Things to do, places to go, people to see

The yards are covered with leaves. The front porch needs to be swept. I just noticed the patio has leaves and other debris blown on it. There is work to be done outside, but the wind is blowing, the sun comes and goes, and the couch is just much more comfortable than standing, bending, and wielding a rake.

I shouldn’t really care about the leaves covering the yard, but I have friends coming Monday morning, and they both have manicured yards and homes. I’m the outlier of the group! We are going out to a garden center to find a tree, bush, or some sort of memorial plant to take to a friend whose mother-in-law just died.

I got all of the materials ready for Sunday’s deacon’s meeting, but I’m hearing from various members that they won’t be in attendance. I’m not too sure if it’s even wise to meet in December, but it’s scheduled. We will say goodbye to three deacons who are going off of the board and greet three new ones coming on. I have parting gifts as thank-yous for the three who have faithfully served.

Tuesday Terry and I will go out to brunch at a lovely little cafe that is near where Terry goes for cardio rehab. I have been there once with a friend and found it absolutely wonderful in every way. The food, the service, and the ambiance. The specialty is brioche, made onsite, and turned into a variety of offerings. I’m planning to order the french toast. What is really great about this is that our meals will be courtesy of Yelp. I am an Elite Yelper and occasionally get offers like this. The last one was a chocolate tasting with a local cacao roaster. We were able to select a free chocolate bar afterwards and I also bought a can of chocolate tea.

As for those chores, they will be waiting for me, and some time I will get the leaves raked, the porch swept, and the patio cleaned.

Home for the holidays

It’s been a wild week, a week that has gone so quickly I hardly believe it’s been  7 days since I wrote here. But, I’ve known for quite awhile that these first two weeks in December would be busy, and they have  been, but the end is in sight. After I deliver 90 teddy bears to Columbia this afternoon, prepare an agenda for a meeting on Sunday, and then moderate that meeting, I am done for three whole weeks. I am rejoicing.

To make this past week even crazier, Terry has had jury duty, a domestic violence case. Fortunately, the jury reached a verdict before the end of the week, and now, on Friday, he is trying to catch up on all he missed during the week. He did manage to bake and deliver a batch of brownies for a party he had committed to but was unable to attend. Chores, appointments, volunteer work were all put on hold.

We slept in this morning instead of the 5 a.m. alarm 0f the previous days. We were not anxious to get our day started though, and talked, trying to catch each other up on all that had been happening this week. For a couple who talks almost nonstop, this week has been silent due to long, tiring days and a court decree of silence.

You might think that a lot of my busyness must have to do with holiday preparation. No. I buy almost no gifts. I don’t put up a tree. There is no fancy cookies baked in my kitchen. We don’t do lavish entertainment. The house remains a quiet constant to all the other rushing around I am doing for others. It is my refuge after a busy day, where I come home and collapse on the couch. I am so grateful for home during the holiday season.

In the gutters

Last year, a few months before he had open heart surgery, Terry had the gutters replaced on the patio. They were new and clean so it wasn’t too much of problem when he was not healthy enough to clean the gutters last fall. Everything flowed fine during all the rain storms that came our way.

This year, though, the first rain storm pointed to the need for the gutters to be cleaned again. Terry got out the ladders and his special tools and took to the roof and surrounding space to clean those gutters. Back and front gutters were cleared so they will be ready for the next rain storm, forecast for tomorrow.

Cleaning the gutters was never a big deal around here, until last year when his open heart surgery put everything on hold.  Terry’s cardiologists are pleased with his progress and modified his meds so that he feels good, good enough to be in the gutters today.

Running out of time before running out of tasks

The weather was beautiful today. Sunshine, clean air, 60 degree temperatures. Which was all good for all the tasks I had to accomplish. Again, more to do than time to get it all done.Never a dull moment.

It’s time again to read The Teddy Bear to the first graders which means we will also pass out bears to each first grader which means getting those bears into the hands of all the resiliency coaches. This year the bears were ordered and delivered to the fellow who heads up the program. He is a retired school principal, and one of the smartest educators I have ever met. John opened up his garage for the 4,000 bears to be delivered and for us to pick them up.

I made the trek across two towns to get my 90 bears. John lives in one of the newest developments in the area, and it’s a totally different neighborhood than anything I usually travel through. Wide, tree-lined streets, all beautifully landscaped and well maintained. Such a difference from the neighborhoods where our students live.

Oh, well, back to reality. The bears have to be sorted and tags removed. I ended up with bear “dander” all over my jacket. Didn’t stop me, though, from running more errands–Target, grocery store, library, bank, and storage unit. I didn’t run into any one I know so didn’t have to explain my beary furry clothes. I only got about one half of the bears sorted this afternoon as I also baked cookies, worked on a church report, read a book, and then cooked dinner.

I’m tired now and am sitting, watching tv, and writing this post. The report isn’t finished, the bears still await me, I have notes to write to all those who served coffee fellowship this year, and oh, yes, a few loads of laundry. All that awaits me tomorrow. Sure could use a few more hours each day, and a whole lot more energy.

Giving in

Looking at my calendar for the first two weeks of December I knew I was overbooked. For some crazy reason, the school district here has decided to end the semester on December 13, giving us only two weeks this month to accomplish what is probably three weeks worth of work. It adds to the stress level of everyone, including volunteers like me.

So, last night, I did something I’ve never done before, I cancelled a very important obligation. It is a big obligation and it took great effort for me to make that call. And even though I cancelled that big obligation, I have a bunch of smaller ones to fill in the time. But, the stress level just went down a notch. I’ve decided, at this point in life, I may have to “give in” more and cancel, or even better, not commit in the first place. I’m going to use a joy vs stress metric.

Skipping Thanksgiving (with apologies to John Grisham)

It’s just Terry and me here for the Thanksgiving weekend. Our daughter’s new job required her to be in the Tenderloin of downtown San Francisco on Thursday where she helped feed nearly 5,000 people. The weather here is frightful so not a good idea to be on the road, and I would hate to leave our cats outdoors in such low temperatures, even though a few of them insist on sleeping on the patio. Also, our next door neighbor, who usually cares for the cats when we are away, is herself away this holiday, visiting her brother in Washington.

Since no one had invited us to dinner, on Thursday Terry and I went at 11 a.m. to see the newest Mr. Rogers’ movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. It is an excellent movie in so many ways. Just seeing the miniature neighborhoods and puppets was a delight for me. The storyline is loosely based on an Esquire piece, published in November 1998. 

After the movie, we came home for a late lunch of baked potatoes and read the article, each on our own computer. I had spent Wednesday making beerocks so that was our dinner. On Friday I was up early to start a pie-baking marathon that would last into Saturday. I had offered to bake pecan pies for a fund-raiser dinner at church this Sunday evening. Because of all this baking, I was in no mood to fix much for dinner. Terry and I both lamented the lack of leftovers since we had not had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, saying we sure would like a turkey pot pie. One of my former students posted her pot pie on Facebook which made me want one even more.

It’s now Saturday morning as I write this. I was up early to head to the grocery store because I realized on Friday that I needed another bag of pecans to finish the assembly line of pies. Terry asked for more frozen orange juice so since I was in the frozen food aisle anyway, I might as well check to see if they had any frozen turkey pot pies. Yes, Marie Callendar restaurants may have closed down, but the frozen food franchise goes on. Though not as good as the ones we would get at the restaurant, they will do for the couple who skipped Thanksgiving.

Postscript: another article by the writer of the Esquire piece, written this year.

Just two years

Perhaps it’s because I’ve been reading Elizabeth Strout’s latest, Olive, Again, where lots of remembering of the past goes on. Remembering and thinking about how the past effects the present. The characters in her book do that, chapter after chapter. It got me to thinking about my first job, right out of college, working for a magazine publishing company, and wondering if that job and those people who worked there have an effect on who I am today.

The company no longer exists. The man who owned the company died decades ago. He was old back in the mid 70s when I got the job as advertising assistant. My boss sold ads for all sorts of agriculture products, national and local companies, that ran in three ag magazines. There was one for grapes, one for cotton, and one for grain. I saw to it that the ads arrived on time, were placed correctly, and the company billed for the advertising. It wasn’t hard work by any means.

There was one other woman in the office. All the other employees were men. The other woman, Nadine, was a few years older than me, already divorced with one child. I wasn’t married, or even engaged, when I started the job. She and I got along famously, and even when I moved on to another job, we remained friends for many years. She still lives in a small town to the south of me, in the same town where she grew up, and I’m sure I could contact her if I wanted to. We could reminisce about those two years we worked together.

Yes, just two years. That’s all I stayed, and yet, it seemed like a very long time. I had always been good about deadlines, but that job made me deadline driven which came in handy when I started teaching. I learned how to work with an office full of men. That came in handy in my next job which was also almost all men, except for the clerical staff which was all women. I walked a fine line between the two. I would often go with my boss to meetings where I was the only woman in the room. One time I was asked to attend a conference in Anaheim, the only one in the company who went, and it was all men, except for the wives, and me.

Two years is not much time. I’ve been retired for five times that amount of time, and it’s flown. I’ve been reading to first graders for three times that amount of time and it seems like a blink of an eye. Why did those two years, in the mid 70s, when I was so young, seem so much longer? Why did I gain so much knowledge of the work world in that short amount of time?

Here’s a funny postscript:  two years ago, when I got the list of new school chaplains, there was the name of one of those fellows I had worked with, one of the writers for the magazine. Could it be the same man? Yes, he too was now reading to first graders. I see Harry at our monthly meetings and we chat for a bit. While I went on to work in the cotton industry and then teaching, he continued to write for farm publications. Life is funny that way.