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?

Sights from the weekend

cactus with scarlet blooms
I love the color of these cactus blooms. I’m surprised to see cacti blooming again.

We’ve had a busy weekend — post vacation. We picked up friends from the airport Thursday and they invited us over to their house for dinner the next day to repay us for our trouble. They lived a stone’s throw from us in Palm Springs and we both moved within a mile from each other in Arizona — without prior knowledge we were both doing that. Our kids went to school together from kindergarten through high school. Now our kids live near each other in the Bay Area.

Here’s a view from our friend’s place up the street from us.
woodpecker standing on a vertical wall.
Woodpecker standing on the wall. I don’t know how it does that. There’s nothing to hang onto.

We had neighbors over for appetizers, wine and games. We played my favorite card games, Demon and Texas Hold ‘Em. Our friends brought over a game they thought we’d enjoy. My husband and I laughed when we found out it was Catchphrase. That’s a game our kids played endlessly at swim meets with their teammates under the pop-up tent. We’d be at meets for at least four hours and they’d swim a few minutes. Downtime was spent playing cards or Catchphrase.

It’s been years since I’ve played games and it was a hoot. We laughed and had fun. it was a perfect thing to do with people we’ve only known for a few months.

For appetizers I made deviled eggs, stuffed shishitos with honey goat cheese and sweet Italian sausage chunks on toothpicks with honeycrisp apples. Also a veggie platter that was barely touched.

sunrise in Arizaona
Here’s the gorgeous sunrise Saturday morning.

I enjoyed watching the kitty watch birds and bunnies. The quail families are growing up!

What card games do you like to play? Did you play lots of games growing up? Do you think kids today play games or is everything on screens now?

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?

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?

It’s all about simple pleasures

red cardinal in a tree
A cardinal enjoying our backyard.

There have been a few heartwarming and joyful moments the past few days that I captured with my iphone camera.

Several were simply watching our cat Olive. Then I spotted a bright red cardinal sharing a branch in a tree alongside 10 quail. I missed getting that photo, but I did manage to get the cardinal sitting by himself and quail enjoying the bird feed I put down.

pretty kitty staring at me
While I was reading, Olive sat and stared at me.
I never get tired of quail watching.


Nothing big and exciting has happened this week so far. But It’s been a a nice week of walking, reading, writing, ping pong and enjoying the quiet moments with the cat and wildlife.

Ten-year-old Olive is playful with tiny catnip mice. I laugh watching her, especially when they get stuck in her polydactyl claws.

How is your week going? What are your highlights so far?

Look who came back to visit?

Random Thoughts on NaNoWriMo

Brilliant sunrise in Arizona
Sunrise yesterday morning. It felt like it was going to be a good day.

When I woke up Tuesday morning to this sunrise — I felt pure joy. How could I not? This is the view from our master bedroom and backyard. I grabbed my husband’s iphone — because he has a better camera on his — and began snapping away. Once I captured the moment, I stood quietly in the backyard as the colors enveloped me.

I’m on my second week of NaNaWriMo and if I were to describe the experience? A pain in the neck.

My neck really hurts. My shoulders hurt too as they hunch up to comfort and hang out with my sore neck. I complained about this last week, and boy howdy! It’s only gotten worse with each passing day.

I took one bit of advice from blogger extraordinaire LA. She said she has a lavender neck wrap that heats up in the microwave. I jumped on Amazon and voila! I now have one and it does help.

I was talking to my daughter on the phone and I complained about my neck.

“Your neck always hurts,” she said.

“But not like it does now. It’s the NaNo challenge that’s making it worse. I’m hunched down over my laptop for hours every day.”

“I know what you need,” she said.

“I already got the lavender neck wrap,” I answered.

“That too, but it’s not what I was going to suggest.”

This was her suggestion:

lap top stand and a work area with a view.
A laptop stand so I’m now working with my screen at eye level. This is my view from where I work in the casita.

I hope it helps. It should. You can now find me wearing a lavender neck wrap working on my raised laptop. I’m impressed with Amazon to get me these items within 24 hours. As much as I don’t like Amazon, I’m also thankful for their convenience and speed.

I took a break and sat in the backyard watching the quail fly onto the patio roof.

My other random thoughts about NaNoWriMo:

I don’t regret the challenge and I’m enjoying starting something new. It was just the thing to get me going on a new project. The words poured out faster than I could type the first week. I’ve slowed down on week two. I’m following my 9-point plot map. But I’ll get through all nine points in 25,000 words which means I need to add more to hit 50,000 words. I think I need more conflict between my characters and more depth in my characters.

What are your thoughts about Amazon? Are you a fan or a foe? Did you use it more during the COVID shutdowns? What are your easiest parts of writing whether it’s blogging or writing a novel? What do you find to be the most difficult?

Views from my week

sun setting in the desert
Almost sunset the other night in the neighborhood.

Besides sitting down writing this week for NaNoWriMo, I went for walks, enjoyed sunrises and sunsets and was entertained by Olive the cat and our friendly quail. FYI, I’m almost 10,000 words into my 50,000-word challenge. My husband took off to help our son move so I’m alone and will have lots of quiet time to write. I’m stressed because he didn’t leave himself enough time. He may be on his way back home in an hour. It’s out of my control, but it’s the type of thing that makes me anxious.

My son is moving from his apartment of five years into a house with more space. My son needs help because he isn’t supposed to lift anything due to his August shoulder surgery. My daughter said, “Only my brother would plan a move when he wouldn’t be able to pack or lift anything.”

She’s looking to move as well, so my husband might be moving her if she finds a place this weekend. She looking at apartments this very minute. Funny, the house my son is moving into is 700 feet from the house my daughter gave notice to leave. It wasn’t planned and I’m sure they’d like the close proximity, but it just worked out that way. My son is moving for more space and the black mold they discovered doesn’t agree with him. My daughter is moving because she’s in a co-op with a total of eight people and she’d like to try living alone. She said she’s tired of other people’s messes. Just wait until she has kids someday!

cat peering through cat grass looking out a window.
Olive hides behind her cat grass waiting for the quail to appear on the patio.
Quail out the window where I sit and write.
A bunny hangs out with the quail.
Sunset in Arizona
Sunset.

Happy Friday! I hope everyone has a good weekend.

Anybody have more exciting plans than mine of sitting and writing? What are your plans? How much time do you give yourself at the airport when you travel?