Life & times of retired school personnel

The Ladies Who Lunch group is made up of retired school personnel who worked from 20 to 40 years in the educational scene, and we feel like we’ve done our time and can enjoy retirement. That was one of our subjects at lunch on Monday. Some of the people we worked with are still working, even after officially retiring. None of us felt that need, but one retiree is concerned about her husband who has been using his retirement time to write a book and is close to being finished. She wonders what he will do next, and she even voiced concern about occasional boredom.

I am never bored. My problem is that I run out of time every single day before I have done everything I wanted to do. Time is passing so quickly. Right now, I’m sitting on the couch writing this post, which has been rattling around in my head since Monday, three days ago! I decided to just stop everything and sit here and get the words “on paper,” as I used to tell my students to do. However, sitting next to the couch are my barbells, taunting me to get back to what I started at 8:15 this morning. When I pulled them out for my exercise routine, I noticed the shelf on the table where they sit was covered with dust. I had to take care of that. Which reminded me I needed to sort laundry. Then I had errands to run. I never came back to the barbells. Oh, and the laundry I sorted…I got one load washed and dried before I headed out the door, but there are two more waiting for me to get back to them.

One of the cats has come to sit by me and tap my shoulder. He’s reminding me that he needs petting as well as feeding. A little old retired school teacher should have time for her cats.

So, I will stop here. Just wanted you to know, boredom is not a problem in the Zody household.


Time with grandchildren–a blur

Our daughter came mid-day to pick up the grandchildren and return them to their home in the bay area. We have had such fun and such a wonderful five days. Although I’m tired, it gets easier as they get older. They can dress themselves, get themselves to bed (or not) at night, tell me when and what they want to eat. They entertain themselves, and I don’t have to watch them like a hawk for fear they may get hurt. They can even help with yard work!

We did some shopping yesterday for shoes and clothes. I just stand back and let them find what they like (or don’t) and then pay the bill. They know how to maneuver in a store and find what they want. I’m not constantly watching for them, to make sure they don’t get lost, or get in the way of other shoppers. They are polite and conscientious.

Now it’s time to catch up on our laundry as I spent the week staying on top of their’s. I wanted to send them home with clean laundry so their parents (who are so busy) won’t have to bother with that chore. I just wish we lived closer so I could take care of these small tasks and make their lives easier.

Next week I will go back to sending them a word of the week. I try to gauge it so the envelope arrives mid-week and brings something to alleviate the mid-week blues that sometimes set in.

These days are golden, precious as gold. We will never have this time again. The kids will be older, taller, more sophisticated, the next time we see them. Their tastes will have changed, their habits new. They will have new interests. Just a couple of months and there is so much change. The time is a blur.


A week off from school

This is the week I do not go to Columbia as the school is in parent/teacher conference mode, meaning the students get out right after lunch and the afternoons are set aside for teachers to meet with parents to discuss their student. Our grandchildren’s school district is in fall break for this week and next so it is a perfect time for Judah and Leeya to come stay with us.

We made a round trip on Tuesday to pick them up. Six hours of travel time. On Wednesday we all went to the Fresno Fair. I walked over 10,000 steps which was good when you considered the food we consumed. No one got up very early Thursday morning and we lazed around half of the day. Terry went to cardio rehab in the afternoon and Judah, Leeya, and I went to Salvation Army Thrift Store and a very precious children’s bookstore in town. You can guess where we spent the most money!

The weather has been fantastic all week, and although much of California was forecast for high winds, we have had very little wind here. The temps have been in the 80s. There is, however, lots of dust in the air as it is almond and pistachio harvest time. I required the kids to take baths and wash their hair as soon as we got home from the fair on Wednesday.

It’s now Friday morning. There is more shopping and eating in our plans for today. The kids need new shoes. Judah is still on the lookout for a particular book in a series he is reading. We are going to try a new sandwich shop, new to Terry and me, but not to the kids. They’ve eaten at Ike’s both in Sacramento and San Mateo. This sandwich shop is known for its vegan offerings.

Our daughter is planning to be here on Saturday after a very long week of work at her new job at an inner city school in San Francisco. Not only did she do her usual administrative work all week, but there was a big fundraising gala midweek in Blackhawk which is in the east bay. She didn’t get the week off, but she does have Monday, Columbus Day, off.

Humbly grateful

If you’ve been reading here for any length of time, you have heard me complain about cleaning the patio. It is really something that should be done weekly, but I feel good about it if I get to it once a month. I’ve written before, when grumbling about the work, that I would like a patio boy since I don’t need a pool boy. It’s enough work that I could hire someone if I had the money to do so.  Our neighbors just had a baby boy and I joked with them that I would hire him as soon as they can get him big enough to train.

All that said, on Sunday, just a few days past our 39th anniversary in this house (yes, I’ve been cleaning that patio for 39 years), while again moving the furniture from the patio to the greenhouse pad, and hosing down the cement floor and stucco walls, I realized how privileged I am to #1) have a huge patio, and #2) to have the physical ability to do the work.

Our next door neighbors have lived in their house for 18 years with a very small patio sheltering the kitchen/dining area of their house. It’s not large enough, like ours, to shield much of the southwestern exposure, especially during our hot summer months. The one tree they have in the backyard was recently pruned so far back that it doesn’t provide much shade, either. Our two backyard trees, and the one in the front yard, along with that big patio, all help keep our house very cool during the hot months.

I am still quite capable of moving all the furniture, cleaning it, and putting the fabric coverings in our washer. I have this really good “firehose” spray nozzle that makes quick work of the dirty concrete floor, sliding glass doors, and stucco walls. Of course, after I have done all that, I have to wait for the floor to dry before replacing the furniture. Sometimes I wait overnight. Right now, while the warm air dries the floor, and the clothes dryer dries the coverings, I’m sitting in the living room, writing this post! And feeling grateful for the patio and the ability to take care of it.

Change your environment, change your life

I am reading this really good book, “Willpower Doesn’t Work,” by Benjamin Hardy. I pick it up and open the book to wherever it falls, and then read for about 10 minutes. Today’s read was so good, I wanted to share with all of you:


This comes from Chapter 6, Remove Everything That Conflicts with Your Decisions:  Subtraction is Productivity

Poor communication is one of the biggest roadblocks in having an organized and clear environment. Your life is the product of your standards. If you are willing to have unclear communication, that’s exactly what you’ll get in your relationships.


The key things to delete from your life include:

  • Physical stuff
  • All distractions
  • Attractive but ultimately bad decisions
  • People who don’t make sense
  • Commitments you never should have made
  • Working memory

That working memory point is about what you keep in your short-term memory instead of just doing what you need to do (like reply immediately to a text or email) and keeping it in your head that you need to make the reply. I always handle mail when it comes in the door. I return phone calls, emails, texts, as soon as I get them. It’s once and done and I need not keep that stuff in my short term memory.

I’ve recently had to pull back on some people who don’t make sense. They keep repeating the same mistakes and doing the same thing. Drives me crazy. I always told my students, if you keep doing what you are doing, you will keep getting the same results. Good, bad, or indifferent.


The second graders are saving me

There are only three first grade classes this year. When I started reading to first graders, in 2014, there were five classes. Too many to do in one day and so that’s why I got in the habit of going to Columbia two days each week, so the stories were read right after lunch. But last year, when the count dropped to three classes, two days was too much. I could see all three first grade classes in one afternoon, and that’s what I’m doing this year. That frees up Thursdays.

The second grade students and teachers asked if I would come see them and read a story. Second grade isn’t part of the protocol. There aren’t many stories and curriculums developed for the older grade. But I can do each of the four second grade classes once a month. There is enough material for that amount of time. The teachers said they would take whatever I could offer.

Now the majority of these students were first graders at Columbia last year. One of the teachers was a first grade teacher. She moved up one grade level this year as the need was there for an additional class. The students are thrilled when I arrive. They are very well behaved. They have the answers when I ask the questions. They respond with stories and slogans from last year. We’ve changed up the routine from first grade because I tell them they are older and more experienced. They shine.

I love the second grade teachers, too. They have the classes under control. They are so happy to see me when I arrive, almost as giddy as the students. Their thanks is profuse and genuine when I leave. I just have to remember to keep working hard with the first graders as they too will be second graders one day.

The return of hard butter

During the warm summer months we keep the thermostat at 80 degrees. I love long, hot, summer days when the sun comes up early and the morning air is already warm when I get up to eat breakfast. I take the butter dish from the refrigerator and set it on the counter. By the time my coffee is made and the bread has been toasted, the butter is soft and spreads easily on the toast.

This year, on the last day of September, usually a day when the weather is still warm here in the San Joaquin Valley, our heater (set to 70 degrees), clicked on at 5:41 a.m. The forecast called for a low of 41 degrees. By the time I got out of bed at 6:30 the warm air had been flowing through the house for almost an hour and all I needed was a lightweight sweatshirt to be comfortable.

After taking care of chores at the back end of the house, I got to the cat chores in the kitchen. Those critters demand to be served first in this household. I unloaded the dishwasher, and while starting a cup of tea, I remembered to take the butter out of the refrigerator.

It took a few minutes to check my email, look at the calendar, and get my laptop. Then I put bread in the toaster and got a plate from the cabinet. My knife could hardly budge the chunk of cold butter. That’s how our daughter used to describe the cubes of butter I buy–chunky butter. She would always ask me to buy the tubs of whipped margarine for her as she refused to deal with “chunky butter.”

On this first cold morning, when the seasons are changing, and I know winter is just waiting around the corner, I again had to deal with the hard cube of butter that no matter how long I let it sit on the counter, will not soften. Those golden warm days are over for this year.