One year ago

Desert clouds and views
A view of the desert last January from the Sears-Kay Ruins.

What was I up to in the New Year of 2022? One of the things I like about blogging is being able to look back on what I was doing, thinking and feeling.

A year ago to the date, I was returning home from Berkeley after taking care of my son post surgery.

Imagine that!

AND my husband wasn’t answering the phone. I was worried about him. It turned out he was sick in bed with COVID. As sick as I have ever known him to be.

I took a Lyft home from the airport in Phoenix. The Lyft driver was not happy when he learned how far away I lived. I didn’t mean to be an inconvenience, you’d think drivers would want to pick up a long ride. But I think we are so far out, there’s not much of a chance for the driver to pick up any rides on the way back to Phoenix. Plus, he was going to be late picking his wife up after her work. I wondered why he accepted my ride in the first place?

In any case, I moved into our Casita and kept my husband isolated in our Master bedroom. (I heard master isn’t PC to use, but I really don’t care.)

I cooked him homemade chicken soup with onions, garlic and carrots. I carted it to the front porch and then called him to let him know food was waiting for him. This went on for several days.

When he was finally better, we went exploring and hiked the Sears-Kay Ruins. Then we went to hang out with friends who invited us over to watch football.

What were you up to a year ago? Do you find yourself doing many of the same things year after year?

This was last night in our backyard. We call them “Mulies” short for Mule Deer.

This was Olive, checking out the Mulies from the bar in our living room.

A different kind of mother

mother and daughter photo
Mom and me in the early 90s.

My New Year started off with a phone call from my brother that our mom was found in her bed unresponsive. Within two hours she passed away after being taken by ambulance to the hospital. This was totally unexpected. She tested positive for COVID five days earlier but was asymptomatic.

I’m going through shock, denial, disbelief and grief all at once.

I wrote this story about her years ago. I sent it to children’s book publishers and actually got an offer from a small publisher. I turned down the offer because I didn’t think it was big enough! I’ve never had another offer in my life to have a book published.

Here’s the story:

A DIFFERENT KIND OF MOTHER

I have a different kind of mother. She’s not like other mothers on our street. She looks like other mothers. But it’s what she does that’s different.

She sings all the time. She sings songs by men named Wagner and Wolf. But she calls them “VAHgner” and “VOUlf.”

When my friends come over they ask “What is that?”
We listen. “La la la la la la la la laaaa.”

I shrug my shoulders and say, “That’s my mom.”

My friends laugh. Their mothers never sing unless it’s to the radio.

My mom sings all the time. She sings operas while she drives, cooks, shops, gardens, reads and cleans. I think she sings in her dreams.

My mother never buys a loaf of bread. She bakes it every week and slices it with a big knife. Sometimes she lets me punch down the dough after it rises.

When I take my lunch to school, my sandwich sits crooked and looks like it’s ready to fall. My mother packs me carrot sticks, a hard boiled egg, an orange and an apple. There’s too much food and not one chip or pretzel like the other kids get. I like to order hot lunch.

My mother thinks hunting through the woods for mushrooms is fun. She took classes to learn about mushrooms so she knows which are good to eat and which ones are poisonous. I hate it when she asks my friends to go picking with her. But they love to go tramping through the dense green forest, climbing over fallen logs covered with moss. She points out the faerie rings where the mushrooms grow.

My mother grows vegetables in her garden, she won’t buy them at the store. But does she grow peas and carrots like the other mothers on our street? No. She’s proud of her eggplant, asparagus, spaghetti squash and rhubarb.

When my friends come over to play, my mother asks them to weed the garden.

“Nobody wants to weed. We want to play,” I tell her.

Then I turn around and the kids are lined up on both sides of her, pulling weeds as she tells them about the vitamins in vegetables.

My mother doesn’t read ordinary books by popular authors. She likes to read e.e. cummings with letters scattered over the page. I don’t know what the poems say. But my mother gathers up the letters and makes sense out of them.

Digging for clams up to her elbows in mud is how my mother catches dinner. She knows about razor clams that we dig in the surf and butter clams, littlenecks and cockles we find in the gritty gravel. She calls the ones we break with our shovels “clums.”

She picks oysters off the beach, shucks the top shell of and eats them raw right then and there. She eats the roe out of sea urchins and said, “It tastes like caviar!”

She’s the friendliest person on the street. She bakes wild blackberry pies for elderly neighbors and talks tomatoes with anyone who will listen. 

She invites the neighborhood kids in, even if I don’t want her to. She doesn’t care when kids build a fort in our backyard or makes tents in the living room with old sheets. She lets us draw chalk pictures on the driveway and dig for China in the backyard.

At night when she tucks me in, I listen to her sing a lullaby with her beautiful voice.

When she kisses me good night, I love that my mother is a different kind of mother.

mom fishing in the river
Mom fishing at our cabin in Washington.

Time Flies!

It’s official. We left California for Arizona two years ago! I can’t believe how quickly our years flew by — and in some respects how long it has seemed.

Here’s what I thought about moving two years ago today:



Moving van
The moving van arrived.

Friday was moving day. Our movers arrived at 9 a.m. and we thought it would be a couple hours and we’d hit the road. No, we were wrong. By 5 p.m. the movers realized their truck was full and we still had a bunch of stuff in the garage like bikes, a wheelbarrow and my daughter’s desk. Plus the STORAGE UNIT where we’ve been squirreling away boxes and stuff for months.

Yikes! The movers had to rent a U-Haul and we gave them the keys to our storage unit. Of course there weren’t any U-Hauls in town and they had to drive to San Diego or some place to find a U-Haul. They said they’d come back to our California house the next morning and pick up the rest of our stuff in the garage when our housekeeper and dear friend Delia would be cleaning.

We drove to Arizona and our new home, minus our furniture that night. We thankfully packed suitcases and bedding. Our fellow swim team parents and close friends drove one of our cars packed to the hilt, plus their car complete with all the stuff from our freezer and fridge. Now, those are true friends who volunteer to drive an 8-hour round trip to make our move easier!

I have driving anxiety and panic attacks driving on freeways. I couldn’t face the four-hour drive on Interstate 10. Our daughter promised to fly down from SFO and drive one car and help us unpack. Then California went into lockdown. Our daughter didn’t feel good about flying. So our friends volunteered to help us out and meanwhile our daughter’s supposed flight was cancelled. It all worked out in the end.

moving boxes in house
Our new living room. So much work to do!

We got to our Arizona home at 10:30 p.m. We unpacked our suitcases, settled into bed around midnight exhausted beyond comprehension. Thank goodness we bought the furniture in the casita from the sellers. Otherwise, we’d have been on the floor. We never saw our friends who drove our car for us. They not only drove our car, but they filled our fridge with all our condiments, frozen foods and perishables — before heading back to California.

The next day, the moving van and U-haul arrived at 2 p.m. We worked throughout the weekend to get the kitchen in order and our closet organized. Kitty is stressed and hiding under the bed in the casita, where we’ve been living.

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

I don’t recommend moving after living in one house for 28 years. It’s an unusually hard task, mentally and physically. But, when we’re more settled the sunsets will make it all worthwhile.

Cactus Arizona sunset
Sunset and saguaros in the neighborhood.

What’s the longest you’ve lived in one place? How did you handle packing and going through years of stuff when you moved? Did you think of moving during the COVID shutdowns? A lot of people did move.

A whirlwind week

Olive the cat getting out of my way as I clean house.

It’s a busy week or two. We returned from a trip to Mexico. I wrote about that HERE.

My son and his girlfriend are visiting from the Bay Area. We are gong to visit Taliesin West later today. It will be a first for all of us. That’s the winter home of Frank Lloyd Wright. We’ll be going on a self-guided tour. A coincidence is that a friend of mine from playgroup days in Palm Springs is a director of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. What a small world! I found out from a friend in Palm Springs that our mutual friend had moved to Arizona a month or two before us. I wrote about coincidences recently HERE.

Next week, I fly to Seattle to visit my 90-year-old mom. I meant to visit for her birthday last March, but we were in the throws of Omicron. Both my daughter and husband got it. What weird days those were. I was taking care of my daughter — without being near her. We would wave at each other through her apartment window. I’d go to the laundromat and grocery store for her and leave things on her front steps.

When my husband had COVID, I moved into our Casita. It has a kitchen, so I cooked him chicken soup with lots of garlic and onions. I’d leave it outside the front door and text him. I was close if he needed me, but I wasn’t in physical contact.

I now have an aversion to flying. We have taken trips by car, which I’m comfortable with, but I haven’t wanted to get on an airplane. I can’t stand the wait at the airport, the crowds, being on the plane. COVID ruined flying for me.

Did COVID change your feelings about flying, too? Or did it affect you in other ways? Did you or your family get it?

A simple pleasure

mother daughter sailing
Sailing in Santa Barbara with my daughter on a friend’s boat.

Yesterday I got a pedicure. I last got one during our beach vacation in August. My daughter and I used to get pedicures together. It was a ritual that we loved, sitting side by side getting pampered. I’d read a book, she was on her phone. Although we weren’t talking much, I look back on those memories with tenderness.

Even when she went to college, we’d make time for pedicures when she’d be home for vacation. Or, if I was visiting her for a swim meet, we’d get pedicures together.

Then the pandemic hit and the nail salon by our house closed. Since I moved away, I’m not sure if it ever reopened. So many small businesses closed forever. I’ve had two pedicures since COVID hit.

Yesterday was a treat to be pampered. But it was bittersweet. I missed my daughter sitting by my side.

Do you have any simple pleasures with your loved ones? What do you like to do together?

A sign things are “normal”

backyard downtown Palm Springs
Our old backyard in Palm Springs with a view of Mt. San Jacinto

When we lived in Palm Springs, Calif. which is one of the hottest spots in our nation — next to Death Valley — we used movies as an escape from the heat. It didn’t matter what was playing, we’d find something we were mildly interested in. It got us out of the house where we spent most days.

Then COVID hit and movie theaters were closed. I missed movies a lot. I loved the smell of popcorn when you walk through the theater doors. I loved the few hours sitting in the dark, watching the big screen with unbelievable sound.

I remember writing during the shutdown that the first thing I wanted to do when things reopened was go to the movies.

Fast forward to September 2022 — and we hadn’t been yet. The reason why? I was uncomfortable sitting in the theater with a bunch of strangers. Once we moved, the theater was a 30-minute drive, not a few blocks. The Phoenix area has 6 million people, rather than the 48,000 of Palm Springs. Whenever I looked online, the theaters were full.

Labor Day was packed at the beach. We went early and left when floods of people set up their umbrellas and chairs. We came up with the brilliant idea of going to the movies!

We saw Top Gun. I loved every minute of it. I felt like it was a milestone of getting back to “normal.”

What was first on your list to do post shutdown?

Have you heard of “Quiet Quit?”

beach view from Overlook Park Summerland.
View of the beach from the park below our Vrbo.

With more and more employees being called back to the office, jealousy is bubbling up in the workforce.

Companies are pleading with employees to come back to the office and are plying them with goodies like gift cards, swag and cash bonuses. I read that this is not sitting well with the employees who worked in the office throughout the pandemic.

If they are truly upset, they may “quiet quit.” I’ve seen the term before, but didn’t know what it meant. Today I read an article in the Wall Street Journal that explained it called “These Workers Were the Bosses’ Favorites. Now They Feel Jilted by Callum Borchers.

What’s waiting for people heading back to the office after Labor Day? Jealous looks from the underappreciated colleagues who returned long ago

“Tension is a real risk with this group,” says Kristie Rogers, an associate professor of management at Marquette University. “If we’re not paying attention to those who have been around a while, making sure that their efforts were valued and continue to be valued, there could be some division that undermines the purpose of bringing people back in the first place.”

She adds workers who believe their in-person contributions are not sufficiently rewarded may quit or “quiet quit,” staying in a job but doing only the bare minimum. 

Keeping everyone satisfied is especially difficult since many workers feel empowered to resist office callbacks and expect new perks in exchange for showing up. Those who’ve long been working in person can hardly be blamed for resenting the incentives—why weren’t they offered sooner?—even though the benefits are available to all.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/these-workers-were-the-bosses-favorites-now-they-feel-jilted-11661977719?mod=life_work_lead_story

It sounds like a mess to me. Jealousy in the workplace is awful. I should know. I was jealous in my 20s. I found out that a new hire was making much more than what I was paid. Yet, I had experience, a college degree and more responsibility. I didn’t “quiet quit.” I QUIT!

Then, I was on the other side. When I worked with my husband in financial services, I would leave earlier than others to pick up our kids from school and get them to swim practice. I was on the receiving end of dirty looks. But it was the deal we had.

Have you ever experienced jealousy at work?

What are your thoughts about quiet quitting? Have you ever worked with someone who did the bare minimum?

What do you think about working remotely versus showing up in the office?