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.
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 Olive, checking out the Mulies from the bar in our living room.
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.
Last year on this exact day, I wrote about my goals and resolutions — and if they work. Take a look of what I had to say:
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 …
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.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:
Start birdwatching — I already put a bird feeder in the backyard.
Learn about saguaro cactus and other species of native plants.
Hike on a new trail each week.
Experience more sunrises and sunsets.
Explore areas like the Grand Canyon and Sedona.
Take a photography class online.
Sketch or paint some of my new scenery.
Begin a new manuscript, in a genre new to me.
Update Jan. 5, 2022: Out of my goals from last year, I did a lot of them, including enyoying sunsets and sunrises — and writing an entire manuscript in a new genre. I am birdwatching and learning about the native plants. We haven’t hiked a new trail each week, because we discovered the preserve across the street where it’s too convenient to hike and skip a 30-minute drive to get a trail. We haven’t been to Sedona or the Grand Canyon yet since we’ve moved to Arizona, although I’ve been to both in the past. That can be a goal for this year. I didn’t take a photography class, but I’m practicing on my own. I got out my sketch book and I’ve been sketching sporadically.
I think those were good goals and ones I’ll continue with in 2022.
What do you think about the difference between goals and resolutions? Do you have any you’d like to share?
Everyone is writing about their goals, their resolutions and how motivated they are for a new year. I’m not feeling it at all. I’m finding it difficult to get out of bed and to get outside for my daily walk. I’m feeling sad. This weekend I’m flying to help my son post his second surgery in six months. My daughter is angry with me. I said something to her that I wish I could take back, but I can’t. I can only apologize.
It’s not an auspicious beginning to a new year. Maybe I’m feeling a let down after our big Christmas vacation that we had planned for a year. Or, maybe it’s too cold outside. Maybe I’m still grieving the deaths of two friends. Or, maybe I worry too much about my kids. Neither my son or daughter is in a great place right now and it hurts my heart.
Sorry to be so negative. I’m mostly a glass half full person, but like I said — I’m not feeling it. I think I need to get out my gratitude journal and get to work.
What do you do when you feel blue? Are you able to snap out of it? Any helpful hints would be appreciated.
We’ve left the VRBO and we’re headed home slowly. It took a ton of energy and hard work to pack 12 people and to get the house in shape for the housekeepers. I’m waiting to hear that my son’s car has arrived safely to the Bay Area. They were the last car to leave along with us at noon.
We decided to spend the night with our dear friends who live in the Santa Barbara area and get up at dawn to make the nine-hour trek home. The packing and cleaning left us too tired and too late to make the drive. Plus, I’m hoping for better weather tomorrow. Another storm is currently walloping the coast.
I miss Olive the cat and hope she’s not too angry with me for boarding her. In our new home and her new career as an indoor cat, she’s become very affectionate. I have bonded with this lovable kitty more than ever. The goal is to stop on our way home to pick her up from cat jail before they close.
Happy New Year! I’m ready for 2022. How about you? Are you looking forward to saying goodbye to 2021?
This was our view leaving the day for Friday’s ski adventure.
After not skiing for about a decade, guess what? I can still do it and it’s not that bad! Yesterday we hauled our equipment into our friends’ Sequoia under a gorgeous pink sky. Driving to Brighton from Salt Lake City was filled with the most breathtaking views. Once we reached the top of the mountain, I was stunned. I listened to the “oohs and ahhs” of other skiers getting off the chairlift, who experienced the view for the first time like me. I didn’t stop to take a bunch of pictures, and the one I did had my thumb across the bottom, but the iPhone wouldn’t do it justice anyway. I have those spectacular views embedded in my mind’s eye.
I felt a bit wobbly at first, as did my son, but soon we got up to speed and our skis were like old friends we’ve lost touch with but when you get together again, it’s like no time has lapsed. We skied most of the day with our friend from Santa Barbara and raced down the slopes maybe not like pros, but better than I anticipated. After not skiing for so many years, it felt amazing. For some silly reason, I had decided I was too old and that my ski days were behind me. When I was younger–before I was a wife, mother or a writer–I was a skier, sort of like how my daughter identifies as a swimmer. Giving it up, was like letting go of a small piece of my personality. It turns out I’m still a decent skier and my son and I have made a pact to ski together every year—as long as we can.
Rather than teaching my son’s girlfriend how to ski for her first time, we decided that she should enroll in a learner’s class. I think that was the best idea because I know how hard the first day of skiing can be for adults. We may have saved their relationship!
Today, I’m especially sore. Yikes, I do not remember this feeling from decades ago!
Two days ago, I really stepped out of my comfort zone and impulsively rented Nordic skis with my girlfriend. With all my downhill skiing days, I didn’t know there were Nordic centers where you can rent equipment, buy a pass and have trails to follow. It was awkward until I settled in and let go of my nerves. Then it became rhythmic and restful, all the time breathing the fresh outdoor air. It reminded me of swimming freestyle with the breathing patterns, alternating limbs and physicality. They’re very similar.
I think cross country skiing is something I’d like to do more of. It’s less exhilarating than downhill skiing, but it’s more peaceful and quiet. I love downhill skiing too and am so glad to have more days of skiing ahead.
Tracks at the Nordic Center.
How are you starting off your New Year? Have you ever returned to an activity you gave up years ago?