This year is fascinating with all the blooming cacti and plants. This is my third spring in Arizona and it’s truly amazing. I’m sure it was the rainy winter we had that is encouraging all the plant life to come alive with flowers. Right now the saguaros are blooming, something I didn’t see much of the past two years.
We have a nature’s preserve across the street and it’s gorgeous to see saguaros topped with white flower crowns. They remind me of the floral crowns we swim moms ordered for my senior day for my daughter’s college swim team.
Saguaros topped with white crowns of flowers at the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.
A saguaro in bloom at a neighbor’s house.
In our back yard.
What unusual plants, flowers or wildlife have you seen this spring? Did you have more rain or snow than in the past few years?
I have seen several articles the past few days about how listening to bird songs or watching birds is good for mental health. There’s been a number of studies from the US to Finland that back this up.
Maybe that’s why I’ve been in a good mood lately? It certainly doesn’t hurt to enjoy my Bird Buddy feeder with a camera or sit in the backyard and listen to birds.
My phone alerted me to a story about studies connecting better mental health to birds in the Washington Post. It’s behind a paywall so I didn’t read it. But I did read one by Desert News called “Being around birds can boost mental health, studies say” by Britney Heimuli.
The Washington Post said, “In one study, researchers asked about 1,300 participants to collect information about their environment and well-being three times a day using a smartphone app called Urban Mind.”
The Post said the data collected, which included other variants like sleep and air quality, showed seeing or hearing birds had a positive association with improved mental well-being in participants.
“Everyday encounters with birdlife were associated with time-lasting improvements in mental well-being. These improvements were evident not only in healthy people but also in those with a diagnosis of depression,” according to that report.
Another study the Post reported showed that, out of 295 online participants who were asked to self-assess their emotional state, those who were randomly assigned to listen to different kinds of bird songs reported reduced depressive symptoms and a decrease in feelings like anxiety and paranoia.
Not the most attractive bird but a frequent visitor — a curve-bill thrasher. I wonder how he got his name? /s
It does make sense that connecting with birds helps our mental health. I think being outside in nature does that with or without birds.
In an article from Time Magazine called “Birdwatching Has Big Mental-Health Benefits” by Angela Haupt said:
Researchers have long sought to understand the perks of observing birds. A study published in October in Scientific Reports found that seeing or hearing birds improved people’s mental wellbeing for up to eight hours. Nearly 1,300 people used a smartphone app to log their mood several times a day, noting whether they could see or hear birds. People with depression, as well as those without a mental-health condition, experienced significant improvements in wellbeing when they had these encounters. The benefits weren’t explained by other environmental factors, like seeing trees, plants, or water, all of which the study controlled for.
Our yellow lab Angus (RIP) on our chaise-and-a-half lounge.
I finally let go of our chaise lounges. We moved them from Palm Springs at my insistence. My husband wanted to leave them behind.
I recently wrote about my mom’s unnatural attachment to her flute and her reluctance to let it go HERE. Then I realized I was doing the exact same thing with two chaise lounges we’ve owned since the kids were little. For sentimental reasons, or for what those chaises represented, I couldn’t let go.
The chaise lounges in our Palm Springs backyard.
For the two-and-a-half years we’ve lived in Arizona, we’ve never once sat on our chaise lounges. They’ve been sitting under waterproof covers. Their fabric was deteriorating. But someday I was going to do something about that.
I watched as a chipmunk made trips across our patio, back and forth, with something white and fluffy in its mouth. I finally figured it out. I lifted the cover to a chaise lounge and there was a one-foot hole in the cushion. The chipmunk was using our chaise lounge to “feather his nest.”
Because of harsh desert weather, I’ve had the chaises recovered several times through the years. One of my best friends has an upholstery and sewing business. She recovered them for me at her cost. We used to live close enough to drive them to her.
I shopped online and the chaise-and-a-half cushion is not a standard size. I’d have to have them made to order and now it’s no longer the fabric, but the stuffing is ruined too. For a little more than the cost of new custom cushions, I ordered two standard-size chaises from Costco. We’ll even be able to lounge on them!
What did the chaises represent to me? Why couldn’t I let go? We got the oversized lounges so our young children, dripping wet from the pool, could snuggle in next to us. Angus our lab would spend evenings laying by my side as we watched the sunset. That was one of his favorite things to do. Mine too.
Those years are gone and nothing will bring them back. Not even holding onto chaise lounges that hold my dear memories.
It is bulk trash pickup week. I finally let go and my husband took the chaises to the curb.
The chaises were picked up from our curb — before the bulk pick up truck made it to our neighborhood! I hope they found a nice home and the new family enjoys them as much as we did!
Have you ever been attached to a physical object for sentimental reasons? Was it clothing, art, chaise lounges or something else?
I was talking to my dear friend on the phone in my backyard. I heard the door to the casita smash shut with a gust of wind. When I came back inside the house, I walked past the front door on the way to our bedroom.
I noticed that not only the front door was open, the screen door was open too. My heart stopped.
I’ve been told by neighbors when we moved here to keep my cat inside. That’s because of coyotes, bobcats, javelina, owls, snakes and huge hawks. My cat would last an hour, they said.
Shaking, I yelled at my husband. “You left the front door open!”
He insisted he was innocent. But I immediately jumped to blame him, because I knew I didn’t.
I got Olive’s favorite treat out, Lil’ Soup by Friskies.
“Kitty soup!” I yelled and repeated. She always comes running and answers “Meow oop.”
We checked under beds. Then went outside to call “Here kitty, kitty, kitty!”
I was crying. I haven’t been so worried since I lost my last cat who got outside at age 17 at our old house. The neighbor’s dog jumped their wall and killed my cat Sherman who was lounging in the driveway of the empty house next door to them.
Calling and callling, getting more and more frantic, I realized Olive went out our front courtyard and would turn right towards the wash, rather than head to the street. At the side of the house, with both of us calling, she appeared.
She nonchalantly sniffed the gravel, looked at me, then my husband — and ran for her dear life into our courtyard and waited for us to open the front door.
I don’t think she’s going out again soon. She spent the next 12 hours hiding under our bed. She must have smelled something that was threatening to her.
If you have pets, what close calls have you had with them?
This is Olive when I found her trapped inside our SUV. I wrote about her car misadventures HERE.
The early birds I’m talking about aren’t these gorgeous creatures in my backyard. I’m talking about me and my hubby.
We’ve become the couple we used to laugh at. You know, the ones who have dinner at 4:30 or 5 p.m. to save money. Now, when we go out, we go early to take advantage of early bird prices that end at 6 p.m. Only these days, it’s no longer called “early bird specials” but “happy hour.”
A neighborhood couple invited us to dinner for restaurant week that features three-course meals at reduced prices. We declined because their reservation was too late for us! It was at the wee hour at night of 6:30 p.m. To be fair, my husband works in the financial world and he’s on east coast time. His work day begins three hours earlier than most people out west.
This is the state bird of Arizona, the cactus wren.
It’s gotten hotter the past couple weeks. I began setting my alarm so that I’m up before sunrise. We’ve changed our walking schedule to avoid the heat. We are heading out the door before 6 a.m. — which also makes us early birds.
One of our neighbors told us her method for walking. (Who knew you needed a method?) She turns right out of her driveway and continues to walk on the right side of the road. By doing that, she said she hits every road and cul-de-sac in the neighborhood — and ends back at her front door. My husband and I have been random walkers, going whichever way our whims take us. But this week, we tried it and not only does it add a little distance to our walk, we’re seeing streets we were previously missing.
I wrote about successful people who are early birds HERE.
What are your thoughts about early bird specials and getting up early?
Recently I ordered mascara from Amazon. I rarely wear make-up, but last time I put on mascara I noticed it was drying out and was clumpy. Yuck.
When the package of Clinique mascara arrived, something looked off to me.
Here’s the packaging:
The mascara didn’t come in a box like it does when I buy it directly from a store. Maybe I should have gone to buy it in person? But we’re at least a thirty-minute drive to a department or makeup store. So I relied on Amazon.
Why wouldn’t it come in a box, I wondered? Once I unwrapped the plastic packaging, I found a plain old tube.
It’s been several years since I bought mascara. Maybe they quit their previous packaging and this tube was the new norm. I went to Clinique’s website to see if they still used boxes. The website didn’t have photos except for tubes of mascara. I bit the bullet and ordered another mascara directly from the source. I figured I’d learn how it was legitimately packaged, before I used the first one.
This is what arrived:
The box I remembered when I last bought mascara at a store. Yes, this is how it’s supposed to look. The box was wrapped in Clinique tissue paper.
So what’s up with the weird packaging of my first tube of mascara from Amazon? I’ve read about people stealing from stores and selling products on Amazon. I wondered why if a third party seller was reselling new makeup — wouldn’t it have the proper packaging? Or did someone lift the tube off a display or sample in a store? Or has it been used?
Do you have any idea why the packaging wasn’t how Clinique officially does it?
Is this fairly common? Do you think it was stolen goods or counterfeit?
Last week a thought occurred to me. I should get out my flute. Not only would it be nice to play again after a few years of not playing, it might give me a burst of creativity. I’m always looking for ways to encourage my creative spirit including walks, sketching or reading. However, in my advanced age, I promptly forgot about playing the flute.
Actually after moving, the flute got tucked away along with my music. At our former home, my flute was out on the piano and I’d walk by and stop to play. We donated our piano to our kids’ elementary school before we moved.
I was reading through blogs yesterday when I ran across a mouse playing a flute in a story on Nuggets of Gold called Moonlight Sonata. A note went off in my head. Yes, I want to get my flute out — and music.
I remembered where I squirreled away my music in the guest room dresser. My flute was hidden in my closet. My favorite flute music is falling apart, but still readable. I also found piano music for the Phantom of the Opera and Wizard of Oz. The good thing with the flute is that it’s in the key of C and I can play piano music easily — at least the melodies.
My mom played flute since she was a child and took me to lessons when I was around 10 years old. I played her beautiful silver flute at lessons and practiced with it. She got the flute from her high school flute teacher as a teen. When I was 11 years old, she gave me her flute. Her friends asked why she would give a child such a valuable instrument and she took it back. My parents bought me a flute appropriate to play at school when I joined Band.
When I turned 30, I asked my mom for the flute. She said no even though she hadn’t played it after taking it back from me two decades before. I was planning to make a leap and join our church choir. A friend of mine played flute in choir and suggested I give it a try. I could have played with my old band instrument, but it sounds tinny and is hard to play compared to the rich tone and ease of Mom’s silver flute.
Anyway, that was my excuse — also I was scared. Buying a flute at that time wasn’t even an idea we could consider.
I asked mom at age 40 and again at 50. The answer was always no. Sometime in my early 50s she told me she wanted me to have her flute. On one of my visits, she insisted I take it home on the plane. I held on to it for dear life on the flight back to Palm Springs.
My son and I practiced Christmas Carol duets each year, me on the flute and him on piano. I’d go through phases where I’d practice daily and then stop and start again.
Then the phone calls began. Mom had moved into assisted living. When she was in her 80s she wanted her flute back. I tried to explain that I was enjoying playing and I knew she wouldn’t play her flute or even open its case. She assured me she would and wanted to practice for a concert. Then she’d forget all about it and months later she’d call again about the flute.
I think in the back of my mind, I was hurt when she took the flute away from me as a child. I overheard her telling a friend that I was getting my sticky peanut butter and jelly fingers all over it — which was not true. I also felt that it was wrong to hang onto a possession for thirty or forty years and not let someone enjoy it.
My aunt, her little sister, had a similar story with china inherited from their family. My mom gave it to her little sister (my aunt) before she moved from her home, but once in assisted living kept calling to get her china back. There was obviously no room in the assisted living studio to display the china or store it.
Looking back, I wonder if I should have returned the flute for a few years to appease my mom. I think she was attached to these possessions because they reminded her of her earlier years and she saw them as her identity.
In any case, I have the flute and music out and it brings me joy to play and connects me to Mom in a good way, that I am able to enjoy her beautiful instrument and her musical talent. RIP.
Do you think people hold onto possessions because they see them as part of their identity or youth? If yes, what other things do people hang onto for that reason?