Happy Trails to You!

McDowell Sonoran Preserve trails.
It’s cool enough to hike at 6:30 am. so we hit the hiking trails by our house.

We haven’t been out hiking for months in the preserve by our house because of the summer heat. Finally, the weather is breaking and it felt wonderful to be out in nature at the gorgeous McDowell Sonoran Preserve once again.

We have a house guest, my sister-in-law, and it’s fun to show off our new town to her. She loved the hike, too and took some great photos of our desert life. I’m looking at things through her eyes and it’s inspiring to me.

prickly pear cactus
Prickly pears.
quail
Quail in our backyard.
saguaro cactus
A majestic saguaro.
cactus cookies
Cactus cookies that my husband’s sister made for us. She has a cookie business as one of her many endeavors.
saguaro growth chart
I found this chart helpful to learn about saguaros and how old they are.

Happy trails to you, until we meet again

Happy trails to you, keep smilin’ until then

Who cares about the clouds when we’re together?

Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather

Happy Trails Roy Rogers & Dale Evans

When you have a guest, what are some of the things you like to share or explore?

Little things that give me comfort

During this weird time of 2020 shutdowns and lingering isolation into 2021, I discovered two products that make me feel better. They are little things my son introduced me to — self care products that bring a little highlight to my days.

Never would I have imagined that I’d be washing my hands millions of times a day. My poor hands began to look so old, worn, chaffed and red in 2020. My son surprised me with an Australian hand cleanser and rich lotion. FYI, I’m going to link to these products and NO I’m not getting anything in return.

Link to Aesop.

Aesop hand soap
This is the hand soap my son gave me for Mother’s Day during COVID shut down. I used the soap up and didn’t order more because it’s pricey. It was a really nice present, though. I did order their face cleanser and love it, too.
Aesop hand cream
I love this hand cream and still have some left. It’s soothing with all the times I wash my hands these days.

While taking care of my son, post surgery, he received a package of Turkish hand towels. I was completely unfamiliar with them. He instructed me to wash them three times to get then soft and absorbent before we put them out for use. They are beautiful and luxuriously simple made of 100 percent cotton. Something I added to my bathroom when I got home. After I wash my hands — again — I pamper them with the soft Turkish towels.

Link to Cacala.

Cacala Turkish towles
These are the wonderful Turkish hand towels that are so soft and absorbent. They are also kind to my hands.

Have you discovered any self care products or foods that made you feel better during 2020 and 20201? What little ways have your days changed? Are you washing your hands more than ever, too? Have you discovered any routines or habits during these days?

Feeling out of sorts

A view from our beach vacation.

The last few days of our beach vacation, ringing began in my right ear. Then vertigo. I’m a mess. Some days it’s worse than others. Some days it goes away completely. Other days, it’s hard to function.

After two weeks I went to an ENT. I’m worried because a friend’s daughter had a side effect to the COVID vaccine of tinnitus. It’s really bad and they don’t know if it will ever go away. I googled it and it is a rare side effect to the shot, although they aren’t entirely sure that it’s related or due to something else.

In any case, the ENT PA told me my ears are fine, but my right sinus is not — and that might be causing the problems of vertigo and ringing in the ear.

They put me on prednisone. This is my first time taking it and to be honest — it’s not great. My poor son, who suffers from severe asthma has been on it every few years. I remember the first time his allergy doctor prescribed it — I didn’t fill the Rx. When I returned with my son, who was still sick, I got scolded from the doctor who said, “Doctor Mom, WHERE did you receive your medical degree?”


I had heard so many horror stories about kids and prednisone but the doctor assured me he wasn’t prescribing anything that would put my child in danger. Right. Ten years after my son was put on an inhaler for his asthma, they discovered it stunted growth. He was on it from fourth grade until a year ago. But on the bright side, he is alive

I’m alive too although feeling out of sorts. The ringing in the ear isn’t bad today and I don’t have vertigo. In a month I’ll go back to the ENT and hopefully I’ll be AOK. If not, the next step is an MRI and perhaps sinus surgery.

Have you ever not taken an Rx that a doctor prescribed for you? Have you second guessed your children’s doctor? Have you had tinnitus or vertigo and how did you get over it?

WSJ says Instagram is harmful for teens

I read an interesting article today about Instagram and teen girls called “Facebook Knows Instagram Is Toxic for Teen Girls, Internal Documents Show.” Written by Georgia Wells, Jeff Horwitz and Deepa Seetharama for the Wall Street Journal, the article says that social media may become the youth generation’s tobacco companies.

Waffles the pug. Waffles has his own Instagram account wafflezworldwide.

You can read the entire article HERE.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Thirty-two percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse,” the researchers said in a March 2020 slide presentation posted to Facebook’s internal message board, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. “Comparisons on Instagram can change how young women view and describe themselves.”

For the past three years, Facebook has been conducting studies into how its photo-sharing app affects its millions of young users. Repeatedly, the company’s researchers found that Instagram is harmful for a sizable percentage of them, most notably teenage girls.

“We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls,” said one slide from 2019, summarizing research about teen girls who experience the issues.

“Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression,” said another slide. “This reaction was unprompted and consistent across all groups.”

Among teens who reported suicidal thoughts, 13% of British users and 6% of American users traced the desire to kill themselves to Instagram, one presentation showed.

Isn’t this scary? I feel like someone’s unleashed Godzilla on the world. What will we know 10 or 20 years from now? Hopefully, we will move beyond social media and get back to in person interaction. I think if I were a parent of younger kids today, I wouldn’t let my kids have a smart phone, but stick with the flip phones or dumb phones. I didn’t get my kids smart phones until they were in high school.

Another thing I found troubling with this article is that Facebook has done internal studies for several years and they know Instagram has issues at its core. But they downplay them to the public. Our congress and senate have asked for Facebook’s studies and they do not comply with the requests.

Here’s more from the article:

In public, Facebook has consistently played down the app’s negative effects on teens, and hasn’t made its research public or available to academics or lawmakers who have asked for it.

“The research that we’ve seen is that using social apps to connect with other people can have positive mental-health benefits,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at a congressional hearing in March 2021 when asked about children and mental health.

The features that Instagram identifies as most harmful to teens appear to be at the platform’s core.

The tendency to share only the best moments, a pressure to look perfect and an addictive product can send teens spiraling toward eating disorders, an unhealthy sense of their own bodies and depression, March 2020 internal research states. It warns that the Explore page, which serves users photos and videos curated by an algorithm, can send users deep into content that can be harmful.

“Aspects of Instagram exacerbate each other to create a perfect storm,” the research states.

What are your thoughts about Instagram and other social media? Do you spend much time with it? Do your kids or grandkids? Do you notice a change in how they feel after they use social media? I find I’m using it less and less.

Highlights from our weekend in the Bay Area

Golden Gate Bridge from Marin Headlands

Marin Headlands view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Pug at Bettes.
My daughter’s pug Waffles at Bette’s Oceanview Diner. Bette’s is another must.
ping pong table in airbnb
Our amazing airbnb complete with sauna and ping pong table. The ping pong was nonstop with our kids.
airbnb luxe bathroom
My son hanging out in the ridiculous luxe bathroom in the airbnb. I could write a full post about this place.
morning glories in Berkeley
Down the street from the airbnb. Gorgeous neighborhood and morning glories.

Our son found the airbnb for us. It was half the price of a tiny hotel room. I can’t wait to come back. It’s the bottom floor of a two-story house in a gorgeous neighborhood and only one mile from where our kids live.

I haven’t been a fan of the Bay Area. I don’t like the homeless, the damp, the filth that one thinks of when visiting San Francisco. Fortunately, I didn’t see any of that the entire weekend. Only when we’d drive, I’d see the homeless encampments along the freeway and under overpasses. The problems exist, but not where we stayed. I think that’s part of the problem, the people who are in charge aren’t adversely affected and can look the other way.

I do want to go back. The weather, food, the airbnb and of course hanging out with our family was amazing. My view of the Bay Area has changed for the better. I can kind of understand why my kids want to live there.

What places have you visited that you never want to go back? Where are your favorite places to visit?

How long would you wait for pizza? Hint: It’s Cheese Board.

Organic early girl tomato, onion, feta, mozzarella, garlic olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, parsley and the cilantro,  jalapeño sauce to dip or pour on a slice.

One of the highlights of visiting my kids in Berkeley is pizza at The Cheese Board Collective. This place opened in the Gourmet Ghetto more than 50 years ago and has a line every single day it’s open. It’s incredible. They make one type of pizza per day. Period. You can order one full pie or half a pie. If you want to order ahead — the minimum is eight pies. The staff is cooking as fast as humanly possible, pizza coming in and out of the oven into boxes and out the door. They’re only open for hot-out-of-the-oven pizza from 5 to 8 p.m. Often, they close sooner than 8 p.m. when they run out.

The only issue we had with the visit to Cheese Board this past weekend was my husband. He’s not a stand in line and wait kind of guy. Usually one of my kids will do that and bring the pizza to their apartment, where we’ll devour it. My son’s girlfriend was working, my daughter was also working, so my son suggested we go to the restaurant and eat.

Line around the corner down the street for pizza.
Waiting in line for pizza. Many people in line enjoyed a glass of wine that they brought for their groups.

My son called and said, “Dad’s going to freak. Don’t rush over here.” Cheese Board was located between our airbnb and our son’s apartment, an easy half mile walk for us.

When we arrived, our son was halfway through the three- or four-block line, 25 minutes in. My husband said, “Let’s go somewhere else.”

“Don’t you want to stand and talk to your son?” Our son countered.

So we stood, talked and people watched. It’s quite an experience and the end result is sheer deliciousness.

Line down the street for Cheese Board.
Looking down the street.
Cheese Board, Gourmet Ghetto
They let only a few people in to the register at a time due to COVID. Eating is out in front at a few tables and benches or take out at your own home.
In front of the Cheese Board store.
Turning the corner onto the final block, these people are almost there!
Cheese board outdoor dining.
People sitting and standing outside to eat “at the restaurant.”
Memorial to Cheese Board Founder Elizabeth Valoma.
A memorial to the founder. The Cheese Board is a collective and there are no employees, only owners.
Photo of Elizabeth Valoma.
A photograph of the founder.

I got a call from my daughter on her way home from work. “There’s no pizza left, right?”

How long would you wait in line at a restaurant? How long would you wait for a slice of pizza? Do you have restaurants in your area that have a following like this?

Butterflies and birds

On my morning walks and drives to the post office and grocery store, I’m overwhelmed by butterflies They are everywhere. Once in the California desert where we used to live, we had a 100-year Monarch butterfly event. They were thick in the air and the car would be plastered with them after a short drive.

I don’t know if this is unusual in the Arizona desert where I now live, because it’s my first September here. My husband asked the other morning during our walk if the butterflies were following us. It did seem like that because we were surrounded during the entire walk.

I’ve been trying to video them. Here’s an attempt, but they don’t show up like they do in real life.

Butterflies.
Another attempt to video the butterflies. They look like little specks floating and flitting around.
A large covey of quail I spotted a block from our house.

Now I’m off to a long weekend with the kids in the Bay Area. Our daughter who is the super airline ticket shopper treated us to super saver tickets. New flora and fauna to enjoy — as well as our kids.

Coit Tower with kids
Last year we were climbing Coit Tower together on a trip to visit our kids.