Sunday, May 28, 2017

Nineteen Years in College

Out of the blue came an invitation from a former student--oh, so long ago, 10 years?--Carol Wibbenmeyer, to her university graduation bash, and bringing a congratulations card I stopped by (having two other events to attend that same afternoon), found the pavilion in the park and there she was, having taken 19 years of night classes to earn her degree in English, 45 years after high-school graduation. Born in Perryville, Carol had lived with her husband and kids nearly 50 years in Manchester, and had written a short autobiography I'm holding, titled "Life's Plan in a Red Dress," and gave me a copy, and it was just too fun not to show you our photo.

The booklet says that at her funeral she wants to be viewed in a red dress, but after the viewing she wants the mortician to change her into a pantsuit and comfortable shoes. "I don't want to go through eternity in a dress. That is just not me," Carol wrote. The mortician said she should put that instruction in her will. Her practical husband says she should have the pants on underneath the dress; "that way she will be prepared for any occasion." Her funeral won't be anytime soon. You didn't know I taught college? For 31 years. I've had hundreds of students. I'm retiring from teaching in June.

The greatest honor a teacher can have is a student who remembers her.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Ma'am, Change Your Air Filter?

The car's fan blew out stenchy air for a while, but then the smell subsided and I went my merry way, thinking I could get the car's oil changed and the car vacuumed out and the state inspection/emissions test done all at once if I went to the Valvoline oil-change place. Their records said I hadn't visited since 2009, and this is because they charge a lot; in my view they overcharge, but you know how it is, you have to do all this, so, like a colonoscopy, you just get it over with, and before long, as I sat in the black linoleum waiting room on a black plastic-upholstered chair reading Missouri Conservationist, comes one of the meticulously clean and barbered well-pressed young men in his Valvoline shirt carrying my cabin air filter. "Miss, this is what we found," he said, and I knew he wasn't lying because about every two years a mechanic (whose face turns green as he does it) pulls an enormous stinky mouse nest complete with cadavers out of the exact same place, and this one at the Valvoline had a dead snake in it, too. He offered to change my air filter at a cost of $39.99. What could I do? Tell him to put it back in there? Most expensive oil change ever at $117. And when I got back in the car I said what, you didn't vacuum it? See, the cabin air filter is accessed behind the glove box, and it's changed by pulling it inward into the car, and rat's nest fuzzy shreds had sifted all over the passenger side. He said Valvoline hasn't vacuumed out cars for nine or ten years.

I was desperate because the interior was grubby, I'd already been to two car-vacuum cylinders, fed beaucoup quarters into both of them and neither worked, so I went home and risked my life taking my domestic vacuum cleaner outdoors onto the damp concrete and grass (never do that!) and vacuumed it out myself with the wand, because I had a hot date.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Smiling Lizard

I know May is here when a lizard gets trapped on the wrong side of the screened porch and climbs around on the screens all day trying to enter the blue and green world she can see but not get to. I then have a choice: Leave her there ("If it was smart enough to find its way in, it's smart enough to find its way out," Demetrius used to yawn) or help her out, but first, take glamour photos--of this lovely Northern Fence Lizard (Scleporus undulatus hyacinthinus) that seemed to smile as if it had a sense of humor about its predicament. After that I waited until she climbed onto the screen door, then I opened the door and tickled her until she dropped off the screen onto the stoop and went running, and I suddenly thought twice--about its needs, not mine--although it was too late, and said, "Take it easy. Birds can eat you."

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Where the Flood's Sandbags Went to Die

Yes, 20,000 sandbags saved Old Town Eureka's Central Avenue during the recent flood, and 2000 or so volunteers packed and stacked them, and were heroes enough to unstack them--but what happens to all those heavy wet bags when they aren't needed anymore? This. They were heaped 15 feet high and maybe 50 feet long, with an earth-moving machine scooping up bunches of them and dumping them into a dumpster--in the Eureka Community Center parking lot. I went there for a walk around its woods. It had never crossed my mind where sandbags might end up.

I Eat Christian Food

Google forced some changes and I couldn't reach this blog until today, but you were in my thoughts while my adventures included a stop at McDonald's in House Springs where I learned that McDonald's is Christian food. At the suggested website there's nothing unusual or even Christian, just a button to start applying for McDonald's employment.

Christian Foods is a St. Charles-area company and it apparently started a Christian restaurant or business directory which has two area McDonald's listed (St. Peters and  Fenton) but not House Springs. The company Facebook page has no information on it. What, I wonder, is required for a McDonald's to be so designated? I wondered also, where would Jesus eat? I believe in the Law of Attraction. Does this mean they wouldn't hire me?

Friday, May 5, 2017

"To the Stranger Within Our Gates"

Of course there's a Bible in the nightstand at the hotel where I was a flood refugee, but also a laminated card that said (I liked it):

To Our Guests
In ancient times there was a prayer for "The Stranger within our gates."

Because this hotel is a human institution to serve people and not solely a money-making organization we hope that God will grant you peace and rest while you are under our roof.

May this room and hotel be your "second" home. May those you love be near you in thoughts and dreams. Even though we may not get to know you, we hope that you will be comfortable and happy as if you were in your own house.

May the business that brought you our way prosper. May every call you make and every message you receive add to your joy. When you leave, may your journey be safe.

We are all travelers. From "birth till death" we travel between the eternities. May these days be pleasant for you, profitable for society, helpful for those you meet, and a joy to those who know and love you best.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Stranded in Paradise

The creek rose and I saw I might be trapped at home for days by flooded roads, as in December 2015, if I didn't leave right now. I threw together electronics and chargers, boxed up the coffee machine and fled to a Fenton hotel where I have lived since Saturday night, waiting for the flooding here west and south of St. Louis to crest and recede. Tomorrow I will attempt to drive home.

I'd have stayed there if I didn't have important business in town Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday, worth paying the hotel bill for, and a hundred things to do online. As I've told you, during stormy weather the Internet satellite won't work, and there was no point in staying home without the Internet because that's how I do my jobs--except that there were hummingbirds who should be nectar-fed and baby bluebirds in the bluebird box.

Today I'm lounging in the room with its spiffy king-sized bed, a couch, microwave and fridge, an impressive TV, free breakfast and working with no distractions except maids knocking at the door to ask if I need something. (Yes, a martini and Cheetos. Unfortunately not available here.) I bought coral-colored roses to lighten it up a bit, and then received roses for doing a writing task. It does get a little bit solitary and the roses help.

This windy and rainy morning I woke lonely but went down to the breakfast area to find it packed with sweet-looking young people who ate like locusts. Curious, I asked one if they were athletes or a debate team, whether they were stranded here because of flooding. This was the Oklahoma Christian University Choir heading home from a concert in Illinois or somewhere like that.

A nice place to stay while the flood decides whether it will allow I-44, Highways 30, W, FF, F, O, and 109 to open a way for me to get home.

A "hundred-year flood" every two years? We know the culprit: development and paving. Pave paradise and it will flood. Yes, the hotel sign stares into my window at night.