Category Archives: The world and my place in it

Warm weather must be coming

I am trying to convince myself that we have turned a corner. It is now light when we arise at 6 a.m. I am no longer turning on lamps until after 5:30 p.m. It is my hope that the gloom of winter has passed. Today is bright and sunny, but still cold. The heater continues to run all day. I heard it come on numerous times last night. Frost every morning. But, and this is what I’m holding out for, high 60s and low 70s promised by next weekend.

There hasn’t been any rain for a few days so we are drying out. The big puffy clouds roll across the sky, but no precipitation has come from them here in the valley. The local mountains, however, got snow on Friday. It can snow until July in the hills for all I care, as long as the sun shines here. I am done, done, done with winter, and especially cold weather.

Today I wore my brightly colored giraffe jacket to church and received numerous compliments. I mentioned to one friend that I had worn it to brighten and cheer my mood.

“Oh, dear you are always so cheerful,” she replied.

“Not of late. Sad, depressed, glum. Those are the words describing me.”

She tsk tsk’ed and moved on to talk to someone else, probably someone a little more cheerful. Warm, sunny days will do so much to help lighten my mood. I’m counting on it.

Because it’s a holiday

It poured rain all night. I could hear it lashing against the bedroom window. This storm is a bit colder than the previous ones. Maybe we’ll get more snow, less run-off. It’s the run-off that causes the flooding in our local foothill communities.  However, the large amounts of water cause problems on the flat valley floor, too. Not only flooding, but causing trees to come down. The ground is soaked beyond capacity. We have now had over the normal amount of rainfall for an entire year. More rain is in the forecast.

It was raining at 5:15 when I first awoke. I could have gotten up had there been any need, but it’s a holiday, it’s raining, I’ve been up early and busy the last few days, so snuggling back under the covers and falling back to sleep seemed the best thing to do. We finally got up at 7:30 and I’ve started doing laundry. Laundry never takes a holiday.

I’ve not been to Columbia on a Tuesday, to check in with the older students, for two weeks. The cafeteria manager informed me they have been asking for me. My bag is packed with pencils, stickers, and books to hand out to various classes and kids tomorrow. I will eat lunch with the third graders who beg me every week to eat with them, but I have to leave to read to the first graders, my primary responsibility as school chaplain.

I’ve cleared my calendar for the next two weeks to be at Columbia on Tuesdays. Not only for the older kids, but because I have become friends with the librarian and she informs me that she hosts a parent coffee time each Tuesday morning and would like me to come. I would like that, too.  There will be no sleeping late on those mornings, though, as her meet and greet starts at 8:30. It’s a good thing I’m retired.

 

I must make an addendum: Terry tells me this storm is very warm, a pineapple express storm blowing in from the Hawaiian islands. Then why do I feel cold?

In the kitchen with delaine

Yesterday I started my weekend of food prep. I signed up for coffee fellowship for this particular Sunday because it’s close to Valentine’s Day and I can use that as my theme for the food I will serve to the congregants after church services.

There will be coffee, of course, and a pink colored beverage made with cherry/apple juice, 7-Up and sparkling water.

On Friday I made 7 layer bars but with white chips and dried cranberries rather than chocolate chips and raisins. Then I made a pan of brownies. Before I ended my day, I picked up two roasted chickens at the grocery store and a couple loaves of French bread.

This morning started with making a big bowl of chicken salad made with those chickens, green onion, celery, almonds, and more dried cranberries. Using those loaves of bread, I cut heart shaped pieces of bread and constructed three dozen little sandwiches. Doing that created a whole bunch of leftover bread so I cut it up into small pieces and put it in a bowl of cream, sugar, cinnamon, and eggs to soak over night. Tomorrow morning I’ll bake it into bread pudding with caramel sauce.

I have red and white paper products, heart-shaped truffles, and those little conversation hearts. Another lady is bringing chocolate-dipped strawberries. I think it will make for a festive coffee and conversation time.

 

Around the house

Ronni Bennett’s post earlier this week about old people’s household habits made me ponder. She wrote about not getting dressed on some days, about changing her sheets (or not), and on some days not leaving the house. The comments added to the list of things older folk are not doing. Will I reach a point where these things no longer matter to me? Has the time already come? How about you, dear Reader? What does your daily existence look like?

Because I have obligations that require me to leave the house five to six days a week, the days I don’t have to go somewhere are quite lazy. I don’t put on makeup and I dress in my “around the house” clothing. These are pieces of clothing I would not wear in public but am okay with for my quiet neighborhood. In the winter it’s usually knitwear of some kind and in the summer it’s shorts and shifts.

A few of my winter pieces are getting rather ratty looking. I made the comment to Terry the other day when I pulled on a pair of knit pants that are frayed at the waistband, “I hope I don’t need emergency care when I’m wearing these pants. The EMTs will think me crazy.” Another pair of pants that I only wear at home has a rip in the inner leg. I’ve tried mending it, but since it’s in the worn fabric, and not the seam, the tear reappears. The pants are probably 30 years old, but they are so comfortable for “around the house.”

As for bedding, Ronni writes much more than I ever could. Terry takes care of our sheets and blankets. He launders them and makes the bed. He recently told me we need new sheets so that’s on my list of things to buy at Target. That’s about as far as I go with bed linen responsibility.

 

 

More about that homeless conversation

Of all those conversations I wrote about yesterday, the one about homeless and those unable to care for themselves has more to it than I originally wrote. Yes, I am concerned about older homeless citizens that I have been seeing on the north end of our town. I do wonder who looks out for those who are without family or friends. Even citizens who seem to be secure can be in danger should they become unable to make decisions for themselves.

A little closer to home, though, involves a situation with a young woman who showed up on our doorstep two separate times looking for a place to stay. I don’t know the girl. Never saw her before. The first time she rang our doorbell, late in the evening asking for a safe house, was such a surprise to me that I could only think to send her to a nearby fire station. A few evenings later we returned after dark to find the same girl resting near our garage. This time I was better prepared to ask some questions and try to find a solution for her.

Her answers and demeanor gave me pause. I tried calling different agencies such as the police and then a help line but no one could give me a definite answer. The best I could offer was to take the girl to a homeless shelter that is across town. I thought I had her convinced but at the last minute she changed her mind and walked away. She allowed me to pray for her and give her some water and juice before leaving.

The next day I tried some other agencies and one gave me a referral to a place for single women. It’s far from our house. The woman must be there at 3 pm for intake interview with check-in at 4:30. There are only 40 beds and they have been full every night for months. I am not surprised, but I’m not too sure how to get this girl to the place. I’ve not seen her since last week and may never see her again.

There is a need for a homeless shelter on this side of town, but I doubt it will ever happen. No one wants these places in their neighborhood. It is all perplexing to me. I like to find solutions to problems, but this one is way over my head.

Conversations

It was after 7 this morning before I rolled out of bed. Very unusual for me. The night had been spent with wild and crazy dreams which may have made me more tired than rested. I awoke thinking about the dreams and wondering where some of the material for them came from. Then I remembered. I had a number of serious conversations the last few days with a variety of people. My mind had jumbled all those conversations into a long stream of dreams.

I was out early Monday morning, running errands. I like to start early, right after 8:30 and be home by 11. During the drive between stops a friend left a message on my phone letting me know she was hospitalized. When I arrived at my next stop I called her and we talked for about a half hour. She is hospitalized, having gone for heart tests on Friday that in turn required her heart to be restarted TWICE. She faces open-heart surgery today. She also faces a long recuperation and rehabilitation period. It makes me sad as she is the same age as my husband. She has smoked and eaten badly all of her adult life. The heart surgeon told her that almost every patient he operates on has been a smoker.

After finishing my errands and coming home I found a message on the home answering machine from my sister who I had not heard from in months. We live in the same town but rarely see one another. She celebrated her 82nd birthday last week, and I had sent her a card with a photograph of Terry and me. My sister does not have a computer so there is no way of keeping her apprised of what we do except by phone/snail mail. After the birthday celebrations with her grandchildren and visits from her great grandchildren, she had time to sit and talk for awhile.

A couple in our church celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary on Sunday. I chatted with them about their achievement and how so many did not reach that number. We also talked about how so many of the younger people are not even getting married any more, taking their chances with the legal quandaries that can come about without the legal documentation. I’ve seen that with children at school whose parents never married, especially if the birth father’s name is not on their birth certificate. It can cause havoc with their life should something happen to one of the parents.

My sister got married shortly after I was born, and had she and her first husband remained married, they would be celebrating their 65th anniversary later this year. I brought this up while chatting with her on the phone, telling her about the couple who has been married 61 years. She marveled at that and said she admired those who could make it in a marriage, long-term. Her first husband is still alive but doing very poorly, health-wise. Her second husband, who was abusive, has been out of the picture for a long time and we never even mention his name, but the knowledge of his one-time existence in her life, and the reason for her diminished lifestyle, is still there, nonetheless. It was a bad decision to marry him and get his name legally attached to hers. I tried to dissuade her, but you know, people in love never see what others see. Perhaps it is better to just live together.

And the final conversation jangling around in my head is that of homeless people, especially the elderly and those with mental issues. I was discussing the importance of having a network, a support system, when one gets older. What happens to those without family or friends who develop dementia and can no longer care for themselves, but no one is around to witness the progression and get help for the person? The other two people in the conversation were telling me the difficulty of getting conservatorship and getting help for those in that situation.

On top of the conversations, also bouncing around in my head are plans for coffee fellowship after church next Sunday. I am in charge of the refreshments and  I have a Valentine’s theme in mind. That’s what part of my errand-running was about, getting supplies. Those plans got dumped in with the various conversations and made my dreams hectic and chaotic. I’m staying home today as the weather forecast calls for another rain storm. At least it’s warm–60 degrees this morning.

Sometimes a sticker is all it takes

Upon arriving at the cafeteria yesterday, I found one of the kindergartners sitting at a table in the back, by herself. This is the little girl for whom I got the alarm clock.  Now she was tearful and not eating much of her lunch except the pizza. I sat down, and said hello, then asked how she was doing.

“I want my mom,” she said through the tears.

“Are you having a bad day,” I asked. She nodded yes, sniffling. My assumption was that she was in trouble and that’s why she was at the back table. I would later learn that she had asked her teacher if she could sit back there, far from her class.

“We all have days like that. Yesterday I had a bit of a bad day.” Then I took out my phone, showed her the picture of our lunch from the previous day, and told her what had happened with the meal being spilled on my leg and foot. She giggled.

“Yeah, I smelled like barbecue pork for the rest of the day.”

“Did you know today is the 100th day of school and that you are now 100 days smarter?” She perked up a little more.

“I have a sticker for you that you can wear that says I’m 100 days smarter. Would you like one?” She nodded yes, so I got the sticker out and put it on her shirt. She smiled, still sniffling, and she said “thank you.”

“Are you going to be okay for the afternoon?”

“Yes,” she replied, smiling more and cleaning up her lunch detritus.

“I’m so glad. All of us have some hard days, but we can bounce back. You’ve done a good job bouncing back, so I have another sticker you can take with you.” I then gave her one of the very special Bounce Back Kid stickers that I rarely hand out. They are like gold. A bigger smile. And another “thank you.”

I talked to the noon-time aide to let her know the little girl was ready to go with the class. That’s when I learned that she wasn’t in trouble, she just wanted to have time by herself. The last time I saw her, she was skipping out the door, at the end of the line with the other kindergartners.