I love Monday mornings

No place to be today. No obligations to meet. No preparations to make. Just a beautiful autumn morning to spend at home, enjoying the light and shadows of the season. 

It was a hectic weekend. The next three days will be busy for Terry and me as we are up early each morning and going in opposite directions. But for today, it is calm and quiet on this “border.”  

I can sit on the porch, with another cup of coffee, and enjoy the sun and shade. At least for awhile. The forecast for this afternoon is 100 degrees. 

Another story from the school chaplain

I was asked to write this story for the police chaplain’s newsletter. Thought I would share it with you, dear Readers, since you hear so much about my experiences:

After reading the book, A Chair for Mother, a story about a family whose home burns, one of the first grade boys raised his hand and told me, in a soft voice, that his home had also burned. And like in the story, friends and neighbors had helped restore their furnishings.

The boy, Johnny, had difficulties at school through the year. His dad had to come sit with him in class. He often missed recess due to behavior issues. During the second semester, Johnny started helping the custodian clean up the cafeteria after lunch, the time when the other first graders went to play at recess. He took direction well. He didn’t get upset when corrected and shown a better way of sweeping. He took pride in the clean floors when finished. I watched all of this from the sidelines. He still struggled to focus in the classroom, but his teacher was patient and helped him adjust his attitude, and he often sat with her at a back table while I read the weekly story to the first graders.

On the day I read A Chair for Mother, at the end of year, Johnny was able to sit on the rug with the other students. He did not shout out, but raised his hand. He did not punch or kick those sitting around him. No one complained that he was bothering them. The next day, after I received the Bounce Back Kid stickers at our chaplain’s meeting, I saw Johnny sitting in the cafeteria, calmly eating his lunch. He was always glad to see me and to talk to me. I sat next to him and told him that I was sorry he had lost his house to a fire and was proud of him for sharing at story time. I also told him how proud I was of his changed behavior and that I had a special sticker for him. I explained that a bounce back kid was someone who was able to overcome something and to go on and do well in spite of the setback.

The Bounce Back Kid stickers, designed by another school chaplain.

Johnny got tears in his eyes. He took the sticker and then gave me a hug. That sticker meant a whole lot to both of us.

Living along the borders

The Ladies Who Lunch were The Ladies Who Brunch yesterday. We were a small group, only four, because three of the group are traveling. Two are on pleasure trips, and the third is headed to New Mexico for an uncle’s funeral. We changed our time to meet because one of the gals needed to drive to Los Angeles to be with her parents who are in declining health. An older sister is making the big move into the parents’ home to be there for them, something my friend cannot do. These are the border years.

For most of our life, we have all been busy with raising our children, going to our jobs, taking part in the community. The heart of life. Now, though, in retirement, we are seeing the borders of life. Being available to care for grandchildren. The decline, and eventual death of parents. A series of health problems that limit activities. The border activities that we never noticed when we were in the heart of life, busy, successful, creative. Care-giving, decline, illness, loss, fill in the days. Concerns for what the future will hold take precedent over our accomplishments. As we live along the borders, there are fewer successes.

We find delight in small pleasures, like a couple of hours spent with friends over good food. We commiserate with one another about the trials of the border life. We recollect our memories of those inland years, so busy, so productive. We share many of those memories. Now we tread carefully towards the borders where we’ve not been before. A few have gone ahead and tell us what they have seen. We will need energy and stamina, but those seem less and less as we reach the border.

We cannot turn back. We will share our experiences. We will continue to encourage one another.  Together we will find our way along the borders.

The week ends with a wedding 

It has been such a whirlwind of activities around here, with lots of people interaction, that I decided to stay home and do nothing on Monday. 

After three days of children at Columbia, I relaxed at the hairdresser’s on Friday for a couple of hours before I had to make my final checkin for jury duty. By noon on Friday, the courts had filled their jury boxes and I was dismissed until the next time. Whew. Now I could go home and do six loads of laundry!

On Saturday a friend and I attended a popular annual boutique at a Japanese church on the Far East side of town. 

I had vowed to buy nothing as I’m trying to get rid of stuff, not bring more home. So many beautiful things, though. A former co-laborer in the school district has retired and turned to designing jewelry. 

I oohed and aaahed but bought nothing. The next day, Sunday at church, a member was wearing one of the necklaces. I complimented her selection, asking if she had bought it the day before. Yes she had!  We laughed that we had just missed each other at this very well attended event. 

After pursuing all that merchandise, my friend and I went to lunch and spent much of the afternoon catching up. We have been friends for over 35 years and used to see each other on a regular basis, but she has been sidelined by an ailing husband for the last four years. His illness has changed her and it makes me sad. 

Sunday was filled from sun-up to sun-down. After church I had a deacon’s meeting and Terry had choir practice. Afterwards we stopped at Subway for a takeaway picnic and headed to the hills. 

Our young friend whom we’ve known since before she was born was getting married at the same camp where our daughter got married and where we have all put in hours of service. 

We had our picnic lunch beside the upper pond. 

We had arrived about an hour before the ceremony so we watched people arrive and visited with many who we knew. Then we went into the chapel and watched these two kids say their vows. 

Got home just as the sun set and had soup for dinner. I was too tired to make or eat much else. 

Let’s see what we can do this week. 

Oh, this week

The days have been filled with all sorts of goodness. Both here at home and across town at school. There has been the specter of jury duty hanging around. Every day, at 5 pm, I log onto to the county courthouse site to check my credentials. So far, four days of “check back tomorrow.”

There has been healing going on, too. I had a serious allergic reaction at the end of last week, serious enough to go to ER. The staff stood around, asking me all sorts of questions about new fragrances, foods, soaps, etc. It’s hard to answer when your eyes are swollen and your throat constricted due to whatever has been attacking your system. Nothing new in my life except the conventionally-grown green beans I prepared for dinner. Instead of organic, I took a chance and bought conventional. The staff determined that the chemicals used to grow the beans were not compatible with my body. The prognosis–about 5 days to get back to normal. And stick with organic.

We had pictures taken at church for a pictorial directory the next day. Yes, with my eyes still swollen, I did my best to smile and look good for the camera. Terry and I laughed that this photo would be the one to help us remember to stick with organic food. The proofs actually turned out looking pretty good due to the photographer knowing how to turn my head and light my face.

I again had lunch with the older children at Columbia on Tuesday. The third graders were so excited to fill me in on what they are doing and talk about the food we were eating–raviolis. During 5th/6th grade lunch I chatted with a number of students that I knew from last year. One boy, while in line, turned around and said, “You were my friend in the office last year.” Yes, I had spent many times chatting with him as he sat on the “naughty bench.”

“Have you been in the office this year?” I asked.

“No,” he replied.

I gave him a “Bounce Back Kid” sticker that has been designed by the chaplaincy office for kids who make strides in life no matter the past.

The little right-fighter sat with me on Wednesday, remaining calm and reasonable. The teacher says he is doing better and is not hitting or kicking as much as before. I will check on him again today and am hopeful of a good report.

Not only am I on jury duty stand-by, so is one of the first grade teachers, and on Wednesday she got called to come to the courthouse at 1 pm. She had to scramble to find places to put her 24 students as there were no substitutes available at that time of the day. Her class is the first one I read to so the other teachers arranged for me to have the children sit in the hallway of their first-grade wing to hear the story and then to break up into three groups to go into their classrooms. This group of teachers is wonderful for covering for each other.

I came home Wednesday and cooked a dinner to take to a lady from our church. She has had a couple of strokes and is now home from the hospital but not quite up to fixing meals. I roasted chicken, made pilaf, put together a fruit salad, and baked cherry turnovers for dessert. Terry and I delivered the meal and visited for awhile. She is doing remarkably well for someone in her condition. The doctors just keep ordering more tests as they can’t figure out what’s wrong. She takes it all in stride. I’m sure her positive attitude is helping her.

The weather has turned very cool. Very fall like for these few days. I’m enjoying the coolness because I know we will have a few more near 100-degree days before summer gives up and moves out.

When friends are gone

It’s been nine years since I took up residence at this URL. I don’t post every day, but I visit other bloggers on a daily basis. A few I actually drop in on every single day, others get a visit on a less regular basis. Sometimes it’s months before I get back to a blog, especially if the blogger doesn’t write on a consistent basis. Last night I checked in on one of those writers only to find that she had died on September 1, just weeks before her 50th birthday. Her husband has taken up the task of writing on her blog, to let her readers know what happened. Helly was such a vibrant, exuberant redhead. It’s as if a light has been turned off.

It made me so sad to read of her demise. Her ending was slow and agonizing. Doctors couldn’t seem to get the right diagnosis. Medicine failed her. Helly often wrote about her husband. She adored him. They did so many things together. They had such fun living life. As you can imagine, he is bereft. The life they built is but an empty shell now that she is gone. All the the things that mattered no longer do so. He writes that it is just “stuff” now.

I never met the redheaded Helly from Atlanta in person, but I so enjoyed her writing, as I do so many of you, that I felt I knew her. You open your life’s door and let me come in for a moment. You share the good, the bad, and sometimes the ugly. Although we aren’t sitting at a table, across from one another, sharing a cup of coffee, you still allow my comments and thoughts to penetrate your world. I appreciate that aspect of the blogging community. You are indeed my friends and I wish you a happy, healthy life. Please keep writing. I’ll be by to see you.

Another day, another miscreant

On Thursday I got to the cafeteria just as one of the first grade teachers was bringing in a little boy who I have been trying to help. He has impulse control issues, and due to another flare-up, he was to sit in the cafeteria and miss recess.

I sat by him and asked what had happened. Somebody had taken his place in line. These little guys can be so territorial, and they will fight to the death to defend their territory. That’s what had happened this time. He had kicked the interloper.

“Is that the best way to solve the problem?” I asked.

Being pretty smart, he answered with what he knew I wanted to hear, “No.”

“What should you have done?”

“But he got in my place in line.”

“So? Just go the next place in line, or really shock him and go to the end of the line.”

“But it’s my place in line.”

“B, you are what I call a ‘right-fighter. You are right, it’s your place in line, but if he steps into it, and he won’t move when you ask him to, you cannot hit or kick him. We don’t settle our disputes that way.”

“But it’s my place in line.”

This is one battle I’m not going to win. So I stepped away and quit the discussion.