Back to Mom duties

Flowers in Berkeley. My daughter took this photo.

I’m on day two of being a mom full time and it’s exhausting. Yesterday was surgery day. We (my son, his girlfriend and me) drove across the Bay Bridge to a UCSF orthopedic surgery center before 8 a.m. We got our son tucked into bed by 3 p.m. In between, my son’s girlfriend and I had a wonderful breakfast and walked around the hills of Mission Bay. Then we drove to Hayes Valley and walked around some more looking at cute shops, the Opera House, San Francisco Ballet and City Hall.

Another one of my daughter’s photos.

I’m loving the cool weather. I’m loving the scenery and spending time with my kids, his girlfriend and siblings.

More Berkeley flowers.

The tiring part was waiting for surgery and feeling relieved but exhausted once it was over and we knew it was a success. I’m staying in an airbnb a mile from my son’s apartment. I walk over carrying a handbag and my computer. I feel like a pack mule on the way back. Yesterday, I logged in more than 26,000 steps. Most of that was the walking around during surgery, but still.

The mom duties include filling the ice cooling machine that wraps my son’s shoulder. Helping him in and out of his sling, buying food. Handing him meds. Helping his girlfriend with dishes and laundry. She’s working as hard as I am. I wondering why it takes two grown women to take care of my son? It’s not really that hard, but just constant every 20 minutes or so. Way more than what I’m used to.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am SO THANKFUL my son wants me here. And that I get to help him! His girlfriend is so wonderful to be with, too. Plus, my daughter and I get to walk Waffles the pug and have time together, as well.

I’m posting pictures of some of the gorgeous flowers I’ve seen on my walks around Berkeley.

Berkeley flowers.

Views from my morning walk

Arizona view of brush and clouds
This is a view from our neighborhood. We’ve had lots of cloudy days lately with rain, thunder and lightening — even a power outage.

I had a bad night’s sleep. My husband and I exchanged some unkind words last night and I just feel down. He’s apologized. I’ve apologized. But I’m in a funk. So, on my road to salvage my mood, I took an extra long walk this morning. I left the neighborhood and walked along the preserve across the street. The skies have been cloudy and the weather stormy. It seems to fit my mood. While I walked, I began to feel better. I remembered the phrase “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Here are some of the sights from my morning walk:

blooming cactus
Cactus are blooming again. They must like the monsoons.
saguaro skeleton
This is the skeleton of a Saguaro.
translucent bunny ears
This bunny ran from me in our front yard. I love the translucent ears.
cloudy desert sky
I took a walk outside our neighborhood on the main road this morning. I love the clouds and hope for rain.
Saguaro along the main road.

My love hate relationship…

….with my fitbit. I thought my fitbit was a game changer when I first got it. It was a Christmas present in 2019.

view of AZ desert
The hiking trails across the street from our new home.

I still like some of the things as much as I did when I first started using it. I like knowing when I reach my 10,000 steps a day. I like the gentle reminders to get up and move every hour.

It feels heavy on my wrist and sometimes I wake up up in the middle of the night and take it off. Then in the morning, I check how well I slept. If I take it off, then it misses a lot of the hours that I did sleep. Looking at a poor night of sleep changes how I feel during the day. Even if I leave it on all night, and I had a bad night’s sleep, the tiredness I feel is worse than it would have been without looking at the data.

The other thing I don’t like is I’ve been riding my bike a few mornings after I walk. I often forget to press the exercise button and scroll to the bike icon. So, I don’t get the satisfaction of having my bike rides recorded. I’ve tried to log into exercise for the day and add the ride in, but it won’t let me. Then I feel cheated. This morning, I stopped during my bike ride to start the fitbit, but I guess I did something wrong and the ride was not recorded.

I may try a few days without the fitbit and see if it feels better without it. Maybe it will be freeing. Or will I miss the little celebration when I hit 10,000 steps?

A view of Mt. San Jacinto from the Wellness Park on my morning walk when I lived in Palm Springs.

Do you use an exercise tracker like an Apple watch or fitbit? What are you feelings about it? Is it helpful or not?

What changes your outlook?

Sonoran desert view in Arizona.
View from my backyard.

I can’t tell you why, but the past few days I feel better. I didn’t feel bad before, but my attitude has improved. I wake up with more energy and passion for the day.

What have I done to change my outlook?

First, I restarted the “Three Blessings” exercise. In the evening I write down three things that I’m grateful for that happened in my day. And why. According to Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, he’s used this exercise at U Penn on his students and patients and found it to be as effective as anti-depressants.

So, it could be that.

Or, another change I’ve made this week is getting more exercise. I take my morning walk of about 45 minutes. When my walk is over, I either jump in the backyard pool and swim or I hop on my bike for a 20 minutes bike ride. I mix it up according to what I want to do. Yesterday after swimming laps, I treated myself to climbing on the float from Costco feeling the breeze on my wet skin and staring at the sky. It was heavenly.

Today, I biked and enjoyed the breeze and felt good about how much better I did climbing the hill to our house. Yes, I could feel my heart rate rise, but it wasn’t a struggle like it was earlier in the week. Also, I managed to stand up for a few pedals, which I couldn’t do last week. Those are tiny things, but the improvement felt monumental. On the bike, which I haven’t ridden in years, I feel like a kid. I’m not listening to headphones, I’m listening to nature. I get a bit smile as I coast down a hill, trying not to squeeze the brakes, but let myself fly.

Maybe it’s the hard labor I’ve been doing to fix up our rental house before the new tenants come in. Or, the good book I’m reading.

Whatever the reason is, which is most likely a combination of all the above, I like the way I’m feeling today.

woodpecker on a saguaro
I saw this woodpecker on a saguaro as I left my front door.

What improves your attitude? Have you noticed changes in how you’re feeling lately?

What’s that smell?

view of a cloudy day in the AZ desert
Morning view from my backyard this morning after rainfall.

It was sprinkling this morning when I left for my morning walk. Not once did I think to skip my walk. It wasn’t a downpour — at least not when I left the house. A few blocks away it was coming down hard and the gutters lining the streets turned into mini rivers.

By the time I turned around and got back to my driveway, the rain was light. I continued on. What really got my attention — besides how refreshing the cool rain felt on my skin — was the smell. It was a pungent earthy, spicy, herbal aroma.

When I got back to my computer I googled smell in the desert after a rain. I found an article called Desert rain: What gives it that sweet smell? by Ian Schwartz for CBS 5 on a website called AZ Family.

I learned there is a word for the smell after a rain. It’s called petrichor. Did you know that? I learned something new today. Also, that the reason for the pungent herbal aroma in the Sonoran Desert is because of creosote.

Joe McAuliffe, the director of research at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, said what you’re smelling is the creosote bush.

But does that mean our in Arizona rain smells differently than other parts of the country? I mean, rain is rain. Right?

Yes. And no. You have to remember that rain itself has no smell. The dirt the rain hits, however, well, that’s different.

Desert rain: What gives it that sweet smell?

I also learned from the article that creosote bushes make 300-year-old saguaros look like babies. Creosote live in the desert for thousands of years. They can live 6,000 to 10,000 years making them the oldest plants in the world. One reason is although they smell sweet, their taste keeps animals away. Plus they can withstand droughts.

What an interesting place I live in. There is such a distinct aroma after this rain compared to my old home in Palm Springs. And especially different than where I grew up near Seattle that has a foresty smell that is heavenly, too.

How would you describe the smelll or “petrichor” where you live?

cloudy day in a Sonoran Desert backyard with saguaro
This saguaro in our back yard is currently inhabited by a woodpecker family. I can’t wait to see the babies!

Mixing up the morning routine

A view from my morning walk.

My days are getting stuck in a rut. It’s because of the heat. Last week was really, really not. This week is better. It’s barely above 100 degrees. The heat limits my enjoyment of spending time outside.

I start each morning writing my three pages and then going for a walk. I have to go earlier and earlier to avoid the heat. And my walks are getting shorter, because it doesn’t seem to matter if I walk at 5:30 a.m. or 6:30 a.m. It’s still hot.

So, this morning I decided to get adventurous and do my own mini triathlon. I walked, biked and swam — all within my neighborhood. In reality it was more of a stroll, coast and float. ­čÖé

But it felt good to be on the bike and get a breeze. I was going to drive to the city pool but didn’t feel like the one-hour round trip drive. So I put on my cap and goggles and swam laps in our backyard pool for the first time. Doing all three things is a great way to start the day.

The downside to my mini triathlon is I got really hungry. I ate too much and am ready for a morning nap!

What are your morning routines like? Do you get stuck in a rut or do you mix it up all the time?

Here’s a fun video of Olive watching quail attack our bedroom slider. The glass is reflective on the outside.

Video of Olive watching the quails through the window.

“What’s the point?”

Statue outside a gallery in Old Town Scottsdale
Statue in Old Town Scottsdale

“What’s the point?” my husband asked yesterday morning. “I’m starting to lose my patience with this.”

“We are taking a walk, exploring Old Town,” I answered more than a little frustrated.

Sugar Bowl ice cream shoppe
The famed Sugar Bowl often seen in the comic “Family Circle.”

What a different approach we have. It was Memorial Day morning and we drove to Old Town Scottsdale to get our steps and take in some new scenery besides the saguaro cactus in our own neighborhood. I was content to walk through the streets without a destination. My husband, on the other hand, wanted to know where we were going. He cannot aimlessly wander.

I thought maybe he was getting hangry so I googled breakfast spots in Old Town on my iphone. I had a destination for us to walk to and he was a happy camper. Although in reality, we weren’t doing anything different than before. We were walking around town, looking in windows, stopping to take photos.

Outside the cafe we found for coffee and breakfast.
Schmooze sign Old Town Scottsdale
We stopped at Schmooze Cafe and all was good. It was around the corner from where we parked the car.
Cowboy sign in Old Town Scottsdale
Main Street in Old Town Scottsdale.

Do you need a destination for your walks and exploration — or can you aimlessly wander like me?

Scottsdale Civic Center Plaza Horse Statue
Scottsdale Civic Center Plaza