A change in the regularly scheduled program

This week will be a break from school chaplaincy. Columbia is having parent-teacher conferences all week which calls for dismissal right after lunch. No time for storytelling. It’s also the week leading up the Civil War reenactment at Kearney Park.

Things get really hectic at the Fresno Historical Society’s offices so I will be there answering phones and doing piece-meal office jobs. It also means I will be working a regular 9-5 day. Although I don’t attend the actual Civil War events that will occur next weekend, I will be around on Thursday and Friday for the school events when 8th graders take over the park and get to learn historical facts through watching reenactors playing such figures as Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, Jefferson Davis, Clara Barton, and others. The historical figures are served lunch in the offices so I get to mingle with them.

It will be a fast week with long days. I keep telling myself that this is good for me as it keeps my office skills sharp and it’s a change of scenery. Don’t want to get in a rut.

A grandma with stickers saves the day

I arrived at school to find a tiny boy kicking the front counter of the office. He wouldn’t stop. He had thrown his jacket on the floor, he had pushed all the papers off of a table in the reception area and even torn some of them. He refused to tell me (or anyone) what was wrong.

When he wouldn’t stop kicking, I started cleaning up his mess. I told him I was an old grandma and shouldn’t have to do that work. He stopped kicking and turned to look at me. I asked him what had happened to make him so angry, but he wouldn’t talk. After throwing away the torn papers, I noticed he had shoes like Judah’s Captain America shoes but his were SpiderMan so I asked him about the character on his shoes. BatMan? Ratman? Superman? He stomped his foot to make the eyes light up and then said, “Spiderman.” Oh, I see.

“I have Halloween stickers if you want some.” He left the counter and came over to the chairs in the reception area and sat with me and told me he ran into a wall. His face did look scraped. An uncle came to pick him up yet he seemed reluctant to go. The office manager says he wants to come to school but he seems to struggle with behavior and then gets sent to the office. That is NOT the answer. She is going to order a study team for him. He’s only in kindergarten. She and the receptionist were kind of amazed that I got him to quit kicking the counter and talk to me. Being a grandma with stickers helps.

Gone are the days of bright-eyed & bushy-tailed

There was a time when I could travel away from home for days, return late in the day and be at work the next morning, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Those days have passed.

I still keep a bag packed with necessities so that getting ready to exit my home doesn’t take a lot of preparation but I feel I need a day before a trip to make final home preparations. Then, upon returning, I need a day of re-entry. That day is today.

We visited our kids this weekend, a three-hour trip to the Bay Area. Of course, the traffic, each time we go, gets more dense, more chaotic. We saw three accidents on Hwy 101 and the remnants of two others. Drivers want to drive faster and closer than it is safe to do. Few seem to understand that trucks are bigger and heavier than cars, cannot stop on a dime, and will do irreparable damage should you collide.

Although we got home fairly early yesterday, we did nothing but visit with neighbors and reacquaint ourselves with our cats who missed us something terrible. I was sound asleep by 8:30 and slept in this morning until 6:30. There are numerous chores that need to be done around here, and except for watering the lawns, I’ve done none of them. This re-entry day seems to lack for a determined spirit.

I must get up and get started, though, because, except for today, the week is packed with activities, actually beginning with a charity event this evening. All those chores and errands must be run before I look into my closet and decide what to wear to the event. Oh, to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

I need staff

I am younger than the Pope or either of the Presidential candidates. How do they manage to do so much and keep going like energizer bunnies? I continually  ask this question. My husband’s answer:  They have staff. Well, I need staff.

I get tired. My body gets tired and my brain gets tired. My early morning extrovert personality begins to wane after 2 p.m. I turn inward and quiet. If I had to do a debate at 8 p.m., I would be curled up in a chair, just listening until I fell asleep. The other party would win, hands down.

Cooking, cleaning, household chores, shopping, errands, laundry. They all take their toll. I can do one or two of these each day, but please don’t ask me to do all of them in one day along with my volunteer activities. Yesterday came close.

I got up at 6 a.m. and did laundry. I ran an errand before going to Columbia Elementary and doing my storytelling. Once I got home I started cleaning the patio (which needs its own staff). Another couple of loads of laundry. I fixed dinner. We watched the news, a couple of recorded programs, and I read my newest book. By 9 p.m. I was asleep. Soundly. This morning I started all over again, but I have no where to go so that makes life a bit simpler. I did more laundry and finished cleaning the patio. I also ran a short order cafe for the cats. That’s another staffer I need–cat wrangler.

It’s not even 2 p.m, and my body and brain are looking for easier tasks. I would like to sit and read a book, but I need to put everything back on the patio now that it’s clean. Getting the patio clean has made me dirty so my clothes need washing (this is where I could use a laundress), and my hair needs washing. Fortunately, Terry is vacuuming the house and porch. He also made pancakes for breakfast. I will get dinner ready later.

In addition to the patio boy and cat wrangler,  I need a driver to run the errands. A housekeeper for the inner workings of our home. A laundress for the 15 or so loads of laundry each week. A cook to prepare our meals and set them before us and clean up afterwards. Terry is good at cleaning up, but he would like a break, too. A gardner to keep the yards tidy. Small staff, that’s all. Then I could perhaps have the energy and brain power to debate at 8 p.m.

What do you offer a child who is being bullied?

A couple of times I have found a large sixth grader in the office, sort of taking a time out after having been bullied at recess, or so he says. I’ve not actually seen the bullying, but I’m not doubting him, only trying to figure out what can be done to help him. Disciplining the bully(ies) is not my responsibility. Helping a child feel better about him(her)self is.

Last week when I found Miguel (not his real name) in the office I sat with him for awhile and we talked about what was going on. I asked him about his teacher, whom he likes. He likes being a sixth grader. He likes to draw. I suggested he start drawing pictures for a book that he could share with first graders about what it’s like to be a sixth grader. To get him started while he sat in the office, I got him a small stack of paper and told him I would check back in a week. I saw him at lunch yesterday and asked how his book was coming along. He sort of shrugged and kept going.

Today, as I was going out through the front office, after reading stories to two first grade classes, there sat Miguel again. He had brought his lunch to the office, giving himself a time-out. I again asked about the progress on his book and he admitted that the paper had been taken away from him because he was working on the book during PE class. Hmmm. I explained that it was a project he could work on before and after school, but not during class time. Maybe after he had finished his classwork and the teacher gave free time. He said that never happened. Hmmm.

I was carrying a book around in my chaplain’s bag, The Red Rubber Ball by Kevin Carroll. The book is Carroll’s philosophy of life, using one’s passion and creativity.  He has distilled his philosophy into seven simple rules: 1) Commit to it, 2) Seek out encouragers, 3) Work out your creative muscle, 4) Prepare to shine, 5) Speak up, 6) Expect the unexpected, and 7) Maximize the day.

The book is tiny. It has a red rubber ball on the cover, made from actual ball material. There are lots of fun pictures to stimulate ideas, blank pages for writing one’s own ideas, clever ways to get one thinking differently. After flipping through the book, showing Miguel some of these properties, I gave it to him, along with more paper for his book. This time I put the paper in a folder and suggested he only work on it during his free time.

Before leaving, I ducked into the principal’s office and let her know Miguel was all hers. She smiled, and just like me, said she was unsure of what to do. She would talk with him. I told her about the book idea and left it at that. We’ll see if any of this helps. I don’t have answers to such hard problems.

Thank God for photo editing

You may remember that allergic reaction I had a few weeks ago when my face swelled…and that it happened at the same time we had photos made for our church directory. The CD with our photos arrived today. These photos have been edited, thank God.

Here is the one of me:


Looks pretty good. Here is what I looked like before we left for this photo shoot:

And a couple of hours before I put on makeup, I looked like this:

Pretty amazing, wouldn’t you say?

This is the photo that we selected for use in the church directory:



The new fall television season

Although not a big consumer of tv programming, two new shows this fall have caught my attention (and Terry’s) and made me sit up and take notice.

We watched a couple of new shows that were so horrible that I do not remember the names but one had a laugh track. Who does that any more??!!  But, because we pre-record all of the tv that we do watch, it was easy to delete those horrible shows and move on.

“Bull” is the first show that has made us come back for more. “Bull” is inspired by the early career of Dr. Phil McGraw, who also serves as executive producer. We loved a previous show, “Lie to Me,” whose storyline was in  a similar vein. The characters run a company that does jury consulting. In watching the first two episodes, I better understood what happened with the last jury I was on.

I knew the attorneys were accessing social media just because of a question I was asked that could only have come from my blog. However, as the trial progressed, and the evidence was nonexistent, and the questioning of the witnesses got really goofy, I’m sure the jurors faces told a tale. After a few hours, we were recessed for lunch, and when we came back the whole jury was excused. We believe there had been some sort of plea deal because we knew the defendants were guilty, but the evidence just wasn’t going to prove it. After watching “Bull,” I’m sure there was someone in the audience watching us and figuring out what was happening.

The second show that has struck a chord with us is “Designated Survivor” with Kiefer Sutherland becoming the president of the United States after an explosion in the Capitol blows away the three branches of the government. The storylines are pretty much ripped from the current headlines. As are the stories on “Bull.” Maybe that’s why I like both of these and hope they hang around for awhile.