Are you ready for May Day?

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In first grade, my teacher Mrs. Iverson showed us how to make May Day baskets from pink and yellow construction paper. We drew ivy and flowers on the paper baskets with our thick crayons before going up one-by-one to our teacher’s desk to get the handle stapled on.

On the way home from school, we walked together picking dandelions and soft lavender-colored clover to fill our baskets. The more daring kids picked pansies or snap dragons from a neighbor’s yard to add to their construction paper baskets.

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We took turns “May Daying” the neighbors.

I climbed the steps to Mrs. Fixie’s front door. She was the grandmotherly lady with the neat white bun on top of her head who often gave me home-made oatmeal cookies.

I hung the basket on her doorknob. Then, I rang her doorbell and ran as far as my first-grade legs would take me. I hid behind a hedge and watched her open the front door and scan the neighborhood.

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Then, she looked at her doorknob at the paper basket filled with flowering weeds.  A big smile broke across her face.

“Happy May Day!” I yelled jumping up behind the shrubs.

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Bougainvillea.

Where did this fun tradition begin? But, more importantly, where did it go?

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Do your kids make May Day baskets in school? Do they surprise your elderly neighbors with baskets of flowers and sunshine on May 1st?

My mom is in an assisted living home three states away. She usually gets a delivery from FTD of a little basket of flowers. The card reads “Happy May Day! Love, ?”

She’d call to thank me and I’d say, “I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about!”

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“Really? I could have sworn it was you! I wonder who sent me these flowers?”

That’s how we’ve kept our May Day tradition alive. My son sometimes remembers to text me flower emojis to wish me “Happy May Day.” While my daughter was home, she’d pick bougainvillea, snap dragons and roses from our back yard and pound on the door after school and her swim meet.

I’d run outside and won’t be able to contain the smile on my face as I race around the yard trying to catch her.

This is year I’m skipping my mom’s May Day basket. I’m going in person next week and will deliver it to her in person.

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Happy May Day, everyone! How do you celebrate May Day? Do your kids make baskets?

Is anyone else nervous about a return to normal?

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Olive has given me great comfort and company during COVID-19.

After spending March 2020 through April 2021 mostly at home, quietly in solitude, reading, writing, packing and unpacking because of our move, I have been more social the past two weeks (post vaccines) than in the past year. It’s fun but tiring and stressful, too.

Tomorrow my son, his girlfriend and a sister come for a long weekend. It will be their first visit to our new home. Last weekend, we got together with friends from Palm Springs who we discovered moved less than five minutes from our new house. A few days before that, we got together with a Palm Springs couple from our old neighborhood who were visiting Arizona.My daughter also managed to drive down from the Bay Area for her first visit at our new home. So much socializing and I’ve been used to solitude. It’s a weird feeling. I enjoy the interaction, but it’s almost as though I’m afraid to get out and it’s more tiring than I remember.

My son told me that since he’s now fully vaccinated, he’s going for it. He said it’s the only way to get past the shelter in place feelings. So they are flying and coming here. Of course I can’t wait.

Then for Mother’s Day, my daughter bought me a ticket to fly to Seattle. My mom is in assisted living up there a few miles from where the first bad COVID breakout happened in a nursing home. I missed my mom’s 88 and 89 birthdays due to COVID and I did say the first thing I wanted to do when things were normal was visit her. I called the home and they said all restrictions are off for in-person visits. I cried, I was so excited.

My daughter said that our son was bragging about “winning” my birthday with the best gifts, so she had to step up her game to “win” Mother’s Day. I kind of like their competitive spirit when I’m the one benefitting from it. I’ll get to see Mom and my Aunt, too (mom’s little sister). Plus, I get to see my best girlfriend from college days.

It’s a dream come true, but I’m filled with apprehension. The idea of the airport, plane getting a rental car seems overwhelming. But I’ll do it.

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Sunset in the neighborhood.

What are your thoughts about returning to normal? What did you like about sheltering in place?

How I Had Fun on New Year’s Eve

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Palm Springs Pool on New Year’s Eve

I did something I’ve never done before. It was on New Year’s Eve.

December was a crazy, busy month. I’m sure most parents can agree with how the clock runs out at the end of the day in December, and there is always so much more that needs to be done.

First, I loved having my two kids home from college. Don’t get me wrong about that. But, it does take time and effort on my part. My daughter came home as soon as she could before Christmas. My daughter’s trip was quick because she had to return for intense Christmas break swim training.

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Master Swimmers on New Year’s Eve

My son stayed through New Year’s and not only brought his girlfriend, but a couple from Sweden, who are here studying “abroad.”

Add that to a number of other Christmas duties, like sending out Christmas cards, gifts, and preparing our home for Christmas, and it was especially busy. Yes, I kept up with my various writing projects, too.

Which brings me back to New Year’s Eve—the last day of the year. What I did has to do with swimming (big surprise!) As a new swimmer who began US Masters Swimming in April, this was a big step for me.

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Two of my friends, Lori and Karla. They both swam 100 100s.

I went to the New Year’s Eve Masters fundraiser for Angel View, hosted by my kids age group and my masters team, Piranhas. I swam double what I have ever done in my life — 5,000 yards or 50 100s. I enjoyed being a part of the team and the effort. There were more than 40 of us in the pool, including my husband and many friends, swimming and raising money for a great charitable organization here in Palm Springs. #piranhapride!

“New Year’s Eve Angel View 100 x 100s” was started by managing partner of Maryanov Madsen Gordon and Campbell, CPAs, Masters swimmer Steven Erickson, along with our Piranha Swim Team CEO and Head Coach Jeff Conwell. Here are the numbers so far:

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The numbers from the Piranha FB page

I feel strongly about Angel View because my daughter and I volunteered for six years to bring a little joy to the people living in Angel View homes. It was an experience that we both benefited from, and helping there brought not only tears to us, but extreme moments of joy. You certainly learn to appreciate the basic things in life, like your ability to stand, walk and eat. 

“Angel View’s mission is helping children and adults with disabilities reach their maximum potential. Each year, we help hundreds of people make significant gains toward independence through three primary programs. We accept clients without regard to race, color or national origin. We make every effort to accommodate our clients’ cultural and religious customs.”

—from the Angel View website

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Coach Jeff with a few of the Angel View residents who visited the pool on New Year’s Eve.

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Steven Erickson, who started this fundraiser four years ago,standing with my fellow swim mom and master swimmer Sunday, who swam 80 100s!

 

Who Knew? BINGO Is Good for You!

Selfie of Mom and me playing BINGO.

Selfie of Mom and me playing BINGO.

For six years, my daughter and I volunteered through a mother-daughter service organization. We had a dozen places throughout our community where we could volunteer together—from 7th grade through her senior year of high school.

Some of the philanthropies we helped out were Guide Dogs of the Desert, Angel View Crippled Children’s Homes, our swim team and the Braille Institute. We were required by the service organization—National Charity League—to put in a minimum number of volunteer hours per year.

One of the funnest and easiest things we’d do is show up at a nursing home and play BINGO with the elderly residents.

imagesI never thought much of it. It was something we’d do occasionally on a Monday night. My daughter would show up with her hair wet from swim practice wearing a t-shirt and shorts. On a big night a half-dozen other girls and their moms would volunteer to get out BINGO cards, the cage and set up seven or eight tables for the residents.

The girls would cruise the hallways and peak into rooms and ask if the residents wanted to join us for BINGO. The regulars would be waiting for us in their wheelchairs for their weekly game.

How did BINGO become so popular? Who invented the game? Here’s a link to a brief history of BINGO.

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I thought about what a difference it makes to the residents of that nursing home to have these young women escort them to BINGO. I never thought about it until last week—after visiting my mom in her assisted living home.

I took my Mom to BINGO for the second time this year. She’s had a blast both times. It got her out of her room. It engaged her mind. We had fun. She said “BINGO!” and won the first round. She had a smile on her face. She was excited to pick out prizes. She was interacting with other residents. Both times she’s promised to go back. But she never does. She’ll be sitting in her room again on Sunday at 1:15 p.m. in the dark, when she could be having another fun 45 minutes of stimulating her mind and getting exercise by walking down the hall and back using her walker. 

I wish they had a group of young ladies that would peak into her room and plead for her to go.

My mom after winning at BINGO. She wanted a fresh glass of water, because

My mom after winning at BINGO. She wanted a fresh glass of water, because “winning makes her thirsty!”

When my daughter was pushing a complete stranger in his wheelchair into the game room on a random Monday night with NCL, I had no idea how much it meant. Not only for my daughter—to learn compassion and think outside of her own immediate needs and desires—but also how much it meant to that elderly person. To get out, interact with people and have a little fun.

I wish we didn’t live two states away. I miss my mom. It was so good to see her so happy playing BINGO.

Here’s another article about how BINGO and the intellectual benefits for elderly.