Life in the desert

The nature preserve across the street with 130 miles of trails

Here are a few photos from my morning walks this week. The weather is so much cooler. We went from too hot to walk to 48 degrees in the mornings. Unfortunately, my pool is too cold to use now. I was enjoying it until a week ago. I asked the pool man how to turn on the heater. He looked and couldn’t find a pool heater. Oh well. We didn’t heat our pool in Palm Springs, either, but we lived one mile from the city pool. I need to get in the car and drive 30 minutes to a pool to swim laps here. I’m spoiled and it’s tough to get motivated to drive that far to swim.

yucca flower stalk
This is the stalk of a yucca in a neighbor’s yard. It once had gorgeous flowers
Did you know that yuccas are in the lily family?
yucca plant
I thought this was another yucca. But after some research I think it’s called a sotol.
skeleton of saguaro
This is a skeleton of a saguaro cactus. Indians used them for building structures and tools.
 Silhouette of saguaro
A  silhouette of a saguaro cactus in the morning sun.

I mentioned that I was interviewed for a survey of American Families recently by writer Jennifer Graham. Here are links to two articles where I have a quote. Click on the headlines to read:

What worries families the most in 2021

Only about 1 in 10 Democrats worry about cultural issues, but there’s widespread concern about the costs of having a family By Jennifer Graham@grahamtoday  Oct 12, 2021, 12:01am MDT

Did the pandemic restore our faith in government?

Trust in institutions has been declining for years, but Americans generally give them high marks for their response to COVID-19 By Jennifer Graham@grahamtoday  Oct 12, 2021, 12:01am MDT

What do you think are some of the biggest problems facing families in 2021?

I answered: the cost to raise a family, too much social media and screen times leading to depression and anxiety — and political divides within families.

About those to do lists….

cloudy desert sky
View from my morning walk. We had clouds, then thunder, lightening and rain yesterday.

I make myself a list each day of what I need to get done. It includes my writing tasks, bill paying, laundry — whatever is on my plate. Why do I list things like grocery shopping and laundry? Because it’s satisfying to cross items off the list with my red pen. I feel like I accomplished something when I get through my list with every single thing completed.

But last week and this week one glaring item stares back at me without a single red line through it. I must be avoiding it. Or to be honest, I feel stuck. So, I put it on the next day’s list where it then floats over to the following day.

I’m not exactly procrastinating. It’s more like I don’t know what to do. I decided to try NaNoWriMo this year.

What is NaNoWriMo?

National Novel Writing Month began in 1999 as a daunting but straightforward challenge: to write 50,000 words of a novel during the thirty days of November.

https://nanowrimo.org/what-is-nanowrimo

I’ve heard about it for years. I have writer friends who have done it. I never have before. I’m working on NaNo Prep 101 so I can start November off and running and write 50,000 words. On my to do list is NaNo Prep. Each day. But I haven’t gotten through the task at hand.

I’m going to try a new strategy. I’m moving NaNo prep to the top of my list. Where I can’t avoid it. Also, I think if I tackle it earlier in the day, tiredness and a lack of motivation won’t take over. Maybe I’ll get it done when my energy is better. It takes energy to make decisions about what to write about and to develop characters. I have an inkling of what I want, but then I second guess myself and chicken out.

Have you ever tried NaNoWriMo? If so, how did it go? Have you written a novel? What did you find to be the easiest and hardest parts?

Life goes on… fitbit or not

Sunset in the Sonoran Desert.
Sunset view in our neighborhood the other night.

It’s been over a week without checking my steps and sleep on my fitbit. It went kaput and I wrote about that HERE. How have I survived? Well, the only complaint I have has nothing to do with fitness tracking, but the lack of toilet paper in the grocery store.

In fact, things are better than alright. When I’m on my morning walks or after a night’s sleep, I don’t focus on the device tracking my every move. I know if I slept well or not. I feel I’m more in touch with how I feel physically rather than being dependent on an arbitrary number. I don’t need to know how many steps I take each day. I get plenty. Although my husband still wants to compete. He’ll interrupt my writing to tell me how many steps he has. I look back at him with a blank stare.

Although the fitbit has it’s advantages, I’m not in a rush to get a new one. I feel I’m more in the moment watching the sunset, enjoying my wildlife, swimming, walking. I’m more focused on my surroundings. I also don’t need to know what time it is every few minutes.

I wonder If I’d feel even better if I point down the iphone? Not checking on electronics has its benefits.

We had javelinas at sunset at our front door!

Have you ever taken a break from your devices? How did it go?

How long do you think you’d last without a fitness tracker or a smart phone?

Living in the Wild Kingdom

Two of the six javelina we spotted in our neighborhood Sunday morning.

Last week we were fortunate to see our bobcat in action inches from our bedroom window. I posted photos and video HERE.

Sunday on our morning walk, I caught sight of a squadron of javelina. Yes, that’s what a group of them are called. These were six youngsters I believe, because they were smaller than ones I’ve seen in our yard. Also, they didn’t have tusks. I thought they were related to pigs, but a docent at the nearby preserve told us they are in the guinea pig family.

Javelina enjoying freshly ripened prickly pear.

There’s never a dull moment in the desert of Arizona. I’m enjoying the surprises!

I’ll admit I got a little nervous when this guy stopped and faced me.

What are some of the creatures you have in your neck of the woods?

Free from the tyranny of my step counter

fitbit charge 3 won't charge.
My fitbit “Charge 3” won’t charge.

Last night my fitbit was low on juice so I charged it all night long. It’s completely dead this morning. Rather than going out (or to their website) to buy a new one, I wonder if I really need a fitbit? I always get between 10,000 and 20,000 steps per day. Do I really need to know the exact count?

I have a love hate relationship with my Fitbit. I’ve written about it HERE.

I know if I had a good night’s sleep or not.

Sometimes I’ll wake up feeling refreshed and then look at my night’s sleep on the fitbit and discover I didn’t sleep well. Then I’m cranky and tired all day.

Should I free myself from the tyranny of the tracker? What is it doing to benefit me? The only downside I can see of not wearing one anymore is the bragging rights to my husband when I get more steps than him. We are quite competitive when it comes to our steps.

That reminds me of when we were visiting my husband’s best friend from childhood. They were big football stars in high school. They were busy comparing who was walking more by looking at their apps on their phones. My daughter interrupted and said, “Did you ever think you’d see the day when you’d be bragging about how many steps you’re taking?”

That stopped them. They both looked kind of sheepish and put their phones away.

The question is do you use a fitness tracker of some kind? Why or why not? Do you think it’s helpful? What benefits do you get from it?

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?

It’s all about the sea

Cloudy day at the beach with sun peeking through
Evening at the beach during a cloudy day, looking north. University of California Santa Barbara is at the furthest point of land in the distance.

Our vacation is centered around the ocean. Every morning we start the day with a long beach walk. Then after the strong rays of sunshine and crowds leave the beach, we head back to sit, read and walk some more.

Yesterday was cloudy and I wasn’t sure about going to the beach in the evening. I thought it would be too cold. But it was quiet and peaceful, except for the roar of the ocean. I sat watching perfect wave after wave curl into a barrel. Only two other families were at the mile long beach. I felt so thankful to be here on vacation.

beautiful blue sea and sky that matches
Walking south during the cloudy day. I loved how the blues of the water and sky matched.

One thing that surprises me is that our friends who live here don’t take advantage of the beach. One friend said she’d like to join me for a beach walk this weekend. That she hasn’t walked on the beach since last time we were here! I think that was last August. To give her credit, they do own a sailboat and sail one day per week.

I know if I lived here I’d make it to the beach every single day. At least for my morning walk. I wouldn’t take it for granted having lived for 35 years in the desert.

Where you live do you take your environment for granted? Or do you try to enjoy it to the fullest?