I’ve been writing a journal each day far longer than I’ve been blogging. My journals go back to June 1997; this blog was started in November 2007. 

I’ve never changed the look of the blog. It looks today pretty much just as it did when I started. The blog roll changes, and I’ve added a few widgets, but that’s it. The journals, however, have run the gamut. 

I started with a tiny one I bought in Yosemite. I wrote in some fancy ones over the years for which I paid hefty prices. For a few years I settled on a very large size that was designed for sketching.  I must have two dozen of those. The size made me feel expansive. 

The last five months of writing has taken a peculiar twist. The journals I’ve used are composition books I get at Target for 50 cents each. 

Much smaller, with far fewer pages, and certainly not high quality paper, but fun because I can decorate them:

I use Washi tape, stickers, printed pictures, colored paper. Each one is different. I fill one in about 2 months so I keep a supply of blank ones on hand and see where my creativity leads. For how long, I don’t know. 

Summer in the city (or the suburbs)

Settling back into routine this week has not been easy. Terry thinks I stepped on something; I think a creature bit me, but whatever caused it, I had a large, red, sore, bump on my left foot late Saturday evening. I had spent the day doing laundry, grocery shopping, and yard work. Who knows what happened, but my foot was so sore I couldn’t comfortably walk any longer so took myself to bed after spreading tea tree oil on the offending foot.

Although still sore on Sunday, it was better. I decided to stay home from church and keep applying tea tree oil. There was too much to do on Monday to be crippled by this red bump. With rest and treatment, I was able to make my Monday commitments–a tour of Kearney Mansion and Ladies Who Lunch.

The tour turned traumatic. I knew I would be guiding a group of older people through the house, but this group of 15 had only five in the group able to stand and climb stairs. The others were in wheelchairs, walkers, or just unable to stand. Those had to remain downstairs while I took the others upstairs. While upstairs, one of the ladies suffered a seizure, and in going back downstairs threw up in the entry way. It became chaotic and I had to leave the one group to get the leader of this group back to the office and make sure paramedics had been called. There was mayhem in the entry way as I finished the tour with those who were able and made my departure as seamlessly as possible.

I had to sit in my car for a few minutes before attempting to drive across town for lunch. I was quite shaken by the whole thing, having never had anything like this happen in my four years of tours. Of course, the majority of my tours are with school children, but none of them have become this ill or caused so much chaos.

It was a 45 minute drive across town, through noon-time traffic,  to meet my friends for lunch. This is the group with whom I taught all those many years. We are beginning to fall apart, physically. In the group of eight who met on Monday, 1 had hand surgery, 1 had foot surgery, 1 has had a pacemaker installed, 1 is awaiting major back surgery. Fortunately, I am still quite mobile so I took the foot surgery patient home after lunch as I could lift her wheelchair in and  out of my car. Saved her husband coming out. He has his own health issues.

Maybe it was the bump on the foot, or maybe it was Monday’s traumatic experiences, but by Tuesday I was sick. Headache, upset stomach, fever. Ached all over and had little energy. For someone who rarely naps, I took two naps on Tuesday, and went to bed at my usual time and slept like a rock all night.

I’m glad this week has no other plans except for getting ready to go get the grandkids on Sunday for their stay with us next week. And next week can have none of this trauma and chaos because it’s forecast to be 106 degrees while they are here. That alone will be enough!

Home again

Vacation Bible School wrapped up at noon. We  made the 3-hour drive home from San Mateo in 3 1/2 hours. Not bad since the traffic was very heavy and we made one stop for Terry to get coffee. Starbucks in Gilroy had just started a new pot when he walked in the door, so he got the coffee for free to compensate for the wait.

We got home to Fresno and 103 degree temperatures. Although the cats had spent the week outdoors, they seemed to have survived pretty well. Two of the cats have not appeared and one has moved from the backyard to the front porch. The kitten and his mother did very well, and the kitten has grown like a weed. My neighbor, who took care of the cats for us, told me that the kitten got stuck in the pear tree which freaked out his mother who got on the roof and cried loudly until my neighbor came over and helped the kitten to get down. She said she spoiled them. That’s okay, we spoil our grandcats while visiting our daughter.

Terry and I are sitting here, watching the news, something we haven’t done in a week. We never got back to our hotel room in time for the news. I was changing the station, and having not done it for a week, I forgot how to change back to the original station. I’m not very technically advanced, but sheesh, one week away and I forget how to change stations. (In explanation, we have two remote controllers, and I forgot which one I was supposed to use.)

We have a week to rest and get laundry done before going back to San Mateo to pick up the grandchildren. They will spend a week with us in Fresno while their parents are doing some awesome things. Jennifer is taking a group of young people to San Francisco to work with City Team, helping homeless citizens. Chad will be working at Redwood Glen Camp on various projects. Judah and Leeya will have a week of spoiling with their grandparents as Chad’s mother will also take them to her house for part of the week. Summer is a time to stay busy and have lots of fun.

How can you afford to live here?

Terry and I are hanging out in San Mateo this week, helping our daughter with Vacation Bible School. She directs; we follow. Terry runs the sound board and takes photos; I run a rotation where the kids watch a short video and learn a Bible verse. In the afternoons we take care of our small grandchildren at their home, which is only a half block from the church where our daughter works.

For those of you who may not know this area, San Mateo is about 20 minutes south of San Francisco. And like San Francisco, it is a very expensive place to live. The house where our daughter and family lives is about 70 years old, owned by a church member, and has another house attached to it. That is the way of so many of the homes in the area. They have a rental unit attached. The rental unit often has three generations living in it. The streets are so congested with parked cars because no one uses their garage for parking a car. Rents are very high. Everything is very high.

As of June 2016, average apartment rent within the city of of San Mateo, CA is $3043. One bedroom apartments in San Mateo rent for $2629 a month on average and two bedroom apartment rents average $3383.

We went to dinner this evening at a favorite hamburger joint in downtown San Mateo. For the last year or so we would order two burgers, a basket of onion rings, and one beer for $20. Tonight that dinner was $26. Minimum wage has gone to $10 in California, which is a good thing for the working poor. But, even at $10 an hour I wonder how people live here.

Yesterday we ate dinner at a franchise–Panda Express–in another expensive area, Foster City. The average house price is $700,000. I watched the customers coming and going. Most were families, multi-generational. A few people appeared to have just left work and were picking up dinner. I wanted to ask them, “How can you afford to live here? What do you do for a living?”

This evening as we ate our hamburgers, an older fellow in a wheelchair came in to have his dinner, wearing old slippers, a torn shirt, and dirty trousers.  I wondered how a handicapped person manages the cost of living in such an area. Our daughter told us of a friend who has been hospitalized with a staph infection and unable to work for over a year. Her disability check is only $600 a month. She is talking of moving to Sacramento.

Costs are much less in the San Joaquin Valley where we live. As of June 2016, average apartment rent within the city of of Fresno, CA is $902. One bedroom apartments in Fresno rent for $775 a month on average and two bedroom apartment rents average $896.

But I wonder how anyone who is handicapped, ill, or on a fixed income (like retired people) can manage to live in these high cost areas like San Mateo and San Francisco.

Grief relief

This past week has broken my heart too many times. I am so sad, so depressed, so unhappy. So much so that if I was going to be around next week I would go see my doctor and ask her to recommend an antidepressant or something to shake the depression. Maybe my plans for the week are better though–a dose of grandchildren.

We will be helping our daughter with Vacation Bible School each day from 9-1. Terry runs the sound board and does the photography for the event. I will make sure small grandchildren are there on time (parents have to be there ahead of time for their tasks) and then I will show a video and teach a brief lesson for four rotations of students each day. The afternoons will be filled with grandparent activities with these small children until the parents arrive home in the evening. Terry and I will collapse each night, completely exhausted. Should keep me from thinking about world events and feeling sad.

For what ails me

I finally got out in the backyard to do that pruning I wanted to do earlier in the week. The bug bites have calmed down and most are no longer visible. Not wanting to get any more, I used citronella oil on my top parts and OFF on my lower extremities. Terry claimed the OFF would work better, but I didn’t want that stuff near my face. The bugs stayed away so I’m guessing OFF and citronella are effective. Perhaps equally effective.

My sciatica has been acting up this week even though I continue to do the exercises that I started almost 10 years ago. I’m seldom in any kind of discomfort but earlier in the week I found I was in pain by the end of the day. What was I doing differently?

It was those bug bites! I had been lounging on the couch, with my body turned sideways, my legs and feet stretched out in front of me. Because the bites were so uncomfortable, I was not moving very much. Not a wise thing to do. The way I was sitting stretched my sciatic nerve in a most unpleasant way. By night time it was screaming.

Now I’m sitting on the couch, or a chair, as I’m supposed to, with my bottom on the seat and my feet on the floor. I also get up every few minutes to move around and do some of those household chores I’ve been neglecting.

Bug bites and sciatica. What a week. Citronella and more movement seem to be the cures for what ails me.

To make the veneer shine

I am certainly not the best housekeeper. My mother, if she was still alive, would be the first to agree. My sister would second that. Both of them were/are immaculate housekeepers. Always cleaning. I’m too lazy to be doing it every day, although this house could sure use a little cleaning every day.

Terry and I have been joking about his job of vacuuming. He usually does it once a week, but with the kittens, we feel like it needs to be done every day.

“Sure wish someone would vacuum around here,” I will say right after he has vacuumed and the kittens have immediately tracked litter into the hallway.

Then there are the leaves I track into the family room from the backyard when I come in from watering each morning.

“Sure wish someone would vacuum up the yard trash in here,” I lament as I sit on the couch, taking off my flip flops.

Every so often I get ambitious and clean the kitchen and bathroom cabinets, using orange oil. It keeps the wood looking good, especially when you consider that the cabinets are 40 years old. I’ve written about that task. Today I took the orange oil and a roll of paper towels to church to clean the conference table in the office. Made me feel very ambitious to be cleaning somewhere beside my own house.

Last Wednesday, at Bible study, sitting around that conference room table, I realized that it was in pretty bad shape. I contacted the office administrator to see if I could bring my supplies and clean the table since there wouldn’t be any Bible study today. She gladly accepted my offer.

I arrived about 11, after having my hair done, and got busy. The table is at least eight feet long, maybe 10 feet. It seats 10 people comfortably, and can seat up to 14 if we crowd our chairs around at odd angles. The table sees a lot of use. The Bible study, the money counters, the staff meetings, committee meetings, new members’ class, prayer meetings. The table is of the 1960s vintage. Sleek wood. It was very dirty and stained. I used at least 20 paper towels applying and rubbing in the orange oil.

The table began to shine and its long-lived veneer began to come through. As I worked the oil into the table, I thought of the many people who had sat at that table. The decisions that had been made. The work that had been done. The friendships. The laughter. The tears. It could tell some stories. I prayed as I worked. That God will bless the people who sit at the table. Bless their words, their work, their life.

The pastor wandered in and asked me how I knew it was so dirty, from just sitting at it. Wood should look good, even if it has been used for so many years. I told him that I liked wood furnishings, having so many in my own house, and even though old, I don’t believe you get rid of something just because it no longer looks new. Instead, you care for it. For you see, the wood has a story to tell as well as a job to do.