Tag Archives: retirement

Find your tribe

If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen this morning’s post with a picture of our latest Ladies Who Lunch gathering. Eight of us showed up on Monday. We have one contrarian who is having problems coming back to the group. She always has something “better” to do than to make the time and commitment to see us.

We always meet on a Monday, usually the second of the month, but now that post-pandemic schedules are clicking in and one of our recent attendees is still teaching, we are being flexible, but still on Mondays. I reached out, one more time, to the one who hasn’t rejoined us, and didn’t get a very good response. She has our next date, time, and place. I’m leaving it there.

We need our friends. We need a tribe. It has become even more evident after the pandemic when we rarely saw each other in person. Now that we are back, face to face, in person, we realize the joy we missed when unable to be in each other’s company. These women friends are hilarious. They are compassionate. Maybe it’s because we are all teachers, we are all older, two are widows, most are grandparents. We are women, hear us laugh. And cry. And complain (but very little, and it’s usually about our own inadequacies).

We reminisce and we look forward to what is next. One of the group came late because she was at a another restaurant celebrating her sister. She brought us the menu and we decided that had to be our next place to lunch. We are always looking for the small, the locally owned, the quirky. She also had to leave early because she had a time scheduled to glaze her latest pottery creations. We are planning to get to her next show.

I hope you all have that group of people who work for you. I actually have a few, from different places who do different things. I think it’s okay to belong to more than one tribe, but whatever you do, find your tribe. It will make a world of difference in how you view the world.

If you haven’t already seen the picture of yesterday’s group, here is the Instagram link.

Rainy Monday

Woke up to rain this morning. It appears our area has already received a half Inch. That’s a big deal for us who live in this desert. I pulled in all the backyard furniture and cushions late Sunday afternoon because I knew rain was in the forecast. Terry took down all the wind chimes and stored them in the garage. The furniture and cushions are under the patio and will spend the winter there, providing a dry spot for the cats to sleep. We will probably have to purchase another big cat bed (actually a dog bed, but, you know) for the kitties to snuggle in during the winter.

Sunday was my day to provide coffee fellowship after church. It’s been a busy two weeks so the best I could do was donuts from the family owned donut shop I wrote about last time. I had to apologize to one member who loves my bread pudding as I usually make that in September or October. He was quite happy with the apple fritters that I substituted. I had one member complain about all the sugar, but I pretty much ignore anything this fella says. I did suggest he could provide the “light lunch” which he said we should be offering.

I will rethink my wardrobe for today as we go downtown for our Ladies Who Lunch. No open toed sandals. Probably not a skirt, either. Since we have so little rain around here, I don’t have to make these decisions too often. Our last lunch was on a hot, sunny day. You can see some outtakes of our photo session here. Can’t promise what photos will be taken today.

An unusual morning

Mid-September Saturday in the San Joaquin Valley. We slept in until just past 6:30. Cannot tell you the last time we lay in bed so “late.” It’s fifty eight degrees. The air is clean. The windows are open. We have no where to BE, but here, here in our own home, in our yards, with our cats, for the WHOLE day. This is most amazing. And I am so grateful.

My hairdresser and I chatted about such small luxuries yesterday while she colored and cut my hair. Her heart breaks for the homeless she sees, and, like me, she cannot understand how we can have so many on the streets when there is so much wealth. Neither of us are what would be considered wealthy by today’s standards, but we both consider ourselves privileged. We are so grateful for what we have, and even though we try to do our part in helping others, we know it’s but a drop in the ocean.

One of the drops in the ocean is taking care of the cats. Many of you dear Readers have wondered about our cats. I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say we are the rescue mission for the cats on the block. A friend had a picture on Facebook this morning of two stray cats she is feeding and trying to catch to have neutered. I told her I understood, that even when they live in your backyard, it’s not easy. In the last 10 days we have had 5 cats neutered. Then, while sitting in the backyard, cats in my lap while the sprinklers run, I did a quick count. In just under two years we have taken 14 cats to the low-cost spay and neuter clinic. We are not the only ones. There are quite a few of us “frequent fliers.”

My two days at Columbia this week were pure joy. Yes, the second graders are all thrilled now that I am coming, even the ones who weren’t there last year. The first graders, just after one visit, were excited when I came into their rooms. One little boy even brought me pages of his own stickers. I thanked him and told him he could share those with his classmates, that I had plenty of stickers. He didn’t want me to run out. And his name, Cody, rhymes with mine!

Tomorrow, the third Sunday of the month, is my turn to do coffee fellowship. It’s been busy, as I said, so I’m getting donuts from our favorite shop–Lucky’s Donuts–owned by the family of former students. These people are so special to me. I have known them since 1996 when their oldest daughter was a freshman in the Class of 2000 and helped in the planning of the class’s first dance, a backwards prom. She worked so hard but wasn’t going to be able to come to the dance because her dad didn’t think it was safe. She somehow convinced him to bring her because I told her he could come, too, and stay the entire evening if he wished. He brought her, we chatted, best we could what with a language barrier, and he left her in my care. We were long-lived friends afterwards, and still are today, 22 years after that girl graduated. Her sisters came behind her and were in my marketing and yearbook classes. Never had the brother, though, in any class.

We will be having a heat wave

I grocery shopped early Thursday morning and planned all of my meals around salads and sandwiches. I’m going to do my best to not use the oven or do any cooking beyond a microwave dish. One exception is breakfast sausage that I’ll cook early Friday morning, putting it all in the fridge afterwards so Terry can reheat a link or two at a time. There are also a couple of Belgian waffles that can go into toaster or microwave.

Fortunately Whole Food’s bakery had lots of breads from which to choose–French baguettes, raisin pecan, sourdough French, and ciabatta rolls. I love the raisin pecan for chicken salad sandwiches, but for a time, during the pandemic, the bread disappeared. The company that provides it had even taken it off their website. I was so thrilled to see many loaves on the racks so I got two.

Alfalfa sprouts and three kinds of lettuces. Coleslaw mix, fresh made guacamole. Apples, pears, grapes, figs, blackberries, tomatoes. My plan is to stay home until Tuesday, after the holiday, before I have to grocery shop. Hopefully, I will not have melted by then.

The last day of August

Tomorrow, September 1, at sunrise, is the beginning of dove season so this was my last quiet morning under the trees for something like 10 or so days. The gunshots will reverberate from the riverbank up the ridge and across the roads to sound in my backyard. It makes me sad, cranky, and angry. Who shoots doves?

Moving on…if I ponder sad stuff for too long I get caught in a quagmire and my emotions just go downhill.

We are heading into a very serious hot spell. There is a high dome of high pressure sitting on the whole west end of the United States, from the Washington/Canada border to the southwest states. The coastal areas will be cooler than inland (where I live), but still warmer than usual. We are told to expect to break records, it will be that hot. I am busy watering the yards so as to keep cool spaces for the cats. Some of them will come inside and flop on the cool linoleum floors, but some stubbornly remain outside, finding shade and wet ground.

My story of the small boy bringing his lunch when he came to see Jesus went over well with children and adults alike. Sharing what we can with those who didn’t think ahead or got stuck in a place that didn’t turn out well. If we give our best to God, He will multiply it. The children enjoyed the peach jam I brought to share as well as taking the stick puppet I had made of the small boy with his lunch basket. My goal is to make children feel good when they come to church and hear stories from the Bible. Those memories are what will carry over into adulthood.

Speaking of stories with small children, I will be back at Columbia next week. I am going out to the school later today to put September’s story schedule in the teacher’s boxes. It’s the end of August and time to get back into the regularly scheduled program.

A few more days of summer

So, it’s been awhile since I sat down here to write to you all. What gives? Remember I said the pace was quickening? Yes, that. Also, the heat is wearing me down. I am out very early to do chores and run errands. Even then, the heat is settling in by 11 a.m. so I get home and collapse for awhile, not wanting to even think. And the thinking part? Yes, I’m still pondering a lot of this “getting older” stuff that we discussed last week. Thank you all, dear Readers, who commented and commiserated on that last post.

I did coffee fellowship at church on Sunday. Strawberry cake, nut cups, iced tea. It was my “farewell to summer” since strawberry season is coming to an end. Next month I’m thinking of bread pudding, but we’ll see. Attendance has been light these past few weeks at church. End of summer, before school starts. The heat. Lots of reasons. We’ll see what September brings.

The last Sunday in August I am again doing the children’s story during the morning service. My word will be “generosity.” I’ll do two stories in September. I had planned on only one as I am also returning to my storytelling duties at Columbia, but there was a need on Rally Sunday, and the lesson will practically write itself. This year’s rally theme is Gold Rush, so I will use some “fake” gold as my prop and the verse about “silver and gold have I none, but …” and the beggar is healed in the name of Jesus.

And, about the return to storytelling, our first resiliency coach’s meeting for the 22-23 school year was Monday. A few of the stalwart, long-time coaches are retiring. Health issues. Age. Some of those issues we were talking about and fearing–how age will change how we live our life. For now, I am energized by these meetings, hearing what others are doing, thinking about my own techniques. I’m excited to be back with the students, three classes of whom I already know, having seen them as first graders. They will have grown, they will so much to tell me, there will be a massive amount of hugs.

I came right home from Monday’s meeting, although I had planned to run errands afterwards. I had so many thoughts running through my head that I wanted to pull out books, get some props out, make a list…so the errands await me this warm Tuesday morning, along with laundry. Lots of laundry. On Wednesday we are up early to take two of the kittens to be neutered. So, as written earlier, the pace quickens.

The things that niggle at my brain

Somewhere this week, in all that I have read (and, it is a lot as it’s been too hot to do much else), someone asked the question: what is your biggest fear in getting older?

It’s hard for me to give it a one-word label like some did–loneliness, poverty, illness. My fears, as they have always been, are tangled up with all sorts of thoughts. I’ve never actually thought of them as fears, just feelings. Inadequacies. Anxieties. So, I pondered this age thing, again while sitting on the couch on very warm afternoons. I even went to bed thinking on the topic.

I have always been a problem-solver. Something goes wrong, or something needs to be done, let’s figure it out. Let’s take care of it. I had the resources, the means, the capacity to do that. I knew people who knew people. I asked questions. (Someone once told me that I asked the best questions at our meetings. I’m sure others thought I should just shut up and leave well-enough alone.)

Looking at my older self, I see that the resources, the means, the capacity aren’t there as in the past. I don’t know people, or if I do, they are no longer in a position to have an answer, to be able to do something. So many of my resources have just disappeared. And I’ve not made new connections. Or, maybe not the right connections? It’s disturbing. It bothers me at night when I should be asleep. Who can I call for this? Where do I go to get….? Even a question like, do I want to keep handling this?

Perhaps it’s the reason I make those lists. Getting all that needs to be done down on paper, looking at it on a daily/weekly basis. How will I handle this? Who? Where? How? Too many times, though, if I do reach out and ask someone about a solution, they give me an answer I refuse to take–check on Amazon, Amazon has that. NO! I do not want to do Amazon. That is NOT my solution nor do I want to become dependent on Amazon or Costco, another answer, it seems, to everyone’s problems. Even older people.

One thing that does niggle at my conscious is being able to continue to drive. I’ve always been a good driver. I don’t have any problem right now. I have a car that runs well, a mechanic that takes good care of it, good insurance, nearby gas station and a really good carwash place. My driver’s license gets renewed. It shouldn’t be a concern, until all of those pieces aren’t in place. See? There’s what I mentioned earlier–anxiety. I guess I could lump the driving thing into the word mobility.

When I moved over to the TAGS box as I finished this post, I already had two that I had used before–retirement and aging–but not the third–fears. Maybe there has been a disturbance in my universe.

The pace quickens

Summer is still in the air and since this is the middle of California, it will continue to be warm all the way to Halloween. But maybe, just maybe, the unending days of over of 100 have passed. Maybe…

This Tuesday morning is cool and pleasant. As was the day before it. The Ladies Who Lunch met for our first school-year lunch on Monday, out at a small airfield that dates back to WWII days but which remains a busy place. We saw small planes and helicopters coming and going from our view out the large windows of the cafe where we ate. If you go to my Instagram page you can see some of our fun.

We were a small group, only four out of the possible eight. As for the missing, one was at the bedside of her very ill husband. Another celebrating 52 years of marriage. Another traveling with grandchildren. And another who seems to have quit the group. She hasn’t joined us for over a year and seems to have no interest in seeing us. As we planned for next month’s date and location, we decided to make adjustments for time and place to accommodate busy schedules.

The losses sadden us. There have been many deaths this past year, one of our own group. We are facing the death of a spouse of one of our friends. Our friends are facing challenges as we are all aging. And then there are those who have decided that they will go on without the connection we once had.

My list grows longer with the return to school. I won’t be back in the classroom with books and puppets and stickers until September but there is much preparation ahead to get to that point. I went to the storage unit a few days ago to pull out my bins of “characters.” One of the to-do-list items involves stores to find stickers and props. My wardrobe for school is going to need some updating. I’ve realized my body has morphed into an old lady’s over the summer and will need some better disguising.

For today, though, on this very lovely, cool morning, I am going grocery shopping as we have eaten all the previously laid-in provisions to the point I can no longer figure out an easy fix for dinner.

August is here and moving

I’ve been busy since the grandkids left on Friday. A big piece was prepping for Sunday’s children’s story. It all came off very well. I was thankful for a group of wonderful children who were animated and involved in the story about feelings and emotions. We discussed fear.

There was lots of laundry to take care of since I had put ours on hold while the kids were here, just doing theirs. But I didn’t do any laundry Tuesday or Wednesday. Tomorrow I will start again. I also had to replenish food and other household supplies. That will continue on Thursday, also. Just keeping a household up and running takes a lot of time and energy.

On Wednesday Terry and I took off and went downtown to walk around, which we always enjoy, and have lunch at a new vegan restaurant. It’s a burger type place. For a few years now we have enjoyed a food truck that made fabulous vegan burgers and fries, but they are no longer in business. Their truck exploded a month ago in a fiery explosion, destroying their truck and the pickup that hauled it, and severely burning one of the owners and a helper. It is heartbreaking.

The new place also has delicious burgers, but not as good as the ones from our previous favorite. We enjoyed going someplace different, seeing different people, and trying new food. We will be back. The location is across the street from a weekly farmer’s market that over the years has gotten smaller and smaller. I walked through and bought three boxes of strawberries, but that was it. The number of vendors is down to just a handful. It’s sad to see but there are fewer people downtown, many workers still working from home or have moved on to other jobs.

Next week The Ladies Who Lunch have plans to meet for August, the first time since May. We thought everyone would be back from vacations, but it doesn’t seem to be. Only three of us have definite plans to be there. Three are going out of town. One has a medical appointment and another is at her husband’s bedside. Things have changed since that last lunch in May. Life is like that.

My birthday came and went. No fanfare. A few cards. A friend brought me a jar of pickles she and her husband had made. What will this new decade bring? Maybe it will be as quiet as the birthday.

Sixty ninth July 18

When I woke up, just before 6 am, thinking about what I had to get done, I also thought about the date. Just two more weeks and it will be August 1. My birthday is coming. And because I like to remind myself that this is a great new day with all kinds of possibilities that I will only get ONCE, it occurred to me that this was my sixty ninth July 18. There will, God willing, be more July 18ths, but this is the one and only 69th. I decided to lean into that as I got out of bed to take on this one and only day.

Of course, God laughs when I do this. The ants had come for the backyard cat food overnight. A whole plate of canned food had been left, uneaten, and I could see why: the ants covered the plate. Ugh. As I cleaned that up, after getting fresh food for the cats, I couldn’t see the entry point for the ants. They usually come from the southern side of the patio, but there was no trail. Crafty little buggers.

On to the other chores…watering the yards to keep the ground cool for the cats. It was 109 here on Sunday and that will probably be the temperature today. I think we are again trying to break some records. God is laughing. Every day I give thanks for the electricity that powers our HVAC unit that keeps us cool. I give thanks for the AC in my car.

When we came out of church at noon on Sunday, the car’s thermostat was registering 107, but that was because the car had been parked in the sun. The car’s AC cooled us off quickly. Also, the AC in the church sanctuary was running well after lots of work on the unit last week. Keeping it cool costs money. I am thankful that we have the funds to do this. Also thankful giving has been up at church so as to pay the repair bills to keep it cool. Oh, and to cover the power bill. I know there are many who are struggling to pay these high power bills right now.

Of course, I also know there is lots of money out there. People are traveling as never before. It boggles my mind when I see all the video footage of airports and freeways. The national parks here are overflowing. The major theme parks are to capacity. So many are on cruise ships. The demand to travel is high and the supply of fuel and employees is low. So the the complaints are many. And yet, I keep thinking, “you have the money to do these trips, just be patient, be kind, and go with the flow.”

Back to my small life here at home–yards watered, cats fed, hair washed, bathrooms cleaned, towels washed, blog written, oh, and the ant source discovered and “staked.” It’s 8:30 am. Let’s see how the rest of this 69th version of July 18 of my life plays out .