What have your neighbors done for you when you needed help? Do you play that role with any neighbors?
Santa Barbara Harbor
“All right mates! Let’s go.” Rob, an Aussie, called out to us when we parked in front of an apartment complex in Santa Barbara.
We jumped into his car without unloading ours. Off we went to the harbor where he said his wife Debbie was waiting for us on their sailboat.
That’s the first time I met the couple who would become our close friends. It was “BK” before kids — and around 35 years ago. My husband and Rob met on the East Coast training with a large brokerage firm. They had hit it off and decided we all needed to get together once they returned to California.
On the boat, Rob shouted orders like “Skirt the jib!” “Ready about!” or “Trim the main.”
My husband and I were expected to jump in and help, but we didn’t now what to do. Debbie showed us “the ropes” and how to respond to each command.
Years before, I had taken sailing at the University of Washington in college with my brother. We were in a small sailboat and I remember getting hit in the head by the boom. My earrings popped out and a clump of hair ripped out of my head onto the boom as we “came about.” I had a small amount of experience — which was more than my husband had.
We soon learned that this was not a leisurely sail. We found ourself in a Santa Barbara Yacht Club race!
That weekend was the beginning of years of friendship. In the early years, we visited them and stayed in their apartment because they were too busy to visit us. Rob left the brokerage business and they opened a savory Aussie pie shop that sold hand-held pies about the size of hamburgers.
My favorite pies were scallop and cheese, spinach and feta — and best of all — Shepherd’s pie. The pie shop was the first of several entrepreneurial businesses.
I remember one afternoon driving to a beach for a picnic. We got stuck in traffic that wasn’t moving. They pulled off the road and set up a picnic on a red and white checkered tablecloth with smoked oysters, tomatoes, cheese, crackers, and a bottle of “cab sav” in a field dotted with cows in the far off distance.
Time spent with Rob and Debbie is always an adventure. I can’t wait to see them in August on our vacation.
My husband and me on our friends’ sailboat decades after meeting them.
Rob at the tiller with Debbie.
Fred and Honey, our friends’ Galahs. Rob had to give up his Australian citizenship to bring them to the U.S.
How did you meet your close friends from decades ago? Do you stay in touch today?
My toddler daughter at Aliso Beach in Laguna, California.
My daughter called and asked me about a letter from her best friend that I never gave her. I had forgotten all about it. But wouldn’t you know, my husband on a separate phone call with her, brought it up.
“Why would your dad say anything about the letter?” I asked instantly upset.
“Mom, I’m 27 years old. I can handle it.”
At the time of the letter, my daughter was 13 years old. My daughter and her best friend had been together since birth. We (my friend and I) helped each other out with our second children by taking turns having them together several times a week. That gave one of us time to clean, shop or sleep! The older siblings were in half-day preschool.
I homeschooled our daughter sixth through eighth grade when our son began high school. Our daughter’s best friend was at a public middle school and we agreed to pick her up once a week while her mom was at work.
The plan was to have a craft or art project each Wednesday. Sometimes my daughter wanted to hang out with her best friend and not have a designated project. I thought everything was peachy when my friend said she had a letter to drop off from her daughter to mine.
She told me to read the letter before I gave it to my daughter. I was shocked. My daughter’s best friend was ending their friendship and said she was promised an art project on Wednesdays. She hoped my daughter would understand if they saw each other that she wouldn’t speak to her. She was never speaking to her again. I can’t remember exactly what else was in the letter, but it was mean and there was no way I’d let my daughter read that letter and be hurt.
I threw the letter away.
Of course my daughter wanted to know why Wednesdays were off and why she wasn’t going to her best friend’s house on Saturday, or having her over to our house.
I explained as best I could that her friend was going through some troubling times and to be patient and things would go back to normal. There were three major upheavals in the girl’s life that she was struggling through that I won’t share. But they were major and beyond what I thought my daughter needed to learn about at the time. I do think this rejection from her best friend without explanation has affected my daughter’s relationships today.
Their friendship was never the same again, although later in life they became civil.
Question. Would you have given the letter to your daughter or thrown it away like I did? Why or why not?
My new view while I work. This is the courtyard at the entrance to our house.
We are having houseguests for six nights beginning this weekend. My friend who moved from my Palm Springs neighborhood to less than a mile from us in Arizona is having a birthday party. She has four children who went to the same school with my two kids — K through high school. Although none of our kids were in the same class, they were like stepping stones, my two fitting neatly between her four.
These days there are a few spouses involved and she doesn’t have room for everyone — so I offered our two empty bedrooms. She took me up on it. I decided to get started de-catifying and cleaning Wednesday and not wait until a few hours before they arrive.
My refuge and work space is in our casita. Although I set up an office for myself in what was supposed to be the formal dining room, I’ve never used it — except the bookcase and to file paperwork. I have never sat at my desk and worked.
We knew right away that we didn’t need a formal dining room. We’ve never had one. I didn’t have one growing up, either. We’ve always had a table off the kitchen. We aren’t formal dining folks.
This is our dining room table and chairs that we moved from Palm Springs. I love the tree stump base. We acquired the table in the early 1990s when we bought our Palm Springs home. The prior owners of that house left it and it’s been our dining room table ever since.
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My husband works remotely and he is on the phone all day long — and he’s LOUD. The formal dining room/office is too close to his office and I can’t focus.
I found a work around. Headphones. I’m sitting at my desk in my office with headphones on listening to music and podcasts in the background as I write. It’s working.
It felt like moving again to get all my stuff out of the casita. I can’t believe what I squirreled away including snacks, books and papers.
At first I felt out of sorts working at my real desk, but I’ve decided it gives me a new outlook. A new perspective to my day. There’s also no sofa and TV to tempt me.
What is your work space like? Where is your favorite place to write and read?
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?
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.
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?
A photo I found online on Flipboard of Montecito, a small wealthy town next to Santa Barbara.
We picked up my friend at the airport, showed her our new house and the two little towns by us. Fortunately I had planned on a good dinner of grilled tri tip, corn on the cob, salad and mashed potatoes. I don’t normally cook that much, but I had found a tri tip on sale and the corn looked good!
She planned a good day to get stranded at the airport, since I was cooking. The next morning she had a flight and we dropped her off at Sky Harbor airport. She is home safely now.
We were busy last night looking at the news from Santa Barbara County. Montecito especially got hit hard and was entirely evacuated. It was five years to the day that 100 homes were destroyed and many lives lost. I remember my Physical Therapist telling me a doctor she used to work with had half his house swept away and he lost a child to a raging mud and rock slide.
This year, there were videos of Ellen and Harry and Meghan getting rained on. Five years ago, Oprah posted a video mucking around in her backyard.
I think about what a gorgeous town Montecito is, but also that it gets hard hit by floods and fires.
Another place, like my old home Palm Springs, that is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.
Where is a place you like to visit, but wouldn’t want to live there?
Montecito Creek image from Yahoo News.