Category Archives: The world and my place in it

The vaccination season is upon us

Terry checked with our medical group on Thursday to find out when they would be offering a flu clinic…it will be mid-October…just like last year. Also learned that the COVID vaccine is now on us to schedule through our pharmacy.

November 1 will be six months since the previous booster, and by then the flu vaccine should have taken effect and not interfere with the COVID vaccine.

I have always been a big believer in vaccinations, getting that from my mother. My parents lost a small child when they lived in Arkansas, before moving to California during the Dust Bowl era, to diphtheria, a disease for which there was no vaccine at the time. It was shortly after the baby’s death that my parents packed up all of their belongings, and their two other children, in a an Model A Ford and came to California. I wouldn’t be born for 15 years.

When I was growing up, my mother fussed over every little cold or illness I got. It was only in adulthood that I understood how devastating the loss of a small child to a disease that could now be controlled had changed my family. So, I get my vaccinations.

Find your tribe

If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen this morning’s post with a picture of our latest Ladies Who Lunch gathering. Eight of us showed up on Monday. We have one contrarian who is having problems coming back to the group. She always has something “better” to do than to make the time and commitment to see us.

We always meet on a Monday, usually the second of the month, but now that post-pandemic schedules are clicking in and one of our recent attendees is still teaching, we are being flexible, but still on Mondays. I reached out, one more time, to the one who hasn’t rejoined us, and didn’t get a very good response. She has our next date, time, and place. I’m leaving it there.

We need our friends. We need a tribe. It has become even more evident after the pandemic when we rarely saw each other in person. Now that we are back, face to face, in person, we realize the joy we missed when unable to be in each other’s company. These women friends are hilarious. They are compassionate. Maybe it’s because we are all teachers, we are all older, two are widows, most are grandparents. We are women, hear us laugh. And cry. And complain (but very little, and it’s usually about our own inadequacies).

We reminisce and we look forward to what is next. One of the group came late because she was at a another restaurant celebrating her sister. She brought us the menu and we decided that had to be our next place to lunch. We are always looking for the small, the locally owned, the quirky. She also had to leave early because she had a time scheduled to glaze her latest pottery creations. We are planning to get to her next show.

I hope you all have that group of people who work for you. I actually have a few, from different places who do different things. I think it’s okay to belong to more than one tribe, but whatever you do, find your tribe. It will make a world of difference in how you view the world.

If you haven’t already seen the picture of yesterday’s group, here is the Instagram link.

Rainy Monday

Woke up to rain this morning. It appears our area has already received a half Inch. That’s a big deal for us who live in this desert. I pulled in all the backyard furniture and cushions late Sunday afternoon because I knew rain was in the forecast. Terry took down all the wind chimes and stored them in the garage. The furniture and cushions are under the patio and will spend the winter there, providing a dry spot for the cats to sleep. We will probably have to purchase another big cat bed (actually a dog bed, but, you know) for the kitties to snuggle in during the winter.

Sunday was my day to provide coffee fellowship after church. It’s been a busy two weeks so the best I could do was donuts from the family owned donut shop I wrote about last time. I had to apologize to one member who loves my bread pudding as I usually make that in September or October. He was quite happy with the apple fritters that I substituted. I had one member complain about all the sugar, but I pretty much ignore anything this fella says. I did suggest he could provide the “light lunch” which he said we should be offering.

I will rethink my wardrobe for today as we go downtown for our Ladies Who Lunch. No open toed sandals. Probably not a skirt, either. Since we have so little rain around here, I don’t have to make these decisions too often. Our last lunch was on a hot, sunny day. You can see some outtakes of our photo session here. Can’t promise what photos will be taken today.

An unusual morning

Mid-September Saturday in the San Joaquin Valley. We slept in until just past 6:30. Cannot tell you the last time we lay in bed so “late.” It’s fifty eight degrees. The air is clean. The windows are open. We have no where to BE, but here, here in our own home, in our yards, with our cats, for the WHOLE day. This is most amazing. And I am so grateful.

My hairdresser and I chatted about such small luxuries yesterday while she colored and cut my hair. Her heart breaks for the homeless she sees, and, like me, she cannot understand how we can have so many on the streets when there is so much wealth. Neither of us are what would be considered wealthy by today’s standards, but we both consider ourselves privileged. We are so grateful for what we have, and even though we try to do our part in helping others, we know it’s but a drop in the ocean.

One of the drops in the ocean is taking care of the cats. Many of you dear Readers have wondered about our cats. I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say we are the rescue mission for the cats on the block. A friend had a picture on Facebook this morning of two stray cats she is feeding and trying to catch to have neutered. I told her I understood, that even when they live in your backyard, it’s not easy. In the last 10 days we have had 5 cats neutered. Then, while sitting in the backyard, cats in my lap while the sprinklers run, I did a quick count. In just under two years we have taken 14 cats to the low-cost spay and neuter clinic. We are not the only ones. There are quite a few of us “frequent fliers.”

My two days at Columbia this week were pure joy. Yes, the second graders are all thrilled now that I am coming, even the ones who weren’t there last year. The first graders, just after one visit, were excited when I came into their rooms. One little boy even brought me pages of his own stickers. I thanked him and told him he could share those with his classmates, that I had plenty of stickers. He didn’t want me to run out. And his name, Cody, rhymes with mine!

Tomorrow, the third Sunday of the month, is my turn to do coffee fellowship. It’s been busy, as I said, so I’m getting donuts from our favorite shop–Lucky’s Donuts–owned by the family of former students. These people are so special to me. I have known them since 1996 when their oldest daughter was a freshman in the Class of 2000 and helped in the planning of the class’s first dance, a backwards prom. She worked so hard but wasn’t going to be able to come to the dance because her dad didn’t think it was safe. She somehow convinced him to bring her because I told her he could come, too, and stay the entire evening if he wished. He brought her, we chatted, best we could what with a language barrier, and he left her in my care. We were long-lived friends afterwards, and still are today, 22 years after that girl graduated. Her sisters came behind her and were in my marketing and yearbook classes. Never had the brother, though, in any class.

I’ve wanted to write, but the days got away

I know, I know, it’s been a week since I have posted anything. I’ve thought about posting. I’ve conjured up sentences in my head. There have been things I wanted to remember to post. But, but, but…

For over a week we have set the alarm at 6 so we could be out the door, most mornings, before 8. Just lots going on, and on the one day we could sleep in, on Saturday, the small cats decided to create chaos by knocking all of the photos off of the mantel, with glass breaking and going every where. At 5 am!

We put on shoes, I got the cats corralled in the bathroom, or sent outside, and Terry started vacuuming. All of the photos and frames had to be picked up. Most could not be salvaged, but what could needed a place to live for awhile. I cleaned out a cupboard in the living room wall unit that was deep enough to hold everything. I went back to bed while Terry vacuumed for almost an hour. He had delayed vacuuming the family room, where this happened, because we had been super busy on Friday (his usual vacuuming day) and he ran out of time before finishing the task. His remark, “good thing I didn’t do this yesterday and the vacuum cleaner’s already here.” He remains calm in the chaos.

In three days time we had five small cats spayed. Plus we did all of our other activities, which now seem underwhelming after accomplishing the cat-trick. It’s all done with military precision.

This morning, again, we had to be up at 6 due to a medical appointment at 9. One good thing in all of this? The temperatures have dropped with the tropical storm that has blown through. It was only 73 degrees when we left the house at 8:30, and now, at noon, it is 79 degrees. Much better than 100 at noon. And for a brief moment, the house is quiet, I have no where to be for a couple of hours, so I could fill you in , dear Reader, a little bit about the past week. This week is just as busy.

That melted puddle would be me

Okay, not really. We have managed to stay comfortable in our home. But opening the front door is like opening an oven door. It is a blast of hot air. I am so thankful for our home, for retirement so I don’t have to go out, for refrigerators and dishwashers to keep food cold and do the the cleanup afterwards.

I haven’t cooked for days. We’ve been eating cold food except for refried beans Terry heated in the microwave for his tostada for Tuesday’s dinner. I made a big salad and ate it with the last tortilla shell. I fried those shells over a week ago, before the heat wave melted us.

We were fortunate on Tuesday to not lose power as some in the city did. There are schools whose air conditioning is not working and they sent children home by noon. I’ll see how Columbia is faring as I will be there this afternoon. Driving across town, mid-afternoon, will not be joyful, but my car’s air conditioning works very well.

Every morning I water the yards to provide cool spots for the critters to lie. On Tuesday a squirrel had splatted out over a sprinkler head in late afternoon as it hit 114 degrees. The cats mainly stay in the backyard, on damp ground underneath trees and large shrubs. One of the cats was indoors much of the day, but demanded to go outside so about 5 pm I let her. She was quite happy to lie in the shade.

Labor Day Monday

I won’t go into the details because they are much too sad and neither I nor you, Dear Reader, need to be any sadder than we already are. Just let it be said, we had a really hard weekend.

As you have probably heard somewhere by now, the weather in California, except for the coastal regions, is the hottest it’s ever been, but not as hot as it may be in the future. I water the yards every morning so the cats will have cool places to lie, or should I say melt, during the hot afternoons. It’s been 106, 107 every singe day. I am so grateful for our air conditioning, but I know we are taxing the grid and will be paying enormous power bills.

Sunday brought a bit of bright cheer. A younger teacher friend from years past contacted me to see if she could join our Ladies Who Lunch group as her schedule will be lighter this year. She is teaching part time and her boys are away at college. She has realized she needs to rebuild her friendship base after 20 years of raising children and thought our group, most of whom she has worked with, would be a good place. I was so happy to hear from her and said, yes, come join us. She will be the “baby” of the group as she is only in her 50s.

When I contacted others in the lunch group to let them know Essa would be joining us, they were pleased to hear that as it’s been a long time since we’ve seen her. I did mention how she valued our friendship and then heard from a couple of others who said wonderful things about our friendship and what a good team we’ve always made. After the turmoil of the pandemic and all the other stuff that has happened in our various lives, I was happy to hear encouraging words. Maybe, just maybe there is a glimmer of hope for the future.

As for the very near future, this week in particular, it looks good and I’m hanging on to that thought. I will be back at Columbia on Wednesday and Thursday with Scary Mary for first and second graders. I will be doing the children’s story in church next Sunday, our Rally Day, about Acts 3 when Peter says to the man who cannot walk, “silver or gold have I none, but…” The Rally Day theme is Gold Rush, and I have made stick puppets for the children to use during the story. Looking forward.

We will be having a heat wave

I grocery shopped early Thursday morning and planned all of my meals around salads and sandwiches. I’m going to do my best to not use the oven or do any cooking beyond a microwave dish. One exception is breakfast sausage that I’ll cook early Friday morning, putting it all in the fridge afterwards so Terry can reheat a link or two at a time. There are also a couple of Belgian waffles that can go into toaster or microwave.

Fortunately Whole Food’s bakery had lots of breads from which to choose–French baguettes, raisin pecan, sourdough French, and ciabatta rolls. I love the raisin pecan for chicken salad sandwiches, but for a time, during the pandemic, the bread disappeared. The company that provides it had even taken it off their website. I was so thrilled to see many loaves on the racks so I got two.

Alfalfa sprouts and three kinds of lettuces. Coleslaw mix, fresh made guacamole. Apples, pears, grapes, figs, blackberries, tomatoes. My plan is to stay home until Tuesday, after the holiday, before I have to grocery shop. Hopefully, I will not have melted by then.

The last day of August

Tomorrow, September 1, at sunrise, is the beginning of dove season so this was my last quiet morning under the trees for something like 10 or so days. The gunshots will reverberate from the riverbank up the ridge and across the roads to sound in my backyard. It makes me sad, cranky, and angry. Who shoots doves?

Moving on…if I ponder sad stuff for too long I get caught in a quagmire and my emotions just go downhill.

We are heading into a very serious hot spell. There is a high dome of high pressure sitting on the whole west end of the United States, from the Washington/Canada border to the southwest states. The coastal areas will be cooler than inland (where I live), but still warmer than usual. We are told to expect to break records, it will be that hot. I am busy watering the yards so as to keep cool spaces for the cats. Some of them will come inside and flop on the cool linoleum floors, but some stubbornly remain outside, finding shade and wet ground.

My story of the small boy bringing his lunch when he came to see Jesus went over well with children and adults alike. Sharing what we can with those who didn’t think ahead or got stuck in a place that didn’t turn out well. If we give our best to God, He will multiply it. The children enjoyed the peach jam I brought to share as well as taking the stick puppet I had made of the small boy with his lunch basket. My goal is to make children feel good when they come to church and hear stories from the Bible. Those memories are what will carry over into adulthood.

Speaking of stories with small children, I will be back at Columbia next week. I am going out to the school later today to put September’s story schedule in the teacher’s boxes. It’s the end of August and time to get back into the regularly scheduled program.

Be generous

The last Saturday of August. The end of summer, but not the end of the heat here in the central San Joaquin Valley. Our days will get shorter, which makes for lower temperatures, but it will stay warm until Halloween. Maybe it will rain, but I’m not counting on it. It appears God is trying to get our attention, but the majority of the folk go on about their usual way of doing things with their stingy attitudes.

For my dear Readers who live in other countries, you may have not heard that our President is declaring a $10,000 pay-off of college debt for those who have been under this burden for so long. It is a great thing to do in a country as rich as America where big business and wealthy citizens get so many bonuses and breaks. But, there are the naysayers, which makes no sense to me.

I had no college debt. I went to college in the 1970s when costs were much lower, on a full-ride scholarship from the state of California. I received this full-ride scholarship because my parents were landowners in California and I was first-generation college-bound. I had to maintain a 3.0 gpa, attend a state-funded college, and finish in four years. I did, and did, and did. My father had died when I was in high school so I also received survivor social security benefits, fulfilling the requirements by maintaining the 3.0 gpa, and finishing by the time I was 22.

I lived at home. My mother took very good care of me: cooking, cleaning, doing my laundry. My job was to go to school and fulfill those requirements for financial aid. I am very thankful for the privilege I had and the fact that the government paid for my eduction. I would be very happy to pay that forward and see that other students receive an equal shot at a good education. I don’t understand those who are grumbling. Yes, they were able to pay their debt. Good for them. Be thankful and willing to share.

A previous colleague from my teaching days posted a good parable to Facebook this morning –Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead was a slap in the face to everyone who had already died. My reply was about the little boy whose lunch fed 5,000.

All those people had followed Jesus way out in the countryside to hear what he had to say, maybe see some miracles, but had neglected to pack a lunch. When it was time to eat, Jesus was going to send his disciples to get food, but they found a boy with a few fish and some bread who was willing to share. That’s all there was, so the disciples told Jesus to send the people home. No, Jesus would feed them. “Have them sit down.” He blessed the boy’s lunch, they passed out the food, feeding 5,000, and gathering up 12 baskets of leftovers.

One generous boy turning it all over to share the best he could. Why can’t we be more like that? Just trusting that our “little” could be made big. My children’s story for church tomorrow is about generosity. The boy and his lunch is my reference point.