Tag Archives: summer

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.

That melted puddle would be me

Okay, not really. We have managed to stay comfortable in our home. But opening the front door is like opening an oven door. It is a blast of hot air. I am so thankful for our home, for retirement so I don’t have to go out, for refrigerators and dishwashers to keep food cold and do the the cleanup afterwards.

I haven’t cooked for days. We’ve been eating cold food except for refried beans Terry heated in the microwave for his tostada for Tuesday’s dinner. I made a big salad and ate it with the last tortilla shell. I fried those shells over a week ago, before the heat wave melted us.

We were fortunate on Tuesday to not lose power as some in the city did. There are schools whose air conditioning is not working and they sent children home by noon. I’ll see how Columbia is faring as I will be there this afternoon. Driving across town, mid-afternoon, will not be joyful, but my car’s air conditioning works very well.

Every morning I water the yards to provide cool spots for the critters to lie. On Tuesday a squirrel had splatted out over a sprinkler head in late afternoon as it hit 114 degrees. The cats mainly stay in the backyard, on damp ground underneath trees and large shrubs. One of the cats was indoors much of the day, but demanded to go outside so about 5 pm I let her. She was quite happy to lie in the shade.

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 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.

The making of a hot summer day

Thursday morning, August 4, HOT. Although 79 degrees inside, the outdoors are hot and humid–80 degrees and 51% humidity. Early morning is when many people go for walks here, the weather being too hot later in the day. This is one of those mornings that make it hard to get out, even early.

My plan had been a trip to Target as there are household items in need of replenishing. BUT now I’m debating just what I want to do. Having been out on Wednesday, my inclination is to stay inside, with the air conditioning and fans running. I put laundry in the washer and have two more loads sorted and ready to go. Better to do those while it’s cooler (ha!) and then make the Target run later. The power company prefers we run our appliances early in the morning or late at night. I also have cinnamon rolls baking at 350 degrees. Let’s just do it all at once!

I have a stack of books from the library. If you follow me at Instagram or are a FB friend, then you’ve seen my latest haul. All the HOLDS came in at once. The hot afternoons here are the perfect time to sit on the couch and read, and nap. Yesterday, after we got home from downtown, and I did not want to do any chores, I finished the 528 page The Dreamt Land by Mark Arax. If you want to know anything about how California became the produce supplier to the world, this book tells you how it came to be with the big farmers and their water shenanigans. Most of this history is well known. The names are all familiar to those of us who grew up here in the San Joaquin Valley. Heck, my husband went to high school with some the scions described in the later chapters. Our dentist is part of one of the mega-rich, mega farm families. He has recently retired from his dentist practice to go back in the fields. Or at least across the walkway of the family complex to the farm offices.

I’ve watered the yards, fed the cats, and taken the cinnamon rolls from the oven. Time for breakfast. I hope you have a way to stay cool as you spend this summer day.

The end of a very full week

Friday’s high temperature was 104F. The dishwasher could be installed as the floor underneath the old one had dried out. Not surprising what with the dry heat we have had. Nineteen straight days over 100 and no sign of a break until maybe next Wednesday.

The installer finished at 2:30, the grandkids’ Nana came at 3:30 to pick them up for the weekend at her house. It was quite the puzzle to get all their things loaded into her car. Fortunately, she has a larger car and had cleaned out the trunk, being warned they had lots of stuff. New clothes, shoes, school supplies, books. A Lego project in mid-completion. Art supplies. Snacks that didn’t get consumed while they were here. Suitcases. And a large pile of stuffed animals a friend had dropped off from her summer clean-out. The bear, pug, and dragon were so large that they needed their own seat and seatbelt!

It’s now Saturday morning, with clouds that will hopefully keep the temperature lower than the forecasted 104 degrees. Perhaps it will be humid heat, which we are NOT accustomed to. Twelve percent humidity has been the norm for these past 19 days. My hands have not hurt for the past week, even with all of the work I was doing. Perhaps the dryness and the extra movement played a role.

I have to finish up the prep for the children’s lesson I will give in church service tomorrow. The topic will be fear, an emotion, and God’s instructions for how to deal with it. School is starting in two weeks. I’m hoping to give a bit of encouragement to children and adults.

We have enough food here to last a fews days so I’m not going grocery shopping until next week. While the kids were here we got pizza takeout one evening for dinner and ate out three times at fast-food places. Something we NEVER do when it’s just the two of us. I’ll just pull out canned and frozen items that we can eat and survive! And since we again have a dishwasher, I won’t hesitate to use pans.

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 .

A change of plans

The plan had been for our grandchildren to be here this next week, but those plans have changed. Our grandson came in contact with another child with COVID and has now tested positive as well as having a high fever. Poor guy. He feels pretty miserable. They will have another two weeks beyond next week before they have to return to school so hopefully everyone will recover, stay well, and be able to come for their visit.

I had been buying all sorts of snacky things this past week, foods like chips. Also filling the freezer with foods they like to eat. Remember, these children are vegan but they love ice cream so we always indulge that when they are here.

We made some plans for eating out, too. Unfortunately, one of our favorite food trucks, Planet Vegan Burger, had a tragic accident that blew up the truck and seriously injured the owner and a helper. These are the best burgers I’ve ever eaten, vegan or otherwise, and our grandkids love them, too. The truck has a huge following, but they won’t be back at work for a very long time. The truck is destroyed, and the owner will take a long time to recover and recuperate. Burger King has a fake meat burger that the kids like.

The only plans for the next week revolved around the grandchildren, and with those cancelled, I’m not too sure what I will do. I have a stack of library books I picked up on Thursday so it seems I will make faster work of them than I had expected.