Category Archives: slice of life

What I Did on My Summer Vacation: 2022





Remember when we were in grade school and our teachers would start off the year by having us write an essay titled: What I Did On My Summer Vacation? It seemed such a boring topic, but now I get it. The teacher got us writing and also telling about ourselves. He/she could learn a lot about their student from those short essays.

Maybe it seemed boring because in the old days, we didn’t do much. But in the summer of 2022, our vacation wasn’t boring. Like so many, we were making up for lost time. People traveled in droves to the far corners of the world: to Europe, to Iceland, to Africa and Asia. We traveled too, but on the west coast. For us, it was all about getting together with family and friends we hadn’t seen since before the pandemic.

We started our trip in Seattle for our grandson Eli’s graduation from the University of Washington. We hadn’t been on a plane for almost a year. I’d been a seasoned traveler in 2019, but in June 2022, I’d forgotten a lot. Just walking in an airport seemed strange.

Once in Seattle, the weather reminded us why we had moved to California. As Eli drove us into the city from the airport, the down pour was so heavy I could barely see the lights of downtown. The rain continued into the following week, finally becoming a drizzle that frazzled my husband. The golf courses were so soaked that even when the deluge ended, no carts were allowed. No golf for Moe makes for a nerve wracked Cindy! That aside, the graduation was wonderful. And we got to meet Eli’s friends.

Seattle is very different than the city Moe and I grew up in. And Bellevue, the once sleepy suburb, is unrecognizable. On the one sunny day, we went to the University of Washington where we met. Mt. Rainier was out in all its glory. We walked around campus to Frosh Pond where Moe had first told me he was going to marry me. (I was eighteen and a freshman so I murmured something like, “that’s a nice thought,”). After having lunch at University Village, we took the nostalgia drive through the neighborhoods we grew up in. (Interestingly, these areas remain untouched by time.)

But as I said, the main agenda in Seattle was seeing family and friends. Our daughter lives in Bellevue, but she and the kids visit a lot. In contrast, we hadn’t seen Moe’s sister for four years! We spent Father’s Day with Moe’s cousins, their kids and grandkids and I got to spend time with my sister, my niece and her kids. Back in California, we had a family reunion with my side of the family, who we hadn’t seen since before Covid.

Dinner with Luann and Irv

One rainy morning in Seattle, I had coffee with ten friends from high school. Half of them had gone to Stevens Elementary with me. I was the first one at Starbucks and started questioning myself about setting this up. What had I been thinking? I hadn’t seen these people for twenty-five years since our last reunion. I’d left Seattle thirty years ago. What would we have in common? What would we have to say to each other?

Three hours later, we were still talking. It was an interesting phenomenon: we were senior citizens now with many life experiences behind us, some of which we shared. But the childhood connection we’d had bonded us forever. Especially with the grade school kids. Part of who I am today is because of Sue Ann Kay, Judy Walseth, Sten Crissey and Sandra James. They sat beside me in class from 9 AM to 3:10 during my formative years. We absorbed the same school experiences, were in Brownies and Girl Scouts together, were student class officers together. Our family backgrounds were diverse, but our world view evolved in those classrooms.

I don’t remember how I used to end my “What I did on my Summer Vacation” essays years ago. This year, I can end by telling you how enriched I feel that I connected again with family and friends. My heart is full of gratitude.

A Year Ago Today

I think everyone is doing a lot of thinking about what they were doing a year ago today.  I know I am.

I just looked at my dining room table and remembered my grandsons being here at the beginning of the pandemic. So many thoughts whirred through my head—how scared we were—how unbelievable it all was—how I was always trying to figure out what to make for dinner for college-aged kids—how we couldn’t find toilet paper or hand sanitizer or masks.

I remember getting my neighbor masks for her and her husband. I left them out on the bench by our front door. She’d wanted to pay me for them, and I’d said, “Don’t even worry about it.” When she picked up the masks, she left me a spray can of Lysol. I was so grateful, I got tears in my eyes.

That established a pattern of neighbors helping neighbors through the months. We kept in touch by phone, email or text. If someone needed something, we all pitched in to help—even if it wasn’t in person.

This was about the time I started using Shipt. I didn’t go to a grocery story for months. I did have to go to Costco myself because I needed to have my Shingles shot booster. I was so nervous!

This is also when we became addicted to Netflix and Prime Video. Through the grapevine or our kids, we’d hear about a great series. My husband is a binge watcher while I like to space things out. He went ahead in “Yellowstone” and I felt like he’d cheated on me!

Eventually, we had our first socially distanced cocktail hour with our neighbors. It was the first of many.

The Story of My Life

I have been very busy trying to take care of my husband who is recovering from total hip replacement surgery. At first he was on a walker and needed help with just about everything. But he became ambulatory and more self sufficient as each day went by.

My problem in these situations, is that I think I need to be Super Woman and do anything and everything 100 per cent–for the patient, for me, for the world. That’s all well and good until, like a spinning top, I wear down. I’m still going in circles but in a slower, more erratic path. I also depend on coffee cake and pie to see me through.

A week ago, on top of my extra duties, I decided I needed to get back into shape. I attempted to walk 10,000 steps a day. I scheduled an appointment with a trainer. I cut up apples, oranges, carrots, celery and cucumbers for quick snacks versus cookies.

The morning for the workout with the trainer came. Before I went, I wanted to make sure my husband had a good breakfast. Full disclosure: I don’t normally make breakfast. It’s a do-it-yourself meal . . . along with lunch. But, during his recovery, I was doing three meals a day. (He’s very happy this week that he can make it to the fridge on his own so he can get back to grazing.)

All was going well. I’d gotten up early so I could help my husband with his shower, etc. And with getting the dreaded compression stocking on. That, in itself is a workout! I was dressed in my work-out clothes and in the kitchen, getting eggs out of the fridge, by 8:30. Then I stopped breakfast preparations to take the dog for his walk. Outside I noticed a lot of weeds in the front yard, which I felt needed pulling right then and there. By the time I’d fed the dog, it was 9:15 and I knew I had to hurry up.

I cracked the eggs into a favorite bowl and beat them with a fork. I turned to check that the pan was ready, and that’s when it happened. Somehow, the bowl tipped and most of the eggs landed on the floor, dripping their way down the cabinets.

I just stood there for a moment, looking at the oozing mess. When I was younger, I think I would have cried. As a senior citizen, I weighed my options. Might as well take a picture of this mess, I thought. It could be the basis for a blog.

After doing an initial cleaning that at least got the surface mess up, I opened the egg carton to find only one egg. Oh well, I thought, so I don’t eat breakfast. No big deal.

I beat the last egg into the remaining egg mixture, checking the time. It was now 10:00. My workout was at 10:30. As I poured the eggs into the pan, I could hear my husband clumping towards the kitchen.

Okay, back on track, I thought. I turned away from the stove to check on the rolls warming in the oven. When I came back, I noticed the eggs had cooked nicely in the pan. It looks almost like an omelet, I thought and decided to give the eggs a flip. The result was the best looking omelet I’ve ever made.

And yes, ladies and gentleman, that is the story of my life. Sometimes from the pits of a disaster, I’ve rescued the situation to create a success. I never give up. I just keep on keeping on. Why not?

Double Exposure

I had the most interesting experience yesterday—it was also enlightening.

On my walk every morning in Hawaii, I pass by the Canoe Club, a private facility for members of Hualalai Club. Yesterday as I chugged up the incline I noticed a photo shoot in session. Since I do the Members Blog, I stopped to take my own picture of this Hualalai happening.

Ah hah, I thought. This is the demographic they aim for: a young woman and a middle-aged man.

I took several photos of the set up and then of the silver haired photographer taking the photo of the couple lounging by the Jacuzzi. I guessed this photo would end up in a magazine, either advertising life style or the swimwear the two wore. I could see the woman was young and beautiful (although I never saw her face). Although I was at a distance from them, the man looked much older than she was.

I left and walked back home, creating a whole story about the modeling session, the models and the photographers. It was a good story with all kinds of judgments and critical assessments. I was happy with the picture I’d taken and the picture I’d created in my mind.

Then last night, I met all of them: the photographer, his assistant and the two models. It was a mind blower! I didn’t want to give up the story I’d woven for the actual reality, but what are you going to do when you’re confronted with the real people?

The man was much younger looking close up than from a distance. The woman looked just how I thought she would even if I’d imagined her.

“So here’s what I thought,” I told them. “Whoever you were shooting for, the demographics were a young woman with an older, successful man.”

“Thanks a lot, I think,” the man said.

“You look much younger, now that I’m meeting you,” I said.

He grinned, looking even more boyish.“ Now that’s good to hear.”

“How old are you?” I asked.

It turned out he was 53 and she was 40.

“Ah, so I wasn’t far off.” I gave them my know-it-all smile.

I told the photographer I’d taken a picture of him photographing the couple. “I hope I framed it well,” I said.

I turned to his assistant. “It was so early this morning it looked like you needed a cup of coffee to keep you awake.”

She looked startled and then gave me an embarrassed smile.

It turned out they were all from Oahu. The man was a teacher who worked with students from the Marshall Islands. I’d worked with students from there the year before when I volunteered at Palamanui Community College, so we chatted for a while.

As my husband and I walked away I said, “I feel like was just in a Woody Allen movie.”

“What do you mean?”

“Remember in “Annie Hall” when Marshall McLuhan shows up? That’s how it felt. Kind of like a bent reality.”

As I tried to fall asleep, I couldn’t stop thinking about meeting the real people who’d become figments of my imagination. It was interesting. But also a bit more than unsettling.

When did I start Creating Stories?

People often ask me when I started writing. I seriously began when I was in seventh grade, writing poetry. But I started story telling much before that. I remember creating stories for my sister when we were little. They were always dramas involving our paper dolls, who survived only with the help of scotch tape.

Recently when I should have been writing, I got caught by an internet website, which showed famous people when they were young and what they look like now. A couple of them were photos of our movie star paper dolls.


This is Arlene Dahl who is now 93. I read up on her–six husbands and three children. She is very into astrology and is still very beautiful. Of course being me, I wanted to change her eyebrow color immediately. A little microblading?

Ann Blyth was another movie star paper doll who had adventures in our playroom. She was born in 1928. At 90, she’s still a stunner! She’s the mother of five children.

I still remember when my mother gave me a dollar to buy ground round for meatloaf for our family of five. I walked the mile to the grocery on Broadway, feeling very important. There was enough money left for me to go next door to the drugstore and buy paper dolls. What a luxury.

Survivor Guilt 2: The Massage Therapist

 

IMG_1180Has anyone had a horrific massage experience besides me?

All of this Kavanaugh stuff is bringing up memories I’m not that fond of. The massage happened when I was forty. My kids were 17 and 13. I thought I was old.

My back went totally out that year when we were on vacation visiting my parents in Palm Springs. “Get a massage,” my husband suggested.

The only massage therapist was male and I said I didn’t care. I just needed some relief.

It all started fine. He was very strong and could get at my tangled muscles.

Then he said, “I can’t believe you’re forty. Your body is perfect.”

I should have heard the warning bell clanging “DANGER” but again I say, I thought I was old so I ignored the comment.

A few minutes later, he had pushed his body so close to my side that I could feel his erection.

That caused all kinds of alarms to go off. What the hell? I thought and scooted towards the center of the table. I tried to be subtle about it, nice girl that I am. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings.

He moved to the head of the table–it was not good. This kind of thing continued until I was scared to death. “Just let this be over,” I said to myself.

I didn’t know what to do. Now I would have said, “What the hell do you think you’re doing? Get out of here.” Then I started praying that my husband would come to meet me.

Which he did. The massage was over and I was standing in the room (I have no recollection of what the room looked like or what I was wearing, etc. ) when I heard my husband’s hearty voice at the door. I’ve never been happier to hear him because the massage therapist had just told me to hug him.

I was a well brought up, polite woman. WHO DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO STAND UP FOR MYSELF. I needed my husband to rescue me.

And again I felt guilty. What was the matter with me that things like this happened? What was I doing wrong?

Did I report this man? I thought about it but I didn’t. That’s what I did wrong.

A Free Spirit I’m Not

You’ve seen those pictures of beautiful blonds with flowing locks streaming behind them as they drive along the ocean in a convertible? They look so glamorous and like they’d be the life of any party. . .

images-1.jpeg

 

I’ve never been a convertible kind of girl. I don’t have the hair for it. Nor have I ever been the carefree type. These undeniable truths came back to me the other day when we were driving to the doctor’s office.

My husband, who has a cough that frightens small children and dogs, decided we should take the 1965 Mercedes convertible to UCLA. Even though I had just spent a half hour trying to coax some volume into my hair, I got into the car without protest. It had been his dad’s car and he loves it.

IMG_0916.jpg

 

How bad could it be?

Within six blocks I knew. First, since the seat belts are older than my kids, I couldn’t get mine to work. (Do you think the blonds with flowing hair care about seat belts? Nah!) There I was, without the protection of a roof, sitting next to a driver who doesn’t think following traffic rules is necessary. I started praying.

Then I felt the sun beating down on me. And I hadn’t put on sunscreen! I put my hand up, trying to block the rays. Which made it difficult to guard my hair.

IMG_0909

“Isn’t this fun?” my husband asked between coughs.

“Really fun,” I said, trying to sound enthusiastic.

On the way home, I figured out my seat belt, but the sun was even hotter. And the fumes from cars and motorcycles started me coughing.

IMG_0912

“You don’t look like you’re enjoying yourself,” my husband said.

“Oh, no, it’s great!” I tried creating a smile to match my words. I didn’t want to be a killjoy.

 

Today my husband had a better companion in his convertible. He and our granddaughter took the Mercedes to the mall to buy her school shoes.

IMG_0925.jpg

 

They came back all smiles! That’s what grandchildren are for: to make us happy!

IMG_0922

 

 

 

 

An Ode to Spring!

 

IMG_0442

 

 

In my infatuation with autumn, I’d forgotten my old love: Spring. I was so into Fall colors that I left Spring in the dirt. (Pardon my capitalizing the seasons. I just can’t help it. I start thinking of things like “I get a spring in my step when it’s spring” or “I can fall when I slip on fall leaves” and I end up capitalizing Spring and Fall because it just seems right to me.)

IMG_2148

I do love autumn: the cooler days after a long, hot summer. I love the brilliance of the leaves and the signs that although the days are shorter, we’re getting ready for cozy evenings at home.

IMG_2201

(You’ll notice no mention of football in my Fall loves. I know this is heresy, but football is not high on my list of priorities. Sorry.)

But this Spring has been different. Perhaps it’s because of the rainy days of winter, but I don’t think so. By slowing my life down, I’ve been more aware of what’s happening in the moment. (It’s been quality versus quantity.) Along the way, I’ve remembered how much I love the awakening of nature around me. It has been a pleasure.

It started in my own backyard. I watched as the trees began to leaf out.

IMG_0323

By the way, here’s that same tree last Fall.

IMG_3159

 

 

Then I began to see Spring wildflowers peek up their heads.IMG_0379.jpg

 

I’m fortunate to walk most days so it wasn’t difficult to see the progress of renewal in the season. I was in awe of the colors of the flowers and plants. Being cognizant that theirs’ was a short season, I knew I had to focus on their beauty or I’d miss it. They’d be gone soon and only a memory.

IMG_0363

IMG_0373

 

In other neighborhoods, I saw fruit trees put out their blossoms.

IMG_0510

 

When I walked by the lake in early Spring, I  watched the geese follow their mating rituals.

IMG_0307

 

and then, later, how they raised their young.

IMG_0479

 

In late April, I  went to Seattle to visit and was treated to a cornucopia of visual Spring delights. I think I drove my daughter crazy because I had to stop every few minutes to click another shot. But I just couldn’t get over the special beauty of the season.

Every tree and plant was bursting with new life:

IMG_0409

 

Fruit trees were decked out in their finery.

IMG_0418

 

Bluebells flocked to greet me in the woods.

IMG_0425

 

 

Back in California, I continued on my Spring Quest, aware of quickly the season was passing.

“It’s the middle of May,” I said to my daughter one day.

“Mom, it’s only May 11. Don’t push us ahead,” she said.

“I’m not, but you know, in a moment it will be Memorial Day.”

And it was.

The swans have had their babies now.

IMG_0573 (1)

 

The irises are still blooming but are losing a little of their freshness.

Time continues to march on even if we don’t want it to.

IMG_0469

 

 

 

All Spring as I walked outside, I kept hearing the phrase, Hope Springs Eternal, in my head. Even when we and our family and friends were having health issues, I saw with my own eyes that nature’s message was one of hope and renewal. Maybe everyone could get well–we shouldn’t give up hope.

But Spring also personifies the impermanence of life; its ephemeral qualities. Nothing is permanent and I should know that by now. I need to cherish what I have now–not look back, not look forward. My autumn years may be waning, but I’m not into winter yet. And I’m going to enjoy the last days of Spring without bemoaning how fleeting it was.

My plan is to gorge on peonies while they’re still is season. Short as it is.

IMG_0579

 

 

Regaining Faith in Humanity

Another school shooting. More people’s lives ripped away. More acts of religious and ethnic hatred. You see so much meanness coming from people nowadays, sometimes you begin to lose faith in humanity. Mine was restored a little today.

IMG_0528.jpg

 

As I rounded the bend on my walk, I saw a man standing on the grass, looking at the lake. Then I saw a tiny naked bird running around near him.

“Oh my goodness,” I said.

The man turned and smiled at me.

“He’s got to be brand new,” I said.

IMG_0526.jpg

“Actually, he’s a couple of weeks old,” he said. “He’s an orphan we found down by the weeds. He must have been the runt. You can see he also has a problem with his feathers, so they must have abandoned him.”

I shook my head. “That’s so sad.”

“I know. We picked him up and took him home, hoping we could save him.”

At that moment, the gosling started running away from us, flapping its wings. It looked like a wind up toy.

“Hey, where you going? Come back over here,” the man called. He looked at me. “This is the first time he’s ever left my side.”

The gosling came running back, stopping to peck at the grass for a moment before he returned close to the man.

IMG_0531

“He comes when you call?” I asked.

The man nodded. “Yeah, and he likes to cuddle under your chin.”

The man explained that they were raising him to get strong enough so they could to try to introduce him to a clutch that has goslings his age. They’d tried once already but he was rejected. “We’re hoping when he’s older it will work.”

IMG_0505.jpg

In the mean time, they have a set up a crate for him. “We’ve got stuffed animal geese in there and a mirror,” he explained. “The vet told us a special feed to get. He’s skinny, but eating and active.”

“He’s so cute,” I said.

“And look,” the man said. He pointed to the little guy’s chest where soft golden feathers were beginning to appear.

IMG_0527.jpg

The man’s smile was wide, filled with pride and compassion. “I think he’s going to make it,” he said.

What an inspiration, I thought as I continued on my walk. It goes to show that you should never give up. And that it’s not always the survival of the fittest if there’s a helping hand.

We need more of this in the world. Acts of kindness just because you can.

A Tribute to Barbara Bush

Scan Image-0

 

I’m very lucky that I got to meet Barbara Bush. She was just as everyone is describing. She was no-nonsense and warm. She was gracious, but you knew instantly that she didn’t suffer fools for a minute. She was full of fun and full of dignity. She was funny and irreverent, serious and dedicated. And she was real.

I wasn’t going to tell my story because it’s private, but the first time I met her was such a perfect example of who Barbara was that I can’t resist.

It was in Kennebunkport twenty years ago. We were back there with friends who were close with the Bushes. Four days before we left I was told that I’d being playing golf there.

“But I don’t play golf,” I said.

“You better learn fast,” my husband said.

Let me say here that I’m not the world’s greatest athlete. Nor is golf an easy sport. After twenty years I’m mediocre on a good day. But my first 18 holes was played with Barbara Bush, God help her.

We met at their club, Cape Arundel, me still tearing the tags off my golf attire. It turned out that the Bushes were hosting a cocktail party for 70 that evening at the Walker estate — Barbara was supposed to get a chance to relax and play golf that morning. Instead she got me.

Graciously, she invited me to ride in her cart. I’m not sure who she thought she was getting — I did come with a Hollywood couple, after all, who played golf all the time . She couldn’t have known I’d be a school teacher from Seattle…who’d never played golf. She soon realized the last part as I sprayed balls right and left. One hole of Cape Arundel borders a street and my ball almost took out the windshield of a Secret Service car driving along side. Guns drawn, two men in black leaned out of the car to make sure the former First Lady was not under attack.

I was in awe just being there–pretty tongue tied as well as embarrassed at my inability. I’d hit the ball and then scurry toward it, trying not to hold up play. Barbara must have been going crazy, but she didn’t say anything. On one hole, I actually was running to my ball. Barbara drew up in her cart and said, “Hop in. You don’t have to run. We all started somewhere.”

I rolled my eyes. “But why is my somewhere with you when you have 70 people coming to your house tonight.”

She laughed and patted the seat next to her. And I knew, just like that, I was okay in her book.

On the ninth green, I said, “Mrs. Bush, you can go ahead and putt out.”

A voice from the next hole called out, “Who’s calling my mother, ‘Mrs. Bush’. No one calls my mother, ‘Mrs. Bush.’ It’s Barbara.”

I blushed as I met Jeb who was playing with his dad and my husband.

Barbara, looking pleased, laughed at her son’s teasing. And I relaxed enough to laugh too.

Later that night at their house, she was the perfect hostess. Dressed in her classic style with the signature pearls around her neck, she made sure the evening, an event for MD Anderson, ran like clockwork. But it was with a calm and non pretentiousness that put everyone at ease.

We got to be with Barbara several other times. Each occasion was precious.