Days gone by of golf and joyrides

A golf course in Palm Springs.

A neighbor asked me to go to a driving range. We set a date to go yesterday. When I woke up it was 33 degrees.

And look at this:

The weather on my first day back to golf.

I haven’t golfed in years. I think it was my ski accident and knee surgery that put golf off my radar. That was 2018. Of course the day I make plans to golf again we get snow?

I grew up in a golf family. At least my dad was an avid golfer, my mom wasn’t as serious. He started playing when he was a kid and still plays. He’ll be 91 this week.

My first golf tournament I was five or six years old. I’d stare at the beautiful first place trophy in the clubhouse after Dad signed me up. I just had to win.

It was a three-hole match. I tied for first place with another girl my age. We went on to sudden death. The fourth hole I scored 13 to her 12. The match was over and she took home the trophy.

I had one friend growing up who also golfed. Her older brother was friends with mine and they were on the high school golf team. They’d take us out on weekends to golf (not with them, but following them one hole behind.) At least they’d give us a ride to the golf course.

In high school, my friend and I asked to join the boys’ golf team. They didn’t have one for girls. They let us go to daily practice, but we never got to play in a tournament or match. I think we were as good as a few of the boys.

My friend and her brother got jobs at a local golf course. Once the patrons were gone, we’d grab the golf carts and joyride. Our brothers and a few other employees made a race track in the woods. My friend and I were stationed up high on a hill next to the woods. If we spotted the owner’s car coming, it was our job to yell to the golf cart racers.

One day it happened. The owner’s station wagon was driving up the long gravel drive. We yelled, then floored it back to the clubhouse. We got there before the station wagon was parked and tried to act nonchalant.

The owner said, “What’s up?” He pointed at the golf cart we were in.

We looked down at the engine and it was smoking. Oops.

Then we wondered what happened to our brothers. They didn’t make it out of the woods in time. I think they either flipped a golf cart, or got one stuck in the mud. I can’t quite remember.

In the end, my friend and her brother kept their jobs at the golf course, but that was the end of our joyrides.

What sports or activities did you do when you were young that you enjoy today? Or look back at with great memories?

More good news

Sunrise
Sunrise in our backyard.

When I went to lunch last week with a ladies group I recently joined, I sat at table with three of my neighbors. One is a board member for the group and the other two are my friends and new members also.

This group is fundraising for The Phoenix Dream Center, which is a facility to rescue and help victims of human trafficking. I wrote about that HERE.

The board member/neighbor at our table said “You’re the one with a background in PR.”

I thought to myself, “Did I really need to share that on my membership application?”

She slipped a spreadsheet and a press release across the table to me. “Can you help me get out our press release?” It was for an upcoming fundraiser.

“Sure,” I said.

“I just need you to fill in the blanks on the spreadsheet. I haven’t been able to find the contact information for some publications.”

The next morning I googled the publications with missing contact info. I was able to find some of them and I either filled out online forms or sent emails to them with the press release.

Within 30 minutes I got a response from a magazine publisher who has high end magazines for high end neighborhoods.

“I’m sold. I love The Dream Center. Can you take a call in two hours?” his email said.

I quickly texted the board member/neighbor to ask if she’d take the call. I’ve been to two meetings in two months and don’t know much about this group — like how long it’s been around, how many members there are, if they have a budget to buy ads, etc.

“I’ll be at the dentist,” she texted.

“Okay. I can do it,” I replied.

Later I got a phone call from the president of the group who said she’d take the call. Whew!

Fast forward and the president called me back to say they had an excellent call and then had a meeting the next day. They are getting free advertising from now on each month! They are getting a VIP listing and perhaps a feature article.

I’m so thrilled I helped open the door. I’m also relieved I didn’t have to take the initial phone call. I was smiling the rest of the day.

What has made you smile recently?

Dilemma from a dream

Olive cat
Olive giving me that look before she jumps in my lap.

I had a weird dream last night. It was short, but got me thinking.

In my dream I was at Costco. I was standing up front where they have electronics. I watched as a young woman in her 20s, got a display camera unattached and put it under her arm and walked towards the exit.

I pointed at her and yelled to a nearby employee “She’s taking a camera.”

The employee ran after her.

Another employee came up to me and told me to mind my own business. “She’s not hurting you or anybody else,” he scolded me.

“Yes, she is. It’s wrong to steal and it makes everything cost more for us,” I answered.

“Costco can afford it. Besides they have insurance for theft.”

Then I woke up.

I wondered about it.The dream me did what I feel is right. Would the awake and out of bed me do the same if I was standing in a store watching someone shoplift?

My son’s first job in San Francisco was with a retailer he worked part time for during his college days. He got robbed and was instructed to let the shoplifters take the clothing. This was one of those stories where my husband told my son, “Don’t tell mom. She doesn’t need to know.” There’s been a few of them and guess what? Mom (me) always finds out.

What would you do if you witnessed a robbery or shoplifting? Would you report it, let it go, or get involved another way?

Horrifying facts about February in Phoenix

Sonoran sunset
Sunset in the Sonoran Desert.

What’s going on in Phoenix this February?

Yesterday I went to a luncheon to learn about and raise money for victims of human trafficking.

The stats are truly horrifying. The presentation was by The Dream Center, a facility that rescues and rehabilitates young women and men who have been trafficked.

The speakers were Shauna Sexton, Human Trafficking Programs Director, and JoAnna Shipe, Corporate Initiatives Director. They gave us a powerful and gut wrenching presentation.

Did you know?

• That in Phoenix there is the Super Bowl and a major golf tournament going on in February? That five percent of the men attending will be buying sex? That equals more than 30,000 men looking for trafficked girls and boys.

• The number one prospects are boys from eight to 12 years old. 

• Human trafficking is the number two enterprise worldwide.

• In 2020, there was a 98% increase in online attempts by human traffickers. Why? Because of the COVID shutdowns, kids spent more time on their computers at home. Computers were no longer placed in the kitchen, but in their bedrooms. That was because parents were working from home and kids taking online classes.

• There was a 40% increase in human trafficking after COVID.

• Most kids are groomed into human trafficking over a six-month to two-year period. Often it’s online, on social media, by someone who is a friend of a friend.

• Traffickers hire good looking guys to befriend quiet, shy or vulnerable girls. They are usually 19 to 20 years old but look 14 or 15. 

• Less than 1% of trafficked kids are rescued.

• Girls and boys are trafficked an average of 10 to 12 times per day.

• The Dream Center in Phoenix has a 92% success rate of rehabilitating these kids and they transition into school or careers. They have 5,400 survivors since its inception in 2002. It’s the largest facility serving this community in the nation and the second largest in the world.

From the Dream Center website:

Our nonprofit (City Help Inc of Phoenix dba Phoenix Dream Center) was founded in 2002 as a Christ Centered Outreach Ministry.

We’re on a mission to stop human trafficking, end childhood hunger and educate tomorrows leaders. We do this through residential life recovery programs and community engagement outreach services. 

https://phoenixdreamcenter.org/story/

I wrote a story after my first meeting with this organization HERE.

Do these stats change how you view human trafficking? What organizations in your area provide services for human trafficking?

What I’m excited about

cactus bloom
A cactus in bloom in my yard.

After taking time off from submitting stories, I finally did it. I dusted off the story I wrote about my mom and submitted to two publishers who accept unsolicited manuscripts. Two so far.

It made me really happy to do that. The process has changed through the years. I used to mail my printed manuscript with a query letter and an SASE (Self Addressed Stamped Envelope.) Then I’d anxiously await for the publisher or agent to reply by snail mail. If I was lucky, I’d get a letter that was encouraging. Or, in the case of a novel, I’d send in the first three chapters and the editor would ask for more. I even got a few acceptance letters from magazines and newspapers.

The funniest thing was I did get an offer to publish my “mom” story. At the time, I didn’t think the offer was good enough. It was from a small publisher who said they’d do an initial run of 500 or 1,000 and see how it did before another print run. How I wish I would have said yes! That’s why I’m excited to try again, all these years later.

On the down side of submitting manuscripts, I’d get a form letter or postcard in my SASE with a generic phrase, “We’re sorry but your manuscript doesn’t fit our needs.”

Now, we submit by email or through a form on the publisher’s website. They have submission guidelines and say if you don’t hear back in so many months, they aren’t interested. You’re not guaranteed to get a response.

Doing more research on publishers, I renewed my membership in the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). I downloaded the market survey for small presses and discovered quite a few still use the old snail mail method with SASEs. I bet that cuts down on the number of submissions!

I received an email from one of the two publishers so far and it stated they are interested in my story and will give it careful consideration. I guess I passed the first hurdle. But, the email ended with “if you don’t hear back from us within two months, then we are passing on your manuscript.”

Eh, wait and see. In the meantime, I’m pleased to be back in the game.

What are your thoughts about submitting your writing?

One year ago

Desert clouds and views
A view of the desert last January from the Sears-Kay Ruins.

What was I up to in the New Year of 2022? One of the things I like about blogging is being able to look back on what I was doing, thinking and feeling.

A year ago to the date, I was returning home from Berkeley after taking care of my son post surgery.

Imagine that!

AND my husband wasn’t answering the phone. I was worried about him. It turned out he was sick in bed with COVID. As sick as I have ever known him to be.

I took a Lyft home from the airport in Phoenix. The Lyft driver was not happy when he learned how far away I lived. I didn’t mean to be an inconvenience, you’d think drivers would want to pick up a long ride. But I think we are so far out, there’s not much of a chance for the driver to pick up any rides on the way back to Phoenix. Plus, he was going to be late picking his wife up after her work. I wondered why he accepted my ride in the first place?

In any case, I moved into our Casita and kept my husband isolated in our Master bedroom. (I heard master isn’t PC to use, but I really don’t care.)

I cooked him homemade chicken soup with onions, garlic and carrots. I carted it to the front porch and then called him to let him know food was waiting for him. This went on for several days.

When he was finally better, we went exploring and hiked the Sears-Kay Ruins. Then we went to hang out with friends who invited us over to watch football.

What were you up to a year ago? Do you find yourself doing many of the same things year after year?

This was last night in our backyard. We call them “Mulies” short for Mule Deer.

This was Olive, checking out the Mulies from the bar in our living room.

Gray day

wet roadway in Arizona.

The wet street outside our house.

It rained all night, but today the rain has stopped and we have a gray cloudy day. We’re supposed to get more rain for the next two days. I hope we do. I find rain in the desert to be exciting and exhilerating.

But the gray cloudy day fits my mood and makes me want to curl up on the sofa with a book and not do anything but read.

I came home from my kids’ homes a week ago and now I feel myself going through bouts of grief and sadness. I guess that’s normal that I’m home without being busy taking care of my kids, walking Waffles, watching movies with them, grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning.

There isn’t that much to do here with my husband and me. We don’t eat much and the house, especially the kitchen stays surprisingly clean. I could start the taxes for 2022, but I’m not motivated today.

I think I’ll give into my blahs on this gray day and bury myself with a book. My mom would call a day like this a “mung” day. She would feel no guilt for staying in her nightgown and reading all day.

Does weather affect your mood? How do you feel on gray damp days?

Our front yard after a rainy night. The gravel is a weird color because the yard was sprayed for weeds.