2023. Our next-door neighbor Ethan was graduating. He will be attending the University of Evansville in the fall, majoring in Mechanical Engineering and Archeology. It has been a few years since Anne was last at the high school and more than a few years since my last visit there. As in our son’s days the graduating class was still less than hundred, but the amount of new construction ongoing at the school speaks of larger student bodies to come. A whole new wing is being built, in what once was the old school parking lot. The school buses have been moved and a concrete pad laid down, with steel girders sprouting from it, in their place. They plan on growing the high school student body from 300 to 400. Probably, because the lower grades have already increased in size by a third. Many of the faculty that Anne used to work with have already moved on. Dwyer and Stocker are gone. After this year the turnover looks to markedly increase. Some are aging out of the profession; some are moving to greener pastures and some just do not like the new administration.
Saturday morning, we visited Tower Grove Park. The farmer’s market there was going great guns. There were more booths than I have ever seen at the market. Anne met a woman from whom she has bought yarn from in the past and, of course, bought some more. Pictured are some fungi from a farm that we used with our Christmas gift baskets last year, but it was too hot and crowded to stay there long. Walking around the park, darting from one patch of shade to the next, we happened upon the Pagan Festival. Years ago, while cycling in the park, we had also happened upon this festival. Then one of Anne’s students greeted us then, ran to get her mom, and then introduced us with, “I did not know that teachers came to the Pagan Festival.” The vibe of this event is best symbolized by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. This organization’s claim to fame is that they were ejected from Dodger stadium during their gay pride celebration, for being too gay. I guess that makes them potential Giants fans.
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.
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
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.
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.