Did someone go too far?

A painting my grandma made for me at our cabin when I was around five years old.

Question: What would your reaction be if you were looking at Facebook photos posted by relatives and noticed a deck had been built on your property?

Here’s the story:

My brother and I have owned a piece of property jointly since 1995. Our mom quit claimed it to us. It’s in Robe, Wash. It’s been in the family since the 1930s. My grandfather bought 10 acres along the Stillaguamish River and gave parcels to his three kids (my mom was one) and to his sisters.

Robe is a beautiful, magical place. It’s pristine. There’s no running water or electricity. My dad designed a cabin in 1959 before I was born. My mom and dad, with their own two hands, built the cabin that has given me some of my best childhood memories. Fishing at dawn for breakfast trout. Snuggled into our mummy bags listening to the roaring fire at night. Floating down the rapids with friends. Jumping off the giant rock into the deep swimming hole.

About 15 years ago, my brother and I had the cabin torn down. It was falling apart. Someone had trashed the interior and lit the floor on fire. The roof was leaking. It was a liability and was inviting trouble. We left the fireplace. Some relatives hauled it off in exchange to access to our property which my brother arranged. I thought he had paid a service to do it.

cabin in the woods
The cabin in the 1970s.

Although the extended family — I have no clue who most of them are these days — have their own lots, ours is where they gather for an annual reunion. I go from time to time. They prefer our lot because our property faces the swimming hole in the river with a big rock. There used to be a sandy beach, too.

Now here’s the question of whether someone has gone too far. I was glancing at photos on facebook from the recent family reunion that I was unable to attend. This is a photo of a deck on my lot. I’ve never seen it before. Nobody asked me if they could build it. Apparently it was for a distant relative’s wedding — that I didn’t know about. My brother knows nothing about any of this either.

deck near the river
Our property at Robe now has a deck.

What are your thoughts of somebody building on your property without your knowledge or permission? Or holding a wedding?

fishing in the river
I caught one! Me in my 20s.
My aunt gave me this painting of our cabin. It was painted by my grandma.

Striving for an attitude of gratitude

I woke up the other morning thinking I was in my old Palm Springs home. Have you ever woken up not sure where you are? It happened frequently when we first moved to Arizona but it hasn’t happened to me for months. But, I started to miss my old Spanish Colonial home that day. It was a very pretty and unique home. Filled with memories.

A view from the kitchen to the living room of our old house. The mirror is now in our master bedroom.

It had a good location, too. So why did we move? For many reasons. Although I loved living downtown Palm Springs, we were right behind a hotel. We constantly had to call the ABC or police when the hotel violated their restrictions on noise. Living next to a busy hotel when they violate their liquor license with outdoor amplified music in the middle of the night wasn’t fun. During 2020 the hotel closed. I’m glad we sold the house before it reopened.

rustic small kitchen

The house was stunning, but not that practical. The kitchen was tiny. We called it a one-butt kitchen, but it worked. I could unload the dishwasher, cook and open the fridge without taking a step. I’d rotate in place. I had more than one friend ask me how I dealt with such a tiny kitchen.

master bedroom with open tub and pillars
The master bedroom of our old home.

Some of the things I didn’t like about the house was it had a carport, not a garage. The carport flooded every time it rained. It also got dusty and dirty, because the desert is dusty and dirty.

Another thing I didn’t like was the lack of storage because the house was built in the 1930s. Also, it was so cold in the winter that my fingers would go numb. And don’t get me started on the four-digit electric bill in the summer.

Another thing I don’t miss is the homeless man who peaked through our bedroom windows and slept in our yard. He terrified me. I’d spot him on our cameras every time we left town. He was watching us. I’d leave for my walk and return to find him in our yard.

Spanish colonial Movie Colony home.
View of our old home.

But we have tons of good memories. We raised our family for more than 28 years in that home. Yes, I’ll miss it even though our new house is so much more practical and less expensive to live in. My husband would like the ability to retire someday. Arizona makes that possible. I also feel like I’m living in luxury with a real garage and a kitchen with more cupboards than I can fill.

So I am grateful to be in Arizona. And I’m thankful for my friends, my cat and my family. You see, I’m practicing more gratitude. I have a lot to be thankful for. I’m going to start my gratitude journal and practice the three blessings before I go to bed at night.

The Three Blessings Exercise

This exercise was created by Dr. Martin Seligman and it is extremely easy to follow:

Before going to sleep every night, write down three things that went well that day. They don’t need to be big things. They can be little things that made you happy or that made you smile, or simply that had a positive impact on you. Then write why they went well.

By doing so you focus on the positive aspects of your day instead of the negatives. After a while, it becomes a habit and your mind gets wired to have a more optimistic approach to your daily life. Studies show that after months of doing this exercise, your well-being increases and you feel overall more optimistic.

http://warriorsnotworriers.com/three-blessings-well-being/
I have attempted to do this exercise in the past, but then I forget about it. I think it’s time to get back to it.
sunset view from the Old Movie Colony.
View at sunset from our old backyard.

What are you thankful for as we begin the Fourth of July weekend?

Marilyn wasn’t cancelled after all

Forever Marilyn statue downtown Palm Springs
Forever Marilyn was located downtown Palm Springs from 2012-2014. She’s back!

After watching cancel culture go after the Marilyn Monroe statue in Palm Springs, I learned something interesting. A local TV station, KESQ TV, took a survey of residents on their opinion of the 26-foot statue unveiled last night downtown Palm Springs amidst supporters and protestors.

Here was one of the questions:

“The statue will be a fun and free attraction for visitors and residents of Palm Springs.” The answers came back with an overwhelming 86% agreement vs 12% disagreement.

Survey shows what residents think of ‘Forever Marilyn’ statue’s return to Palm Springs

Isn’t that interesting? Despite protests and voices against the statue — because some think it’s misogynistic and sexist — most people don’t agree and find it fun and something they like. It makes me believe that the voices wanting to get rid of our past, cancelling Dr. Seuss, Mr. Potato Head, Gone With the Wind, etc. are only aa handful of people. They are not the majority. But they are very vocal and often win out. I see a lot of our corporations being afraid of being canceled and they cave under pressure.

Here’s another question from the survey:

“The statue is offensive and should not be displayed in our City.” The survey ended up with a 13% agree to 83% disagree ratio among those who participated.

Here’s a video from the unveiling yesterday with protestors and supporters:

What are your thoughts about cancel culture? Do you think the people wanting to get rid of our past are in the majority? Or are they a small group of people?

Highlights of the week

Tonto Bar and Grill in Cave Creek

We tried out the Tonto Bar and Grill for lunch yesterday. It was located on a golf course and this is the entrance. The shrimp tacos were pretty good. I’m on a quest to find the best fish and chips and shrimp tacos.

bunny with light through the ears

I see dozens of bunnies whenever I walk. I spotted tiny babies a few weeks ago, but they are quickly getting bigger. I like how the ears are translucent in the morning sun.

bunny on the street
Painting of Robe cabin.

My Aunt gave me this beautiful painting of our cabin in Robe, Washington. It was painted by my grandmother. My parents built the cabin with their own two hands. It’s long gone. But we still own the land and have family reunions there. I had the painting framed and picked it up this week.

The cabin.

Here’s a photo of my cabin from the 1970s.

Bartlett Lake evening

My husband and I spent Thursday evening at the lake again. We had a new pop-up tent that didn’t blow away.

Carefree AZ slide in city center

When I went to the Farmer’s Market in Carefree, I ran across this slide in the park. If I were a kid, I’d be terrified of it. How about you?

cat on top of the sofa

I’m spending my afternoons reading in our casita. It’s a really good book called “Next Year in Havana” by Chanel Cleeton. Olive keeps me company by resting on the top of the sofa next to me.

How was your week? What were some of your highlights?

About giving unsolicited advice….

brother and sister playing at the beach

My kids when they liked to eat chicken fingers.

When my kids were young, I’d often get unsolicited advice from well-meaning friends and family members — and even complete strangers. I read with interest this article by Meghan Moravcik Walbert called Keep Every Single Parenting Opinion to Yourself for a website called Lifehacker.com. 

We’re living in a particularly divided country right now, but we are lucky to still have one great rage-inducing unifier among parents: We do not want your unsolicited opinions about our parenting. This is especially true if you do not have children of your own. (Dogs don’t count.)

I have to believe author Jill Filipovic simply wanted to argue about something unrelated to the literal end of our democracy when she tweeted this sparkling gem of an opinion recently:

Jill Filipovic
@JillFilipovic
I know the thing parents hate most is when non-parents assert what they will do as parents which is inevitably smug and incorrect, but I am 100% sure I will never assent to a “kid’s menu” or the concept of “kid food.”

In a follow-up tweet, she rhetorically ponders, “Do you think children in most of the world order off of a ‘kids menu’ and survive primarily off of chicken fingers and plain pasta?”

It seems her argument is that kids should have more variety in their diets, ignoring that kids’ menus exist to offer smaller, significantly cheaper portions of food for children to make it affordable and less wasteful when families go out to eat. But see, this is why parenting opinions from non-parents is so universally grating: They’re blind to fundamental aspects of parenting that are obvious to those of us who have actually done it.

Yes, you’re very smart, and you’ll introduce your kids to lots of flavors, and they’ll always eat exactly what you eat because there’s no way you’ll cook one meal for you and a separate meal for them. If you become a parent, what’s more likely is that we can look forward to hearing you say, “No, honey, you have to buy the dinosaur-shaped nuggets; he doesn’t like the regular ones.”

I have one dear friend, well more than one, who constantly criticized the bland
“kid food” I served my children. We would go to a friend’s and stay for a long weekend and I’d bring food for my kids to eat — things I knew they’d like. Yes, my groceries included chicken fingers. My friend didn’t understand why my kids wouldn’t want to consume her kale with quinoa or homemade chile rellenos. She’d point out another friend of hers who had kids who loved to eat all her veggies and her adult-flavored dishes. My kids liked carrots, snap peas and the like — especially dipped in ranch dressing. At a young age, their taste buds were more sensitive to spice. It wasn’t long before they grew into more adult diets and indulged in sushi and spicy Mexican food. As adults they love to eat vegetables and they cook healthy and interesting meals. No, they are not living off of chicken fingers — it was a temporary thing.

The point is that I’d get criticized by friends and family members who didn’t have kids, or had children who were infants or teenagers. They weren’t dealing with kids three to seven years old and they either hadn’t been through those experiences or they forgot about those glorious days.

I used to ask my kids what they wanted to eat. My daughter always said chicken. Once I made pan-fried sole for dinner. She said, “Now THIS is the chicken I like!” That was eye-opening to me, because I didn’t realize that she was calling most foods “chicken!”

That reminds me of when we went to a small Thai restaurant with another mom and kids. My daughter, who was three, threw a tantrum and said, “This is the worst Chinese food I ever had!”

One of my friends had a son a couple years younger than my kids. We were at a family-fun restaurant and her toddler son kept jumping out of the high chair. She said, “I really owe you an apology. All of those things I criticized or tried to give you advice about — I had no idea!”

There’s more great examples in the article about unsolicited advice and how parents think they would NEVER raise their voice at their children (who aren’t born yet). Read the entire article for yourself here. It’s an entertaining read.

Here’s another article I’ve written about unsolicited advice. Read it here.

children climbing on me at the beach

Life at the beach with two young kids.

What funny experiences have you had with people giving you unsolicited parenting advice?

Reflections On Thanksgivings Past

mountain and palm tree view

View on my walk, after they’ve gone.

I wrote this five years ago, when both my kids came home for Thanksgiving weekend from college. I look back on this Thanksgiving fondly because it’s rare we get to spend the holiday together. Some years, my son stays up north near his girlfriend’s family. Then my daughter couldn’t leave due to her college team’s swim practice schedule.

This year, nobody is coming home. It’s partly due to COVID-19 and a new lockdown in effect. (Honestly, I didn’t think we ever got out of shelter in place, but people seemed less vigilant about following the rules.) This will be our last Thanksgiving in our home we’ve lived in for 28 years. So sad that we will be here all alone. I’m not going to cook for the two of us. My dad turns 89 in January and we decided it was best to skip a get together. It’s going to be a take-out dinner and maybe I’ll shed a few tears alone.

Here’s a look back at Thanksgiving 2015.

It’s Sunday after Thanksgiving and I was so thankful to have my family together. My two college kids came home to be with us! I cleaned and shopped all week, preparing for the big event.

Now, they’re gone.

Some of my favorite parts of the weekend:

The four of us walked down Palm Canyon Drive on Thanksgiving afternoon, before we ate my home-cooked meal. I loved that. The kids were happy, we window shopped, laughed and talked. There were the traditional piggy back rides and racing around.

brother sister piggyback ride

Piggyback rides downtown.

Then came dinner and my dad joined us. He’s close to 84 and I’m thankful he’s close by and can share time with us.

I was getting tired after being on my feet for the past few days. I couldn’t help but look with jealousy at the weekenders coming in and picking up their mashed potatoes, gravy and stuffing off a fully stocked shelf at a local grocery store, Jensen’s. Too easy, but seriously? Would anyone care?

Some good moments we had were swimming at our team’s Friday morning practice–kind of together. Although the masters were separated from the kids, it was a shared experience. I had a first! I managed to push myself out of the pool without swimming to the stairs. Having to swim past my daughter and her friends’ lane, who were also home from college, would have been too embarrassing. So I did it!

daughter and mother photo outside

Feeling slightly short next to my daughter.

My son and I shared music. He’d play a song and then I’d give him a name of one to play. We went back forth while we drove to Palm Desert and back. He loves folk from the 60s and 70s. He listens to Joni Mitchell and some artists I’ve never heard of, but I enjoyed. I suggested “A Song for Juli,” by Jesse Colin Young and Nicolette Larson’s “Lotta Love,” plus a few more. We appreciate each other’s taste in music. He also shared a novella by Edan Lupucki that was a gem.

We went healthy food shopping and he taught my husband and I how to make chia pudding. Hmm.

My daughter and I had a delicious breakfast out together followed by a pedicure. Wonderful time together to talk and be mother and daughter like we used to be.

The four of us took the neighbor’s dog to the park and tossed the ball while my son jogged around us. It felt so good to play in the park where we spent so much of their younger days.

But, now they’re gone and here I am once again–alone at my computer. I do enjoy the freedom to write and finish some projects. I love my kids and I’m  blessed that they want to come home and we spend time being together.

I said I wasn’t going to cry this time when they left. In fact, I was surprised at how strong I was. Until the door closed behind them.

brother and sister at the ocean

When they were younger at the beach.

Are your kids bored? It may boost creativity

boy wearing birthday crown and bug antennae

My son came up with bug headbands for a birthday party made from pipe cleaners, styrofoam balls and lots of glue and glitter. The kids looked adorable. He also got to wear a birthday crown.

Do you remember being bored as a kid? I do. But it never lasted. I could go outside when we lived in town and go ask a neighbor to play. Or, I’d jump on my bike and ride around the block. We could run over to the house down the street that had an extra lot with a brown quarter horse named Snoopy. I’d climb on the fence to pet the white strip that ran down his nose. Most of the time I’d read, or play library and create library cards for all my books and arrange them by author on my bookshelves. Boredom just wasn’t a thing. Our mom was strict about TV and it wasn’t an option. She allowed two half-hour shows daily that she circled in the TV Guide — and they were usually on PBS.

These days, many kids never experience boredom because they lose themselves in a device like an iPhone or iPad. They don’t know what it’s like to have to use their imaginations and find something creative to do. I don’t think it’s helping them to be entertained externally all the time. I wrote about promoting a creative spirit in kids here and here.

Without creativity and an imagination, our kids won’t be problem solvers or discover new ways of doing things. If your kids are bored, so what? It’s okay. Ignore the whining and let them figure it out.

 In the Sarasota Herald Tribune, parenting experts Jenni Stahlmann and Jody Hagaman wrote Allow your kids to embrace boredom

 Have you noticed that our generation of parents is terrified of letting our kids become bored? Their anxiety is what drives them to pack a boatload of amusement options when they leave the house.

A few years ago, a waiter at a restaurant in North Dakota told us about a trend in his community. One local mom had created a custom quilted bag for holding multiple tablets so that every member of the family could be distracted and amused while they waited for their meal. It was wildly popular, he said.

Not only is our society’s pervasive reliance on amusement killing conversation and opportunities to connect and build relationships, it’s also preempting opportunities for boredom. Boredom is important for building imagination, creativity and innovation in our kids. Of course we can’t force these things into our children but we can set up an environment that will support the journey.

When we allow our kids to grapple with boredom on their own, rather than providing for them structured activities or distractions and amusements, imagination and creativity may come to their rescue!

“It is possible for boredom to deliver us to our best selves,” said author Nancy Blakey. “If we sit still long enough, we may hear the call behind boredom. With practice, we may have the imagination to rise up from the emptiness and answer.”

If we provide our kids with a constant stream of amusement options, which includes a plethora of extracurricular activities, we rob them of the opportunity to explore the open space in their own minds where the imagination hides.

They make a good point about having a structured schedule. With piano, swimming and homework, there wasn’t a lot of time for my kids to get bored during the school year. The summers gave us more hours for imaginative play. Also, swim meets when the kids would be sitting under a pop-up tent for hours on end resulted in some imaginative play. We’d be at a meet for five or six hours and they’d race for only a few minutes here and there. I remember observing some very creative verbal word games.

According to the article, the authors suggest having bins and jars filled with all sorts of things in easy reach for your kids like popsicle sticks, fabric, string, paints, googly eyes, papers of different colors and textures, glues, etc. Their suggestion:

Then let your kids get good and bored. Don’t offer many suggestions. Simply say, “Oh, there are lots of things you could do. I’m sure you’ll figure it out.” It may take time but eventually their imaginations will awaken and lead them to new horizons.

brother and sister with birthday cake

The antennae headbands made an appearance at several birthdays.

What do you do when your kids are bored?