Once there, Jan suggested Shakespeare in the Park, and, of course, I was all for that! It was "Othello," and, unfortunately had to be called at intermission due to a steady drizzle that rendered the stage unsafe for combat. However, Dearly Beloved, I got the surprise of my life when I looked at the cast list in the program and saw Michael Fariss' name! I had forgotten he goes to Webster, and that Webster is in St Louis. I was going to send a card backstage, but then I saw him walk by. "Michael," I called...the look on his face was absolutely priceless! For some of you who don't know him, he was one of Jim's students at Cedar Valley, and he and Brendan were in shows together at Round Rock High. He also was in "Man of La Mancha" at Sam Bass and "Grease" at the Palace.
I met Jan through the StL Today coverage of the Coleman case (you know me and my murders). She was a tireless advocate for the victims and their kin, and offered scathing commentary and a take-no-prisoners attitude that I liked immediately. We began to communicate off the boards, and I went up to Wiley TX to see her last December. She is a singer/songwriter with a marvellous voice and presence. While in St Louis, we met up with another person from that same forum, had lunch (thanks, Shag) and chatted the afternoon away.
I was off again, getting in to Cedar Rapids at around 11 PM on June 1. Of course, I managed to get stuck in Friday rush hour leaving St Louis, which is why I was so late and had to rent a double room because it seems Cornell College was not the only one having Commencement last weekend.
I was mildly indignant when it began to rain just before the (outdoor) Commencement ceremony. Of course, I was prepared with an anorak, but the college was also prepared, handing out rain ponchos and wiping chairs. The clouds parted and the sun shone on the 250-odd graduates. This pic is Jimmy, Brendan, his step-sister Liza, stepmom Rachel and grandma Ginny.
I didn't get to take Emmy for a ride, so I still have that to look forward to. Here she is, with her parents, Carlos and Emerita. She doesn't graduate till next year, so I thought it was very nice of her family to be there for Brendan's ceremony.
Brendan gave me a walking tour of the campus, including the theater and library. I had already explored the chapel and commons on my own. Once we got all his bags, boxes and banjo crammed into Grandma's car, she treated Jimmy, Brendan and myself to a lovely dinner at Red Lobster. After that, I hopped it fifty odd miles to Amanda's in Davenport, where I spent the night. Of course, we sat up talking (she and her brother Casey and myself) till after 4 AM. She took my out to a truly marvellous Chinese restaurant and stuffed me before sending me out on the road again.
Back in St Louis, Jan gave me more of the tour, this time letting me drive. Around the city, it was easier for her to drive, but, once we got out in the country, Hans got a workout. We went along levies, and to a beautiful hilltop 19th Century graveyard and a complex of Indian Mounds.
I have to say that St Louis is a lovely city, and that it reminds me of Vancouver. I felt right at home, sleeping with the windows open and city sounds murmuring in my ears. I'm going to have to go back when it's cold there, just to see how cold it gets. I could live there. There's cheap rent, theater, art galleries, good food, beautiful scenery and Indian Mounds. There are also bunnies hopping around in broad daylight.
We collected a couple more Coleman Club members and had drinks and nosh. Unfortunately, I was having too much fun to remember to pull out the camera, but it was a wonderful time. Meeting in person the people I had been posting with for over a year was so inspiring. As often happens, we discovered that we all got on like a house afire (as my mother used to say), and a good time was had by all. I was surprised that the four of them had not met up, as they all live fairly close, by Texas standards, anyway. Two of them had been friends since childhood, but none of the others had got together before. I hope they do again. Friends are few and far between in this disposable world we live in, and to be cherished. (She said, nodding sagely, remembering the number of times she, herself, is difficult to contact.)
Anyway, yesterday morning, Jan sent me off full of cafe Americain to meet Steve (one of the CC members), who filled me up with eggs and bacon and sent me on my way. By 9 PM, I was in Oklahoma City, where Stella and Arthur found me, topped up my tank, fed me and sent me off. Stella found my blog through the widows' forum I hung out in after Jim died. Thank you so much, both for the forum and the help.
The drive through the night from OK City was unusual. When I go adventuring, I generally park at night, but I had decided to drive through. Until the full moon rose, the highway was a tunnel in the night, down which I hurtled at 70 and more mph, leapfrogging with semis, classic rock blaring as loud as the Bose would allow. I left the top down all the way to Dallas, but it started to get chilly, so I had to put it up.
I pulled in the driveway at 3:36 AM, staggered upstairs and fell asleep.
If this is Wednesday, this must be Texas!