Saturday, April 4, 2020

Arizona's Unique Beauty...is it in the eyes of the beholder?


You get to decide....



Winery near Wilcox...land of the Sandhill Crane

Rosemary in bloom...beautiful and fragrant!

Cactus reveal multicolor new growth.
They are called Mexican Poppies here...a carpet of yellow in the spring.

Humming Birds only share the feeder at sunset...a miracle of nature.
 Have a wonderful day.

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Monday, March 23, 2020

What to Do, What to Do...back to China, Small Businesses and More!

Has it really only been 3 months since the Chinese notifies WHO of the Coronavirus outbreak? It seems like a lifetime to my family. Here is where we are now.


I try not to think about the past too much...yes I know, if we don't remember the past we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes. The mistakes, of course, are the problem. They cannot be undone. Words cannot be pulled back into our mouths unsaid and we cannot un-know what we know.

I think that is the problem right now...the un-knowing. Wouldn't you agree? For example, can we un-know that press conference where a NBC reporter asked our president to comfort those that afraid and was told what an awful person he was. I cannot un-know the last presidential debates nor can I even wrap my mind around how to make the foreboding go away.

These incidences are a snap shot of what our leadership is like. Scary, huh?

So, just finding a way to move forward is the best answer I guess. But what to do...what to do.

My oldest son has just returned to China and in living in a Hong Kong 4 star hotel in a room that he describes as a cell. He will stay there for 2 week in quarantine until the China official decide that he is not sick. Then, hopefully he will be allowed to re-enter Shenzhen where he works. He has two dog, an apartment and an organization with employees waiting. I keep my fingers crossed for him. His wife and our two granddaughters remain in Portland.

My youngest son is a small businessman. He and his wife are experts in photography...in the Portland Oregon metro area. The governor in that state has ordered the population to shelter in place. The mortgage must be paid as do the utilities. They have three children at home and three grown children that are struggling themselves. My husband and I watch and wait to see what we can do for them. The mortgage must be paid. Banks will do the worst in this type of situation. But if there is no declaration of emergency, no financial aid is available from our state or the feds.

In the case of our government not taking action, what I see is that corporations need help or our economy might collapse. But most importantly, if my past experience serves me right, bank will foreclose, people will loss their homes so we will see an already burgeoning homeless population grow even more. The little guys need the most help short term.

So even as we look to the future, it is not good.

BUT, what if a miracle happened, a vaccine could be found sooner rather than later and within a short period of time we can go on with our lives. China is reopening schools now. The epidemic is receding and those that have recovered must be going back to work.

In an article published in the Guardian the evidence pointed to December 31, 2019 as the date that the Chinese notified WHO of the outbreak of a pneumonia in Wuhan. The disease was identified as Disease X at that time. It has since been identified and Coronavirus Disease. That was less than 3 month ago.

So I am hopeful that we can do what the Chinese did....shelter in place. SHELTER IN PLACE! If your city does not feel like a dead space, you are not doing it. Stay at home.

Ok, I have a confession. We are having a hard time doing that here in Arizona. Other than restaurants closing it is pretty much business as usual. People are afraid (sorry President T.). Hoarding is terrible here and nationwide. We need some leadership and reassurance.

But SHELTER IN PLACE IS WHAT IS NEEDED. If we don't do what the Chinese did and close the world down around us nationally, what is the point. There is no "wall" between states and viruses do no respect borders.

Just saying. Any thoughts?

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Saturday, March 21, 2020

Life Goes On...thoughts on living in isolation! What are you doing?

If you have ever gone camping and been left in the forest camp by yourself for a time, you will understand what isolation can feel like. Silence is wonderful but like anything, too much is too much. I actually do know women that like being left with their thoughts. I am not one of them.

I cannot even imagine NYC with no traffic and throngs of people. As my daughter-in-law related the story of living in Shenzhen, China for a couple of week with no one but two teens to keep her sane, the silence would be deafening!

But the reality is we must learn to socially distance ourselves. Italy is an example of what can happen when a culture of lovely people can't seem to do that. It makes one sick at heart.

And still, it seems so remote doesn't it? What happens next door or a few miles away does not happen to us...or so we think. In fact, in my minds eye, the restaurants are busy and I wonder why I am not there. A glass of wine with people chatting around me would be so wonderful. I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around it.

I could talk bravely about how many books I will read or something of that sort. But the truth of the matter is, I don't like this at all. Going out only when necessary is no fun.

Tamara, in a comment on an earlier post, ask about the importance of self-isolation. I know that she wanted me to get on board with the idea. Well, Tamara, if. you are reading, I am with you.

As I said in my previous post, "As for that Coronavirus disease, do what health workers tell you to do. Self quarantine if you think you have been exposed...do not wait for someone to order you to do that very thing. You may be inconvenienced or feel silly but better that than exposing someone to the disease that is not as healthy as you." 

Today I would add that just staying away from people for a couple of weeks would not be a bad idea. The six foot rule is the rule of thumb I hear. We need to be careful. In the state of Oregon EVERYONE is being ask to stay in place. Governor Brown was very emphatic in her press conference last night that people are being asked now but may be ordered to do that with consequences if they don't. That is where the National Guard might come into play if I am correct.

This thing could be the end of us yet!

Take care and let me know what you are doing. I am interested.

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Saturday, March 14, 2020

The Voice of Reason

Here is the deal...I am old enough that I remember periods of time with shortages and high interest rates and inflation though the roof. I remember that the inflation made it very hard to put food on our families table. It was hard but it was not the end of the world. We got through it and we will again.

The voice of reason will prevail. What that voice says to you might be different than what it says to me. We each will find what works for us.

I for one cannot imagine staying in my house for-ever. The voice of reason tells me that going out doors, socializing and having fun will be fine. It tells me that having some basic supplies in my home may be a good idea...not enough for six years but enough for a few weeks. Flour, rice, beans can suffice in a pinch. It tells me that hoarding does not keep the wolf from my door because if my neighbor runs out I will be sharing. It would be wrong to get fat while others are suffering. It tells me that now is the time to tap into that inner resource of humor and patience.

If you are very young and have never experience a bad time, this will be good for you. You will be a stronger more confident person. You will know that you can do what is needed while keeping those around you safe...not just family but neighbors and friends. Life will go on as it always does.

As for that Coronavirus disease. Do what health workers tell you to do. Self quarantine if you are exposed...do not wait for someone to order you to do that very thing. You may be inconvenienced or feel silly but better that than exposing someone to the disease that is not as healthy as you.

So there you have it. We will play golf tomorrow...outside but dinner will be served indoors if we want to stay. Life will go on with a few tweaks. We got this! :)


How are things in your neighborhood?

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Sunday, March 8, 2020

Out of China: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) and Me

My husband was very concerned about the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the very beginning. I didn't want to talk about it! That was back in January. We had ordered visa's for a trip to China and we were to leave next week...March 19th. Tickets were purchased and we were making plans from a side trip to Bali. Needless to say, we changed our plans. As we all know, this disease is about to change more and more lives. It certainly has had an effect on ours. And the beat goes on.


My son and his wife plus our grandchildren live and work in China. Thankfully they are back in the states now.

We are grateful that they are out of Shenzhen and living temporarily in their condo in the Portland, Oregon. But the battle they had getting here was not easy. Getting out of the China without contracting the Coronavirus disease was the big victory. It was very much a worry for all of us.
Chinese back street. by b

I cannot tell you the full story because I honestly do not know it all. But from our end, this is what we saw.

When Chinese New Year came around, one of the
granddaughters went away with a group of her classmates to go skiing. The rest of the family went to Thailand for a break. It seemed as normal as their life can actually seem to us.

They were all good and then all "hell" broke loose. The Coronavirus reared its ugly head in Guangzhou to spread across China and the family was spread to the four winds.

My son flew to New York City on a job related trip.

My daughter-in-law and our oldest granddaughter went back to China. But the youngest was still in Switzerland.

And China shut down...period.

A couple of days later he youngest granddaughter got off the plane from her trip and was held in quarantine because she had caught a cold on the trip. Even though her mother was at the airport to meet her, they could not connect immediately. The experience scared the child half to death.

They live in very large city that bustles as only China can and suddenly the streets were totally empty. My daughter-in-law who was alone in China with the girls said it felt like Chernobyl must have felt after the nuclear accident there. Total isolation and all that entails with the two girls was mind bending.

Fast forward a week or so. After hunting down plane tickets, they caught the "last plane out". They left the dogs with an ayi (Chinese "auntie") and came to us in Arizona. My son came here from NYC so he met them at the airport. We just hugged the stuffing out of each one of them and breathed a sigh of relief. In spite of colds and exhaustion from stress, they were fine-ish. Sorta! We were elated at the miracle of having them all under our roof. It was wonderful. They were with us a few days before they returned to Portland.

Then reality began to sink in as it continues to do to this day. The girls continued with online learning because they had already begun in China when their school did not reconvene after their bread.  Teachers teach at a distance and the girls are spending endless hours learning on the computer discovering what would have taken a short time to learn in the classroom.

With each news cast we are beginning to wonder if this is the new reality of life for the foreseeable future.

It is not apparent yet if they will ever go back to their home in China. Eventually someone will have to go to to Shenzhen to direct the move to their next job. (Yes, there is a next job.)

The reality is the girls may never connect with their friends again. In the meantime, my son who is school head for Avenues of New York Shenzhen school and my daughter-in-law who is working for an international school in Shenzhen are now working from home. All day, 5 or 6 days a week.

After the shock wore off, we are all back in step with what is real now. They have gone back to Portland where they own a condo. We remain in Arizona doing what we do. All is well...almost.

My daughter-in-law broke her knee skiing on Mt. Hood but other than that....sigh. We are beginning to be a little jumpy as you can well imagine!

But, life goes on and what is, is! I feel very grateful at this particular point in our life. They are healing and we are fine. Life is good!

Enough already! Any drama in your life?

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Friday, February 28, 2020

OFF MY CHEST: Retire In Style has New Owners...and I am not happy!

FEELING A LITTLE PRICKLE
You may well know that I lost my domaine just before last Christmas. Now I see that a new blog has popped up with the name Retire in Style (blog). I have time today so I went over to see what they are all about...and I am not happy! I suppose I need to get over taking ownership in the blogs name and reputation.


Of course the main theme is financial which stands to reason. Retirement is all about how we are going to live on the money we make. Being responsible financially can make a whole lot of difference. That is fine. 

But then I see that, in an effort to appear less financial and more like a real person, the author is writing about "authoritative" parenting and school success. The gist of the whole thing is that parents that have rules and enforce them, are more likely to have successful children...it is much like being an "authoritarian" just nicer.

Sounds great and wonderful doesn't it? But here is the thing, children doing thing our way just because "we say so" only goes so far. Remember, I am an educator. There is a lot more to parenting and teaching than always being right!

Jim Fay and Charles Faye wrote a book called Teaching with Love & Logic: Taking Control of the Classroom back in 2000-ish. The latest version was published in 2016. Parents latched onto this book and it did make a difference in how children were raised. This author touted the idea that children react differently when what they do has a logical consequence. For example, if a child writes on the bathroom wall, they will spend a lot of time washing it off with hand soap (what is available). But it has to be done and the person that did it needs to take responsibility. (Amazon has a whole section on raising children that might be worth checking out.) 

However, if you ask a child why they did something, often they will not know. What they do sometimes just happens in a sequence of events that they cannot explain. Grounding them for a week may not be the best answer. The why can work both ways. Listening is the key and always will be.

This and many other strategies used by both parents and teachers is a far cry from the "do it because I said so" parenting style. Authoritative parenting is kinder than "authoritarian" but does not have the depth of understanding or even compassion required from either the parent or the teacher...better grades or not. 

So let me say, I for one will not be taking advice from a "Retirement Financial Advisor" on how to raise children. 

What do you think?

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ps: I might add that when I was a Grandmother care giver I was very authoritative. My grandchildren still have not forgiven me for that. Darn!

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Can You Write Like ________(your favorite author)?

I now have a total of 5 books started...I love everyone of them. Team of Rival by Doris Kearns Goodwin, What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell,  The Know-it-all by A. J. Jacobs (hilarious, good airport book), My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrick Blackman and The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood.  Oh and I have one in Oregon called  The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey that doesn’t belong to me so I couldn’t travel with it.

Everyone of these books are unique and wonderful in their own way. As I was working around my house the other day I was thinking about the words and the way each author puts them together to make their story their very own. I have often wondered if I could write like, say, Ann Tyler or even Fredrick Blackman. (I know that Doris Kearns Goodwin and Malcolm Gladwell are out of me wheel house). But telling a different story, one that is about what you know...could any of us do the emulation that would be worthy of Tyler or Blackman?

Fredrick Blackman is that author that wrote a Man Called Ove and  my grandmother asked me to tell you she’s sorry. If you haven’t read anything by this author, I am sorry. He is the writer of the perfect story. You will read the book, tell everyone about it and then give it as a gift to a good friend or relative. It is that kind of book

As for Ann Tyler, she always tells about someone I am sure I know....backwards, forwards and upside down. I have read several of her books. My favorite right now is Earthly Possessions. If you cannot see the humor in the main character’s (Charlotte Emory) situation, you surely do not laugh at funerals like I do. This is what Ann Tylers web page had to say about the book:
Charlotte Emory has always lived a quiet, conventional life in Clarion, Maryland. She lives as simply as possible, and one day decides to simplify everything and leave her husband. Her last trip to the bank throws Charlotte's life into an entirely different direction when a restless young man in a nylon jacket takes her hostage during the robbery--and soon the two are heading south into an unknown future, and a most unexpected fate....
Now, the question is “If you read the first page or chapter for example, could you begin a book like it (but different)? Wouldn’t it be fun to try? I think so.

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20 Awkward Steps to Our Happy Retirement or There Was Not a Guidebook

I first published this article back in June of 2014. A lot has changed. Two grandchildren are married and we have 2 great-grandchildren (b...