“With a few flowers in my garden, half a dozen pictures, and some books, I live withoutenvy.” Lope de Vega
I found this quote in an email from the woman’s club I left behind at my old home. While I miss my friends back home, this thought made me smile. It’s exactly how I feel. I’m very content at home with my plants, wildlife, photos and books.
Here are some of my new friends. I enjoyed meeting them other night when we barbecued. But the jojoba bushes weren’t quite as thrilled.
Speaking of birds, I’m excited about a bird feeder my son’s company is helping come to life. It uses AI to identify birds who visit your backyard. Here’s a link to find out more. The creator has raised more than $5.7 million. I guess there are a lot of us who want help bird watching!
What makes your life content? What simple pleasures make you happy?
One of my closest friends from childhood passed away unexpectedly two and a half years ago. Saturday was her birthday and while I was swamped with moving, I couldn’t get her out of my head. I miss her so much.
Rebecca with my baby girl.
I learned via Facebook that my dear friend Rebecca had passed away.
She had a huge personality, was fearless, beautiful and brilliant. I received private messages from her on Facebook constantly, and I noticed I didn’t reply to the last one which I received on a Saturday afternoon—the day she died.
I wonder if she knew she was leaving us? I had no idea that she was ill, but I’ve since learned that she had diabetes and died from DKA (Diabetic ketoacidosis).
The first time I met Rebecca was at my childhood house. Her older brother Paul had been hanging out with our family for a few weeks that summer before seventh grade. One day, Rebecca decided to come over to our house with him because she wanted to meet me. We went to different elementary schools but for junior high the town’s elementary school students would all attend the same school. I was shy and wouldn’t leave my bedroom to meet her. Finally, my mom coaxed me out to meet Rebecca Coombs and our friendship of a lifetime began.
The last photo she sent me of herself. “When my baby grand wants a kiss, I oblige. Sir-Mix-Alot this as good as I can get! lol.”
She was the opposite of me in so many ways. She was bold, outgoing and not afraid of anyone or anything. Her long straight black hair hung past her waist and she had a huge smile. Some of my fondest memories were her introducing me to Taco Bell—which I still love today. I got a burrito supreme today in her honor.Also, because of Rebecca, our entire high school won the local radio station KJR top 40 competition for a free concert—which was the first rock concert I ever attended, “WAR.” I went with her to see Natalie Cole at the Paramount in downtown Seattle, too. She introduced me to so much music and laughter. I remember always laughing with Rebecca and her sister Mary. Mary became as close of a friend to me as Rebecca.
Rebecca was one of a few students from our high school that went to the University of Washington with me. I remember spending the first night in the dorm, with Rebecca in a sleeping bag on my floor.
Me, Rebecca and my baby girl.
My sophomore year Thanksgiving weekend, I was home and I went with Rebecca and Mary to a concert at a local Grange. I was going to ask a family friend who was there to a Tolo (a dance where the girls ask the boys for the date). We were crossing the street on the Bothell Highway when I panicked at the oncoming lights of cars. I froze in the middle of the street. I grabbed onto Rebecca’s parka hood and she wasn’t able to escape the oncoming pick-up truck either. I shattered my pelvis and Rebecca lost a kidney. We became connected by that one experience forever.
Later on, she married the family friend who I was going to ask to the dance. The marriage didn’t last that long and she did find someone she said was the love of her life, who sadly died a few years ago. Also, her brother Paul died years ago as well as Mary’s husband. Her life had so much tragedy, yet she stayed positive and filled with joy. Near the end, she moved to Hawaii to be close to her son Jake, who she was so proud of. She posted pictures of her new life and her grandchildren whom she called “the grands.”
I will admit she was much better at reaching out and staying connected. Throughout our lives, she’d call me and during the last few months send me private messages on an almost daily basis. One funny story I remember about Rebecca was she called me up and asked who Bill Gates was. She had attended the Microsoft Christmas Party with a friend who worked there and met Bill Gates. She had no clue who he was. It was well known in Seattle that Bill was looking for a wife. He had asked her to Sunday Brunch and she said no. She told me that he was kind of a geek and she was felt awkward and made up an excuse why she couldn’t go.
I miss my dear friend and how full of life she was. God bless you and RIP, Rebecca.
Rebecca, her husband Andrew and son Jake plus my kids.
Friday was moving day. Our movers arrived at 9 a.m. and we thought it would be a couple hours and we’d hit the road. No, we were wrong. By 5 p.m. the movers realized the van was full and we still had a bunch of stuff in the garage like bikes, a wheelbarrow and my daughter’s small desk. Plus the STORAGE UNIT where we’ve been squirreling away boxes and stuff for months.
Yikes! They had to rent a U-Haul and we gave them the keys to the storage unit. They said they’d come back the next morning and pick up the rest of our stuff in the garage when our housekeeper and dear friend Delia would be cleaning.
We drove on to Arizona and our new home, minus our stuff. We thankfully packed suitcases. Our fellow Piranha parents and close friends drove one of our cars packed to the hilt, plus their car complete with all the stuff from our freezer and fridge. Now, those are real friends who volunteer to drive an 8-hour round trip to make our move easier!
I have driving anxiety and panic attacks driving on freeways and couldn’t face the four-hour drive. Our daughter was going to fly down from SFO and drive one car and help us unpack. Then the state went into lockdown and she didn’t feel good about flying. So our friends volunteered to help us out and meanwhile her supposed flight was cancelled. So it all worked out in the end.
Our new living room. So much work to do!
We got to our Arizona home at 10:30 p.m. Unpacked what we had and settled into bed around midnight exhausted beyond comprehension. The moving van and U-haul arrived at 2 p.m. the next day and we’ve worked a solid weekend to get the kitchen in order and our closet organized. Kitty is stressed and hiding under the bed in the casita, where we’ve been living.
My new backyard as the sun begins to set.
I don’t recommend moving after 28 years after living in one house on anyone. It’s an unusually hard task, mentally and physically. But, when we’re more settled the sunsets will make it all worthwhile.
People around the world are losing loved ones. Now more than ever, take time to tell them that you love them. Don’t wait. I currently have three close friends who have been diagnosed with breast cancer during the COVID-19 closures. How scary is that for them, their families, and friends like me. While on my walk this morning, I thought about how important people are in our lives and how empty it can be without our usual social encounters. I remembered when my husband wanted to talk with a close friend who had cancer. Here’s what I wrote about that five years ago when it happened:
Twice this year… It’s happened. We knew a friend was sick. One was 92 years old. The other was 57.
We wanted to tell them how much their friendship meant to us. But when they got sick, they didn’t want to see anyone. You have to respect that.
“I’ll call and talk to him on the phone,” my husband said about our 57-year-old friend. He never reached him by phone.
Yesterday, we heard from his family that he was in hospice. My husband said, “I’ll write him a letter. I’ll tell him how much his friendship meant.” He immediately sat down and wrote the letter. The last time we wrote a letter like this was to our 92-year-old friend. Family members told us it arrived in the mail the day she died. She never had the opportunity to read it.
My husband ran this letter over to the family’s house. Literally ran because the house is around the corner from us. The brother said thank you. The brother thought it would make him feel good to read it. But, he said, he’s not seeing anyone outside of family.
My husband and I went for a walk. We walked and talked about our friend. This life thing is so fragile. We take it for granted sometimes. When I was 21 years old, I walked across a street and got hit by a truck. It made me realize how uncertain life is. A car almost hit us when we crossed the street last night. I screamed out loud. I can’t help it. It’s residue from my encounter with the pick up truck.
Life goes on. You get married, raise kids, drive kids to swim practice, sit on PTA boards, help with homework and have your own work to do. Pretty soon you can forget how fragile life is.
We finished our walk and returned to our house. The letter my husband wrote to his friend was stuck in our gate, unopened. It could only mean one thing.
Make sure you tell the ones you love — I love you while you have the chance.
In today’s COVID-19 world, social media is more important to our children than ever. We need to understand that they need it to keep in contact with friends they can’t see in person. But, we don’t want it to become harmful either.
My daughter seeking a social media pic.
I’ve wondered for years how social media is affecting our teens, and I’m thankful we never had Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat when I was a kid. I’m also glad it wasn’t a thing when my kids were young. I remember MySpace was introduced when my kids were around middle school aged and a few kids in their Catholic school posted provocative pictures. It didn’t go over well, needless to say.
An article in The Baltimore Sun by Andrea K. Mcdaniels called, Parents’ concern: Is social media bad for teenagers? has quite a few experts and studies weighing in. They’ve found good and bad outcomes, but it seems to me the bad ones outweigh the good.
The list of problems with social media includes sleeping problems, depression, anxiety, eating disorders and suicide. Does anyone see a problem with this trend? I’ve written about my concerns about social media and how it affects on kids here.
Have you ever had a relaxing day at the beach and watched young teens posing for that perfect Instagram pic? It’s quite funny to watch from a distance. I mean who goes to the beach with perfect hair and makeup? Not me! I prefer a big hat, a ponytail and a good book, thank you very much.
Where I live, we had a phenomenon called Desert X, a series of outdoor art installations that appeared in the Spring. One I call “The Selfie House” in reality is called “Mirage.” It’s a house installed with mirrors inside and out. It attracts young women dressed in bizarre outfits with friends with the sole purpose of getting a huge volume of social media clicks. The Los Angeles Times wrote about Mirage here.
Here’s a snippet from the article “Parents’ concern: Is social media bad for teenagers?”
“A study published earlier this year by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine with support from the National Institutes of Health found that the more time young adults spent on social media, the more likely they were to have problems sleeping and to experience symptoms of depression.
“Another study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that the incidence of major depressive incidents has increased dramatically among teens, particularly among girls, and that cyber-bullying may be playing a role.
“At American University, researchers found a link between social media use and negative body image, which can lead to eating disorders.”
Mirage, the selfie house. designed for Desert X.
As parents, what can we do to keep tabs on how social media is affecting our kids?
Delay when your kids get smartphones.
Keep an eye on what they’re posting.
Talk to your kids about how social media is creating issues for many kids.
Be involved in your kids’ lives and pick up on cues if things seem off. Maybe social media is behind it.
What suggestions do you have to keep our kids safe from the bad effects of too much social media?
Prior to COVID-19 and the weirdness of today — pre my ski accident and subsequent knee surgery — I wrote about the little things in life that matter the most. These thoughts are important today. What I wouldn’t give to get up and go to practice at 5:30 a.m. or have lunch with a friend. If anything these two months sheltering place have taught me to appreciate what I have and love the most. My family and friends — and pets.
The view from our pool makes me happy.
I’m proud of myself today, because I started off the week with 5:30 a.m. practice. I’ve been trying to get up, half-heartedly I’ll admit, for the past month but the comfort of bed is just too much for me at 5 a.m. An extra hour of sleep usually wins out. But, today I did it. I made it to practice on time, began my workout in the dark and found joy in watching the views of the sunrise and pink-hued mountain change color during my workout.
I find a lot of happiness and excitement in the little things in my days. Our lives are made of small moments strung together and if we spend too much time worrying or focusing on the past or future, we miss the little bits of joy in the present.
Happiness is my daughter with her puppy.
Here’s a list of moments that make me truly happy:
Hearing the birds sing early in the morning.
My fourth flip turn during my second 200 at practice this morning. I nailed it.
Having lunch yesterday with a good friend and spending a few hours catching up with our lives.
Noticing that a family member got their dish off the table, into the sink and miracle of miracles—into the dishwasher.
Olive the cat honoring me with her presence and stretching out for a cat nap while I’m laying on my side. I have to be careful not to move, so she doesn’t fall off.
Olive the cat in our back yard.
My kids calling just to talk. They aren’t asking for anything and there’s nothing big going on.
Sitting under an orange tree in my back yard reading a really good book.
Walking with my husband and marveling at the beauty surrounding us on a weekend morning.
Reading a positive comment on one of my articles.
Checking things off my to-do list and feeling productive.
I like to look back on what I was doing during the same week on another year. This looks so wonderful. I’d love to be sailing in Santa Barbara this week. Instead I’m sheltering in place and it’s 108 degrees outside in Palm Springs. So, looking back at the photos and videos will have to do. Soon, we’ll be back and on that boat with our good friends, I hope.
On the lookout for Humpback Whales.
Sunday was a perfect day for sailing. I went with my daughter, who’s home from college for a short break, and our friends—who own a sailboat. They live near Santa Barbara, and as an Aussie, Rob sails in and out of his slip at the marina, and the first time I went sailing with them, we were in a regatta. So, he’s very good at sailing.
I’m a fair weather sailor. I like a gentle breeze, sunshine, and no waves. The weather was perfect. We watched as 14-footers raced, brightly-colored spinnakers hoisted, gliding over a glossy sea.
A couple of the 14 footers with spinnakers racing by.
Then, we spotted a dolphin. Then tens of dolphins. Soon the boat was sailing with dolphins leaping all around. Several were playing and cruising along the bow. There were dolphins leaping in all directions, tens upon dozens of them everywhere!
Then they slowed down and turned around.
We watched pelicans and gulls dive into the ocean.
Then–the spray of a whale blowing. The broad humped back, then the tail. WOW! We all yelled together. Soon we spotted whale number two. Then three. We were being treated to a pod of humpback whales.
A whale’s tale.
We spent the next several hours on the lookout for whales. After the tail goes straight up the whale dives. It was incredible to hear their loud gasp for air as they filled their lungs with oxygen before their dive. They hold their breath and stay submerged for at at least five to ten minutes. We would wait patiently, scanning the sea for a sign of the blow, and the back breaking the surface.
What a truly amazing day. How sad I was the following day to hear about the oil spill.
Here are more dolphin photos. These are from my friends with the sailboat on a recent sail they had from Santa Barbara to the islands. How I wish I had been there.
Dolphins having fun with the boat.
Two dolphins at the bow. Photo by Debbie Gardiner.
Reflections during sunset at the Santa Barbara marina.
Here are the latest photos from my friends from their June sail to “the islands.” Photos by Debbie Gardiner.