Saturday, April 8, 2017

Inch One Hundred Sixty-Five: Small Connections

Mary Poppins by Mary Shepard 
We are still in what I call attendance season: the span of months from October to early May in which three colleagues and I at Court spend much of our week mediating attendance matters in four school districts. I am only the mediator; Vikki, Lisa, and Stacy, in addition to mediating, also meet with students individually on an ongoing basis throughout the year. Between the three of them, they will have over 3000 contacts; add 300 mediations and you are talking a lot of work.

A. Whole. Lot. Of. Work.

It goes without saying that I am tired. I am invigorated by the pace but exhausted. Early May cannot come soon enough. Coffee with friends has gone by the wayside. Other appointments are squeezed into the cracks between the mediations. (Actually, it is the other way around. I set appointments that I cannot move—Aunt Ginger's hair appointment, for example, or chemo—and then wedge mediations in around them.) And the three colleagues I work with are going at my pace and beyond.

So what does this have to do with small connections? Stay with me.

Christopher Robin & Pooh by E. H. Shepard
Warren has been playing in the pit orchestra for an area high school's musical, "Mary Poppins." I went to see the show last night. Let it be known that I am a huge fan of the books by P. L. Travers. I am not a fan of the Disney movie, which removed all of the wit and wisdom of Travers and added a huge dose of saccharine musical numbers and dialogue. (Which is too bad, because Julie Andrews was excellent and would have been every bit as good, probably better, if she had the real Mary Poppins to play instead of the Disneyfied version). The musical version, still a Disney vehicle, is better, allowing a bit of the vinegar back into into the story, but it is still a far cry from the books.

Which is a long way of saying this morning at breakfast, after a late night getting home from the musical, we were discussing the show and certain scenes, and I jumped up to get my 80th anniversary omnibus edition of the Poppins books. (The revised Poppins books, because Travers had the good sense to remove some wildly racist writings, with apologies, and totally rewrite the stories, although she still missed a scene here and there). In thumbing through the book, I came across one of the line drawings that showed Warren what I was referring to.

In my tiredness, I looked at the drawing and thought "Shepard."

Toad by E. H. Shepard
E. H. Shepard illustrated all of the Winnie the Pooh books and The Wind in the Willows. His line drawings for many of us define what Pooh and Toad look like (hint: not the Disney version, either). But to my knowledge, E. H. Shepard had not illustrated Mary Poppins.

And indeed he had not. Mary Shepard had. Related? A quick Google search confirmed that Mary was the daughter of E.H.  E.H. was too busy to illustrate Poppins when it came time to find an illustrator. Travers claims she saw a Christmas card illustrated by Mary, liked what she saw, and the rest was history.

And my small connection today. Not dot to dot, but line to line, drawing to drawing, book to book, father to daughter, Milne to Travers, Pooh and Toad and Mole to Poppins and Jane and Michael.

We were having a later than usual breakfast this morning due to a later than usual night out last night due to the musical. We were having a slower than usual breakfast because it was Saturday and neither of us had to rush to the office or to a school or to rehearsal. Warren and I have not seen a lot of one another the last few weeks because of rehearsals and work and mediations, so we took the time to talk and smile and savor Margo's homemade English muffins (a birthday present to me) and reconnect.

Connections. Some big, some small, all just right.


Darla said...

Connections! I've missed you. I'm without computer much of my time these days. Not a bad thing except I miss a few of my online friends. I read back through a few posts to see what you have been doing. Connecting my own dots. Enjoyed your reply to my post on Hillbilly Elegy.

Laurie said...

Homemade English muffins sound like a treat. It's good to notice connections, I think. Now you've got me wanting to read Mary Poppins. I'm not sure I ever did.