I love hot summers

Yes, it is wicked hot here. Over 100 degrees every single day, 74 degrees when we wake up. The forest fires are burning nearby so the air is thick with smoke. That air pollution is the part I hate, not the heat. I like heat. In the summer months, when we have the hot days, we keep our thermostat set at 80 degrees. I wish it could be set that high in the winter.

I freeze in the winter months. Everything I touch is cold. I cannot put on enough warm clothes. The thermostat is set for 70 degrees. It’s dark for much of the day. It’s often wet with rain or fog. I hate to go outside. Not so in the hot summer. The sun comes up before 6 a.m. The mornings are lovely and cool and a wonderful time to walk. I can wear lightweight clothing. I go barefoot around the house. I rarely turn on the lights due to all the sunshine pouring through the windows.

We are fortunate that we have an air conditioned house, air conditioned cars, and all of the stores and places we visit are air conditioned. Sometimes TOO air conditioned. If I ever need a sweater in the summer, it’s because I’m going to a place that keeps the temperature around 70 degrees–my winter temp.

The warm days stretch out before us and I’m loving it. When the days turn dark and cold, then I’ll grumble.

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Back in the saddle again

Terry and I spent last week working with small children ALL DAY LONG. We helped our daughter with Vacation Bible School in the mornings and wrangled our grandchildren in the afternoons while their parents continued to work. As you might guess, I fell into bed every night and went right to sleep, one night as early as 7:30.

Our daughter, the minister, combines forces with the church next door to hers to produce a most amazing VBS each year, and we have been part of it for about 12 years, even before the grandchildren came along. Terry does audio/AV and photography. I teach a lesson, usually 4 times during the morning’s rotations. When the grandchildren were babies and too young to be a part of VBS, I took care of them all day long. Now, they too get to join in the fun.

Last year, our daughter was on sabbatical during the summer months so we all were absent from VBS. Terry and I thought that if they could manage without us, then we might be able to call it quits. Hah. Not only were we missed, it seemed that we were missed with a vengeance. Everyone, from both churches, were so happy to have us come back and reprise our roles. I could hear God laughing…you know, make plans and God laughs.

We do have a very good time. The people are delightful to work with. The children are fun and engaging. There is lots of music and activity and the energy level makes the walls vibrate. I climb stairs four times a day. I walk thousands of steps. I squat. I bend. I dance. And that’s just in the mornings.

In the afternoons we do things with our grandchildren. Shopping seemed to be the main activity this year. Our grandson needed new pants, desperately. Built like his grandfather, tall and thin, it’s hard to fit him in pants. It took two trips to get the right sizes and styles that would work on his body. He’s really a good shopper, though, and had fun along the way. He and his grandfather never seemed to run out of energy!

 

A Saturday like when I was working

You all may remember that I refuse to shop on Saturdays, believing that I should leave room for those who work all week and only have Saturdays on which to shop. Today is an exception. I had to go grocery shopping because we were gone all week and the food supplies in our house are minimal.

Terry said it was okay because I had actually worked all week, not been an old retired lady who could go to the grocery store anytime she wanted to during the week. True. We worked for our daughter all week at Vacation Bible School at her church. Terry does the audio and photography; I do a class where the kids rotate through during the morning. In the afternoons we took care of our grandchildren while our daughter and son-in-law continued to work. By four o’clock each day I was so tired I could hardly see, but I managed. I can do this for one week, beyond that, I’m not too sure how I would do.

But, back to that Saturday grocery shopping…first I had to stop at the storage unit and drop off my large suitcase. I just picked it up a couple of weeks ago, after July 1, with no trouble, but today my code would not work on the gate so I had to go into the office to find out why. The lady at the desk knew I was coming as the key pad a the gate connects to her computer. She told me I hadn’t paid my bill. I told her that I hadn’t received a bill.

“Yes, that’s right, the main office had a glitch and didn’t send the statements. Your rent was due July 1.”

“I’ve had a unit here for almost 20 years. I have never missed a payment. Why should I be punished for something YOUR office neglected to do?”

“I know,” she sheepishly replied. “It’s caused a lot of problems. They did take the penalty off of your bill.”

“Well, I should hope so. Actually, I would hope they would give me a discount for this inconvenience, and you should get a bonus for having to deal with irate customers.

With that, she smiled.  “I can let you in today if you will pay the bill this next week.”

“Yes, I’ll go home and put in the request for the payment as I have my bank send the check. Can you give me a statement?”

“No, I can’t. The main office is still trying to send those, but I can give you a record of your payments from 2017 to April of this year.”

I rolled my eyes, took the printout, and took my suitcase back to my unit. But not before sitting in my car, using my bank’s phone app, and setting up the payment to be sent to the storage facility. I still think I deserve a discount!

What’s the measurement of what you value?

Long ago, maybe in another decade or so, we would hear that to see what you value, you should look at your checkbook. In other words, where did you spend your money?

Few of us have checkbooks any more, using other methods to pay for the things we value. So, how would you know what you, or any person, values? What would be the gauge to measure that?

One suggestion was social media feeds…what’s on your Facebook page?

Someone else said your time. What do you do when you’re not being paid to do it?

I know someone who tells me she likes to garden, yet her yard is a disaster as she never spends time out there.  I know someone else who says cooking is her thing. Her kitchen turns out a variety of foods that she shares with all sorts of people and organizations. I believe her when she says she loves to cook.

If you say you care about something, yet your life doesn’t show it, do you really care?

Who is in the audience?

Do you ever write a blog post, even go as far as posting it to your site, and then decide someone may read it and get their feelings hurt so you take it down?

I just did that. I’ve been watching so many people around me unravel, and the post I wrote described some of the situations. Then I thought about who might be reading this blog. I have over 300 followers, but I have no idea who some of them are. They are just email addresses. So, I tucked that post into my private file, and may pull it out some time later.

The title of the post was “An audience of one,” meaning me. I’ve been watching so many people making such bad decisions, and yet as an audience of one, I cannot get anyone’s attention to change what they are doing. Writing about it was cathartic for me but not life-changing for those whose decisions bring them onto a stage fraught with bad outcomes.

Are you also watching people make bad decisions and yet unable to change them? How are you handling it? Maybe you can offer me some advice.

No auction parking

My neighbor needed a ride to pick up her car that was again in the shop. Although her car is not as old as Terry’s 1991 Mazda, it has serious mechanical issues that keep it from optimal performance. Terry’s car may be old, but he takes very good care of it, making sure every need is immediately fixed before driving it any more. The neighbor pushes her car to its limits.

Because the neighbor’s car shop is close to my mini storage, I decided it would be a good time to swing by and pick up the large suitcase I keep there as I would be needing it for an upcoming trip. I really have no space in our tiny house to keep this three foot tall piece of luggage, and there is room in the storage unit so it lives there, except for when it’s in use, hauling around a week’s worth of clothes.

As I pull in to enter my code into the machine that opens the gate, I see signs saying NO AUCTION PARKING. This was one of the days that the company auctions off the contents of units that the renters have abandoned, no longer paying for their extra storage. Fortunately, I have arrived after the event, but not before all the signage is taken down. There are a few trucks in the rows loading up their treasures, but my lane is clear.

Leaving the storage complex, I see more NO PARKING signs on the streets and at other businesses nearby. I wonder, where would I park if I came to this auction? Glimpsing a tree-lined lane, I realize it connects to a neighborhood behind the storage complex. I could park there and walk over. Wouldn’t be too far. All these thoughts about where to park whirling through my head, and then I laugh.

I wouldn’t be coming to such an event. The idea of bidding on other’s abandoned junk is ludicrous to me. I have a storage unit because I don’t have room in our small house for large luggage, Christmas decorations, boxes of journals, extra sleeping bags, books, a folding chair, and during the winter months, all of our fans. I don’t need anyone else’s STUFF.

No parking? No problem!

I had plans

You’ve heard the expression, “make plans and God laughs,” ? That was my morning.

Our temperatures are high this week, just as in the rest of the nation. We also have forest fires throughout the state creating bad air. I thought it was cloudy when I got up this morning with plans to wash my hair and make ready to leave early so as to avoid the high temperatures. No, it was the smoke-filled air that made the sun hazy.

It’s a watering day for our odd-number address so I also needed to be up early to run all of the sprinklers before heading out. Terry had an early morning doctor’s appointment for his yearly physical. He was going one way, I would be going the opposite. When I picked up the hose in the backyard for my chore, I got a stinging in my finger and noticed a large black inset or some such creature fall from the hose. I screamed with the pain and ran in the house to tell Terry and to get some help. Terry went back outside to check on the creature, to see what had stung me. I thought it might be a black widow spider as we have seen a few around here. He found a dying bumblebee.

The sting is at the base of my left ring finger. Hurt like the dickens. I mixed up a paste with meat tenderizer and applied it to the sting. Took a Zyrtec, too, as that was the the recommendation from the Internet. The pain subsided but I decided it would be wise to stay home and not run my errands. Let the hand heal and make sure I didn’t get sick.

Then I noticed an opossum on the fence. Odd that it would still be out after sun-up. The cats were all gathered around on the patio, watching her, or so I thought until I went outside and found that two baby opossums were on the ground, below the Italian cypresses that are up against the fence. These cypress are over 40 years old, huge, massive plants, that reach to the sky and block out afternoon sun. The detris that they drop is about two feet thick and keeps the weeds away. The babies were crawling in the detris and mama opossum was watching, clicking her tongue. The cats were also watching those tiny, mouse-like creatures.

I gathered the cats into the house and called the neighbor on the other side of the fence. She’s a big softie like me so we tried to figure out how to rescue the babies. She called wild life refuge rescue while I watched the babies from the safety of the family room. One of the babies made its way to the sliding glass door and actually wanted to come in. It was unafraid of me or the cats. That’s when I realized the cypress was its home and it was accustomed to my voice and the presence of the cats.

The wild life refuge said the babies were old enough to fend for themselves and suggested we put them in a box and take them to a nearby river where they could probably survive. I got gloves and my neighbor talked me through the process of  picking up the baby and getting it back up into the cypress where it could climb to join its mother and sibling who appeared to already have retreated there. As I said, this little opossum was not at all afraid of me.

And then it was noon. The morning was over. My errands went undone. My hand had quit hurting. The opossums were back where they belonged. God laughed.