Adding to my routine

City of Palm Springs Aquatic Center
I miss our beautiful Palm Springs city pool.

For one week, I’ve gotten in the pool each day to kick. Tuesday I went back to the Y for the first time in months and lap swam.

Why did I stop with the lap swimming? Mostly it was the weather. Summer in the Arizona desert is cloudy with daily thunderstorms and lightening. Not ideal outdoor swimming weather.

If it’s not storming it’s brilliant intense sunshine which I tend to avoid. Before I knew it, I was out of the lap swimming habit.

I’ve been following “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron for years. At least most of her routine of morning pages, prayer and daily walks. The thing I’ve been missing is the “artist’s date.”

My excuse before was COVID shutdowns.

Now I have no excuse. The artist date is to go out — alone — and experience something to feed your muse. Cameron’s suggestions are looking in antique and fabric stores, go anywhere that will fill your senses and spark your creativity.

I’m going to try a once-a-week date with myself. I’ve added two days of lap swimming, and three days of kicking — now an artist’s date. I think that’s quite enough for now!

What is your morning or daily routine? What would you like to add to it?

Kitty is done with us

Olive the cat in the suitcase.
Every time I pack, this happens. Olive is done with our vacations.

We had a tiring but fun weekend. I’ve decided that a six-hour drive on Friday, followed by six-hours on Sunday to get home, is too much for me.

I don’t mind the long drives like we took to Santa Barbara in August. That’s because we stayed for awhile. My body had time to relax and recover.

We arrived in San Diego Friday with one hour to rest and get read for a 30-minute drive to the wedding venue. What saved us on the drive was listening to “The Rooster Bar” by John Grisham. It’s amazing how books on tape — or Audible — make the drives fly by.

I made the mistake of booking our hotel room in Santee, SC — instead of Santee, CA. Oops.

Who knew there was more than one Santee and they’d have hotels with the exact same name?

The highlight of our trip happened Saturday. We visited my husband’s aunt and uncle who live in Santee (hence the reason I booked a hotel there — or thought I did. Right town, wrong state.) His cousin surprised us and came too with her son from an hour away.

My husband’s uncle is 93 years old. The last time we saw him was August three years ago to celebrate his 90th birthday. Because of COVID and then moving we haven’t visited. I have to say he looks amazing. He’s full of energy. He drives, he shops, he cooks, he waits on his wife — my husband’s aunt. He makes the best Italian food I’ve ever eaten. Luciano (the uncle) came to the US from Italy when he was 30 years old after marrying my husband’s aunt. She met Luciano while she was the city planner of Rome.

After she graduated with a degree from Berkeley in the 1960s, she couldn’t get hired in the U.S. in her field because she was a woman. However, she did get hired in Italy, so she learned Italian and moved.

She’s a dynamo that I’ve always looked up to. Not only has she had an amazing career, she’s written and published at least 15 books. She’s a world traveler and had a series based on a travel agent/murder solver. If you’re interested, here’s a link to R. Ann Siracusa on Goodreads. My favorite book of hers is “Family Secrets: A Vengeance of Tears.”

If that’s not enough, she’s a grandmother who actively takes care of her grandchildren. And she quilts. She taught my daughter and I how to quilt.

Whew, I’m exhausted thinking about these inspiring relatives.

What relatives have motivated and inspired you? What’s your limit for drives on trips?

Why I deactivated facebook

Here I am at a wedding Friday with my new friend.

We drove five and a half hours to a wedding Friday. If it wasn’t for my dear friend’s daughter, I don’t think we would have made the trip after driving nine hours home from vacation the weekend before. But we did it. Yes! I’m tired!

I wore a bright print dress in blue, green and white. When we first walked into the wedding crowd, I spotted a woman wearing the same dress! I waved to her and she walked over and we laughed.

“You know it’s reversible,” she said.

I had never met this person before. She is related to the groom and I am friends with the bride’s family.

We were interrupted by our husbands who informed us it was time to take a seat for the ceremony.

The wedding was lovely. It was held outside near San Diego at Mt. Woodson’s Castle — a stone mansion built in the 1920s that’s now a wedding venue.

After the ceremony, I bolted to the bathroom and flipped my dress inside out. Now I was wearing black with white polkadots!

I saw my new friend and she said “You didn’t have to do that!” I asked my husband to take a picture of us. I wanted to share it with a high school friend who sold me the dress. I thought she’d get a kick out of how the reversible dress came to the rescue.

I posted the picture on Instagram and tagged her. It automatically posted on facebook.

One of my other high school friends commented on my pic in a very suggestive way. It was creepy. It made me want to take the photo down. Then I thought, I rarely use facebook, I’m reading all sorts of negative things about facebook in the news. Let’s be done with it!

That’s why I deactivated my account.

It’s not deleted. I can restart it any time. The only reason why I would do that is for the years and years of photos that are housed there. I may want to download them. Then delete it for good.

Do you use social media? Why or why not?

Creatures in my backyard

metal gecko on the fence
We have two geckos climbing our fence.

The people who built our house and lived here for 15 years prior to us buying it, took good care of the backyard. They filled it with landscaping, potted plants and creatures.

It was cool enough to be outside last night to barbecue. While the tri tip was grilling, I took photos of the critters the prior owners left.

Here are some of them:

statuary in back yard of birds
Not sure if these are owls or birds?
squirrel statue
Squirrel!
rabbit and raccoon statue
Cuties.

aligator statue
This gator guards the pool.
baby alligator statue
Baby alligator
stone frog
I like this frog.
roadrunner statue
Roadrunner.
metal roadrunner statue.
My favorite roadrunner.
metal javelina
Javelina.

I had a friend over to hike last spring. She commented “You sure have a lot going on in your backyard.”

She’s right. All the statue critters are not exactly my taste, but they are growing on me. I’m not going to get rid of them, but I doubt I’ll add to the collection. The cactus and succulents are growing on me, too.

boot planter
Here’s a boot with a cactus growing inside.
group of statues.
Coyotes with a steer’s head and metal aloe.

What are your thoughts about statuary in the yard? Are you a fan or not?

Boring words

Bunny staring at me through the window. He has a hole in one ear. I wonder how that happened?

I use boring words in my writing. I’m talking about “interesting,” “great,” “amazing,” and “important.” There are many more. If you google “overused words” you can find article after article of overused words and phrases.

I need better words.

When I write one of these words, I stop and think, what word can I use instead?

I managed to get rid of “very” and “just” — most of the time. Those words are unnecessary.

When I write, I have a choice to include overused words or ones more specific. General words don’t add flavor but make writing flat. Rewriting a sentence to avoid a boring word may improve writing rather than using a thesaurus to find a replacement.

It’s a challenge to avoid overused words. It makes my brain hurt!

What are your thoughts of overused words? What words do you use too often?

What I read on the beach

Books I read on the beach.

My beach chair has a pocket on the back with a zipper. That’s where I keep sunscreen and books. I selected two books by Shirley Jackson and my goal was to get through them while I sat on the beach.

I adore reading on the beach.

“We Have Always Lived in the Castle” is one of my favorite books. I’m thinking of assigning it to Book Club when it’s my turn — if book club survives. The last book club turned into a disaster more on track with “The Real Housewives” than a social evening to discuss literature. A spat broke out between two ladies. One woman went way over the top — and the other countered by sending a certified letter telling her she was out of the group.

Since then, two months of book clubs have been cancelled. In August only one person RSVP’d. September’s book club is off because the woman hosting said she needs a break. After that last episode, we all need a break!

Back to the beach. I LOVED reading both Shirley Jackson books. She is such an excellent writer. “Come Along with Me” is the beginning of a novel she never finished due to her death.

In 1968, Jackson’s husband released a posthumous volume of her work, Come Along with Me, containing her unfinished last novel, as well as 14 previously uncollected short stories (among them “Louisa, Please Come Home”) and three lectures she gave at colleges or writers’ conferences in her last years.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shirley_Jackson

Although I’ve hauled “Come Along with Me” from Washington to California to Arizona, I’ve never read it. It was the perfect beach book. I read one short story or a lecture each day at the beach and finished it the day before we left. Her unfinished novel “Come Along with Me” was a joy with a very quirky character who was clairvoyant and communicated with the dead.

At the beach house I had a Liane Moriarity book I was reading but didn’t finish. “Nine Perfect Strangers” may remain strangers to me.

The contrast between Shirley Jackson and authors today was stark. I felt almost smug reading such a talented writer and forgoing my usual beach romances. I have five more Jackson novels yet to read. I can’t wait!

What type of books do you like to read on vacation?

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Have you read Shirley Jackson’s stories or books besides “The Lottery?”

Quest for the best dolphin video

This was the winner of y best dolphin video quest during our recent beach vacation.

My husband and I named our August 2022 beach vacation, “The summer of dolphins.” Despite the sadness of sea lions infected with toxic Domoic Acid, that I wrote about HERE, the dolphins were thriving.

Every day we saw dolphins. I was mesmerized watching them. I love to watch them cruise, leap and play. One teenager was swimming along with mom and dad. He’d roll over on his back and do a backward flip — showing off.

This video was taken on our second to last night. The water was like glass, the sunset shimmering pink reflected on the sea. You can see the dolphins tails as they dive.

We decided the best times of our vacation were:

Evenings at the beach during our last week

The visit with our son and his girlfriend

Farmer’s market fruits and vegetables

Dinners with friends

Fresh seafood

What are your best memories from vacations?