Oops!

Why is it so hard to remember where you park the car at a grocery store? I never used to have this issue. In my younger days I knew exactly where I’d left the car. Slowly, I began to realize I needed to scan the lot for my car. So I came up with a plan, park in the same area every time. Now, I can head in the right direction and spot the car easily.

That works when you are at your normal stores, but what happens when you stop at a store where you don’t have a usual area?

I walked out the same door I had entered ten minutes earlier. My mind was still reeling from the scene in the grocery store. Police officers were trying to restrain a woman who was howling, “Don’t hurt me! I said I was sorry. Don’t hurt me!” They were off to the side, so you couldn’t see, but the sound was piercing and continuous.

I spotted my red car and walked up to it. I noticed it looked like the tail lights were on. I reasoned it must be the angle of the sun hitting the lights that made it look like they were on. I reached for the automatic tailgate button. Slowly, the tailgate rose, but it did not reveal my collapsible crate , but instead a walker! What?! There was a woman sitting in the passenger seat! This was not my car! Quickly I apologized and pressed the button to close the tailgate.

I walked around to the passenger door and profusely apologized to the laughing woman. She had assumed it was her husband opening the tailgate with their groceries. My car was on the row in front of hers and two parking places down.

I’m going to need a better plan for finding my car in grocery parking lots.

Brrrrr!

What a week! Temperatures breaking records set decades ago. Warnings of power outages due to too much usage. Utility companies begging residents to limit electric and gas usage.

I have unplugged every nonessential electrical item. I am hand washing my dishes (the dishwasher is a great drying rack). There is no fire warming the hearth room (it’s gas). The hot water heater and thermostat has been turned down (I cover up with a weighted blanket). I wait, wondering if this is the day our neighborhood loses power. So far, we have been lucky. I am still holding my breath as temperatures slowly inch up.

The snow starts. It stops. It starts again. This cycle is repeated every day this week. Today is different, the sun is out allowing me to marvel at the shadows and sparkles.

A mound of sugar crystals on the boxwoods?
Shadows play in the yard.
Footprints from a visitor
A few steps are enough, time to take flight.

A New Chapter

I could not wait to turn sixteen. Sixteen was the magic number for getting a driver’s license and a real job. I was so ready to leave my babysitting days behind! The pay wasn’t great, the working conditions were sketchy, and I did not like the hours.

Fifty years ago, a new mall was built and it was the perfect place to find a job. My friend had a job at Orange Julius, so as soon as I was sixteen, I put in my application. I spent several years blending up Orange Julius drinks.

I was getting tired of the food industry so I scoured the job ads in the paper and found one that had me curious. I had to go to a motel for the interview, I thought nothing of that because I had just graduated from high school. My parents were out of town for the weekend, and when they returned they learned I had a new job. I was going to work at a kiosk outside of J. C. Penney in the mall making keys and engraving on metal. The kiosk was called Can-Do (it changed to Things Remembered after I left). I spent a couple of weeks going to the motel room with another girl, which was set up with the engraving machine. I worked there for a couple of years as I attended college, but then I thought I needed to do something closer to my field of study.

The Little Red Schoolhouse preschool gave me the opportunity to read books and do crafts with preschool kids. In the summer I worked with the school-aged kids and we had a lot of fun on multiple field trips.

I graduated a semester early because I had taken classes in the summer. Luckily for me a school district near me had a teacher going on maternity leave in February. I said good-bye to preschoolers and began corralling a wild class of fifth graders. It was a brutal semester, but I survived (and they did too). I spent another year in that school before I changed districts.

I spent the next twenty years teaching fourth grade, third grade, then Title I Reading to all the elementary grades. The last eleven years were in my third and final district. I taught Reading Recovery and small groups until I decided to retire. However, that retirement only lasted a month (because the state required it). I began working part-time for Missouri Reading Initiative as a trainer to bring professional development on balanced literacy into schools. It was a fun job. I could create my calendar of days in schools and schedule trips in-between. I wasn’t ready to leave the educational world, yet.

Then COVID-19 hit. Schools were not the safest place anymore. I didn’t want to be the one who brought the virus into our home. I took a leave-of-absence this past year. This year has given me a taste of what full-time retirement would be like.

I decided to continue this life. This is the first time in fifty years I have not had a job. I am not sure how I will spend my days, but I do know I will be reading, a lot. Perhaps I will even be writing a blog post or two. I’m excited to see where this retirement takes me.