Sights at sunrise

Sun behind the clouds at sunrise
It’s so hot I’m taking my walks at dawn to beat the heat. The clouds are blocking the sunrise.

We’ve had a hot week and I’ve been swimming rather than walking each day. Our pool in the backyard is a nice temperature so I jump in and kick or swim. I swim laps at the Y a couple times a week too.

It’s weird not to walk every morning after not missing a day since I recovered from knee surgery.

The other morning I woke up at 4:45 a.m. and got out the door for a walk at 5:15 a.m. It was beautiful with birds singing, but I felt a little unnerved with coyotes howling nearby. It sounded like a large pack. I almost turned back to the house, but courageously kept moving on. I actually turned back momentarily only to discover the coyotes howling sounded near my home. Onward and forward seemed like the prudent choice.

Here are the photos I took during my early morning walk.

purple mountains and desert plans.
I love the colors of the mountains and desert in the early morning.

bird on saguaro
A saguaro topped by a bird.
Century plant fallen over
I had been watching this century plant waiting for it to bloom. This was a sad sight.
Century plant standing
This was the century plant two weeks ago.
The oldest quail babies hanging out with their mom and dad in our pool bar. We have three families from wee babies to these teenagers.

If I wake up early enough to beat the heat, I go for my walks at sunrise. If I wake up later and it’s too hot — I jump into the water. Thankfully our pool gets a lot of shade during the day, so the water temperature is still cool.

What is your favorite way to start the day? How are you getting exercise?

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.

An amazing cloudy day

Our 80 degree weather with sunshine vanished. We had one day and night of rain and cool temps — back into the 50s. Then yesterday was a cloudy cool day. But I enjoyed the beauty of the clouds and will share them with you. Most often our days are filled with bright blue skies.

Sonoran sunrise on a cloudy day
I walked into the backyard to get this photo of the sunrise among clouds. It rained during the night and the world smelled like creosote.
Our front yard cactus garden
This is our front yard during yesterday’s cloudy day. The previous owner loved gardening and he was quite proud of his cactus garden. When we first looked at the house, my husband confessed he hated cactus due to a run in with one when he was young. I think cacti are growing on him now.
Cloudy day in the Carefree area.
A morning walk view in our neighborhood.
Cloudy day
More clouds.

I’ve decided cloudy days are beautiful and they add a nice contrast to our regular sunshine. I want it to warm up though so I can jump back into the pool and swim laps.

Do you like sunny or cloudy days more? Why? Do you think a sunny day makes you feel more hopeful or happier?

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?

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.

Views from Christmas Week

sunrise over the Pacific
Sunrise view from the VRBO deck.

We spent Christmas together with our kids and our son’s girlfriend and family. This is our third Christmas together. We missed 2020 due to COVID — or it would be number four. This year, we rented a VRBO between our home and the Bay Area (where everyone but us lives). The house was amazing and it was a wonderful few days with family. My daughter and I had a mother-daughter day while the rest went to Solvang. I absolutely loved our time alone together. We spent so much time together while she was growing up that it was taken for granted. Now it’s a huge gift.

Christmas photo in Santa Barbara
The Christmas Crew
The Anderson Bakery in Santa Barbara
One of our musts in Santa Barbara for breakfast.
Statue at the marina in Santa Barbara
Statue at the marina.
Seawall at the Santa Barbara marina.
Seawall at the marina where the ocean and seaweed splashes over the wall.
selfie of mom and daughter
Mother daughter selfie on our much needed day together.
Path over the Santa Barbara marina barrier
At the end of the seawall you can walk the plank to a small beach.
On the Alley fish tacos
Fish tacos from On the Alley in the Santa Barbara marina. The best. I’m trying to find something close in AZ.

All of my son’s girlfriend’s family play stringed instruments. Two of the seven are professional musicians and we enjoyed Christmas Eve, Christmas and post Christmas concerts in our living room. Below are two samples of the amazing music we were treated to.

Christmas Eve concert snippet.

Sunrise views

We woke up to a cloudy day, which turned spectacular once the sun peeked over the horizon. My husband and I both ran outside with our iPhones and began snapping away. I was curious to compare our photos because our phones have different cameras. I use an iPhone SE that doesn’t have as advanced camera as my husband’s iPhone 12. His phone is a year old, mine is two year’s old and not as big or fancy.

Two of my photos of sunrise yesterday morning.
I like the reflection in the pool.

I took my photos on firm ground, while my husband stood on a table outside to get his view. We both have our own point of view for our photos.

Sunrise photos from my husband iPhone. Same sunrise but different perspectives.

I think both our iPhones capture the spectacular view. But his iPhone produces photos that look more like a painting than mine. I think he has the ability to zoom in, while I do not.

Post sunrise, we are left with a cloudy day.

Do you use your phone for photos now instead of carrying a camera? Which photos do you like the best? Mine or my husband’s? Be honest, please. Or, can you tell any difference between the two iPhone cameras? Also, can you believe how amazing our sunrises are here? I thought they were gorgeous in California, but Arizona’s are truly breathtaking.