Happy New Year

No, I’ve not gone bonkers in my old age…for decades now, September has meant the beginning of a new year. One would think it had to do with teaching at that inner city high school as the new school year usually begins in September. Not so much any more, though, as school has already been in session here for two weeks, with Labor Day being a nice break after a laborious start.

No, I go back to September beginning the new year to when I was working in the cottonseed industry. Our new crop year always began September 1. New contracts were written. The new seed crop started arriving in September as the cotton picking began shortly after Labor Day. As Terry and I drove across the valley floor last week, we noticed the bolls were breaking open and picking will begin shortly. The almond harvest is in full throttle, and with an ever increasing number of orchards to meet the ever increasing demand for almonds, the air is very dirty as these nuts are shaken from their trees and then scooped up from the orchard floor. The cotton picking will just add to the air pollution.

There seems to be a plethora of articles lately decrying the use of electronic devices. There are those who seem to think we will be returning to the age of typewriters if one just holds out long enough and does not buy into this generation of electronics and Internet use. I am baffled by this. I love all of my devices. I love being connected 24/7. I love sharing my life in pictures and words online.

I keep thinking how different my life would have been if all of this gadgetry and technology had been around when I was going to school or working. Even my teaching, which was done with computers, would be different today with what is available. We are living in a marvelous time and to even consider giving up any part of what I use now is anathema. 

Terry recently bought a new laptop, a smaller, lighter-weight one as the behemoth he bought when we lived in San Francisco has begun to fail. He also got a tablet. Many days he will use the old laptop for photo editing (it has a huge screen), his new laptop for Internet, and his iPhone for emails and online newsletters. I find it quite humorous and wonder how we lived before all the gadgetry. Then I remember: we subscribed to 5-10 magazines, 2 newspapers, and we watched news shows on television. Terry also listened to the radio every day. I received letters and cards from various friends and family. Okay, that’s the one area I really miss. The cards and letters. I refuse to send greetings via Facebook, preferring to send a real card. I want to receive cards, too, But, that’s just not happening. Even in the new year.

Back at it

After our quick trip to the beach, we are back at our so-called routine. I say so-called because every day seems to call for a different schedule. Terry had to get back and edit photographs he had taken earlier in the week at a non-profit’s breakfast. He got a few delivered today, got his hair cut, and then came home and vacuumed the house.

In the meantime, I had to get some groceries (there’s nothing to eat), and make a trip to Target (we are out of toothpaste). In between those errands I was texting with a local radio personality to meet so as to do a recording for a show he will present next week about our city’s downtown mall which will celebrate 50 years next month. He wanted to talk to people who were around when the mall was built. That would be me. We decided on a time to meet and I took off for downtown right after I finished the Target shopping trip. It was fun to reminisce about what I remembered from my childhood. We also discussed the current state of the mall and the plans to tear it out and put the street back.

After I got home I started the first of three loads of laundry while I prepped for a new recipe–Greek lasagna. I found the recipe on a blog, but I don’t remember whose. I had to make a vegetable sauce (garlic, onion, carrots, celery, red pepper, and tomatoes). The recipe called for ziti pasta. I used rigatoni. After the sauce and pasta are cooked, the second sauce is made–a creamy cheese sauce that includes eggs and is poured over the top. The three parts are layered into a pan and baked for 45 minutes. Fortunately, Terry finished the vacuuming in time to take care of the last load of laundry as I was up to my eyeballs in pasta prep.

We were both pleased with the Greek lasagna. Although the recipe had called for ground beef (have no idea how you would fit it in the pan), I just used the vegetables. The recipe, although I halved it, made a full pan and we will have leftovers for a few days. I’m thinking it may taste even better when reheated.

To the beach

School is back in session. The summer is waning. Tourist season is in its last throes as we head towards Labor Day. With all that, Terry and I decided on a quick beach trip to Santa Cruz.

It’s cooler in Santa Cruz. It’s a change of scenery. The people- watching at The Boardwalk is a great diversion to whatever is on one’s mind

Because of my Best Western Diamond Elite status, I took advantage of a low-cost place a mile and a half from the beach rather than our favored hotel right on the beach. I’m still contemplating the savings over the convenience and beauty. We walked to and from the Boardwalk, walked out on the wharf, and walked back to the hotel. About 6 miles. My feet hurt.

I did get to see some huge hibiscus as we made our way though residential streets on the way to the beach.




This is the view of The Boardwalk from the Santa Cruz wharf.

summer is waning

If today was a summer peach, I would pick it and preserve it in a jar to enjoy on a cold, gloomy day in January when I am tired of winter. Of course, if this winter is anything like last year’s I won’t have to complain about gloomy. With no rain, we have no fog.

The light has certainly shifted, telling me summer is on its way out. This was my breakfast scene this morning:



After breakfast I moved into the living room to dust the furniture (hated chore) and found Calico Cat enjoying the morning light:


The days are much shorter with the sun now rising after me. I’m turning on the lamps before bedtime. I will miss the long days filled with sunshine, but not the heat. Today is so cool that I still have the windows open at 11 am. Amazing.

An update on the chaplaincy experience

When I met with all of the chaplains on Thursday I received my school assignment, Columbia Elementary. The school is in an old part of downtown Fresno, west of the State Highway 99. The student population is 75 percent Hispanic, 14 percent African American, and seven percent Asian. There are five first grade classes with whom I will be working. One fortunate aspect of the assignment is that I have previously worked with the principal. She was a home ec teacher at the school where I did my first student teaching assignment. Although not my master teacher, she was next door to the teacher with whom I worked and a good friend to her. She left the classroom to become an administrator and came to the high school where I taught as the federal and state program’s manager. In other words, she handled the various grants at the school.

Many of you have been curious as to how the Fresno Police Chaplaincy school resource chaplains work in the schools. Over the next few months as I become more involved with my work, I will share what I learn so as to help others understand the program. First of all, we are fostering resiliency in the children, beginning with the first grade. To do that, the chaplain goes into first grade classrooms once a week to read a story and then through questions and discussion focus on certain aspects such as impulse control, optimism, emotional regulation, empathy, risk-taking, and determining how to make wise decisions for effective solutions to problems. The chaplain is also available during lunch and recess to students and staff. At no time is the chaplain proselytizing.

For the month of September I will be observing current chaplains who are starting their second or third year at the school they are assigned. In October the newbies will begin at their assignments.

Early mornings

It’s been a week of early mornings. Which I really don’t mind, too much. I would prefer my usual wake-up time at 6 or so, but I can handle a few days of 5 am.

Terry had presentations to make a couple of mornings so I got up with him to be able to head out the door to do some shopping one morning (I really like to be there when the stores open) and another morning to attend a Bible study at the church I’ve been attending this summer. I thought I would dip my foot a little further into the pond to see if I liked it. I did. Really super people and a good study, too. My brain doesn’t function well after 4 pm. so I cannot attend small groups and Bible studies that are held in the evenings.  I don’t know if I’ll be able to continue going to the morning class, though, because I will have another early morning assignment soon and it may be the same day.

When I pulled out of the garage at 6:30 am. yesterday it felt like those mornings when I was heading out early for a department chair’s meeting. This time it was for a breakfast meeting for the school chaplaincy program. I got to meet all of the other chaplains and really clicked with one particular lady. She’s 80 years old and working in a tough, inner-city school. This will be her second year there, and last year her students got the highest score on the post test that was given in May to see what they had learned. I am already scheduled to observe her.

I now have my school assignment, a school in the very heart of downtown Fresno, one of the oldest elementary schools in the city. There are five (FIVE!) first grade classes with whom I will do a half hour lesson each week, reading a book and asking questions. With that many classes, I may have to schedule two days a week to get it all in and do it well. Tuesdays are already taken with my Good News Club work.

After the early morning chaplain’s breakfast I zipped through traffic to a rally to kick off the new school year for Good News Club. There were about 150 us cheering for one another and another successful year. One of my team members isn’t returning as she has a new job so another lady’s husband is going to fill in for awhile. We are praying for more workers. Same thing for the chaplaincy program. Although more schools are requesting chaplains, there aren’t enough people offering to sign up.

This morning, Friday, we are up at 5 am. again. We had promised ourselves to sleep in, but Terry has jury duty and he is finally required, after calling each day this week, to show up at the courthouse on FRIDAY. I got up to do laundry and then get go out to order my chaplain’s shirt at a store downtown that supplies the police department with their uniforms. The store opens at 9. I’m having lunch later with a good friend, so another busy day. Maybe tomorrow we’ll sleep in until 6.

Health assessment colors

I received the results to that health assessment Terry and I did last week, you know, the one where I got held back so they could tell me I needed to lose weight and exercise more. And Terry got dismissed quickly as his body mass index was so amazingly low that he impressed the whole staff. Hah!

The report comes in colors: green, yellow, red. Sort of like a traffic light. I received, wait for it….GREEN! The report said: 

Good work! This color indicates that you are in the highest category for health and health behaviors. However, we all know we are not perfect, and you likely have personal goals for your health and wellness. Work with your individual consultant to identify those areas of improvements and bask in the glory of knowing that you are on your way to a very healthy lifestyle!

This came about due to the blood work which measures cholesterol, blood sugar, and something called Apo, all of which were good numbers. My bad areas are LPA, again which I don’t know what that is but the report says it can affect my heart and is inherited, and my body mass index which is 30 percent over what it should be. Again, diet and exercise. 

I was walking every day back in June but when my heel started hurting, I quit and have not restarted. It has been really hot, too, so I’ve also used that as my excuse. One good thing I do is to park far away from the store and walk. I also take the stairs when they are available. 

Oh, and Terry’s assessment: YELLOW!