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The last day of May, the first cantaloupe of the season

Because our refrigerator, freezer, and fruit bowl were all seeing empty spots, I knew I had to get to the grocery store today. I had put it off for too long. Our dinner last night was a frozen Amy’s pizza and an apple. Trust me, we aren’t starving, but the pickings are getting mighty scarce.

Library, gas station, credit union, grocery store. That would be my errands for this last day of May. Terry and I have been talking about how we have been going farther afield, being around more people, strangers really, than in the past two years. We need to reign in our “travels,” as there are more and more COVID cases being reported in our area. The gas station is just out of our zip code area, all the rest are well within it.

Because of shortages, I never make a grocery list any more. I just show up at the store and buy what they have. Today was a very good day. Although a 3-day weekend had just passed, a holiday weekend when so many stay at home and barbecue, the shelves were well stocked. All sorts of food was available. Even cases of just-arrived cantaloupes from El Centro.

Since I don’t usually buy melons this early in the season, and especially melons that have travelled half the state to get here, I took a chance with one of these very large cantaloupes. I could smell the melons, a good clue of a good cantaloupe. With watermelon you want a lovely dark green rind with a very large white spot where the melon sat in water out in the field. No white spot, don’t buy, you will be disappointed.

It’s been very hot in the southern part of the state, down where California and Mexico meet. Melons like hot days, cool nights, and lots of water. Voila, a good melon.

This morning’s conversation with the grocery checker

“What’s this?” the cashier at Sprouts asked me this morning, holding up a plastic bag with lacy greenery sticking out.

“Um..” Okay, Delaine, this is something you picked out to buy and you know how to use it, so what’s it called; I quickly scrambled through my brain to make the connection.

“Fennel,” I shouted, so pleased with myself for remembering. “You know,” continuing with my out loud thought, “you shouldn’t ask old people what something is and expect a quick answer.”

The cashier laughed and responded, “and especially this early in the morning.” It was just past 9 a.m., my usual grocery shopping time.

“Oh, no,” I came back quickly, “now is the time to get the correct answer, if I was here at 5 PM you would have gotten a blank stare!”

See, there is another advantage to early grocery shopping–knowing what the produce is called!

Being part of the team

I know I’ve written here before about being a team player. It’s a topic close to my heart. For 21 years I worked with an amazing team of teachers in the business department of a very large inner city high school. We really were like a well-oiled machine, except for times we had a breakdown. Those happened, but again, we faced it as a team and saw each other through the “hiccup.” All organizations have those “hiccups.”

It’s knowing how to “dance.” I’ve said this many times in the past 30 years. Everyone is different, but when you work together, just like dancing, you have to learn how your partner(s) move and adjust and reframe your moves. If everyone works at this, all goes well.

Figuring out what each person does really well, and letting them do it, also makes teamwork go smoothly. Realizing you don’t know everything, nor do you even want to, allows you to let others do what they do better than you. No egos, either. That can get in the way. Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow.

Of course, there are times you do neither and have to step away. I attempted to assist at an event this past week, knowing where there was a weak link that could use a boost. I was wrong. Not only was I not needed, my presence caused more problems. One of those times when you step off the field, the dance floor, whatever you want to call it, and let the other team members take over. It was a lesson I learned from those 21 years of teaching and just needed to be reminded that there are many ways of being part of the team.

Grand & glorious weekend

Okay, so it’s Tuesday when I finally get a chance to write about the weekend that just passed, the first weekend of March. This is the two-year mark for the start of the COVID pandemic, two years of sadness, sickness, fear, mistrust, and a whole lot of other descriptors that we won’t get into here.

California has dropped the mask mandate for public places and will drop masks for schools on March 12. Our numbers look better and all the health officials are saying that we can feel safer now, but we can also keep wearing our masks if we so desire. I decided that I would drop my mask on Saturday.

We were invited to a birthday party celebrating 99 years of life for a lady in our church. She happens to be friends with a friend from our previous church, a lady with whom I have done much work and who grew up in the same town I did but now lives in Fresno, like me. I planned to pick her up to take her to the party. By the way, she is 95. When I got her loaded into the car and strapped into her seat, I asked if she would prefer I wear a mask. She was not wearing one.

“You’re healthy and you’re vaccinated. I don’t see why you should.”

So off we went, maskless, and when we arrived at the party, everyone there was unmasked. I chatted with the birthday girl’s grandson-in-law, a man who I highly respect, and we both concluded that was the day to unmask and enjoy one another’s smiles and happiness at such a momentous occasion.

“We have come through a hard time,” he said, “and the feeling now is that the virus is more controllable, with the vaccines and medicines. We have much to celebrate and be thankful for.”

Those were encouraging words. So we partied on lots of family and friends, about 100 people.

The next day, Sunday, I was back at my friend’s house for a luncheon that she has hosted after church for many years, even decades. It was once for women who had no family to go home to after church. My friend gathered everyone in and had a time of fellowship and prayer. She has not been able to host this during the pandemic, but on Sunday, like my friend’s grandson-in-law had said, she decided it was time to open the doors and return to her beloved custom. She invited Terry and me to join in the event. There were 13 of us gathered around her large table. At 95 she still lives in her very large house that she and her husband had built in the late 60s. She believes she should be using that space to entertain. We made good use of it. If you would like to see this group, I have posted the photo we took after lunch on my Instagram account.

It was a grand and glorious weekend, enjoyed with a variety of people, and especially my friends who have lived almost 100 years. These ladies are an inspiration to me to continue to love life, laugh much, and see the people who make my world a better place. I know, as I read social media posts, that many of you, dear Readers, are doing similar activities.

I’m staying home today

This was a busy week, and I believe it’s the first week that I was out of the house every day, doing things with lots of people, since the pandemic shut us down two years ago. Whew, I’m tired. So much so, that I am cancelling the plans for today–grocery shopping and other errands–to stay home and get some things done around here. Like right now, while I am typing this post, I am washing the cats’ bedding and have sorted two other loads to do right after. Real exciting life I lead!

It’s not like I haven’t been doing some chores and laundry here, just in between my various goings and comings. I love to have a day at home, with no where to go, and no obligations to fulfill. I have not been writing much in my journals these past few months since I’ve returned to in-person storytelling. My creative juices have been flowing towards the kids and the stories. I’ve also had reports to write as I finished my term as moderator for the deacons and taken on a new position at church. I also volunteered to write letters of appreciation for the church’s preschool staff.

On Tuesday of the past week I read We Don’t Eat Our Classmates to the transitional kindergarten class for Read Across America Day. These are very tiny children and they behaved beautifully and engaged with the story so well. I happened to see their teacher as I was leaving school on Thursday, having just finished reading Ruby the Copycat to second graders. I stopped to tell her how impressed I was with her students and their engagement with the story.

“Oh, that was you,” she replied. “You were so engaging with them and they could tell how much you liked what you were doing. Thank you for reading to them. They enjoyed the story.”

Okay, energy well spent.

From four year olds to 99 year olds…Saturday is the birthday party for a friend who celebrates 99 years of life. She is amazing and I hope to be just like her in the next 29 years!

Update: If you’ve been reading here for very long, then you know I am a fair-weather person, doing most anything when the sun shines. After I wrote the above post, it started to rain, which would have cancelled my trip out for grocery shopping. We won’t starve and I’ll wait for the sun to shine.

March begins

On Tuesday, March 1, I celebrated the first day of March, and in ‘my book,’ the first day of spring, by handing out chocolate leprechauns to the staff and reading We Don’t Eat Our Classmates to transitional kindergartners at Columbia.

The librarian and I chatted while waiting for the students to arrive and both agreed that we were living in a most amazing time. We’ve survived 2 years of a world-wide pandemic and now living through another war. The world is in major turmoil, yet here we are, still standing, making ready to do what we do best—sharing books with small children.

As we enter the Lenten season, take time to look at where you are and what you are doing to help make this broken world a wee bit better. It needs us right now to do what we do best.

Mid-week laughter

Our daughter facetimed with us after I got home from school on Wednesday. Actually, she had texted earlier to see if I was at Columbia. Although the grandkids get out early on Wednesdays, it’s one of the days when I’m home later in the day. Our school district doesn’t have minimum days each week like their’s does. I think minimum days would be nice for teachers and students, but it’s harder for parents who work to make plans for those short days.

We had not talked for awhile so there was some catching up on things going on in our lives. We’ve not seen the kids in person since October, and with spring break coming up soon for them, they wanted to make plans.

Our granddaughter had lamented to her mother, “when are we going to grandma and grandpa’s house? I want to make brownies and caramel corn, and do you think grandma would let me make rice krispy treats?”

“Is she your grandmother? Of course she will!”

And we all laughed.

As you can probably guess, I’m going right out to get the ingredients!

A holiday

Today is a holiday here in the United States. Once upon a time it was George Washington’s Birthday. There was another day in February for Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. These two men, both born in February but centuries apart, served the United States as President. How about we just combine the days into one, add in all the other US presidents, and call it a federal holiday. Just one day, not one for each president. It’s been working like this for many years, the third Monday of every February. Just so we don’t get too placid, though, our city’s school district also allows Lincoln’s birthday as a holiday.

So, what do I do on these Monday holidays? I stay home, out of the way of those who work all week and want to get out and do things on their holiday. I have all week, or most of the week because I do have some obligations, to shop and go places and do things. Not that I do all that much, but I have a list of things to do Tuesday, after this three-day holiday for working people.

When working, and having little time and few days off to get things done, I hated to see older people out in the stores, going slow, when I was racing against time to get everything done in the short amount of time I had off. I constantly thought, when running into them in the stores, please move faster, I’ve got places to be and things to do. I swore that when I retired I would go to the stores while the younger folk were working. I’ve pretty much stuck to that oath. Of course, work schedules are not what they were 35 years ago when I was younger and busier and working Monday through Friday, 8 to 5.

On this holiday I am staying home all day. Doing chores here as there is always plenty to do. I baked biscuits a couple of days ago that I would like Terry and me to finish them today. They weren’t quite up to my usual standard, and if you see me on Facebook or Instagram, you might have seen the so-so results. I didn’t do anything different EXCEPT something I remembered yesterday–I used a different cutting board for kneading the dough and cutting the biscuits. Do you think that would make a difference? Baking is so tricky. It’s science and can be messed up pretty easily. Throwing ingredients into a pot and cooking it on the stove is much more forgiving.

My mother always referred to the weather for making certain things. NO candy or meringue on rainy days. Something to do with moisture in the air. I know moisture can affect flour so that could be it, too. I use Bisquick for the biscuits. I’m also not the most precise at measuring. Again, my mother…I stir too much and overwork dough. I’ve never made a good piecrust due to that heavy touch. Do you hear your mother’s voice when doing something? Me? All the time.

Happy whatever holiday you wish to call this third Monday in February. If the sun is shining where you live, make a lemon meringue pie.

Celebrating the legacies of those who have gone on

On Sunday our church celebrated the lives of two members who died during the past couple of months. Although not a formal funeral service by any means, the pastor spoke of their lives, one an elementary music teacher and the other a high school home economics teacher and counselor, and wove their lifework into the sermon text on wisdom from Proverbs. One lady had sung in the choir for decades so the choir sang one of her favorites.

Afterwards there was a luncheon in our fellowship hall where one of the ladies had served many such meals for mourners after a service. Our organist played the piano as background music, just as she would have done. I served her punch, a recipe she taught to me when I began to help her with these meals, in a beautiful punch bowl donated to the deacons by a faithful couple of the membership who had also worked for our city’s big school district. So many lives woven together.

There was a big turnout for the luncheon, over 100 people. Neither family of the deceased had a service for them as there were no close family members living close by. I was pleased that so many could come and honor these two very talented ladies who had lived lives of great service. We should remember those legacies and carry them forward.

The punch recipe: one large bottle strawberry lemonade and one small bottle of ginger ale poured over ice in a large punch bowl.

It’s a beautiful Saturday in the San Joaquin Valley

Although desperate for rain, our days are glorious right now with warm sun and clear skies and just the right temperatures to work in the yard. It’s what I call Goldie Locks weather, not too cold, not too hot.

I am running the sprinklers on our once-a-week appointed day–Saturday–so as to help the bulbs produce beautiful flowers and to keep our wonderful trees alive. The pear tree in the backyard is full of blossoms and bees. Sitting under it, on the garden bench, fills me such joy. The maple tree has yet to leaf out, but the buds are up there.

Terry has the mulberry tree in the front yard completely pruned now. The squirrels are bereft. I watch them from the couch and they are so confused as to what happened to all their branches that they ran across, leaping from the tree to the garage roof. They run up the branch stumps, and rub their faces on the freshly cut wood, trying to find something to gnaw on. The backyard squirrels chew on the newest, sweetest maple branches. I find them all over the ground. Nature’s pruners.

Have I mentioned that we now have an opossum and raccoon coming through the yards at night? I found a hole dug out under the patio foundation where I think they are looking for grubs. The area has been known in the past for housing a large roach community. For years, when we first moved here, we had these amazing toads who ate the bugs, but as the years went on, and more people started having lawn services and pest control, the toads died off, killed by the pesticides. Funny, the bugs didn’t die, just the toads. I really wish people would leave nature alone.