End of May and a clean patio

Although we have been sheltered in place for 11 weeks, I have kept putting off cleaning the patio. There was always something else to do. Like I’ve said, I never run out of things to do around here, and the patio cleaning seemed a good thing to just keep pushing to the “back burner,” along with a few other large cleaning tasks.

The patio cleaning is a multi-task job if it’s done right, so for the last few weeks, I just move the furniture around and do some sweeping. Every time I swept the cement floor out there, the winds would blow more leaves and dirt back on it. It seemed ridiculous to spend the time to really clean it, only to have it dirty the next day. Nor was I spending much time on the patio, just passing through it to the backyard where I was doing more serious work with pruning. Oh, and then it got really hot this past week–over 100 degrees–which made the job of cleaning outdoors even more onerous.

Saturday was cooler, so I decided I would start the first step in the patio cleaning project. I hosed off the greenhouse pad so I would have a clean place to put all of the patio furniture. I know I’ve written about the greenhouse pad before. It was here when we bought the house, started by the original owner but never completed. It’s very large and probably could be renovated into a guesthouse as the utilities are out there, but since I have no need for a guesthouse, nor do I want to invest that kind of money, it has remained a large cement pad with a low wall around it and two very tall vertical pipes that would have been a sprinkler system for the greenhouse. We’ve set up tables out there for the parties we once gave.

Sunday morning we got up at 5:30 so Terry could mow the front lawn and I could work on the patio project. I removed all the fabric coverings from the furniture and put those in the washing machine. I cleaned each piece of furniture and then moved it to the greenhouse pad. Swept the patio floor and then power washed it to really get the winter dirt off. Swept the water off and left it to dry.

So, am I done? Nope. I’m just sitting here on the couch, writing this post. The furniture has to be moved back and recovered with the fabrics that currently sit in the dryer. Will I get it finished before the sun sets on this last day of May? Maybe, maybe not. It’s as I’ve said before, I have all the time in the world.



Finding joy

On Tuesday I drove south, towards Fresno’s downtown, but not quite that far. The plan was to go farther on Wednesday, but on Tuesday I was only going as far as the Tower District where the Fresno Police Chaplaincy office is located in a building that once housed an insurance agency when I was young. During my middle years it became an office for a nonprofit agency that helped other nonprofits. Now, in my old age, the building has morphed into the heartbeat of a group of very dedicated people who serve the city with their compassion skills.

The building has been remodeled as of late to also house a trauma team who can see people at any time of day or night who have had a traumatic event such as a spouse being murdered. A child drowning. A parent taken to jail. Sexual abuse. Physical abuse. Verbal abuse. Racial strife. It all takes a toll in this city. The police believed it to be better to treat the root of the problem than try to arrest all of those who have been traumatized and gone on to assault and terrorize others.

The school resource coaches (of which I’m still one even though the last 11 weeks have done nothing) have an office in this building. I needed more stickers and wrist bands to hand out next week at the sixth grade promotion at Columbia. I still don’t know how that event will look, but I know that I am going prepared. Just planning to take part in this event fills me with joy. The head of the coaches, John is a wonderful retired school principal who is also a very smart teacher, not only had the needed supplies, but also stories and advice.

We usually meet once a month during the school year, but haven’t seen each other since February, a few weeks before the shutdown. John shared with me what a few of the other resiliency coaches have done with recording their storytelling. I told him of my fractured attempt. We both agreed that it needed to be done with more professionalism. There might be ways to do that when the chaplain’s office makes another move to a larger building that has room for a recording studio. Many of the coaches will not be returning in the fall, no matter if the school district wants us or not. There are health considerations that will keep them home until a cure and/or vaccine becomes available. Since we have no idea what the school days will look like, we don’t know if there will be room for our stories. It’s all a wait and see.

In the end, we talked about joy. What gives us joy. How to spread joy. Next week’s event will provide joy. We are hopeful there will be joy next fall, too.

Finances in the time of COVID-19

Here I am with more ponderings. I’m still not going to new places and not buying too much beyond essentials. I did order a new pair of red tennis shoes. I will wear them, but did I need them? No. Terry made an online purchase from OfficeDepot because we needed some items and felt a bit unsure about going to one of the stores and wandering around.

As of May 26, all of the stores in our county can be reopened.  Restaurants opened for indoor dining over the weekend.  I was not in any of those cafes nor will I be going to any other retail businesses than the places I’ve been shopping–grocery stores, pharmacy, Target, and Terry goes to PetSmart for cat food. I don’t know who all will be shopping as I understand the unemployment is quite high which means limited funds for shopping.

Because I feel very unsure about what will be coming in the future, I’m not spending unnecessarily. I don’t know about you, dear Reader, but my grocery bill has almost doubled since the end of February. Grocery prices have skyrocketed. I don’t see that changing this year. Our temperatures here are about to get very hot which means higher electric bills. I just sent in my car registration which went up from last year, yet my car is one year older.

We are very fortunate, being retired, but I worry about those who have lost jobs and their income. Those who have small businesses may not be able to bounce back because they won’t have the customers coming in the door if the customers have no money. What happens if all of the reopening causes more illness? I know these decisions are economy-based, not health-based. None of us have answers, just more ponderings.

Learning in the time of a pandemic

As I said in my last post, about those schools…

Every single day I think about the students, the teachers, the schools, and HOW will we go back to school. WHEN will we go back to school. What will a school day look like. Will I have a part to play when September rolls around. Those are the ponderings rolling around in my head. And coming-out of my mouth. Terry told me the other day that I talk about schools EVERY DAY. I think he was getting annoyed with my ponderings, but he said, no, just that he knew it was on my mind. I wasn’t hiding my feelings.

The first class of first graders that I read stories to are now sixth graders. I wondered if there would be an end-of-the-year promotion. The principal has notified me that yes, on June 3, there will be a drive-in celebration at the school and I am most welcome. I will go with stickers and other goodies, packed in envelopes to hand out to each student. Terry may come along and be my official photographer as he was in the days when I taught high school and attended graduation ceremonies.

And that will be a wrap for 2020 with no idea what 2021 will look like. I pray it will be a good year for all those in education.

The normalcy of obtaining food seems to be returning

Things were still looking good when I grocery shopped early Tuesday morning. Few people at Whole Foods, just like it was pre-pandemic. The difference, of course, was that all the people were wearing masks. The employees also wore gloves, even the shelf stockers. The entrance was “manned” by two very pleasant young ladies who saw to it that the carts were disinfected, the customers masked, and entrance regulated for social distancing.

The shelves were well stocked, including the meat counter, although I didn’t select any of the cuts displayed in the case. I did pick out a package of bacon as it was back in stock. High priced, but it’s something we rarely have, and since heirloom tomatoes are in the market, I thought bacon, lettuce, tomato sandwiches sounded delicious. I’ll also use the bacon to make stuffed potatoes.The bacon is uncured, by the way. No nitrates or nitrites.

Beans and rice were still in short supply, but my favorite brand of organic refried beans was on the shelf so I got two cans. More organic tomato soup, too, that goes so well with cheese quesadillas. The butter section had been restocked so I am now back up to two spare pounds of butter. Butter is the one product I hoard.

Because the local growing season for fresh fruits and vegetables is upon us, there is an abundance of produce every where. Fruit stands have popped up all over town. The Berry Lady where The Ladies Who Lunch go every year for blueberries and blackberries made her opening announcement on Monday morning. This year we will forego our usual trip down the highway to have lunch, pick up berries, and talk all the way. The pandemic is still keeping us from doing some things.

On Wednesday I will drive across town to pick up blueberries, delivered to a new spot, an organization that provides produce boxes for schools. Not only can I get the blueberries, but also a box of locally grown goodies, and I will chat with the owner about getting apricots to make jam. The food world is looking good. Now, about those schools…

The pandemic goes on

Someone last week asked what has been the hardest part of the quarantine for me.

First would be not getting to complete Year 6 at Columbia with this year’s first graders and seeing the sixth grade promotion. The sixth graders were my first group of first graders all those years ago when I started out, having no idea how to work with tiny students. Fortunately, the classroom teachers, those first two years, were some of the best in the business, and they taught me well. The uncertainty of next year makes my stomach hurt if I think on it for very long. There is the possibility I will never again return to that campus.

Second would be missing my grandchildren’s Spring Break. Although we FaceTime, it’s just not the same as having them here, with us, to do fun things or just hang out. They always love to come to our house, too, because there are very few rules. Just as it should be with grandparents.

Third would be the library shut-down. Although I had eight books checked out when everything closed, I got through those pretty quickly. There are over 20 books awaiting me on my hold list. Sure, I could have ordered books online; I have vowed not to buy any more books than absolutely necessary. My four-figure book expenses a couple of years ago made me realize that I had a book-buying problem. Is there a 12-step program for book addicts? Probably the public library! Which reopened today for curbside pickup. I’m just waiting for an email telling me my books are ready.

All the rest has been minor inconveniences that I have adjusted to. One thing that keeps creeping into my mind, much like the possibility of not returning to storytelling, is that I may never know, in my lifetime, the normal we had before the pandemic. It all hinges on that vaccine, which I hope does come quickly and which I will be one of the first in line to get. Just as with all the other vaccines that I get, the COVID-19 vaccine will let me continue to live my life without the fear of those diseases. Oh, sure, there are many other things that can wipe me out, but not infectious diseases.

At the end of Week 9

Here we are at the end of Week 9 of our Pandemic Shutdown and Shelter-in-Place. Listening to many people, one would think they have been wandering through the desert for 40 years. We are still keeping so busy here that we have no complaints except that we aren’t getting to participate in the activities that give us joy like school and church. It’s okay, though. We have a safe, comfortable home and plenty to eat. I know there are those who are not as fortunate.

Lots of online activity here this past week. Terry has been working on getting the church board of elders ready for a Zoom meeting on Sunday. I had one Zoom meeting on Thursday after two lengthy phone calls that took up most of the day. The phone calls were fun.

One came on our homeline from one of my school friends, not seen for almost 50 years. He was hunting down the remaining classmates from the Class of 1970, thinking we might be able to have a 50th reunion. Neither of us could see a way for it to happen, though. We sat, each one of us looking through a yearbook, remembering those faces and sharing the knowledge we had about each one.

The second call was on my cell phone with a woman who had found me in a very roundabout way. She is applying for a job in the local school district and gotten my name from a Fresno State professor in whose class I had spoken a few years ago about eating lunch with school children. We talked for over two hours about all kinds of topics. It turned out that her father was my husband’s high school accounting teacher.

While that last phone call was taking place, our granddaughter was attempting to FaceTime so I turned that request over to Terry so he could connect with her as it was her birthday and she wanted to share her gifts with us. Even after I finished all my connections, I found she was still demonstrating some of her gifts and filling us in on what is going on. Wow, what a busy day.

So, still not bored here. Still more to do than the day has time. I have some ideas for next week that I hope to get to take advantage. We have just received some really good news–our libraries will be reopened.