When I became a Stenhouse author, I was thrilled to meet the Stenhouse family. My editor, Bill Varner, has become a valued friend as much as he has become a valued editor. It is always wonderful to be able to spend some time chatting in person. Usually, Bill is wearing many hats at a conference – checking in with all the authors, attending many sessions of Stenhouse authors, attending sessions of potential authors. It’s a busy time. Chandra Lowe is a joy to behold! Her smiling face and laughter, quick wit, and generous spirit will put the grouchiest soul in a good mood! Dan, Chuck, Nate, Lise, Maureen, Tobi (She was dearly missed on Saturday!) – spending time at the Stenhouse booth in the exhibit hall is comforting – the display makes you feel you are in a beautiful library! It was at one of these gatherings that I first met Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan.
Friday night was a special treat for my husband and me. We took a Uber to the North End with Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan. I was particularly looking forward to this part of the Conference trip. Clare and Tammy are special people, and I feel so fortunate to have forged a friendship with them. They make me laugh, get me to try new things, and make me feel that I can just be me, and that’s enough. I love them dearly!
When we arrived in Boston’s North End, Chris and George joined us. I quickly discovered that their husbands were equally fun and easy-going. Ralph and I learned how to play bocce. The object of the game is to roll your bocce ball closer to the jack ball than the opposing team. Each team has four balls, and after observing Chris and George, I realized you can do more than roll the ball. Bouncing, throwing, and banking your ball are all allowed! Although Ralph and I were new to the game, we vowed to find a bocce court in Philadelphia so we could continue to practice and improve our game!
We walked to Hanover Street and dined at Lucia Ristorante with appetizers of fried mozzarella bread and calamari. We exchanged stories, ate, drank, and laughed. But no time for dessert here. Instead,we made our way to Mike’s Pastry – unbelievable. The crowd on the sidewalk eventually made its way into the pastry shop. “Think about what you want to order now,” Clare advised. This Italian bake shop has ever cannoli you can imagine – straawberry, caramel pecan, chocolate-covered chocolate chip, limoncello, pistachio, and even expresso – as well as biscotti, cookies, cakes, gelati, marzipan, and tiramisu. Of course, we chose cannoli! The pastry was thin and crisp and the ricotta was creamy and delicious!
We’ve made plans to set a date in spring to return for a ballgame at Fenway, another Boston excursion, and of course – a bocce rematch! It is funny how you meet people who stay in your life, regardless of distance and circumstance, who you carry in your head and heart wherever you go. I am so very lucky to have Clare and Tammy as friends who are always with me, even though we live three hundred miles apart. I admire their friendship, the work they do as educators, and their generosity of spirit – particularly the way they welcome everyone to their “party” – the more the merrier. I think that’s probably how they work their magic with the students and the teachers they plan with and coach – that sense of belonging, of thinking and laughing and working together. Clare and Tammy create a family, in some respect, everywhere they go. And that is something to celebrate!