The things we believed — at first

masking with fabric
When we first were wearing masks, I used quilting fabric, which we now know isn’t that helpful. Here I am at the park in Palm Springs by my old home.

We spent Father’s Day at our friends who moved unbeknownst to us from Palm Springs to a mile from our new Arizona home. We played bocce ball, cooled off in their pool and ate a delicious dinner of bbq’d pork ribs.

At some point in the conversation I mentioned that we took Vitamin D3 every day because it’s supposed to help protect us from COVID.

My girlfriend’s husband who is a newly retired doctor said, “Where did you hear that? That makes zero sense. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. How do strong bones help with COVID?”

I humbly replied that I had read it everywhere. I couldn’t point to a specific source, but it was a common theme I heard repeatedly from people I knew and news sources.

When I got home, I googled it. Early on during the pandemic, researchers believed that Vitamin D helped. Now there are extensive studies that show there’s no evidence or correlation that Vitamin D protects people from the SARS virus.

I thought about other things that have changed through the last two years as scientists learned more about the dreaded disease.

First, we were told that it could last on objects for hours or even days. This resulted in our city pool being shut down, playground equipment and the tennis courts closed to the public. A few skate parks in Southern California were filled with sand to encourage social distancing.

playground equipment with yellow tape
This was the playground equipment at our park during the shut down.

Now we know that the virus doesn’t sit for hours on inanimate objects and it would have been healthier for kids to play on the playground — rather than being isolated in their homes.

A friend of mine would unpack her groceries from the cart and wipe them all down with bleach or alcohol before she loaded them into her car.

I know a lot of people who told me they’d strip off their clothes inside their front door when they returned, jumped into the shower and washed their clothes. That was especially true for people who were “essential workers” and had to work with the public.

I wore cloth masks such as the quilting fabric in the photo above — and my husband wore a bandana.

What are some of the things you did when the pandemic first hit that you later found out weren’t effective?

bungee swimming in pool
My daughter using the bungee in our backyard pool since the city pool was closed.

It’s time to kick

Two mornings in a row it’s been too hot to walk. I convinced my husband to kick with me in the pool. He set his timer for 30 minutes and off we went. I didn’t want to swim freestyle because I had just washed my hair. I know that sounds prissy, but I can’t stand washing my hair every day. So I put my hair up and kicked until my lower back hurt and my legs got sore.

A really cool coincidence is friends from Palm Springs moved one mile from us in Arizona three months after we moved. This was without knowledge of each other moving. The friend and I were school moms at the Catholic school our kids attended. They lived only a few blocks from us in Palm Springs and I golfed weekly with this friend.

We lost touch with each other when we both got hyper involved with our kids’ sports. My kids were swimmers — their kids were hockey players.

Hockey led them out of town to Anaheim where there was a competitive team. We lacked hockey in Palm Springs.

This past weekend they invited us over for a birthday party. We spent a couple hours sitting and standing in the pool while wasps swarmed around us. My friend’s husband stood in the pool with a can of Raid trying to keep the wasps at bay. It was a fun afternoon, but today I have sunburned hands.

My husband said everyone but me kept their hands in the water. I apparently talk with my hands. We were laughing and talking and I was gesturing all over the place. I’ve never had sunburned hands before.

The weekend before we had them over and I cooked sea bass, grilled corn on the cob, asparagus and a brown and wild rice dish. It was another fun night of friendship and laughter.

I feel a connection to this couple unlike the new friends I’ve made in our neighborhood through book club, the newsletter and coffee. It’s because we go back for decades, raised our kids together and have shared memories. It’s also amazing that we ended up in homes so close together because we are out in the sticks a good 30-minute drive north of Scottsdale.

What friends do you feel the most connection with and why?

Family time

We had a lovely visit with our daughter. We packed in as much as we could during her short trip. I especially loved our visit to the Desert Botanical Garden to show her the Chihuly Installation. Because it’s more than one hundred degrees outside, we opted to go for the last hour it’s open — from 7 to 8 p.m. It was gorgeous.

I’m so glad we became members because we are learning so much about desert plants like the many species of cacti, aloe and agave. There’s a butterfly garden, wildflower garden, bee garden and my favorite — a shade garden.

Tomorrow our son comes to visit. It’s wonderful to spend time with our kids, even if their trips are short! Just having them under our roof and hanging out together is blissful.

Here are a few pictures from the botanical garden:

Chihuly exhibit at Desert Botanical Garden.
My favorite Chihuly installation at the Desert Botanical Garden.
mountain view Desert Botanical Garden
A view of a nearby mountain.
bright pink wildflower
Wildflower
Chihuly at the Desert Botanical Garden.
More Chihuly. This one was too big to fit in one photo.
lavendar wildflower
More wildflowers.
Chihuly glass
bonsai elephant food.
Elephant food bonsai. We have a lot of these plants in our yard. I didn’t know the name before.

Chihuly at night.
Chihuly glass lit up at the entrance to the botanical garden.

What are your favorite things to do when your kids or friends and family visit?

A few sights around the neighborhood

white blooms of a yucca
Yucca in bloom by our park.

I never grow tired of the desert sights. It’s such a different desert than the manicured lawns, hedges and golf courses of Palm Springs — yet it’s technically the same desert. The Sonoran Desert.

hatched quail eggs
My husband spotted these quail eggs in a planter under a bush. Talk about an effective nest. Now we know where the babies came from.

planter with quail eggs
This is the planter where the quail made a nest! It’s in the side yard right outside where the trash bins are stored.
I’ve been watching this century plant grow.
century plant ready to bloom.
A few weeks later. It’s grown so fast, you can stand still for a few minutes it seems like you can watch it grow.
I wonder if it will bloom?
Sunset in the Desert.
Sunset view with ocotillo.

Have a great weekend! Thanks for stopping by. What are your plans for the weekend?

Benefits of early morning walks

javelina in a neighbor's yard
Javelina

One of the benefits of walking at dawn is the wildlife we get to see. This morning it was this herd of Javelina in front of a neighbor’s house. I texted the photo to the neighbors to show them the shenanigans going on in their driveway while they were sleeping.

What is a javelina you might ask?

Javelina (Tayassu tajacu) also known as collared peccary, are medium-sized animals that look similar to a wild boar. They have mainly short coarse salt and pepper colored hair, short legs, and a pig-like nose. The hair around the neck/shoulder area is lighter in color giving it the look of a collar. Javelina have long, sharp canine teeth which protrude from the jaws about an inch.

One major adaptation for survival is the fact that javelina live in large family groups. The average group size is 10 or less, but a few herds have known to number up to 53 animals. Each group defends a territory which includes their sleeping and feeding areas. They communicate with their own family group and other groups using sounds and smells.

Javelina live in desert washes, saguaro and palo verde forests, oak woodlands, and grasslands with mixed shrubs and cacti.

They can be found in the deserts of southwest Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, southward through Mexico and Central America and into northern Argentina.

https://desertmuseum.org/kids/oz/long-fact-sheets/Javelina.php

Other creatures we have seen are tiny baby bunnies, quail families, coyotes and mule deer.

mule deer in the street
Mule deer that crossed the street at dawn.

We are going adventuring in the area this weekend and I’ll write about that next week.

Have you seen javelina before? What plans do you have for the weekend?

Early birds

sunrise in the desert
Sunrise view from our backyard.

I’ve decided to change my daily schedule. It’s time to set my alarm and get out of bed early. For the past months, I’ve been letting my body decide when to get up.

It’s getting hot and my morning walks will go by the wayside unless I get out earlier. Yesterday we walked at 7 a.m. and it was too hot. We decided 5:30 a.m. would be the ideal time to get outside in the neighborhood.

Another reason to get up early is pickleball at the YMCA. When school ends in a few weeks, the gym where we play pickleball will be used by the kids’ summer program. Us old folks will get to play pickleball from 5:30 to 7:30 a.m. By walking at 5:30 a.m. for a few weeks, I’ll be ready for the early pickleball mornings.

I wrote about early birds get the worm a few years ago. It’s a story about how many people we define as successful get up each day at dawn. I’m talking Benjamin Franklin to Tim Cook. You can read it HERE.

Do you set an alarm in the morning or do you let your body decide when to get up? Are you an early bird or not?

sunrise
Another early morning sunrise.

It’s wild!

bobcat
I’ve spotted the bobcat at our house two days in a row. I watched him leap over our fence and also walk along our windows on our patio like he owns the place.

When the bobcat arrives our yard is deathly silent. Gone are the squawks of the quail and woodpecker. The bees stop buzzing and the beautiful song of a cardinal is nowhere to be heard.

Normally our backyard is alive with sounds. I’ve spotted baby quails when I’m walking around the neighborhood. I put out seed on the ground outside the casita this week. I was thrilled when a family of quail visited our yard! They are the tiniest, cutest little things. The babies follow mom and dad in a line.

Here’s a video of the quail family eating the birdseed.

Mom and dad with seven or eight babies.

Another joyful sight was a cardinal who is enjoying the seed I put out. He is so gorgeous and his song is beautiful, too.

Our beautiful scarlet cardinal.

I had stopped feeding the birds last year because a hawk flew into a window with a plump quail in its beak. The window was broken and it scared me to death. I got a bill for $600 to replace the double-paned window. The quail and hawk survived, though.

But I’m back to putting out seed a year later. I hope I don’t have a repeat of the hawk incident. I’m enjoying the bird and bobcat watching. It’s truly wild!

Do you enjoy bird watching where you live? What types of birds do you have?

What type of wildlife do you have?