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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The Erie Canal; Means and Dreams

This photo is from Schoharie Crossing State Historical Site. The crumbling infrastructure is the oldest part of the Erie Canal -where it crossed Schoharie Creek. 

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Crown Point, Ticonderoga, and Saratoga

Not everyone wants to see where the American Revolutionary War got up and got going - but we did.

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The summer after college I worked in my family’s printing business, trying to earn and save enough to move out. To where I was not sure, but somewhere!

"The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men, Gang aft agley..."

Thank you, Robert Burns, for that title. 

We were driving from Gaspé to the next town when this happened.

Gaspé Peninsula & MB's Big Hike to See Gannets

Like I wrote previously, our plan was to turn to the right at the bottom left hand side of the map (see below) and drive east to Nova Scotia and then shoot up to the 7-hour ferry that would schlep us to Newfoundland.

Following the St. Lawrence River: “Further up and further in.”

We drove right past Montreal and Quebec.  We really “should” have turned off the Trans-Canada and gone into these cities to see historical sites I have been reading about for years.  Except, well, neither of us wanted to ‘do a city’ yet.  We love city life, but cities don’t kindle imagination the same way as the surprise of smaller towns and the beauteous unrolling of fields and woods, river and sky outside out car windows.  I bet people who live in rural areas like to take their breaks in a city when they get the chance…

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