Random thoughts

Roadrunner.
Roadrunner in my backyard.

On my morning walk I saw a huge coyote run across the street into my friend’s yard. I marveled at his beauty and wasn’t afraid like I’ve been before with a coyote sighting. His speed told me he wanted to get far away from us.

Olive the cat and I watched quail in our backyard. They were squawking and fighting as they scouted for birdseed. I’m amazed at how quickly the babies grew up. All the quail are the same size now. I wonder if the quail stay together as families from newborn chicks through adulthood?

I’ve been fascinated watching Harris hawks glide and circle above my backyard. I’ve tried to video them, but it’s difficult because the sun is in my eyes and I can’t see if I’m capturing them. Perhaps I shouldn’t put birdseed out because it attracts the quail — who then are prey for the hawks. I should have learned my lessons when the hawk crashed into a window and broke it!

I went to the hardware and grocery store and everything I needed was in stock. In the spring there were empty shelves. I remember looking for Tater Tots for weeks, but they weren’t available. We were having friends over for burgers and I wanted to serve Tater Tots.

During the pandemic, I would grocery shop for my dad who was in his late 80s (he’s 90 now). We didn’t feel it was safe for him at his age to go out. I felt like I was putting my life in danger grocery shopping. They were always out of my dad’s favorite Jimmy Dean’s sausage, egg and cheese biscuits.

Who would have thought Tater Tots and Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches would be in demand during a pandemic?

Quail in the backyard.

Watching a Harris hawk circling in the sky.

Besides toilet paper, what do you remember having trouble finding during the pandemic?

Creatures in my backyard

metal gecko on the fence
We have two geckos climbing our fence.

The people who built our house and lived here for 15 years prior to us buying it, took good care of the backyard. They filled it with landscaping, potted plants and creatures.

It was cool enough to be outside last night to barbecue. While the tri tip was grilling, I took photos of the critters the prior owners left.

Here are some of them:

statuary in back yard of birds
Not sure if these are owls or birds?
squirrel statue
Squirrel!
rabbit and raccoon statue
Cuties.

aligator statue
This gator guards the pool.
baby alligator statue
Baby alligator
stone frog
I like this frog.
roadrunner statue
Roadrunner.
metal roadrunner statue.
My favorite roadrunner.
metal javelina
Javelina.

I had a friend over to hike last spring. She commented “You sure have a lot going on in your backyard.”

She’s right. All the statue critters are not exactly my taste, but they are growing on me. I’m not going to get rid of them, but I doubt I’ll add to the collection. The cactus and succulents are growing on me, too.

boot planter
Here’s a boot with a cactus growing inside.
group of statues.
Coyotes with a steer’s head and metal aloe.

What are your thoughts about statuary in the yard? Are you a fan or not?

Needing some downtime

Pink flower
The simple beauty of nature.

It’s been a few weeks since our vacation to Utah and I’m already feeling the need to get away. There’s something about the heat of the desert, being stuck inside because of 100-plus degree temperatures that gets to people.

I remember in my former life in Palm Springs that controversy always bubbled up mid-July to early August. Especially with our swim team. You take a bunch of over-involved parents who are competitive about their kids — put them on a hot pool deck — and you have a recipe for a few outbursts.

Once the former president of our swim team told me “Take this team and shove it up your A**!”

Then he walked off the pool deck with his kids and started his own team, taking about 30 or 40 swimmers with him. I stood in shock. As a board member, I had been in the middle of a power struggle between our coach and him. He wanted to be the coach and was actively trying to discredit our current coach.

It was an ugly episode in my parenting years. We noticed every summer around the same time things began to boil.

I don’t thrive with conflict. I try to avoid unpleasantness in my life.

Last week, a club meeting rivaled the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.”

A woman who I consider a friend acted horribly out of anger. I don’t know where the anger came from. But what should have been a nice night of having dinner and friendship turned into a battleground. I feel especially bad for the woman who opened up her home, prepared dinner and dessert for the club.

Now I feel caught in the middle. It’s a bad place to be. I want to get along. I am willing to give people a second chance and the benefit of the doubt. Even when they lose their temper and act badly. We are all human and make mistakes.

I’m going to distance myself from all these clubs for awhile until my emotions settle down. I can’t wait to get out of the heat and out of town, which is in a couple weeks.

How do you handle conflict? Do you forgive people for bad behavior or write them off?

Looking for art

The top of the bar in our living room.

Today my husband and I went looking for art, stone or something for two 16 by 16 inch spaces at the top of our bar. We found a few things including glass, natural stone and geodes. But we have different ideas of what will work. I want a bright contrasting color like orange or red. He wants green or blue. I like green and blue, but I feel those colors will get lost.

I have a feeling those spaces will remain empty.

It was very hot and humid outside. We walked around our little town of Carefree and then Cave Creek going in and out of consignment stores and art galleries. When I got back home I felt dizzy with vertigo. I have gotten vertigo twice in the past year. Hopefully this time it goes away quickly without having to see the doctor or going on prednisone like the last two times.

I’m sitting in bed typing this and finishing my neighborhood’s newsletter — hoping I don’t fall off!

Have you had vertigo? What has worked for you to get over it? Happy August First!

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?