Archive for October, 2020

Finding gratitude in 2020

October 7, 2020

On the surface, 2020 stinks. Over 200,000 Americans killed by coronavirus. Way too many nasty political ads. Boiling weather. Wearing masks. Isolating at home. I could go on and on but you will know what I’m talking about. I was stressing out about all the negativity.

I had to make a conscious decision to find something to be grateful for in 2020. That was the only path I could see to happiness in this dreadful year.

           I started by reminding myself of my wonderful family. My sister Evvy lives in New York City so we haven’t been able to get together, but we talk on the phone often. As I grow older, the more I love her.

           My brother lives in New Jersey and has many underlying conditions. I’m so grateful that he’s being strict and staying at home to protect himself.

           I am grateful my children and grandchildren live in the Phoenix area and I’ve been able to see them during these turbulent times. I am lucky that my children allow my granddaughters to stay with me for ten days at a time!

           I have a group of friends in the valley whom I haven’t seen much in the past six months, but I think about them often and our high jinks together.

           I’m grateful that Steve is in my life now. Since we have very differing political views, we don’t let the topic come up. I hadn’t realized how much time I’d invested in watching the news and yelling at the screen, It’s such a pleasure not to be consumed by the toxic political atmosphere. We can watch the PBS Newshour together and not get upset.

           I haven’t been able to write much this summer, but I can feel the creative urge coming on. It seems so long since I used my imagination.

           I challenge you to watch less news and live in the moment. Each moment can be joyous even if the world is a mess.

The Single Senior Sails the Seas

October 7, 2020

           I went to California last week with Steve. We’ve been friends for three months. We trailered his 24.5 foot Bayliner to Long Beach and rented a slip at Alamitos Bay Marina. I get seasick, so I made sure to get the discs that go behind your ears to prevent this. It worked perfectly.

           I especially liked the twilight rides on the boat. The setting sun dappled light on the soft waves.

We went to Long Beach and looked in the shops, saw the Queen Mary and the USS Iowa and container ships being loaded.

           We motored over to Catalina Island, using Google maps on our phones for navigation. It was early in the morning and the ocean was very calm. The first night we moored at Two Harbors, a less developed harbor.

I swam to the shore (it was cold but refreshing) while Steve blew up the dinghy and rowed to shore. Since this is where the isthmus of the island is located, we walked a few blocks up the hill and were able to see the other harbor. I was able to rinse off at the public showers:  three dollars for three minutes.

           We went to Avalon on Catalina early the next morning. There were “water taxis” to take us from our boat to the dock. We walked around the town leisurely. It was much less crowded than normal due to Covid-19. We had breakfast at Antonio’s and had to shoo away the bees. They were at every restaurant we ate at in California. Who knew that August was bee month?

           That evening we ate at Steve’s Steak House. Since there is no inside dining, they set up formal tables and chairs on the beach. The food was delicious and the atmosphere quite romantic. Afterwards we went on our twilight ride and saw seals sleeping on the large buoys.

           Our return from Catalina was a bit more eventful. The sunrise through the mist was amazing. The seas were not as calm, but it felt like I was on an amusement park ride, shouting “Yahoo!” as we bounced over the waves. Something went wrong with the engine, but Captain Steve fixed it, as I knew he would.

           We had a delightful breakfast at the Lighthouse Restaurant in Newport Beach before returning to our slip at Alamitos Bay Marina.

           That night Steve’s grandson and his wife Courtney and their children Blake (aged 4) and Jett, (almost a year old) came aboard to visit.  We had a great meal at the San Pedro Fish Market and then took them for a twilight ride.

           Now that we’re a couple, how do I introduce Steve? We’re a bit old to be “boyfriend” and “girlfriend.” “Partner” sounds like we’re in business together. “Lover” is TMI (too much information.) I think I’ll call him my “gentleman friend” because that definitely ­­­describes his personality.

The Single Senior Does Karaoke

October 7, 2020

           I rarely sing in public. That’s because when I was in elementary school the chorus teacher asked me to mouth the words, but not sing, on the evening of our performance. I finally got over my phobia of singing in public when I became a children’s librarian. The kids don’t care if you can’t carry a tune as long as you are enthusiastic and ask them to sing along.

One Thursday evening, Steve and I went to The Wandering Donkey, a new taqueria in Munds Park. We shared a scrumptious steak quesadilla. We drank some beer to accompany our meal, then Steve suggested margaritas, which were divine.

On Thursday evenings Lance Smith, the owner and wannabe rock star and crooner, hosts karaoke. He even has special lights.

After two margaritas and some encouragement from Steve, I did a duet with Lance. We sang “Peaceful Easy Feeling” by the Eagles. It was fun but I haven’t repeated my performance.

Another Amazing Adventure in Grandmotherhood.

October 7, 2020

My granddaughter Abby, age 13, visited me for July. Most days she swam laps at the Pinewood Country Club pool at 9 a.m. She collected the colored visitors’ wristbands.

On the first day she was here, we went to Bookman’s. She found a book she liked and spent every spare moment reading. This warmed the cockles my librarian heart. She also bought a two Taylor Swift CD sets so that’s what we listened to in the car.

We made many trips to Michael’s and Joann’s during that time. I bought a tie-dye set and oversized tee-shirts for the both of us. Abby had done it before, so she gave me directions as we did them. They turned out great. I’m going to take the kit back to the valley because she might want to make tie-dyed items as gifts for the holidays.

Abby selected a soft fleece fabric that was printed on both sides. I set up the sewing machine and explained how to double hem so there wouldn’t be any raw edges showing. She made a blanket for her bed at home all by herself. She also designed and made a bed for her sister’s favorite stuffed animal.

We enjoyed taking the golf cart to the post office (before it closed) and the Country Club, even though it barely makes it up the hills.

We ate out often:  at Oscar’s Fiesta Burrito and Your Pie in Flagstaff as well as the Country Club, Agee’s and The Wandering Donkey.

Abby wanted to earn money. She set up a tally sheet and would mark every time she did a task for which she got paid. She took the dogs for short or long walks. She watered the plants. She cleaned all the wooden blinds in the house. I bought a Swiffer and she cleaned the floors. She rinsed out the dog’s igloo. She gave both dogs baths. But her biggest task was cleaning and organizing the storage shed. She took everything out. I sorted through and put half of the stuff in my car to donate. She cleaned the floor of the shed and put the remaining items back in an organized manner. I was thrilled! I’d put off doing that for years.

She tried Pickleball twice but did not want to play more. She said it would take too much practice to get good at it.

We went to Board and Brush in Flagstaff late one Saturday afternoon. We had looked on their website for projects we wanted to do. I chose a sign to give to a friend. Abby chose a huge clock that she personalized with her name. I thought the most fun was distressing the wood, hammering screws to make it look old. We were both proud of our finished products.

Abby found an unpainted crate at Joann’s which she decided could be a storage bin. She had fun painting and decorating it the colors of her bedroom. She painted many large rocks to adorn my front yard. She also repainted a birdhouse that Steve had fixed. He hung it up for me.

We went to Flagstaff one morning to get my mail after the Munds Park Post Office was shut down. She patiently waited an hour and a half, reading, while I waited in line. We tried to shop in downtown Flagstaff but all the Heritage Square shops are closed. They are open on the weekend by appointment. We did find things to buy at Earthbound and The Bright Side Bookshop in downtown Flagstaff. We went to Old Navy and scored some cute clothes.

On the day before she went home, we got henna tattoos. Although we put a mixture of fresh-squeezed lemon juice and sugar on the tattoos as directed, both of ours faded. Abby traced the lines with a Sharpie pen so it would last longer.

We had lots of time to talk. Abby is a thoughtful, generous person with a great work ethic. I’m so happy that my son Nick and his wife Shelley are such effective and loving parents.

Her school district has remote learning until Oct. 9. Since I have the Internet up here in Munds Park, I’m hoping she and her sister can visit again.

I so enjoyed her company and was sad when she left. 

The Fourth of July, Covid-Style

October 7, 2020

              It looked like a bleak holiday. No fireworks. No parade, No big parties. (Not even Beavfest!) No music at Pinewood Country Club. So what was one to do for the Fourth of July?

              On Friday Elissa and I went into Flagstaff for some supplies. We decided to start the weekend with the very American Steakburger and fires at Freddy’s. After we ordered, we were given a paper cup and a plastic bag with a lid and a straw. When we sat down, I noticed that Elissa has put the plastic bag inside her cup before she put the soda in! I commented that although I thought the plastic bag was merely a vehicle to handing out the lid and straw, she was more creative to find a use for it. We both had a good belly laugh.

              At ten on the morning of July Fourth, I settled in on my porch with Ty, Donna and Elissa to await the parade. We all wore our patriotic outfits. We munched on cheese and crackers and sipped Mimosas. Although the official Munds Park Parade was cancelled, Allison Tiffany and some other residents, with initiative, organized a car parade. They put the map on the Munds Park Facebook page. And it went in front of my house. 

              There were over seventy-five vehicles, decorated for the holiday. It was a terrific way to stay safe and enjoy the spirit of the day. We waved and took photos. Steve was in the parade in his ’23 T Bucket Hot Rod.

              In the afternoon I rested and played games on my phone. At five I walked over to Elissa’s house. Vicki, Michaela and I were invited for a BBQ. Vicki did the honors at the grill and cooked luscious burgers with grilled onions. Elissa supplied the hamburger meat and fixings, coleslaw, baked beans and drinks. Michaela’s sister-in-law, who didn’t come, made a yummy ice box cake.

              I went home and watched all the fireworks and listened to the patriotic songs on television. It’s not the same as live fireworks. I went down memory lane to when I was a kid and my family would go to Central Park, in Teaneck, New Jersey, and watch fireworks. I was mesmerized by the displays and excited by the booming noises. When I lived in the Arcadia section of Phoenix, we could see the Phoenix Country Club fireworks from our homes. In one of my houses, we gathered on the second story deck. In the other house, all the neighbors brought their folding chairs into the street and we watched the fireworks together.

 I still like the pyrotechnics as much as the kids.

Single Grandparenting is a Joy . . . with a Little Help from my Friends

October 7, 2020

           Savannah, my nine-year-old granddaughter, visited me in Munds Park for ten days. She was unbelievably well-behaved. She’s bright, beautiful and curious.

           Steve came over with his hot rod and took Savannah for a spin around Munds Park. She and I went in my golf cart to the post office where she quickly learned how to open my mailbox. She was thrilled that I had ordered things from the internet and received packages.

           We went into Flagstaff to pick out some projects since most of the kids’ activities had been canceled, due to Covid-19. At Joann’s Fabrics, she picked out a “Make clothes for your Barbie doll” kit. At Michael’s she opted for some modeling clay. We went to Home Depot and chose perennials for my garden. (Of course we wore our masks and socially distanced from others in the store. We used hand sanitizer as soon as we got back in the car and washed our hands when we returned home.)

           Savannah attempted a silky evening dress for a Barbie. She kept pinning the material to the dress form. She got frustrated. She was going to make a pig from the clay, but decided it looked more like a cow.

           The next day we invited Steve and Elissa to our “garden” party to plant the flowers. Steve brought a spade, which was much easier than the trowel I usually use.

We went to Target and purchased a Barbie doll to ease the designing and sewing of outfits. She also wanted a pink plastic container for her doll form and all the sewing paraphernalia. I told her she could sew a dress for herself and one for Barbie so we went to Joann’s Fabrics again. She wanted only material that felt soft, so she picked pink flannel with hearts on it.

           I showed her how to make a pattern from newspaper. We traced her body and added the seam allowance. She did the same for Barbie. Savannah is quite adept in using a sewing machine and both projects were finished that day.

           Elissa, a friend from Phoenix, rented a place around the corner from my cabin. Savannah enjoyed gong between the two houses, as Elissa and Steve are part of my “pod” (like a family group.)

           Steve, Elissa, Savannah and I went to Trivia Night a Agee’s BBQ. Savannah ordered her usual chicken fingers. Steve paid for the dinners with our vouchers from coming in first place in Trivia the week before. We were pleased that the event was held outside and the tables were far apart. We didn’t win, but we enjoyed the evening. I thought Savannah would be bored, but she enjoyed the jokes made by the woman who is in charge of Trivia Night.

           On Thursday I had my book club, so Savannah stayed with Elissa, who gave her a watercolor painting lesson.

Savy, Steve, Elissa and I all went to the Pinewood Country Club for dinner. Savannah loved the chicken fingers, Pinewood Cookie and half of my chocolate lava cake. She had no trouble falling asleep.

           We went back to Joann’s the next day and she picked out another fabric. She wanted to sew a dress for herself and Barbie. The pattern books were no longer available, due to Covid 19. We had to look on Joann’s website, choose a pattern and find it in the drawer.

           She pinned the fabric to the pattern pieces. The directions for sewing the dress were so convoluted and complex that I ended up sewing the dress while she designed and sewed other matching outfits with the leftover material. She was quite inventive. She indicated she may want to be a designer when she grows up. We discussed how many designers started their businesses in their own homes.

This is the top Savvy made all by herself.

           Another day Steve, Savannah and I went to Montezuma’s Castle. She was fascinated by the idea that people lived in the dwellings so long ago.

           We went to Cliff Castle Casino and entered via the back door so we wouldn’t be exposed to the gambling floor. Of course we wore our masks. We had our temperatures taken before we could go in. We bowled two games. Savannah and Steve bet a dollar on each game and she lost. It was a teachable moment about gambling. He quizzed her about Montezuma’s Castle on the way back to the cabin and she earned her two dollars back.

           We ate at Steve’s house twice. The first time he invited us, he hadn’t prepared. He opened the freezer, which had whole chickens and thin pork chops. That’s when I learned that he couldn’t cook! I defrosted the chops and sautéed them in a frying pan. Savannah and I had baked beer bread to take over. The four of us (Elissa, Steve, Savannah and I) worked on the thousand piece puzzle on the dining room table before and after dinner. We made a bit of progress.

           Savannah didn’t watch much television, but when she did, it was “Grease.” We also watched a bit of the news. We discussed the issues of Black Lives Matter and Covid 19, but not President Trump. She was quite interested in current events.

           I got to tell her stories every night at bedtime. She never whined or cajoled to stay up later. She had chores to do:  watering the flowers every day, helping me walk the dogs, and taking her turn at washing the dishes.

           I wasn’t exhausted when she left because my friends were so involved with her.

I was sad to see her go.

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The Adventure Continues

October 7, 2020

I’m updating my blog with the summer entries. This was written June 7, 2020

I’ve seen Steve almost every day for the past two weeks.

We went on a RZR ride to Mormon Lake and had a picnic in the woods. The only time I’d been on a RZR ride was around the block with my son more than five years ago. It was a good thing we had on our masks to protect from Corona virus because they kept out the dust out of our noses and mouths. Sunglasses kept our eyes clear. There wasn’t much water in Mormon Lake. I had only been there once before, and never realized there was more to the town than the Lodge and campgrounds. I had packed a lunch of roast beef sandwiches. We pulled off the dirt road at a shady spot and had lunch. We ate and talked and communed with nature. When I got back to my house, I was surprised that I was worn out. It was a drive, not a hike.

He’s played pickleball with me a few times. I could see he was a much better player than me (it’s hard not to be,) but he played at my level. He enjoyed the laid back atmosphere of our pickleball courts.

We went to see The Mother Road Trio again at the Oakmont. Two women at the next table were dancing and I joined them. They asked if he was going to dance. He said he’d have to have a shot of tequila. So he ordered one. I tasted it but it made my face go into contortions. A little while later, he donned his sunglasses and danced like Mr. Cool. The women thought we’d been married for forty years!

One day I went over and helped him with a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle. I used to do smaller puzzles all the time with my kids and grandkids. It was a hard puzzle but we managed to put some of the pieces together.

He has a friend, Kurt, from the valley who builds houses. He came up, with his delightful wife Cindi, to give me an estimate on getting the cabin ready for a washer and dryer. I’m actually going to do it after twelve years. The full size stackable washers were $400 less each since last year, so I’m glad I waited.

My friend Elissa, from Phoenix, has rented a place around the corner from my cabin. Steve has no problem including her in our plans.

I’m having a good time.