Category Archives: The world and my place in it

Normal weather for a Saturday in December

Saturday’s weather was normal for this time of the year, which means it was too cold for me even though the sun was shining–38 degrees in the morning, 55 degrees in the afternoon. Our heater ran all day and I only stepped outdoors for a few brief moments, mainly to run the sprinklers because we have not had rain in a couple of months. That’s one thing that isn’t normal–rainfall for this time of the year is usually around 3 inches. We’ve had less than a half inch.

The past four weeks have been so busy. It was nice to spend all day at home with no where to go. I did laundry and baked treats for coffee fellowship. Stayed in my knits all day and never put on makeup, not even lipstick. Fortunately, no one came to our door. Terry met the mail carrier at the curb as she had a box of books for me from Powell’s. Our lunch was tea and persimmon cake that a friend had dropped off earlier in the week. Dinner was leftover roast beef turned into beef and noodles. It was a cold day but also an easy one.


Christmas break begins

Woo hoo, over three weeks with no obligations. My calendar is clear. I’m doing a happy dance and filling my time with friends–lunches, coffee, drinks, dessert–and family–grandchildren to come and stay, trips to see some sights.

Thursday was my last day at Columbia until the second week of January. I handed out over 70 bears to delighted first graders who could hardly believe they could take the bear home or give it away or do anything they like with it. Such freedom. I left a bag full of bears for the administration to hand out as they see fit to other children. I gave the attendance officer four alarm clocks to help wake up those families who have a hard time getting their children to school on time. She too did a happy dance. The things that make those of us who work in education happy!

Today I am meeting a small contingent of Ladies Who Lunch. Only three of the 10 could make it for today’s lunch even though everyone had a free calendar when we originally set the date back in November. Some health issues have sidelined a couple. Out of town trips are taking a few others away.

I will dash away from lunch so as to meet a friend who just flew from the Netherlands to Fresno to spend Christmas with her family. She travels the globe on behalf of human trafficking victims but occasionally makes it into Fresno. We will eat cake and laugh and catch up with one another’s lives.


Now I’m the relic

Today I had my last tour of the season at Kearney Mansion, and what a delightful group it was. High school students from the school where I did my student teacher 30 years ago and where my daughter graduated 21 years ago. The two teachers who accompanied the students probably hadn’t even been born when I was student teaching. One was the interior design teacher, the other one the photography teacher. Both lovely, delightful young women who engaged easily in conversation.

.The classes they teach are part of the career technical education that the district is working hard to incorporate throughout the high schools. I chuckle because this is exactly what I and my team did at Fresno High for over two decades. We were cutting edge, so cutting edge that we bled a lot. I relate to these two teachers how I did career tech ed for 21 years at Fresno High, teaching marketing and computer skills. They had puzzled looks.

“Fresno High doesn’t have any career tech classes, no one comes to any of our meetings from that school.” They mentioned two other schools that are now the major players in the field.

“No, probably not. We all retired and no one took our places. The classes and the program just fizzled out,” I replied.

I felt like an historic relic, like the house we were entering where I would show them through rooms lived in 100+ years ago, but no one lives there now.

I did not put up a tree this year, and only have minimal decorations for the holiday around the house. I’ve done many tours at Kearney Mansion this season and enjoyed the beautifully decorated home. Click here if you would like to see the tree in the main parlor. I took this photo from the dining room last week while I was there.


Another tale of two classes

On Wednesdays I read to two classes right after lunch at Columbia. The first class was antsy as they lined up to go back to class. One little girl was a puddle of tears so I had her stand by me until the teacher arrived to escort the kids to their room. Although this class is usually rambunctious, the teacher gets them calmed down once back in the room and gets them ready for Mrs. Zody’s story. Today, they were having none of it.

One boy complained, over and over, that he had forgotten his sack lunch in the room, the teacher wasn’t there when he tried to get it, and he had to eat the school lunch which he didn’t like. He wanted his lunch from home. NOOOOOWWWW.

Another boy had not used lunch recess to use the restroom and so made a big issue about having to use the restroom NOOOOOWWWWW.

One of the more troublesome girls said she didn’t want to hear a story. That got a few others saying the same thing. When they wouldn’t be quiet, I told them I didn’t have to read a story and would leave. Which I did. I follow through on what I say I will do.

Since I am usually arriving at the second classroom around 12:30, the teacher was a bit surprised to see me at 12:15, but she welcomed me in, finished up her lesson, got the students seated on the floor, and they loved the story, Tacky the Penguin. There are lots of silly parts, which they laughingly joined in on. They were so well behaved that they got two stars on their star chart and are almost ready for another prize, their fourth one this school year. A couple of other classes have only gotten one prize thus far.

Although I did little to exert myself, I am home, sitting on the couch, weary of such turmoil in the school. As I departed through the front office, one of the first graders in a class I will see tomorrow, was sitting there, in timeout. Two pre kindergartners were brought in for fighting. PRE kindergarten, mind you! I can only surmise that the home life of these little ones is chaotic and disruptive, thus causing them to bring the same chaos and disruption to school.

It’s only 2 pm and I’m tired

Here I sit, on the couch, with my laptop, too tired to do very much. Why, at 2 pm, should I be this tired? Ridiculous. But let me explain…

I was up at 6 this morning so as to leave the house by 8:40 to drive out in the country to the big historic home where I give tours. Two busloads of third graders would be arriving at 9:30 for a total of three tours through the house, all of which I would do.

Upon arriving early so as to note some changes that had been made in the layout of the house, I find the busses have arrived and the students are waiting. There would only be two tour groups as the others would be coming on Thursday when another retired educator would have the job of showing them through the house.

The first group of 25 students was terrific. Well behaved. Good questions. The teacher had excellent control of the group. We had lots of fun for that hour before I handed them off to the gift shop manager and then dashed back through the house to make ready for group two who was waiting for me at the bottom of the steps to the porch.

This group was chatty. They had questions before they even got into the house. I had to give specific directions that I would have expected the teacher to make. Once inside the house, the students had trouble being quiet. I don’t talk while they talk. So I waited. This happened over and over, throughout the tour. I would talk, they would talk. I would stop and stand, silent until they became silent. I would start talking, they would start talking. The questions they asked were not particularly smart ones. One little girl would raise her hand as soon as I asked for questions only to tell me a story of her own instead of asking a question. My nerves began to fray.

I had carefully explained how Mr. Kearney died, how his ashes were returned to Fresno, and where they were stored along with the inscription on the box. In the very next room a girl asked about how he died and where was he buried. Even some of her friends seemed surprised at the question. When I checked to make sure that the students had heard my story, one little boy could recite the engraving on the box of ashes as well as the name of the mausoleum where they are stored. Okay, at least someone was listening.

I have the students line up, single file, before we proceed back downstairs. This may take awhile as they are leaving one room, checking the builtin telephone on their right and noting the stairs to the attic on their left. Lots of interesting features along with lining up. The little girl at the head of the line was practically standing on my toes as we waited for the line to form. She then says, “you need some lip balm, your lips are chapped and cracked.” Yep, that’s how close she was to me. When we got back downstairs another boy was right under my feet, so close that I stepped on him as I turned to open a door. I apologized for stepping on him, but instead of moving, he replied that he was okay.

Finally it was this group’s turn to go to the gift shop. All of them had brought lots of money (it’s a wealthy school, unlike where I taught all those years and the one where I now volunteer) to spend and kept telling me they couldn’t wait to get to the gift shop.

After those two tours and a drive back into town, I made a stop on the way home to pick up 96 teddy bears which I will give to each first grader next week after reading the story, “The Teddy Bear.” I know they will be thrilled with the small stuffed bear that they can take home for their own. Each school chaplain will have a bear for each first grader, about 3,000 bears this year. I need to sort mine into four class sets, but for now, I’m sitting on the couch, too tired to do much.


Just passing through

My big accomplishment today–get the laundry done before 9 am so that we can take a trip into the foothills later this morning to visit the goat farm and buy more soap.

As I dashed through the house to pull the last load from the dryer, I encountered one of the cats dashing the other direction, down the hall. It frightened her.

“Just passing through,” I shouted to the cat in my mad dash to get that last load of laundry.

Terry, in the kitchen, cooking the last of the breakfast pancakes, shouted back, “that’s all any of us are doing.”

I chuckled. That was one of my mother’s favorite sayings, “we are all just passing through.” Seems even more appropriate today as Terry received a text this morning that his mother, age 97, had passed on, just one day before his 69th birthday.

As you pass through, please take time to brighten someone’s day, to make life a bit easier here in this hard place.

First graders and hospital patients

After school on Thursday, when I usually just want to go home and collapse after two days of wrangling first graders, I drove to the downtown hospital, only five minutes from Columbia, left my car at the top of the parking garage and walked down four flights of stairs to see my friend Ramona. You remember Ramona, the one with the traumatic brain crisis. Ramona who is on the ninth floor, in the neuroscience wing.

One of her twin daughters was there with her today. They had just returned from radiation. I’m guessing that Ramona has/had a brain tumor that exploded. She still cannot form words but she can make more sounds so I think the prognosis is good that she will regain some speech. Maybe all. She is well enough to be moved to a continuing care facility on Friday.

I showed Ramona the pig puppet I used with today’s book, “Little Pink Pup,” a true story about a dachshund that adopted a newborn pig when its siblings pushed it away. She took the book in her one good hand and read through the story. I had pig stickers that I shared with her and her daughter. She seemed pleased. Next week’s story has a penguin in it and I told her I’d bring the book to share with her at her new place. There are penguin stickers, too.