Happy Labor Day!

cat on a leash in the desert
Olive doesn’t look too happy, but she has been enjoying the smells, sounds and sights.

I don’t remember much about celebrating Labor Day as a kid — except It was the end of summer and school would start the next day. So, I probably did the usual things I did in the summer. I’d lie on my back on the lawn and stare at the clouds slowly passing. Ride my bike. Read. Watch TV. Labor Day was an ordinary day. Those ordinary days sound like sheer bliss.

Today I went for a walk with my husband. Then I had quiet time with kitty. She’s getting used to me putting on her harness and leash. The first two times I tried it she ran and hid from me for about 24 hours. Now, we sit outside for 15 to 20 minutes and listen and watch. She sits on my lap or I place her on a bench with a low wall where she can watch the quail and butterflies. When she was an outdoor cat in California, she would always prefer to sit along a wall. It kept her safe from the dive bombing mockingbirds.

I’m liking this quiet time, too. I makes me stop with the screens, books, etc. and just sit and reflect enjoying nature.

What do you like to do on Labor Day? Did you have any traditional celebrations or meals?

Reflections on a Happy New Year’s Eve Adventure

December 31, 2017. This was a day when memories were made with my son. We made a promise that day to ski together once a year, until we could no longer do it. Unfortunately, that was the last day we ever skied together.

sunrise in Salt Lake City

This was our view leaving the day for our New Year’s Eve ski adventure.

View from Brighton ski slopes

The view from the top of the mountain.

After not skiing for about a decade, guess what? I can still do it and it’s not that bad! Yesterday we hauled our equipment into our friends’ Sequoia under a gorgeous pink sky. Driving to Brighton from Salt Lake City was filled with the most breathtaking views. Once we reached the top of the mountain, I was stunned. I listened to the “oohs and ahhs” of other skiers getting off the chairlift, who experienced the view for the first time like me. I didn’t stop to take a bunch of pictures, and the one I did had my thumb across the bottom, but the iPhone wouldn’t do it justice anyway. I have those spectacular views embedded in my mind’s eye.

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My son and me taking a ski selfie.

I felt a bit wobbly at first, as did my son, but soon we got up to speed and our skis were like old friends we’ve lost touch with but when you get together again, it’s like no time has lapsed. We skied most of the day with our friend from Santa Barbara and raced down the slopes maybe not like pros, but better than I anticipated. After not skiing for so many years, it felt amazing. For some silly reason, I had decided I was too old and that my ski days were behind me. When I was younger–before I was a wife, mother or a writer–I was a skier, sort of like how my daughter identifies as a swimmer. Giving it up, was like letting go of a small piece of my personality. It turns out I’m still a decent skier and my son and I have made a pact to ski together every year—as long as we can.

Rather than teaching my son’s girlfriend how to ski for her first time, we decided that she should enroll in a learner’s class. I think that was the best idea because I know how hard the first day of skiing can be for adults. We may have saved their relationship!

Today, I’m especially sore. Yikes, I do not remember this feeling from decades ago!

Two days ago, I really stepped out of my comfort zone and impulsively rented Nordic skis with my girlfriend. With all my downhill skiing days, I didn’t know there were Nordic centers where you can rent equipment, buy a pass and have trails to follow. It was awkward until I settled in and let go of my nerves. Then it became rhythmic and restful, all the time breathing the fresh outdoor air. It reminded me of swimming freestyle with the breathing patterns, alternating limbs and physicality. They’re very similar.

I think cross country skiing is something I’d like to do more of. It’s less exhilarating than downhill skiing, but it’s more peaceful and quiet. I love downhill skiing too and am so glad to have more days of skiing ahead.

Nordic ski center in Utah

Tracks at the Nordic Center.

How are you starting off your New Year? Have you ever returned to an activity you gave up years ago? 

That was a question for New Year’s Eve 2017. Not 2020. Now for the bad ending to the adventure, which was so 2020. Read it here.

 

What I’m grateful for in 2020

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A saguaro cactus I pass on my morning walk.

We can all agree this year was crazy. I hear over and over how people wish to leave 2020 in the dust and welcome in 2021. While I was on my morning walk today, I looked back on what this COVID year brought us that was good. Was there anything to be grateful for?

There were a few things. Mightily few. But here’s my list:

ONE

My daughter came home when the Bay Area went on lockdown. She had just moved into a new apartment and didn’t know her roommates. She felt uncomfortable being locked down with strangers. We thought it would be for three weeks — that’s what we Californians were told. She ended up working from our guest room remotely for several months before getting furloughed, rehired and then permanently let go. During the time she was home, we played tennis in the park, walked with Waffles the pug, swam with a bungee cord and played Smashball in the backyard pool. We ordered take out from all our favorite restaurants. We got to spend an extended time with our adult daughter — and that would never have happened without COVID-19.

TWO

My husband has worked remotely since March. We don’t know when his office will reopen. Although at times it got on my nerves to have him home 24/7 there are some benefits, too. We are closer than ever. We count on each other like never before. We were able to test the housing market and put our house up for sale. It sold above asking price in three hours — due to people fleeing the cities for more space because of COVID and working from home. We made the big move to another state and have a whole new outlook and view of life each day.

THREE

My friendships grew during this time of lockdown and not being able to hang out. I have four friends who were diagnosed with cancer during the pandemic. All are surviving although it’s one heck of a time to go through surgeries, chemo and radiation. I’m thankful for all my friends, their health and this tough time made me realize how important they are. I love them and continue to pray for their health and recovery.

Sunrise colors over swimming pool

Watching the sunrise in my backyard is a daily event.

What are you grateful for during the terrible awful year called 2020?

 

 

 

Third time is a charm?

desert view

Views from my neighborhood.

Today I will get my driver’s license in Arizona. I hope. You see, this will be my third trip to the DMV, although it’s not called that here. That’s what we call it in California.

My first try and getting a license and getting the cars registered in AZ was online. I finally figured out after clicking away through the websites that I had to get on the phone to make an appointment as a new Arizona resident.

I was on hold for 35 minutes to make an appointment when I finally talked to a human being. He was very helpful and made an appointment for both me and my husband. Then he said, “Now, let me go through the list of everything you will need to bring with you.” The line went dead.

So, I thought, how hard can this be? The website said you need to have a valid driver’s license from another state to skip the driving and written tests. I also got out the titles to our cars and insurance cards.

Off to the DMV and our appointments. First thing we were asked if we brought our passports or birth certificates. Nope. They couldn’t let us get driver’s licenses without them. They also asked for our Social Security cards, which we don’t have.The last time I’ve seen mine was in high school!  We were told a W-2 or 1099 would suffice if it showed our social security number. (I get a 1099 for writing and it only shows the last four digits of my social security number. UGH!)

In addition to all that, they wanted two proofs of our address. Huh? We have been here a little over a week and haven’t gotten mail yet!

Somehow, I managed to get all the documents together. I even found a W-2 from a Class Action lawsuit settlement that had my Social on it. Whew! I decided to order a replacement Social Security Card online just to be safe. (The Social Security website couldn’t verify me, by the way, so that was a failure, too.)

Next day, we went back to the DMV with ALL the required paperwork. They took my husband’s photo and then asked me for my driver’s license and then they’d take my photo. I looked in my wallet and it was missing! I started to panic, wondering where could I have left it? Was it at the Apple store the day before where I handed it over so I could pick up my order? YIKES.

Then I remembered. I had pulled my driver’s license out of my wallet while I tried to order my replacement Social Security card. So, I made an appointment for today, Christmas Eve. Will the third time be the charm?

Cactus Arizona sunset

Sunset in the neighborhood.

Merry Christmas! Stay safe and healthy!

Take time to breathe!

I wrote this two years ago — well before the Pandemic days. Back then we had a crowd for Christmas and lots of activities to fill our days. We won’t be hosting my children, dad, and my son’s girlfriend’s family for Christmas. His girlfriend’s family includes seven siblings and mom. The two years they stayed with us were amazing.

This year, I am moving out of state and out of our home of 28 years. So, although we aren’t social butterflies, I am still busier than I’d like. I’m reminding myself TAKE TIME TO BREATHE.

Infant and toddler Christmas photo

My children’s first Christmas picture together.

It’s that time of year and feeling festive, I agreed to go to more events than normal. But while I’m bouncing from event to event, I’m stressed thinking of all the work I have at home to do.

Last night I was downtown for the Palm Springs Walk of the Inns and the Palm Springs Woman’s Club. I baked a double batch of snickerdoodles for the bake sale for the PSWC. Today I’m off to a luncheon fashion show with a friend at Wally’s. But, I really have so much stuff to do around the house to get ready for Christmas.

I have to find a tree! I have to clean out my kids’ rooms for the guests (We invited my son’s girlfriend and her family to stay with us Christmas week.) I have to meal plan and grocery shop and yeah — shop for presents, too. So many to dos are filling my lists. It’s freaking me out a bit.

The entire tree thing seems too much. There’s a tree seller down the street and during an evening walk, my husband and I stopped by to look. I only want a little tree, nothing stupendous. Just a four-footer or so. I just about choked when I saw the price tag on the smallest tree on the lot — $225! I remember when I’d pick up a tree in front of the grocery store for $30. I’ve been against fake trees on principle all these years. But, I think those principles are now telling me that it’s a crime to buy a real tree and pay a small fortune just to have the garbage man haul it off in a couple weeks. It seems so wasteful to destroy a tree, too, for a few week’s pleasure.

Balachine Nutcracker bunny

My son in the Palm Springs Christmas Lights parade in the Nutcracker Sleigh next to the Sugar Plum Fairy (pink tutu).

 

One funny story about the Christmas tree lot near our house: I remember when my kids were young and one night we walked there to pick out a tree. My husband carried our toddler son on his shoulders. I was pushing the stroller with our infant daughter while holding on to our Rottie’s leash. We walked the few blocks to the tree lot and began walking in an out of the rows of trees. Something jumped out from under one of the trees — scaring me to death! It was Sherman our black cat! I guess he couldn’t stand being left out. I had to walk back to the house with baby and dog in tow, herding the cat home, too!

Now with my busy schedule on my mind, it’s my saving grace to take time for myself. I’m grounded with my morning routine of walking, praying and writing. I am forcing myself to swim at noon Masters a couple days a week. And then I find a moment to sit in the back yard, close my eyes, listen to the birds and breathe.Toddler son and infant daughter's first Christmas photo

What’s your secret for staying calm through all the Holiday fun activities and things you have to do?

What a week it was!

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Waffles at the park. Some unknown person decorated park benches.

What a whirlwind week we had for Christmas. It was fun, but I’m exhausted. We had our second annual Christmas with my son’s girlfriend’s family. We are a family of four and they are a family of nine, plus my dad. Looking back on the past few days, I did a lot of cooking and dishes. It’s a good thing I like to cook — and I don’t mind cleaning up!

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Some of the fun stats from our week included the food we went through:

7 dozen eggs

6 dozen Honeycrisp apples

1 full-size prime rib

2 hams

8 packages of oxtails for soup

8 packages of sweet Italian sausages for sausage and peppers

1 giant pot of split pea soup

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We also enjoyed my son’s charcuterie and veggie platters before each dinner.

I can’t say how much fun it is to be around an energetic, athletic, intelligent and musically-talented family. I’m inspired and in awe. Also, I was amazed to see how well everyone got along — all the time. Coming from a small family, I feel like I missed out on something by having only one sibling.

I will admit as much fun as the past week was, I’m glad to have my quiet and solitude. I’m ready to start the New Year and get back to my work.

On Christmas Eve, we were treated to a viola concert by two of the siblings who are professional musicians. Although the lighting is terrible, here’s a snippet:

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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Waffles in his Christmas sweater.

What are your thoughts about family togetherness for the holidays?

Santa in the park for the dogs

 

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The view from our park.

Our neighborhood park is an integral part of my life. I take at least one walk around the park every day, enjoying the gorgeous views of Mt. San Jacinto. I’ve walked countless miles around the park for years.

When the kids were young, I’d meet several other moms at the park and we’d sit on blankets on the grass while we watched our kids swing, climb and slide. The park is where we’d go when our kids would get some sort of flying gift like a simple glider, kite or a remote control plane or rocket. When the kids had friends over, they’d go to the park to play ultimate frisbee.

Two years ago on Christmas break my daughter was home with her 16-month-old pug Waffles. It was during that break that I learned something new about our park. It’s a great place to meet other dog owners. In fact, we found a group who gather in the afternoons and let their little dogs play together. Waffles, who is not at all shy, was trying to take over the group and loves chasing and being chased.

 

I’m not sure he’s all that welcome in this exclusive club, except by the two lady pugs, Mona and Sadie. The highlight yesterday was a surprise visit by Santa. Waffles, who thinks he’s a media star, thought all the pictures with Santa should include him. My daughter had to pull him out of other puppy pics more than once.

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Waffles with Santa at the park.

This year, my daughter and pug are home again for Christmas. I’ve been walking Waffles to the park early in the morning to play with some big dogs and meeting up with the 4 p.m. little dog group, too. The people are friendly but without having a dog in tow, I rarely stop to say hi. This week, I get to be in their exclusive group have have been invited in their circle.

Today, I discovered someone decorated our park with style! They covered three park benches with Christmas joy. Nobody knows who is responsible, but we all appreciate it.

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I’m grateful for our park and the daily joy it gives me.

Do you have a special outdoor place in your life?