Thanksgiving life

All is well here in the middle of the San Joaquin Valley. We have had very cold, wet, drippy fog for many mornings, but Thanksgiving morning has dawned with sunshine on the leaves.

The pace has been quick, swift, loud, rambunctious. But on Thanksgiving, the grandchildren have gone home and the house is quiet, still, waiting for something to happen. It won’t, though, because it’s just Terry and me and the cats, back to our very sedate life. The cats are happy with that. They can nap wherever they wish with no fear of someone pouncing on them to hug and to carry.

Lots of shopping was done in their three-day visit. Art supplies, shoes, books. A new suitcase and candy. Vegan turkey dinner was served early in the week. Vegan corn dogs was the lunch of choice.

Laundry was an everyday occurrence as they brought all their dirty clothes because the electricity had not yet passed inspection at their new house. New to them, but ancient in terms of construction, electrical and plumbing. While they shopped and ate and slept and played here, the city inspector came to their house and declared it can all be plugged in and turned on. But, then the heater decided to quit.

I have no idea what we will eat for the next few days as I refuse to shop during these crazy-making retail days. There is food in cupboard and freezer so we won’t starve, but fresh produce is pretty low so we may get scurvy!

Blessings to you all, dear Readers, on this most thankful of all days, Thanksgiving 2021.

Those small steps back into what once was

Today was another step out of pandemic land–I used a public restroom in a retail store.

With two Moderna vaccinations, a flu shot, and a Moderna booster, I felt pretty safe. I was still wearing my mask. It was early morning, right after the store opened, which by the way is now one hour later than they used to open. and the restrooms had just been cleaned and sanitized. But, as you know if you follow me here or on Facebook, the biggest drawback to going out has been the dreaded public restroom, not a place I like in good times, but a basic necessity if one plans to be away from home very long.

I had an early morning dentist appointment so decided it would be a good time to go shopping afterwards. It’s that time of the year when I buy the Dilbert daily calendar for the computer room. We’ve had one of these calendars for decades and only occasionally go with a different comic strip. Fortunately, Barnes & Noble still had a good supply of Dilbert so 2022 will again be his and the pointy haired boss’s shenanigans every morning when we go in and turn the page.

I also wanted to find a Christmassy blanket to throw on the porch chair for the cats to sleep on. Found one at The Home Store. Then on to Ulta Beauty Supply to see if they FINALLY have the Lancome face wash that I’ve been out of for months, instead using a drugstore wannabe. They not only had the face wash but also a perfume I use and a blush color that I was afraid wasn’t made any more. I felt like I struck gold. Not to jinx my treasure hunt, I headed for home with my bounty.

Maybe someday I’ll get on a plane again.

Time is a precious commodity

Word came this past weekend that our Ladies Who Lunch friend who had been hospitalized for a couple of months with a broken leg had died. Although we had hoped for a better outcome, we were all expecting this news.

Harriet could not or would not follow through with the therapy that had been ordered for her after dismissal from the original hospital stay. We all knew she had problems with memory and cognitive tasks. We all knew she did not like to exercise. When she did not improve at the rehabilitation place, the next step was a memory care facility which her sister worked hard to find. Harriet got sick and had to be returned to the hospital and from there it was all downhill. She never made it to the memory care place.

I have been reflecting on the time we spent with Harriet and how fast her retirement years passed. Which is also the case for all of us who have retired. I’ve written this before: why do the retirement years pass so much faster than our working years? Time loses its shape and flows like water.

This week I attended a meeting for the school chaplains. When we were together before the pandemic shutdown, there were almost 40 of us. Mostly retired people, many retired teachers. Now there are 20 of us. A couple of the school chaplains are still employed, the rest retired. We are saddened at the thinning of our ranks, for various reasons. A paper was passed for us to write down our number of years doing this task. Some are brand new, this being their first year in the classroom. I wrote down the number 8.

It seems unreal. Eight years? That time has passed so quickly. Six of those years have also been taken up with church deacon duties. That responsibility ends in December. Many have said they wish I could continue, especially since 2020 was sort of a non-year. But the deacons never stopped working, even during the pandemic shutdown, and we’ve come back this year, working even harder to build community and fellowship. I’m ready for a break from the responsibility. I will still do the work like coffee fellowship and funeral lunches and meal delivery but I won’t feel as obligated as I have the past six years. Nor will I be the person to head up the work.

My time will be devoted to the children at Columbia. This is where I feel a calling, a need, a responsibility, and most important, a joy. The consistency I provide in the lives of the children and staff is important. My time is precious and I want to spend it doing the very best I can until I can’t.

High-priced gas does not deter the drivers

The cost of gas in California is about $4.50 a gallon. Approximately $2.00 of that is taxes. As you can expect, there is a lot of grumbling about our gas prices. Not by me, though. I think it’s a good way to collet taxes, especially when you see the way people drive in this city, and probably all California cities.

Few people stay home. Few people walk, Few people ride a bike. Few people take the bus in our city. Now, in San Francisco, where I lived for 15 months in the mid 2000s, public transportation was abundant and reliable. I kept my car parked when there and took public transportation as well as walking. Here in the San Joaquin Valley, not so much. I, too, drive every place because this is not a high-walking score neighborhood. Especially when I had to be across town at 8:15 this morning.

Driving across town, that early in the morning, showed me why people should be paying high gas prices. They are driving huge vehicles. They drive too fast. They take off from stop lights, that is, if they stop for the light at all, at a high rate of speed, going quickly to the next stoplight and screeching to a stop. One person to a big, huge, vehicle. And, I wonder, where are they all going?

We had fewer vehicles on the streets during the pandemic. When I went out then I noticed people were driving very fast, but there were few cars. Now that we are all back to work, back to school, back to routine, the traffic is so heavy but everyone thinks they should drive very fast, and not stop for red lights if they are making a right turn. Oh, and I’ve heard there is a shortage of cars to buy, but that isn’t a deterrent either. Lots of cars are sporting new paper tags. People are buying cars at a high rate.

All these vehicles need lots of gas. So, we have high prices. I wouldn’t mind if the prices went even higher. Maybe, just maybe people would drive less. Or slower. Eh, probably not. Bring on the higher prices.

Mid-November Saturday doings

It is a cool, gray, foggy Saturday morning. Hopefully the fog will burn off quickly as it has been doing this week. Fog is very depressing to me. I grew up way out in the country where we would not see the sun for days because the fog never burned off. We had foggy day bus schedules and sometimes the fog was too thick all day for the buses to run and I missed a day of school. I hated to miss to school for any reason.

Now that I live in town, the fog usually burns off by the time to go out, but some days it lingers. Never thick enough, though, to impede my around-town travels. When our daughter was going to college in Oregon and would fly in and out for Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks, she might be stranded here for a day or so because the fog was too thick and low for the planes to take off.

Saturday is the only day of the week we can run our sprinklers now. Winter schedule. I’m watering the front yard while typing this and will run the backyard sprinklers later in the day. If we get rain each week I wouldn’t have to run the sprinklers.

I have a large bowl of dried and candied fruits soaking in brandy to make into fruitcake later today. I’ve not made fruitcake for a few years as I had no one to give it to. Then a couple of years ago our next door neighbor brought me a fruitcake she had baked. I was delighted. She told me yesterday that, yes, she would be happy to take fruitcake. Another long time acquaintance saw my picture of the fruits and nuts and said she too likes fruitcake. I can deliver one to her doorstop. I like a very dark, moist fruitcake without the candied citron. I use cherries, raisins, pineapple, and pecans. The cake batter has cocoa powder and apple juice.

The watering, cake-baking, and laundry are my only plans for today. The next week is very busy, what with it being the week before Thanksgiving break.

A boost for the day

I made my Moderna booster appointment online, last week, and changed it once. The original plan was for Monday, but after realizing how busy my week would be, Monday did not seem like the best fit. Every other day had too much to add one more task, and Thursday was a holiday, so that left Friday. Today I headed out just before 10, using my iphone to check in when I walked into CVS Pharmacy.

Everything was set up and ready for me, except the girl who was giving the injections. She was running late. There were other people waiting for their booster vaccines. So, we sat, waited, and talked. Oh, boy, did we talk.

The conversation got started with a compliment to my shoes, the ones with the peacocks on the tops. I explained how they had been purchased to wear for storytelling as one of my stories has a peacock in it. We are all special with a purpose. Another lady had a friend who did storytelling in the schools, did I know so-and-so? Why, yes, I did. And there was a backstory for that connection.

Another lady who was waiting knew about the organization that sponsors the storytelling, she had heard about it at her church. That sparked another conversation. Then a few of us talked about how God has taken good care of us.

My mask sparked another conversation. I try to wear unique masks when out in public, and this one was no exception, having been made in Mexico by a fair trade organization. One of the ladies asked about a local store, sponsored by another church group, that deals in fair trade items. Yes, I knew about it and have make many purchases. She and I shared our desire to help these organizations.

And on we went until I was called for my booster but I could hear the others continuing to talk as I said goodbye and walked away. It was a nice way to wait.

A day to sit back

Because today, Thursday, is a holiday, Veteran’s Day, I went to Columbia on Tuesday for storytelling. Two classes of second graders, one of first graders. All the same story, Mr. Gumpy’s Outing, with lots of stick puppets, actions, and repetition. I was tired both that day, and on Wednesday after doing the story for three first grade classes. The kids were all wonderful and so eager to participate and tell me things.

I see parents in the office and they stop to say hello. They know me by name because of the virtual storytelling. They saw me every week, in their home, reading and interacting with their children. Older kids watched and listened. Younger ones liked the stories, too. It was a bit of a family affair. Now they greet me on campus like I am an old friend.

In the cafeteria on Tuesday, while handing out stickers to all the helpers, one of the adults, who I did not know, greeted me, “It’s the famous Mrs. Zody.” I had never seen the man before so I stopped in the whirlwind of sticker handout and said “hello, I don’t believe I know you.” “I was Mrs. Avalos’ sub last year so I saw you every week. The kids were always excited for you to come.” Ah, yes the second grade teacher who went out on maternity leave. She is back this year now teaching last year’s first graders. They all know me from the virtual story times and are also excited for me to come.

Because this is my eighth year at Columbia, I have pretty much seen every student on campus, except the kindergartners and preschoolers. The kids know me. They stop me in the hallway, on the playground, on the walkway to say ‘hello, remember me?’ I remember faces, not names, and they have all gotten so tall. They are all doing so well. I feel a sense of pride in what they are becoming. I feel like I may have had a bit to do with that.

There are two boys, though, who were in trouble in first grade a few years ago, and I see them now sitting at the naughty table in the cafeteria. I stop, smile, say hello. Move on. I don’t have much time as I move across the campus. Six classes, six stories, whew. Somewhere along the way, though, I really need to sit and chat with those boys.

For today, I am staying home, pondering what I’m doing, making some plans for next week, the week before Thanksgiving break. I again have a wonderful story to share with the students and lots of stickers to hand out.

It’s been 14 years since I started this blogging gig

WordPress sent me a nice note, congratulating me on signing in for the first time 14 years ago. I’m still here. I went back to Blog Post 1, written the day before the Veteran’s Day Holiday. I was still a few years away from retirement. I was still in the classroom. I was still figuring out, after almost 20 years of the teaching gig, how to do it better. Here is the end of that post:

I will definitely enjoy my 3-day weekend.  It will give me an extra day to grade projects and enter grades into the computer.  It will give me an extra day to plan the next week’s lessons.  Of course, even when I plan, the tyranny of the moment can change all those plans.  Just like next week, I had planned a checkpoint for my Marketing I students’ big project, but then today I realize I will be gone all day for a district meeting and will have a substitute.  So, there go my great plans.  But it doesn’t stop me from making those plans.

Tomorrow is a new day.

It sounds much like what I would write today, especially after last week’s mixup with rooms and dates. Today is a new day.

A new week of sunny mornings

I love Standard Time because I want my sunlight in the morning, when I am up and starting my chores. Sunlight doesn’t do me much good at 7 p.m. when I’m tired and ready to call it a day. Especially as the days get shorter and shorter, with less sunlight every day, and yet the same amount of tasks to do. It will take the cats a few days to get accustomed to the new time frame for their meals, but I think they too enjoy having sunshine to run and play.

Starting this new week with sunshine at 6 a.m., I feel more energized. The week has crammed calendar days. Something for each day, and lots of prep work to get it all accomplished. At the very end of the week we are getting our COVID boosters. Our 10-year old grandson Facetimed us Saturday afternoon, from the car, to show us his bandaid covered COVID vaccine. He was so excited. His sister had gotten hers months ago so he was happy to be catching up with her and feeling a bit safer in the world.

Because Veteran’s Day is a school holiday here, I had to rearrange my storytelling schedule. Gosh, I hope I remember to be in the right place at the right time. I’m going to make a list each day of the rooms and teachers so I can be where I am supposed to be. The story for this week is a favorite, Mr. Gumpy’s Outing. It has all sorts of stick puppets and a boat and lots of sounds to mimic. The lesson is to follow directions or you could tip over the boat and fall in the water!

There is rain in our forecast, and, of course, it’s on the storytelling day when I will have to walk across campus to the one outlying classroom. We are in need of rain, though, so I cannot complain and will wear a raincoat and boots and make the best of it. Just like my lessons with the children. We can figure out a way and bounce back from the obstacles.

November starts with a bang

Thank you to all dear Readers who have come by, read my posts, and made comments. You mean the world to me. I also know that you may be reading but commenting is just too tiresome. It seems that Blogger and WordPress have not been playing well with one another. I can post comments on Blogger blogs if I use Firefox for my browser, until I cannot. Yesterday I posted comments on a number of blogs until I tried to on Suzi Hileman’s and it all disappeared. As I said, too tiresome.

It’s been a week here…a fast week, a busy week, a bit of crazy week. Lots of chores around the property as the leaves are falling as fast as I can rake them. Dust is accumulating at a rate like never before. I do all the laundry and the next day the hamper is full again. Well, maybe not quite that fast, but it feels like it. I’m even taking items to the dry cleaners now as we are wearing more of our professional clothing out into the pandemic public. We seem to eat all the food by the next day after I go grocery shopping. Oh, and of course there are the supply chain shortages to deal with.

Two days of storytelling this week. Four first grade classes, two second grades. I messed up the Wednesday schedule, tumbling up my eight years at the school into a mess. I should have gone from the second class of the day to a room down the hall and around the corner. Instead, I stepped out of the second room and immediately into the next door down. No, that class is for Thursday, but it all got boggled in my head because many years ago that was my routine. The teacher said nothing but she was perplexed as to why I was there. I figured she was busy with her students and just forgot. She and the students were delightful and we all had a good time.

It was my last class for the day so afterwards I headed home, and it was only about five miles away that I realized what I had done. In my mix-up, I had missed the class I was scheduled to read to. I went right home and wrote emails of apologies to both teachers. I was able to get to the missed class on Thursday and the teacher said that the class was all ready for me at 1:30 the day before but when I never showed up she thought I might have forgotten. They were all pleased to see me, even on the wrong day. Gosh I hope next week is better. But, it’s a holiday week, so I’m mixing up schedules to be able to see everyone.

Just got word this morning that a former teacher from my days at the inner city high school has died. Too young. Only retired in the last couple of years. Loved the outdoors and collapsed in his front yard. Gone in an instant. I keep telling God that this is how I want to leave this world. Doing something I absolutely love. Finishing a good day and just passing on.