The things we believed — at first

masking with fabric
When we first were wearing masks, I used quilting fabric, which we now know isn’t that helpful. Here I am at the park in Palm Springs by my old home.

We spent Father’s Day at our friends who moved unbeknownst to us from Palm Springs to a mile from our new Arizona home. We played bocce ball, cooled off in their pool and ate a delicious dinner of bbq’d pork ribs.

At some point in the conversation I mentioned that we took Vitamin D3 every day because it’s supposed to help protect us from COVID.

My girlfriend’s husband who is a newly retired doctor said, “Where did you hear that? That makes zero sense. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. How do strong bones help with COVID?”

I humbly replied that I had read it everywhere. I couldn’t point to a specific source, but it was a common theme I heard repeatedly from people I knew and news sources.

When I got home, I googled it. Early on during the pandemic, researchers believed that Vitamin D helped. Now there are extensive studies that show there’s no evidence or correlation that Vitamin D protects people from the SARS virus.

I thought about other things that have changed through the last two years as scientists learned more about the dreaded disease.

First, we were told that it could last on objects for hours or even days. This resulted in our city pool being shut down, playground equipment and the tennis courts closed to the public. A few skate parks in Southern California were filled with sand to encourage social distancing.

playground equipment with yellow tape
This was the playground equipment at our park during the shut down.

Now we know that the virus doesn’t sit for hours on inanimate objects and it would have been healthier for kids to play on the playground — rather than being isolated in their homes.

A friend of mine would unpack her groceries from the cart and wipe them all down with bleach or alcohol before she loaded them into her car.

I know a lot of people who told me they’d strip off their clothes inside their front door when they returned, jumped into the shower and washed their clothes. That was especially true for people who were “essential workers” and had to work with the public.

I wore cloth masks such as the quilting fabric in the photo above — and my husband wore a bandana.

What are some of the things you did when the pandemic first hit that you later found out weren’t effective?

bungee swimming in pool
My daughter using the bungee in our backyard pool since the city pool was closed.

Just say no!

roadrunner in the back yard.
A roadrunner outside the casita window.

A headline caught my eye about saying no. ‘

Boost Your Mental Health by Saying ‘No’

If we want to rebuild lives that are more balanced and meaningful, we need to prioritize. Declining requests is crucial.

This was in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, written by Elizabeth Bernstein.

Since we moved and things started opening up post COVID shutdowns, I find myself saying yes to everything. That’s because I lived through two years of doing nothing. As my life gets busier and busier, I long for quiet time alone to read or sit in the back yard listening to and watching the birds.

Recently, I said yes to writing the community’s newsletter. (I’m not sure that was a good idea.) I’ve said yes to book club and coffee club. I’ve said yes to neighbor’s invitations. I’ve joined the YMCA and go four times a week to swim and workout. We’ve had people over for wine and dinner. I can’t believe I’m missing the endless days of no plans. But I am.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“No” has never been an easy word to say, especially to the people we care about most. And after two years of pandemic life—with very few invites to decline—we may be even rustier than usual at delivering the bad news. et, many of us now are fielding more invites and requests than we have in years.

We’re eager to get back out there. We’re also burnt out on stress and schedules that often seem like all work and no fun. We know that if we want to rebuild lives that are more balanced and more meaningful we need to prioritize. Learning to decline requests will be crucial to this effort.

Think of saying no as the ultimate self-care strategy.

“If we just agree to everything mindlessly, we are not going to be able to come up with the priorities to take us where we want to go,” says Vanessa Bohns, an associate professor of organizational behavior at Cornell University.

We sometimes say yes simply because we’re uncomfortable saying no. We’re social beings—we want people to like us. We feel guilty if we let others down or hurt their feelings, especially our closest family and friends. They’re the ones who often want us to say yes the most—and who may experience our “no” as a rejection of them, rather than of the request.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-ultimate-self-care-strategy-saying-no-11651529315?mod=life_work_lead_story

Bernstein, the reporter, offers five tips for saying no which include not rushing, start with thank you and standing firm.

What are your thoughts about saying no? Does it come easy to you? Are you getting more invitations to do things outside the home? How do you feel about it?

Our resident cardinal I watch while Im writing in the casita.

A few random thoughts

bright yellow blossoms
I saw this in a neighbor’s yard today on my morning walk. I’ve never noticed it before. It must be the blossoms that got my attention. Maybe it hasn’t bloomed since we moved here until recently.

Thursday was a busy day. I had coffee club and I swam in addition to reading and writing.

My son called several times yesterday. He asked me about Wordle. We both got it done in four yesterday. He said “Four is a par and three is a birdie.”

I think he’s correct about the golf analogy. Two is definitely an eagle.

Coffee club was fun. I’m glad I went. I’m getting to know a few women in my neighborhood. We met at a local coffee shop and had breakfast together and talked.

I am reminded of when I was in kindergarten and my mom was in the neighborhood coffee klatch. She quit and said it was a waste of time. Her favorite word back then was “highbrow.” I have a feeling she didn’t think the women measured up.

At the pool I swam 1,200 yards. Just think, pre COVID I was swimming 3,000. I started at the YMCA swimming three weeks ago. I’ve made it twice a week for three weeks. Yay for me. I began with 500 yards, bumped it up to 1,000 and then 1,200. I hope to be at 1,500 soon.

I’m taking barre class later this morning. I’m also doing that class twice a week along with swimming. I feel like I’m getting stronger and in better shape — but I don’t recover like I used to. I guess that’s due to aging and lack of activity during the shut down.

Consistency is my key. I don’t talk myself out of going — I go. No excuses. I’m sticking to this schedule for the next few weeks to see if it gets any easier. Then I may add a third day of swimming or another class.

What random thoughts do you have today? What are you doing to stay in shape? Do you think the COVID shutdown affected your physical health?

What are you forgetting?

Olive cat in the morning sun.
Olive’s memory is just fine.

Have you noticed yourself forgetting things lately? I have. I can walk into a room for something and forget why I am there. Also, I can’t go the grocery store without forgetting items on my list — or things I forgot to add to my list. I also am forgetting names and words. I notice my husband is in the same boat.

I found an article in the Wall Street Journal called “Why We’re All Forgetting Things Right Now: Short, temporary moments of forgetfulness are happening to more of us more often these days, memory experts say” by Elizabeth Bernstein. She writes for WSJ’s Life and Work section.

Here’s an excerpt:

Short, temporary instances of forgetfulness—those ‘senior moments’—are happening to more of us more often these days, memory experts say. We’re finding it difficult to recall simple things: names of friends and co-workers we haven’t seen in a while, words that should come easily, even how to perform routine acts that once seemed like second nature. 

We’re living in yet another moment of big change as we return to offices, create new routines and find our footing in yet another new normal. (And don’t forget a scary war in Europe on top of that.) All this change consumes cognitive energy, often much more than we think, neuroscientists say. It’s no wonder we can’t remember what we had for breakfast.  Our minds are struggling with transition moments.

“Our brains are like computers with so many tabs open right now,” says Sara C. Mednick, a neuroscientist and professor of cognitive science at the University of California, Irvine. “This slows down our processing power, and memory is one of the areas that falters.”

The chronic and cumulative stress of the past two years has taken its toll, too. Research led by Dr. Shields shows that people who have experienced recent life stressors have impaired memory. Stress negatively affects our attention span and sleep, which also impact memory. And chronic stress can damage the brain, causing further memory problems, says Dr. Shields, an assistant professor in the department of psychological science at the University of Arkansas. 

https://www.wsj.com/articles/why-were-all-forgetting-things-right-now-11649166214?mod=life_work_lead_pos3

The article also said we are bombarded with too much information and scanning through info on our phones isn’t helpful. Another thing that an expert pointed out was the sameness of every day during the shut down. Apparently we need novelty to help our memories.

They offered suggestions on how to deal with memory loss. If other people are noticing it, you should probably see a doctor. Also, don’t try to force it if you forget something because that’s counter productive. Stay calm and turn off the TV and phones to be present in the moment.

Have you noticed a lag in your memory or a spouse or friends since COVID hit? What types of things do you forget?

Do deaths come in threes?

children climbing on me at the beach
Life at the beach with two young kids back in our Laguna days.

I’ve been struggling to find the words. My brain is hurting at the thought. We lost another friend. A close friend. Our son’s godfather.

I got the call last week from our friend’s wife. I cried all night. I need to send a sympathy card and I can’t get myself to write it. The words seem so tiny and small. Helpless. I don’t know how she and her daughters are getting through each day and night. My heart aches for them.

We have so many memories with our two families together. At one time, Joe was my husband’s boss. They moved from San Francisco to the Palm Springs area when our son was a newborn. They had three daughters close in age to our kids.

They invited us into their beach deal. They found an inexpensive house to rent in Laguna Beach from Memorial Day to Labor Day and asked us to split the summer with them. With summer temperatures ranging from 110 to 124 degrees in Palm Springs, this beach rental changed our lives. I was a stay-at-home mom taking the kids to swim lessons and hanging out at the beach building sand castles and boogie boarding with my children.

My husband took long weekends and commuted back and forth. We shared a few weekends with our friends during the summer playing volleyball, Trivial Pursuit and eating pizzas with the kids.

When they moved to New Jersey to corporate headquarters as Joe moved up the chain of command with the firm, we visited them and spent Christmas together. We shared time together on corporate-sponsored trips and visited them more often when they moved to Nevada (a four-hour drive from Palm Springs).

Joe was proud of his Catholic education at an all boys school on Long Island. He was a Lit major at Rutgers and he loaned my husband and me must-read literature we had somehow missed including “Atlas Shrugged” and “The East India Trading Company.”

Joe had charisma, charm and a great sense of humor. He had a band of employees at the firm and friends throughout his life that put him on a pedestal — our family included. The last time we saw him was on Coronado Island at his middle daughter’s wedding. It was a beautiful weekend filled with memories I treasure.

We planned on going back to Coronado to visit them that summer or driving to Vegas to visit during the winter, but COVID hit. I feel like a few years of friendship were stolen. Joe was diagnosed with cancer years ago but survived and beat it. His heath was an issue, but he was living his life in his big way until this last year when another cancer hit.

I sincerely hope that it’s true that deaths come in threes, because this is the third close friend we’ve lost since Thanksgiving.

Do you think it’s an old wives tale that deaths come in threes? Have you lost anyone close to you this past year? Do you feel like COVID has stolen time from you with friends and family?

A New Low? Who Yells at Kids?

man love people woman
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I read an article yesterday about Girl Scout being harassed for selling cookies.

Seriously?

I wrote about being yelled at sitting at a booth registering voters HERE. If I was shaken up after being yelled at as an adult, can you imagine how a five or seven-year-old would feel?

The article was called “Girl Scout cookie sellers as young as 5 are being harassed for selling unhealthy food and a conspiracy theory about cookie money funding abortion” by Lela Moore on a website called Insider.

It turns out that young girls are being yelled at for selling cookies because “they make you fat” and they use “palm oil” that means forests are being destroyed. Then there are those who have linked Girl Scouts to Planned Parenthood because one local council had their Girl Scout logo on a Planned Parenthood brochure one time a decade ago.

Here’s an excerpt:

Girl Scout cookie season is upon us, and young saleswomen in uniform are everywhere: holding court in office boardrooms for an afternoon, manning booths outside the local grocery store, or posting cheery video messages on social media, offering door-to-door shipping. You may even have a Girl Scout under your own roof, filling your garage with cases of the chocolatey, caramelly, peanut-buttery goods. 

But Girl Scouts, and the women who lead their troops and volunteer with them during cookie season, say that the organization’s tradition of face-to-face sales is increasingly accompanied by customer harassment.

“I feel like in the last 10 years, and maybe especially since the pandemic, that people are getting even more aggressive with girls and the volunteers,” Oona Hanson, a Scouting parent in Los Angeles, said. 

https://www.insider.com/girl-scout-cookies-harassment-planned-parenthood-abortion-unhealthy-palm-oil-2022-2

Another thing the teen Girl Scouts have to endure is sexual harassment.

When I was in kindergarten, I joined Bluebirds, which was the youngest group of Camp Fire Girls. When it came time to sell the Camp Fire Mints — which were delicious by the way — my mom bought them all. She refused to let me go door to door selling mints. This was in the 1960’s. I was disappointed because it seemed fun to me. I’m sure Mom had her reasons, and she was very strict and overprotective.

What are your thoughts about Girl Scout Cookies? Has our society gone off the deep end with people yelling at the girls selling cookies outside grocery stores?

Day one of mom and grand-dog duties

Waffles at the ER vet
Waffles the pug not feeling so good.

I made it to the Bay Area to help my daughter who has COVID. I’ve been wondering how much help I can be, since I can’t be with her? If I can’t do much, I’m looking forward to quiet time alone writing.

So far, it turns out — more time than I thought.

I didn’t arrive until evening to my airbnb which is .2 miles from her apartment. The problem is she’s on quarantine and can’t leave her apartment. I’m not sure what the protocol is these days, but I can guarantee she hasn’t hit it yet.

She texted me a list of groceries. I asked if I could go to the Berkeley Bowl to get the items on her list. It’s one of my favorite places to go to when I visit the kids. This running errands will be a treat if it includes the Berkeley Bowl! I blogged about it HERE.

I picked up clam chowder and a salad for my own dinner and a few groceries for my airbnb mini-fridge along with her list. When I dropped off her groceries at her doorstep, we waved at each other through her window.

I walked back to the airbnb and sat to savor the Berkeley Bowl clam chowder. It’s so delicious. I called my son and we were talking about plans for tomorrow’s dinner. He may be recovering from foot surgery, but he doesn’t have COVID. We can be together in person.

That’s when I got a call from daughter asking me to take Waffles the pug to the ER. He’s been having issues with his tummy. I wrote about it HERE a few days ago. Waffles has been throwing up and hasn’t recovered from chicken bones. The animal ER won’t let my daughter with COVID inside.

I sat for more than two hours with Waffles in the waiting room. My daughter texted me the recent details since I was traveling from Arizona and not totally up to date. We — the vet, the vet’s assistant and my daughter on the phone — decided not to hospitalize Waffles last night, but to bring him back in the morning if he doesn’t improve.

I’m wondering what tomorrow’s role as mom and dog grandma will bring? What’s driving me crazy is to be so close to my daughter, but not being able to give her a hug.

Have you traveled to help your kids away from home? How have you helped? How have you helped family members with COVID?