Morning views from the neighborhood

Sunrise filtered through the branches of an Ironwood tree.
Sunrise view from the casita.

It takes a trip out of state to an entirely different environment for me to appreciate the beauty of my desert. I get used to it and lose some appreciation, but a trip away wakes up my senses. As I walked this morning around our neighborhood I was struck by the views of cactus, mountains and shrubbery. I like it out here. I’d like to see more some wildlife, too.

Mountain north of Scottsdale.
The mountain to the north. I think it’s called Black Mountain. I’m working on learning the names.
teddy bear cholla.
Teddy bear cholla with the sun peaking through clouds.
Cloudy sky in the desert.
Clouds. We should have an amazing sunset tonight.
saguaro with arms
A neighbor’s saguaro. We have lots of saguaro but only one has an arm.
A wash in the Sonoran Desert.
One of the things I love best about our neighborhood is all the open natural space.

What are some of the things you like best about where you live?

What a week

Sunrise in Berkeley from the front steps
Sunrise from my son’s porch Thursday morning.

I arrived in Berkeley Saturday night to help my son for a week post surgery.

I called my husband repeatedly who remained at home. Normally, I talk to him lots of times each day when we’re apart. Even when he went into an office for work, we called each other several times a day. When I hadn’t heard from him in 20 hours — I was worried.

Finally, he called me back and he sounded horrible. He said his throat felt like razor blades and he was congested and had aches and pains.

He called his doctor for an appointment when he felt even worse. No appointments available for two weeks. You know where this is headed, right? He found a tele-med appointment and called me Thursday morning at 6:30 a.m. — after his appointment. The diagnosis was Omicron. (Razor blades painful sore throat is the number one symptom.)

I was sitting in my son’s house with the kids begging me not to go home to my COVID-infected husband and house. They want me to stay. I’m sure my son and his girlfriend welcome my help, but don’t want me to catch the virus, either.

I’m terribly worried about my husband all alone in the state of Arizona with COVID. He’s already sicker than I remember him ever being.

We’ve been double vaxxed and boosted.

The kids received rapid tests from Amazon and they made me take one. It was the longest ten minutes waiting for the line to appear on the test.Two lines COVID, one line Negative. I cooked my son his slow cooking oats — waiting for the results to show.

Negative.

My husband works remotely from home. I’m home all the time. We’re together whenever we go out — at least this has been our standard operating procedure since COVID hit the country and we moved to a new state. How did my husband get it and not me?

I went back and forth on whether I should stay in California for a few more days, or whether I should take a flight back immediately. I finally decided to stick to the original plan and to take my noon flight home today. I’ll take a Lyft from the airport and move into the casita. Hopefully far enough away to not catch Omicron, but close enough to be there if my husband needs medical help.

What a stressful scary day. The other weird thing is when COVID hit so close, I felt like we had done something wrong. Like we’re guilty or dirty. I never felt that way with the flu or a cold. I think it’s because there’s so much politics going on with this virus.

If anyone in your family or close friends have gotten COVID, did they have a mild case or was it severe? How long did the symptoms last? Did part of your family get it but not everyone?

Friday Photos: Cacti Toppers

I’ve noticed a variety of toppers for cacti around our neighborhood. The purpose to top cacti is to give them a bit of insulation. They can die from the exposure to cold from the top down. I wonder if it’s going to freeze? Last January we got two days of snow. My iphone tells me the cold temps will be in the low 40s at night. Maybe that is cold enough to harm cacti?

This is all new to me at this end of the Sonoran Desert. Palm Springs, where I lived for 30 plus years, is the same desert technically, but it is so different with landscaped grounds with grass, ficus trees, eucalyptus and of course palms. It wilder where I am now.

Here are the cacti toppers in my neighborhood:

styrofoam cups to protect caci
Our backyard. We went for the standard white styrofoam.
Santa hats on cactus
Our neighbors went for the Santa look.
a blanket protecting a cactus
I’m not a fan, but I’m sure it’s effective.

A headdress on a saguaro
Hmmm.
Green cups on cactus
Our homeowner’s association uses green cups. I’ve also seen red solo cups at a neighbor’s house, but I didn’t get a photo.
baskets topping cacti
My favorite are different sizes of weaved baskets. I may look into this for another year.

Which toppers do you like? Do you have any creative suggestions? It seems like this could be something to have fun with.

Do New Year’s Resolutions Work?

saguaro cactus
stately saguaro cactus in the preserve across the street.

Last year on this exact day, I wrote about my goals and resolutions — and if they work. Take a look of what I had to say:

This year, I’ve decided to not make New Year’s Resolutions. It’s not that they haven’t worked for me in the past, so long as I kept them small and not overwhelming. I view New Year’s Resolutions as a “don’t do this list” rather than “try something new.” Although that’s not totally accurate, it’s how I’m looking at it for 2021. Here’s the difference between resolutions and goals I found online:

Essentially, a resolution is something you will constantly be working toward, while a goal is specific and finite. Resolutions are made up of goals. While there is a difference between goals and resolutions, they are relevant and intertwined.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOALS AND RESOLUTIONS …

I’ve decided that I’d rather make a list of goals, not resolutions. Mostly it’s learning new things, seeing new places. In my new home, I want to learn about the birds I’m seeing, the plants, the trails and mountains.One of our first hikes in AZ at Cave Creek Regional Park.

So, a few of my goals — besides getting my house unpacked and in order — are:

  1. Start birdwatching — I already put a bird feeder in the backyard.
  2. Learn about saguaro cactus and other species of native plants.
  3. Hike on a new trail each week.
  4. Experience more sunrises and sunsets.
  5. Explore areas like the Grand Canyon and Sedona.
  6. Take a photography class online.
  7. Sketch or paint some of my new scenery.
  8. Begin a new manuscript, in a genre new to me.

Update Jan. 5, 2022: Out of my goals from last year, I did a lot of them, including enyoying sunsets and sunrises — and writing an entire manuscript in a new genre. I am birdwatching and learning about the native plants. We haven’t hiked a new trail each week, because we discovered the preserve across the street where it’s too convenient to hike and skip a 30-minute drive to get a trail. We haven’t been to Sedona or the Grand Canyon yet since we’ve moved to Arizona, although I’ve been to both in the past. That can be a goal for this year. I didn’t take a photography class, but I’m practicing on my own. I got out my sketch book and I’ve been sketching sporadically.

I think those were good goals and ones I’ll continue with in 2022.

What do you think about the difference between goals and resolutions? Do you have any you’d like to share?

desert sunrise
Desert sunrise from my back yard.

Thoughts on Leaving California

One year ago in December we left California for Arizona. I’m loving it now. But I’ll admit it took me at least half a year to warm up to the move. During my week in California for Christmas, I got homesick for my new home, Olive the cat and our wildlife of coyotes, javelina, quail and the bobcat.

Here’s what I thought one year ago about the move when it was a couple weeks after leaving California:

archway gate
The entrance to our old home in Palm Springs.

Did you know there is a private Facebook group called Leaving California? I’m not sure how I ran across it, but before we made the move, I signed up. I was surprised to find out there are more than 30,000 members!

Scrolling through the posts made me feel sad in the beginning. I wasn’t convinced I wanted to leave. I loved our home downtown Palm Springs. We were two blocks from restaurants, shops and our views were breathtaking.

To add to my uncertainty, my “adult children” were beyond furious. That was the only home they’ve known prior to moving away for college and their adult lives. They both believe we made the biggest mistake in our lives by selling our home. It does have “location, location, location.” It is beautiful. But it also had its downsides. It was rustic without many modern amenities like closet space or a roomy kitchen. I was always freezing and my fingers went numb. It was big on charm, though. It was also big on expense. For some reason — partly because it’s located in California and also that it was built in the 1930s — it was terribly expensive to keep up.

birthday party for dog
My kids celebrating Natasha the rottie’s birthday.

The kids were so angry with us that they didn’t speak to my husband or me for a bit. This made me more sad. We invited them to come home to say good-by. We also asked the buyers if we could stay for one last Christmas. They said, sure, no problem — $8,000 and Christmas was ours. We passed and decided to bite the bullet. We left our home close to 30 days of selling.

I bring this up about my kids because I noticed this week on the Facebook Leaving California page, that a lot of people are going through the same thing with their adult children. The latest post garnered close to 400 comments. Most said “Tell them to buy it if they want it.” Others were a little more understanding to the kids’ feelings.

prom photos in backyard
Pre Prom Photo in our back yard.

I understand how my kids feel. My mom had to sell our childhood home, which was gorgeous with stunning views, too. Unfortunately, she had to sell after she and my dad divorced and she could no longer afford the expenses. I can tell you, that was an extremely upsetting way to lose my childhood home — and my nuclear family. I felt like my world turned upside down and there was no gravity to keep me on the planet.

My husband felt our kids were acting spoiled. They weren’t entitled to the house. He said he’d been working since age 13 and didn’t want to work until the day he died to pay to live in our home. Although, he’s still working now in our new home, there will come a day in a couple years where he won’t have to.

My kids are coming to accept our new reality. I’m looking forward to COVID-19 vaccines and their visits to our new home. I can’t wait to show them the hiking trails we’re discovering, the quail running through our backyard and the sunsets and sunrises.

Nothing can take away all the great memories we had of 28 years living there. I truly believe that home is not a structure, but is with the people who love you.

view of gorgeous Palm Springs backyard
Our former backyard all fixed up to sell.

What are your thoughts about selling a childhood home? Would your kids understand? How did you feel when your parents did the same?

I don’t do cold

cloudy Arizona sky
A cloudy view before the rain hit.

We woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of rain. It was pouring. My iphone didn’t let me know there’d be rain. It told us of a wind advisory. Back in California, the rain was intense. Record rainfall throughout the Southland with road closures and mud slides. I guess I’m lucky to be in Arizona.

I hid under a pile quilts and listened to the rain. It was a wonderful feeling. There’s nothing like the sound of rain when you’re tucked safely and warmly in bed. My husband had opened up the sliding glass door with the screen door closed so we could hear the rain. He also put the cover on the ping pong table at midnight.

This morning I’m freezing. It’s in the 30s and I decided for the first time in several years to forgo my morning walk. I bundled up to attempt the walk, but I couldn’t do it. It has to warm up later today, right? I wore my warm leggings. A fleece vest. A jacket. And I was still too cold to walk. I’m cold to the bone.

I hate being cold. I don’t do cold. Thankfully we put styrofoam cups on our cacti before this cold front came in.

cacti with styrofoam cups
Our cupped cacti.

The sun is out today and it’s bright and sunny, but cold. It must be my 30-plus years of desert living that makes me intolerant to cold weather.

I’m dreaming of our Christmas week at the beach. Of course, I’m picturing a summer day at the beach and not a winter one. We may be inside there, too. I used to say in Palm Springs that there were only a few days of good weather. That it was either too hot or too cold.

What is your favorite weather? Do you mind the cold? Or, is a change of weather something you look forward to?

tree being eaten by wildlife at the roots
Some critter is digging up our trees to eat the roots at night. Any guesses what is doing this?

Views from last week

Sunset in Arizona desert
Sunset from our driveway last week.

I am going to have a busy week writing and hosting my dad and friends for Thanksgiving. I get anxious thinking about it. I’m in the thick of getting the house ready. This will be the first time my dad will see our new home and stay with us. Tonight we have friends from our Palm Springs swim team coming over. We agreed to go out for a casual dinner, since I have the big feast ahead of me. I’m excited to see them, because it’s been years since we were swim parents volunteering together. We’re going to the ASU vs. UA football game together on Saturday, too.

For Thanksgiving, I am cooking the whole works for me, my husband and dad. That’s seem a bit much doesn’t it? I called our friends who moved from Palm Springs to one mile away and asked if they had plans. I’m excited to say our ex-pat Californians will be joining us.

Here are some of the highlights from last week, when I thought I was busy — but compared to this week, not really.

Sundial Center in Carefree with a Christmas tree
I spotted a Christmas tree across from the post office on Easy Street in Carefree. I love the name.
Christmas tree in Carefree city center.
cat sitting on fireplace hearth
Olive found a new place to hang out. My daughter absolutely hates the stacked stone fireplace in our new house. I can live with it and Olive seems to like it.
Sonoran desert sunset
Another night, another sunset

What are your plans for Thanksgiving? Are you getting together with friends and family this year? Are you cooking?

I honestly can’t remember what we did last year because we were in escrow to sell one house and buy another and I was packing for my first move in 28 years.

FYI, today I hit this milestone:

NaNoWriMo update. Badge for 40,000 words!