Out of sorts…

Desert Views in Maricopa County
View from Cave Creek Road.

Everything and everyone is irritating me today. I think it’s a mixture of one part grieving and two parts too many interruptions. I have had more than a week straight of guests, visits with friends, preparing meals for guests. I just want to get back to my normal, quiet life.

Yesterday was a day of constant interruptions. Have you ever had one of those days where the phone rings nonstop? And people in your house need your attention while you’re on the phone? That’s what yesterday was like for me. And I have this extra long list of things to do before tomorrow when our new friends come for the funeral. But I keep getting pulled away from my list, so I feel out of control. I’d like to sit outside and finish my book — or go back to bed and start the day over.

I’m trying to print something out for my husband, who just interrupted me. Paper jam. Go figure.

I have to be very careful today. I do not want to act irrationally or snap at my husband. Everybody is getting on my nerves. I can say it’s a good thing my dad returned home to Palm Springs yesterday. I think when my house is empty, when the funeral is over, I can exhale and decompress.

I think my aggro mood is rooted in the death of our best friend and not having the space, quiet and time to grieve.

Have you ever had an “out of sorts” sort of day? How do you handle it?

Views from last week

Sunset in Arizona desert
Sunset from our driveway last week.

I am going to have a busy week writing and hosting my dad and friends for Thanksgiving. I get anxious thinking about it. I’m in the thick of getting the house ready. This will be the first time my dad will see our new home and stay with us. Tonight we have friends from our Palm Springs swim team coming over. We agreed to go out for a casual dinner, since I have the big feast ahead of me. I’m excited to see them, because it’s been years since we were swim parents volunteering together. We’re going to the ASU vs. UA football game together on Saturday, too.

For Thanksgiving, I am cooking the whole works for me, my husband and dad. That’s seem a bit much doesn’t it? I called our friends who moved from Palm Springs to one mile away and asked if they had plans. I’m excited to say our ex-pat Californians will be joining us.

Here are some of the highlights from last week, when I thought I was busy — but compared to this week, not really.

Sundial Center in Carefree with a Christmas tree
I spotted a Christmas tree across from the post office on Easy Street in Carefree. I love the name.
Christmas tree in Carefree city center.
cat sitting on fireplace hearth
Olive found a new place to hang out. My daughter absolutely hates the stacked stone fireplace in our new house. I can live with it and Olive seems to like it.
Sonoran desert sunset
Another night, another sunset

What are your plans for Thanksgiving? Are you getting together with friends and family this year? Are you cooking?

I honestly can’t remember what we did last year because we were in escrow to sell one house and buy another and I was packing for my first move in 28 years.

FYI, today I hit this milestone:

NaNoWriMo update. Badge for 40,000 words!

Who knew there is a right way to drink coffee?

brown liquid pouring on black and white ceramic mug selective color photography
Photo by Lood Goosen on Pexels.com

Every morning, my husband brings me coffee in bed. He gets up hours earlier than I do. Around the time I wake up, he’ll bring a cup of coffee to my nightstand. Sometimes I’m still asleep and it’s sitting there ready for me when I open my eyes.

According to an article he texted me, we are doing this all wrong. From CNBC’s You’re drinking your coffee wrong—these 3 tricks can boost your productivity, experts say, reporter Morgan Smith explains how to maximize your morning caffeine.

She has three tips on how to drink coffee and the first one applies to me. You are supposed to wait to drink your coffee. You’re not supposed to have it first thing.

Management and behavioral science expert Daniel Pink has examined the science of timing and how it can affect our productivity. In his book “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing,” Pink notes, based on research from several studies, that the best time to have your first cup of coffee is about 60-90 minutes after you wake up. That’s because caffeine interferes with the production of cortisol, the hormone that signals your body to be awake and responsive. According to this research, cortisol levels usually peak around 8:30 a.m. 

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/11/16/how-to-maximize-your-coffee-habit-to-be-more-productive-experts.html?__source=iosappshare%7Ccom.apple.UIKit.activity.Message

Her other two tips are selecting the right ingredients and drinking coffee before a nap. First of all, I don’t nap. Second, I like my ingredients just fine. I like the coffee I like. Also, I like my coffee in bed and think it’s sweet my husband has done that for our entire marriage. But, today I wrote my three pages, walked and came back to make my own coffee. I’ll let you know if my caffeine is working better or not. So far, it just makes me a little bit sad.

Do you like to drink coffee or tea first thing in the morning or do you wait for your first cup? If you only drink one or two cups of coffee per day, what effect do you think timing has on caffeine?

From playdates to playgroup, let the kids play


I wrote the following post my first year of blogging. I’m reposting it today because my NaNoWriMo novel is based on it. My project is called “The Playgroup” and is loosely based on the moms with their young children. In our neighborhood, my kids were the only kids. That’s true for most of Palm Springs neighborhoods. We had to arrange playdates before the kids were school-age if they wanted to play with other kids. One mom started what she called the playgroup and it was an honor to be invited to her exclusive group.

Toddler boy playing with a hose.
My son playing with a hose in the backyard.

When I was a child, I played in and out of neighbors’ backyards, rode bikes from dawn to dusk — with no adults bothering me.

When I had kids, they didn’t have that freedom. One reason was the lack of kids living around us. Another reason was a child in a nearby town had been kidnapped from his front yard and his body found 10 days later. That terrified the moms in our area for years.

I went to Mommy and Me class with my son at the Palm Springs Pavilion. A teacher, Miss Stacey, taught us to sing songs together and play “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “I’m a Little Teapot” with a dozen other moms and babies that apparently needed the coaching.  Each week, we took turns bringing snacks of grapes or string cheese. I look back at this as a training ground for the proverbial playdate.

images

Our playdates developed from the Mommy and Me group. We had a park day, which was fun and healthy. Moms sat together on quilts on the grass and talked for hours while our kids played on the now-banned steel playground equipment — a super tall, steep slide, a merry-go-round, and a stagecoach that they could climb into, on top of and jump off. Sometime during our kids’ early childhood, our city tore out the dated, dangerous equipment and put in a rubber ground and safe equipment. The kids never liked to play on the brightly-colored equipment and our park playdates vanished.

One day, I got a phone call from a friend. She homeschooled her daughter and was handpicking her friends for a weekly Friday playgroup. She hired a teacher to run playgroup, and each week included a lesson, a theme, craft and snack, followed by 10 minutes of supervised play on her backyard swing set. The moms were not welcome to hang out and socialize.

I felt honored my kids were in the select group. Months later, the mom who had playgroup took me to lunch and told me she had some “big news.” She was uninviting one of the boys. I hardly saw this is earth shattering, but perhaps there was more to this luncheon. Maybe it was a warning!

Years later, when my kids were in high school, they reconnected with friends from playgroup. They remembered it as if they were fellow Mouseketeers having survived a bizarre childhood experience.

When my daughter was in 7th and 8th grade, we homeschooled. Every Wednesday, I picked up her best friend from school, and brought her to my house to play until her mom got off work. This was another sort of playdate. We moms thought it was an ideal way to keep their friendship going. Since my daughter loved arts and crafts — homeschooling allowed her to try ceramics, mosaics, and quilting. I said that the two girls could do an art project each week.


But that didn’t happen. I was tired from supervising my daughter’s schooling by the time afternoon came and my daughter just wanted to hang out with her friend. So, I retired to my room and left them alone. After a few weeks, the friend didn’t want to come over anymore. She said she was promised an art activity and she was disappointed that they weren’t doing any.

Happy child at the beach.
My daughter during a camping trip at the beach.

That made me think about our kids and their overly structured lives. I love having quiet time. I hope my kids do, too. We need to unplug, unschedule, and let our kids regain their creativity and inner peace. They need us to leave them alone and let them be kids.

How was your childhood different from your children’s young lives? Did you have to arrange playdates so they could play or did they have friends who lived close by?

The end of solitude

My husband and kids giving their Adams family look while visiting our daughter for a swim meet in college.

My quiet weekend alone ended in a flurry of phone calls Sunday afternoon, causing my anxiety to escalate. Poof! I lost the sense of peace just like that.

I was getting inundated with calls from my daughter, my husband, my son and two close friends. From my end, I felt like everybody was venting to me. My daughter was upset with my husband. My husband didn’t understand why our daughter was angry and crying. I wasn’t there so I felt helpless but wanted everyone to be happy.

Then my husband called again and said our daughter took him to the airport, but he was worried about the kids returning the U-haul. He didn’t have the time to do it himself before his flight home. He said the U-haul was difficult to drive, had poor visibility and that it had to be returned quite a distance away on the freeway.

So I took that burden of worry, too. I waited anxiously to hear that the kids returned it and were safely back in their homes.

I juggled with an onslaught of calls. Hanging up on one person to answer the call of another. Calling the person back that I hung up on, so they weren’t offended.

I was looking at news stories on my laptop and read there was a bomb threat and the campus had been evacuated where my son’s girlfriend’s brother was at school. I called my son to let him know. There were three campuses with bomb threats yesterday. Reading the news definitely wasn’t helping me.

The topper was the call back from my son. He said he and his sister were on the side of the freeway with a flat tire. They got the U-haul returned without a hitch, but then had a a blow out on the way back. My daughter was worried she was going to miss her comedy writing class that was scheduled to begin soon. They called AAA and were waiting for the tow truck.

Then my husband called from the Phoenix airport upset because he couldn’t find where he had parked the car after searching for 45 minutes. I took that to mean that it was my fault because I didn’t want to drive him there or pick him up. To be honest, I’m terrified of the freeways here. There are accidents every time I’ve been on them. And always someone driving 100 MPH weaving in and out of traffic. People drive crazy here. My daughter lived here for a year and she said she’d see five wrecks on her drive from Tempe to Scottsdale for work — every single day.

By the time my husband got home, my nerves were fried. I called to check on the kids and they were okay. They were safely back in their homes 700 feet apart. I tried to read and sat outside in the backyard missing the quiet happy feeling that I had bathed in only hours earlier. The peace that defined my weekend vanished as though it was a desert mirage.

Then Monday morning came and my husband woke up with the flu. I called the kids and they said that one of my son’s housemates had the flu. Ugh. I should stay in the casita and turn my phone off. I hope I’m not next for the flu. I haven’t been sick since February 2020.

On to tackle my Monday and back to NaNoWriMo.

Any suggestions on how to handle phone calls where things seem to be spiraling out of control? How do you not let other people’s problems become yours?

The Perils of Ping Pong

ping pong ball in a cactus
Our ping pong balls land in the most precarious places.

We’ve had our ping pong table for several weeks now. We’ve had fun playing casual games filled with laughter. Now my husband wants lessons. There’s a ping pong coach nearby who offers private and group lessons for all ages and he hosts tournaments. The coach is a national champion.

I suggested before we take the leap into instruction, maybe we should google the rules. I did yesterday and made a discovery of two rules we were breaking. First, we play matches to eleven and take turns serving every five serves. The official USA Table Tennis rules says two serves, not five. That’s easy to correct.

The second rule we were breaking is how we serve. This is a game changer — or game stopper. We were serving by putting the ball in the palm of our hand and sweeping the ball off. The official rules state we are to toss the ball at least six inches up in the air before striking the ball on its way down. Uh oh. This is no easy feat and takes a large dose of hand eye coordination.

I learned to serve with the ball resting on my hand as a second grader. I wonder if my dad taught me this method because he didn’t know the official rules? Or, was it because I didn’t have the ability at a young age to manage the ball toss and he wanted me to have fun?

In any case, this new serve made both of us really uncoordinated and frustrated. After practicing serve after serve, we both managed to get a few serves to hit the table. But it set us back in the fun department.

I told my husband I was done for the day and I headed off to the Casita for some “alone time.” I got out my laptop and began viewing YouTubes on “Four Killer Ping Pong Serves” and “How to Improve Quickly at Ping Pong.”

He walked in 30 minutes later and started laughing. He was doing the same thing in our bedroom on his laptop. We had been watching the same how-to videos secretly to gain the upper hand.

It’s not like we’re competitive or anything, right?

Ping Pong table on the patio.

Have you played ping pong? What kind of serve do you use? Do you think we need to follow the rules or play the way we want to have fun? I’m a rule stickler and my husband wants to play the way we used to. Is one of us right?

To be or not to be….

The Newsletter Editor

flagpole in HOA
Flagpole at the entrance to our neighborhood.

Our community has a newsletter. In each issue it features an article about the latest homeowner’s association meeting, updates on city utility news like trash days are changing or when bulk pick up is scheduled. There’s always a recipe, an article about wildlife or plants and a welcome to new neighbors. It’s interesting and done by a husband and wife. ‘

For the past six months they’ve asked for a volunteer to take over the newsletter. The couple in charge have done it for more than ten years, since its inception. They are done. This current newsletter stated that if nobody volunteers — then the newsletter is over.

I thought, do I want to do this? Should I do this? I’m not a newbie to newsletters. My first job in PR, I wrote at least seven newsletters a month for various clients including a city, a realtor, a hotel and three or four for a medical center (staff, physicians, research, and a couple medical specialties.) After that job, I worked for a developer and I was in charge of newsletters for several country club developments for the members. That was before “desk top publishing.” I had to type my copy, drive it to a typesetter. I would work on a layout with a pencil on paper! I took numerous trips by car to the printer with corrections to the typesetting and real live photographs. Once I had a “blueline” I was relieved.

In my free time, I did the newsletter for the Desert Advertising Club. I was a board member and volunteered my time. While raising kids, I volunteered to do newsletters for their swim team and a charitable organization I was in.

I know I can do this newsletter, it’s in my “wheel house,” but do I want to?

I thought yes and no. The pros are it’s quarterly. Not monthly. And — this is the biggie — I moved less than a year ago and I don’t know anyone except for the realtor up the street who sold us our house and an occasional hello to next door neighbor Brad. The newsletter might help me be less isolated and more engaged in my new surroundings.

Our neighborhood has five clubs, book club, coffee club, wine club, etc. But they haven’t met because of COVID. They were supposed to start up this month, but they are holding off until 2022.

The downsides — do I want to do the newsletter? Do I want to have a deadline? Do I want to be more active in the community or do I like my quiet life more?

I texted the kids, talked it over with hubby. They all think I should do it. My kids especially think I should because they know I’m happy when I’m working in my field — even if I whine about it.

I decided to sleep on it. Two days later, I decided YES. I called the number in the newsletter of the current husband and wife editors. I got the “disconnected and no longer in service” message.

I checked the neighborhood directory and noticed there was a typo on the phone number. I dialed the correct number and once again — “disconnected and no longer in service.”

I looked up their cell phone and it went straight to voice mail. I left a message and emailed them.

That was Friday. It’s Sunday and I haven’t received a call back or an email.

So to be or not to be — Newsletter Editor? We’ll wait and see.

What are your thoughts about volunteering? Do you think it benefits the people volunteering as well as those who receive service? What do you think of people volunteering because of their own agenda or motives? Can you think of any examples?