Views from my visitor’s eyes

I had so much fun showing off my new home to my guest this week. I had the company of my sister-in-law to visit thrift shops, consignment stores and an outdoor mall called Scottsdale Quarter. We went out to lunch, had fun sitting around talking until late in the night — (anything past 8 p.m. is late to me!) We hiked, walked and swam in the pool.

We took her to the lake last night. She loved it and said she’s coming back with her husband. They have a boat and spend summer days on a lake.

We watched sunsets and of course the wildlife with our bobcat as the highlight. It was interesting to view my home of nine months through the eyes of someone who has never been here before. It was like seeing it for the first time.

These are the photos she took with her Android. I have an iphone SE and my camera isn’t nearly as good!

Saguaro at Lake Bartlett
Bartlett Lake near our home. My sister-in-law loved the juxtaposition of mountains, saguaros and water.
Lake views in Tonto National Forest
The lake is in the Tonto National Forest. Weekdays hardly anyone is there. The weekends are packed.
Bartlett Lake Arizona
We had a lot of rain in August and the water level looks better.
Sunset view from Raven's View
We went to a wine bar for a light dinner called Raven’s View. This was the sunset view.
Arizona sunset
It was a gorgeous sunset.

What are your favorite things about having guests? Do they stay with you or nearby? Do you like to cook for them? If you do, what do you like to prepare? If not, where do you like to go out?

Coincidence or a blessing?

My kids with my dad pre COVID year.

My dad had surgery this morning. I know he wanted me to be there with him. But, my son asked me first to take care of him because he’s having shoulder surgery. So. I’m leaving to take care of my son. My dad joked that I could come to Palm Desert to take him to surgery and from there fly to San Francisco to take my son to his surgery.

I feel badly that I couldn’t be there for my dad. But I called two of my close friends that he knows who are available for anything he needs in the next few weeks. Plus his neighbor agreed to take him to and from surgery. He said it’s a minor procedure on one finger.

This is where the coincidence happened. I got a text from a fellow mom from my kids’ elementary school days. She said “He’s doing great!” She texted me a photo of a note she wrote to my dad, “Tell Elizabeth hil!”

I felt so reassured! So comforted to know that a good friend who was a nurse was taking care of my dad when I couldn’t be there.

The same thing happened when my husband had shoulder surgery. She was the assigned nurse. When my husband opened his eyes post surgery, he said “What are you doing here?” She had come into the waiting room to reassure me everything had gone well before she led me into the post op room to see my husband.

This has happened more than once. When my dad had surgery on his ankle, I was allowed in the pre-op area. Another good friend, a fellow swim mom who is a devout Christian, was his nurse. She knew my dad from the pool deck, where he was a proud grandfather at all of our kids’ meets.

Then when my son fell off his bike his freshman year of college, he had to come home for surgery. I was so nervous. The anesthesiologist walked in and was a husband of a good friend. Our son had tutored their daughter in high school for math. He said, “I saw his name on the list of incoming patients, so I asked to take his case.”

Playing croquet in our old back yard.

What do you think? Are these coincidences or is something else at work?

About well-meaning friends….

black and white photo of four high school girls in 1978
Me on the left my senior year of high school when I was fearless.

What to think when well-meaning friends tell you something you don’t want to hear, but they think they’re doing it for the best reasons.

This happened to me earlier this week. I was hurt. I cried. I called my daughter and she said my well-meaning friend was coming from a place of kindness. Her intentions were good.

Does that make it okay?

I’ve been mulling this over in my head all week. It’s made me feel angry, insecure, unsure about myself. Unsure about my friendship. It’s made me doubt myself.

I spent time with this friend for the first time of any length in about 15 years. Apparently she saw something in my demeanor or how I carried myself that caused her concern. She didn’t tell me in person, but texted me a day later. She told me to make an appointment with a neurologist. And she didn’t give me a clear idea why, just asked me to do it. I would have appreciated her diagnoses or a precise description of what she saw.

Of course, I’ve changed in the last 15 years. A couple years ago I had a ski accident. My knee has never been the same and although I walk, swim and cycle — I do so tentatively, with pain and instability. Menopause has left me fearful and with bouts of anxiety. Unlike I was prior to the days my friend and I hung out. This past COVID year has knocked the stuffing out of me, too. Am I rationalizing? Am I defending myself for not being the person I was years ago? Yes. I wonder how awful I must have looked or weird or who knows??? I think I just want to hide and cry some more.

Both my kids say her intentions come from concern and just go to the doctor and find out.

view from hike at Lake Pleasant AZ
Hiking in my new state of Arizona at Lake Pleasant.

What are your thoughts of well-meaning friends telling you what you don’t want to hear?

It’s all about the YETI

Yeti cooler "The Roadie."

It’s an especially hot week in Arizona — and in Palm Springs — my old home. I’m talking high teens hot.

We splurged this weekend on two things. We rented a boat for a half-day and bought a new cooler.

view from the boat on Bartlett Lake

View from the boat.

I hadn’t heard about YETI until I was writing an article for a trade magazine about top Christmas gifts at hardware stores. Exciting stuff? Eh. I got paid 🙂

I also learned something new. Everyone I interviewed mentioned YETI as a top seller.

“Can you spell that?” I asked the first time. “Can you tell me what that is?”

Then my son, his girlfriend’s family and my daughter went camping last summer in the Redwoods. My son said he bought a YETI cooler, the Tundra — which is the biggie. His girlfriend’s family are seven adult siblings who are athletes. They eat a lot — especially the youngest who is the only boy and is rowing in college. Hence the need for the largest YETI made.

My son said it was unbelievable — both the redwoods and the cooler. He said his ice lasted the entire trip of three days and all the food stayed cold.

I’ve wanted a YETI since he told me that last summer — the summer of lots of camping with his bubble during the pandemic shutdowns.

We rented the boat and invited new friends who are moving here from Seattle. They asked me if there was water around here and I told them about the lake. They currently live by Lake Washington and love the water. I told them next time they were in town, we’d show them the lake. They’re here visiting and we decided because of the heat and hours in a boat it was time to invest in a YETI.

I sent my son the photo of the new cooler and he gave me instructions on how to use it. He said the secret is to cool it down the night before by putting in a block of dry ice. That wasn’t going to happen, so I used ice from our freezer. He also told me to pack the cooler full, no empty space. So, I’m glad a got “The Roadie” model which is smaller than my son’s. The third secret he told me was to make sure anything I put in the cooler is already cooled. For example, if you put in warm water bottles they will absorb all the energy to get cold. To top off my son’s advice, he sent me a YouTube of how to pack my YETI! You’d think at my age, I wouldn’t need YouTube to pack a cooler! It was actually helpful.

We spent four hours yesterday touring Bartlett Lake by boat, dropping an anchor to dive into the water and cool off. It got unbelievably hot, which meant lot of anchoring and swimming. The YETI cooler was smack in the sun, but the sandwiches, water, veggies, watermelon and dips all stayed ice cold.

view from the back of the boat on Bartlett Lake

It was a beautiful day at the lake with our friends. One day, I hope to repeat the fun when it’s not quite so hot.

What is your favorite way to stay cool in the summer heat?

Reflections on my first trip since COVID

I was uneasy about traveling. My daughter got me a plane ticket for Seattle so I could celebrate Mother’s Day with my 89-year-old mom, who hasn’t been out of her assisted living facility for more than a year. In concept this was a lovely idea and I was so touched that my daughter would think of such a thing.

View from Lake Sammamish boat launch.
View from a park at Lake Sammamish in Washington.

In reality, I was anxious about going to the airport, being in a crowd, getting a rental car and driving on the freeway. You see, I have extreme anxiety driving on freeways and bridges — I avoid them at all costs. Seattle to the East Side is all freeways and bridges. I was dreading it. When I lived in Palm Springs, I didn’t have to drive the freeway at all. I think I got out of practice. I saw a therapist and she told me to practice. She wanted me to get on the freeway and drive to the next exit one day, go a couple more the next. I did the one exit with sweaty palms and sweat pouring down my back. My legs were shaking and I could barely manage the accelerator or brake. That was it for me. There’s been no reason to drive the freeways since.

Back to Seattle, I asked my college best friend to pick me up at the airport and I’d get a rental car closer to my mom’s home. She agreed, because that’s the kind of friend she is. But, I soon found out that I had rented a nonrefundable car at Seatac, the airport. So, I faced my fears and strangely enough, I drove without a hitch. This happens to me whenever I get back home to where I grew up. It’s as though a different part of my brain wakes up and takes over. Also, the drivers in the Seattle area are an entirely different breed than California or Arizona drivers. You put on your turn signal and nobody steps on the gas to cut you off. In fact, they slow down and wave you over!

Ivar's Seafood Bar for Mother's Day chowder and crab cocktails.
Mom at our Mother’s Day Lunch at Ivar’s. We had Dungeness crab cocktails and clam chowder. It was delicious and we went there because all the fancier places were booked.

The other thing that was a show stopper on my trip was my mom! It’s as though she’s getting younger, more fit, and more alert. This COVID year seems to have the reverse effect on her than the general population. I was sitting in her room on my first visit and the activity director knocked on the door and asked if we wanted to join the croquet game. She said, “YES!” This is totally contrary to her usual behavior. Normally, I have to beg her to get out of her recliner and out of her room. I was quite shocked. We are big croquet players in our family, and my mom brags that she is practically a professional. She made her way with her walker outdoors to the croquet court and she played the entire game. I had to help her to each shot, where she slowly got her feet in the right position. She was so engaged and excited to play.

Me and Mom selfie
Mom enjoyed taking a selfie with me.

Each day, I took Mom out. We went for beautiful drives along Lake Sammamish, out to eat and my Aunt Linda joined us after her drive up from Portland, Ore. Here are some of the photos of our highlights of food and scenery:

Lake Sammamish hike
My dear friend told me about a trail that followed Lake Sammamish from my hotel.
Bald eagle in tree along Lake Sammamish
I saw a bald eagle in the trees along one of my walks. It’s kind of fuzzy because I zoomed in.
Flying port a potty
Puts new meaning into the word “Porta-potty.”
Dungeness Towers at the Coho Cafe
My Mom and I had Dungeness Crab Towers for Lunch at the Coho Cafe. My Aunt had fish and chips.
steamed clams with bacon and peppers
I picked up clams at Pike Place Market. My best friend’s husband prepared them with garlic, onions, bell peppers and smoky bacon. He also made crusty garlic bread to dip in the clam nectar.
Mt. Rainier view from plane
Mt. Rainier as I flew out of Seattle. It was a spectacular day driving to the airport with views of the Olympic Mountains and Mt. Rainier.
Farewell Seattle. Good-bye Mom, Aunt Linda and Cindy and Mike. I hope to see you all again soon. It was truly a magical trip.

Positive thought for the day

pink skies at sunset in Arizona
My new back yard as the sun begins to set.

 “With a few flowers in my garden, half a dozen pictures, and some books, I live without envy.”  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.

 

I saw three of these large birds circling overhead this morning. Can anyone tell me what kind of birds they are?

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?

Missing my friend who died too early

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.

friend with my baby girl

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.

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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.

rebecca 1

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 2

Rebecca, her husband Andrew and son Jake plus my kids.