Cold weather in California

The first few days of the new year have been very cold here, or cold for me. Remember, I like 90 degree weather and nothing makes me happier than long, hot, sunny summer days. For now, though, the days are short, the mornings dark, the ground covered in frost when I get up from a lovely night’s sleep. I oversleep on these cold mornings because it is so dark at 6 a.m. And cold. Did I mention the cold? I cannot rouse myself from my lovely bed.

But, rouse myself I must as there are tasks to accomplish. Oh, and the cats don’t let cold, dark mornings faze them.They believe early morning breakfasts should not be held up just because I want to snuggle down in the covers. Because of much banging around, I got up just past 6 this morning to tend to the cats’ needs while Terry remained in bed.

I did feel sorry for the cats as they had been inside for 24 hours because of a big storm that rolled through Thursday afternoon. Cold rain, driven by cold wind, fell all afternoon. When I got home from school I found five palm fronds had blown down, onto the driveway. I couldn’t get in the garage until I parked on the street and cleared the long, sawtooth fronds from the driveway and front yard. Fortunately, the rain started after I got into the house.

Just staying warm all day makes me tired. I’m sure that’s why I’m sleeping so well at night and unwilling to get out of bed in the morning. I was at my hairdresser’s on Tuesday. She has moved her salon into a converted garage at her in-law’s house. It’s in quite a posh neighborhood, and the conversion took one of the three garages on the front of the house. The heating/cooling is piped in from the house, but it’s not really sufficient to keep the room warm. I was so cold when I left and so happy I could turn the heat on high in my car. I have to remember to not make an early morning hair appointment during the cold winter months.

In the moment

The first two weeks of January have flown by. I know I shouldn’t be surprised because this is the way time goes now. At church this morning I was talking to another retired teacher, one who has been retired more decades than me, and she too said that her retirement years have gone way too fast, much faster than her working years. She said it was because we were younger then and time had a different fluidity than in our older years. It must be.

I have been staying on track, staying in the moment. I have not been wallowing in the past, or thinking about what could have been done differently. Nor am I plotting the future in great detail. I enjoy each moment, thinking about the comforts and blessings of that moment, listening very carefully to the person in front of me. That’s the easiest one because I really enjoy spending time with others.

I would actually like to be able to spend more time with friends. On Saturday I enjoyed an historical home tour that was hosted by the high school where I spent all those years teaching. Although the tour has been an annual event for about 20 years, this is the first time I have participated. Until this year, the tour has taken place on a weeknight, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, right after the school’s tree lighting ceremony which I often covered for the school’s yearbook. This year, with too little time between the holidays, the tour was moved to a Saturday morning.

Yes! I could go, but I couldn’t get any of my friends to go along with me so I went alone. I was the only person I saw who was by themselves which made me a bit sad. Other attendees had someone to chat with as they walked from house to house and then to share comments while going through the houses. I did run into a former teacher while moving between houses and we chatted for a bit on the sidewalk. Then, at the very last home, I was greeted on the porch by some long-time friends and we went through the house together. That was nice.

 

Dormant winter

It’s January. The coldest, darkest month here in Central California.This morning the fog is dense and the sun won’t be seen until perhaps mid afternoon. The warmest part of Monday was mid afternoon when the temperature got to 53 degrees when Terry went out to prune the mulberry tree that has lost all of its leaves.

I’m thankful the leaves have all dropped as it has been my job to rake those leaves, and with the cold weather, it has not been a quick or easy process. Because the tree had abundant foliage that kept the house cooler in the summer, there were so many leaves, falling so quickly, that I could never get the entire yard raked at any one time due to filling the green bin each time I went to rake. I use the pear tree leaves in the backyard as mulch for the outer beds but the front yard leaves get sent to the city mulch lot.

Now it’s Terry’s job to trim off the new wood so that the tree will not produce mulberries. They make a terrible mess in the yard if allowed to form and drop. The birds and squirrels, though, appreciate the crop, but the human population does not. For now, the trees are dormant, standing still and quiet, awaiting the hot days of summer, just like me.

Is it a habit or just who I am?

This new year I am going to try to live more in the moment. The just now for now. It’s hard, though. It goes against my ingrained habits. I would like to say “nature,” instead of habits, but I believe a habit is something a person forms over a period of time, and this habit of looking back and, at the same time, planning ahead is definitely one that has been groomed over many decades.

As a child and teenager, I was always looking forward to what could or would be. I was making plans for what I wanted my future to look like as I was not pleased with my present, my present being growing up out in the middle of nowhere with few friends around and little to do beyond farm chores. School was my escape for nine months of the year and I saw it as an escape for a better life.

After school was completed, career plans took over. Family life began. All the time, I was looking forward to what could be, would be, with an occasional brief glance back to that childhood life. I remembered where I came from so as to motivate myself forward.

While teaching I got in the habit of looking back at previous years, previous lessons. What did I accomplish? How well did I achieve goals? The steps and procedures that got me to the next year. What could I do better? How could I change the calendar around to better accommodate the necessary lessons? I reflected on this very topic on New Year’s Day when Terry and I went to walk our regional mall where once there were so many stores and opportunities for my students. We did a couple of field trips every year to that mall, but that was in the 90s and early 2000s. Everything there has changed. My mind whirled with what I would do differently if I was teaching now.

One would think, that in retirement, the end of the road of a productive life, I could be in the moment, not looking backwards, not making detailed plans for the future. The habit, though, is hard to break. I have become the habit. It’s second nature to me. The problem now is that the future doesn’t seem as bright with an “anything is possible” shine. I wake up in the night, fretting about plans and will I be able to accomplish the tasks I’ve laid out. I try to talk myself down, down to the moment, when I can pray and quiet my mind and go back to sleep so as to have the energy and health to fulfill the plans.

The joyous reveling wraps up

What a whirlwind week. Lots happening around the Zody homestead. Kids and grandkids came. We had a special guest for lunch one day. We went shopping, to the movies, out to dinner, on other days. There was Legos to be built and slime to be mixed. A batch of caramel corn was made and eaten. Charlie Brown holiday videos were watched. Small grandson raked all the backyard leaves. Twice. The cats hid while the house rocked with all the activity.

Today is Monday.  The kids are back in their own home. The cats are hunkered down in various places. The house is quiet. Although I would love to just sit down and revel in the quiet as I think on the joyous times we had, I have to take care of the chores I let  pile up. Laundry will take days to catch up. Shopping is necessary as we have run out of many essential supplies. Dry cleaning must be dropped off, along with library books that are due. January birthday cards are addressed and waiting to be posted. We will finish up 2019 with mundane tasks and begin 2020 getting ready for the return of routine. It’s been a splendid holiday season. Now back to the regularly scheduled programming.

The care of family, friends, home

Perhaps it’s the season. Perhaps it’s the books I’ve been reading. My thoughts have turned to family, friends, home. What makes each one…how do we keep any of them…how good are we at having one or being one.

My family is tiny. The core is now Terry and me, with our daughter, son-in-law, and grandkids. My brother and sister are gone. I have a couple of nephews, but they are out of the picture. Probably because their parents (my siblings) are gone and the connection was never very strong. My brother was 20 years old and away in the army when I was born. I was undoubtedly a novelty to him. More of a pet than a sibling. He never took me very seriously. Would I have been any different had a small baby showed up when I was 20?

Two of my best friends have died. I had known these two for 33 years. We traveled together, shopped together, met in each others’ homes. We could talk on the phone for hours. I keep hearing or seeing things that prompt me to call them, only to remember there is no one there to answer. A couple of newer friends are good for long phone calls, but because we have such short history, and not much shared history, it’s harder to talk of things that automatically connect our memories.

My sister was another person with whom I could talk for hours on the phone. We had a code, when one of us said, “I must go,” we both knew there was something that had to be done or taken care of and we would pick up when we talked again, even if it might be months from now. There were no hurt feelings.

I awoke one night recently, thinking how much I love my bed and how comfortable it is, when it occurred to me that I have always had a home, a safe place to lay my head. I’ve always had people to care for me. I’m fortunate as there are many who don’t have those luxuries. I felt wide and deep gratitude for my blessings.

So, as the holiday season is upon us, those are my current thoughts. It takes time and energy to have and to care for these things–family, friends, home. I hope I do a better job of it all this next year.

Are you a team player?

Do you ever think about the value of teamwork? I’ve been considering this topic a lot this season, mainly because I’m seeing less teamwork in situations I find myself.

When teaching, I worked in a department that was full of team players. We all looked out for one another, we stepped up when needed, we helped whenever we saw someone floundering. Our decisions were made as a team. When I was asked to take on the yearbook, I went right back to the department and told them. Only after serious discussion did I go back to the assistant principal and agree, taking with me a written list of our demands. Notice, “our” demands. It was a team effort. And for the next nine years, the yearbook was a team effort.

I have volunteered in a number of places over the decades and it’s the team that has made the work effective and enjoyable. Without the team effort, it would have been drudgery. Which brings me to some current situations. Drudgery. I’m feeling that word. Team players are disappearing. Mavericks ares showing up. In-name-only participants, too. Instead of seeing the tasks as part of the whole team’s effort, they don’t join in when a group-effort is required. Or, they see themselves as the prima donna who takes all the credit.

This week I gave up one of my volunteer positions. The teamwork issue was only part of  it. Lack of appreciation. Discord among the ranks. A sense of why should I care, I’ve done all I can. I have always seen myself as a really good team player, so this rubs me the wrong way. Good team players don’t walk away. Until they do.