A new week, month, and year

The week started with the grandchildren leaving. The month started with a serious hot spell. And I began a new year as an official senior citizen. This was the birthday that delivered that special card–the Medicare card. I also had to get my military ID card updated so as to distinguish myself as “senior.”  

A few other birthday cards also arrived, but only a few. I send actual cards to about 30 people a year. I got 4 cards in the mail. Maybe it’s time I just gave up. Cards in the mail must not mean much to people. I really like to get cards, but, as you can see, not many like to send any to me. Can you tell how very disappointed I am?

When the bugs bite

We have a plague here–bugs. Bugs of all kinds. Flying bugs, crawling bugs, invisible bugs. Ants, spiders, insects, of all sorts. They have taken refuge in my yard. Some of them bite.

There are tiny red spider mites in the backyard. So tiny that you do not see them with the naked eye unless you see a red dot moving on the page of the book you are reading. It’s like the period at the end of this sentence suddenly walks away. That’s how small they are. I remember, as a child, red spider mites would invade the cotton fields surrounding our house. My dad only knew it if he had a magnifying glass to check the cotton plant’s leaves. Then he sprayed a miticide on the cotton fields. All that poison is what eventually took his life.

The problem, though, for people, the red spider mite BITES. I’m terribly allergic to its bite. As is small granddaughter. The boys don’t seem to taste as good. Terry and Judah never get bit. Or they don’t suddenly have swollen red welts all over their body.

Leeya and I were both miserable this past week after an evening of playing in the yards. I took a cool shower and used lavender soap. Leeya took a bath with lavender soap. It calmed our skin but still left us itchy. Then I used tea tree oil on all the welts. That really calmed the itching. But, to make sure we slept through the night, we both took a dose of Benadryl. For the remainder of the week, we kept touching up the bites with tea tree oil.

Then on Sunday evening I walked through an ant hill and got more bites on my feet. Time for tea tree oil.

The routine returns

Small grandchildren went home yesterday. This was the longest of any stay at our house–6 days. We have stayed that long in San Mateo (we get a hotel room), but the kids have never been here that long. Neither of them wanted to go home. And this was after spending 10 days with us earlier in the month when we went to Oregon. As you can probably guess, we dote on them and let them do pretty much anything they want.

Just like the grandchildren, though, we too must return to the routine of daily life and its obligations. When I turned on the sprinklers at 6 this morning, I noticed a shift in the light. Summer is waning. The calendar shifted, too. It’s a new month. I must shift gears this week and start prepping for a new school year. The preparation is nothing compared to all those years of teaching at the high school. I am so thankful I don’t have to do all that. I am so thankful that instead of preparing to teach five classes A DAY, I will get ready to read stories four times A WEEK.

Shopping is definitely in my plans this week and next. I need a new pair of pants and some new shoes for my two school days.  I have bags of shoes, clothes, and school supplies to deliver to Columbia in the next week. Hopefully I can meet the four new first grade teachers on the day I make that trek across town.

Our church participation slowed during June and July. Terry didn’t sing in the choir, there were no committee meetings, and there were substitutes for communion preparation while I was gone to Oregon. The shift to routine was made last Sunday. Terry’s voice was back to normal so he was back in choir. I was on tap to give the prayer of thanksgiving and intercession. Next Sunday I will be doing communion prep. All of the meetings will start again in August.

Our grandkids are getting their school examinations and vaccinations today. Their mother said there would be shopping for backpacks and underwear. They have a couple of play dates before school starts in two weeks. I too have a couple of play dates, one this week with some friends at an art gallery and one next week with Ladies Who Lunch.

The house is quiet. I’m able to remember to do routine things like my exercises and my journal writing. No pressing obligations right now, but on the horizon…

I’m not dead (or incapacitated)

Just really busy.

Last Sunday I served coffee fellowship after church, which I wrote about in the previous post. It was successful, and it was behind me. Now, moving on…

Monday I ran errands and made the house ready for small grandchildren. On Tuesday we spent six hours in the car, driving to San Mateo to pick them up and bring them back to serious hot weather. They got out of the air-conditioned car, here in Fresno, and wilted. “It’s so hot.” Yes, yes it is. That’s why I recommend light-weight clothing and shorts for their visits in the summer. This time they had listened and packed accordingly. However, they had both brought half of their toy box and book collection. Their bags and suitcases exploded all over the house. Toys have been lost and found numerous times in all this chaos.

We went to the farmer’s market on Wednesday, getting popsicles to help keep us cool. Unfortunately, we ran errands afterwards and didn’t get home until after 12 noon. It was hot.

I was smarter on Thursday when we were out very early to go shopping at the Salvation Army store. I got more clothes to take to Columbia kids as well as a binder and an alarm clock for whomever might need them. The grandchildren found even more toys and other odds and ends. We had a carload by the time we left but it only cost $16. We got home before it was too hot, but the kids did complain about the 90 degrees.

“It’s a desert so it’s hot in the summer,” was my explanation.

“A desert!” exclaimed tiny grandson. “Where’s the cactus?” This asked while standing in the middle of the grocery store parking lot.

On Friday I decided we would stay home all day, under the air conditioning until it was time to go have pizza for dinner. Fixing meals for small children had worn me out and I needed a reprieve from the hot kitchen. We even had snackee type foods all day that required no cooking.

The kids are here for a couple more days. The heat will be here for a few more weeks. Everyone goes back to school in two weeks.


My hot weather activities

The middle of summer…hot, hot, and more hot. So, what do I spend my time doing?

Watering the lawns. That seems logical since it is hot. Even on a 6,000 square foot lot, most of it covered with house, driveway, patio, walkways, there is still lots of watering to do. We are allowed to water three days a week, and I take full advantage of those times.

What doesn’t make sense is all the baking and cooking I’ve been doing. It’s hot, the AC runs all day. We have fans in every room to help keep the house cool. And yet, I run the oven at 400 degrees and bake. I had an assortment of items to bake for after-church coffee fellowship. Then a friend called and told me she had vanilla ice cream and root beer left over from an event she hosted on Thursday and I could serve that at coffee fellowship. I stopped the baking. The root beer floats were a huge hit today. My other goodies were enjoyed, too, especially the watermelon cup, but the root beer floats were definitely a winner. We decided we would do that again.

On another day I cooked peach jam for a couple of hours, making the house warmer than necessary. I had bought about 8 pounds of soft peaches at the farmer’s market so they had to processed immediately, and I had already filled my small freezer with strawberries and blackberries. Jam was my solution for the stone fruit.

As for other things I’ve been doing in the heat–going to meetings in buildings that have no air conditioning. Now, what kind of crazy is that? On two different occasions I went out in the evening (not my best time of day) to meetings I had been asked to attend, thinking I would have something to contribute due to my work as a chaplain in a school in the ‘hood. One was in a gymnasium that had a swamp cooler on a 105 degree day. No way that cooler could cool that much space. The second meeting, in a downtown historic hotel, had more people in attendance than expected, in a ballroom with no air conditioning of any kind and no sound system. It is hard to talk over 200 people. I didn’t stick around very long. There was nothing I could offer at either meeting.

I’ve learned my lesson about meetings. Someone said to me, “you’re more of a ‘boots on the ground’ type of gal, not a ‘meet, greet, eat’ kind of person.  I like to get things done, not talk about doing things. And I like to get things done early in the day. Especially when it’s hot.

No record this time

It appears we will not tie or break the record of 21 straight days of triple digit heat. It is much cooler this morning, in the 60s instead of high 70s, with a forecast of 99 for this afternoon. 

The nearby forest fires are making for some spectacular sunrises and sunsets. Of course, the air can be pretty bad for breathing purposes. As I stepped out on the front porch this morning, the sun exploded through the tree branches. 

We are trying to break a record

Fresno has a record it is trying to break. None of the residents are cheering for this record, though. In 2005 Fresno set the record of 21 consecutive days of over 100 degrees. It was in August. This year, we are clearly on our way to matching that record with 14 consecutive days over 100, and it’s only July. As I type this, at 10 am, PDT, it is 90 degrees. It will easily be 100 by noon.

Because of these hot days, I am living life in the slow lane. The very slow lane. I’m up early to do any outdoor chores, like this morning I wanted to rake leaves and take down spider webs on the fences and the porch. I was back indoors before 8:30. I also prefer to get the laundry done early because the washer and dryer are in the garage. The uncooled garage. I got two loads washed and dried by 9:30.

The fans are all running. The AC is set at 80 and comes on quite regularly. I’ve drawn the drapes to keep the bright sun out of the rooms. At one point this morning, very early, it looked as though the sun had exploded in the living room.

So what is all this heat good for? Our summer crops thrive, as long as they get water. Cotton is doing a happy dance in the fields. Grapes are sugaring up each of these hot days. The berries are all done, too hot for them now. The melons and tomatoes are coming in and as long as they can find shade under their green leaves, they do very well in this heat. Did you know that the San Joaquin Valley produces the majority of canned tomato products for the world? The heat helps with that. Corn can be heard growing in the fields on days over 100.

I am staying home today, and we will eat leftovers for our meals. The next few days, though, I have errands to run, places to be, so I will get an early start and try to be home by 11 am. Noon at the very latest. I’m not trying to break any records.