Part of the Village

This week I went to my grandnephew’s kindergarten graduation. There’s just all kinds of weird in that sentence alone. Children. Family. Social Event. Inclusion.

The school is K-12, laid out in a campus of what reminded me of Morton buildings—low-slung, metal barns. Here’s the south side of my sister as we make our way to the auditorium building

While I’m not one to follow the endless flow of depressing national news, I am invested in Oklahoma’s educational woes.  A January report in Education Weekly ranked Oklahoma schools 47th in the nation with teachers’ salaries ranked 49th.  Teachers went on strike in April, and while the state passed a bill to raise salaries slightly, it neglected to fund the bill.  It never addressed other issues like the lack of program funding and huge class sizes

Teachers are leaving the state like psychiatrists left Iowa, fed up with a system that cares very little about the end-user or those who provide for them.

Oktah, my grandnephews’ school, is considered better than average and receives a federal grant due to its number of low-income students. The superintendent, who spoke at Zane’s graduation ceremony, asked parents and friends to stay involved. More than ever, it seems, it takes a village.

So, I was verklempt, watching my one out of forty-eight kindergarteners dance, sing and use sign language to proclaim his new status.  So was my sister, the retired teacher.

I don’t know if I can help him or his older brother.  Volunteering has always ended up a bipolar casualty.  But I’m staying open to ways I might be part of that Village, even if it’s just being another grown-up (in closer proximity now) who will listen and answer their questions.

You never know the effect of just showing up. That’s something I can do.

“It’s The Garden Spot of Ceti Alpha Five!”

I’m glad to be home.

Advanced Peer Support training was interesting, and I brought back the official certificate to prove my worthiness.  But class ended every day by 2:00, so I had a lot of time to fill.  Since I was in better health his time around, I thought I’d explore Council Bluffs a little.

Green Acres Natural FoodsI found a funky little natural market with homeopathic remedies, essential oils, supplements, cruelty-free cosmetics and some organic foods.  It smelled like heaven, or more like the hippy apothecary I used to frequent in Minneapolis, Present Moment.  I chatted with the staff for a while and bought a packet of lavender bath salts.  I figured I might as well enjoy my hotel room’s large tub while I had it.

One afternoon I visited the public library to see if their computer lab ran any faster than the ancient Windows machine at the hotel.  It was the weirdest set-up I’d ever seen.  Each carrel had a glass top.  Patrons had to look down through the glass to the screen under the desk.  I’m sure there’s some ergonomic reason for this, or maybe the computers felt safer locked away from humans, but I left after a half hour ready for that hot soak.

rebumbant bikeMostly I just hit the great Chinese restaurant on my way back to the hotel, watched endless episodes of Supernatural and NCIS, and went to bed.  Which meant I woke up at an ungodly hour.  But, no one else was in the Fitness Room at 3:30 in the morning, so that worked out fine.

horseshoe casino, council bluffsMy hotel was in the casino part of town, which might have been an option if I wanted to empty my billfold and eat at Hooters.  There was also an AMC theater down the street, but why go to a movie with back-to-back episodes of Castle on TV?  Psssht.

I did enjoy the free breakfast every morning.  The ladies in charge were saintly in their patience with the guests who stumbled in and tried to make their own waffles.  We talked about putting up a sign with directions on how to do it, but decided folks that hung-over and bleary-eyed would never read it.

Peer Support Specialist Training, Dr. Braden DanielsIn the final analysis, it was a successful road trip.  I learned some stuff, got to hang out with the same great dudes from Basic Training, and ate fabulous Chinese take-out.  And I didn’t get sick.  So, while Council Bluffs may not be my vacation Mecca, it took me where I needed to go.  With waffles.

A thousand points to the fellow nerdling who knows the source of this post’s title.

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