Will I Ever Be Too Old?

When talking with my grandmother this morning about my trip to Italy she said, “I’d love to go, but you know I can’t.  I’m too scared.  At this age, you never know what can happen.”  I had to laugh.  “You never know what could happen at any age!” I said.

To her credit, she’s 87.  She went to Italy with us five years ago – and did perfectly fine I might add.  She’s not your typical 87 year old grandmother.  If I had half her energy, my the things I could do!

But she got me to wondering – will I ever reach an age where fear will stop me?  (I can see one friend saying, “Fear might not, but your knees – they will.”)

I have this thought that I won’t ever get to 87.  Don’t ask me why.  I just have a feeling.  And if you know me, you know I go with those.  I’m not being morbid here.  Well, I guess I am.  But I have news for you: we’re all going to die.  Could be today, could be when we’re 87.  So kindly get out there and do those things you’ve been dreaming of.  Need some inspiration?  I love doing this exercise: Sit down at a table and imagine your 87-year-old self telling you what to do.  Mine says, “Get the hell out there.  Go have fun, dammit.”  Yes, she curses a lot.  But she’s right on, every time.

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A Day In The Life: Sunday

Some time ago, I shared what life was like as a host at the John C. Campbell Folk School.  To do that, I picked one day (Tuesday) and wrote what our job entails.  Today I’m going to tell you about Sundays.

The nice thing about Sunday is that our lives are not dictated by the ringing of the bell for meals – well, until dinner at least.  Students don’t arrive until 3pm, so the campus is mostly empty.  We can sleep in as long as we want.  But we’re usually up by 10am because a local gentleman cooks brunch for us every Sunday.  Show up at 9 if you want to help cook, 10 if you want to eat.  He makes a small feast – biscuits and gravy, sausage, bacon, potatoes, eggs mixed with cheese and whatever else he has.  He is a generous man who lives in a house filled with books – and he has a sense of humor that keeps us laughing all morning.

Sunday is the day week-long classes start.  Though students don’t register until 3pm, instructors can come in earlier to pick up the keys to their studios.  So when we return to the Folk School, we may get a knock on our door or a call on the Host cell phone from an instructor looking for us.  We’ll open up the office and give them their keys and information packet.

As I said last time, Eve and I do some duties together.  Others we alternate each week.  So I’ll go by how it worked yesterday.

2pm: Eve and I meet to do Studio Rounds.  We have a sheet that lists each studio that’s holding a class that week, and any extra supplies they need.  The Assistant Program Manager goes over this sheet with us the Thursday prior.  Depending on what’s on this sheet, we may meet earlier than two pm.  Sometimes we can polish off rounds in an hour.  Once it took two and a half hours.

Eve goes to get the Folk School vehicle from the parking lot and drives it to Keith House for us to load it.  Keith House is the center of it all – it’s where we live, where the office is, where the Student Orientation and other events take place, and where our supplies are.  So while Eve gets the Suburban, I go to the Housekeeping room on the lower level to get us a large box of paper towels which we’ll dish out to all the studios.  I realize I just took the last box, so I stop in the office to leave a note for housekeeping letting them know.

Next, we head to the Programming Closet to get any extra things instructors have requested.  This week that includes a digital projector, a screen, and flip chart paper.

Then, we’re off.  First, we head down to the Wet Room.  There’s a Felted Rug class in there this week.  They requested table risers, so we grab those out of the back closet of the studio and put them out for the instructor to see.  There are four spinning wheels in that studio that need to be brought to the Weaving Studio.  Eve loads them into the Suburban while I head next door to the cooking studio to replenish their supply of flip chart paper.

I won’t go through every studio, but basically we stock them all with paper towels, take the chairs off the tables (housekeeping was there before us doing the floors), and make sure the studio looks presentable to new students walking in.

Sometimes instructors are already in their studios getting ready.  We introduce ourselves, ask if they need anything, then tell them we’ll see them at 4:30 for the Instructor Meeting.

Once we finish going to all the studios, we head back to Keith House.  We unload anything we picked up in the studios that needs to go back into the Programming closet, grab a cookie from the platter sitting in the office for the incoming students, then relax for a wee bit of time.

4:30: Instructor Meeting in the Dining Hall.  The Assistant Program Manager conducts this meeting.  We’re there so the instructors know who we are (since there’s a new host rotating in every two months) and to hear if there’s anything additional that instructors need in their studios.

After the meeting is finished, we load the Suburban with anything else they requested.  We’ll bring it by their studios tonight when we do rounds again.

5:30 Student Orientation.  Again, we’re there mainly so the students know who we are.  My standard line, after I introduce myself, is to say, “We’re your after-hours on call people, so if you could keep your emergencies between 8 and 5 when the office is here, we’d greatly appreciate it.”  Thankfully, this always gets a laugh.

5:45: I leave Orientation to head down to the Dining Hall to help set up for dinner.  On my way, I grab the tray of cookies and the cooler of lemonade to bring back down there.  Eve stays at Orientation to jot down where each class is meeting after dinner because, invariably, we’ll see people wandering around after dinner wondering where to go.

6:00: I ring the bell, then help dining hall staff plate dinner as students are getting their drinks.  Students then stand behind their chairs and wait for the blessing.

6:05: Eve gets on the microphone and tells the vegetarians where their food is, as well as any one else with special diets.  I’ve seen the dining hall accommodate twenty different diets (no salt, gluten-free, diabetic, no spices, no peppers – you name it, they’ve seen it).  Then, she sings the blessing.  I wheel out a cart of food to the far room.  Eve and I serve it (we eat family style) while the dining hall staff serves the other room.  Then, we sit down to eat.

6:35 or so: I do announcements.  Since it’s their first meal this week, I tell the students how to clear their tables.  Other days I’ll tell them what the afternoon or evening activities are.

6:45: Students set off to meet their instructors and classmates.  Though Eve and I are in a class every week, we don’t meet our class at this point as we have to do evening rounds.

6:55: Eve and I get in the Suburban and drive around to each studio checking in to make sure they have everything they need.

7:15: Rounds are finished, Eve drops me off at my class and drives down to hers.

9:00: Classes let out for the night.

10:00: I close up Keith House.  It’s never locked.  “Closing” means dumping out the coffee pots, turning out some lights, recycling the newspaper, putting anything back that is out of place.

10:30: I go to bed.

11:30: I get a phone call on the host phone that someone needs to switch rooms.  Her roommate is snoring and she can’t sleep.  I get out of bed and head to the office.  I check the housing list to see where I can put her, then call her back.  She moves, I leave a note for the housing coordinator then go back to bed.

12:30: I’m still up.  Harder to go to bed for the second time.

7:23: I get a call from the office wondering which host is leading Morning Walk this morning.  I note that we haven’t done Morning Walk for at least three weeks now.  It’s been pitch black at 7:15am.  Daylight savings happened over the weekend, but I was told once we stop the walk, it doesn’t happen again until spring.  Apparently the office staff don’t know that.  I guess I’m up now.