On our last trip to Mexico I wrote “Run for the Border.” You can read it HERE. There were two odd things that occurred on that long weekend that made me question our favorite vacation spot four hours south of home. First was getting pulled over by cops at the Mexican border town and being shaken down for $160.
But something else was odd. I noticed at least 1,000 military-aged men from all over the world, lined up on the Mexico side, waiting to walk into the United States. There were no women or children.
Then on the news yesterday in Arizona, we learned the border crossing at Lukeville is closed because the Border Patrol has such an influx of these military-aged men from Asia, Egypt and Africa to process — that they can no longer accommodate legal Americans or Mexicans crossing the border — either way.
Here’s a snippet from local Arizona news:
Lukeville border closed: How to get to Rocky Point and how much longer it will take
Esme Hernandez, a local business owner who enjoys traveling to the Mexican beach town of Puerto Peñasco, also known as Rocky Point, didn’t mince words in reaction to the closure of the Lukeville-Sonoyta port of entry.
That border crossing provides the most direct route between Phoenix and Puerto Peñasco.
With Lukeville closed, you have to drive to other border crossings that are not closed and are several hundreds miles away and are said to be more dangerous areas to travel. Rocky Point is 62 miles south of Lukeville. I hope this is temporary and for the sake of people who need to cross the border — and the economy of the beach resort — it reopens soon. Personally, I can skip the beach vacation, although it will hurt the Puerto Penasco economy.
We had a tenant in Phoenix who had open heart surgery and went on disability. He decided to move out of our rental unit and move into his mom’s house in Puerto Penasco where he could live for free. But he has continued his medical appointments in the US. He can no longer travel here.
Then, we met a restaurant owner in Puerto Penasco who said they bought most things to run their business like meat, liquor etc. in the US. They can’t get here, either.
The town of Rocky Point, also known as Puerto Penasco, will have no tourists. It’s a shrimp fishing village and a tourist town. The people are going to suffer economically.
The closest town to Lukeville on the US side is called Why. It was “Y” based on the road going from Tuscan to Phoenix and Mexico with a Y turn. Arizona decided all towns had to have three letters so now it’s called Why.
There’s a border station. It’s on the other side of the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument a few miles from the border in Why. The monument is gorgeous and home to two species of indigenous cacti found nowhere else. The migrants are camped out there because there are facilities. Border Control in Why has all its cages full of migrant men. (Have you ever heard about this?)
The migrants camping out in the National Monument are burning the cacti to stay warm.
We stopped at a gas station in Why on our last trip home (Population 30?) There was a brand new gas station and a family running it. It was a husband and wife with a baby. They were excited to tell us of their plans for a coffee shop and restaurant and welcomed us to come back soon.
This is so wrong on so many levels.
I’m not sure if anyone out of the Phoenix area has heard about this.
Have you? If so, was it on local or national news? Why do you think young men by the thousands are traveling here without any women or children?What do you think could be done about the border being closed to Mexican and American citizens?
This is a banner photo from the National Monument website.
We went to dinner with friends Saturday night. Actually happy hour, which translates to an early bird special. The food was delicious. The company was great. Then when we got home and I got out of the car, I tweaked my back.
I have no idea what I did. But I’m in pain and barely able to move. Is this ridiculous or what? Did sitting in the car for a 15-minute ride hurt my back?
I’ve taken Tylenol, Advil and had a hot hot shower. I’ve tried Salon Pas. No relief in site. I find this somewhat ironic. I heard of Word of the Year for the first time last week from fellow blogger Deb’s World. I had decided my word for 2024 will be HEALTH. I guess that doesn’t apply to 2023!
The only thing that made me feel better was a visit from the cardinal. I also captured him on my Bird Buddy.
Have you ever injured yourself without trying? Is this what getting old feels like?
I learned some interesting facts about this author including that she owns a bookstore in Nashville. She writes on a treadmill desk. (I never heard of that before). She also has a tip for writers to work during their most productive time of day. She said it’s different for everyone and we all know when it is. She doesn’t have a set number of words she must write each day or a set schedule.
Of her nine novels, two children’s books and five nonfiction books, I’m not a fan of all the ones I’ve read. I admire how she has such diversity in her writing. Her fiction books take on different tones, styles and subject matters. That’s probably why I absolutely love some — and others not so much. I’ve actually put down one or two and didn’t finish them. On the other hand, her writing speaks to me and I find some of her books are outstanding.
Another one of my favorites by Ann Patchett.
Here’s a snippet from the WSJ article:
Reporter: I read that you wrote “Tom Lake,” in its entirety, on a treadmill desk. How was that experience, and what were those hours like?
Ann Patchett: I loved it. I would go to work around 9 a.m. I would stay on the treadmill anywhere from two to three hours at 1.5 [miles per hour], which is slow. Usually, I would get off when my feet hurt, when I would just start to think, “Oh. I’m tired.” Then I would get off, and I would not go back to the book for the rest of the day.
I always think about Liz Gilbert. All great advice comes from Elizabeth Gilbert. That’s what I should say. She says in her book “Big Magic” that everybody has two hours a day in which you’re your best, and everybody knows when those hours are. She said, “Don’t spend those hours answering email.” One of the things that makes the treadmill desk so great is the fact that the two things that I want to do in the morning when I get up are write and exercise. I’m like, “Oh. Look. I’ve done them both. That’s great.”
I also learned that she used to write for Bridal Guide and wrote so many articles for issues that they changed her byline for some so it didn’t look like she wrote the entire magazine. In one article she asked for wedding advice and shared a tip from her stepmother:
“[She] told me that the brain naturally focuses on what is wrong, what it doesn’t like—towels on the floor, or somebody who interrupts, or somebody who’s late,” Patchett, 59, says. “And so then, every time your partner does that, it’s just like hitting a gong.” The good things, by contrast, often go unnoticed or forgotten, her stepmother told her. “She said, ‘It is possible, with practice and discipline, to flip the equation.’”
Are you an Ann Patchett fan? What are some of her books you like? Who are your favorite authors?
Last week I wrote about our pets we adopted on Thanksgiving in years past. This year, we visited friends and met Buddy. I would have taken him home — if our friends allowed it. Buddy was a rescue dog who is seven years old. According to our friends, he was being abused by his owner. The owner’s daughter already had several dogs and cats and couldn’t keep him. I’m not sure how our friends found him, but they are fortunate they did.
He was the most delightful, happiest little creature I’ve ever met. He was so happy to greet us. Happy to sit by us. Thrilled to go for a walk. His entire little body vibrated with his happiness that he shared with us.
We’ve spent many Christmas and Thanksgivings with our friends of 30 plus years. They moved to Arizona before us and have a new home two hours south of us. It’s the first time we’ve visited them in their new home by Tucson and we laughed and shared stories the entire weekend — with Buddy enjoying every moment.
Here’s a view of the dramatic mountains near Tucson while out walking with Buddy.
Did you enjoy your Thanksgiving weekend with family and friends? Who was “Buddy” during your weekend?
A headline caught my eye in the Lifestyle sections of the Wall Street Journal: “How to Avoid Being Boring at 60” by Rob LaZebnik.
LaZebnik was a writer and co-executive producer for The Simsons, so I hardly can see how he’d think his life was boring. Nonetheless, he said when he hit 60, he felt a vibe around him that all his stories had been told and friends found him boring.
From the article:
That’s when it hit me: I didn’t have anything new and exciting to tell them. My life had gotten entrenched in routine. Calcified, if you will. I had stopped evolving, and I think we all know what happens then—like the dodo, you stop flying, get fat and Dutch sailors eat you on their voyage home.
I needed to figure out a way to turn this around. I vowed to take that big, upsetting number 60 and remake it into something positive: I decided I would do 60 things I’d never done before. Maybe that would force me to forge new neural pathways in the dog-eared map that was my brain.
He came up with a list of things he wasn’t interested in doing like sky diving or anything that could cause injury or be too expensive. The list he did come up with was unique and included things like sewing a shirt, going to a gay bar, attending a mega church and going on a police ride-a-long. (I did the police ride-a-long as a journalism student at the UW in Seattle.)
Once we hit middle age and the kids have left the nest, we do have a tendency to slow down. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. But if you look at too much routine, life can get boring. We can become boring, too.
The article made me reflect on my day-to-day life. What have I done to keep things interesting past 50 and into the 60s?
I joined a swim team, learned to swim and competed in swim meets (photo above). I learned how to dive off the blocks and could race a 50. I came dead last in my age group — but beat some 80-year-old swimmers.
I took up boogie boarding two years ago after not having ridden the waves since my kids were out there with me. I found it exhilarating and it made me feel young for those few moments riding a wave.
I went to Sacramento and gave a talk to a group of swim parents due to my weekly swim parenting column on a website that had millions of readers per month. (Oh yes, I also started writing that column! Plus started a website where I interviewed swimming stars and coaches in Southern California). Public speaking is one of my biggest fears. I practiced and practiced. My son drove me to the meeting and sat in the audience, so I spoke directly to him.
That’s me near Santa Barbara last August, ready to boogie board.
My husband and I began playing ping pong regularly in our backyard after going on two vacations that had ping pong. We have a blast and the laughter keeps us young. Except I’ve fallen a couple times returning shots — which isn’t great.
We hike on desert trails near our house.
I’ve reconnected with friends that I haven’t heard from in decades.
Have you noticed teens or 20-somethings at restaurants, in a group, but not talking? Instead you may see them looking down at their phones.
I saw an article at the WSJ that talked about boot camps for college students to learn small talk. One professor noticed her students from Caltech weren’t getting interviews or jobs. (Caltech is a school for brilliant kids and very difficult to get into.) Other lecturers from other colleges noticed a similar trend. They decided to get involved and help teach skills that previously were taken for granted.
In the article “We Now Need College Courses to Teach Young Adults How to Make Small Talk” by Tara Weiss, she said:
Professors are teaching elementary chitchat skills to students who are woefully behind in the basics.
Everybody seems to have a theory about why many young adults have trouble with so-called soft skills, which include the art of persuasion and civil conversation. Blame smartphone addiction, Covid cocooning or helicopter parenting. Regardless of cause, a growing number of college professors in various disciplines around the U.S. are trying to keep professional chitchat from becoming a lost language.
Claire Ralph, a Caltech computer-science lecturer, said when she started at the campus in 2016 she was surprised that a fifth of her students had spent five months looking for a job—not even getting interviews. She asked to see copies of their cover letters. One began, “Hey wazzup y’all.” The student explained that “someone said a cover letter should be friendly,” Ralph recalled.
She talked about students’ communication shortcomings with colleagues. Everyone came to the same conclusion: “It was a hole people knew existed,” she said, but “didn’t know how to plug.”
I’m glad these professors are working on basic communication skills with their students. I had to go through chit chat training when I worked for a couple years with my husband at Merrill Lynch. They called it speed dating. We had different scenarios or roles to play. We lined up in two lines and had to go down the line having a few seconds to find out as much as we could about the other person across from us. There were a number of other exercises, and although they were nerve wracking, they were useful.
I remember serving on a scholarship committee for three high schools in the Palm Springs area. Along with four or five other women, we’d go through applications and have in-person interviews with our top prospects. The three high schools had different socio-economic demographics, but one stood out. That’s because somebody in the faculty told the girls how to dress, shake our hands firmly and look us in the eye. They had training that put them ahead of the kids who were left on their own. We were impressed.
What are your thoughts about chit chat class? Do you think the art of small talk is getting lost in today’s society? With just our youth or with everyone and why?
A photo of my daughter’s pug who was used in social media marketing for her college swim team. The swimmers on the sports marketing team posed Waffles around the pool wearing goggles, on the blocks and lifeguard stand.
As I think about Thanksgiving, it dawned on me that our last two pets, Olive and Waffles, were adopted Thanksgiving weekend. What a joy they’ve brought to our family.
My son left for college in 2011 and my daughter and I visited the animal shelter in Palm Springs looking at kittens. It was right before Thanksgiving that Olive came home with us. Because my son is allergic to cats we waited until he moved away to college to adopt Olive. We kept Olive hidden in our daughter’s bedroom for the four-day weekend and didn’t think my son would have any reaction from his room down the hall.
Olive’s baby picture taken around Thanksgiving.
Everything went smoothly. I cooked dinner for my kids, husband and dad. I remember a wonderful weekend spending time with family walking downtown and playing in the park.
Then my son called to let me know he was back at school safely. While we talked on the phone, the kitty snuck out the door into the backyard.
“Quick, get the kitty!” I yelled to my daughter.
“WHAT?!” my son said. “I knew it! I knew there was a cat in the house. I had allergies all weekend.”
Today, he can visit our home in Arizona with Olive inside, and doesn’t seem to suffer. I’ve installed an air filter in the casita and the new house doesn’t have the same issues as our 1930s Palm Springs house did for allergies like mold and a grassy back yard.
Then came Waffles. It was my husband’s idea to adopt Waffles as a companion dog for our daughter. She came home from college for Thanksgiving weekend, along with our son, and met Waffles for the first time.
I cooked for our family, my college roommate, who was visiting from Seattle with her mom and brother. Plus a former coworker of mine — and dad of course. Waffles was a hit with everyone — except Olive. I remember my college roommate’s brother thanking me over and over for a home-cooked Thanksgiving. They had planned to eat in their hotel restaurant.
Waffles was beyond cute and so tiny!
Pretty kitty Olive as a grown up.
Waffles as a middle-aged man, snaggle teeth and gray hairs.
Have a happy Thanksgiving with family, friends and your furry friends.
What is it about Thanksgiving and adopting our pets? I’m thinking our prior two, Sherman and Angus joined us in the fall as well.