June 13, 2009
The road trip didn't feel like vacation, probably on purpose. It doesn't yet seem quite right to vacation without Erin. So, I framed it in a utilitarian way. We needed to take Ruby to New York. On the way, we needed to pick up Davis. I had a little business to take care of in Washington (more on that next week), so it made sense to kill two birds with one stone. The sidetrip to Niagara was vacation-esque, but a three-hour layover does not make a holiday.
We played the license plate game, but clearly needed more skill on the team, because despite driving 3300 miles we did not collect all fifty states. In fact, we didn't even collect the lower forty-eight. Missing: Delaware, Vermont, and a whole slew of states from west of the Mississippi, although we did bag Idaho early on, which gave me hope that we would win.
One thing I noticed was how clean the roadsides were. I grew up when you always saw litter by the highway as you drove, no matter where you went. This commercial resonates in my memory:
Now, when you drive cross country, very little trash catches your eye. In Texas (and I think nationwide) this has been the result of a variety of initiatives, but mainly public awareness campaigns and voluntary efforts. We have "Don't Mess with Texas" and "Adopt-a-Highway" programs, and I have to say that these efforts have been remarkably effective, which makes driving all the more enjoyable. I have always thought that the highway litter problem is analogous to a variety of other issues: If everyone actually picked up their own mess, there wouldn't be any mess. I preach this to my students, so they don't leave soda cans, water bottles, and discarded newspapers junking up the room I where I teach.
Unfortunately, this personal responsibility argument does not apply across the board. Children with cancer will not recover just because they or even their families act responsibly. While we have a large number of people creating public awareness about pediatric cancer, and an even larger number of people voluntarily making donations and raising money to help, it is not a problem that will be solved by a good ad campaign and a cadre of volunteers. Its going to take a bigger, more far-reaching effort and a boatload of money.
Beyond this scree, verbs abound around here. I get almost daily reports of people who take Erin's inspiration to add verbs to their repertoire. Laura started riding her bike to work; Brooke climbed and marched and climbed some more; Becky has added reading to her daily life. I love hearing these stories and am trying to figure out a way to let people post when they adopt a verb.
The lanyard workshop idea has fully blossomed. For locals, this means that you come out to the house on Fridays at 3:00 to make lanyards and socialize. We had fifteen folks for the first one and a bigger crowd than that yesterday. Erin's Dream Lanyards (and eyeglass chains, necklaces, and coming soon, matching earrings) allow Erin's friends to keep her dream of finding a cure for neuroblastoma going. The makers also think it's a great way to remember Erin, and many of them have been adding a green bead to their creation to give each one the "Erin touch." I have a few outstanding orders (Sarah, do you have a color preference? Patti, it took me a while, but I finally figured out how to do a Rennaissance-style one for Brooke.), but mainly we are accumulating inventory for back-to-school. In the meantime, if you find you can not exist another day without one, please let me know, and I can set you up. ALSO, if you ordered one at some point, and I have overlooked you, please let me know, and I will fix that problem!
Next week, Erin will miss Creative Arts Camps at First United Methodist in Bryan. This fantastic program was always one of the highlights of Erin's summer. In her absence this year, the group will hold a food drive for the Brazos Food Pantry and also a "bead drive" for Erin's Dream Lanyards.
Erin is also missing Mo Ranch camp this week. Clayton Sue, Charlotte, Clarke, and Elle will have to keep her spot warm on the ropes course, the horse trails, and in the river.