My worlds collide

Or, another way to put it, it’s a small world…

Friday turned out to be one of those days that was over-scheduled. In my retirement life, that rarely happens, but when opportunities come, I like to take advantage. I had a lunch date with an old friend, a parent of a former student. This woman helped me so much when I was doing the yearbook for that large, inner-city high school. Because she loves to take pictures, she did a lot of sports and other event photos and I always rewarded her with each year’s yearbook. We laugh at the same things and have high expectations of everyone and everything.

She took a half day off on Friday and met me downtown for lunch at a place I just knew she would love. It’s an old 1880s newspaper printing office that was turned into a men’s club for many decades in the mid 1900s. Now it’s reopened as an upscale restaurant and event venue. The architecture is amazing and the newspaper’s printing press still sits in the main dining room. The bar from the men’s club days is still in place. Great place to wile away a couple of hours over lunch.

I would have loved to continued our time together, walking around downtown and checking on renovations, but I had to get home to finish up some chores because I had a second event in the late afternoon–a retirement party for two of the teachers in whose classrooms I read stories as school chaplain. Both are amazing teachers and both had moved on to other schools for this past year. I had missed them and was immensely pleased to be invited to their joint party hosted by another Columbia first grade teacher.

The party was on the other side of town, a 30 minute drive from my home during the best of times, but during commuter traffic, even longer. Because I’m not good with late-day events, I wanted to arrive just as the party was starting, hug the ladies, say my congratulations, and head back across town. I only took a couple of pictures which is unusual for me, but time was fleeting.

I posted the pictures of one of the teachers to my Facebook page and immediately got a response from the friend with whom I had lunch earlier that day. The retiring teacher is her cousin! None of us knew how we were connected until I posted that photo. I’ve known Delores for 18 years, Patty for 4, and just learned how our worlds overlapped, all because of a Facebook post. That’s the value of social media.


Clear the way

One of the two kitchen carts at church disappeared. As one of the members commented, “it’s not something you can slip in your purse,” so where did it go? The carts are vital for the operation of the kitchen and all that goes on there through the week. One would not know a church kitchen could be so busy, but it is. A number of organizations use the facility, and on Sunday, we have coffee fellowship which requires us to move coffee carafes and treats from kitchen to the Calvin Room in cool months and out to the gazebo in warm months.

Last Sunday was my turn to do coffee fellowship. I spent the week baking a variety of goodies. I knew the weather would be delightful so planned to serve everything under the gazebo, but wondered about getting everything out to the garden area without that second cart that had gone missing. Then I remembered a cart we have.

We bought a very attractive brushed chrome, open weave cart for the San Francisco apartment, using it in the kitchen there, and when we returned to Fresno, making it the printer stand for the inkjet printer. I also store a picnic basket, recipes and books on the cart. I could take that cart to church as it would easily load and unload from the Subaru as well  as carry all of the treats out to the gazebo. But first I had to unload the items from the three shelves.

I like clear surfaces in my life. No matter the room, or wherever I am working, I don’t want any clutter. I don’t like a lot of knick knacks that must be dusted. Nor piles of papers or books.  I want free space so I can set down the work I’m currently doing.

I house sat for a week for a friend in San Francisco a few years ago as a trial-run for what might later be a two month house-sitting stent. There were no clear surfaces in her apartment. Every flat surface was piled up with stuff. I had to reconfigure the kitchen just so I would have a small space on the kitchen table to eat my meals. The job was made hard because every surface had something on it so no room to put anything. That one week made me realize I could never spend two months in such a place.

Unloading my cart so as to take it to church was not difficult as there was an end table with nothing on it in the room that could hold the picnic basket and books. The printer would sit on the floor in the family room, next to the cart’s usual place. I didn’t even have to unplug the printer. I was grateful for all the clear space.

As I had baked during the week, I had packaged the goodies and placed them on a counter in the kitchen, an empty counter. All the tupperware containers annoyed me sitting there, but I knew it was short term annoyance. On Sunday morning I loaded baked goods, paper products, and the cart into the Subaru and drove off. After parking in the church parking lot , I piled all the stuff onto the cart and trundled off to the kitchen. Upon arriving, I found the missing cart, right back where it had always been. No one knew where it had been or when it had been returned. I used my own cart, though, since I had cleared the way.

I don’t do google

Many of the blogs I read, and enjoy posting comments to, are powered by Blogger, which is a subsidiary of Google. For a long time I have had difficulty posting comments to some of the blogs as the software wanted to revert to a Google account, of which I have none.

In the last few days, the choices have again changed on the comment box for Blogger, giving me now a choice of entering my name and URL. This seems to work very well, and I’ve only had one attempt to revert to Google, but with a second attempt, went through with my URL.

However, there are some blogs that only give me a choice of Google. If I don’t type in a Google account, then I cannot post a comment. So, if you don’t see any comments from me, and you have a Blogger blog, that is likely the reason. I’ll still come by and read, but won’t be able to comment. I am guessing this has all come about because of the new European privacy rules.

The end of another school year

When I walked out the door of that large, inner-city high school eight years ago, with no misgivings, no qualms, just joy to be done with a long career in education, I had NO intentions of going back to any school building. God sat back, chuckled, and said, “We’ll see about that.”

MY plans were to be done with the classroom. I didn’t want to be retired, just refitted for another career, but not one in education. I could see myself working for a nonprofit, doing marketing work like events and social media. Contacting potential donors and working with current supporters. Those were areas where I wanted to put my talents to work. Once more, God chuckled.

On Thursday I again walked out of a school, this time an inner city elementary school, finishing four years of work as the school chaplain, but with every intention of returning to that school in September. Eight years ago I didn’t even know there was such a thing as school chaplain. I certainly didn’t plan to ever work with elementary students. My plans were for the big city with big people.

Those small children have won my heart. They need me and what I bring to their school each week. A story, a hug, a smile, a sticker, a reassurance that they are special. It’s small stuff, but I believe it’s making a big difference. There are now 34 school chaplains, spread out over the city. We all have these amazing stories of small children, and even some of the adults, finding meaning in what we do each week. As I’ve often said for myself, and I believe the other chaplains would agree, we put on the uniform and show up and let God do the heavy lifting.

Next school year, my fifth as chaplain, the first class of first graders I saw will be fifth graders. I would very much like to reconnect in some way with those kids. Although they occasionally see me on the school grounds and say hi and give me a hug or ask for a sticker, I would like to do more for them. Remind them of some of those lessons learned long ago in first grade, and reinforce the resiliency they will need as they head to middle school.

Tuesday is usually a good day to shop

I have just returned after a morning of shopping. This is a rarity for me as I usually go to one or two stores and spend maybe an hour out doing this chore. I pick Tuesdays to do my shopping as it has been a quieter day in retail. Too many people are getting the same idea, though, and the stores have become a bit more crowded, especially as the day progresses.

This morning’s first stop was Orchard Supply Hardware. I was looking for another lavender plant as the one from last year finally gave up the ghost. I found one I liked, and picked up some more potting soil as this plant will go into a pot, a lavender-colored pot.

My main reason for going to Orchard was to get more “bug boxes.” These are great little cardboard boxes that pop out of their packaging and go out around the doors into our house to catch the bugs that might be trying to get in. Although I use essential oils indoors, these boxes work so well outdoors to stop the critters in their tracks. Once the box is filled on one side with dead bugs, I turn it over and fill the other side then toss the whole thing in the trash bin. I had run out of these boxes and found that Orchard was out of them, too. Or, at least the Orchard in my neighborhood. The manager checked and found that the store a couple of miles away had just gotten a shipment of 30, which meant a total of 60 “bug boxes” as there are two per package. I immediately went over and bought 5 packages. While there I chatted with a couple who was trying out all of the wind chimes to find just the right one. Orchard had the wind chimes on sale. I had bought one at the other store as I wanted a replacement for one that has seen better days and has lost its lovely sound. I pointed out the one I had selected, and the couple liked it, but wanted it in a bigger size.

My next stop was the school supply store where I would get some more prizes for the first graders. One of the classes got a score of 86 percent on their final assessment, the highest of the four classes, so I wanted to give them a reward. They were also only one star away from another prize for their star chart, a tool I use for classroom management. I was able to find coloring books on the clearance aisle. Also found erasers that can be used for next year’s prizes and some fun things for my grandchildren to play with. I checked out the puppets as I want a toucan. The school supply store is a favorite place of mine.

On to Salvation Army Thrift Store where I found some items to help decorate for my daughter’s Vacation Bible School at which Terry and I will be working. The theme this year is “Shipwrecked.” I got more pants and backpacks which I will deliver to Columbia tomorrow. A friend of mine has Alzheimers and crocheting helps calm her mind and keep her focused. People are always giving her yarn for her projects.  Today there were bags and bags of yarn at Salvation Army. Most of the bags were very large with 10 or more skeins in all sorts of colors. I looked for a smaller bag, one with four skeins, to take to my friend. I don’t want to overwhelm her.

My last stop was at Sprouts and it was noon. The store was packed with customers, and it was getting a complete makeover so it was also packed with store personnel. The shelves were being emptied and changed out. Chaos ensued. Nothing was where it used to be. Maybe Tuesday isn’t the best day for shopping any more. I was able to find most of what I needed and got back home just before 1 o’clock.

I have installed the new wind chime.

What is domestic violence?

Does your partner:

Insult, demean or embarrass you with put-downs?

Control what you do, who you talk to or where you go?

Look at you or act in ways that scare you?

Push you, slap you, choke you or hit you?

Stop you from seeing your friends or family members?

Control the money in the relationship? Take your money or Social Security check, make you ask for money or refuse to give you money?

Make all of the decisions without your input or consideration of your needs?

Tell you that you’re a bad parent or threaten to take away your children?

Prevent you from working or attending school?

Act like the abuse is no big deal, deny the abuse or tell you it’s your own fault?

Destroy your property or threaten to kill your pets?

Intimidate you with guns, knives or other weapons?

Attempt to force you to drop criminal charges?

Threaten to commit suicide, or threaten to kill you?

If you answered “yes” to even one of these questions, you may be in an unhealthy or abusive relationship.

Source: The National Domestic Violence Hotline

Where to call

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233

More love, less anger

I had no more than posted yesterday’s piece about angry people when I see the police chief on TV telling us a horror story about a man who kidnapped his ex-wife and two children because he was angry to see her posting pictures on Facebook with another man.

Not only did he kidnap these people, he beat the ex-wife and 11 month old son and left them for dead. They were rescued by a man in the park where the bad man had taken them to inflict this punishment. He told the woman that he wanted her to feel like he did when he saw that picture on Facebook. How insane is that.

The police chief told the whole horrid story (I have given you a very shortened version) because he wanted to find the ex-husband and arrest him. The man has already been arrested six times for domestic violence. You think it will make any difference on the seventh try? They did find him and he is back in custody, but for how long? I don’t know. I cannot follow this story as it makes me angry, and I’m trying to not be angry.

I was thrilled to hear part of Bishop Curry’s wedding sermon this morning to the royal couple (and for the rest of us, too), where he talked of love.

This love, this is the way of Jesus. And it’s game changer.
Imagine our homes and families when this way of love is the way.
Imagine our neighborhoods and communities when love is the way.
Imagine our governments and countries when love is the way.
Imagine business and commerce when this love is the way.
Imagine our world when love is the way.
No child would go to bed hungry in such a world as that
Poverty would become history in such a world as that.
The earth would be as a sanctuary in such a world as that.
We would treat one another as children of God, regardless of differences.
We would learn how to lay our swords and shields down by the riverside to study war no more.

I want more love, less anger, in this world of ours.