First day back back.

Today was the first day of classes, and the first day with all the kids back in the building. It seems strange to have to point out that those are separate things. Last year, almost all of my classes were a mix of brick-and-mortar students and on-line students. I couldn’t find a headset that sounded clear enough to the students or in the recordings, so I was anchored to my desk in front of my laptop. This arrangement was functional: the on-liners could hear me lecture, and I could interact with the live chat if necessary. But the constant view and angle were mind-numbing.

But this year, there are no on-liners. It was strange to not have to rush to set up new on-line meetings between classes, or to record every class, or to wonder whether someone was actually present. It was strange to see so many actual reactions on actual faces. Even the ones that were still masked. Even if the reactions were eye rolls, or exasperation, or simple expressions of boredom.

And sometime during my second class of the day, it clicked that I could pace up and down the central aisle, like in the Before Times. And I did for a bit. I could even teach from the other end of my classroom. And I did for a bit. It was liberating.

I even thought about putting the beat-up old lectern back in the spot it inhabited for nearly a decade prior to the lockdown, in the northeastern corner of the room, and leaning over it to yell at the kids for emphasis, and rapping the front with the Waking Stick to demand and win everyone’s rapt attention. Like in the Before Times. I didn’t stop class to set it up today, but it will be set up by the first bell tomorrow.

It’s going to be a good year.

The poor kids were stuck in their seats for an hour-and-a-half, but that’s beside the point.

“Let it begin here.”

Happy 245th birthday to the United States, and happy 149th birthday to Calvin Coolidge! I just realized I typed in the wrong number for Cal’s last two birthdays… but he wouldn’t have said anything about it anyways.

This year’s post is brief: my photo of Henry Hudson Kitson’s Minuteman statue, which stands on the Lexington Battle Green, where the war began in 1775.

The statue has come to symbolize one Captain John Parker. It’s not actually him, partly because there are no known paintings of him and partly because he was a member of the non-minuteman majority of the Massachusetts militia. But the locals say it may as well be Parker, reputed to have ordered: “Stand your ground. Don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.” It began there.

Happy 111th!

Roughly once out of every seven years, my grandmother’s birthday falls on Mothers’ Day. This year sees such an instance, so after the 2pm Mothers’ Day dinner, we sang “Happy Birthday” and had cake. It was good. Here’s Gram celebrating a birthday, presumably her birthday, at my late aunt’s house in the late ’90s or early double-aughts:

Can’t quite nail down the date because a] I don’t remember the year she finally let her hair go white, which looked sharp on her; and b] if it was her birthday, counting the candles wouldn’t help because after a certain point, you just use a whole buncha candles.

Anyhow, happy 111th birthday and happy 86th Mothers’ Day to “the Old Girl”!

Happy 121st!

Every year I post a digital birthday card for my grandfather– even if I apparently post nothing else the entire year–so here comes this year’s edition. This is Grampa as a young man of presently-unknown age.

Looks like it would be a high school graduation photo, but he graduated from high school at 22 and I think he was a bit younger than that here.

A few weeks ago, I was talking to my niece about our ancestors, and trying to put in perspective how long ago Grampa was born, how long he lived, and how much had changed in the meantime. That was a fun conversation. Was he alive for this president, or that war, or this assassination? Were there “wall phones”? Had this been discovered? Was that person alive? How many states were there? And so on.

This got me thinking about the simplest way to explain the most drastic change in his lifetime. The best I could come up with was that when he was born, there were no planes, and taking photographs using “dust” (flash powder) was expensive enough that we have very few pictures of him before age 10. By the time he died, we had close-up photos of Neptune.

Grampa would’ve turned 121 today if he hadn’t died stopping the salt vampires from stealing our oceans.