Views from my week

Yellow blossoms on a beavertail cactus
Yellow blossoms on a beavertail cactus.

A common theme this week is the color yellow. There are yellow blossoms on trees, cacti and bushes.

A juvenile Cardinal

My week included enjoying my Bird Buddy. This is a juvenile Cardinal. His coat is getting hints of red. Males are brilliant red while females are brown.

Blooming yuccas at our neighborhood park.

staghorn cactus in bloom

This staghorn cactus is bursting in blooms.

Morning dove
Mourning doves have been dominating my Bird Buddy.
view of blooms in the desert
A view of yellow blossoms in the neighborhood.

Palos Verde trees are common in our neighborhood. They are in their full glory of yellow blossoms.

I can’t help but remember my daughter who loved the color yellow but called it “lallow” as a toddler.

Our house guests are gone, we have friends visiting from Seattle who arrive today. We swam and walked, I cooked, I was productive in my new space. We made it to breakfast last weekend at our favorite cafe and I had a delicious latte and bagel with lox and cream cheese. It was a good week!

latte at Carefree Coffee Roastery
My latte at Carefree Coffee Roastery.

Happy Friday!

What are your plans for the weekend?

Guilt tipping

A fountain at Carefree Town Center where they hold a farmer’s market each Friday.

Have you noticed when businesses use touchscreens for payment, they now include a tip screen with 18%, 20% and 30%? I first noticed it at Starbuck’s. Most of the vendors at the farmer’s market in Carefree use touchscreens, but I don’t remember seeing a screen for tips. At least not yet.

My hair dresser uses a touchscreen for payment. The coffee shop and even more formal restaurants have waitpersons come to the table with a card reader and they wait while we tip.

I’ve read a number of articles where people are feeling guilt over tips. Instead of the old fashioned tip jars at coffee shops, butchers and bakeries with counter service, you stare at a screen that may have choices much higher than you wish to tip.

In an article called ‘Guilt Tipping’: Pressure to tip everywhere has gotten out of control by Alex Mitchell in the NY Post there was one quote that stood out to me:

“I was somewhere spending $23 on just coffee and pastries and the suggested tip was another $8 and I simply said no way. I’ll give a dollar or so as a custom tip amount, but let’s have a reality check here,” said Jared Goodman, a 26-year-old recruiter who lives in Brooklyn. “Recently I got a quick bite with my girlfriend and the suggested tip amounts were 25, 35 and even 40%. That’s just insane.”

https://nypost.com/2022/04/08/guilt-tipping-pressure-to-tip-has-gotten-out-of-control/

Another complaint I read in other articles was self-service kiosks in airports that include a tip screen. Not only for snacks and drinks but for self check-in and bag tags. Think about that for a minute. What is the tip for?

What are your thoughts about the touchpads that include tips? Where have you noticed tip screens? Do you feel pressure with a person hovering over you while you select a tip?

Views from the week

Ocotillo
Octotillo are turning green with red flowers.

I had a good week. Here are a few highlights:

I swam Tuesday and Thursday after not swimming for five or six months. Thursday I almost cancelled because it was a cool windy day and the pool was cold on Tuesday. I told myself that I had enough to do to get ready for guests. But I decided to go. If I was freezing, I could get out. I was thrilled to discover the pool was a perfect 81 degrees (at least perfect to me. That’s too hot for people who swim faster and harder than me.)

Another plus happened Sunday. I took my husband to the coffee shop where I met a longtime friend last week. I wrote about that HERE. Hubby and I went for lattes and breakfast. We never get lattes, that was a one off for us, but so delicious.

Carefree Coffee Roastery

They roast their own beans and I bought their House Blend for my pour over set-up the kids got me for my birthday in March. The coffee is smooth and delicious.

Speaking of delicious:

Avocado Smash with egg, goat cheese and pickled onions, tomato and capers.

This was my breakfast. It’s called Avocado Smash, and I added an egg. It has lettuce, tomato, goat cheese, capers, pickled onion and a vinaigrette — and avocado of course. YUM!

During the week, we drove to a Mexican restaurant my friend recommended. She’s lived here for 15 years. Her son went to culinary school and was a chef in Palm Springs. I take her recommendations about restaurants to heart. She told me about the Carefree Coffee Roastery, for example. Her Mexican restaurant suggestion was a hit. I wrote about my quest for Mexican food in Arizona last week HERE.

“It’s the closest thing in our area that is like the Original Las Casuelas,” she said referring to one of our staples a few blocks from our old house.

The restaurant she suggested is called Plaza Bonita. I finally found my huevos ranchero fix without having to drive 45 minutes to an hour!

Strange looking saguaro

I’m not sure what this is? Cellular tower? On our morning walk we pass several fake saguaros. This one is getting a face lift.

Cat on a desk looking out the window

Olive the cat is checking out my new workspace in my official office. I think she likes the view.

Another highlight this week was reading some amazing blog posts that really moved me — especially on The Heart of the Matter. The connections and similarities to my own life and other bloggers was comforting. I’m honored to be in this blogging community.

Cardinal with attitude

I loved having Bird Buddy up and running. I was thrilled to get Cardinal photos and videos. Here are two photos I got yesterday. I love this Cardinal’s attitude.

Cardinal with

Why does this shot remind me of Kramer from Seinfeld? Do you see it, too?

What are some of the highlights of your week? Have a happy weekend!

A New View: Changing My Outlook

My new view while I work. This is the courtyard at the entrance to our house.

We are having houseguests for six nights beginning this weekend. My friend who moved from my Palm Springs neighborhood to less than a mile from us in Arizona is having a birthday party. She has four children who went to the same school with my two kids — K through high school. Although none of our kids were in the same class, they were like stepping stones, my two fitting neatly between her four.

These days there are a few spouses involved and she doesn’t have room for everyone — so I offered our two empty bedrooms. She took me up on it. I decided to get started de-catifying and cleaning Wednesday and not wait until a few hours before they arrive.

My refuge and work space is in our casita. Although I set up an office for myself in what was supposed to be the formal dining room, I’ve never used it — except the bookcase and to file paperwork. I have never sat at my desk and worked.

We knew right away that we didn’t need a formal dining room. We’ve never had one. I didn’t have one growing up, either. We’ve always had a table off the kitchen. We aren’t formal dining folks.

This is our dining room table and chairs that we moved from Palm Springs. I love the tree stump base. We acquired the table in the early 1990s when we bought our Palm Springs home. The prior owners of that house left it and it’s been our dining room table ever since.

✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿ ✿

My husband works remotely and he is on the phone all day long — and he’s LOUD. The formal dining room/office is too close to his office and I can’t focus.

I found a work around. Headphones. I’m sitting at my desk in my office with headphones on listening to music and podcasts in the background as I write. It’s working.

It felt like moving again to get all my stuff out of the casita. I can’t believe what I squirreled away including snacks, books and papers.

At first I felt out of sorts working at my real desk, but I’ve decided it gives me a new outlook. A new perspective to my day. There’s also no sofa and TV to tempt me.

What is your work space like? Where is your favorite place to write and read?

Birds, birds and more birds

Cardinal visiting @birdbuddy

I got my first Cardinal visit to my Bird Buddy.

After waiting patiently from January until now for a new solar panel for my Bird Buddy AI bird feeder with a camera, I made the executive decision to take it out of storage, charge it up and use it without the solar panel roof.

I emailed the company and they said I should receive it this month. Until then, I’m enjoying Bird Buddy and have to charge the camera every four or five days.

I’ve written about Bird Buddy before. You can read those posts HERE and HERE if you missed them.

My son works for a crowdfunding company that helped raise money and marketed Bird Buddy. I think it was one of their more successful campaigns.

In one of my prior stories I wrote about my trouble setting up Bird Buddy. There was an awkward small space to plug in the charger or solar panel. I found it frustrating and I had to get my husband to help me. However, when I set up my 91-year-old dad’s Bird Buddy, he cleverly showed me you can plug in the camera before you put it inside the feeder! Duh!

This is a House Finch who can eat a lot of sunflower seeds!

Bird Buddy takes “postcards” (these two photos are examples.) There was an update to the software and now there are videos, too. It works with an app on your smartphone, identifies birds, gives details and you can play their songs and calls.

Here’s a video of a House Sparrow and Cardinal competing for the bird feeder:

Bird fight!

What birds do you have in your neck of the woods? Which are your favorites?

What’s Your Theme Song?

Olive on the sofa in the casita.

Have you heard about the power of music and the need for a theme song? I read an article by my favorite Wall Street Journal columnist Elizabeth Bernstein called “You Need a Personal Theme Song: A beloved song can pump us up and get us through tough tasks.”

Here’s a snippet:

Ms. Smith has been singing the song for decades at times when she needs an extra boost of courage or energy. The science supports her habit. Listening to a beloved song can help us manage our emotions and focus on the task at hand. It can also help us access what psychologists call our autobiographical memory, or personal history.

“It reminds us who we are and helps us stay focused on who we want to be,” says Daniel Levitin, a cognitive neuroscientist, who studies how music affects the brain.

Music can inspire us and spur creativity. If its beat is faster than our heartbeat, it can fire us up and make a difficult task feel easier, says Dr. Levitin, who was a session musician, sound engineer and record producer before becoming a scientist, working with artists such as Stevie Wonder and Blue Öyster Cult. A more sedate tempo can help slow our heart and respiration rate down. 

https://www.wsj.com/articles/be-more-like-rocky-balboa-have-a-theme-song-8fb96c27?mod=life_work_lead_pos3

What would my theme song be? I listened to several songs I love and I think I need more than one theme song depending on the moment. The article agreed with this point:

Have more than one personal anthem

Your goals, challenges and moods change throughout your day and throughout your life. Your theme song should change with them.

“Music is functional,” says Dr. Rogers. “You have a need. And you want to choose music that fulfills it.”

Another person interviewed in the article said he started each day with his theme song. I may add that to my morning routine.

Below are two of my personal theme songs. What they have in common is they are laid back, soft and have beautiful lyrics. They are also songs I listened to in my teen years. I think the soothing melodies help me stay calm when I am anxious.

Castles in the Air written and sung by Don McLean

Disney Girls sung by Art Garfunkel, written by Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys

One of my favorite lines in Disney Girls is:

“Reality.

It’s not for me.

And it makes me laugh.”

Here are links to the lyrics of Castles in the Air and Disney Girls.

I hope you take a few minutes to listen to my theme songs or read the lyrics.

What would you choose as a personal theme song and why?

Ping pong weather

ping pong table in backyard. This photo is from last year. Unfortunately there is a mega mansion being built blocking this mountain view.
This is the view of our ping pong table from last Spring. This year, a McMansion is being built blocking part of the mountain view! What were they thinking!!!

The weather is perfect for ping pong. We had the ping pong table folded up and stored away because our weather was wild this winter with tons of rain, wind and even snow.

Every time I thought the winter weather was over, I’d ask hubby to get the ping pong table out. Guess what happened? It would rain. It would pour. There’d be thunder and lightening.

So we’re a little late in the season for ping pong. But we started playing over the weekend.

We’re competitive with each other but silly, too. My husband commented yesterday that he only has fun if he wins. I guess when I win, he doesn’t view it as that much fun. I have fun regardless. That’s how we’re wired. I didn’t play competitive sports growing up, while he ran track, played football and wrestled. I golfed and skied and was out for recreation.

As for silly, when we first got the table, we immediately ran to our offices (separately) and began viewing youtubes on tricky serves. We laughed when we found out we were up to the same antics.

When it’s my serve, I bend at the waist and mimic Michael Phelps on the blocks doing his routine where he flaps his arms up and down — but I have a paddle in one hand. My objective is to get my husband laughing so hard he can’t return my serve. It still works!

Michael Phelps on the blocks.

It feels good to add a moments of playtime throughout the day.

This is the home being built that cuts into our view. It’s in a separate neighborhood than ours that has golf courses. We’re on the other side of the wall.

What do you do for fun to break up your work each day?