Off the Beaten Path

At the conclusion of our Albanian trip, 3 days in Durresi on the Adriatic Sea were needed to unwind. Off season rates were” in season” and we got a top floor suite with a big balcony overlooking the sea.

Hotel Adriatik, Albania

Our view from the balcony overlooked the Beach walk and all the people enjoying it as we would shortly be when heading along the walk to find dinner.

Beach Walk

For the 3 days we were there,  around 6 PM, entire families,  would appear entering the park , purchase ice cream, popcorn or drinks and jovially continue walking the shore.

Our Concierge said that these were mostly poor people who rented small apartments in the older section and had no televisions.  (My feeling was they had something much better.)

While there we visited the Roman 2nd century Amphitheatre  and other sites including one of the  15th century fortifying  Towers the Venetians built….and now converted into a wonderful bar,  and, naturally sampled their wine.

Shipping port, Durres, Albania

Ships have anchored in this harbor since the 7th century BC. And eventually it grew into a vital staging port.

This is the site for our Ferry departure and thank God for the marvelous taxi driver or we would have missed it entirely.He had to park the taxi and help us with luggage for a half mile, then through passport clearance  and boarding. I know Mike tipped him well because he grinned and said “When are you coming back?”

Our cabin was small, 2 double decker beds (good, needed one for luggage), small bath with a shower over the sink(?)—but a large porthole.  Dinner offered in the Cafeteria from 8 to 10 and it was excellent. I took my coffee out to the top deck and noticed  2 ships paralleling I asked a deck hand and he said “We travel in trios because of potential hijacking.”

I went to the bar for another glass of wine.

Arriving at Bari

You see the last trucks exiting while 80+ people are lined up inside the left doorway… having been breathing the toxic fumes for an hour and being told to wait there. (If they ever want to get our money again: PEOPLE exit first!)

Picked up rental car hereHad to walk from the port to pick up our rental here. No problem, Mike carried the heavy stuff and I just sneezed and sneezed and….

Restourant at Montefalco

Stopped for lunch at a small village.  Food looked good but I couldn’t taste it….but the fresh air  was  delicious. Now on our way to see some of the 300 year old “Troulli  Houses”.

Trulli Houses

These were located in the middle of a narrow street in the village. Most of the owners advertised their shops on the outside to take advantage of tourism….but you had to drive a block to find a parking space. And we did!

alberobello_h1

Looks like a Hobbit Village!

Farmers originally built these Troulli  houses because they were inexpensive, expandable and moveable. They’re made of concentric stone rings and stone floors. The roof pinnacle  locks the last layer in place, double walled filled with rubble for insulation, and water drainage from the roof to a cistern below.  The originals were one large and one small room.

We found  one “For Sale” as we drove out of the village and stopped. The front door was open and we were fascinated by its simplicity!

We continued to Montefalco, not from road signs–nonexistent–but we saw it at the top of the hill.

Montefalco

The name means, “Falcon’s Mount”, not for the bird, but because of its sweeping views and lofty position. In the 13th century, with many warring tribes abounding, the height of the city was extremely  important.

Around Villa

 

There was a sign for the, “Villa San Luca” and the single lane took us to the front of the Villa. This building,  16th century, was everything you expected: classically formal dining room, a large friendly bar/patio with an excellent view.

 

Hotel Villa San Luca, Montefalco

This view from our balcony overlooked the surrounding mountains, vineyards and a large pool which had closed 2 weeks earlier…sigh…but it was October!

Panoramic_view_of_Assisi

It was Sunday  and I wanted to attend Mass at the Assisi Basilica di San Francisco and the 1228 burial site. There was no room left in the larger upper church so we squeezed in to the lower church (13 century) which was to accommodate the growing number of Pilgrims who came to honor St. Francis of Assisi.

The Lower level Church

A lovely ceremony but a little overwhelming with the smells of vino and garlic. Communion was a tussle with some rotund women pushing and pummeling to be first. When 2 of them “sandwiched”  me, I just stopped and said  “Appre’ vous  Madame”…loudly—then they backed off.

Afterward  we had coffee and toured this wonderful site. There was a local winery nearby and, of course, we had to taste their wares. Mike and the owner needed no translation for the “international” wine discussion while I got into the tasting and loved the Trebbiano Spoletino.

Since our formal dinner last night at the Villa, we wanted to find a local restaurant in the nearby village  of Montefalco. Our hostess gave us parking directions to the top of the hill, stopping outside the town, and walking through the main entrance. We understood her directions after seeing the single lane street.

Glad it hadn’t rained:  wet cobble stones are hazardous! The setting sun was reflecting  on the surrounding mountains and we watched till it dipped.

Cobblestoned streets

The Frederico II ‘s specialty that night was “wild boar” and I can’t think about it without drooling.

federico-ii

That was a trip (and a meal) to remember!

9/3/2015

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Living in the Raw

Mike is doing a, “happy dance” visiting Fangoria Winery. You can see (on his right knee) where he actually knelt to see and smell (not kiss) the vines.

This young vineyard manager took us up and down the rows of vines explaining what they were doing (most vital in the US) in their way of irrigation- which is none.

Their water comes from the mountains and the rivers.

The vineyards swoop down to the Black Sea Below. With occasional rain coming from the mountains.

Finally I got them to move along by screaming, “I am freezing!”

I chose this primer sparkling wine house again because the view of the highs and the lows and how they supplement the growing grapes. The local stone dates to the winery founding in 1860.

Our next winery was Karakezidi Wine Making House. And what is particularly unusual for this winery and farm is that it is all totally organic.

Yanis’s wine cellar.

This is the hospitality room where Yanis brought us to sample some of his wine. It is also his, “hospitality” room and includes the following options: music, dining, wine tasting, and much more. Yanis is center, Mike is on the right and Charles Gordon left. The man who wrote the book, “The Russian Wine Country- Sleeping Beauty Awakens” and that is what brought us here.

He played several instruments while we ate lunch, everything grown organically on the farm of course. Then with the wine he sang beautifully. A warm and friendly man who wanted to hug us as we left, but being about a foot shorter than I, I kept it reasonable by putting my cane between us.

 

Yanis dispersing wisdom which he loves to do and… does it well. Look around the inside of his house. And now we are going to go outside and look at his house- built by his and his family’s hands.

 

If you notice the swimming pool you wouldn’t want to jump into it because it would be colder than the Devil.

Further down you will find a very luxurious garden built by Yanis and supplied with plenty of fertilization from the animals: goats and chickens he has roaming around at all times.

We thoroughly enjoyed Yanis’s rural and organic lifestyle- most especially his wines and to top all this off the excellent organic meal and hospitality he provided.

2/24/2018

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Zero Hour Part 2

The Aliens are coming! The Aliens are coming!

This probably would have been the title to my essay in my response to Caroline’s Martian piece. She told me she had given this as an assignment when she was teaching and it was the students job to either write their thoughts on it or continue their own story. So I will do both. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and it reminded me why Caroline was an English and Theatre teacher. I could just as well see this being turned into a short play. Out of the many English assignments I had in my schooling I can’t remember one that would be this fun! My continuation is at the bottom of part two, be sure to read part one found below before reading this..

Part 2

I didn’t mean to,” said Mom. “Drill‘s a Martian?”

“No. He’s—~well—-maybe from Jupiter or Saturn or Venus. Anyway, he’s had a hard time.”

“I imagine.” Mrs. Morris hid her mouth behind her hand.

“They couldn’t figure a way to attack Earth.”

“We’re impregnable,” said Mom in mock seriousness.

“That’s the word Drill used! Impreg-—- That was the word, Mom.”

“My, my, Drill’s a brilliant little boy. Two-bit words.”

“They couldn’t figure a way to attack, Mom. Drill says–he says in order to make a good fight you got to have a new way of surprising people. That way you win. And he says also you got to have help from your enemy.”

“A fifth column,” said Mom.

“Yeah. That‘s what Drill said. And they couldn’t figure a way to surprise Earth or get help.”

“No wonder. We’re pretty darn strong,” Mom laughed, cleaning up. Mink sat there, staring at the table, seeing what she was talking about.

“Until, one day,” shispered Mink melodramatically, “they thought of children!”

“Well’.” said Mrs. Morris brightly.

”And they thought of how grownups are so busy they never look under rose-bushes or on lawns.”

“Only for snails and fungus.”

“And then there’s something about dim-dims.”

“Dim-dims?”

Dimens-shuns.”

“Dimensions.”

“Four of ’em And there’s something about kids under nine and imagination. It’s real funny to hear Drill talk.”

Mrs. Morris was tired. “Well, it must be funny. You’re keeping Drill waiting now. It’s getting late in the day and, if you want to have your Invasion before your supper bath, you’d better jump.“

“Do I have to take a bath?” growled Mink.

“You do. Why is it children hate water? No matter what age you live in children hate water behind the ears’.”

“Drill says I won’t have to take baths,” said Mink.

“0h, he does, does he?”

“He told all the kids that. No more baths. And we can stay up till ten o‘clock and go to two televisor shows on Saturday ‘stead of one!”

Page 4

“Well, Mr. Drill better mind his p’s and q‘s. I’ll call up his mother and —-“

Mink went to the door. “We’re having trouble with guys like Pete Britz and Dale Jerrick. They’re growing up. They make fun. They’re worse than parents. They just won’t believe in Drill. They’re so snooty, ‘cause they’re growing up. You’d think they’d know better. They were little only a couple years ago. I hate them worst. We’ll kill them first.”

“Your father and I last?”

“Drill says you’re dangerous. Know why? ‘Cause you don’t believe in Martians! They’re going to let us run the world. Well, not just us, but the kids over in the next block, too. I might be queen.” She opened the door.

“mm?”

“Yes ‘2”

“What’s lodge—ick?”

“Logic? Why, dear, logic is knowing what things are true and not true.”

“He mentioned that,” said Mink. “And what’s im—pression-able?” It took her a minute to say it.

“Why, it means—” Her mother looked at the floor, laughing gently. “It means—-to be a child, dear.”

“Thanks for lunch!” Mink ran out, then stuck her head back in. “Mom, I’ll be sure you won’t be hurt much, really!”

“Well, thanks,” said an.

Slam went the door.

At four o’clock the audi-visor buzzed. Mrs. Morris flipped the tab. “Hello,

Helen!” she said in welcome.

“Hello, Mary. How are things in New York?”

“Fine. How are things in Scranton? You look tired.”

“So do you. The children. Underfoot,” said Helen.

Mrs. Morris signed. “My Mink too. The super-Invasion.”

Helen laughed. “Are your kids playing that game too?”

“Lord, yes. Tomorrow it’ll be geometrical jacks and motorized hopscotch. Were we this bad when we were kids in ’48?”

“Worse. Japs and Nazis. Don’t know how my parents put up with me. Tomboy.”

“Parents learn to shut their ears.”

A silence.

“What’s wrong, Mary?” asked Helen.

Mrs. Morris’s eyes were half closed; her tongue slid slowly, thoughtfully, over her lower lip. “Eh?” She jerked. “0h, nothing. Just thought about that. Shutting ears and such. Never mind. Where were we?”

“My boy Tim’s got a crush on some guy named–Drill, I think it was.”

“Must be a new password. Mink likes him too.”

“Didn’t know it had got as far as New York. Word of mouth, I imagine. Looks like a scrap drive. I talked to Josephine and she said her kids- that’s in Boston–are wild on this new game. It’s sweeping the country.”

At this moment Mink trotted into the kitchen to gulp a glass of water.

Mrs. Morris turned. “How’re things going?”

“Almost finished,” said Mink.

“Swell,” said Mrs. Morris. “What’s that?”

“A yo-yo,” said Mink. “Watch.”

She flung the yo-yo down its string. Reaching the end it– It vanished.

“See?” said Mink. “Opel” nibbling her finger, she made the yo-yo reappear and zip up the string.

“Do that again,” said her mother.

“Can’t. Zero hour’s five o’clock: ‘By.” Mink exited, zipping her yo-yo.

On the audio-visor, Helen laughed. “Tim brought one of those yo-yos in this morning, but when I got curious he said he wouldn’t show it to me, and when I tried to work it, finally, it wouldn’t work.”

Page 5

“You’re not impressionable,” said Mrs. Morris.

“What?”

“Never mind. Something I thought of. Can I help you, Helen?“

“I wanted to get that black-and-white cake recipe–—”

The hour drowsed by. The day waned. The sun lowered in the peaceful blue sky. Shadows lengthened on the green lawns. The laughter and excitement continued. One little girl ran away, crying. Mrs. Morris came out the front door.

“Mink, was that Peggy Ann crying?”

Mink was bent over in the yard, near the rosebush. ”Yeah. She’s a screbaby. We won’t let her play, now. She’s getting too old to play. I guess she grew up all of a sudden.”

“Is that why she cried? Nonsense. Give me a civil answer, young lady, or inside you comet.”

Mink whirled in consternation, mixed with irritation. “I can’t quit now. It’s almost time. I’ll be goo. I’m sorry.”

“Did you hit Peggy Ann?“

“No, honest. You ask her. It was something—-we1ll, she’s just a scaredy pants.”

The ring of children drew in around Mink where she scowled at her work with spoons and a kind of square- shaped arrangement of hammers and pipes. “There and there,” murmured. Mink.

“What’s wrong?” said Mrs. Morris.

“Drill’s stuck. Halfway. If we could only get him all the way through, it’s be easier. Then all the others could come through after him.”

“Can I help?”

“No’m, thanks. I’ll fix it.”

“All right. I’ll call you for your bath in half an hour. I’m tired of watching you.”

She went in and sat in the electric relaxing chair, sipping a little beer from a half-empty glass. The chair massaged her back. Children, children. Children and love and hate, side by side. Sometimes children loved you, hated you–all in half a second. Strange children, did they ever forget or forgive the whippings and the harsh, strict words of command? She wondered. How can you ever forget or forgive those over and above you, those tall and silly dictators?

Time passed. A curious, waiting silence came upon the street, deepening.

Five o’clock. A clock sang softly somewhere in the house in a quiet, musical voice: “Five o’clock-—five o’clock. Time’s a-wasting. Five o’clock,” and purred away into silence.

Zero hour.

Mrs. Morris chuckled in her throat. Zero hour.

A beetle car hummed into the driveway. Mr. Morris. Mrs. Morris smiled. Mr. Morris got out of the beetle, locked it, and called hello to Mink at her work. Mink ignored him. He laughed and stood for a moment watching the children. Then he walked up the front steps.

“Hello, darling.”

“Hello, Henry.”

She strained forward on the edge of the chair, listening. The children were

silent. Too silent. .

Page 6

He emptied his pipe, refilled it. “Swell day. Makes you glad to be alive.”

Buzz.

“What’s that?” asked Henry.

“I don’t know.” She got up suddenly, her eyes widening. She was going to say something. She stopped it. Ridiculous. Her nerves jumped. “Those children haven’t anything dangerous out there, have they?” she said.

“Nothing but pipes and hammers. Why?”

“Nothing electrical?”

“Heck, no,” said Henry. “I looked.”

She walked to the kitchen. The buzzing continued. “Just the same, you’d better go tell them to quit. It’s after five. Tell them—” Her eyes widened and narrowed. “Tell them to put off their Invasion until tomorrow.” She laughed, nervously.

The buzzing grew louder.

“What are they up to? I’d better go look, all right.”

The explosion!

The house shook with dull sound. There were other explosions in other yards on other streets.

involuntarily, Mrs. Morris screamed. “Up this way!” she cried senselessly, knowing no sense, no reason. Perhaps she saw something from the corners of her eyes; perhaps she smelled a new odor or heard a new noise. There was no time to argue with Henry to convince him. Let him think her insane. Yes, insane! Shrieking, she ran upstairs. He ran after her to see what she was up to. “In the attic!” she screamed. “That’s where it is!” It was only ‘a poor excuse to get him in the attic in time. Oh God, just in time.

Another explosion outside. The children screamed with delight, as if at a great fireworks display.

“It’s not in the attic!” cried Henry. ”It‘s outside!”

“No, no!” Wheezing, gasping, she fumbled at the attic door. “I’ll show you. Hurry! I‘ll show you!“

They tumbled into the attic. She slammed the door, locked it, took the key, threw it into a far, cluttered corner. She was babbling wild stuff now. It came out of her. All the subconscious suspicion and fear that had gathered secretly all afternoon and fermented like a wine in her. All the little revelations and knowledges and sense that had bothered her all day and which she had logically and carefully and sensibly rejected and censored. Now it exploded in her and shook her to bits.

”There, there,” she said, sobbing against the door. “We’re safe until tonight.

Maybe we can sneak out. Maybe we can escape!”

Henry blew up too, but for another reason. ”Are you crazy? Why’d you throw

that key away? Damn it, honey!”

“Yes, yes, I’m crazy , if it helps, but stay here with me!”

“I don’t know how in hell I can get out!”

“Quiet. They’ll hear us. Oh, God, they’ll find us soon enough—“

Below them, Mink’s voice. The husband stopped. There was a great universal humming and sizzling, a screaming and giggling. Downstairs the audio—televisor buzzed and buzzed insistently, alarmingly, violently. Is that Helen calling? thought Mrs. Morris. And is she calling about what I think she’s callin about?

Footsteps came into the house. Heavy footsteps.

“Who’s coming in my house?” demanded Henry angrily. “Who’s tramping around

down there?”

Page 7

Heavy feet. Twenty, thirty, forty, fifty of them. Fifty persons crowding into the house. The humming. The giggling of the children. “This way!” cried

Mink, below.

“Who’s downstairs?” roared Henry. ”Who’s there!”

“Hush. Oh, nonononononoi” said his wife weakly, holding him. “Please, be

quiet. They might go away.”

“Mom?” called Mink. “Dad?“ A pause. ”Where are you?”

Heavy footsteps, heavy, heavy, very heavy footsteps, came up the stairs.

Mink leading them.

“Mom?” A hesitation. “Dad?” A waiting, a silence.

Humming, Footsteps toward the attic. Mink’s first.

They trembled together in silence in the attic, Mr. and Mrs. Morris. For some reason the electric humming, the queer cold light suddenly visible under the door crack, the strange odor and the alien sound of eagerness in Mink’s voice finally got through to Henry Morris too. He stood, shivering, in the dark silence, his wife beside him.

“Mom! Dad!”

Footsteps. A little humming sound. The attic lock melted. The door opened.

Mink peered inside, tall blue shadows behind her.

”Peekaboo,” said Mink.

END

Multi dimensional figures entered the attic. Their radiant white-blue light held the silhouette of a human body, but there was a constant pulsing an churning of energetic waves; twisting and binding, breaking into new links and waves of energy only to collapse among themselves and then begin anew to surge with dynamic life and movement. All this held within what appeared to be a body like visage of a human being.

The Martian spoke to the frightened and huddled parents.

“We have been monitoring your species from afar in what we could best describe to you primitive third-dimensional beings as a multi faceted observatory prism. You see, this dimension is only one of many, in fact, of an infinite.

Another Martian interjected and continued the lecture,

“A compounding and infinite helix of dimensions stemming and extending from one another while also retracting an condensing back into Itself. After your species discovered the splitting of atoms and thus the atomic bomb, you created a major disruption in the cosmic forces. Now while I can explain this next part to you I cannot comprehend it to you.”

At this point Mink, who had been standing in the background, slid back down the ladder making her escape. The Martian continued,

“In short, Quantum physics states that it is possible for an atom to be present in two different locations at one time, defying your concept of time and space. BUT this is an absolute truth and when your species split their first atom here, you also split it in another dimension, reeking just as much havoc and destruction as you did with it here. Only in one of the other universes you destroyed an entirety of a people. A people who had evolved not just to your simplistic 3 dimensions but 64! This level of consciousness cannot even be comprehended by your pathetic minds. The breadth and scope of their Self-realization was some of the highest in the cosmic hierarchy. And you ants destroyed them! That is why we have come to eliminate all of you who are corrupt and culprit to this atrocity.”

“WHAa!.. Whaah how-how-ow do we know if we are worthy to be spared?” Gasped the mother.

And with that the alien reached both its arms toward the parents faces, extended a finger and said,

“With one touch between your eyes slightly above the brow in the center of the forehead a great light and energy will surge through your beings, electrifying them with the knowledge of the universe, of creation and destruction, of good and evil, light and dark, the manifest and the umaninfest, of existence in and of itself to the absolute purest form knowable. To knowledge itself. To God. And upon realizing your Primal Nature you will no longer be able to exist as such and will vanish from your place.”

Just then a loud mechanical sucking-sound filled the room. It was Mink with a hand-held vacuum and a hose attachment. She reached the head towards the Martians and their liquid like bodies began to be sucked into the tube like loose dust. If there was one place no life could live, it was a vacuum.

Written by Caroline Botwin and Kevin Klimczak. Author & Web Editor.

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Zero Hour

Oh, I was to be so jolly! What a game! Such excitement they hadn’t known in years. The children catapulted this way and that across the green lawns, shouting at each other, holding hands, flying in circles, climbing trees, laughing. Overhead the rockets flew, and beetle cars whispered by on the streets, but the children played on. Such fun, such tremulous joy, such tumbling and hearty screaming.

               Mink ran into the house, all dirt and sweat. For her seven years she was loud and strong and defiant. Her mother, Mrs. Morris, hardly saw her as she yanked out drawers and rattled pans and tools into a large sack.

“Heavens, Mink, what’s going on?”

“The most exciting game ever!” gasped Kink, pink-faced.

“Stop and get your breath,” said the mother.

“No, I’m all right,” gasped Mink. ”Okay I take these things, Mom?”

“But don’t dent them,” said Mrs. Morris.

“Thank you, thank you!” cried Mink, and (boom) she was gone, like a rocket.

Mrs. Morris surveyed the fleeing tot. “What’s the name of the game?”

“Invasion!” said Mink. The door slammed.

In every yard on the street children brought out knives and forks and pokers and old stovepipes and can openers.

               It was an interesting fact that this fury and bustle occurred only among the younger children. The older ones, those ten years and more, disdained the affair and marched scornfully off on hikes or played a more dignified version of hide-and-seek on their own.

               Meanwhile, parents came and went in chromium beetles. Repairmen came to repair the vacuum elevators in houses, to fix fluttering television sets or hammer upon stubborn food-delivery tubes. The adult civilization passed and repassed the busy youngsters, jealous of the fierce energy of the wild tots, tolerantly amused at their flourishing, longing to join in themselves.

“This and this and this,” said Mink, instructing the others with their assorted spoons and wrenches, “Do that, and bring that over here. No! Here, Ninny! Right. Now, get back while I fix this.” Tongue in teeth, face wrinkled in thought. “Like that. See?”

“Yayyyy!” shouted the kids.

Twelve-year-old Joseph Connors ran up.

“Go away,” said Mink straight at him.

“I wanna play,” said Joseph.

“Can’t!” said Mink.

“Why not?“

“You’d just make fun of us.”

“Honest, I wouldn’t.”

“No. We know you. Go away or we’ll kick you.”

Another twelve-year-old boy whirred by on little motor skates. “Hey, Joe! Come on, Let them Sissies play!”

Joseph showed reluctance and a certain wistfulness. “I want to play,” he said. “You’re old,” said Mink firmly.

“You‘d only laugh and spoil the Invasion.”

Page 2

The boy on the motor skates made a rude lip noise. “Come on Joe, them and their fairies Nuts!” Joseph walked off slowly. He kept looking back, all down the block. Mink was already busy again. She made a kind of apparatus with her gathered equipment. She had appointed another little girl with a pad and pencil to take down notes in painful slow scribbles. Their voices rose and fell in the warm sunlight.

All around them the city bummed. The streets were lined with good green and peaceful trees. Only the wind made a conflict across the city, across the country, across the continent. In a thousand other cities there were trees and children and avenues, businessmen in their quiet offices taping their voices or watching televisors. Rockets hovered like darning needles in the blue sky. There was the universal, quiet conceit and easiness of men accustomed to peace, quite certain there would never be trouble again. Arm in arm, men all over earth were a united front. The perfect weapons were held in equal trust by all nations. A situation of incredibly beautiful balance had been brought about. There were no traitors among men, no unhappy ones, no disgruntled ones; therefore the world was based upon a stable ground. Sunlight illumined half the world and the trees drew in a tide of warm air.

Mink’s mother, from her upstairs window, gazed down. The children. She looked upon them and shook her head. Well, they’d eat well, sleep well, and be in school on Monday. Bless their vigorous little bodies. She listened. Mink talked earnestly to someone near the rose bush—-though there was no one there.

These odd children. And the little girl, what was her name? Anna? Anna took notes on a pad. First, Mink asked the rose bush a question, then called the answer to Anna.

“Triangle,” said Mink.

“What’s a tri,” said Anna with difficulty, “angle?”

“Never mind,“ said Mink.

“How you Spell it?“ asked Anna.

“T-r-i—“ spelled Mink slowly, than snapped, “Oh, spell it yourself!” she went on to other words. “Beam,” she said.

“I haven’t got tri,” said Anna, “angle down yet.”

“Well, hurry, hurry!” cried Mink.

Mink’s mother leaned out the upstairs window. “A-n-g-l—e,“ she spelled down at Anna.

“Oh, thanks, Mrs. Morris,” said Anna.

“Certainly,” said Mink’s mother and withdrew, laughing, to dust the hall with an electro-duster magnet.

The voices wavered on the shimmery air. “Beam,” said Anna. Fading.

“Four-nine-seven-A-and-B-and-X,” said Mink, far away, seriously. “And a fork and a string and a–hex-hex-agony–hexagonal”

At lunch Mink ,gulped milk at one toss and was at the door. Her mother slapped the table.

“You sit right back down,” commanded Mrs. Morris. “Hot soup in a minute.” She poked a red button on the kitchen butler, and ten seconds later something landed with a bump in the rubber receiver. Mrs. Morris opened it, took out a can with a pair of aluminum holders, unsealed it with a flick, and poured hot soup into a bowl.

Page 3

During all this Mink fidgeted. “Hurry, Mom! This is a matter of life and death! Aw—“

“I was the same way at your age. Always life and death. I know.”

Mink banged away at the soup.

“Slow down,” said Mom.

“Can’t,” said Mink. “Drill’s waiting for me.”

“Who’s Drill? What a peculiar name,” said Mom.

“You don’t know him,” said Mink.

“A new boy in the neighborhood?” asked Mom.

“He’s new all right,” said Mink. She started on her second bowl.

“Which one is Drill?” asked Mom.

“He’s around,” said Mink evasively. ”You’ll make fun. Everybody pokes fun. Gee, darn.”

“Is Drill shy?”

“Yes. No. In a way. Gosh, Mom, I got to run if we want to have the Invasion!”

“Who’s invading what?”

“Martians invading Earth. Well, not exactly Martians. They’re–I don’t know. From up.” She pointed with her speed.

“And inside,” said Mom, touching Mink’s feverish brow.

Mink rebelled. “You’re laughing! You‘ll kill Drill and everybody.”

 “I didn’t mean to,” said Mom. “Drill‘s a Martian?”

Part 2 of the story coming next week.

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Cuba: Part 2

Of course how could one go to Cuba without seeing monuments and tributes to Che Guevarra, the famous liberator of the country. Whether his liberation was a good or bad thing is open to interpretation. This mural was on the side of a hotel in the Revolutionary Plaza, not one we stayed at though. Castro used to give hour long lectures in this plaza. Interesting note on Castro, he did not like this image used on building and murals and while you would see his picture often you would not see monuments to him. I would have been curious to hear what the locals opinion of him was. I assume mostly positive, but I suppose it depends on who I’d ask.

At one point in our journey my belt broke so Mike and I took to the streets of Cienfuego to find a new one. We found a friendly old man at a vendor booth who sold me a lovely leather belt, for $4… I think we should have take advantage of the economy and done a little more shopping.

This gorgeous Cathedral and plaza was located next to one of our hotels (back left). It’s a classic example of Spanish colonial style architecture. The cobble stone is made of a soft coral stone that is beginning to erode after nearly 400 years of use. The interior was beautiful but we really only got to stand in the doorway as it cost extra money to tour the whole thing. During the Communist rule the Catholics were allowed to practice, but to a very limited extent.

We had an opportunity to eat on the top level of the hotel that overlooked the back of the church. It was beautiful and I wish we had got a picture from that perspective. But we did mange to get a picture of an alley way in the old town district of Havana.

Speaking of beautiful design, many of the statues of Angles and other figures around town were exquisite. These were in the cemetery in Havana and I took a moment to stand in awe and admiration at them.

Another magnificent structure in the cemetery.

This massive fort was right across from one of the hotels we stayed at in Havana at the harbor entrance. It was fortified as with most major cities in case of an attack.

After the embargo placed on Cuba in the 1950’s no new cars were imported. They had to maintain what they had, which included fabricating their own replacement parts. These cars were in exceptional condition and found only with in the towns or cities, once you started leaving the urban area more donkey and carts appeared.

The Nacional Hotel of Havana was built in the 1930’s and is the largest and nicest hotel in Cuba. We stayed on the 4th floor and overlooked the plaza where we could people watch and see performances in the plaza.

A beautiful luxury hotel, the lobby was marvelous and large. Food could be eaten inside or out and if it’s raining you eat in.

There was a dance performance near the hotel that we got to see. A nice experience of of local art, both music and dance.

I made an appearance in this picture from a museum we visited and especially enjoyed the picture of the old man farmer who I liked so much that I brought a original picture home. He was a good representation of the common man found among the country. We really enjoyed the trip and hope that in time more of the country will open up and the tourist and explore further.

(People told us that there was no tipping allowed but you know how that goes when you have good people doing wondrous things.)

We got many of these pictures from a fellow tour group member and artist, Mike. This is a link to his video slide show of pictures accompanied by music.

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Cuba: Part 1

This was our first glance at the city of Havana under the auspicious watch of the tour group. We planned to tour the cities of Havana, CienFuego and Trinidad. We landed in an airport and were then shuttled to a hotel. Driving through the streets one could really see how old and isolated this country has been.

Almost all the cars were old, but they had painted them and used them as cabs. Our first meal was brought by and enjoyed with local fisherman. Their boats sat out on the sea while they dinned with us on the shore and regaled us with stories of their lives. About how they only saw their wives and families three times a year. Of life on the sea and how they enjoyed their beer.

The fishermen were one of the most interesting experiences of our trip. We got to interact with some of the locals, most of whom spoke English so we got a feel for the community. They were jovial and laughed a lot. We met this group in a small town on the outskirts of Havana, it was a very homey and wonderful experience.

We enjoyed seeing the classic buildings and colors of this culture. We learned they have to repaint them every year because of the harsh weather of both moisture and salt, and extreme heat.

The town had musician street preforms, this guitarist played classic Cuban music and had a container next to him for tips, hoping that there would be enough there for dinner that night. The average person lived off of $6 a day here.

This was a glimpse into mostly Havana, more to come!..

Special thanks to Mike and Carol who took most of the photos and made them into a video:

“Hi There, 

         Visiting Cuba was very eye-opening for me. I’ve gained a whole new understanding and deep appreciation of Cuba and it’s people.  

         I put some snapshots together of our trip to Cuba last month. The pictures are basically in chronological order and put to music from local musicians that we visited. I don’t know what the lyrics are saying but I like the music.

I hope you enjoy the slide show.”

Here is a link to the video: https://youtu.be/MUP8jd2Kr6Q

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Footsteps of the Templars- Aveyron, France. Part 1

Footsteps of the Templars- Aveyron, France.

Heavy hoofs clacked against the graveled road of Covertoirade. Passing through the large gate and tromping through the plaza a man and his horse made their way to the Church. This town was a small holdout of the brotherhood but a holdout none the less. A Templar knight knew he could rely on this place for a nights rest and a meal. The large black stallion carrying an armored man strode up a hill to the ridge that held the fort like structure. Most major buildings of this town were built with the idea of defense in mind. The strong walls that surrounded and incorporated some of the towns buildings showed this place was one accustomed to battle.

It was dusk and torches surrounding the church doors were lit. The knight made his way to them and knocked. A hooded man in a brown robe cracked the door and ask, “Who goes there?”

“I am brother Michel, of the Knights Templar. I hail from Pairs originally but am returning from the latest Crusade of the Holy Land.”

“Ah, come in, come in brother. I have heard this third Crusade was bloody one, one that although failed to capture Jerusalem did pave way for an arrangement of access to the holy city for Christian followers.”

“That is correct, after a long brutal two year battle we managed to take the port-town of Acre and instill fear into the Muslim army- the reason they were willing to negotiate a peaceful avenue for Christian pilgrims. They knew if not this campaign there would be one after another till we had what we wanted: Jerusalem.” Responded Michel.

“Praise be to God. Now come in and follow me to the back, I will fetch you some food and drink and show you to a room where you can rest the night. I will have someone fetch your horse and bring it to the stable adjacent to the blacksmiths workshop.”

So the two men walked through the medieval church to a back door leading down a narrow hallway to small quarters underneath the church. And the weary traveler finally laid down his head after many days of travel. Though no Holy Grail was to be found on his previous adventure he now sought his own back home.

This is a location map for the sites visited.

8-1-12 Averyon, France

We left Montpellier, France on the A-75 highway to Paris. It was heavily packed with Sunday traffic and impacted with roadwork repairs. We exited for the first stop in tracking the Footsteps of the Knights Templar at the 11th century site of Covertoirade.

LA COUVERTOIRADE

This beautiful walled city is set in the middle of pastoral farmlands with distant rolling hills. The entrance to the village is through huge doors that were barred from the inside during attacks. Then crossing a tiny plaza in front of a museum, we continued walking past both ancient and some refurbished houses and shops. The streets were narrow and graveled. We came to a lovely 12th century church adjacent to the castle/armory built on top of a ridge. This height gave oversight of the stream and farmlands below…a very important factor when you live on a road that leads to the ports of the Mediterranean Sea. Although these local Templars were originally concerned with teaching farming techniques and improving the livestock of the farmers, but roving bands of attackers forced them to also become protectors. Since those mercenaries, whether attacking or not all needed water, the Templars devised means for accessibility without their entering the village. Just right of the entrance gates was a single, narrow passage up a rocky hill where only ONE person could climb and fill his container from a cistern.

Randomly scattered throughout the village were small stone barns for the animals, areas farmers wanted to secure during attempted seizures. Other stone structures were used for sheep shearing and butchering cattle, pigs and chickens. Both the single and double floored buildings have deep basements for storing food and animals.

Some houses have already been rehabbed for cafes and artisan shops, and when we were there, one restaurant. The wares of a weaver were advertized on the flag above his shop and below were vibrant blankets, throws and scarves draped over tables and chairs. He said the government was selling these rustic structures cheaply and in particular wanted artisans, -restaurateurs, writers and the like to buy them. There were two stipulations: the owner would remodel (plumbing, electricity et al) and would live there. The benefit being one could freely sell his or her wares. Since tourism was just beginning in this area, the weaver hoped it would become quite profitable. At a nearby jewelry and trinket shop, I bought a number of items for my granddaughter…who loved them!

Hot and overwhelmed by our surroundings, we stopped for a glass of wine. The bar was in the basement of a small house and the owner motioned for inside or out. Cooler inside but more entertaining people-watching out…and soaking up the atmosphere. The quality of the merchandise we saw (and drank) would definitely be a draw.

The walled village had the typically rough rock and loose stone passage ways—definitely for rubber soled shoes only. We ended our tour at the beginning, in the information booth just across from the entrance. The agent recommended the Hotel Midi-Papillon in Saint Jean-du-Brul AND SHE CALLED AHEAD for us. What a wonderful recommendation it was!

Forty-five minutes of driving through lush green hills brought us to an old mill town and farming community of Saint-Jean-du-Brul. The lovely old Hotel Midi-Papillon was built next to a deep gorge. High wooded hills surrounded the village with a rough 13th century bridge crossing the river and a 15th century church at the end.

The Hotel fronted a small patio beside the gorge where we could partake of drinks, cigarettes, and coffee—but not much conversation due to the roaring water. The 18 room hotel was full but the attached medieval building offered the “Marquis Suite” for slightly more money. Being antiquity loving Americans, we jumped on it. Our suite was on the second floor (no elevators in 14th century houses) and the original, broad curving stone stair steps were hollowed in the middle. We didn’t need to worry about damage from dragging the suitcases up—quite the reverse. The front rustic but classic bedroom had a small balcony over-looking the street and, to the left, the 15th century Church. The bathroom had been modernized and was exquisite!

8-2-12

After an excellent breakfast finished with coffee overlooking the misty gorge, we continued our Circuit du Larzac.

LA CAVALERIE

This site was developed in the middle of the ancient north-south route connecting with the Mediterranean ports. Established for the cavalry and, most importantly, shelter for the horses; It became a commercial center supplying both accommodations and safety for travelers.

Within the original fortified walls with its enormous gate, 15th through 17th century houses were added. The structure was established by the Templars and completed by the Hospitallers. The large parking lot behind the compound conveniently has the information booth attached and offered site maps. We walked around the structure and entered by a side gate. On the inside, and attached to the front wall of the fortress, were the original 12th century single room houses. Practical people building their homes above the stables: cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter…if you could survive the barnyard odors. A large double gate at the end of the stables permitted multiple horses to both enter or exit simultaneously. Small groups of workmen were leveling the rough sod of the central plaza; covering the ground with handsome pavers and setting guidelines for sidewalks. (The tourists were coming!)

Most buildings were 2 floors including the first lower level basement where animals and farm equipment had been stored. We saw a few nicely finished structures with attractive small porches and single flight staircases. Some ground level places were setting up as stores or shops and one as a cafe..so far. Several of the rooms above were already inhabited.

Walking toward a garden area we saw a tiny 12th century church at the end. The front doors were open and several candles lit the alter with the only other light coming from a small barred window just above. A narrow control aisle and maybe room for 20 persons on the skinny wooden side benches. The atmosphere in here was conducive to silent prayer. No one was around.

It was wonderful to visit these sites before they had been converted for mass tourism…now I would like to revisit in a few years to see their progression.

After visiting La Cavalerie, we drove to the nearby area where the “Commanders” lived, now a small farm village inside the walled old fortress. The large parking lot had only one car in it although just beyond we saw a small herd of grazing sheep being shepherded by a young boy.

9/13/2012

9/10/2017

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Bits of Wales

HovercraftWe took the Hovercraft from the Dublin  ports  to Wales. Boarding was crowded  with noisy  congeniality. “Learn as you go by observation” and we did. The people in the  lead headed for the curved, split staircase, and ran up for the third  deck. We were right behind them.  The semi-circular tables over lookedthe center of the ship and down to the restaurant area. The booths were backed by broad windows with infinite views.

About two hours later we drove off, looking back at  Holyhead Lighthouse.

Holy Head Lighthouse

About an hour’s drive brought us to the extraordinary  walled Conwy  Castle. The huge 1243 structure overwhelmed both the city and us.

Conwy Castle2

Checking in to a hotel, we hurried off to see this walled city and breath taking Castle Conwy.  Even in the fading early September light, we were able to see that one of the abutments used to support the cast iron chains on this suspension bridge, attached to the castle. Extraordinary construction.

The next morning we toured the old, but colorful  village. People were buying fruits and vegetables from the open fronted shops and fresh fish from the boats along the quay.  Most of the crowd appeared to be local.

The Quay Conwy

That afternoon we drove to Langollen  aqueduct and were amazed with what we saw . There was the aqueduct,  180 feet above the river!

pontcysyllte13

There were narrow boats and house barges winding  along the surface. The depth of the passage was 5 feet and the width was 7 feet…all one way of course. All of the water craft were built to these specifications.  There were off-sets along the way where the barges could be parked.  I wanted to climb on one.

After seeing so many beautiful castles, we looked for a different structure with some obvious historical  wear. Montgomery Castle, built circa 1071 by Roger de Montgomery,  fit this requirement.

                          Old Casftle in Montgomery, Wales

During the Civil War it was demolished by order of the Parliament around 1650. We stayed in Montgomery village,  and walked through misty rain to see the remaining structure on top of the hill…..marvelous view.

Time was running out and we had to plot our return to Ireland so we headed to Castle  Cricieth, not too far from Holyhead and our Hovercraft departure.

Castell Cricieth

This structure was  built 1272 by Edward 1st who set about consolidating English rule in Wales. Subsequent conflicts resulted in the castle being sacked. The town expanded in the 19th century with new transportation links. In 1868 It developed as a Victorian seaside resort which is the way we found it. Looking at the picture you can see several houses below on the right….we stayed  at the second one….with both a view of the castle and the sea.

The next morning, on our way to Holyhead,  we had time to visit the last Castle of this trip and what a sight it was! Castle Caernarfon  was built in 1283 also by King Edward 1st.

Caernarfon Castle

He wanted it to reflect Constantinople, Rome and the Welsh legend. And I think it does all of that.

Because we would be on the ship shortly, and for several hours, we decided to walk through part of the Castle and did.

Caernarfon Castle Interior

2/24/2014

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Woman Overboard: Act II (Read act I below if you haven’t already.)

ACT 2 TWO WEEKS LATER

(CATHERINE ENTERS AND FINDS CALLY AND PATRICIA AT THE INFORMATION TABLE )

CALLY

What are you doing out of closed session so early?

CATHERINE

They said it had to do with “administrative personnel,” and that I could not be privy to the discussion. I’ll be talking about this with Etta Pim.

PATRICIA

Catherine, we wanted to thank you for getting a new school proposal for Shoreline on last week’s agenda.

CALLY

I am sorry it got tabled, again… are we surprised? But at least it pumped up the parents who were here. They are connecting with others and rallying individual administrators to find out when it will be “untabled.”

CATHERINE

Lovely. Public pressure is an enormous help.  Speaking of pressure, would you like to support me in court next week?

CALLY

Sure.

PATRICIA

What’s happening?

CATHERINE

The district is beginning their legal attack. They are petitioning the judge for my resignation as a teacher if I want to remain on the board. Mrs. Pim is not worried about the case, but she’s concerned about the viciousness of the attack.

CALLY

We’ll be there, Catherine, and we’ll bring others. Call me with the time and date.

(MRS. PIM ENTERS)

MRS. PIM

There are some weird people around here.

(HEADS TO ONE SIDE)

I just saw a man in the parking lot holding an umbrella and wiping the rain off his car with a handkerchief.

PATRICIA (LAUGHING)

That’s the superintendent fondling his new Mercedes. He requested a special parking place at the last meeting—so his new car wouldn’t get dinged. Catherine managed to get his request tabled.

(ALL LAUGH)

MRS. PIM (LOOKING OUT THE SIDE WINDOW)

What’s going on now?

PATRICIA

Oh, my God, would you look at that!

CALLY

I don’t believe it. Board members Stews and Hyde are putting sawhorses on either side of the superintendent’s car—with “No Parking” signs on them!

(ALL LAUGH)

(OTHER MEMBERS ENTER TALKING AND GIVE A COLD SHOULDER TO THE WOMEN.)

MRS. PIM  (MOVES CATHERINE DOWN FRONT)

I thought I’d stay for the meeting tonight and see if there’s been any attitude improvement.  Otherwise, I’ll see you in court next week. We’re going to win, so hang tough, Catherine. I have to add that these people you are working with…. are strange.

(SUPT. EEL, BOARD PRES. HYDE AND STEWS COME IN, SEAKING OFF RAIN.  EEL SETS HIS UMBRELLA AT SIDE)

CATHERINE

Thanks, Etta.

(BOARD PRES. HYDE HITS THE GAVEL TO START THE MEETING. ALL TAKE THEIR SEATS. CALLY, PATRICIA AND OTHERS SIT IN THE FRONT ROWS OF THE AUDIENCE )

BOARD PRES. HYDE

The meeting will come to order. You’ve all read the minutes in your packets. Are there any changes or additions?

CATHERINE

Yes, Mr. Hyde. On page four, section C, we voted to table the discussion on a new school at Shoreline.

(MUTTERS AMONG SOME BOARD MEMBERS AND ADMINISTRATORS)

I have had a number of phone calls, as I’m sure some of you did, from Shoreline parents who would like to attend that discussion. I wonder if Mr. Livers could set a specific date for his presentation.

SUPT. EEL

You are out of order, Mrs. Bloom! You can’t put pressure on staff to prepare the items you want. They have other duties too.

MR. STEWS

Are you trying to take over the meeting again Mrs. Bloom?

CATHERINE

Mr. Eel, I fully realize that we all work for the public. Although we board members are not paid, certainly you and the administration are well compensated. It would seem that our first priority is to deal with those items that deal with the students.

(MURMURS OF APPROVAL FROM THE AUDIENCE)

Would you not agree that a new school discussion takes precedence over your new “protected” parking space?

BOARD PRES. HYDE (HAMMERS HIS GAVEL)

There is no reason to get nasty, Mrs. Bloom. The most important person in this room is our superintendent, and you need to remember that.

MRS. BLAND

Catherine, you are not following established protocol! We simply listen to the administration’s presentations and then vote to support them. We need to keep these meeting dignified and unstressful.

MR. FORT

I would like to have a response to Catherine’s request for a date on the discussion. Mr. Livers?

MR. LIVERS

(SCRATCHING HIMSELF AND GOING THROUGH HIS PAPERS. AS HE DOES WHENEVER HE HAS A REQUEST)

Ah, well, uh, we are waiting for a response from one of our Shoreline principals. Who is attending a computer conference this week. Maybe at the next board meeting?

CATHERINE

Forgive me, Mr. Livers, but we need a definite date. These parents drive an hour round trip to attend a two- to three-hour meeting. I think we have a responsibility to them.

(MUCH APPROVAL FROM THE AUDIENCE)

SUPT. EEL

Oh, I see what you are doing here, Mrs. Bloom. You want to be popular with the audience and curry their favor.

CATHERINE

If that’s what being a board member entails, then  yes, you bet I am.

MR. STEWS (SPUTTERS)

Pulling all this crap! Where do you come off, lady?

CATHERINE (CHECKS ARMS, HEAD)

Nowhere, everything seems to be attached.

MR. STEWS (JUMPS UP, KNOCKS OVER HIS CHAIR)

I can’t take this irresponsibility this…this…undermining of the administration!

(STORMS OUT)

MR. FORT (COOLLY, LOOKING AT HIS CALENDAR)

 I am looking at our next meeting in two weeks Can you prepare for then, Mr. Livers? Or when?

MR. LIVERS (FLIPPING PAPERS, CONFERS WITH THE SUPERINTENDENT)

Well, yes, I guess we can shoot for that.

MR. FORT

All right. Let’s put that down as the first item on the agenda two weeks from now, and we can give that date to the Shoreline parents.

(APPROBATION FROM THE AUDIENCE)

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Now, can we have a motion and second for the last meeting’s minutes?

MRS. BLAND

 I move we accept the minutes of the last meeting.

MR. FORT

I second.

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Any nays? Then the minutes are accepted. Our next  item on the agenda is the budget. Mr. Livers?

MR. LIVERS

The preliminary budget is number three in your packet. The final budget will be due in six weeks. Are there any questions?

CATHERINE

Yes, Mr. Livers. There are a couple of areas that I find confusing. We agreed on two new school buses at the last meeting, costing approximately 85,000 dollars each, or 170,000 dollars total. Why do we have almost a million dollars in that account?

MR. LIVERS (SHUFFLING PAPERS)

Well, we always keep a reserve for “Economic Uncertainty.” This is normal practice for most districts

CATHERINE

“Economic Uncertainty”?

MR. FORT

Could you please explain what that means?

SUPT. EEL

Yes, Mr. Fort, can explain that. The state recommends that we keep about five per cent of our overall budget for “backup” in case of any kind of emergency. Let’s say we lost one or two of our buses during some flooding this year. We’d have to be prepared to immediately replace them.

MR. FORT

I believe in being conservative, Superintendent Eel, but we pay heavy insurance for the kinds of accidents that most schools have.

MR. LIVERS (SCRATCHING AND RUMMAGING THROUGH PAPERS)

I think the state just wants to know where the districts are economically.

(MR. STEWS COMES BACK WITH COFFEE)

MRS. BLAND

Catherine, this is the way we have always done it. By spreading the money throughout the various funds, we not only conserve it, but keep the teachers from trying to take it for raises.

(MUTTERING FROM THE AUDIENCE)

CATHERINE

Well, I can understand the need for a small reserve…but, overall, I found six million in padding throughout the budget.

(GASPS FROM THE AUDIENCE AND MUTTERS FROM THE ADMINISTRATION)

With our annual budget of forty million, a five per cent reserve would be two million.

(PAUSE)

Perhaps we can find a better use for the remaining four million perhaps a new school in Shoreline.

(CHEERS FROM AUDIENCE)

SUPT. EEL AND LIVERS (TOGETHER)

 YOU ARE OUT OF LINE!

LIVERS

Now wait just a minute….

SUPT. EEL (INTERRUPTS HIM)

You are forgetting, Mrs. Bloom, that you are just a teacher—and one we will have off this board in one week!

(HE STANDS UP AND YELLS)

You have no right to come in here and disrupt our normal process! You don’t know what you are talking about.

BOARD PRES. HYDE (BOARD PRES. HYDE HITS THE GAVEL)

We will come to order, please! Superintendent Eel, please sit down and calm down. Mrs. Bloom, you will refrain from disrupting this board meeting and from insisting the administration.

CATHERINE

Forgive me, that was not my intent.

MRS. PIM (RISES FROM THE AUDIENCE)

Excuse me, Mr. President, I wonder if I might say a few words.

(MUTTERING AMONG THE ADMINISTRATORS)

BOARD PRES. HYDE

I, uh, well….

MRS. PIM (TO THE PUBLIC PODIUM)

It relates to something the superintendent said.

BOARD PRES. HYDE

OK. Please be brief.

MRS. PIM

Thank you.

(LOOKS AT THE AUDIENCE)

I am Etta Pim, Mrs Bloom’s ACLU lawyer Mr. Eel just mentioned that Mrs. Bloom would “be off the board in one week” and I felt that statement needed some clarification. The administration, and the board, have hired a top-flight San Francisco legal firm-and I might add, a very expensive one-to take Mrs. Bloom to court next Tuesday. They have asked the judge to force her to either resign her teaching in order to remain on the board, or to resign her position on the board.

(MUTTERING FROM THE AUDIENCE)

I felt, since Mr. Eel mentioned it, that the public should know.  These plans were made in “closed session” from which they excluded Mrs. Bloom. Thank  you, Mr. President

(A HEAVY SILENCE ENSUES)

BOARD PRES. HYDE (BANGS THE GAVEL SEVERAL TIMES)

All right, this meeting will come to order. Let’s discuss the next item on the agenda.

MRS. BLAND

Oh, I just can’t take this anymore much stress. There’s too stress.

(SHE RISES)

I can’t handle stress or anxiety at all… my hands are shaking . Please  excuse me, I have to Leave. I have to resign this job…it’s just too stressful.

(SHE LEAVES)

LIVERS

You’ve done it again, Mrs. Bloom.

SUPT. EEL

This is all your fault.  You are now truly destroying this board by driving off the members.

(SUPPORTIVE REACTIONS FROM THE ADMINISTRATION, NEGATIVE FROM THE AUDIENCE)

CATHERINE

That’s not what I understood at the election celebration, Mr. Eel. Mrs. Bland’s husband was very unhappy that she ran for the board again and he made no bones about it. He said that you and Mr. Livers put undue pressure on her to run again, saying that she was “vital” to this administration. Certainly you are as much a part of her stress as I am.

MR. STEWS

Oh, that’s a crock, Mrs. Bloom! You’re making that up to exonerate yourself from the problems your election has caused this school district.

MR. FORT

I overheard Mr. Bland’s comments, Mr. Stews.

 (A QUIET CHANTING BEGINS OUTSIDE AND GETS LOUDER DURING; THIS NEXT SCENE)

BOARD PRES. HYDE

We are getting nowhere with tonight’s agenda, Could we please get back to item three, the Preliminary Budget?

MR. FORT

Yes, I would like to see this budget spread over a three-year period so that we can see how much money was spent, in each category, two years ago, last year, and this year. Since I am newly elected to this position, _it would be easier to get a handle on the expenses.

BOARD PRES. HYDE

We have talked about this before, Ms, Fort, and personally think that’s a good idea. Mr. Livers, is it possible for your staff to redo this budget for the next meeting?

Well, uh…

MR. LIVERS (SHUFFLES PAPERS)

I think the staff can do that.

(CHANTING GETS LOUDER)

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Mr. Fort, would you like to make this a proposal?

MR. FORT

Yes, I would.

CATHERINE

 I second.

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Any nays? All right. We will have the new format for the next meeting.

SUPT. EEL (RISES AND GOES TO THE WINDOW)

What is all that noise outside?

(SOME PEOPLE GO OVER TO THE WINDOW. STEWS AND HYDE GO OUT THE DOOR.)

Look at those students, they’ve got picket signs and they’re brushing against my car! What treachery is this? Why are they doing that? Mrs. Bloom, this is all your fault.

(HE RUNS OUT. CATHERINE MOVES DOWNSTAGE TO PATRICIA AND CALLY, WHILE OTHERS WATCH OUT THE WINDOW AND THE DOOR)

CATHERINE

Do you know anything about this?

CALLY (LAUGHING)

Yes. There was a board meeting about three months ago—before you were elected, and I think you were out of town at the time—where the administration asked the members to expand the secondary school day.

PATRICIA

That’s right.Eel felt “more is better” so he requested the junior and senior high students attend seven periods of classes a day instead of six. There was no consultation with parents, teachers, or, God forbid, students. The students only learned of this last month.

CALLY

And I say good for them! These kids are standing up for their rights.

SUPT. EEL (COMES BACK IN VERY AGITATED)

I need everybody to get outside and send these students home! Threaten them with expulsion if they don’t immediately disperse­­- Oh, and get their posters and signs.

(LOOKS OUT THE WINDOW)

Oh, my, they are touching my car again!

(RUSHES OUT) (CALLY GOES TO GET COFFEE. SOME OTHERS GO TO WINDOW, THEN GO OUT.)

CATHERINE

 I don’t believe this.

(GOES TO THE WINDOW, LAUGHS)

Where’s a camera!

CALLY

 What’s happening?

PATRICIA

Eel is spread-eagled over the hood of his car and yelling at the students.

(CHANTING GETS LOUDER)

[END OF ACT 2]

[ACT 3 TWO WEEKS LATER]

(CATHERINE AND ETTA PIM ARE SITTING NEAR THE AUDIENCE, DRINKING COFFEE.)

CATHERINE

Oh my God, Etta, where did you find the courage to stand alone, a female, in front of those five  snarling lawyers representing the district?

MRS. PIM

(LAUGHS, RISES TO GET MORE COFFEE, AND ENDS UP SITTING ON EDGE OF BOARD TABLE)

You simply concentrate on what has to be done.

Everything they’re doing to you is wrong, and that’s what I keep presenting to the Judge Also, Catherine, when the Judge looks at me, one female surrounded by these five howling wolves, it reflects your situation with the “Good Ol’ Boy” club here.

CATHERINE

I will never forget the comment made by the lawyer representing the Commission for School Administrators.

(SHE MOVES UP NEAR ETTA AND PANTOMIMES)

Judge Frick lowered his glasses, looked at lawyer Smith, and said, “Since you support retired teachers being on the board, Mr. Smith, why oppose Mrs. Bloom just because she’ still teaching?”

MRS. PIM (SPUTTERS AND CHOKES ON HER COFFEE)

That comment should be cast in gold!

(RISES)

“Because everyone knows, your Honor, that within a year, a retired teacher becomes pro-administration.”

CATHERINE

Judge Frick looked at me, removed his glasses, and shook while he was cleaning them.

MRS. PIM

I knew then that we had won the case.

(CALLY AND PATRICIA ENTER AND ALTERNATE GETTING COFFEE)

CALLY

Congratulations, Mrs. Pim, You did a hell of a job in court.

MRS. PIM

Thanks to you all for being there to support Mrs. Bloom.

PATRICIA

I wouldn’t have missed it. Hey, I really liked those picketing students behind Catherine when the TV crew was interviewing her.

CALLY

I think it was their chanting, “We shall overcome”  that inspired the national news to run it at 11:00 o’clock and again for two days.

PATRICIA

What’ s the present situation on the “more is better” seven-period day? Some of the students interviewed on TV came off sounding a lot more articulate than either our superintendent or board president.

CATHERINE

Tonight the board is going to vote on a commission to meet with parents, teachers, and students, and reevaluate the seven-period-day decision. But that process may be moot with the tremendous media coverage these students are getting

MRS. PIM

The American Civil Liberties Union is ready to help the students. Personally, I’ve never seen better organized rallies and protests. They are pursuing their rights in a very controlled and non-aggressive manner, and the national news made this district administration look like fools!

CALLY

I thought the TV close-up of Eel spread-eagled on his car did that!

(ALL LAUGH)

MRS. PIM

Catherine, on the downside, I just got notice from my office that the district has filed another suit against you.

CATHERINE

Oh, no.

MRS. PIM

This one is a double-edged sword. They are going to stop your paychecks while they ask the court to define what you can and cannot vote on at the board meetings.

PATRICIA

But I thought the Attorney general’s opinion did just that. He said she could vote on everything, but it would look better not to vote on teacher salaries.

MRS. PIM

And the Attorney General’s opinion will be my “gold card” in this next trial. Catherine, can you live without a paycheck this month if the case isn’t settled by the first?

CATHERINE

Yes.

CALLY

I just don’t believe these guys. I head through a friend in another school district that Superintendent Eel promised the Commission of School Superintendents that he, and he alone, would “stomp out this infamy of a teacher daring to confront the administration.”

(ALL LOOK AT HER AND GROAN.)

CATHERINE

A brave statement by a man who cries over “dings” on his car.

(LAUGHTER)

PATRICIA

Catherine, what do you think is going to happen with Shoreline tonight? I understand that the parents plan to pack the audience—and some of them are looking for blood.

(NOISE OF PEOPLE ENTERING)

Whoops, here they come. See you all after the meeting.

(BOARD MEMBERS AND ADMINISTRATORS ENTER. SOME GO FOR COFFEE, SOME TALK, AND SOME SIT AT THEIR SEATS.)

BOARD PRES. HYDE

If you all would sit down, we would like to begin the meeting.

(POUNDS THE GAVEL)

Thank you. Do we have anyone who wishes to make an “unscheduled public appearance”?

MRS. PIM

Yes, sir, I do.

(SHE GOES TO THE PUBLIC PODIUM.)

I am Mrs. Etta Pim, Mrs. Bloom’s ACLU lawyer. I would like to announce both to the board and to the public that, last Tuesday, Mrs. Bloom won the case that the district filed against her.

(CHEERS FROM THE PUBLIC AND MUTTERS FROM THE ADMINISTRATORS)

I would also like to announce that the District has filed another suit against Mrs. Bloom that will freeze her salary.

(ABSOLUTE QUIET)

This forth coming trial will be in Judge Frick’s courtroom, 10:00 AM next Tuesday, and you are all welcome to attend. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE FROM THE AUDIENCE AND NEGATIVE COMMENTS TOWARD THE DISTRICT)

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Uh, well, if there are no other “unscheduled appearances,” I will entertain a motion to pass the minutes of the last meeting.

MR. FORT

I move we accept the minutes.

CATHERINE

I second.

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Anyone opposed? All right, the minutes stand as written. Our first item on the agenda tonight is the overcrowded Shoreline situation, and it will be presented by Mr. Livers.

MR. LIVERS (SCRATCHING, AS USUAL)

Uh, if you will turn to page seven of the board book, you will see that staff did an excellent job of gathering all the information requested by various board members. You will see in A-1 that we could get by with transferring as few as 50 students. Our recommendation is to bus all the first grade students to two other district schools where they can be absorbed. Our only cost would be two new school buses.

MR. STEWS

Good recommendation,   Mr. Livers, and I applaud the administration for its effort in bringing this information to us so quickly.

(GROANS FROM AUDIENCE)

CATHERINE

Since this is your recommendation for next year, Mr. Livers, what is the plan for the following year? If the population grows, as is predicted, will we then bus the first and second grades? And the year after, the first three grades?

MR. LIVERS (ANGRY)

Mrs. Bloom, you are micro-managing again. I do believe that my staff knows more than you.

(A GROWLING FROM THE AUDIENCE CAUSES MR. EEL HAS TO GRAB LIVER’S ARM AND PULL HIM DOWN.)

MR. FORT

A one-year plan is unacceptable. We this board of trustees, are concerned about a long-range plan, and one that can benefit-our students. A 160 thousand dollar expense for two school buses for a single year’s plan doesn’t make any sense.

(CHEERS FROM THE AUDIENCE)

SUPT. EEL (EYEING THE AUDIENCE)

Now, Mr. Fort, You know that we are working on a long-range plan that should be agreeable to most everyone,

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Uh, maybe this would be a good time to hear from members of the audience.

PATRICIA (GOES TO THE PODIUM)

I would like to speak to the Shoreline issue. As PTA President for one of Shoreline’s elementary schools, I represent a large number of the parents. If you remember, our PTA met with the board last year, and, for the seven years prior to that, we continually met with the administration, asking, then begging, for another elementary school. Three years ago, Superintendent Eel said, and I quote, “We are working on a Strategic Plan as a precursor to any definitive educational plans.” We have asked frequently to see that “plan” and were ignored. You rejected our demographic study because the district hadn’t pre-approved it. Therefore, your recommendation tonight is totally unacceptable.

(CHEERS)

We don’t want any of our students bused when you have the money available to build another school. Your job is not to save money for “economic uncertainty,” but to do what is best for the students of this district. And that is to build another school.

Thank you.

(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS FROM THE AUDIENCE; ADMINISTRATORS NERVOUSLY CONFER WITH EACH OTHER.)

(CALLY GOES TO THE PUBLIC PODIUM. SHE HAS THE BUDGET WITH HER AND USES IT AS NECESSARY. A BRIGHT LIGHT COMES ON HER AS A TV CREW BEGINS TO FILM HER)

CALLY

I would also like to speak to the Shoreline issue. After studying the most recent budget, we found over six million dollars tucked away in various accounts.

(REACTION FROM THE AUDIENCE)

 If any board member so desires, I can tell you the pages and item numbers of these accounts.

(ADMINISTRATORS NERVOUSLY CONFER TOGETHER WHILE BOARD MEMBERS, OTHER THAN CATHERINE AND FORT LOOK FRIGHTENED. MR. STEWS STANDS UP AND YELLS.)

MR. STEWS

This is totally unacceptable!

(UNTIL TV LIGHT SHINES ON HIM AND HE ABRUPTLY SITS.)

(BOARD PRESIDENT HYDE KEEPS LOOKING AT THE ADMINISTRATION BUT GETS NO SUPPORT FROM THEM.)

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Well, OK, if none of you requires that information, I’ll come to the point. Maybe we could take four and a half million dollars from these accounts, still leaving the district two per cent for “economic uncertainty,” and build a new school in Shoreline.

(PAUSES. HUSH FALLS OVER THE AUDIENCE.)

CATHERINE

I move that we take four and a half million dollars from the budget and build a new school in Shoreline.

MR. FORT

I second the motion.

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Well, I, uh, Superintendent Eel?

SUPT. EEL (RISES, AND THE TV LIGHT SHINES ON HIM)

This, of course, was our long range plan, and provided for in our wonderful Strategic Plan. Under the circumstances, I don’t see why we can’t move it up.

CATHERINE

I call the question.

BOARD PRES. HYDE (TV LIGHTS ON HIM)

The question has been called. We will do a roll call vote on the motion to build a new school at Shoreline. I will call for the vote alphabetically. Mrs. Bloom?

CATHERINE

Yes.

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Mr. Fort?

MR. FORT

Yes.

BOARD PRES. HYDE

 I vote “yes,” and Mr. Stews?

MR. STEWS

Yeah.

BOARD PRES. HYDE

The motion passes.

(CHEERS AND DISTURBANCE FROM THE AUDIENCE, CALLY AND PATRICIA DANCING IN THE AISLE.)

BOARD PRES. HYDE (SHOUTS)

We will take a ten-minute break.

(SUPT EEL STARTS GLAD-HANDING THE AUDIENCE AS THOUGH THIS WERE HIS IDEA.)

MRS. PIM (COMES UP TO CATHERINE AND HUGS HER)

I can see why they so desperately want to get rid of you, Catherine!

CATHERINE

When people have had enough, they become very powerful.

(PATRICIA AND CALLY JOIN THEM)

Good job, you guys… and well done.

(A FEW HIGH-FIVES OR HANDSHAKES)

MRS. PIM

What’s next on the agenda tonight?

(A LOW CHANT OF “WE SHALL OVERCOME” BEGINS AND RAPIDLY ESCALATES)

Oh, no. The students are picketing this meeting?

CATHERINE

Absolutely.  What better time? If you really want to see something funny—watch Superintendent Eel.

SUPT. EEL (HEARS TRE CHANTING)

Oh, my God, they’re back, and they are going to “ding” my car! Stews, Hyde help me protect my car.

(AND THEY RUN OUT SIDE DOOR. ALL FREEZE.)

END

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Woman Overboard: Act I

This is my reaction to the impeachment hearings… If you do not like it you can close the page…

COPYRIGHT 1998

Introduction

    In 1989, the ACLU came charging to my defense as a district teacher elected to the

local school board.  Marqueta Sims, representing ACLU, held the reigns, winning 5

cases in the local San Luis Obispo court.

      I wrote this play shortly thereafter …..but had to wait for those involved to either

move away or die before I could release it.  Almost everything that happened was

real….  except for the dramatic license and comedy.

       Marqueta eventually led us to Sacramento and the Educational Sub-committee ….,

who defeated us by a very slim margin. 

      After those first 4 years on the board, I retired, and of course ran again for

eight more years.

SETTING:  THE BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING ROOM. LEFT, TABLE, CHAIRS, WINDOW, DOOR. RIGHT, PODIUM, COFFEE TABLE WITH COFFEE POT, CUPS, ETC.

CAST:                                       

PATRICIA

SUPERINTENDENT EEL

BOARD PRESIDENT HYDE

CATHERINE BLOOM

MR. FETCH

MRS. ETTA PIM

MR. STEWS

MRS. BLAND

ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT LIVERS

MR. FORT

CURRICULUM DIRECTOR

AUDIENCE MEMBERS

STUDENTS

TELEVISION CAMERA CREW AND NEWS REPORTER WITH CAMERAS, MICROPHONE, ETC.

TIME: THE PRESENT

ACT 1:

THE BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING ROOM. TWO WOMEN AT THE INFORMATION TABLE PICKING UP PACKETS FOR TONIGHT’S MEETING… END UP SITTING IN AUDIENCE.

CALLY

There’s nothing on this agenda about Catherine Bloom being seated on the school board tonight. I wonder what’s happening.

PATRICIA

There was a picture in Saturday’s paper showing her official “swearing in” at the Courthouse, so there is no way the superintendent can postpone her being seated again.

CALLY

Are you serious? Would you like to bet some money on that? Take a look at the board table.

PATRICIA

Oh I see there are only four places set for the board members… there is no seat for Catherine.

CALLY

Yeah. This should be the hottest entertainment in town tonight.

(THEY SIT. THE BOARD MEMBERS STRUT IN, CHATTING SOMEWHAT OBNOXIOUSLY WITH THE ADMINISTRATORS. DURING THE FOLLOWING SCENE, OTHER MEMBERS OF THE AUDIENCE ENTER AND TAKE SEATS.)

SUPERINTENDENT EEL

…Well, my wife said, “Dear, would you please think about taking the garbage out when you leave?” And of course I said yes.

(CATHERINE BLOOM HAS ENTERED QUIETLY DURING THIS AND STANDS TO THE SIDE)

BOARD PRESIDENT HYDE

And of course you did.

SUPT. EEL

No, I didn’t, but the point is that I said would think about it.

 (ALL LAUGH. AUDIENCE MEMBERS ALL LOOK AT EACHOTHER AND SHRUG.)

CALLY (MUTTERING TO PATRICIA)

What?

(ADMINISTRATORS AND MEMBERS TAKE SEATS; TALKING ESCALTES. CATHERINE MOVES FORWARD AND ALL FREEZE.FOR HER MONOLOGUE)

CATHERINE

Oh my God please give me the strength and courage so that I can survive this! Look at them… behaving like little children who have done a nasty trick by removing the fifth seat, MY seat. OK, now I am pissed. Their vindictive comments on TV, in the newspaper and at the last three board meetings I could have ignored, but this missing chair is a gross insult. This is war.

(SHE MOVES FORWARD AND ALL NOISE AND MOVEMENT ARE RESUMED.)

CATHERINE

Good evening, fellow board members, administrators and members of the public.

(SHE MOVES THE PACKET BELONGING TO THE CURRICULUM DIRECTOR—WHO IS GETTING A CUP OF COFFEE—AND SHE TAKES HIS SEAT. NO ONE GETS UP.)

Oh, gentlemen, please don’t get up. I need a microphone NOW, if you please, and a name plate by the next meeting.

(THE CURRICULUM DIRECTOR GETS HER A MIKE.)

SUPT. EEL (SPUTTERING)

I told you over the phone, Mrs. Bloom that I would call you when we were ready for you.

CATHERINE

Yes, you did. And I said I would think about it.

(SOME CHUCKLES FROM THE AUDIENCE.)

SUPT. EEL (COUGHS, CLEARS HIS THROAT)

Well, Mrs. Bloom, we are not sure that your election is legal, and until we confer with. our legal opinion, we cannot allow you to participate in the activities or the votes of this governing board.

(SOME MOANS AND BOOS FROM THE AUDIENCE.)

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Mrs. Bloom, we have invited our Roastfield lawyer to address this issue tonight.

CATHERINE

I have an obligation to the public that elected me, to be here.

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Your election is very controversial.  Mr. Fetch will try to clarify our situation.

(MR. FETCH COMES FROM THE AUDIENCE TO THE PODIUM)

MR. FETCH

Board members, administrators , ladies, and gentlemen of the audience. The situation we have here is a catastrophe.

(AUDIENCE STUNNED)

We have a high school teacher elected to HER OWN BOARD of education. ANY vote she casts would be a conflict of interest!

(MOANS FROM THE AUDIENCE)

In four months the board will be voting on teacher salaries…… certainly she can’t vote on her OWN salary.

(PAUSE)

Certainly she can’t vote on administrative raises, because, one: they are her bosses; and two, those raises would take away from teachers’ salaries. Naturally she would vote against new buses, additional supplies, building expansions or anything else, because these would take away from teacher salaries.

Until we can investigate the legality of Mrs. Bloom’s election as a board member, we request that she step down and not vote on any of the board issues. Thank you.

(HE SITS DOWN)

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Mrs. Bloom, we would like you to leave the board until we have looked at all the legal ramifications of your recent election.

(A QUIET FALLS OVER THE ROOM)

MRS. PIM (RISES AND COMES TO THE PODIUM)

Good evening. I am Mrs. Bloom’s American Civil Liberties Union lawyer, and I would like to speak to the board.

(ADMINISTRATORS AND BOARD MEMBERS MUTTER TO EACH OTHER. MRS. PIM WAITS UNTIL THEY ARE QUIET. MRS. PIM THEN CONTINUES.)

Last Thursday the Attorney General issued his “Opinion,” at the ACLU’s request, on the legality of Mrs. Bloom’s election. I believe you all received copies in your pre-meeting packets, yes?

(SHE WAITS UNTIL THERE ARE SOME MUMBLED “YEARS” FROM THE MEMBERS AND SEVERAL ADMINISTRATORS)

I have some extra copies here for the members of the public. The Attorney General clearly stated that Mrs. Bloom’s election was and is LEGAL because there is no law against it, and the public has the right to choose. There are NO areas on which she cannot vote. He does state that since teachers receive raises according to a specific and prearranged scale, she could also vote on these raises–but since there could be a “perceived” conflict here, he recommended that she abstain on this specific issue. Mrs. Bloom has already agreed to this abstention. She is free to vote on all other areas.

SUPT. EEL

Mrs. Pim, we have had word from some members of the public that they will sue the board if we allow this teacher to vote on any issues. Therefore we would like to have our lawyers clarify the situation before Mrs. Bloom is seated.

MRS. PIM

The letter from the Attorney General does just that, Mr. Eel.

BOARD PRES. HYDE

This is absolutely improper, Mrs. Pim! In two weeks we will be doing the yearly evaluation of the superintendent. Certainly a district teacher, working UNDER the superintendent, should NOT be allowed to evaluate her boss!

MRS. PIM

But who better, Mr. Hyde?

SUPT. EEL

That’s preposterous! She’s nothing but a teacher. How dare she be allowed to evaluate me!

MRS. PIM

But it seems that this is the wish of the public, Mr. Eel. And who better to evaluate your ability to lead this school district than the teachers?

MR. FETCH (SNEERINGLY)

Mrs. Pim, without maligning you or the ACLU, perhaps there are some problems that need to be worked out. May I suggest that Mrs. Bloom wait three or four months while we work out the legality of her involvement on this board.

MRS. PIM

No, Mr. Fetch. There nothing  illegal about her election. She’s broken no laws, and the “public will” is more important than the administration’s frustration.

(SHE TURNS TO CATHERINE)

Mrs. Bloom, welcome to the board of education!

(SHE CLAPS, AS DOES THE AUDIENCE)

CATHERINE

Thank you, Mrs. Pim

(MR. FETCH STORMS OUT, AND ADMINISTRATORS MUTTER AMONG THEMSELVES)

CATHERINE (ADDRESSES THE AUDIENCE)

And thank YOU.

SUPT. EEL

We’ll see about this.

(RISES AND GETS COFFEE)

BOARD PRES. HYDE (HITS THE GAVEL)

Well, uh, to business. Are there any changes or additions to the last board minutes?

MR. STEWS

I move we accept the minutes.

MRS. BLAND

I second.

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Are there any nays or abstentions?

CATHERINE

I will abstain because I wasn’t officially seated at that meeting.

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Uh, well, then the minutes are accepted. The first item on tonight’s agenda deals with the overcrowding of the elementary schools in Shoreline. This will be presented by Assistant Superintendent Livers.

(ALL LOOK AT THIS ITEM IN THE PACKET)

Mr. LIVERS

You can see that we propose to eliminate the elementary overcrowding in Shoreline by busing students both south twelve miles and north eight miles where there are empty seats available in our other elementary schools. This is the administrative recommendation for the Shoreline overcrowding.

MRS. BLAND

Thank you, Mr. Livers. I certainly support your recommendation. I hope we’re not going to spend any money buying new buses?

LIVERS

We haven’t looked into that yet, but we will have that information for the next meeting.

CATHERINE

Please excuse me, but I would like some background on this problem, Mr. Livers

SUPT. EEL (TERSELY)

(BACK TO HIS SEAT)

This is NOT the time for that, Mrs. Bloom. You should have gotten that information before the meeting.

(SITS)

CATHERINE

I am sorry, Mr. Eel, but I did call Mr. Livers on Friday–let me see—I noted the times down—at three o’clock, but he wasn’t  available. On Monday I called at nine AM but again he wasn’t around. I even called your office at eleven AM and asked for a return call. But I guess you are still thinking about it?

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Oh, see here, Mrs. Bloom, I see no reason to blame the superintendent for your lack of information.

MRS. BLAND

I agree, Mrs. Bloom. Since you are just a teacher, certainly you should have more respect for administration.

MR. STEWS

If you had a question, Mrs. Bloom, you should have gone to the superintendent’s office, as I do. Now you are just wasting our time and causing problems.

CATHERINE

Well, Mr. Hyde and Mr. Stews, maybe you can give me the answers?

(PAUSES)

One, and the most immediate question is, why are we being asked to approve the administrative recommendation with such limited information? Example: Mr. Livers just said that they haven’t looked into the transportation situation, but we are being asked to approve the recommendation without any research.

Two, we have no choices! What else might we consider to alleviate the overcrowded elementary schools in Shoreline?

(LIVERS JUMPS UP, KNOCKS OVER HIS CHAIR AND YELLS)

MR. LIVERS

This is incredible! She only attends one board meeting and she’s trying to take over my job! Is that it? Do you want my job, Mrs. Bloom? Do you think you could do it better?

CATHERINE

Anyone who offers more than ONE alternative could do a better job.

(LIVERS STORMS OUT)

SUPT. EEL (RISES)

Mrs. Bloom, you’ve been here less than thirty minutes and you have already caused a major problem.

CATHERINE

I didn’t cause the problem, sir, your staff did.

MRS. BLAND

Catherine, you should just spend a little time observing how nicely we work together before you jump to conclusions.

CATHERINE

But Mrs. Bland, I’m not the one doing the “jumping” here!

MR. STEWS

This is unbelievable! She has attacked the credibility of the administration within a half hour of joining the board. Now we have Board Member Bloom who knows more than we do.

CATHERINE (IGNORING HIM)

Mr. Stews and Mrs. Bland, what are your reactions to the Shoreline elementary situation?

STEWS

I’ll vote for whatever the superintendent recommends. We pay him to take charge of the district, and we should support him.

CATHERINE

Mrs. Bland?

MRS. BLAND

Well, I’m not sure. Short of building another elementary school in Shoreline, busing the kids elsewhere is the only alternative, as the administration has so wisely proposed.

(MUTTERING FROM THE AUDIENCE WITH HER STATEMENT)

CATHERINE

You mentioned a new elementary school. What are the pros and cons of that?

MR. FORT

Being newly elected to the board myself, Mrs. Bloom, I would be interested in the growth projections in Shoreline and the cost of building a new school. Maybe we could get Mr. Livers to return, Mr. Eel?

SUPT. EEL

If Mrs. Bloom would refrain from insulting the staff, I’ll see if he’s calmed down.

(GOES AFTER HIM)

(MUTTERING FROM THE AUDIENCE)

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Maybe we should take a ten-minute coffee break. (BANGS GAVEL)

(SOME PEOPLE MOVE TO THE COFFEE TABLE AND SOME LEAVE STAGE. AUDIENCE MEMBERS NO. 1 AND NO. 2 MOVE TO CATHERINE, AND ALL THREE MOVE TO FRONT)

CALLY

We wanted to welcome you to the board, Mrs. Bloom. My name is Cally and this is a Shoreline parent, Patricia.

PATRICIA

Oh, Mrs. Bloom, we parents in Shoreline have been trying to get a new school built for eight years now. There are only a few of us here tonight because we’ve been ignored and/or insulted by the administration and the principals at our two overcrowded schools, and we’ve lost faith in the system.

CALLY

If you could possibly get the new school back as a future agenda item we could get a bunch of parents to stand up and fight for it again. When we met with Superintendent Eel several years ago, he talked about a District Strategic Plan for the schools. We have asked repeatedly to see this plan, and we were ignored.

CATHERINE

I remember a newspaper article last year about Shoreline PTA requesting a new school–what happened?

CALLY

It was to be “taken under advisement” and it simply died. That’s the way this administration works. They keep tabling the item until everyone eventually just gets tired and goes home.

PATRICIA

Both of our elementary schools have been crammed for the last eight years. NOW Livers comes up with busing! Over two hundred kids will be bused daily to another site either eight or twelve miles away. They will spend two hours daily on the bus, not to mention being uprooted from their original, local school and friends. What kind of solution is that? Livers ignored the demographic plan we paid for—he said that the district hadn’t approved it.

CALLY

We have been checking the district budget for a long time. Spread among different accounts, we’ve found a surplus of seven million dollars. Mrs. Bland claims they need this money for emergency.

CATHERINE

It sure seems as though insuring good, local education is an emergency, doesn’t it? I don’t know if I can help.

(HYDE GAVELS FOR THE MEETING TO RESUME)

CATHERINE

But I will try.

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Everybody, please sit down; the meeting will continue. Mr. Livers has consented to continue his interrupted presentation.

MR. LIVERS (SHUFFLING PAPERS)

We have room for extra shoreline students at three different sites, two here in town and one in the other direction. We’re looking into the transportation costs now.

SUPT. EEL

There are no other choices for Shoreline, so getting the board’s approval is merely a formality. Staff will continue to explore costs and the redistribution of buses.  We are working on a Strategic Plan as our vision for the future. This plan is a precursor to any definition of site-based management, and therefore we need to move carefully.

(ALL LOOK PUZZLED AT HIS STATEMENT)

CATHERINE

How will you determine which students and what grade levels will be bused? Move students from all levels? Move an entire grade? Could you tell us the specifics of your bus plan for Shoreline?

MR. LIVERS (SCRATCHING HIS PRIVATES)

We haven’t had time to determine the process. We’ll need to confer with the principals of the two Shoreline elementary schools and make our conclusions.

CATHERINE

Then I move we table this discussion and vote until the next meeting, when the staff will present more information. Do I have a second?

MR. FORT

I second.

CATHERINE

Since staff will be doing more research, I would like to see information on the cost and possible location of a new school in Shoreline.

SUPT. EEL

You are out of line! The staff does not work FOR YOU, Mrs. Bloom.

CATHERINE

I assume the staff works for the benefit of the students in our community? And the board was elected for this same purpose?

MR. LIVERS

Here she goes again telling us how to do our jobs. She will destroy this district!

BOARD PRES. HYDE

Mrs. Bloom, we work together here in support of the administration—the people whom we hired to run this district.

MRS. BLAND

Oh, really, this is just too stressful. I can’t continue working with this conflict!

MR. S TEWS

You cannot keep attacking our superintendent and the staff! You are out of order…

(OTHERS INCLUDING THE AUDIENCE, BEGIN YELLING OUT COMMENTS, RISING IN VOLUME UNTIL BLACKOUT.)

(BLACKOUT)

[END OF ACT 1]

To be continued… (and cheap)

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