When Things Go Bump In the Night

patio with pool

This is the chair we found laying folded up on the patio.

Have you ever heard things go bump in the night? Last night I woke up at 2 a.m. to a loud crash. I heard other noises, too. I stayed up until 4 a.m. listening. Listening for more noises. I heard more. I wondered if I had locked the door to the casita? The front door? The sliders to the patio?

I didn’t dare get up to check it out. My husband slept next to me, soundly. I shouldn’t let my imagination take over in the middle of the night, I thought. No, Marco, our homeless man who slept in our yard most certainly didn’t follow us from California to Arizona, right?

Another thing niggled at my brain. Returning from the grocery store yesterday afternoon, I parked the car in the garage. While I was unloading my grocery bags, I heard the sound of someone bringing up the recycling bin from the curb up our driveway. It was recycling day, after all. And the garbage truck must have come by while I was at the store.

I hit the garage remote and lowered the electronic garage door, shutting myself inside. The noise of someone dragging the bin up the driveway stopped. I convinced myself that it must have been the next door neighbor returning his recycling bin to his own home.

At sunset my husband and I left the house to walk down the street for our evening show of  brightly colored pink and red skies highlighting silhouettes of saguaros. I stopped noticing the recycling bin outside the garage catawampus, not put away where the trash cans belong.

“Bill, why did you leave the trash bin out here?” I asked. “I heard you dragging it up the driveway when I pulled into the garage.”

“I never touched it,” he said. “Who would do this?”

Hmmm. While I listened for strange noises going bump in the night, my mind drifted to the strange thing with the trash. Was a neighbor doing us a favor? I don’t think so. I mean have you ever heard of someone returning your trash bins from the curb to your house?

First thing this morning, feeling very tired, I looked out into the backyard. The patio chair was folded up on the ground. My husband noticed it, too. I asked him if he had accidentally knocked it over when he cleaned the barbecue after our grilling burgers last night. Nope. He did not.

Maybe it was a bobcat, coyote, or a human? But I know for a fact that it wasn’t a bobcat or a coyote who brought our trash can up the driveway.

Arizona sunset saguaro

The incredible sunset view at the end of our street.

Have you heard strange noises go bump in the night? What caused the noises? Also, has a neighbor ever taken care of your trash cans for you without you asking?

Do New Year’s Resolutions Work?

This year, I’ve decided to not make New Year’s Resolutions. It’s not that they haven’t worked for me in the past, so long as I kept them small and not overwhelming. I view New Year’s Resolutions as a “don’t do this list” rather than “try something new.” Although that’s not totally accurate, it’s how I’m looking at it for 2021. Here’s the difference between resolutions and goals I found online:

Essentially, a resolution is something you will constantly be working toward, while a goal is specific and finite. Resolutions are made up of goals. While there is a difference between goals and resolutions, they are relevant and intertwined.


What’s the Difference Between Goals and Resolutions …

quail on patio

These entertaining guys hang outside my office.

I’ve decided that I’d rather make a list of goals, not resolutions. Mostly it’s learning new things, seeing new places. In my new home, I want to learn about the birds I’m seeing, the plants, the trails and mountains.

hiking trail Cave Creek AZ

One of our first hikes in AZ at Cave Creek Regional Park.

So, a few of my goals — besides getting my house unpacked and in order — are:

  1. Start birdwatching — I already put a bird feeder in the backyard.
  2. Learn about saguaro cactus and other species of native plants.
  3. Hike on a new trail each week.
  4. Experience more sunrises and sunsets.
  5. Explore areas like the Grand Canyon and Sedona.
  6. Take a photography class online.
  7. Sketch or paint some of my new scenery.
  8. Begin a new manuscript, in a genre new to me.
    sunset in AZ desert

    The sunset from our street.

    Do you have a list of New Year’s Resolutions or goals to share?

Thoughts on Leaving California

archway gate Olive the cat sitting at our gate.

Did you know there is a private Facebook group called Leaving California? I’m not sure how I ran across it, but before we made the move, I signed up. I was surprised to find out there are more than 30,000 members!

Scrolling through the posts made me feel sad in the beginning. I wasn’t convinced I wanted to leave. I loved our home downtown Palm Springs. We were two blocks from restaurants, shops and our views were breathtaking.

To add to my uncertainty, my “adult children” were beyond furious. That was the only home they’ve known prior to moving away for college and their adult lives. They both believe we made the biggest mistake in our lives by selling our home. It does have “location, location, location.” It is beautiful. But it also had its downsides. It was rustic without many modern amenities like closet space or a roomy kitchen. I was always freezing and my fingers went numb. It was big on charm, though. It was also big on expense. For some reason — partly because it’s located in California and also that it was built in the 1930s — it was terribly expensive to keep up.

birthday party for dog My kids celebrating a birthday with Natasha our rottie years ago in the family home.

The kids were so angry with us that they didn’t speak to my husband or me for a bit. This made me more sad. We invited them to come home to say good-by. We also asked the buyers if we could stay for one last Christmas. They said, sure, no problem — $8,000 and Christmas was ours. We passed and decided to bite the bullet. We left our home close to 30 days of selling.

I bring this up about my kids because I noticed this week on the Facebook Leaving California page, that a lot of people are going through the same thing with their adult children. The latest post garnered close to 400 comments. Most said “Tell them to buy it if they want it.” Others were a little more understanding to the kids’ feelings.

prom photos in backyard We celebrated several proms with photos in our back yard.

I understand how my kids feel. My mom had to sell our childhood home, which was gorgeous with stunning views, too. Unfortunately, she had to sell after she and my dad divorced and she could no longer afford the expenses. I can tell you, that was an extremely upsetting way to lose my childhood home — and my nuclear family. I felt like my world turned upside down and there was no gravity to keep me on the planet.

My husband felt our kids were acting spoiled. They weren’t entitled to the house. He said he’d been working since age 13 and didn’t want to work until the day he died to pay to live in our home. Although, he’s still working now in our new home, there will come a day in a couple years where he won’t have to.

My kids are coming to accept our new reality. I’m looking forward to COVID-19 vaccines and their visits to our new home. I can’t wait to show them the hiking trails we’re discovering, the quail running through our backyard and the sunsets and sunrises.

Nothing can take away all the great memories we had of 28 years living there. I truly believe that home is not a structure, but is with the people who love you.

view of gorgeous Palm Springs backyard Our backyard in Palm Springs.

What are your thoughts about selling a childhood home? Would your kids understand? How did you feel when your parents did the same?

 

 

Getting down to the nitty gritty

The first few days after moving were filled with the basics — finding all our kitchen things and getting the heart of our home established. After that, we moved onto the bedroom. I was overwhelmed with wardrobe boxes and bins of clothes. Why did I have so many clothes and why did I move it all from California to Arizona? How many swim t-shirts does one need? I’ve already sewn several quilts out of them for my kids. What to do now? I found a home for some and took a bunch of clothes to the local Kiwanis market.

cat on a closet shelf

Olive Bear found a safe space inside our closet.

Now that we’ve been in our house for 18 days, I’m down to the nitty gritty. Our guest room still has unopened boxes labeled “photos,” “stuff in frames” and “photo albums.” The plan is to scan in photos I want to keep and throw the rest out.

I’ve filled the dresser in the guest room with stuff I don’t know what to do with. There’s a drawer filled with cords from HMD1 to extension cords and cords of no known use. The same dresser drawer was filled with these cords in my son’s room in California. I think today is the day to make some decisions on cords I need and can use. Or, I can just throw the whole mess out and not waste my time.

The question is why did I move a mess of stuff I have no use for, but cannot part with? And why can’t I? Maybe today is the day.

saguaro cactus

Morning walk views of saguaro.

Any suggestions on how to get rid of stuff I don’t have a place for is much appreciated.

What I’m grateful for in 2020

Saguaro profile in desert

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!

Letting go…of stuff and more stuff

desert view

Views from my neighborhood.

Yesterday I had a breakthrough moment. During the endless hours of unpacking boxes, I realized I could let go of stuff. Lots of stuff. We are setting up our new home in Arizona after escaping the high cost of living in California. This wasn’t easy because my husband is third generation and I’ve lived in CA for 36 years after leaving my home state of Washington.

I got rid of sweatshirts that I’ve had for years, including ones from my kids momentous swim meets and a trip to Ireland. My biggest breakthrough was letting go of my DVD player and hundreds of DVDs and VHS tapes. I called my daughter and asked her if she minded. We have the complete Seinfeld and I Love Lucy DVDs. She looked it up and they are all on Hulu. “Let them go,” she said.

I had second thoughts of tossing my videos from ultrasounds of my babies in the womb. But, I haven’t looked at them in twenty plus years. There are also Nutcrackers when my son and I performed, plus underwater swim videos of my kids at USC swim camp. But I tossed them all. After all, I don’t have a VHS player and forgot all about these tapes.

I texted my son and asked if I could toss a stack of awards he had from St. Theresa’s, his elementary and middle school. “Please!” he texted back.

I’ve put away plenty of things that we need and will make life comfortable. Then I looked at all the boxes and wondered how will cluttering up a new house going to feel? Today, I’m elated I could finally let go. I’ve got more to toss today and tomorrow. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted and I feel 20 pounds lighter.

The view of quail from the Casita window this morning. Earlier, I watched a huge coyote stop outside the fence and we stared at each other for a few minutes.

 

Do you still own DVDs and VHS tapes? If you do, do you ever watch them? Do you have trouble letting stuff go?