First day back to school

Around here, public schools do not begin until the day after Labor Day.  This is so the politicians don’t have to return to Washington until after this final summer holiday.  Strangely, although it’s generally hotter than hades in Virginia, the night time temps will suddenly dip down, and it’s cool enough in the mornings that kids waiting at bus stops may need a light jacket or sweater.  These same outer garments will be, naturally, left behind at the end of the school day because the temps will be back up to the speed of hell  by the time school is out for the day.

There is nothing, I’m told, quite like the first day of school.  As the day draws nearer, tension builds: something between anticipation and fear, excitement and nervousness. Old friends are there, new ones are next to you in classes and hallways.  Sometimes, it’s even a new (or at least new to you) school.  This is where the nerves come into play, but nobody has ever died from having to attend the first day of school, so it’s going to be all right.  Really.

This year, my Human Bean’s eldest Grandgirl started college.  That’s a very big first day!  Second Grandgirl began her senior year of high school – the beginning of an ending.  Both of these gals live where schools start in August, so their first days are already behind them.  Middle Grandgirl starts high school after Labor Day, but not just any old high school: a special “application-only” Center for the Arts, specifically visual arts.  She is excited but nervous and fearful.  The good news is that she does know another girl who will attend with her, so not everyone is a stranger who is looking for a new friend.  Fourth Grandgirl will be finishing up her elementary education this year, so she’s a big cheese on campus.  Baby Grandgirl is in a pre-K designed for those whose birthdates disqualify them from starting public school kindergarten, and she has already begun her program.

My Human Bean heads off to the first day of the class at the university where she is a writing consultant assigned to a specific class, “Economic Issues and the Election.”  The class has a full time professor teaching it, but Bean helps his students with the writing aspects, and goes into the classroom a couple of times a semester to answer questions and provide educational writing tips.  She works with them by email the rest of the time.  She likes this because, just as with her full time work as Coordinator and tutor for the Online Writing Center, she can still travel while she does her job for the School of Professional and Continuing Studies (undergrads and graduate/professional students).  But she relishes this in-person, first-day-of-class opportunity, possibly because it generally happens only twice a year.

First days are open – like door for you to walk through, an empty plate to be filled, a box waiting for the gift to be placed inside, the fresh white board or  clean blackboard, awaiting their first words; this first; this particular moment in time.  There will never be another first day of class, semester, or school year; the first taste of ice cream, first kiss, first date, first day on a new job, first breath of a newborn, first day of the rest of your life.  Every day when you wake is a first, a moment that will never come again.

Make the most of your clean slate.


FLEE…escape room fun!

On Wednesday evening this week, we went to an escape room game in Redmond, WA called Flee.  Our room was the Museum Heist.  We were the bad guys on one final job to nab a diamond worth hundreds of millions in 50 minutes or less to get out before the alarm went off.

It was melty hot in the tiny room, but Aunty Glenda, Uncle GT, Happy, and Mr. Happy searched the walls, inside things, behind things, under thing.  They found a key and labels and codes, but Mr. Happy was in charge of the write/wipe smart board, and he wrote tiny little notes, complicated by the board treating each character he wrote as if it were written in ink on blotter paper,  causing it to bleed and spread into unreadable gibberish.   Eventually Happy said she would write the code out, they worked to translate it, and got through into the second code-locked room room that felt cooler initially.  However, Uncle GT kept closing the door so he could hear the tumblers in the safe click, so pretty soon it felt like a sauna.  They continued working and searching, noting numbers and a star on a globe, a desk with things inside, as well as locked drawers.

Finally, Happy and Aunt Glenda said it was time to ask for a clue, so they did.  The clue was very helpful in that they bypassed a sort of red herring, and they got another clue by unlocking a box that contained a key and a clue.

The pieces all came together after one more suggestion from our Cluemaster, and a couple of attempts later, the safe was cracked.  Unfortunately, that activated laxer beams across the exit…and set off the alarm. Apparently, it was not supposed to set off the alarm unless we broke one of the beams, but we were just exiting the other room and said alarm was already going off, so the Cluemaster re-set the beams for us, Uncle GT slid under the beams at an appropriate place, and brave Auntie Glenda with her gimpy knee slid under after him.  They pushed the two buttons on opposite sides of the room to deactivate the alarm and beams, and Mr. Happy and Happy walked out with the blue diamond from the safe. They still had a little over 5 minutes to spare.

So they emerged victorious and successful, though sweaty, did the happy dance in front of the Flee wall with sayings in their hands (Happy’s said “Highest IQ here”),  and they were awarded $5 coupons each to return as well as a group puzzle.  T’was a jolly good time!

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This happy event came about via TEAMWORK.  No one of them could have done it without the others. Only teamwork makes it possible!

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The Conventions are over, and the UFDC one that I attended was a working vacation, which means it wasn’t really a vacation at all. So now it’s time to go have some fun!

Smidge, Happy Bean, Mr. Happy, and I are going to be heading off on a real vacation, flying out to spend a week with Cousin Pip, Auntie Glenda, and Uncle Mr. GT.  We are also inviting a Hitty or two to join us.

Smidge made this trip last year to visit the relations, but this will be my first time.  Smidge is slightly apprehensive, due to an incident where one of the resident canines abruptly (and without warning) performed a snatch and run with her last year.  He caused her to lose a hand…or maybe it was a foot (she is still so traumatized she can’t quite express the event accurately), and he drooled all over her and her pink hairs.  She had to get a new “do” after the experience.  And now there is a second, even more energetic and untrustworthy canine in residence. Smidge has me a bit nervous, too.  After all, I have hands, feet, and hair myself.

Meanwhile, all across the United States, we have suffered a heat wave that seems to not want to go away.  The Beans suffer more than we dollies do, but it’s hot for Human Beans, their furry pet friends, and the dollies.  Fortunately for us, the Pacific Northwest, where we are headed, is less hot than it is at home, and despite all the negativity regarding how much it rains out there, it’s really more of a mist or a drizzle, and so much less humid, though with all that mist and drizzle, it’s hard to imagine how it’s less.  But it’s generally about 20 degrees cooler there in the summer than here, and the damp that falls in the summer falls much less often.  And in the summer, the sun is out where we can actually see it!  Thank goodness for some better weather.  I’m ready to wave bye-bye to the heat and humidity of the East Coast, and greet the cooler temperate Northwest.

Hello, Seattle area!!  As of Saturday, Snip’s in town!



What’s this campaign season coming to?

Every time we turn on the television, something else has happened: a candidate has stuck his or her foot in said mouth, people are yelling at one another, engaging in name-calling, defending to the death their candidate whether right or not. Some police are shooting innocent people, and some people are shooting the police, who do their best every day to protect us, and terrorists are mowing people down in the streets.  There are stabbings and home invasions, and the world seems to have gone crazy.  Crazy.

Used to be the Presidential candidates would come to your town, shake hands, maybe host a meet and greet with locals, hand out some campaign buttons, and move peaceably on to the next town.  This week, the television reporters and political analysis are yelling and questioning one another and calling each other names and generally getting a lot more heated about the election than even the candidates themselves.  What have we come to…and why?

The Primaries were fraught with turmoil, disagreements, more name calling, protests, and violence.  People were injured, and people were killed.  People were afraid, even children, who worried their parents would be deported.  What has happened to America, the great melting pot?  What has happened to liberty and justice for all?  What has happened to truth and freedom for all men?

It seems to me that our political leaders or wanna-be leaders – and I mean all of them – have sunk to a new low.  They have let down the citizens and, more importantly, let down the children of our country by their lack of leadership and unsavory example of human beings.  It’s time to stand tall and do the right thing for one another and not merely for themselves.

Maybe none of what’s happening has nothing to do with the election year.  Maybe it’s a just full moon…a rather lengthy one.  Maybe some planet is in retrograde.  But we need to stop this dissention and come together.  We need to stand up for others, and for the very foundation and principles on which this country was built. We can’t allow petty differences to change who “we the people” truly are or what we fundamentally believe.

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence [sic], promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

It starts with us.  It starts with We…the people.