Busy busy busy

Palm Springs swimming pool with clouds
Where I used to lap swim. My new pool has only three lanes.


Thursday I was stressing about whether I should go to coffee with the women’s coffee club or stay home and work on the newsletter. After all, I had lap swimming in a few hours. This is what I was thinking when I wrote about “saying no” earlier in the week. You can read that post HERE.

I decided to go to coffee after all. I needed to run some errands and the coffee shop we were meeting at was close to the Post Office, hardware and grocery stores.

I met a new person who made me laugh. She’s lived in our neighborhood for seven years, but I’ve never seen her before. She had never gone to coffee club. She didn’t know there was a book club, either.

This woman said she was going to Ireland with her running group to run trails along the coast of Ireland. I asked when.

“In two hours,” she said. “I have one hour until my Uber driver picks me up.”

I laughed out loud and said I was worried about going to coffee AND lap swimming in one day! I’m glad I didn’t wimp out. Now it’s time to squeeze in some work on the newsletter before my swim. FYI, next this new friend told me about her trip climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

Would you have coffee with your neighbors before you left for a trip to Ireland? How about swimming and coffee? Why do you think some people only like to have one event scheduled per day and others can do many?

Second meeting of book club

Original cover of "The Old Man and the Sea."
The original cover of “The Old Man and the Sea.”

I joined our neighborhood book club. After my first meeting and being forced to read a book I couldn’t stand — I was assigned “The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway.

I didn’t enjoy reading “The Old Man and the Sea” in high school at all. The days in the boat fighting to get the big fish dragged. I was considering dropping out of book club.

Surprisingly, decades later, I really enjoyed the book. I guess I have a better perspective with age. Maybe I identify with the old man.

I also learned a lot from the neighbor who chose the book and led the discussion. She was thoroughly prepared. She had pages of typed notes, went through Hemingway’s life and told us the book won the Pulitzer and Novel prizes, and that 5 million copies sold within 48 hours in 1951.

I asked my son’s girlfriend her interpretation of the symbolism of “The Old Man and the Sea.” She’s a Lit major and brilliant.

I’ve read about Christian allegories in the book such as two days and nights in the boat and returning home on the third day. This represents the resurrection of Christ. Other Christian metaphors were Santiago’s bloody hands to the stigmata and him carrying the mast, like Christ carried the cross. In the end, Santiago lies down and falls asleep with his arms out to and his knees off to the side.

This is what my son’s girlfriend sent me when I asked her about the metaphors:

Ernest Hemingway quote
Quote from Good Reads.

I shared the quote with the club and they had a good laugh and then went on to discuss more metaphors.

What are your thoughts on “The Old Man and the Sea?” Was is required reading in school? Did you enjoy it? Do you believe Hemingway DID use metaphors or not?

My First Book Club

The Arctic Fury

Our neighborhood is opening up and getting back to normal. I was invited to join the book club by a neighbor.

Most of the women have been members for the length or our neighborhoods existence, which is 15 years. A couple of us are new and moved in during the shutdown.

The book I’m supposed to read is called “The Arctic Fury” by Greer MacAllister.

The copy on the back of the book says:

“Eccentric Lady Jane Franklin makes an outlandish offer to adventurer Virginia Reeve: take a dozen women, trek into the Arctic, and find her husband, Lord Franklin, and his lost expedition. Four parties have failed to find him, and Lady Franklin wants a radical new approach: put the women in charge.”

The book is based on a true story of Lady Jane Franklin’s tireless attempts to find her husband’s lost expedition.

Now here’s the problem. I have never been to book club before. I don’t know what to expect. I’m not getting into the book. I’m going to push through, but it’s not my cup of tea.

At least I know how to spell the word “Arctic.” Maybe it’s the title I don’t like, because when my son was in second grade he had to name the continents on a map. He didn’t get 100%. I talked to the teacher and wanted to know why she marked him wrong for “Artic.” Yes, I had him practice spelling the word wrong — and I argued with the teacher.

What do you do at book club exactly anyway?

Are you the member of a book club? How is it set up? Who selects the books? What do you do when you don’t like them?

A wonderful day in the neighborhood

Crystal blue sky.

Things are opening up in our neighborhood. Finally. I got a call last night from a neighbor who said the social clubs are reopening and would I be interested in joining coffee club or wine club.

I’ve already said yes to book club. Our first meeting is in March and we have been assigned a book called “The Arctic Fury” by Greer MacAllister. Has anyone read it? What did you think? I haven’t heard of the book or the author. It’s historical fiction which I enjoy.

As for the other two clubs, I’ve decided to jump in and give them a try. Wine club is for couples, and since my husband sits in his office all day, I thought it might be good to get him out of the house, too. But, after accepting the invitations, I found out that wine club has NOT reopened. But I could be chairperson and open it if I wanted. Nope.

It was a bright sunny, clear day for our morning walk. And not too cold. It’s been in the low 40s and windy lately which is too cold for my blood. But today was spectacular. Just the right temperature. There’s a couple who lives around the corner and they have a white lab and a black lab. The dogs can’t wait to say hi to us. The owners are friendly too. Another neighbor stopped to chat. Normally, we walk and wave without talking.

People seem happier lately and eager to socialize. It’s kind of hard to get back in the groove of social interaction, but I’ve decided to put myself out there and see if I like the clubs or not.

Also, it’s warm enough for me to sit my zero gravity recliner with my new book and read!

I think it’s the webinar about what makes you happy that’s pushing me out of the house. If you missed it, I wrote about it HERE.

Have you noticed an improvement in people’s attitudes lately? What changes have you seen around your neighborhood?

Morning views from the neighborhood

Sunrise filtered through the branches of an Ironwood tree.
Sunrise view from the casita.

It takes a trip out of state to an entirely different environment for me to appreciate the beauty of my desert. I get used to it and lose some appreciation, but a trip away wakes up my senses. As I walked this morning around our neighborhood I was struck by the views of cactus, mountains and shrubbery. I like it out here. I’d like to see more some wildlife, too.

Mountain north of Scottsdale.
The mountain to the north. I think it’s called Black Mountain. I’m working on learning the names.
teddy bear cholla.
Teddy bear cholla with the sun peaking through clouds.
Cloudy sky in the desert.
Clouds. We should have an amazing sunset tonight.
saguaro with arms
A neighbor’s saguaro. We have lots of saguaro but only one has an arm.
A wash in the Sonoran Desert.
One of the things I love best about our neighborhood is all the open natural space.

What are some of the things you like best about where you live?

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.

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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?

Day One of “Shelter in Place”

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Views from my neighborhood park.

I was pretty shaken up yesterday, but I’m pleased to report that I’m doing better today. I got my full walk in around the park and neighborhood before the rain started. I got to see a favorite neighbor of mine and chat while standing six feet apart. He said, “We’ll get through this.”

I got assigned a couple magazine stories by an editor and I think that helped me the most. I have a tight deadline and had to get busy. That kept me from turning on the news, watching the DOW, and reading all the headlines on the web rather than writing.

Life is pretty much the same for me as it is most days. I walk and then work from home. It’s nice to know my daughter is in the guest room working from home, too, right down the hall. My son is in the Bay Area and he’s under the same orders to shelter in place. He’s calling everyday to let me know he’s okay. I really appreciate that.

We will get through this. We have so many uncertainties ahead of us. That’s what gets me anxious. I try work through all the possibilities of what COULD happen and it gets me scared. It’s much better to stay busy at home while we are “sheltering in place.”

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This cutie pie came home with my daughter. He and the cat are practicing social distancing.

What are you doing with your time if you’ve been asked to stay in your home?