Rise and shine

Sunday morning…I just want to stay in bed, snuggled in the covers where it’s warm. Yes, warm. Can you believe I would be saying that after all those hot days we had here? It’s true. Our mornings have turned cool, and the thermostat is registering 70 degrees, or even lower,  most mornings when I wake up. That’s our winter temperature setting for the heater! Plus, it’s dark. No inducements to rise and shine. Except, I have lots to do.

Terry was up and out of bed a half hour before me. Choir has come back from summer break and he has to be at church by 9:15 to warm up and rehearse. I need to be at church earlier too, this morning, as I’m helping with coffee fellowship. My deacon partner, Jerri, is providing the sweet treat; I’m bringing the savory, a spinach puff that proved successful the last time I served it. The weather has finally cooled off so that we can have coffee fellowship on the patio instead of tucked away, down the hall, in the Calvin Room. It’s quite delightful, under the canopy of trees, to be outdoors after church for this time of visiting and noshing. It’s just that the weather has made it too miserable to do for the past few months. Let’s see how long we can do it outdoors before it becomes too cold.

This past Friday I was up early to run errands before meeting an old friend for lunch. It was her birthday, and since she had completely forgotten my August birthday, she had called and asked to combine the two with the lunch date. I have known Shirley for 37 years and we’ve always made a big deal of celebrating birthdays…until.

The last five years have been very sad. I seldom see her. Our other friend died and Shirley’s husband came down with a raging case of shingles, all at the same time, five years ago. Shirley has been caring for her husband, non-stop, all of these years and it appears to have caused her to age. The husband is very demanding (actually, he always was, even before the shingles) and doesn’t want Shirley out of sight for fear he might need something. She did tell me, at lunch, that she is trying to get out more. Her son has told her she must find time for herself. Her husband seems to manage on his own for a few hours while she is gone. I’m hoping she can find herself again.



A day without air conditioning 

Tuesday was the first day in months when the air conditioning remained off all day. Woke up to 76 degrees in the house. We opened the windows and the temperature quickly dropped to 72 degrees. 

It was such a lovely day that I just wanted to stay outdoors all day. After getting my indoor chores done, I was able to go out and work in the yards, getting a lot of pruning done without breaking a sweat. 

It was still lovely in the afternoon. The backyard kept calling my name. 

The cats enjoyed the cool afternoon. They usually tuck themselves away on hot afternoons and sleep. Today they were willing to investigate my work, and play, too. 

This was an enjoyable day. Lots going on the rest of the week so I may not get back out in the yard until next Monday. The weather, though, will remain cool and breezy. 

Sunrise, sunset..too late, too early

Someone said I should live closer to the equator since I like long, sun-filled days. Our sunrise has now gotten so late that it’s still dark when I get up at 6, and on a morning like today, we we had to be up at 5:30, it’s quite awhile before I can even open the living room drapes. 

Just starting to be light at 6:19. 

It’s only going to get darker in the mornings and sunset will come before we eat dinner. The days grow short just as I’m in need of longer sun-filled days. 

These next two weeks are filled with early morning meetings as well as late evening meetings. One day next week begins with a 7 am meeting and will end with an event that won’t be over until 8 pm. Going and coming in the dark. 

This is what normal looks like here

The heat has finally left us after 53 days over 100 degrees, 15 of which were 105 degrees or higher. I am finally able to work in the backyard, even in the afternoon as it’s only 81 degrees today. Lovely.  The local wildfires have all been contained, and with a big thunderstorm that blew through last week, the air has been cleaned, too. We are feeling more “normal.”

It was a super busy week. We spent the first part in San Mateo with our kids. It gave us the chance to take the grandkids to school and meet their teachers and see their classrooms. We took them to dinner for some of their favorite food-pizza–with enough left over for school lunch the next day. Because we did not participate in Vacation Bible School at the church where our daughter serves (she was on sabbatical), we hadn’t seen some of the members in a long time. We were able to catch up at two different events that we attended. These are people we’ve known for almost 15 years so it’s always a joy to see them.

I returned to Fresno to continue with my school chaplain duties, and Terry went to help out at the agency where he volunteers his skills that helps others find jobs. I also attended a city sponsored neighborhood revitalization meeting that was held at Columbia, the school where I serve as school chaplain. The idea for these meetings is to get the residents involved with the care and welfare of their neighborhoods, to give them a voice. Many of the parents were frightened to speak out because of immigration issues. We did our best to convince them that they would not be deported because they report code violations. We also talked about reporting crimes, another area where they fear retaliation.

Tomorrow, Sunday, I will chair the deacon’s meeting at church. A topic of discussion will be to simplify our memorial/funeral service policy from a multipage booklet to a one page paper. Terry will sing in the choir and stay after for rehearsal. After a summer without a music director, a replacement is in place to put the singers through their paces.

Next week looks to be much busier than last. More community meetings and a lunch date with an old friend. But, we will be in town the whole week, and it will continue to be in the 80s, weather-wise. Back to normal.

This is so cool

Today, at lunch in the cafeteria, I saw Aiden, whom I was pretty sure had drawn this picture:

There were two Aidens last year so I wanted to check and see if I had the right one.  I showed him the picture, on my phone, and he immediately said,

“I drew that for you.”

“I know you did, Aiden, and I liked it so much that I used it for my Facebook profile.”

I then showed him my Facebook page and how I had used his drawing of me, red hair, bag of tricks, and a book.

“That is so cool,” was his response. He beamed.

Good news to make one’s heart glad

In chatting with the cafeteria manager at Columbia today, a girl’s name was brought up. Eloise (not her real name) is now in fifth grade and finds me when I’m on campus so she can get a sticker or a coloring page. When I first met Eloise, she was in second grade. The years pass quickly was how we started on this conversation.

I relayed the story of how I met Eloise, even though she was beyond the first grade classrooms where I was starting to tell stories. I had coloring pages that I handed out to all grades, and Eloise took one when I was handing them out on the playground. She somehow got two and tried to give one back to me.

“No, you keep it and give it to a friend,” I said.

“I don’t have any friends,” this little girl with all sorts of health issues replied.

My heart broke. I told her to keep it anyway and maybe she could make a new friend. I prayed all the way home that this child would make a friend.

The next week, Eloise again found me on the playground and this time she wasn’t alone but had a little girl with her.

“This is my friend, May,” she said. I gave them both coloring pages.

In telling this story to the cafeteria manager, she broke out laughing.

“That prayer sure worked. Eloise has more friends than anyone now. We have to try to keep her in her seat at lunch because she and her friends are up chatting with each other all through lunch period. They run out of time to eat.”

Oh, Lord, thank you.

Be thankful in all things

We get up in the mornings to smokey air from all of the forest fires burning around us. The high temperatures of the previous day have cooked the air, making it even more heavy with particulants. Anyone with a breathing difficulty, and even those without ,is having trouble breathing. More children are being seen at local hospitals with respiratory issues. Schools have limited outdoor activity and sporting events have been cancelled.

I am saddened when I get up in the mornings by all that is happening, both here and in other parts of our country. For a few hours I’ve slept and dreamed and forgotten about the sadness and the horror that is all around. But morning comes, and with it those blazing orange sunrises that, though quite pretty, are a talisman of the day ahead. I get busy with my morning chores–watering, laundry, feeding the cats.

The daily routines help me to shake some of the sadness I feel. I’m healthy. I have a home. The air conditioning is working well to keep the indoor air cool and clean. There is plenty of good food to eat. Our water is clean. My closets have more clothing than I can wear. I have friends and work that fill my days with joy. My husband supports all that I do and encourages me when I’m feeling low.

I will take each day as it comes, trying not to look ahead, but living in this moment. Enjoying the goodness that is here. The calendar that hangs above my desk has a good reminder for September–be joyful. I will add thankful, and my day already looks better.