School Daze

Alley Springs One-Room Schoolhouse

This coming June, Ann Arbor will be hosting an all citywide fiftieth high school reunion for the various classes that graduated in 1972, Pioneer, Huron, St. Thomas, and Commie. Anne and I plan on attending. It is to be held the weekend after the week that we will host Frank and Kathy here in the Lou. After they depart, we’ll head north. Tentatively, we plan on extending our visit to the Great Lakes state, by after reunion weekend, heading further north and spend some time up at the cabin. June has always been a rather buggy month, so, we’ll see how well that goes. We’ve mentioned this reunion to a couple of our former classmates, whom we still converse with, Alice and Evelyn. I’m not sure if they will attend or not, but we’ll see. We spoke on the phone with Evelyn for some time last night. It was good catching up with her on all of the news of the world. Old friends, friends of long acquaintance are a treasure to be kept.

What a long strange trip it’s been…


It is with mixed emotions that I write this post. I have decided to officially retire from substitute teaching. In 2020, I would tell people, “I may have accidentally retired”, but now I’ve decided to go through with it for real. Just as MRH is getting ready for Tier 1 Learning, I am getting ready to visit my husband’s family in California. In 2020, we planned to fly and spend a week for Spring Break, now in 2021, we are planning on driving and spending about five weeks on the road. So that’s a happy emotion! On the other hand, I will miss working with all of you. I saw your passion and tried to emulate it. I saw your perseverance, and did my best. I saw your patience, and said a prayer, “Lord, please send me patience. And Lord, I really need it right now, ASAP! I’ve been amazed to realize that I have taught students, and now their children. I’m thrilled that former students have become MRH teachers! I’m humbled when parents recognize me as their child’s guest teacher. I’m lucky to have worked for such a great school district! The best thing I’ve learned is to have a growth mindset. So, even if I haven’t played in the WNBA, I can always tell myself, I haven’t played in the WNBA… Yet! ROFL.  — Anne

3 Ball Total Equilibrium Tank (Dr. J Series), Jeff Koons, 1985

By the Pale Moon Light

Waxing Gibbous Moon

So, how many Boomers does it take to change a lightbulb? Apparently two is the magic number. Earlier this week the bathroom’s fluorescent vanity light died. I tried to fix it, but no joy. I took down the old fixture and ordered a new one on Amazon. Anne painted over the bare spot left behind. The new fixture arrived and working as a team, we installed it, without too much difficulty. At 3200 lumens it is bright. I see the installation of a dimmer switch in our future. I also now see that we really, really, really need to clean the bathroom.

Mark: I cannot believe your blatant corruption. This is nepotism! The only reason that I got this job, is because I’m related to you.
Anne: Just takeout the trash, Mark.

Yesterday, we extended our neighborhood walk a bit and made it over to WashU. It’s not open for students yet, but it looks like preparations are well underway. We toured the Danforth Butterfly Garden again and there were butterflies there. Continuing on towards the park, we passed Forsyth School, a private prep school that also looked like it was getting ready to open. Half-a-dozen big white party tents had been erected on the lawn. It took me a while to realize that they were going to be used as open air classrooms and were not for some party. SLU the other big school opened last week and I expect that WashU will open next week. It will be interesting to see how they fare and how long it takes before the first inevitable Covid cases appear. Then it will be a question of what they do next.

Anne called her employer of record, Kelly and informed them that she would not be available to substitute this semester. There wasn’t too much likelihood that she would be called anyway, since the district is only opening virtually, but if it prevents even one early morning phone call that would be a blessing. There is still the other teachers though. Some have the habit of going outside of channels and contacting Anne directly and not go through the sub-scheduling system.

The weather has been unusually pleasant this week. Highs in the low eighties and not too much humidity. I could get used to weather like this.

A Butterfly Flaps Its Wings

Monarch Butterfly on a Mexican Sunflower

We mixed up our neighborhood walk some and visited Washington University. The campus was pretty dead, except for the bustling maintenance men. No word yet as to whether the school will reopen in the fall. We got as far as the DUC, which stands for Danforth University Center and doubles as the nickname for the cafeteria that resides within. Named after the former chancellor, William Danforth, brother to former Senator John Danforth, it seemed incongruous to have a legacy contracted to DUC, but somehow typical of students. On the way back we discovered the Danforth Butterfly Garden, which was named for wife Elizabeth. Finding it was an unexpected treat. It was filled with flowers and had an unusually wide variety of milkweed types.

Our normal walking path takes us through Concordia, a Lutheran seminary. All summer, it has been pretty dead too, but as of late there are cars in the parking lots again. No word yet as to whether it will open or not. Next week, Anne’s school district is supposed announce its fall plans. It’s anyone’s guess as to what they will be, anything from full virtual, to full classroom, to something halfway in-between. I’m pretty sure that Anne won’t be substitute teaching, but that’s not for certain either. She is keeping her options open, at least for now.

It seems ludicrous to me that reopening the schools is even under consideration. The pandemic is currently raging out of control, way worse than it was when the schools were all closed in the spring. Reopening the schools seems like pouring gasoline on an already burning fire. The reason of course that this is even a thing is that Trump wants to do anything to juice the economy, no matter what the cost in American lives, just so that he can get reelected. I can’t see why anyone would want to endanger their lives or even more importantly sacrifice the lives of their children on the altar of his campaign. Still, I’ll have to wait for what happens. If the schools do reopen and the inevitable illnesses, medical bills and deaths do occur, there will be holy hell to pay. I know of a couple of gun-toting personal injury lawyers here in town, who would be glad to redress any wrongful deaths with a lawsuit or two. Even WashU with one of the largest endowments in the country should take pause at that thought.

The Green, Green Grass of Home


So far, on this very rainy weekend, we have managed to get our walks in. Friday when we walked, it was threatening enough that there weren’t very many other people about, which in these socially distancing times, is kind of a blessing. On Saturday, the morning was so much nicer and there was a forecast for afternoon storms, meaning everybody and their brother were out-and-about. We bumped into neighbor and fellow cyclist Mary. She was out on her bike, while we were on foot. She was on her way home and warned us that Wydown was a zoo. We spoke with her for quite a while, as various other people moved around us.

Since because of the crowd that was out, we cut our walk short, well short of my desired steps. I then decided to mow the lawn. Which was a good idea, because it was shaggier than I had realized. Afterwards, I seeded and fertilized the front lawn. This is another of my gardening projects for this summer. There is a series of houses up the block that have beautiful lawns, perfect monocultures. When we walk by them I am green with envy, but not as green as their grass. I am hoping that by the end of he summer mine will more closely approach theirs.

As I was finishing up on the yard, a steady rumble of thunder could be heard. Checking the radar though showed that like Indians circling the wagon train, these storm cells continued to go around us. I wanted some rain to soak in the fertilizer. Eventually, only after dinner, the rain came. At first only haltingly, but then with more gusto. It continued to rain off and on through the night, waking me in the predawn with its steady beat. Flash flood warning boxes began to appear all around us. So, I guess that we have gotten enough rain. But wait, there is more coming. I hope that all of my new grass seed is not washed away.

We watched the Obama headlined virtual high school graduation ceremony on TV last night. I must say that I was impressed. (Did you really think that I would not be?) Barack’s commencement address was fine, well within the mold for such speeches. There were a couple of references that only the most thin-skinned of people could ever take exception to, as if it was all about him anyway. Mainly though, I was impressed with the show’s production values. I really shouldn’t have been so surprised that an industry that thrives on special effects could create the green-screen illusion of people congregating together from across the country for graduation. Like a magician with more tricks in his top-hat than rabbits, the producers would occasionally flash their green, giving the audience an insight into how they made all of their magic for this show. 

Here’s to the Class of 2020!

Reviewing the MRH Graduating Class of 2020

Bike ride yesterday, at the end of the “long weekend.” We first headed to the high school. Anne had heard that a virtual graduation celebration had been put up, honoring this year’s graduating seniors. On the way over we met fellow bikers and neighbors, Phil and Mary. This time we were on our bikes, usually it is the other way around. Pictured is Anne reviewing the placards erected for each graduating senior. Anne has been teaching in the district long enough that she has likely taught every single one of them and likely first when they were in kindergarten and again in many grades after that.

After the high school, we rode down Manchester Ave., through the Maplewood business district. Most of the stores were closed, but enough essential ones were open that if we had driven, parking would have been a problem. There is a new Maplewood sign going up in the park across from the Landmark bank building. Maplewood is spelled out, with individual signs for each letter. They are placed in a staggered fashion, in two parallel rows, such that as I approach the display, I couldn’t tell what was written. It was still under construction, so when it is done, I’ll swing by again and take a photo of it.

We headed next to the park and rode around it. Jumping the fences of the closed off sections of roadway was again a pain. On the way back, two motorcycles had snuck into this closed off section, but they skedaddled out of there pretty fast. This being the “short weekend” now, we’ll likely stay closer to home today. Anne is having some difficulties getting her head wrapped around this enforced trial run on retirement. She is still trying to get used to the idea that not much gets done each day, but it still takes all day to do it.