Category Archives: The world and my place in it

Oh, what a Thursday!

Thursdays are the days I read to three second grade classrooms. Because of the timing, number of classes, and the willingness of the second grade teachers, I am able to do this even though my original, and main, responsibility is to first graders. The second graders are great because they know me from last year. The teachers also know me and how I work with the students and my expectations and that I will show up every week.

When I signed in at the main office today, the staff, as usual greeted me by name as did a little first grader waiting to see the nurse. A mother was standing behind me, waiting for her child to come to the office to go to a dentist appointment.

“You’re Mrs. Zody,” the parent asked, “the lady who reads books to the students?”

I turn around to see the woman, and answer, “yes, I am.”

“My son, Julian, talks about you all the time! He comes home and tells us the book you read and what you brought the class. He gets so excited on the days you come.”

I ask her whose class Julian is in and find out it’s the class I had to leave mid-story last week due to poor behavior. “I’m sorry I didn’t get to finish last week’s story.”

“He told me that the girls wouldn’t be quiet and you left. He was very disappointed.”

“Yeah, me too,” was my reply. Then I said I would say hi to him today, but she told me he was absent, at home not feeling too great.

“He says lots of kids in the class are getting sick.”

Yes, it’s that time of the year, and sure enough, each of the three classes had sick kids who were IN class. Coughing, sneezing, one boy fell asleep. Of course, they all want to hug me, get right in my face to tell me things, and just like it was when I was teaching, I get coughed and sneezed on. All the classes behaved well so they all heard every bit of today’s book, Evelyn del Rey is Moving Away.” I handed out butterfly stickers as that was a trademark of Evelyn del Rey. I left more for the students who were absent so I hope Julian will get one.

By the time I walked to my car, I didn’t feel well. A little dizzy, stomach hurt, tired. “I CANNOT GET SICK” my internal voice screamed. I drove home, and as is always the case when I’ve been out, put all my clothes in the clothes hamper, washed my glasses and hands, but went one step further–got in the shower, and washed my hair, too. Sent all the cooties down the drain.

Now, as I type this, I am drinking a cup of hot tea and eating 365 brand pumpkin cookies. It’s the start of my Thanksgiving holiday time. I already feel better, and have plans to be back in two weeks. I just hope all the students and their teachers are well.


Let’s talk

I am having a conversation about talking to people. As you have probably read here, and may have even guessed, I love to talk to people. I connect well, face-to-face. It was hard during the pandemic to lose that ability and only communicate through technology.

A member of a committee, of which I just recently became chairperson, likes the idea of sending letters with requests rather than talking with the person. It’s even suggested to send a self-addressed, stamped envelope so they can just check a box and send their answer back by return mail. I wanted to scream when I heard this. Now, if the person is hard to contact in person, I have nothing against calling them and chatting, even leaving a voice mail. I did a lot of that during the COVID pandemic. And, I am not against sending mail as I just sent three cards yesterday to people who I did not see at church on Sunday, letting them know they were missed.

But…talking face to face is just so much more meaningful to me. I can see facial expressions. I can get an idea while talking and immediately convey it. The person with whom I’m talking can give me opinions and perhaps even send me in a different direction. This happened last Sunday when a member and I were discussing use of her brother’s memorial fund. I shared some information with her that gave her a completely different insight on something she had pondered. We both came away from the conversation feeling warm and fuzzy. A letter does not do that.

Now, I like technology. If you’ve been here for very long, you know how much I love social media and blogging to convey my thoughts and interests. I like to text people when I have a quick question and need a quick answer. Or, even no answer at all, just a way to let them know what’s going on. I am so glad we have the technology to communicate quickly and easily. But, nothing will ever take the place of communicating face to face with another human being.

Mid-November thoughts of Christmas

The countdown is on–in two weeks Thanksgiving will be over and the march towards Christmas will be a few steps forward. That is, if you are old-fashioned and wait until after Thanksgiving to start the Christmas season. More and more people are doing Christmas earlier and earlier, which in my mind, just makes it feel old and tired before it even arrives.

In my young days, when I decorated and did festive holiday things, Christmas came out two weekends before the actual day. I had time on the weekends to do the decorating because I was off from work. When I was teaching, I always waited until school vacation started to do the Christmas stuff because I had to finalize grades before heading out for the three-week break. The longer I taught, though, the fewer and fewer decorations came out. This year, I don’t know if I’ll do any.

I’ve been seeing gorgeous Christmas cards in the stores I visit. My hand starts to reach out, and then I pull back, thinking I have cards at home, and questioning if I’m even going to send cards this year. I usually send close to 100 cards and receive maybe 20. And this is year after year, the numbers we receive are getting sparser.

This year, I’m thinking I’ll not spend the time writing, addressing, and mailing any Christmas cards. The November weeks are busy, and right now, I have no desire to do any Christmas stuff. The first two weeks of December will also be busy with storytelling and bear delivery at Columbia. Again, it will be like when I was teaching, waiting until school vacation begins to consider doing holiday activities. And by then, well, with so many “rushing the season,” I may already be tired of the season.

Adventures with electronic recycling

As I was getting my purse, phone, keys, and a copy of our city utilities bill just in case I was asked if I lived in the city, Terry calls out, “Wait,” and comes out of our office with a very large, very old computer tower. “You can take this, too.”

Okay, there was plenty of room in the back of my car since I only had an old tv recorder to take to this electronic recycling event. The flyer had been on the side of the fridge for over a month. I had the hours, address, and even directions to get to this event. I would have to drive all the way to the far south end of the city to a recycling warehouse. Everything seemed pretty straight forward. Until the day arrived.

It’s pouring rain today. I wondered if they might cancel the event because it would be outdoors, a drive-through thing where someone would take the electronics out of my car without me even having to get out. So the flyer had said.

I made my way across town, turning and turning and turning again to get to the address on the flyer. The gates were all closed on the side with the actual street address. I made a few u-turns and came in on another street that had an open gate. Parked my car in a lot because I saw no signs or even cones for this recycling event. I found an office and went in. The young man at the counter was very polite and said I would have to go to the far back part of the property, to the warehouse, where all of the recycling materials were handled. I asked if I could drive there.

“Oh sure, just drive right around the building, through those gates. You can check in the warehouse.”

Ok, sounded fine. Off I went. Parked in another lot. Got out and headed for the only open door I could see, but again, no people, no signs, no dumpsters or trucks for the electronics. There was one large trailer that could be hooked up to a semi-tractor, so maybe…

Into the warehouse I marched, seeing some fellows at the far back corner, so I yelled out, waving at the same time, “Hello, hello…I’m here for the recycling event.

One of the fellows pulls on his mask as he’s waving me to go out the door, back outside, “This is a warehouse, you can’t come in here, wait outside.” When relating this to Terry, he says what I already knew, “He was just afraid you’d trip, fall, get hurt, and sue the city for everything it has.” Yeah, right.

The young man comes outside where I am waiting near the door. “Did you get a flyer?” he asks. Yes, I did. “My boss said there were flyers, but we never saw them. It’s okay, you’re here, we’ll take what you’ve got.” He motions for another guy to get a little hauler and they head to my car where I open the hatch and show him the two items. “That’s all I have.”

“Oh, we usually get tvs, but I’ll take this,” and he grabs the items and puts them in the bed of the hauler. Then he looks at my tires. “Do you have any tires? We could really use tires.” No, no tires. “Tell your neighbors if they have tires, we’ll take tires any time. We really need tires.” I’m guessing there is a big market for recycling rubber to make more tires.

Okay, thanks a lot, we both say. And I pull back around, through the lot and out the only open gate on the property. No other cars showing up. Just me and my two very old electronic devices. No one asked for any identification. I didn’t need to show our utility bill. I could have been Joe Schmo from Kokomo and they would have taken those two items. And tires, if I had them.

Now, here is the punchline…this event was set up and announced by the city, the same city that has just started talking about being its own power company because it doesn’t like Pacific Gas & Electric. Back to the dark ages.

First Monday in November

Rain is in the forecast for this week, the first full week of November, a good time for rain to begin and hopefully continue through till spring.

Because we are in desperate need of rain, there is no complaining about the wet, slick roads and the rain that makes outdoor work more difficult. My plan for today is to get the standing fans back to the storage unit. But, you know, if it’s raining…

There is a meeting at 4 for the church’s preschool board. This is my fourth year on the board and I don’t feel well equipped to serve, but I try to show up and be an encouraging voice for the hard work that is being done there. Right now, I’m concerned that we are looking at dollars and cents rather than ministry. After coming through the past two years, still operating, still standing, I cannot imagine thinking about making a hasty decision on closing. There is money in the bank, but it’s a fiscally conservative finance board on the church’s side that is attempting to call the shots. We must stand together, and stand firm.

Speaking of church, we had a lovely stewardship luncheon yesterday, kicking off stewardship pledge month. Large turnout for a barbecued chicken meal. Attendance has been increasing in the Sunday service, too, as people are coming out of the shadows and seeing that we are still standing, still functioning, We have visitors who I greet and many tell me they come for the peaceful calm services with the beautiful music. A drastic contrast to the outside world. It’s something people are hungry for, away from the tumult of political rhetoric and economic uncertainty. There is no rhetoric or uncertainty with God.

The election on Tuesday will either calm or stir up the marauding throngs who are determined to have their way over the way society is lived here in America. I am praying for calm acceptance of whatever may happen.

A better Friday

You may remember, dear Reader, my lament at what didn’t happen last Friday: no cashiers at Target; cancellation of COVID vaccine #5. A week later, things are looking better.

Many of my Facebook friends said they no longer went into Target, instead ordering online and either picking up at the store or having their purchase delivered. I decided to go on the Target website and see if I could find one of the main things I was hoping to buy on the Friday Target run–children’s coats.The home liaison had told me there was a need for coats now that the weather has turned cold (37 degrees this morning).

I found 12 coats and a pair of boy’s shoes, all discounted. Six coats arrived earlier this week and were delivered to Columbia on Thursday. The rest of the merchandise will arrive in the next few days and I’ll take everything when I go next week. Although not a lot, it’s what I can do right now.

I rescheduled our COVID boosters for this morning, and CVS didn’t cancel the appointment. We got our vaccinations just past 10 and then went next door to grocery shop at the very fancy, upscale market that I’ve discovered I love. The pharmacy technician didn’t ask us to wait awhile to see if there was a reaction. I guess, after four previous vaccines with no problem, they have decided to let us run wild after the jab. We were, of course just fine and found lots of delicious goodies at the grocery store.

I dropped Terry and the groceries at home and then went to See’s Candy to get chocolate Santas for the Columbia staff. Now is the time to purchase Christmas candy even if it won’t be handed out until December. After that stop I went to pick up three dinners from the neighborhood bakery/cafe that has been helping to feed us for the last couple of years. I have to decide what to do about Thanksgiving dinner this year, and if I follow the same pattern as the last two years, get my order in for that holiday food. I will at least order pies because she makes the very best banana cream that I have ever eaten.

So, this Friday is looking much better than last week. When I told the story of last week’s cancellations to a friend, she gave me this advice, “Delaine, you always pray for God’s direction and guidance, and then when He changes YOUR plans, you complain. You need to have more faith that God will work everything for your good.”

What did you do with all those years…

From ASK MICK LASALLE column in San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, October 30, 2022

But imagine: You live your life and then, when you get to the other side, you’re asked, “What did you do with all these years we gave you?” You don’t want the answer to be, “Oh, I watched ‘Ozark.’ ” Imagine the look on everybody’s face, and you standing there like a complete idiot, having to explain what you thought was so interesting about some lousy TV show, when you once lived in a universe of wonder and abundance that was full of nothing but interesting things that you chose to ignore.

Don’t be gone

Yes, Friday was a bit of a mixed-up day from what was planned to what really happened, but it was okay. I did laundry, worked in the backyard, and then sat on the couch reading my latest Marcia Muller book. The sitting on the couch thing had been in the works due to the covid vaccine. I figured resting afterwards would be a good idea. Resting after my busy week was also a good idea.

Two of the six classes at Columbia had substitutes this past week. The first graders are still getting to know me, and figuring out just how far they can push my buttons. With a sub, one class figured they would attempt another push.

They wanted to stay at their desks rather than go to the carpet for the story. That was okay with me, I’ve done that over the years. They reacted well to the story, but there was some noise and it didn’t seem to disappear unless I stopped reading. I gave them a warning and also reminded them about the next-door class who had missed a story a few weeks ago due to being noisy. They took the hint and finished strong. The sub asked if I could stay a bit longer. No, I have another class waiting for me.

The next day, one second grade class had a sub and the students were very noisy when I came in but cheered when they saw me and quieted. The sub explained it had been a crazy day. I took over the class. Now mind you, these are students who know me from last year when they were first graders. With my directions, they moved to the carpet, ready for the book. I had to make a few stops and remind them of proper behavior. They actually reminded one another. The sub asked if I could stay a bit longer. No, I have another class waiting for me.

The cheers went up when I opened the door for the last class of the week. Their teacher said they had been waiting for me. You may remember that I missed the first two weeks of October. One of the little girls reminded me of my absence:

“You were gone for two weeks.”

“Yes, but I was back last week. Were you not here last week?”

She looks at me, with really big eyes, “yes, I know, I remember the book you read about Milo, but you were gone for two weeks. Don’t be gone.”

That’s how I feel about the Target and CVS employees–don’t be gone. People are counting on you.

Stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down…stay, stay, stay

It seems to be a frazzled Friday. Perhaps, like the young man who is manning the end of my street to allow people in and out said, it’s Halloween weekend, best to stay home.

First, I had planned a trip to Target to a get a list of items. It took me four tries to find a clean basket. Then as I rolled that cart along I overheard an employee telling a customer they would have to use self-check, there were no cashiers. I rolled my cart over to her and asked if what I had heard was correct. Yes, no cashiers. “Thank you, goodbye.” I left the clean basket and walked out.

Second, Terry and I were scheduled at CVS for the third COVID booster. They have texted and sent dozens of reminders. But this morning, while I’m making an attempt at Target, Terry gets a call saying the appointment has been cancelled because their vaccine tech is out ill. What? They have no substitutes? Schools have substitutes, why can’t CVS?

I spent 10 minutes doing all the rigamarole to get new appointments next Friday. I had made today’s appointments specifically to coincide with the 2-weeks since our flu shots and 6-months since our previous COVID booster. Now it’s pushed out further.

After that I decided to go to Fresno State’s farm store, across town. As I was driving out of the garage, I see Terry dashing out of the house, waving for me to stop. He had seen one of the cats run into the garage as I opened the door. Sure enough, he found her, scooped her up and showed me she was safe. But, I felt off-kilter, and after three misadventures, decided I better stay home. I slowly drove back into the garage.

As I walked the birthday card out to send from our mailbox, I waved to the young man who is part of the crew working on our street. PG&E will be putting in new gas lines and there is lots of prep work. This crew is opening the covers and cleaning out the old lines. Our street is blocked to through traffic and this young man is the flagman who allows residents in and out. I walked down to tell him I wouldn’t be going back out and all the whys and whatfors. He laughed and reminded me it’s Halloween weekend, best to stay home. I told him he should take the day off, too, as it seems everyone else is.

Terry and I had a good laugh about it and he gave me the cheer that I used as the heading for this blog post.

October wrap-up

It’s been a long month. There are STILL five days in October. I cannot remember such a long month in what seems like years. I’ve crammed a lot into the month, and there are still more days to do more cramming.

Today (Thursday) will be Day 2 of this week at Columbia. Thursdays are with second graders and we will be reading a new book, I Don’t Like Yolanda. There is so much in that book. Stamp collecting. Letter writing. Cooking. And the big lesson–making assumptions about people that turn out to be wrong. It goes along with last week’s book–Milo Imagines the World. We cannot know a person and their life just by looking at them. We must interact to learn more and make connections.

Friday is Vaccination Day. Terry and I have an appointment to get our FIFTH Covid vaccine. I don’t remember getting that many vaccinations for polio which was the other dread disease that our parents were frightened by. It appears that COVID vaccinations will be like flu vaccinations–every year. But, this will be our second Covid vaccination in one year. Our vaccine cards are full so I’m assuming we will be starting a new one. We got this year’s flu shot two weeks ago, and the only record of that is the one our doctor will keep.

Because I am giving the children’s sermon on Sunday I will be using Saturday to finalize my preparations. We will have a visiting missionary from Korea giving Sunday’s message so I’m tying the children’s story to being a missionary wherever you are. I have little bags of M&M candies to give each child as we finish. M&M for Mighty Missionary. There is a dining out event after church where a group of us will go to a local restaurant for lunch and conversation. It will be the first one since 2019 when, you know, the world changed.

Monday is Halloween but I’m not participating. We’ve had so few trick-o-treaters in the past that I’ve just given up with that event.

And then Tuesday will start a whole new month which appears to be dark and cold from the weather forecast. Rain is in the forecast, which we are all cheering for.