer. I know the paper has to adapt to changing conditions but I do not want to see the coverage dumbed down just to generate more clicks. I also don’t want to see journalists forced to pimp their articles just to remain in good graces with their boss. But I absolutely do want journalism to succeed. I want the News and Observer to succeed.

I also want the spinach. Lots of spinach. I want local coverage, even if it means fewer clicks. Tell me about the city’s budget, and about the controversy surrounding the latest audacious development project. Let me know about disagreements between city and county officials. Convey the complex jargon of transportation plans (rail realignments, commuter rail plans, etc) in terms I can understand. Be firm but be fair.

So while I was very, very close to canceling my N&O subscription again, I will give the paper’s new plan a chance to prove itself.

But don’t expect me to like the clickbait headlines, ok?

Running for my life


Update 11 Aug: I fixed a few of these stats, thanks to actually checking Strava this time. 🙂

Fifty-two times this year, I’ve hauled myself out of bed in the morning and shoved one foot in front of the other in an effort to get healthier. That’s a total of 158 miles so far this year. It wasn’t a new year’s resolution thing but simply a challenge to myself to see if I could do it. Somehow I’m still sticking with it, showing some real improvement in my stamina and my speed. I just ran a mile this week in 8:03 (averaging 9:40) and when I began on March 8th I averaged 11:01.

How’s my health doing? I definitely have more stamina for exercise now and enjoy those endorphins post-run. Running’s become a habit, so that’s good. I’ve dropped most of my flab, too. Last weekend I was pleasantly surprised to find my swim trunks are now too big for me. That said, I still run out of energy late in the day and have been hitting the sack well before 10 PM many recent nights. I’m hopeful that’s just jet lag residue from my trip to Las Vegas last week so hopefully it’s just temporary.

You can follow my progress on Strava if you like. I’ll follow you back (and cheer you on, too).

Frank St. Sidewalk is finally here!

Frank Street sidewalk is a reality!

At first I didn’t believe her. My friend Dana Deaton sent me a message and offhand at the end she asked me “have you seen the sidewalk at the end of Frank Street? It’s a miracle. Thanks for your work on that project.”

Wait, what? WHAT? You mean, the City of Raleigh finally put a sidewalk in on Frank Street? It did not matter that I had just driven 150 miles from the beach and had yet to unpack, I had to drop everything and take a look at this miraculous public works project.

It was over five years ago that I pulled out all the stops to convince the City to install this sidewalk. In 2012, I filled out the city’s petition, knocked on the requisite doors, and came within one vote of success. That one vote, though, was impossible to acquire, even though I went the extra effort to show what it would mean to the neighborhood kids and their parents.

I begged. I pleaded. I charmed. And when that didn’t work I may have even pestered a bit. A bit.

But I never gave up. I could not let this one vote deep-six a project that would be so beneficial to the community.
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Somehow I went from a social media producer to a consumer

A colleague will soon be working in Australia. It reminded me of my visit to the country eleven years ago, and how I crafted several blog posts to describe my trip. Such as this one:

We bought tickets for the jetcat ferry to take us to Manly, where we could walk to Bondi Beach. The ferry provided gorgeous views of the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, and my personal favorite: the sailboats racing through the harbor! It was cruel to pass these beautiful sailboats as they raced across the water, all the time knowing I didn’t have time to join them! I can’t remember a harborside city I’ve visited that had more sailboats in the water.

Clinton was amused at my happy trigger finger. “Settle, nettle!” he chided me as my camera whipped around this way and that. With a grin he reported eleven shots taken of a passing sailboat.

“Cut me some slack,” I said in defense. “You gotta understand. Not only can I not believe I’m here, it’s been winter for me for the past few months. I’m soaking all of this up!”

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Mike “Bo” Boran

Mike “Bo” Boran

Speaking of Herndon High School, last month one of my favorite teachers at Herndon, Mike “Bo” Boran, passed away. Bo was my Government teacher in senior year and a great listener to his students. Before he went into teaching, Bo was an up-and-coming musician whose former bandmates went on to form The Mamas and the Papas. I was always blown away by this.

The advent of Facebook gave me the ability to reconnect with Bo and I enjoyed hearing what was on his mind. He still remembered me after all these years. He was particularly impressed that my great uncle was Fred Turner, of Gideon v. Wainwright fame.

Bo inspired me and so many other students who were lucky to be in his class. He made it easier for me to survive high school and taught me to have a clear view of what was really going on in government. I am grateful to have known him.

Bo in The Smoothies, upper left, performing as Michael Rand

Oh Columbia, you haven’t aged well

2400 Bee Ridge Road, July 2016.


As an IBM Brat I moved around a lot as a kid (the inside joke is that IBM stands for “I’ve Been Moved”). This made it tough for me to think of home those times I was homesick while in the Navy but it also sort of locked in a time with a place in my memories. In my head, the places I’ve lived will always have a strong association with the brief time I’ve lived there.

Such is the case with Columbia, South Carolina. Columbia was my home for my 3rd grade to 7th grade school years, or 1979 to 1983. There was an actual city with Columbia, different than coming from Spanish Fort, Alabama, though our neighborhood of Spring Valley in northeast Columbia was definitely suburban. Spring Valley is a relatively wealthy, gated community with a private security guard and country club. My brothers and I would walk together with no attending parents to elementary school at Lonnie B. Nelson and we would ride our bikes all over the sprawling neighborhood to visit friends. It was a great place to grow up and provided me with important opportunities that helped make me who I am today.

My Uncle Bill’s death last year provided me the opportunity to catch a new glimpse of my old neighborhood as my brothers and I drove through on our way to his funeral. We lingered long enough to take photos of our old home and our school before continuing on, driving out Two Notch Road to continue our journey on I-20.

During my time there Two Notch Road was the big commercial road, leading from Spring Valley to the new (in 1979) Columbia Mall. Even then it was dotted with the ubiquitous flashing-light-arrow advertising signs, fast-food joints, and the like. These business would sprout up like weeds – wherever they could and seemingly with no thought to how they all fit together.
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