May's gone! Well, almost, but close enough to count.
Our Great-grandson Caleb graduated from High School this month. He was in the first class to graduate from a spankin' new high school and the powers that be pulled out all the stops. Normally, graduation ceremonies are held out on some kind of field, with family sitting on wooden benches (rarely bleachers), which means you can't see anything. Normally they are held in the afternoon in the full sun and are beastly hot. Normally the PA system doesn't do a very good job and it's hard to hear anything. Normally the delivery of the certificates and introduction of each grad goes on for hours and hours. And normally there is a four to five block walk from where you park your car to the ceremony site.
But Caleb's graduation ceremony was different, I think, because it was the first one for that school. It was held in an enclosed, air-conditioned sports arena with seating for maybe 10,000. This meant first of all that with a graduating class of about 350, there were more than enough seats for everyone and parking was a snap! The funniest part was that the snack bars were open and the hawkers were going up and down the aisles selling hot dogs, nachos, cotton candy and cokes, although they certainly were doing it respectfully, i.e., no loud "hawking!" Because it is a new state-of-the-art area, there were big screens up everywhere and you could actually SEE the graduates get their diploma. And best of all is that the ceremony, thanks to some wise arrangers, only took an hour from start to finish.
After the last one we went to a year or so ago, Jer and I had pretty much decided that we were getting too old to handle the run-of-the-mill graduation ceremonies. They were more tiring than taking an airplane from LA to DENVER with a stopover in Dallas! As far as we know, our next grad will be Caleb's sister in 4 years. If hers is held in the same place, assuming we are still among the living we'll be there!
Jer and I had a funny experience a few days ago. I had read an article in the newspaper about the necessity for people to have some actual cash stored in a place that is handy for retrieval in the event of a systems crash due to terrorism or natural disaster. As we were driving out on an errand, I told Jer about this article, suggesting that we might want to consider doing something like this. As I was talking a funny little feeling arose in my brain that maybe we had already done this. I asked Jerry if we had, and he assured me we had not, but even as I was speaking, little "bytes" of specific details began marching through my brain. I got to the part where the article's author had given some suggestions of hiding places....and I blurted out that maybe I had just dreamed that we had put some cash away and named where I thought we might have put it. All the time I was talking, Jerry was shaking his head "no." I tend to think Jerry mostly knows what he is talking about.
But when we got home, I asked him to humor me and check in the secret spot. He did....and found $200 cash in a zip-lock bag in a place where no one would ever think to look. Not even us. So much for failing memories! We haven't stopped laughing yet.
The newspaper today tells the story of a Chinese newborn baby who was delivered while mom was using a "squat" toilet and the baby was wedged in a sewer pipe 3" in diameter. The upshot of the story was that the mother was unwed, she said it was an accidental slip and the baby was rescued. The latest word is that the grandparents have the baby and all is well.
I was shocked when I read a Chinese sociologist's take on it: The only mistake by the woman was not to immediately admit the baby was hers. "I don't think that's a big deal. After all, the child is safe, and it has a happy ending. The chinese people still lean heavily on the human considerations. Let it be bygones if there's no serious crime."
My, my, my!
I've just had another reading of Toibin's book "The Testament of Mary." I took a slower reading this time, and it is truly a gripping book. His writing is truly amazing.
It is a very small book. And in thinking about it, although I absolutely love to plow into a 600 page book, relishing the idea that I'll be with it a long time, it occurred to me that I have a few tiny books that I'm just crazy about too.
Besides Toibin's book, a recent re-read of Alice Walker's Chicken Chronicles puts it right up there with my favorites. An older smallish book that I've read several times and loved at each reading is "Esperanza's Box of Saints" by Maria Amparo Escandon. And moving backwards in time, I am grateful to my last boss for giving me his copy of "Spoon River Anthology" by Edgar Lee Masters. I treasure all these books -- small things in size and words but big, big, big in meaning, beauty and ideas.
I'm giving a genealogical talk in June on paper trails that can be found in and around the end times of ancestors' lives. To clear up a few things I didn't quite understand, I had an appointment with a local mortician, who was very forthcoming with helpful hints and ideas. I had assured him that I did not want to talk about his customers, but that I wanted to make sure I understood what paper trails were available to the researcher. I think both of us had great fun "digging and delving" into possibly unusual ways to find more details about our ancestors. I asked him about something I had read in the past that at least in California pets could not be buried with their owners in a human cemetery but humans could be buried with their pets in a pet cemetery. He smiled and said that was so. It was a very enigmatic smile.