It seems that our unsettling times are having an unsettling effect on me at the moment. The national political situation in general and specific events such as Thursday’s school shooting in California frustrate and sadden me. On the other hand, successful local elections earlier this month buoyed my spirits as has the happy news that two of my former students recently earned doctorate degrees.
Still, I feel unfocused at the moment, a bit “at sixes and sevens,” as the old phrase goes. In an attempt to clear my mind, this week I am sharing six or seven things that have recently flitted through my scattered brain.
1) I have just about had it with auto-correct on my Kindle tablet. Having long appreciated spell-check on my desktop computer, I find auto-correct downright intrusive. I cannot count the number of times I read over a completed sentence or paragraph in which auto-correct has overruled my spelling or word choice, resulting in some ridiculous gibberish that casts doubt on my sanity.
The most embarrassing example of this modern inconvenience going awry occurred in a Facebook comment congratulating my great-niece on her induction into the National Honor Society. It took several attempts to convince auto-correct that I did indeed intend to use the NHS abbreviation. When the comment posted, however, I realized auto-correct had gone behind my back to change NHS to NBA!
2) As regular readers know, I am a faithful fan of Jeopardy! and, as such, found it quite interesting that a classmate of my niece recently appeared as a contestant on the popular quiz show as did a friend of the husband of a former student of mine. And I was really excited to learn that the daughter of a cousin of another former student is now a Rockette in Radio City Music Hall. With that six-degrees-of-separation thingie, I figure I am teetering on the very cusp of stardom!
3) Last week I finished reading a thoroughly enjoyable book, a real page-turner. The Huntress by Kate Quinn belongs to my preferred literary genre, that of historical fiction. Her novel tells the fascinating story of a World War II war correspondent and his Russian pilot wife in the 1950’s as they track a Nazi murderess to Boston, where she is hiding in plain sight. Great characters, great plot! I highly recommend this book!
4) I happened to see a report on television about a grandmother and her grandson, who are working through their goal of visiting all of the national parks in the United States.
Their adventure began when the woman from Muskingum County, Ohio, mentioned to her wildlife veterinarian grandson that she had never seen a mountain. He took her to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where she not only saw a mountain – she climbed one. Thus, Grandma Joy and her 30-something grandson embarked on their trips, traveling 25,000 miles across 38 states in the past four years.
What I loved most about this story, besides the bond they have created with each other, is Grandma Joy’s pronouncements that she is “living in the moment” and that she will remember their trips “for the rest of her life.” She is 89 years young!
5) I recently unearthed a cache of letters I received from my sisters and high school friends during my first year at college and from my Otterbein friends during the summer of 1967. Real letters on real stationery! There was a five-page one typed in single-spaced form! The college girls wrote about finding summer jobs for $1.40 an hour as well as looking forward to our sophomore year. One gal even discussed at great length about what turned out to be the Six-Day War between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, and Syria.
Facebook and Twitter are wonderful conveniences, but there is just something about a letter written by a friend or a sister just to you…
6) Of course, the weather has been somewhat unsettling as well. About six weeks ago, schools were dismissing early because of unseasonably high temperatures. All too soon, however, they closed for the first serious snow of the season. I thought we would have at least a few more weeks of crisp autumn air, but it seems we have already crossed over. I do love those carefree, breezy summer days, “when laziness finds respectability,” according to Sam Keen. I know I can still be lazy during the winter months – but in a burrowing kind of way!
7) I must share one of my favorite little “ditty” poems about the current month. From the pen of Clyde Watson:
November comes / And November goes / With the last red berries / And the first white snows.
With nights coming early /And dawn coming late / And ice in the bucket / And frost by the gate.
The fires burn / And the kettles sing / And earth sinks to rest / Until next spring.
So, there are my six or seven things from two weeks of being at sixes and sevens. Ahh, I am feeling calmer and more focused already!
Shirley Scott, a 1966 graduate of Graham High School, is a native of Champaign County. After receiving degrees in English and German from Otterbein College, she returned to GHS in 1970 where she taught until retiring in 2010. From 1976-2001 she coordinated the German Exchange Program with the Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium in Springe.