Seize this day

After a couple of quiet days getting chores done, I’m ready to start again. I have my “bag of tricks” packed with stickers and erasers and a pig puppet. My uniform hangs in the guest room, read for me to put on, and then show up to whatever the day may bring.

Although the sun came up for a moment this morning, it has been blurred out by the fog that rolled in shortly after daybreak. So begins our winter season. I’ll wear a sweater today.

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Not seizing the day

The declaration has been made–I am going NO WHERE today. I am doing NO FAVORS for anyone this week. I am limiting all interaction to the minimum.

The past week was a marathon of helping others so today I will  help me. I will rest and regain my equilibrium. I will do laundry (9 loads of clothing plus numerous loads of bed linens and towels). I will clean the fingerprints and smudges from all the surfaces in the house. Since it rained last night, the leaves are too wet and will NOT be raked today. Later in the week for that chore. Same thing with grocery shopping. Our pantries are low, but we can survive a couple of days on what is there.

Our kids were here from Wednesday to Saturday, in and out, as they also spent a day with the other grandparents. Judah did a great job of raking leaves for me, but they are falling faster than any 6-year old can keep up with. He even raked up one last pile before they left Saturday afternoon while Terry and I were serving that memorial luncheon at church.

About that luncheon, it was a huge success. The deceased’s family was pleased with the hospitality they received from our little group. The Italian food was perfect for a group of 65 and there were enough leftovers for the pastor to deliver dinner to a local women’s shelter. I came home and baked cookies for Sunday’s coffee fellowship as all the cookies and pastries for the luncheon had been  devoured with requests for the recipes. The leftovers from coffee fellowship were then given to the lady in charge of that evening’s chili/cornbread supper when the church would be decorated for the Advent Season. So much food for so many people. It’s a pleasure to be able to serve in this manner.

This week I return to my normally scheduled routine–two days at Columbia to spread some cheer and begin handing out Christmas stickers to children who do not live in a place where there is an abundance of anything except misery. Our pastor used his pasta delivery adventure in yesterday’s sermon, telling the congregation about the neighborhood where the home for women is located. He told the people about how comfortable his life had become in his suburban neighborhood and his feeling of safety in the areas he travelled. Then, his mission to deliver dinner to a group living on the fringes, made him aware of the disconnect between his life and that of others in Fresno. YES! Just what I keep trying to get people to notice.

But for today, I am not taking on the world. Or even my little corner of it. I am being as quiet and still as is possible and resting up for the next busy weeks of holiday frivolity.

Vegan thanksgiving at our house

While Terry and I took the grandkids to a nearby park to run and play, our daughter stayed at our house and cooked Thanksgiving dinner, vegan style. This is probably year 12 for these vegan feasts. Usually I and the other grandma contribute, but this year, it didn’t really happen. I did make bruschetta which my son-in-law loves, but Jennifer made everything else:

  • butternut squash soup
  • roasted brussels sprouts
  • mashed potatoes
  • vegan “turkey” roasts with stuffing
  • vegan “turkey” gravy
  • cranberry/apple crisp

We were all “stuffed” by the time we finished dinner. Jennifer laughed about it taking three hours to prepare a meal for us to eat in 20 minutes.

Tomorrow our kids will go to the other grandparent’s house and Jennifer will again fix dinner. There has been a medical crisis on that side of the family that has put everyone in a less than celebratory holiday mood. Food will be plainer, too, than we ate tonight, due to that health crisis. No salt or oils. Red lentil chili and cornbread. Kale salad. Fresh fruit.

Terry and I are heading out early on Friday to set up the room at church for a funeral luncheon on Saturday that I am coordinating. By the way, the luncheon won’t be vegan.

There is still more to learn

Yesterday, in a round-about way I learned that a friend has been hospitalized for three weeks and has another three weeks or so before being sent to a rehabilitation facility. I don’t know all the details, but she had some sort of neurological crises, something like a tumor that exploded in her brain.

She cannot speak or use her right side. She is aware of her surroundings and knows people. She can nod her head and has facial expressions. I guess this is pretty amazing when I see that she has half of her head shaved and a major scar running around the side of her head.

I went to visit her at the hospital this morning, stopping first at Whole Foods for flowers. I am not good at hospital visitations and pretty much refuse to go see someone who will only be there for a few days. But three weeks in, with three weeks to go, made me feel the overwhelming need to go see Ramona.

Ramona is a strong woman. She works with handicapped children, in their homes, teaching them how to do things for themselves. She adopted twins and raised them as a single woman. That’s about the time I met Ramona. She attended the Baptist church where we no longer attend. The whole congregation cheered when the word came that she would be allowed to adopt the girls. This was almost 20 years ago, when it was unusual for single women  to adopt any child, much less twins.

A couple of years ago a large old tree fell into her house, wiping out the whole back half. Ramona had to move out for a few months while the house was rebuilt. She now has four grandchildren and often had to care for them. She has been a strong woman her whole life so I believe she will overcome this crises. I prayed with her and asked God to bring her THROUGH this. I believe God has a plan for Ramona and isn’t ready for her to move on to her heavenly home. She has something to teach me, I know it.

Just because the week ends, doesn’t mean the work stops

As I wrote on my Facebook page, and also shared in a text to a friend when I had to cancel a meeting for coffee and catch-up, this has been the week when my plate was full and my cup overfloweth. I am never bored, and sometimes I think I take on more than a little old retired school teacher should attempt. But, the tasks keep coming, the challenges make their way to my door, I keep coming across needy souls. I cannot look the other way.

Unfortunately, one setback was a health glitch that had me frightened for a few hours and one that Terry insisted be checked out at emergi-care. The doctor was upbeat and positive and reassured me that this glitch appeared to be minor and I could go on with my life. Whew. I told him I was too busy to be waylaid with a health problem. “Aren’t we all,” was his response. The rest of the week was fine, but very busy. That’s why I cancelled that coffee date.

Today I will grocery shop before driving across town for Ladies Who Lunch. Funny thing, I drove the same route on Monday to deliver leftover Halloween candy to Blue Star moms to pack in boxes for the troops that would be sent out this past week. It’s a long trek to the other side of the city, and really to a whole ‘other world from where I usually hang out.

After lunch, when I would like to just sit on the couch and recall my day and week, I will fix a dinner to take next door to my neighbor who broke her hip last Sunday while playing ball with her grandson. I made beerocks, bean soup, and enchiladas earlier in the week, but the family ate everything I made in one day.

I’m also in the midst of planning a funeral lunch for one of our church members whose family has decided the Saturday after Thanksgiving is the best time for the family to gather for the memorial service and lunch. Most of the people who work on these luncheons will be out of town or spending time with their own family. I’ve made an executive decision that the meal will be catered. Easiest thing I did all week.

Somewhere in there I will do laundry and some housecleaning. It has finally rained and the yards need work, but that might just wait until another time. I am very thankful, at this season, that I am not working any kind of job that would require my presence every day.

Colder days don’t require fans

Today I gave in and admitted that summer is over. Yes, I know the calendar says we are officially in autumn with a little over five weeks until the official start of winter. Yes, I know that, but it’s hard for me to accept. I love long, sunny, warm days. I hang on to summer as long as possible, but today’s high is 65 degrees.

Those summer days are hot so we have fans throughout the house to help with keeping us cool. Today I admitted those fans aren’t needed for now and are just taking up space and collecting dust. Because I hate to dust, and try to have fewer things to dust, I knew it was time to move the fans out of the house. I took them to our storage unit and covered them with sheets until next spring when the daytime temperature gets over 80 degrees.

Another nod to colder temperatures–I cooked a chuck roast and plan to make beerocks in the next day or so. I haven’t made those since last winter, when my old Cuisinart died. The new food processor will be given a workout chopping onions and mincing roast beef. The oven will run for a couple of hours to get all the beerocks baked. That will keep the house warm.

Trying to find things that make me smile

Today I went shopping.

First stop was the Salvation Army Thriftstore where I found one backpack and one jacket for a child who will need one or both at Columbia.

Next stop was Madewell, a delightful clothing store whose socks were 25% off. I also found a lovely sweater I can wear with my chaplain uniform.

Final stop was a popup shop that carries fair-trade items. I bought the three items you see in the photo and put them together for this door hanger. We all need peace.