This past week.

I ate these school lunches.

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I read this book to the first graders.

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I wore these shoes.

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Finally, I bought some new Christmas decorations, including this fellow.

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Let the holidays begin!

Thursday is the new Friday around here

Because of my school schedules on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I feel like it’s Friday by the time Thursday comes to an end. Such is the case today. Although Thursday evening, I’m thinking Friday night, which means I’m not in the mood to cook dinner. Wasn’t in much of a mood to do that last night, either. We had biscuits and gravy for dinner after I had baked an apple pie. Terry said he’d take me out for Chinese food tonight. Good.

Tomorrow (Friday), I will spend shopping for groceries and starting the Thanksgiving preparations. We will be hosting the meal at our house, the vegan Thanksgiving meal. After I have my hair cut and colored on Saturday, I will do a bit more preparing and then we will pack up for a quick trip to San Francisco. The car show is there the next week. Nice holiday interlude. School will be out all week so I won’t have to prep or present until the first week of December.

Trees, leaves, falling

Although foggy and cool in the mornings, our afternoons are pretty nice with lots of sunshine for a few hours. That’s when I get my rake and head outside to move the leaves around.

We have two large trees in the backyard that drop massive amounts of leaves. In years past I have put many of them in the green can and had them hauled off. I also keep a large pile of leaves around the greenhouse pad to keep the weeds from growing and to build my own mulch pile.

Last year I decided to move some of that mulch to the front of the greenhouse pad where I always got a bumper crop of winter grass and weeds. Flowers won’t grow in this yard, but the weeds and wild grasses do a great job. The mulch worked and kept the weeds away so this year I am pushing the leaves to the outer edges of the yard so as to keep the weeds down but also to act as moisture retention for the large plants that edge the yard. I found that the plants I kept leaves around this past summer needed far less watering than the non-leaf-mulched plants. I’m trying my theory on the front yard with some of the leaves from the mulberry tree that grows out there.

Terry should be pruning the mulberry tree as it cannot be allowed to keep its new growth. Mulberries grow on that new wood and make a terrible mess in the spring if the tree is not harshly pruned back. However, Terry’s lower back has been hurting for two weeks. A visit to the doctor last week diagnosed bursitis in his left hip. She is hoping to help the pain with anti-inflammatories, pain killer, and muscle relaxant, but it seems that may not be enough. The next step will be a cortisone shot into the hip. I’m hoping that will provide the relief he will need to get busy on that tree pruning job.

Sunday’s church service

We are now attending a Presbyterian church that has a very traditional service. I LOVE it, and I especially love the organ and the hymns. Almost every Sunday I am able to sing all of the songs during the service. Today, alas, was not one of those days. My Baptist background had not prepared me for the hymns in today’s service, and if I’ve not heard them before, I can’t sing as I don’t read music and can’t carry a tune very well. Actually, I can’t carry a tune at all, but I like to sing any way.

Even though I could not sing along, I still enjoyed the hymns this morning as the organ hit all the notes and carried the melody. At our previous church the organ had been replaced with a rock band and the music was so loud that it literally banged my insides. This morning’s music was calming, reassuring, and gentle on my insides.

Another enjoyable aspect of the Presbyterian service is the sermon. The pastor is very low key and his sermons are quite delightful. And short. I like short. I say short, meaning short for the evangelical church which has gotten into the habit of 50 minute sermons. The Presbyterian sermon runs about 20 minutes. Which is perfect. People don’t want to sit and listen for a long time to someone going on and on. Or this person doesn’t. One has to be a pretty amazing speaker for me to want to listen for more than 20 minutes.

Mid November means early sunset

Although only a small amount, it did rain this week. Enough to settle the dust and clean up our very bad air. Fresno was on the same level as China for a couple of days. The air so thick with particulates that you could not see your hand in front of you and it was hard to breath. After the rain, and some wind, the air is much better but not for long if more rains don’t come.

The rain fell on a day I do my chaplain duties so I learned, first-hand, what happens at the school on rainy day schedule. The students don’t get to go out after lunch to run and play but rather are cooped up in the cafeteria, chomping at the bit to move and laugh, and talk loudly. The cafeteria helpers were not amused. They tried to show a movie, but the noise level was too high to hear the dialog. The kids didn’t seem interested, anyway, and just wanted to goof around and talk with their friends. I cannot blame them as they must sit for so much of the day, doing math and reading, that sitting one more minute makes them explode with energy.

I got out stickers to reward the kids who were trying to behave but that caused an uproar by others who ran over to see if they too could get a sticker, which just made the cafeteria helpers irate. I didn’t score any points there.

The chaplain supervisor came to observe my last class on Wednesday. This class does very well and received a prize on Wednesday (as did three of my other classes) for their good behavior during story time for the past three weeks. We call the reward Star Points and this week’s prize was a pencil covered in sparkly stars. Next time it will be a star sticker from the police department.  One class, oh my, just can’t seem to get any stars on their chart. Maybe next week.

I received a very nice report on my storytelling and work with the class,  and the supervisor said he was going to recommend some of the other chaplains come observe me. I was a bit surprised as I’ve not worked much with little kids so figure I could sure use more practice. I will say, though, that I do engage them while I am there. It’s only 30 minutes for each class so I figure I can’t mess up too much in that short amount of time.

Sun sets here at 4:49 today so the drapes have been drawn and the lamps turned on. Dinner is cooking as I type. I’m trying a new vegan carnitas product that I found at Whole Foods. I stuffed a poblano chile with the mixture and melted Jack cheese on top. We’ll see if it measures up. As the darkness falls, I am so ready to eat dinner and get ready for bed!

A holiday week

The schools are closed Monday and Tuesday this week since Veteran’s Day falls on Tuesday and we know, those who work in schools, that you cannot get kids to come one day after the weekend and then take a day off and return, so just give them the extra day off. Because of the holiday, I’m not doing Good News Club this week. Since I had extra time, and it was the week for Ladies Who Lunch, and  I didn’t care for the restaurant that had been selected for the monthly lunch, I offered to host the group at my house. I would have the time, and I do enjoy cooking and entertaining when I have the time.

I made chicken tortilla soup and apple dumplings. One of the gals brought a lovely assortment of breads from a local bread company and another brought a peach cobbler, so as you can imagine, we were quite full by the time the meal was finished. I also juiced grapes, pomegranates, and cranberries for a beverage. I added sparkling water to the juice and it was a quite refreshing balance to the mild heat of the soup.

Because it is still fall, and I’m not about to put out Christmas decorations, I went to Michaels just to see what fall decor I could find for table decorations. I got fabric leaves and a bolt of ribbon to make napkin holders. Turned out, when I got to the register, that all fall merchandise was 75 percent off. I only paid $2 for my supplies. Then, at Salvation Army thrift store I found five brand new kitchen towels (still had the tags), with roosters and apples in fall colors to match the leaves and ribbon, that would make perfect place mats. All for $2. I also bought an ivory colored crocheted table runner (or couch doily, depending on how you use it) for $1. Another guest brought each of us warm colorful socks and I packaged up the leftovers and sent everyone home with a goody bag. Each of the ladies took their “placemat” home as part of the “swag.”

Even though it is a holiday, Terry has a doctor’s appointment to see what is wrong with his back. He has been in excruciating pain for the past week. We are thinking there is a vertebra problem as nothing has helped that he tried for muscle aches which he has had before.

One of the Ladies Who Lunch is at the hospital today having an MRI as she has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. The MRI will determine whether the surgeons will do a lumpectomy or a mastectomy. There were lots of tears, along with laughter, at lunch yesterday.

Tomorrow I return to the school across town and tell the story of “Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon,” about a little girl who did not get sad or mad when bullied at a new school, but instead used her grandmother’s advice about accepting one’s self and having a positive, upbeat attitude. The bully becomes a new friend.

So, how’s your holiday week playing out?

Fruitcake season is upon us

I baked nine little fruitcakes yesterday, after soaking the fruits and nuts in Korbel brandy for a week. Korbel is a winery in Guerneville that makes outstanding champagne. It takes a good brandy for the final processing of champagne, so when I saw the Korbel label on the brandy bottle, I knew I had a winner. Sure enough, really good brandy for fruitcake season.

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You will note that only eight fruitcakes are continuing the aging process. I always want to cut and eat one when they come out of the oven, so warm and fresh. I decided to do just that. After all, they are MY fruitcakes, and I’m a adult, so I should get to make that decision. Even though that last sentence sounds like a petulant child!

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