Mary Beth Writes

 This was a small but telling moment in America this morning.

I volunteer at an elementary school a half hour walk from my house. I go twice each week to listen to individual 3rd graders who could use a nice grown-up listening, slowing them down, asking them what they just read, smiling at them for all the things they do right and words they pronounce correctly. We go to the school’s library, they pick where we will sit (red chairs, or blue, or yellow...) and I sit next to them on a very small chair. I ask questions, they tell me what they think they just read. I have been in fascinating conversations about George Washington, tigers, and what it’s like to eat oysters.  It’s a challenge to tell a kid what oysters look like if you prefer to not say snot.  (Older volunteers have high linguistic standards…) I said tan jelly.

This is more fun than kittens in hats.

Today, while sitting with a skinny little kid who LOVES basketball but was, I could sense, getting a little bored with the talking tree (so was I) – the fire alarm went off.

It was on the wall right over our heads and BOY was it loud.

My kid jumped up and headed straight for a back door in the library I had never noticed. Another volunteer stood up and followed his two little girls. The kids knew exactly where to go and what to do – back of the playground, stand in a line with the rest of your class. All the teachers had red “Emergency” knapsacks on their backs (are they hanging by the doors? I had never noticed them before) and were beginning to count the kids from their classes. When they had the correct amount, they held a sign that signified that. The principal was watching; this drill was accomplished in under 4 minutes.

We skedaddled back inside.

Here’s the thing. Because it had been raining this morning, I drove instead of walked. Because I had my entire purse with me, I plopped it in the back of the car and walked into the school without ID or phone.  While we were hurrying out of the building I didn’t know if this was a fire alarm or something else – would they sound the alarm if there was a shooter?  And then I freaked a little, quietly, inside myself, as I realized I didn’t even have my damn phone. 

Whatever would happen, I wouldn’t be able to document anything. If I needed to call someone, I couldn’t. 

And that was my “small but telling moment in America this morning.” 

If you are going into a school, you should take your phone.

This is nuts.

Comments

Oh wow. Gave me the shivers a little. Oh man ——- our children are living with these times. Sure wasn’t like when we grew up. Bless them all

Back then the NRA was an organization that promoted marksmanship and hunting skills.

Sadly, this IS the new reality that children in schools and others elsewhere face and it doesn't need to be this way. We need to wean legislatures off the NRA and repeal citizen's united so The Mighty Dollar doesn't cloud the judgement of those that should be making laws that protect us and not the gun lobby. Sensible gun legislation does not mean taking away guns from law abiding citizens - it means eliminating military style weapons that should only be in the hands of the military or law enforcement; increasing background checks on ALL gun and ammunition purchases and universal gun registration. More guns means more opportunity for guns to get into the hands of those that should not have them. There are real solutions to the "gun problem" in America if only those with the power to make real change have the courage to do so.

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Let's go to Canada. It will be beautiful and convenient and nothing will get too crazy.

Hi! Len and I returned home at 1:30AM from our 15-day road trip through eastern Canada and Maine and more.  

In case you ever wondered, you CAN go to the “Glazed and Confused” donut shop in Syracuse, NY at 9 in the morning, peruse the  Erie Canal museum https://eriecanalmuseum.org/ and then drive back in Waukesha - all in one 16-hour day. We are generally closer to interesting places than we know.

But I get ahead of myself.

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We drove to Chicago to help care for our 2-year old granddaughter. There is a lot going on in their family as is true of any family with a toddler, a new infant, and two working parents. Such as; my daughter went back to work the same week their daycare center closed for a 10-day break. A perfect storm of domestic hoopla. 

We only watched her from 7:30AM until 4PM on Monday and Tuesday. When our son-in-law came home from work, he took over. Other relatives are watching her the next few days. 

Here are three things I noticed about taking care of a toddler.

"Death Comes for the Archbishop" and How to drive to the Y without a map.

I read Willa Cather’s “Death Comes for the Archbishop” when I was in high school. I heard it was an important book which made me curious (still does), so I borrowed it from the library and read the whole thing.

It was mud. I didn’t care about the characters; two middle-aged priests who go to the American southwest to build and strengthen the Catholic church. Snooze. Nothing cohesive happens. They do a bunch of walking around in the desert followed by episodes of trying to be helpful a few days here, a few years there. Yawn.

When Weaving is NOT a Metaphor

I wrote this 12 years ago.  It's long and even I get confused as to what I wrote when one gets about half way through this  - and I was there!   But some of you will be interested to read how those "ethnic weavings" from Guatemala begin.  Next time you buy something hand woven, for less than $20, you will understand that price is not right.

.....

Retirement Smackdown

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There is a myth out there that retirement is a fixed event with a date one knows years in advance. Then at the desired retirement age there will be a company party where one gets a memento from their employer - and after that they live aimlessly, trying to find purpose.  

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