But now, with the children grown and with me in premature retirement due to MS, we look at her profession differently. Because she went on and earned Master’s and post-Master’s degrees, and she works two extra weeks per year due to her guidance counselor responsibilities, and she is employed by the public school district in the most affluent community in Maine, and she has 25 years of teaching under her belt, she is no longer grossly underpaid. Yet, she still has that favorable teacher schedule with every conceivable holiday off, ample vacations during the school year, and the Holy Grail of the teaching profession – summers off.
Quick clarification before I offend any teachers – by no means am I implying that teaching is easy or that teachers don’t deserve their time off. Furthermore, Kim, as well as most teachers I know, spends a lot of time at home working on school items. Still, it’s a sweet schedule.
We so enjoy her seven week summer vacation. It’s not all lying on the beach and sipping margaritas for Kim. She takes on home projects, sometimes well beyond her skill level, and they always turn out well. But in between the projects we do take in the wonders of summer on the southern Maine coast. We go to parks, outdoor concerts, restaurant decks with live music, July 4th fireworks, friends’ camps at the lake… I could go on.
For example, just last night we decided, spur of the moment, to go get a beer and listen to a local band at one of our beloved summer spots – Portland Lobster Company. I was that close to backing out on Kim. I’m so glad I didn’t. The band consists of three men, and they call themselves The Still. But on this night they had a female lead singer who was a friend of the band visiting from the West Coast, and this girl had pipes! Word quickly got around town and the place was packed. Towards the end of the evening an older couple, you know, about our age, sat down beside us. Of course Kim struck up a conversation and found out they were vacationing in Portland from the Washington, DC area. The husband sat an old wooden box on the table. Kim whispered to me, “What do you think is in the box?”
I guessed, “Maybe it’s a humidor. There is a cigar store just across the street.”
He opened the hinged cover in such a way that we couldn’t see the contents, and pulled something out that fit in the palm of his hand. His wife said, “Go ahead. Ask the band if you can play a song with them.”
I hear the train a comin'Our new friend’s wife, a very conservative looking woman, whispered to us, “He plays a kick ass harmonica.” Damn straight.
It's rolling round the bend
And I ain't seen the sunshine since I don't know when…
I'm stuck in Folsom prison, and time keeps draggin' on
But that train keeps a rollin' on down to San Antone..
At first our new friend performed in a laid-back and cautious manner. But as the song wore on, he gained confidence in himself, and won over the audience and the other band members. At one point the other musicians fell into the background and our friend stepped forward. In all my life I never saw anyone play the harmonica like he did. His hands were flying around in a blur. His cheeks were flapping in and out more quickly than seemed humanly possible. His whole body leaned into it and produced a harmonica solo for the ages.
When I was just a baby my mama told me. Son,The crowd went crazy with applause during his performance and at the end of the song. He then returned to his seat, carefully placed the harmonica back in the box, and finished his beer with us.
Always be a good boy, don't ever play with guns.
But I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die
When I hear that whistle blowing, I hang my head and cry…
These are the kinds of things you don’t see if you always stay home on Tuesday nights, like we do for most of the year.
The only drawback to Kim’s summer vacation is that it always ends. That’s what we’re facing right now. Tomorrow, she goes back to work. But that’s okay, because somebody’s gotta bring home the bacon in this family. Plus, I still need to watch House of Cards on Netflix, and Kim has no interest in that.
I bet there's rich folks eating in a fancy dining car
They're probably drinkin' coffee and smoking big cigars.
Well I know I had it coming, I know I can't be free
But those people keep a movin'
And that's what tortures me...
Well if they freed me from this prison,
If that railroad train was mine
I bet I'd move it on a little farther down the line
Far from Folsom prison, that's where I want to stay
And I'd let that lonesome whistle blow my blues away.....