Going home

View of Ruth Hardy Park Palm Springs
Ruth Hardy Park, Palm Springs with Mt. San Jacinto in the background. The park I visited every day for 28 years.

My days of mothering my kids is over — at least for now. I opted for a one-way ticket from Oakland to my old home town Palm Springs where I was picked up by my husband. We had dinner with friends at our favorite restaurant Spencer’s and spent the night at my dad’s. We drove home together to Arizona today.

This is the first time I’ve returned since moving a year and two months ago. Looking out the plane window at Mt. San Jacinto, the landmark of Palm Springs, I felt emotional. I wasn’t expecting that.

We met dear friends for coffee, then my husband and I walked around the park that was blocks from our old home. Every morning for decades I walked around the park. I spent hours with the kids at the park when they were young. I thought I’d see some familiar faces, but they were all new.

Then we walked around our old neighborhood and our house.

hedge and palm trees outside Palm Springs.
The hedge outside our old home.
Tall pony tail palm.
Outside the hedge and backyard is our ponytail palm. That’s me next to it. We brought it with us two-feet high in a pot when we moved into this house close to 30 years ago.
.

I couldn’t believe our ponytail palm. It was two-feet tall when we moved into our old home. Think how many other things changed in our lives during that growth of that plant during the years there. We thought about moving it to Arizona with us, but thought better of it. It might not have liked the change or the trip in the moving van. It felt like leaving a part of the family behind. My husband had this palm before he met me. It sat in a pot in our first home and an apartment before that. When someone dug a ponytail palm out of our yard, we decided to let this guy free from its pot by the pool and planted it in the spot of the stolen one. In ten years it grew from two feet to 10 feet. Look at it now!

Pony Tail Palm
This was taken right before we moved a little over a year ago.

After visiting with friends, walking through my old haunts, I got through my emotions. It’s a beautiful neighborhood and town, but I can go back and visit anytime.

Have you returned to visit a place you lived or vacationed before? Have you been emotional about it or not?

Looking back to DAY ONE of Shelter in Place

IMG_5009
Views from my old neighborhood park.

Yesterday I went to my first NFL football game. Since I’ve learned you cannot bring a purse into a game unless it’s clear plastic, I decided to wear leggings with deep pockets for what I believed were my essentials: my cell phone with the digital ticket, my driver’s license, my vaccination card, a debit card and an N-95 mask.

I was surprised to find out that I didn’t need anything but the digital ticket. I saw only two people wearing masks in our section. Maybe in other areas of the stadium it was different? Walking in from the parking lot, I saw nobody wearing a mask. I ended up using my mask as a napkin, because my husband bought us hot dogs and fries and of course forgot napkins.

It was exciting to watch live football, but it was also overwhelming to be in a crowd. I haven’t been in one since it seems a lifetime — but in reality it was pre COVID. I was exhausted by the time we got home — but also thrilled to have the experience. What a contrast to March 2020 — plus the stark difference between Arizona and California, where I lived in 2020. I decided to look back on what I was feeling when we first found out about COVID and sheltered in place to flatten the curve.

Cardinals vs. Panthers football game.
View from my seat at the State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

Here’s a look back on my post about DAY ONE of the three-week shut-down to flatten the curve:

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

I was 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 but they started before us. 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 to think 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.”

IMG_2544
This cutie pie came home with my daughter. He and the cat are practicing social distancing.

What are your memories about the first day of shelter in place? How did you prepare, who were you with and did you think it would go on longer than three weeks?

Day 55 Shelter in Place: Good and Bad News

IMG_5455

The park.

First the good news. Things are opening up a little bit in our county and my daughter and I played tennis two mornings in a row. Prior to this week, the tennis courts were padlocked. I found that almost as annoying as the pool being closed. It looks so wrong to see padlocks and yellow tape wrapping around our park, parking lots, playground equipment, etc.

IMG_5467

Before we became a full-on swim family, my kids took tennis lessons. My daughter was at preschool at the time and two of her good friends were taking lessons with her. My son had his buddies in his group as well. The instructor was a big goofy tennis pro who the kids called “Charlie Farlie.”

I took lessons in high school with my mom at the University of Washington, some sort of fun extension class. It was in the Hutchinson gym and there were huge windows up several stories in height. My mom and I both managed to hit the ball out those windows — several times — and we weren’t even trying! I’m mentioning this because my daughter and I do have some sort of background in tennis, although we’re hardly proficient at it.

Brick north face of Hutchinson Hall on Stevens Way East. The building hosts the School of Drama, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA. The 1926 building (architects Bebb & Gould) was named for long-time faculty member Mary Gross Hutchinson,

Hutchinson Hall where my mom and me took tennis. t

Fast forward to when we decided to homeschool my daughter for middle school. We had several homeschool families on the swim team and I envied their schedules. There were no late nights after practice completing pages of math problems or filling out worksheets for them. These homeschooled kids were really smart, well behaved and looked so happy. So we gave it a whirl. We went through a phase where we started our day with a bike ride around the park, played tennis together and then returned home to hit the books.

This week brought me back to those days. We had fun reminiscing about them and laughed at our bad shots while enjoying the cool mornings. I got a better workout than I do walking around the park. I got my heart rate up because my tennis is mostly running to corners of the court to pick up balls.

Now for the bad news. The city may not open up the pool. It’s been closed since shelter in place began 55 days ago. I was going to write a letter to the city to complain when our team was no longer allowed to use the pool, but individuals could lap swim. By the time I was composing my scathing letter, the pool had closed altogether.IMG_9355

Our town’s main industry is tourism. The hotels have been shuttered along with vacation rentals for two months. There’s no way to enjoy our beautiful weather, golf courses, tennis courts and hiking trials unless you are a resident. That means the city budget is devastated. Along with the pool, the city is talking about closing the library, animal shelter and cutting salaries, too.

We have one of the most gorgeous pools in state. Our Piranha Swim Team has a history of more than 50 years — one of the longest running teams in California. The kids who go through the program can swim in college if they choose. I think our success rate of kids going on to the next level is close to 90 percent. It was the single best thing we did for our kids in terms of activities. They were Piranhas from age five until they went to college. My daughter represented Piranhas in the summer after she went to college. I can go on and on about how great the team was for my kids, and now for me as a swimmer, too. It helped develop their healthy lifestyles, competitive spirits, and their character.

I’ll be devastated is the pool doesn’t reopen.

33944149_10156550450214612_1114497597600432128_o

 

About those 10,000 steps…

IMG_3442.JPG

The Tram Road.

I’ve upped my game in my favorite part of my day — my morning walk. I walk seven days a week every morning, without fail. This is a big accomplishment for me, since I fell skiing in 2018 and had knee surgery. My typical morning walk has been a lap around Ruth Hardy Park and back home winding through the neighborhood going about two miles.

After visiting my son two months ago in the Bay Area where we walked all over the place, I realized I was averaging more than 10,000 steps a day — closer to five miles. I decided there’s no reason why I couldn’t continue this trend at home.

I read a book called Flourish by Martin E. P. Seligman. Seligman talks about his own walking and he categorized people as active or inactive. To be active, he said you have to walk 10,000 steps.

IMG_3452

Mt. San Jacinto view from Ruth Hardy Park.

So be it. The last few weeks, I’ve achieved that goal! Plus, I added more stress to the walk. Rather than lapping my park a few times, my husband and I advanced to the Tram Road which has a steep grade of 10%. It’s starting to heat up, so we had been going early.

Now that it’s too hot outside and early no longer cuts it, we bought our summer passes for the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway and we hiked at an altitude of about 8,000 feet in the San Jacinto Wilderness yesterday.

So I’m feeling pretty good about myself, despite my sore legs. Then I read this:

10,000 steps a day: Is it necessary for better health?

A recently published paper in the highly respected Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that 4,400 steps a day was strongly related to lower mortality rates when compared to 2,700 steps. As the steps increased, risk of dying decreased, until about 7,500 steps a day, when the risk benefit started to level off.

IMG_3516

Yesterday’s hike in the San Jacinto Wilderness.

The authors are talking about mortality rates, and say there are benefits to walking 10,000 steps a day:

“With this recent finding, it is now appropriate to question the merits of the 10,000-steps-a-day goal. Besides the obviously arbitrary number, there still is value to achieving the goal. If people take more steps, it means they are spending less time being sedentary. A growing body of research is finding that sitting is the new smoking, contributing to metabolic disorders, cancers and heart disease. If getting more steps can potentially prevent many common disorders and diseases, it is a simple and inexpensive way to reduce leading causes of death every year.”

 

I’ve decided that I’ll shoot for 10,000 steps a day, but won’t freak out if I don’t make it. I’m walking, hiking, swimming and getting in better shape. That’s the main goal after all, not 10,000 arbitrary steps.

6E28C777-F1E2-4574-B406-8CC99B2088D5

View of Palm Springs from the Tram Road.

What are your thoughts about walking 10,000 a day?

 

An Eggless Easter Celebration

My friend's Easter Cupcakes

My friend Linda’s Easter Cupcakes

There won’t be an egg hunt at my house this year. That’s because my husband doesn’t want to dye eggs with me. Add that to my dislike of eating egg salad all week, I’ll have to get over the no Easter egg sadness.

It’s the first year that we haven’t had a child home for Easter. Last year, I forced my 18-year-old to hunt for eggs. She grudgingly dyed the eggs I boiled after I nagged her a few times. Easter morning, I hid them outside around our patio.  I think she really did enjoy looking for them. At least, she went through the paces.

Kat at the Fireman's Annual Egg Hunt.

Kat at the Fireman’s Annual Egg Hunt.

This year, I’ll skip it. Somehow I can’t imagine my husband hunting for them. Or me. After I’ve hidden them. Yes, that would be sad.

Instead, we’ll walk over to O’Donnell golf course for sunrise service. It should be a gorgeous morning up against the mountain with spectacular views.  I’m thinking the last time we did that was before we had kids. We went with our good friends and sat on the dewy grass on a plaid wool blanket.

Funny thing. I see a pattern where we are returning to activities that we haven’t had time to enjoy in years.

egghunt 1

My kids and classmates at the annual egg hunt.

My husband just said, “Let’s go to the beach.” We used to pick up our stuff and jump in the car on a few minutes notice and have a beach day. That was before swimming and school activities took over our lives. I think I can get used to this.

Happy Good Friday, everyone!

My son hunting for Easter Eggs. One said "God Has Risen!" His answer? "Did you hear that? Wow!"

My son hunting for Easter Eggs. One said “Jesus Has Risen!” His answer? “Did you hear that? Wow!”

Missing Angus at the Beach — a Good Dog Story

Angus7

ANGUS

AUGUST 7, 2014: I’m missing Angus a lot lately. We’re on vacation at the beach in a little cottage where Angus slept on the front porch with his head sticking in the doorway into the living room. Every morning at this cottage for nine years I took Angus for a walk up the hill. In the evenings, the family took him for his nightly swim in the ocean. He’d jump through the waves chasing a tennis ball. Everywhere I look, I miss him. So, I’m reposting this story I wrote in honor of my son and Angus’s birthday last March.

MARCH 14, 2014: Next week my son turns 21 years old. Officially an adult. He shared his birth date with Angus, our yellow lab. But, sadly, this year Angus isn’t with us. He made it from my son’s 1st grade birthday to his sophomore year in college.

 

My kids with Angus at the beach.

My kids with Angus at the beach.

The following is a story I wrote when Robert invited 50 kids to his second grade birthday party. It was published in the Los Angeles Times Kids’ Reading Room. 

Angus1

Camping with Angus in Carpinteria.

A Birthday for the Dogs

“MOM, I’m inviting 50 kids to my party.”

“What, Robert?” Mom said. “That’s too many. Do you know 50 kids?”

I sat in the back seat while Mom drove home after school. My eighth birthday was in two weeks. 

“There’s my class, plus Cub Scouts, and playgroup.”

“I can’t afford to take 50 kids skating or bowling. And I don’t want 50 kids in my house. What about the city pool? It’s heated, open year-round, and it’s only 50¢ a kid,” Mom said.

“A swim party, that’s cool!” I said.

“I’ll say yes to the party, but no to presents. Fifty presents is too much for one 8-year-old. It’s decadent.”

“What’s decadent?” I asked. Mom used words I didn’t know.

“Self-indulgent, corrupt.”

Angus2

Angus watching the kids on the playground at Ruth Hardy Park.

I sat silently and thought I’d be sad with no presents. Then I remembered Angus. Mom got him for me as an early birthday present. We were on a waiting list for two years with Guide Dogs of the Desert. He was being trained as a companion dog for people who couldn’t see. We got him because he had poor hips and couldn’t be a working dog. Angus was big, yellow, and I loved him. We shared the same birthday.

“I have a great idea!”

Angus

Angus at his front porch post at the beach cottage.

“What?” Mom asked, glancing at me in her rearview mirror.

“I’ll ask for money for Guide Dogs of the Desert.”

“Ah?” Mom made a weird swallowing noise.

“It’s Angus’s birthday, too.”

Angus5

At the cottage.

In the rearview mirror I watched Mom dab at the corner of her eyes with a tissue, and nod her head in agreement.

Two weeks later, I had a great birthday. Fifty kids came with bathing suits, towels and money. Instead of opening presents after cake, we counted dollars they had stuffed into a large jar decorated with photos of Angus. 

Together, we raised more than $1,600 for Guide Dogs. Mom called me a “philanthropist” – whatever that is.

Angus8

The birthday boys, Robert and his dog Angus.

 

Here’s a link to a video of Angus doing his daily chore of getting the paper.