More about California missions

schmidleysscribblins left a comment on my last post that her grandson, who lives in California, just finished his mission project, doing his on the Mission San Juan Bautista in Hollister, the mission where the Hitchcock movie, Vertigo, was partially filmed. Here is a drawing of that mission:


I have made a pinterest board of all 21 missions so that it will be easy to look at the basic form of each mission when helping the students. The teacher and after school coordinator and I have worked out a day for the students to stay after to work on their projects.

It’s been a busy week and next week looks to be more of the same. I’ve decided to do very little this weekend so as to regain my enthusiasm and energy that the next week will require. I am greeting at church tomorrow, but that won’t take too much effort. Today I’m devoting to laundry.

On a mission

Literally…California history is first studied in 4th grade. It’s a state requirement. If you should move to California as an adult, and you want to be a teacher in the state, you will be required to take a class on California history. We think it’s that important around here.

Part of the state’s history is the missions. All 21 of them. Every 4th grader in the state is to study about the mission system and either write a report after visiting a mission (what my daughter did), or make a model of the one of the 21 missions. Some schools are fortunate enough to have field trips to the missions. The closest one to Fresno is San Juan Bautista, about 2 hours away. The inner city schools, like where I am chaplain, don’t have that luxury. Their experience with the missions comes from books and model-making.

Models of the missions requires a long list of supplies. Supplies that most inner city 4th graders cannot acquire on their own. Their parents are unable to get the supplies due to time, transportation, money. There are no craft stores, or hardware stores, or even Targets in the poor side of town. My friends, the retired teachers, are banding together to provide the supplies to one of the 4th grade classes at Columbia where I am school chaplain.

I thought the teacher was going to cry when I first approached him with the idea. Then I showed up at his classroom to get a list of the supplies. He introduced me to the class and had me tell my story as to why I am at Columbia. Some of these students (32 4th graders crammed into a small portable classroom) are the ones I’ve seen in the office for misbehaving in class. I’d misbehave, too, to get out that cramped room where most of the work is rote and worksheet-based. Some of them come to my after school craft days (which I am doing later this afternoon). Those students had seen me before. Most, however, did not know me. When I finally told them that we were going to provide the supplies for their missions, they cheered.

Suddenly the classroom was frenetic. Students were pulling their mission books out of their desk, telling me the mission they were making. They started shouting lists of materials they needed. Students were turning to pictures of missions in their books and putting them in front of me. I got a piece of paper and started writing.

We made plans for me to return next week with the supplies and then we would make a plan for checkpoints and see what else might be needed. I told them about the group of retired school teachers who want to help them. They asked if we could come see their missions when they are finished. Sure we can! The excitement in the room was thick. As I walked out the door, with the promise to be back next week, they applauded.

Hearts and flowers 

Today I worked on Valentine crafts:

Made a soup out of leftover beerock filling:

Worked in the backyard and enjoyed the sunshine on the pear tree blossoms:

Nice “spring ” day.

Such a busy month

It’s only the end of the first week of February, but I feel as though I’ve filled a month already. So much going on, so much to plan, so many preparations for what is yet to come.

Lent begins Wednesday. I have a devotional that I can hardly keep my hands from, I’m that excited to start reading. Valentines Day is coming up so I’m making treats for Good News Club on Tuesday and preparations for after school crafts on Friday. The second graders at Columbia had so much fun coloring at lunch recess last week that I asked if I could bring a better coloring set up for this week and the vice principal was pleased with the idea. Then, I must get more prizes for the first grade classes for this month as I give STAR prizes when they fill their charts for good behavior. I give away a lot of prizes as these classes seem to always be on their good behavior.

During Lent, our church does Soup Lunches after Sunday services. I will sign up to bring at least one pot of soup and bread for a few Sundays on those weeks that are just too busy to get soup made. I’m working on a new recipe–beef and cabbage. I got the idea when I had leftover filling from the beerocks I made yesterday. Should be a good one for March.

I have been asked to be the secretary for Deacon Board at church so will begin that duty in two weeks. For now, though, I must get ready to leave for church. Since joining the choir, Terry leaves an hour ahead of me as they practice for about 40 minutes before the service. Then there is another hour’s practice after the service. I’m going to head right home after church today and get a head start on that soup recipe I’m conjuring up. Then, after lunch, I am hoping the weather forecast is correct–70 degrees–so I can go work in the backyard. It’s looking pretty abandoned out there.

Today is Friend’s Day

…or so says Facebook. There is always some sort of DAY, but this is one that Facebook can latch on to since most of us on Facebook post enormous numbers of photos that show us with our friends. Facebook just collects a bunch of those photos and makes a video. It’s fun to see your own and your friends’. Here is mine.

A former student lamented that she did not have enough content on her Facebook page to make a video yet she has been on the site for five years. She is a self-proclaimed introvert who rarely posts any photos so I could understand the lack of material with which to work. When I pointed out to her that she needed to post more pictures of her friends, she replied that she has let her friendships slide.

As I tell everyone, you are never too old to make new friends. It’s important to stay in touch with old friends, but many of them do float away. A woman whom I considered my best friend just a few years ago has done that. No matter how I tried to stay in contact, she has drifted away. Our monthly contacts have become yearly. It makes me sad, but it is the way the world works. So, keep making new friends.

To make new friends, one must be engaged in the world. There must be a connection. Funny thing about social media, people complain about it yet it’s a good way to make connections and stay connected to people we might not otherwise see. Like that old friend of mine. We could be more connected if she would join Facebook, but she refuses to do so. My blog friends know more about my life than she does.

Back to my former student, I advised her to make new friends. She’s going to college and has small children so there should be a few places to meet new friends who have similar interests. My daughter has made new friends through her children’s schools.

There is also the old adage, to have a friend, you must be a friend. Show yourself friendly to others.


Sing a song

Did I mention that Terry is now singing in the choir at church?  He is. The choir is small and in need of more male voices. His voice adds a lot. 

The choir sang a lovely piece this morning that has three parts, all singing at one time in a few places. Terry had practiced all week here at home. It turned out so well that the very reserved congregation applauded. 

It was my suggestion that Terry join the choir. He sings well and can read music. The need for male singers is great. The choir is a very important part of the worship service. It all made sense that he give it a try. 

For almost 40 years Terry was a cameraman at our former church as the service was broadcast on tv. He even edited the production for awhile. Terry saw it as his service to God and he enjoyed the work. It saddened him to leave that ministry, but the church service had changed so drastically that he no longer wanted to be a part of it. 

There is nothing like that for him to do at our new church, but I knew Terry needed some type of work. The choir seemed a plausible place to start. I’ve read that performing music helps keep one’s brain more agile. That would be an added benefit. 

Rainy Sunday

Terry got the mulberry tree in the front yard pruned before this storm arrived.

Our lunch at The Blue Coyote Cafe was quite lovely. I enjoy seeing high school students and especially partaking of their project-based learning.

Terry had the apple stuffed chicken breast served with cauliflower purée:

I had the short ribs with mascarpone grits.

Our daughter sent a photo of our granddaughter and son-in-law as they were leaving for Leeya’s first father-daughter dance. She said they had a wonderful time which does not surprise me. Leeya loves to dress up.


After our wonderful lunch on Friday, I stayed home on Saturday and did a few household chores and read my book. By the end of the day, though, I was feeling rather sad and useless. Funny how that works. I really did just want to be lazy for the day but then felt bad when I accomplished so little.

Today is our church’s annual meeting and a potluck lunch. I’m taking a blue cheese and pear salad with pecans. I love to have a meal at church after Sunday’s  service. I don’t have to come home and figure out what we’ll eat. Usually we have soup that I made earlier in the week for lunch on Sundays because it’s so easy to heat up leftovers. But if I’ve not made soup, we might just have quesadillas and sliced fruit. My meals are getting simpler as I get older.