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Remembering Ronni Bennett

Those of you who have been with me for awhile, or those who found me through Ronni Bennett’s blog roll, will remember that Ronni took her own life in late 2020 under Oregon’s death with dignity law. I have just discovered another writer who is doing the same thing, even the mushroom “trip” that Ronni did.

Again, residing in Oregon. Again up against a disease with no cure. Cai Emmons has decided that it’s time to go. I found her blog only today while reading that of another fairly newly discovered blog from this past year. Ms. Emmons has ALS, and though she has managed to accomplish a lot during the years since the diagnosis, it has become too difficult so she is wrapping up her life and posting her thoughts in her final blog posts.

Probably not as sassy as Ronni, but every bit as interesting and intentional, you can read her blog here.

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Back to school

Last week, which I neglected to tell you much about, was my first two days back at Columbia. Yes, two days this year, just like last year, but with three first grade classes on Wednesday and three second grade classes on Thursday. Just like last year, six classes, but one less first grade and two additional second grade. The classes are large, 28 students each versus 17 in each room last year.

The first graders are a talkative bunch, which is pretty much always the case. The first grade teachers laughingly told me they wanted their students from last year back. Well, of course, they had them trained by the end of the year. Now, it’s starting all over, and really that’s the way it should be, but nothing has been normal since September 2019.

The second graders were overjoyed to see me, except for a few new students who had no idea who I was. It was odd to see their reaction, but then I realized that I was a stranger to them, and I was invading a space they had made their own in those first three weeks of school. We will see how it goes tomorrow with those classes. Today I am off to read Bootsie Barker Bites to the first graders. I’ve not read this book for two years because it really needs to be read in person, not through a computer screen.

Relentless

Today will make 17 straight days over 100 degrees here in the middle of the San Joaquin Valley. Maybe, just maybe, some clouds will float in and keep the temperature at 99. I don’t know what the record is for consecutive 100+ degree days, but I don’t think we are getting close.

The heat, though, is getting to me. We keep the house cool, but that means you must be IN THE HOUSE to stay cool. I like to go outside during the day. I have been going out early in the mornings, but even then it’s in the 70s and there is NO BREEZE. We shopped early on Tuesday and were home by noon. Same will happen today. I’ve not figured out what we will do on Thursday.

Okay, enough whining about the weather, of which we can do nothing but accept it. The dishwasher is scheduled to be installed on Friday. The grandkids’ other grandma who lives in town will pick them up Friday and they will stay at her house over the weekend. She will get them back home.

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!