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Throwback Thursday

June 18, 2020

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This is what a throwback Thursday picture should be, isn’t it? Nostalgic, gauzy, with a sweet look to the past.

Oh my goodness..

 

 

Turkeys

June 17, 2020

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Ran into a mom and dad turkey and their eight kiddo turkeys down at the creek yesterday. I’d not seen turkeys down there before…  herons, egrets, all manner of ducks, yes, but turkeys are a new one on me. They were a nice family.

That’s all I was going to say, but then I realized I actually have a turkey story…..

~~

I came home this afternoon from a trip to FEDexKinkos, or whatever they call that now, and marched right into Jim’s office to report on the turkeys I dealt with there today. I’m still annoyed by this. (Jim, this is your cue to stop reading as you’ve heard this story more than once and had to listen to me kvetch enough already!)

So…. I made an announcement that I am planning to send to family about Peter’s graduation. It’s an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet, folded in half, with text, photos and graphics on all four sides. Its cover is an arrangement of these three images:

 

I take my thumb drive to the order desk with my prototype announcement and begin to describe what I need.. and the guy gets all furrowed, slowly shakes his head and says, “I can’t reproduce that.” We go back and forth about the whys and wherefores (quite a bit because I’m dubious about his rationale and more than a little annoyed… polite, but annoyed).  He says he has a blanket permission to reproduce the large one, and can reproduce the physics one because “that’s just words,” but he can’t reproduce that little Revelle insignia because it’s copyrighted and he doesn’t have the rights on it. He makes comparisons to Disney logos as an example and says FEDexKinkos is under strict rules to adhere to copyright. Nothing he can do.

I say: Dude, (I don’t actually call him dude), this is a hokey, homemade graduation announcement going to 40 family members, no money is being made, Revelle College is a subset of UCSD for which you DO have permission. You can’t be serious. (He’s serious.)

I should have asked for a second opinion (wish I’d thought of that in the moment), but instead I left, went home, made another version of the announcement without the Revelle logo, copied it to my thumb drive, deleted the old one, and returned 20 minutes later. He was gone. The woman I dealt with said that it should not have been an issue and that she would have made the copies (though she understood, sorta, his reluctance). (And I wished I hadn’t deleted the old version!)

I now have 40 less perfect announcements… but they’re still pretty nice… they do the job. I’m letting the whole thing go, but still holding on to just a little bit of my irkedness.

So.. turkeys = today’s theme.

Here are a couple tricked out (Prisma) versions of the above turkey photo, for fun.

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Day #95

June 16, 2020

Still social distancing, still wearing masks in public, still wearing masks if somebody (like Wally the concrete guy) comes over to talk to me, still not hanging around in cafes (but will sit outside nowhere near anybody else), still not traveling, still not getting massages (but still paying for them). Additionally, haven’t had a haircut since Feb 18, haven’t put gas in my car since probably early March, haven’t seen a movie in a theater (obvs), haven’t had an in-person meeting (but average about 7-8 Zooms per week).

Probably the biggest line we’ve crossed is having Miguel come to clean the house. That’s now happened twice… and I gotta say… whew, enormously grateful for Miguel.

Anyway.

Stay-mostly-at-home-mostly-isolated Day #95.

A nice pic from the arb a few days ago:

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No Justice No Peace

June 15, 2020

 

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Here are some photos from Sunday’s Black Lives Matter rally and march at Central Park.

For the most part, people did honor masks and social distancing. Estimates were in excess of 1000 folks. I might have guessed more. People filled most of the two square blocks of the park.

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After about an hour of speeches, people began to mobilize and started east on 4th, south on D, east on 2nd, north on G, east on 5th to the Police Dept.

It doesn’t look too distancy here, does it? People tried to stay spread out. The line of marchers stretched about a mile, in at least one person’s estimation (I saw her video, it was impressive).

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This is near corner of G and 5th:

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I made a sign that actually had four sides… here are two of the sides:

The polite version…

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and the more in-your-face version:

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That would be me under all that.

It’s really important to show up. This is a time for people — all people — to hit the streets, to be counted, to show solidarity with people who’ve been oppressed, denied.. so that there is no mistaking the message: we have inequities and injustices at every level in our society that are unacceptable, built on systemic racism and flatly inhumane.  That’s fact. And it’s long past time to fix this mess. We need to get it right. All of us need to open our hearts, listen hard, do the work to learn, change. It’s about real love, real respect, real compassion.

Sounds ridiculously pat. But it’s really that basic.

It’s about ensuring that power comes from, and serves, the people.. that people who have power and influence in our culture and society — the bosses, teachers, coaches, judges, owners, leaders, police chiefs, generals, and.. elected officials — come from and represent all of us. We’ll make progress only when we have better people in charge.

 

 

Post Graduation

June 14, 2020

Sticking with the graduation theme… Ray sent to Margie and Margie sent to me a selection of photos taken yesterday early evening (judging from the sun). Glad to have them!

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I think there is a tiny possibility that these two have had a little bit too much to drink in these photos. Call me crazy.. but, that look in Peter’s eyes is a give away.

Bachelor of Science

June 13, 2020

 

Big day. I’m all wrung out, full of happy. Heart is soaring.

 

Coupla plucky guys right here.. one just graduated from college today with a BS in Physics. The other one, the little guy, was a kid who was always (relentlessly) asking how high do you think that is?, how deep do you think that is?, how fast?, how long?, how many? …. and pretty soon didn’t have to ask because he was doing the calculations himself, and then was writing the programs that could do those calculations, and then mentoring high school students to help them answer those questions.. and then…  he became the guy on the right.. the one who graduated today. It really does not seem like that long ago he was that little kiddo.

But there they are, young version, older version, arms crossed… same guy then as now.

~ ~  ~

I was thinking earlier this evening — as I was making a NYT recipe for hamburger helper (yes, indeed) which had a lot of liquid reduction phases, giving me lots of time to stir and reflect on this milestone day — that, for so many, college is a means to an end. It was for me. It makes sense: college degrees make future gainful employment more certain, plus you can have a lot of fun and some pretty seminal life experiences on your way to that valuable, employment-enhancing degree.  And for others, college classes are the point. They’re there to learn stuff, to answer questions, to figure out how to figure things out. A degree is a great insurance policy and college life is one of those once-in-a-lifetime things… for sure.. but, for some, and I think Peter is one of them, it’s beyond that; it’s about the knowledge. I’m not saying he’s unique in this regard, just saying that he’s in that camp… people that have a real thirst for knowing things. He’s curious — always has been — and ponders things deeply. His knowledge is well catalogued in his head and he knows how to draw upon it, build upon it, leverage it. He’s good at contextualizing what he learns and applying it to the next thing. He’s just made for this. Grad school and the deepening of his knowledge base is exactly what he should do. For him.

He was within a class, or maybe two, of a computer science minor, and also as close to a math minor.. but then got interested in fluids and chose to forgo the CS and math classes in favor of graduate level fluids courses. Because that interested him. Never about the degree, always about the learning.

And that will be his focus in grad school (unless he finds something else that he likes even better).

That’s what I was thinking as I was making that hamburger helper. Peter is, and will be for the next five years, in his element.

~ ~ ~

Anyway.. the experience of him graduating from UCSD today wasn’t what I imagined in the years and years leading up to this moment. But it’s June 2020 and life is not what any of us expected, on any front. So today was what it was, which was weird.

Here are Jim and me… crammed into Jim’s office at 9:00am on a Saturday to watch the live stream of the UC San Diego 2020 Commencement.

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Problem was… UCSD’s servers were overwhelmed and many people (hundreds? thousands?) couldn’t get in. Including us for the first 10-15 minutes (of a 40-minute ceremony), including the Youngs, including Peter’s roommate Ray (Peter, we understand, was still asleep!). I believe we all, eventually, got in, but not before I sent a somewhat frantic, definitely frustrated email to (who I thought was) the chancellor’s assistant (whose email address I had handy because I’d sent a general query a couple of months ago about UCD’s graduation plans and got a response from her, much to my surprise, and, zounds, she’d copied Chancellor Pradeep Khosla on her response, again, to my huge surprise).  So anyway, I grabbed that header and whisked off a quick, distracted, clumsy email about the jammed up live stream:

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Later this afternoon, Chancellor Khosla himself responded to me:

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Goodness, goodness, goodness. That knocked my socks off. The chancellor wrote me back? Jut a couple of hours after graduation? Made me feel especially warm and full of gratitude for UCSD, its leaders, Peter’s education.. all of it. A little kindness went a long way.

Anyway, getting ahead of myself. Back to the graduation. Jim and I finally got in and watched the remainder of that 40-minute commencement event. Each of the seven colleges had their own ceremony and this one was specific to Revelle, but it had common elements with the others, like Chancellor Khosla’s comments….

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…and a pretty wonderful commencement keynote address by CBS news correspondent Bill Whittiker (whom I did not know, but who, evidently, is famous).

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Cried through most of his remarks. He handled the odd circumstance of this weird graduation very well. I’m hunting down a transcript, so I can read it again.

After a couple student speakers, Chancellor Khosla closed the ceremony and then the names of graduates scrolled. That was the highlight — seeing that Peter, in fact, had earned a BS in Physics!

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No walk across the stage, no cheering throngs of parents, families and friends, no shifting tassels or caps launched high into the air… but it was still a moment in time that signified a lot of work; four years living on his own, managing his life, his coursework; and activities and events we’ll never know about. It was huge and the love and tears and pride and relief were bursting forth, even as we were in Davis and he was (asleep, missing the whole thing) in La Jolla. He’ll catch the rerun.

About an hour later, we got to talk to him.. and it was great beyond measure! He sounded happy and relieved and released, and proud. We talked for about an hour, most of that time via Facetime while he walked his neighborhood on a sparkling late spring day.

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Look at that relaxed smile of relief and liberation!

Lots to plan over the next couple of months: completing that damn humanities class that he’s taking at a community college (I think); packing up his La Jolla apartment; saying goodbye to friends and his 4-year life; trying to arrange a backpacking trip or two with friends; celebrating his birthday; visiting us in Davis; going to Yosemite; packing for the move to Ann Arbor; finding a place to live in A2; attending an online conference with his new graduate professor ….   basking and chilling.

But he’s a very happy guy.

And I’m feeling happy and exhausted.. the release of a lot of built up angst and anticipation I didn’t even know I had. He’s almost 22, he’s graduated from college, he’s worked really hard and done well, he’s a wonderful human being, his future is bright.

I just can’t even tell you what that feels like to a parent. Jim’s less gushy, but feels it, too.

 

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Thanks, Obama

June 12, 2020

I texted Peter tonight, hoping to check in on how it feels to be done with finals, done with his undergraduate career, done with UCSD. Turns out he’s still finishing up finals on this Graduation Eve. Sigh. I know he’s still got to finish up a humanities course he had to take to complete his general ed requirements.. (not gonna say a word about that one) which will be completed in two weeks. Double sigh. A grind right to the very bitter end.

Still. Big day tomorrow. Even if there’s no there there.

Here is an excerpt of the letter I wrote to Peter (which he received today! But prolly hasn’t had time to even read…):

….. I’m heartbroken not to be in La Jolla watching you receive your well-earned diploma. It doesn’t in any way take away from the achievement, of course, it’s just weird not to be honoring you in the traditional way. Graduation without all the pomp and circumstance, without the walk across the big stage in front of thousands of people, makes it seem less celebratory, but please know, there will come a day when we will honor your graduation from college in some duly celebratory, Peter-appropriate manner. We are looking forward to that.  

It is an historic time. Nobody will ever forget the graduating classes of 2020. It’s no exaggeration to say you are concluding your undergraduate college experience in what will be considered one of the most notable moments in history. As if the last few years haven’t been crazy enough, we add a global pandemic in which life as we know it has come to a near-complete and dramatic stop. And there has been an eruption of civil unrest, marches and demonstrations across the country that will most certainly go down in history as a flash point in the cause for racial justice. Not to mention most of your fellow graduates are entering a frozen job market during a time when the economy is in something of a free fall, the future of nearly everything uncertain. 

Your decision to go the grad school route and pursue a PhD was a pretty good one, for a lot of excellent academic and professional reasons. But it’s also a more certain path during uncertain times. I’m grateful for your decision …..

I then went on for another page and a half (as I do) with a whole bunch of very personal mom observations about how hard he’s worked, how proud we are, how he’s grown, the man he’s become… all stuff he might not appreciate my reprinting in my blog.  I read it.. and I cry. It’s all true and deeply, deeply heartfelt.

I woke up in the middle of last night.. tossing and turning.. lay awake for a couple of hours.. fretting about graduation.. not about whether he’ll make it, not about what his future looks like, not about the logistics of moving out of his apartment and transitioning to Michigan. I was anxious about his feelings: Is he okay? Is he sad? Is he weirded out? Does it all feel anticlimactic? Does he feel appreciated and duly honored for his achievement? Is it hard to wrap it all up and leave friends and places he’s come to know over the last four years? Is he scared? Has it been unfathomably lonely the last three months? Does he feel cheated out of his last quarter of college?

I ache for him. Seriously. I just ache.

Jim says he’s fine.

(And there, in a nutshell is a demonstration of dad is from Mars, mom is from Venus. Or dad’s a Frame, mom’s a Peterson.)

~ ~ ~

I read President Obama’s words for those who are graduating from college this very weird year. I read them today and got all choked up. Not all of it resonates, but a lot of it does, so appending the whole thing here:

Congratulations to the Class of 2020! Some of you have graduated already; some of you still have finals; all of you should be very proud.

Graduation is a big achievement under any circumstances. Yours comes as the world is turned upside down by a pandemic, and by a country that has been swept up by protest.

I can barely imagine how head-spinning these last few months have been for you. Just as winter was thawing and you were thinking about spring break, those of you who were away at college were either whisked home or stayed behind on a shuttered campus. Most of you had to finish semesters online — which had its ups and downs. You didn’t have to worry about what you wore to class, but watching your teachers and professors try to work Zoom wasn’t always pretty either. Either way, none of this is how any of you imagined finishing your final spring at school.

Even if we can’t all gather in person, I want you to remember that a graduation ceremony doesn’t celebrate just a moment in time. It’s the culmination of all your years of learning — about the world and about yourself. The friends and family who supported you every step of the way — they aren’t celebrating a piece of paper. They’re celebrating you: how you’ve grown, the challenges you’ve overcome and the experiences you’ve shared. You can see that love in all the amazing ways that families have come up with their own at-home graduations, from drive-by parades to handmade yard signs.

The point is, don’t let the lack of a big, crowded ceremony take anything away from what your graduation signifies. Go ahead and bask in the glory of your achievement. And wherever you are, take lots of photos — although when I look at my graduation pictures, the main thing I realize is that I should have gotten a haircut more often.

Now, as was true for generations before you, graduation marks your final passage into adulthood — the time when you’re expected to fully take charge of your life’s direction. It’s when you get to decide what’s important to you. The career you want to pursue. The values you want to live by. Who you want to build a family with. That can be intimidating even under normal circumstances. And given the current state of things, let’s face it — it can be downright scary.

It’s fair to say that your generation is graduating into a world that faces more profound challenges than any generation in decades. It can feel like everything’s up for grabs right now. 

It’s fair to say that your generation is graduating into a world that faces more profound challenges than any generation in decades. It can feel like everything’s up for grabs right now. A lot of this uncertainty is the direct result of covid-19 — the 100,000 lives it’s taken from us, the economic disruption it’s caused. No can say for sure how much longer the crisis will last — a lot of that will depend on the choices we make as a country. But it will eventually end. Vaccines and treatments will emerge. The economy will begin to heal. Life will start returning to normal — and you’ll still have your whole life ahead of you.

The thing is, Class of 2020, what these past few weeks have shown us is that the challenges we face go well beyond a virus, and that the old normal wasn’t good enough — it wasn’t working. In a lot of ways, the pandemic just brought into focus problems that have been growing for a very long time, whether it’s widening economic inequality, the lack of basic health care for millions of people, the continuing scourge of bigotry and sexism, or the divisions and dysfunction that plague our political system. Similarly, the protests in response to the killing of George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, and Nina Pop aren’t simply a reaction to those particular tragedies, as heartbreaking as they are. They speak to decades worth of anguish and frustration over unequal treatment and a failure to reform police practices and the broader criminal justice system.

These shocks to the system that we are seeing right now — just as you prepare to go out into the world — they remind us that we can’t take things for granted, that we have to work to make things better. They also remind us that our individual well-being depends on the well-being of the community that we live in, and that it doesn’t matter how much money you make if everyone around you is hungry and sick. It reminds you that our country and our democracy only function when we think not just about ourselves, but also about each other.

So as scary and uncertain as these times may be, they are also a wake-up call, and they are an incredible opportunity for your generation. Because you don’t have to accept what was considered normal before. You don’t have to accept the world as it is. You can make it into the world as it should be and could be. You can create a new normal, one that is fairer, and gives everyone opportunity, and treats everyone equally, and builds bridges between people instead of dividing them. Just as America overcame slavery and civil war, recessions and depression, Pearl Harbor and 9/11 and all kinds of social upheaval, we can emerge from our current circumstances stronger than before. Better than before.

But, as has always been true at key moments in history, it’s going to depend on young people like you to go out there and rewrite what’s possible.

Now, I’ll admit that it’s a little unfair to lay such a heavy burden on you. I wish that my generation had done more to solve some of our country’s big problems so you didn’t have to. But the good news is that I know you’re up to the challenge. You’re the best-educated generation in history — and a whole lot more technologically savvy. You’ve been exposed to more knowledge and perspectives than my generation ever was; you’re more tolerant and empathetic, entrepreneurial and environmentally conscious. Even before graduation, many of you have already started to make your mark — feeding the hungry, mentoring kids, fighting racial injustice, helping veterans, battling climate change. And now, to see so many of you participating in peaceful protests, to see so many of you of every race and background raise up your voices on behalf of justice for all — well, it’s been unbelievably inspiring.

You make me optimistic about our future.

So as you prepare for the next stage of what I know will be a remarkable journey, I’ll leave you with a few quick pieces of advice, for what they’re worth.

 

First, do what you think is right, not just what’s convenient or what’s expected or what’s easy. While you have this time, think about the values that matter to you the most. Too many graduates who feel the pressure to immediately start running that race for success skip the step of asking themselves what’s really important. Too often they end up as adults who only do what’s good for them and say to heck with everybody else, and then they end up not having a lot of meaningful relationships or not really feeling as if they really made a serious contribution to the world. I hope that, instead, you decide to moor yourself in values that last — like responsibility, fairness, generosity, and respect for others. That will make you part of the solution instead of part of the problem. And, if experience is any guide, it actually makes for a happier life.

Second, listen to each other, respect each other, and use all that critical thinking you’ve developed from your education to help promote the truth. You are the Internet generation and the social media generation — it’s not just how you shop or listen to music or watch videos, but it’s part of your social lives and it’s the new town square where you all come together and meet. In many ways, it’s been an amazing tool — in your pockets you have access to more information than any group of people in history. It’s allowed movements of like-minded people to mobilize on behalf of worthy causes.

But what’s become clear is that social media can also be a tool to spread conflict, division and falsehoods — to bully people and promote hate. Too often it shut us off from each other instead of bringing us together — partly because it gives us the ability to select our own realities, independent of facts, or science, or logic, or common sense. We start reading only news and opinions that reinforce our own biases and start canceling everything else out; we let opinion masquerade as fact and treat even the wildest conspiracy theories as worthy of consideration. And the irony is that usually the people who are peddling falsehoods on the Internet or social media are doing so for their own purposes — either to sell you something or to distract you from the real issues that matter.

You can change that. If a friend tells you covid-19 is a hoax, politely correct them. If an older relative cites some video to promote a racist stereotype, show him or her why that video is a sham. As a generation that understands social media and technology a lot better than anyone, it’s going to be up to you to create online cultures and communities that respect differences of opinion and freedom of speech, and also restore the kind of honest, informed and fact-based debate that is the starting point for tackling the challenges we face.

Finally, even if it all seems broken, have faith in our democracy. Participate — and vote. Don’t fall for the easy cynicism that says nothing can change — or that there’s only one way to bring about change. In the midst of recent protests, I’ve noticed that there have been some debates among young people about how useful voting is compared to direct action and civil disobedience in ending discrimination in our society. The fact is that we don’t have to choose; we need both. Peaceful protests and demonstrations are patriotic — they shine a light on injustice, they raise public awareness, and they make the folks in charge uncomfortable in a way that is healthy. After all, we’re a nation that was founded on protest. Eventually, though, your aspirations have to be translated into specific laws and institutional practices, — and that only happens when we elect good people, at every level, who are responsive to our demands — and that includes the local offices like the office of the mayor or the office of the district attorney that don’t get as much attention as a presidential race, but have the most direct impact on issues like how communities are policed.

In fact, you don’t even have to be an activist to make a contribution to our democracy. If you’ve always dreamed of starting your own business, go build a company that is a model for paying its workers a fair wage. If you’ve dreamed always of being a doctor, think about working in a community that is short on doctors. There are so many ways to serve — the important thing is to recognize that this nation needs your talents, your passions, your voice, to make it better.

Hope is not a lottery ticket; it’s a hammer for us to use in a national emergency; to break the glass, sound the alarm, and sprint into action. 

It’s not always pretty, this democracy of ours — trust me, I know. It can be loud and messy and sometimes depressing. But because citizens took seriously the mandate that this is a government of and by and for the people, bit by bit, generation by generation, we’ve made progress — from cleaning up our air and water, to creating programs that lifted millions of seniors out of poverty, to winning the right to vote and to marry who you love. None of these changes happened overnight, or without sustained effort. But they did happen, usually because young people marched, and organized, and voted, and formed alliances, and just led good lives, and looked out for their families and their communities and their neighborhoods and slowly changed hearts and minds.

America changed, and has always changed, because young people dared to hope. Democracy isn’t about relying on some charismatic leader to make changes from on high. It’s about finding hope in ourselves, and creating it in others. Especially in a time like this. You don’t always need hope when everything’s going fine. It’s when things seem darkest — that’s when you need it the most.

As someone once said: Hope is not a lottery ticket; it’s a hammer for us to use in a national emergency — to break the glass, sound the alarm and sprint into action.

That’s what hope is. It’s not the blind faith that things will get better. It’s the conviction that with effort, and perseverance, and courage, and a concern for others — things can get better.

That remains the truest part of our American story.

And if your generation sprints into action, it will still be true of America’s future.

Congratulations, Class of 2020. Make it mean something. And keep making us proud.

~ ~ ~

Happy graduation eve, my darling, hard working son. How sorry we are not to be celebrating with you, your friends, and others in your class tomorrow.

 

Saw these two on our walk this morning.  She was very protective of her little one, which, I totally appreciate. Made me sentimental all over again thinking of Peter down in La Jolla and us up here as college graduation approaches.

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Sniff.

An Apart Celebration

June 10, 2020

Peter graduates on Saturday; I’ll write about that then. We are not going, which is heartbreaking. We won’t be able to celebrate him in the traditional way, nor watch him walk across a big stage in front of thousands to receive his well-earned diploma from a dean or a provost in an academic gown.  No tassel flip, no cap toss, no pomp and circumstance. Such a sad state of affairs.

Yet, this graduation will go down in history for exactly that unusualness. Nobody will ever forget the class of 2020.

Insofar as we won’t be there, we made and gathered some items that he can enjoy on Saturday. Our box was to be picked up today and delivered tomorrow, via Wes and Margy, who were going to drive down, rent a house, and be on hand to mark the occasion and be our parental stand-ins, but poor Margy came down with a fever yesterday and they had to cancel their trip. Feel so bad for them, too!

We’d pulled the plug on our plans weeks ago, gave up the house that we’d rented, cancelled the few restaurant reservations I’d made, told everyone not to come.

Anyway, I’ve been so bummed for Peter, for Ray, for all the graduates. Ceremony denied, but we’ll honor him in other Peter-acceptable ways later.

And, as I said, in the meantime, we put together a box, with items.

Champagne, flutes, some cookies and snacky crackers, a mortarboard and tassel since he opted not to get one, sentimental sentiments from Jim and me, and this very neato bronze thing that Jim crafted and engraved to mark the occasion.

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I made the baked goods.. cheese crackers and chocolate cookies.  🙂

 

All decorated up…

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Only thing missing is us.

 

 

 

 

Blue Heron

June 9, 2020

A blue heron is my best guess, anyway.

Here she was last Thursday:

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And here she was today:

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She was patient, to a point, then was done with it.

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