What doin’?

This is a question we ask the cats when we figure they’re up to no-good–what doin’, what doin’? It’s a question I’ve been asking of myself these past few days. What am I up to, and is it of any good?

The first week of summer break was spent with appointments and taking care of car and body.

We are heading out on the first road trip since 2019, and since I always get my car serviced right before summer, I figured it was good time to have a thorough checkup. All is well and ready. Both cars will need to be smogged (a California requirement for registration) by July but I can do that after we return.

Terry had his yearly eye exam and we both got COVID vaccine NUMBER SIX. Good grief. Is this our new normal? Vaccines very six months? This one made my joints ache. That’s a new after-effect for me. And because of that, I did very little “heavy lifting” around here for a few days. Bending, stooping, lifting…it all hurt.

So many little errands to run…over-stock to return to Target, cards to mail, groceries to buy, paperwork to drop off…then a dentist appointment. At the end of the week I prepped for my children’s message on Sunday–Pentecost. I came home from church, got a book, collapsed on the couch and stayed there for most of the afternoon. I did some watering in the backyard, but I just wanted to “veg.”

This week has no appointments or obligations. Our house sitter is coming one day this week to get all the details for her stay with our cat colony. I am so grateful to have found someone who can take on this task so we can be gone. The yard, house, and cats can be a full time job!

So, that’s what doin’ around here.


What do we do in retirement

As I left one of the second grade classrooms last week, with my cart and boxes that contained watercolor paints, the teacher assisted me to make the maneuver through a crowded room, out the door and into the hallway. I thanked her and said I used to manage 50 pound boxes of yearbooks. She laughed and said, “tell me about it,” which prompted her to tell me all the things she once did when younger, teaching and raising three young daughters. Then we both asked, “what happened to that woman?”

The things we did and now don’t, or don’t do as well as we once did. Like 15 hour days. Like teaching all day, running errands after school, going home to make dinner and then heading back for things like Parent Night. I told the second grade teacher, “I don’t do post-4 pm activities. “Me either,” she replied.

She is going to teach one more year and retire. We talked different strategies about taking our retirement funds. California has a superb retirement funding plan and offers a variety of ways to take the money. She mentioned that she wanted to be like me when she retired, looking well-put-together, confident, organized, and having fun. I was wowed by that compliment because I usually don’t feel those qualities.

It’s made me take a look, this week after school is done, at just how I do spend my time and how I go out into the world each day. Terry and I feel very fortunate to have good health and the ability to go and do the things we want to do. I have retired teacher friends, though, who do so much more than I do, and that’s okay. We each have to find our way in retirement, and as I often tell people who remark about all that I do, “I can do it now, but there will come a time when I will slow even more, so I enjoy what I am able to do and keep doing it.”

Monday’s feeding schedule

Because of the prep of food, loading the car, leaving early, the squirrels did not get their morning rations on Sunday. By the time I got home in the afternoon and unloaded the car, put everything back in its place, loaded the dishwasher, and sat down, the squirrels were again neglected. I never made it to the backyard on Sunday.

That meant I was up early this Monday morning (mainly because I have to drive Terry to his eye doctor appointment) and the squirrels were waiting for me to feed them in the pear tree. They chatter a bit, but mainly they come down from on high, to lower branches, and twitch their tail and glare at me. It wasn’t just the squirrels’ food that was neglected, the water dish I keep in the backyard during these hot days was empty.

I explained to the squirrels, because I’m sure they wanted to know, that I had been busy feeding the humans on Sunday and didn’t have time to feed the squirrels until Monday.

Let summer break begin

It’s a bit past 3 p.m. on the third Sunday of May, and the temperature here in central California is 92 degrees. A large bank of clouds, thunderheads, are perched to the east over the mountains, promising thunder storms in the high country. Our temperatures are staying lower due to these storm clouds hovering out there.

As to it being the third Sunday of the month. I served coffee fellowship after church this morning. For almost two years, now, I have been doing this on this particular Sunday as it’s the Sunday the deacons (who are officially in charge of coffee fellowship) meet. It’s too hard for the deacons to do the serving and the meeting all on the same day, basically at the same time. I made a rule when I was deacon moderator that someone beside a deacon had to do coffee fellowship on this Sunday. Now that my term on the board is up, I choose to be that person. Because of Lent and Easter, I got to skip March and April because others had dibs on those Sundays.

Because the past two weeks have been super busy for me, I decided to take the easy road for this coffee fellowship. I ordered all the baked goods from two local, female-owned, businesses. Two kinds of nut bars and cannoli, I made berry cups with fresh blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries. I made the iced tea that I really like, brewed with teas I enjoy. It was all good with enough bars left over to put some in the freezer for another time and some to take next door to the lovely young family. Their little boy was overjoyed to get “cookies.”

Because of all the activity the past two weeks, I was looking forward to a slow, easy first week of summer break. But, like I’ve always seemed to do, the week is packed with early-morning appointments–eye doctor, COVID booster, car maintenance, dentist. So, not much rest for the first week of summer break. I’m not promising much for the three months either!

After all that winter whining…

Thank you to all of you dear Readers who have stuck with me as I crabbed, complained, whined about the cold, dark, wet, winter we just had. I’m sure many of you thought, “it’s a season, get over it, summer will come again.” And for those who thought that, you were right. It’s the middle of May and it’s gorgeous here in Central California.

It is now light when I wake up just before six a.m. It is warm, too, and not because the heater has been running for an hour. I am no longer bundling up with socks and jackets just to walk to the other end of the house. I now turn on the fans and open the drapes instead of turning on lights and shivering. The cats are still ready for breakfast, though, that part hasn’t changed.

On Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, I step outside and turn on the sprinklers. The sun glints off the water spray. Even on non-watering days I am out watering pots and sprinkling down dry spots for the cats to lie in later in the hot afternoon.

Our temperatures for this week have been close to 100 degrees. More such days are in the forecast. Of course, that means the high Sierras, where all that snow fell, are warm, too, and the snow-melt and runoff are at record-breaking rates. You may have read where much of Yosemite National Park is closed due to flooding, possible flooding, and roads that have cracked and impassable.

I get my cup of coffee and head into the backyard on these glorious mornings. I stand under the trees, all leafy and green, gazing upwards, just breathing, feeling grateful for our backyard. The squirrels and cats are scampering about. If I look north, all I can see are beautiful trees and shrubs and hear the birds in the next-door yard. The neighbors to the north, for over a block, have lovely backyards filled with trees. I don’t look south very much. Those neighbors, all the way to the next street, are not into trees and bushes. It all makes too much mess, takes too much water, creates too much work, so they have been pruned back, cut down, or left unwatered to die.

Because of the early heat, I’m thinking it’s going to be a very hot summer. I will keep watering and carefully pruning. The yards will be my refuge on those hot days, and I will give thanks for them.

That’s a wrap for this year

It’s the last week of school for me.

I gave a 12-question assessment last week to three 1st grade and three 2nd grade classes. Oh, my. You cannot imagine how much work that is for just 12 questions from which they choose one of the three options written for them. Focus, listening, staying on task, for just 30 minutes, is asking a lot of these children. I have balked every year that I have had to do this exercise. What is kind of funny, though, this year had the best scores ever. Both first and second graders scored well. I attribute the second graders’ scores to the fact that this is the second year we have been together. I have no answer for first grade scores.

This week I return with a certificate for each first and second grader. It took me two days to hand print their names on the preprinted paper certificates (which had been printed at the resiliency center) for 142 students. Like the students, I had trouble focusing for more than 30 minutes. Because my eyesight and my handwriting are not what they used to be, I made mistakes that called for do-overs. Even signing my own name caused some trouble.

Many of the books I chose this year for the second grade revolved around science, math, and art, subjects that one of the classes had suggested. They loved the books I brought them. The discussions were remarkable. Because all of the classes loved the artwork in the books I am giving each second grader a box of watercolors to take home for the summer. The first graders, who just plain love to draw, will get a box of colored pencils.

There will be three weeks of school left for the students, but I am done. The rest of the school year is taken up with celebrations and award ceremonies and end of year parties. My plan is to return next year, in September, for my tenth year, but who knows what life will bring.

A tribute to teachers

I shared this on Facebook, and thought it should also be printed here:

It is late Thursday afternoon. I’ve come home from doing four assessments with 3 second grade classes and 1 first grade class after doing 2 with first grade classes on Wednesday. I am exhausted. Just sitting here, under the trees, on the garden bench, is all I can muster for now.

The teachers of these six classes are amazing. They come to school every day and work all day with these very small people who each has more energy at the end of the day than I do when I pop out of bed each morning. The teachers come each day ready for more work. Their attitude, “bring it, I’ve got this.” And they do.

Anyone who wants to criticize teachers and local schools, go volunteer in a classroom for just one day a week. You will learn how much the teachers do, and with limited time and space and so many small bodies wanting their attention all day long. Everyone expects so much from them. Especially their students.

Brava first and second grade teachers at Columbia! I see you and know how hard you work. You deserve a summer off. As for me, I’ll just sit out here under the trees and give thanks for retirement.

Double-digit days

It’s the middle of the week and the beginning of double-digit days. I always make a remark about double-digit days when we get to the tenth of each month. It’s a peculiarity of mine. I have many of these peculiarities.

Even though there are only nine single digit days, and each month has a day with the number 10, this is a marker in the month for me. It feels as though the month is no longer new. It’s marching on and we are now into more serious days. The “meat” of the month.

My hairdresser has surfaced. I was able to get my hair cut on Tuesday, when it was still a single-digit day. She went to New York City for a week. She started working as a makeup rep in Macy’s and her schedule is no longer her own. She is at the mercy of the scheduler for the store. My hair appointment was cancelled twice due to these events. I was giving her one more chance to show up before I went shopping for a new hairdresser. Well, actually, I had already done some “window shopping” by calling around to see who is still doing hair and who knows good hairdressers. I was pleased, though, when she contacted me to tell me she had a day for me to come get my hair done. So, she never got to the “third strike.”

It had been seven weeks since I had my hair done. I didn’t even have to wait that long between appointments during the pandemic shutdown. However, my hair did fine and still looked good if you didn’t stand above me and see my roots. Being as short as I am, everyone is taller than me and stands above me.

If you follow me on Instagram you can see before and after pictures. One day was Ladies Who Lunch with my 7-week hair. The next picture is with my hairdresser right after she finished my blowout. It’s kind of hard to tell the difference. So, I’m thinking I may just wait another seven weeks to see how it looks. I can save a few dollars that way.

First Sunday in May

…and I have no responsibilities today. Terry is leaving early because the choir starts again, having taken most of April off for an after-Easter break. My neighbor and I will leave at 10, getting to church just in time to slide into our seats, look around at who is already there, and perhaps greet a few people before the service starts. The sun is shining, and it appears to be a really nice day ahead.

It was a busy week and it will all start again tomorrow with Ladies Who Lunch. My hairdresser finally has an opening for me on Tuesday. I will be at Columbia on Wednesday and Thursday to give a final assessment required by the agency through which I volunteer. I have a list of things to do for the week, so many errands to run, which I hope to have all crossed off by Friday.

The weather is forecast to have warmer temperatures this next week, and I would really like to hold the weather people to that promise, but who knows. There is so much pruning to do, front and back yards, because the weather has been so unusual.

With the arrival of May comes all the end-of-the-year school activities. The first college graduation occurred this weekend in our city. Proms are going on all around us. Spring sports at the high schools are wrapping up. There has been, and will continue to be, a flurry of awards’ dinners. I miss some of that activity, but am glad I no longer have to plan and show up for many of them. I can just enjoy everyone’s posts on social media.

And now we return to our unregularly scheduled winter

After a few days in the 90s, yesterday and today we are in the 50s. It rained overnight. Not good for stone fruit that is on the trees. Apricots will be picked in a week or so. Or, maybe not. Cherries are quivering on the trees and not turning color. There is a concern for mold on the citrus. Many trees are still in bloom stage, which is so far behind normal. A farmer friend posted a video of his tiny cotton plants shaking in their “boots” when the chill wind blows down the rows. Cotton likes warm, even hot temperatures.

I came out of school yesterday, without a jacket, and shivered. I should have known better to dress like it was a spring day. I have no idea what to wear today. It only gets darker as the clock ticks towards noon. Where is the sun?