Estate Piovoso Continues

We are finishing up the last full week of summer vacation from school.  Woo-Hoo! (That would be the introvert in me woo-hooing, the parenting side is of course not looking forward to the battles about to be embarked on.)  And of course vacation may be over but summer will continue for many weeks.

Further analysis revealed four hours of computer time was three hours too many so we revised the Computer Use Guidelines. And now I am responsible for more entertainment of small child. So I have been doing exciting things like:

  • Visiting the Legoland Discovery Center in Tempe, Az
    • Not nearly as bad as I feared.  Two large groups were there but really not nearly as crowded as I had imagined.  I had about an hour where E was playing in the climbing gym and I got to read my book.  We had lunch at the Rain Forest Cafe beforehand and just missed the worst of a monsoon storm on the drive home.
  • Golf ‘n Stuff
    • A Groupon deal helped make this more affordable.  We played 18 holes of Putt Putt Golf ( hole in one’s:  son – 3,  mom-0, sad) and then spent some time in the arcade.  I am a sucker for skeeball and played (really badly)  some pinball as well.
  • Apple Annie’s in Willcox
    • Apple and peach picking which led to making peach jam.  Again, avoided the rain and enjoyed the cooler temperatures.
Peach jam with the ever present afternoon clouds in the background.
  • Sabino Canyon (not)
    • On Sunday night we were all feeling rather blah from the humidity.  We knew there had been a lot of rain in the mountains and thought we’d walk over and check out the creek.  But the park was closed.  We found out the next day there were 35 people stranded on the other side of the creek and shortly after we were turned away they started rescuing them by helicopter.  In my defense I never had any intention of crossing the creek. We came home and went swimming in our pool.

Photo courtesy of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department  Normally there is no water running across the road, there is a tram that uses this road multiple times a day, except when it rains like crazy!

  • The Carpet Store
    • Yes, that really is the name.  We have the brand and type selected, now we have to pick a color. We had it narrowed down to two but the sun was shining for a few moments one day and we could actually see the colors so now it is narrowed down to three.  They are coming to measure on Friday afternoon and I swear I will have a color picked by then.  Getting new carpet for the upstairs is one of my 2017 Ambitions.
  • “Captain Underpants” – the movie
    • This is on deck for later this week. I am looking forward to popcorn and hearing my son laugh.
  • Bug Spring Trail
    • Hoping to do this hike in the Santa Catalina Mountains Saturday morning, weather permitting. About 4 1/2 miles long we will take two vehicles so we only have to hike one way.  Hoping to get an early start and beat the heat/rain.  Planning on taking a breakfast picnic:  deviled eggs, muffins and fruit.
Rain drenched oranges.

It is official, wettest July in Tucson ever.  This after the hottest June in Tucson ever. Sigh.

Estate Piovoso

I have decided that “summer part II” shall be officially named “Estate Piovoso” which is Italian for rainy summer, because everything sounds better in Italian!

And boy has it been raining!  We had 14 consecutive afternoons/evening with rain.  And not just a sprinkle or quick downpour but hours of showers. I believe at my house we have had more rain this summer then in the previous six summers combined. Crazy!

I have not been spending much time on-line these days.  Just not in the mood I guess.  Instead I have been working on this in my sketchbook:

Listening to “The Island” by Elin Hilderbrand while working on my latest needlepoint project:

Getting close to finishing the ice cream puzzle:

Watching 50 years of Alfred Hitchcock on TCM Wednesday and Friday nights in July.

I took a trunk full of items to Goodwill and mailed off a bag of clothes to Thred Up.

And I tried to take a picture of the back of my hair to show how humid it is here in the desert.  Not easy to do and then I was quite shocked at all the gray!  And here I thought I just had a few strands in front.

On that note I am off to make popcorn and my son and I are going to watch  “House on Haunted Hill”.  (His choice, not mine!)

Instead of my hair here is a picture of our Cat’s Claw blooming which only happens after a lot of rain.

 Felice Estate Piovoso!!

*I hope I got that translation right!

 

Two Summers

“You don’t need to have the life you want to enjoy the life you have.” *

This has been my motto the last few months. I am still missing my four seasons life terribly but I am learning to make the best of the life I have now.  As one can imagine summers in the desert southwest feel incredibly long but as the monsoon rains started I had an epiphany.  We actually have two summers here.

Summer Part One I like to think of as “normal” summer.  It lasts from sometime in May until sometime in July. The weather is hot and dry and sunny. The pool is warm and it is too hot to do much outdoors other than swim.  So we spend a lot of time in the pool. We usually have at least one camping trip and/or our big vacation during this time. It feels like a normal summer.

Then sometime in July the weather changes.  The monsoon part of summer starts. More clouds, less heat. It usually takes a few weeks after the initial appearance of clouds until we get rain at my house (except for this year) but late afternoon and evening thunder still keep us out of the pool. The temperature drops but the humidity rises. It feels like it has been summer forever, because it has.  Summer Part One, “normal” summer is over.  This is the start of Summer Part Two.

I actually pulled over to take this photo. How cool it is to see rain falling.

In addition to monsoon weather Summer Part Two includes getting ready to go back to school.  My son resumes school the second week of August so the end of July has us buying supplies and new clothes.  It always felt weird doing this in the middle of summer but this year we are doing it in Part II of summer.  A completely different season from Part I of summer!

Amazing how the mind can adapt.  If it takes me creating a whole new season to survive desert life so be it.  I do think I need to come up with a more creative name for Summer Part II, keeping Summer Part I as just “Summer”.  Any suggestions?

 

*  The quote is from “Julia Child Rules,  Lessons on Savoring Life”  by Karen Karbo.

The 2017 Great Heat Wave Saga

With all the rain and tropical systems and storms you may not realize it but we are having weather in the southwest too.

It is no secret that I am not a fan of living in the southwest but I have been trying  to make the best of things.  This week I was a bit dubious of the crazy hot temperatures forecasted but it turns out crazy hot was the correct forecast.  And then I had one of my mini-epiphanies: this is extreme weather.  This is my blizzard or hurricane!

So I acted accordingly.  I made sure we were well supplied with toilet paper and popsicles. I made a rough plan for my son and I.  We would each have the morning to do our own things.  Computer time for him, laundry, housework and blogging for me.  After lunch we would do some sort of cleaning project, work on a puzzle, play games, watch movies. We would hunker down and wait out the storm, er hot air.

Day 1

Whadda you know, the forecasters were right!  We topped out at 114° between 3:30 and 5:00pm

On Monday I swam from 8:00am to 8:45am taking advantage of the still shaded pool.  I had all the laundry on the line by 9:00am and in the house by 11:15am.  At 11:15 it was already over 100°!  It was time to hunker down.

After lunch my son and I completed our project for the day, sorting out his bookshelf.  We came up with 3 bags to take to Bookman’s next week  after this spell of ferocious weather passes.  Then we worked on this puzzle:

 

Yup, a puzzle of nothing but ice cream!

 

Perfect for the whole family with three different size pieces.

Followed by watching what has to be one of the worst sea creature movies ever, “The Creature From the Haunted Sea“.  The creature had ping pong balls for eyes and regular swim flippers for feet. The plot line suited such a bad creature.  The movies most redeeming feature was the fact that it was just over an hour long. Whew.  Maybe it would have helped if I knew it was supposed to be both a comedy and a thriller? (Probably not.)

 

Then we put together dinner.  I decided that in the event of extreme weather (as long as one has power) comfort food is called for.  We went with meatloaf, mashed potatoes and broccoli.

And then the pool beckoned for my son and his neighbor friends. And after the neighbor kids left I got in the pool and paddled around watching the day end.

Day 2: The Summer Solstice

Pretty much a repeat of Day 1 but with clouds.  Odd clouds.  It never felt like rain and it is unusual to have clouds in the morning.  During the summer you may see a few puffy white clouds floating around in the morning but monsoon rain clouds don’t roll in until late afternoon or evening.

But today we had flat whitish gray clouds pretty much covering the whole sky most of the day. But it didn’t affect the heat, still 102° at 11:00am when I brought in the laundry.  We topped out again at 114°,  but by 4:00pm it felt like storms might be edging in.  The air went from dead calm to breezy and the temperature plummeted to 110°!

I am probably one of few people in North America who is celebrating that the days will now be getting shorter.  Less sunshine, yeah! To celebrate I decided ice cream sundaes for dinner and to make them extra special I baked a pan of brownies. For dessert we had leftover pizza.

Then we waited for the winds to die down a bit, peering anxiously out the windows to evaluate the clouds and look for rain or lightening.  We didn’t see either so then we took our traditional Summer Solstice night swim. When we exited the pool at 8:45pm (full dark here, no gloaming time in the southwest) it was 100° and we could see stars.

Day 3: Officially Summer

9:00am:  pool temperature 92°, air temperature 98°

Found in the bottom of the pool:

That would be a chlorine bleached scorpion.  And the reason I always check to make sure any “leaves” on the bottom of the pool are leaves! I find two or three a summer.

Seen above the pool: seven F-16’s from the Air National Guard unit.  Obviously trying to get the day’s training sorties in early. (Sorry I didn’t get a picture but I was, you know, in the pool.)

Noon:  Air temperature, 109.5°.   Despite the morning and evening excursions outside to the pool I was starting to feel a bit cabin feverish.  And I really wanted a bagel. Did I dare make a run to the grocery store down the street?  I dared.

Hey, what were all these people doing out and about?  Didn’t they know they were supposed to be hunkered down?  I hoped they all weren’t craving bagels too!  Whew, scored one sesame seed and one blueberry bagel. Home safe again.

2:00pm:  Movie of the day:  “The Karate Kid”.  How awesome and totally 80’s! My son, “This is just like ‘Rocky’ “.  Good catch son!

5:00pm: Games played: Kerplunk and three months of Payday.

6:00pm:  For dinner I decided on brats and corn on the cob cooked on the grill. Air temperature had dropped to 104° with monsoon looking clouds and wind.  That is okay because my husband does all the grilling.  I stayed inside and set the table.

Practice monsoon clouds, no thunder, no lightening and no rain fell.

 

Day Four:  The Last Day

Sure there are three more days of pretty darn hot still ahead but who am I kidding?  That is how the whole summer is. But this is the last day of our heat wave saga.

8:00am:  air temperature 91°, water temperature 92°.  I drag myself into the pool and do a few low energy laps.  I need a break.

Pool’s eye view.

I float,

listening to the cicadas play their ode to heat

birds exchanging morning gossip.

High above  F-16’s roar west

eager to escape the rising sun.

2:00pm:  Movie of the day:  “Young Frankenstein” .  I laughed a lot and small child frequently looked puzzled, especially at the end.  You’ll get it when you’re older kid.

4:30pm:  Looks like we are topping out at a windy (but no clouds) 108° today.  The Heat Wave is over!  To show solidarity with my southeast rain soaked brethren I have decided to make coconut shrimp (Trader Joe’s), oven fries and cole slaw for dinner.  We really need key lime pie for dessert.  Do I dare venture out?  Nah, I’ll enjoy my last hours of hunkering down!

There you have it, how I survived ‘The Great Heat Wave of 2017″!!!

Ah the pool, the wonderful pool!

 

 

Old Glory

Here in the United States today is Flag Day. Thank you Betsy Ross!

Sadly a walk around the block revealed we are the only house flying our flag today:

I am going to go out on a limb and say we are also the only house where peanut butter cookies were baked and decorated with red, white and blue sprinkles. “The colors red, white, and blue did not have meanings for The Stars and Stripes when it was adopted in 1777.”  I read somewhere that Betsy Ross just used whatever scraps of fabric she had lying around.

And I may be the only person wearing a flag shirt at my doctor’s appointment this afternoon:

And for dinner we are having Patriot’s Day pancakes from Katherine Hall Page’s book “The Body in the Bog”.  All red, white and blue all day today, despite the fact that flag colors weren’t really planned out!

HAPPY FLAG DAY!

I Miss Weather

I have a solid four to six weeks of nothing but sun and heat ahead of me. I know there are people who would love that. Not me. I am a four seasons girl and I love all types of weather. It is hard to truly enjoy sunshine if you never get any rain.  This is what I have to look forward to:

DAY DESCRIPTION HIGH / LOW PRECIP WIND HUMIDITY
TODAY

JUN 13

Sunny 95°62°  0% NW 10 mph 5%
WED

JUN 14

Sunny 104°/67°  0% NNW 10 mph 4%
THU

JUN 15

Sunny 106/°68°  0% NW 11 mph 3%
FRI

JUN 16

Sunny 105°/70°  0% WNW 11 mph 4%
SAT

JUN 17

Sunny 106°/72°  0% WNW 10 mph 6%
SUN

JUN 18

Sunny 109°/75°  0% NW 10 mph 7%
MON

JUN 19

Sunny

115°/79°

 0% NNE 9 mph 5%
TUE

JUN 20

Sunny 114°/79°  0% NNW 12 mph 6%
WED

JUN 21

Sunny 112°/80°  0% NNW 13 mph 8%
THU

JUN 22

Sunny 111°/81°  0% NW 13 mph 11%
FRI

JUN 23

Sunny 109°/81°  0% NW 13 mph 10%
SAT

JUN 24

Sunny 107°/80°  0% N 12 mph 11%
SUN

JUN 25

Sunny 105°/80°  0% W 11 mph 14%
MON

JUN 26

Sunny 103°/79°  0% W 13 mph 16%
TUE

JUN 27

Sunny 104°/79°  0% WSW 12 mph 17%

Those are Fahrenheit temperatures, for all my Celsius friends just trust me, it is going to be hot!

(In all fairness I believe this is a bit extreme even for us. I would also like to add that once you get over 104° or 105° all that hot feels the same to me.)

 

Sentinel Dome at Yosemite just a nine days ago.  For all those in need of cooling.

I miss watching the Weather Channel. Oh, I still check in from time to time but I no longer have a need to watch it.  Even when the monsoons start there is no way to accurately predict when they are actually going to hit your neighborhood until maybe ten minutes before they do and by then you have figured it out yourself.   Tucson and Pima County are too large and sprawled to get any accurate information for somewhere as specific as my house.  I find watching the Weather Channel just makes me homesick or roll my eyes a lot. Really, 90° is a heat wave?  Ha! That’s a cool down for us. Plus the southwest is seldom on the weather channel until after we get weather. Not enough population and too unpredictable. Once Jim Cantore was across the street from me at Sabino Canyon Rec Area reporting on all this monsoonal rain we were supposed to get.  Not a drop fell here in the foothills!  It all fell to the south which is pretty typical.

For those in more well rounded climates think of this as my version of mid-January, weeks of horrid weather staring me in the face.  But up North one usually catches a break for a day or two.  Snow can be fun and with the cold I can enjoy curling up next to the fire with hot cocoa and a book. There is nothing fun about the heat. But I am trying my best to endure. (I have yet to find a bright side to summers here so endure with grace is the best I can do.)

My attempts to make the best of things include swimming early in the morning and late in the day to avoid the worst of the heat and sun. (I could not believe it either the first time I said “It’s too hot to swim right now.”) My son and I took advantage of  today’s “cooler” temperature to stock up on ice cream and popsicles. I have a stack of library books and many options DVR’d.  All of our ceiling fans work.  As of right now I have nothing on the calendar that will force me to leave the air-conditioned comfort of home next week.  That is the best I can do.

Hetch-Hetchy reservoir (part of Yosemite.)

Un-Happy Heat Wave. 😦

Happy Summer

I have decided to take a blogging break. I am letting you know because I hate it when bloggers just disappear.  (The photos are from my hike last week.)

I love seeing  cloud shadows.

This is the last full week of school and then we are going away for two  weeks. After that we will have two full months of no schedules and no alarms. I am going to strive for the right balance of doing things with my son and letting him have his own space.

I think the flowers look like sun bonnets on the saguaro arms.

My own personal focus will be on being healthy.  Physically and mentally.  Cook from scratch, shop the farmer’s market. Let myself enjoy some down time, try a few new things, let days unfold.  I have to admit I am kind of excited about this! I have this odd feeling of impending change or growth.  I have a feeling if I sit quietly I am going to discover something new about myself.

No rain but I enjoyed the shade the clouds provided.
I didn’t see many critters which in the desert is a good thing!  Mostly ants and butterflies and this one snake.

I hope you are making wonderful plans for this next season and are able to enjoy something delightful each day.

At the top of the Babad Do’ag trail.  TTFN!  (That’s “ta-ta for now” for those that don’t speak Tigger)  🙂 

Muddling through Menopause

I have been feeling anti-computer these days.  Not sure why but in reflection I don’t think that is a bad thing.

My dream life right now? Solitude in a mountain cabin. I would take long walks along a stream or around a lake. I would sit on the porch with a mug of tea and listen to the rain. I would end the day in front of the fireplace with a warm bowl of soup and some homemade bread with butter. For a project I would take a picture of the same thing once a  day, at different times and in all sorts of weather. Maybe a tree or a spot on the lake or a flowering shrub. Whatever took my fancy.

The last six weeks have been tough physically and mentally. I have had no energy and no focus. Allergy season is at it’s peak. I have been sleeping poorly.  I had a twenty-one day period. I appear to be on the same rollercoaster as the weather! Last week we had our first 100° day, actually two of them and I took my first swim of the season. It was quite lovely until a gusty wind began and a few drops of rain fell.  Then the pool was a mess of pollen and debris.  The beginning of this week we were in the 70’s with some rain so I am back on the treadmill.  Hopefully the solar cover will keep enough heat in the pool so when the temperature boomerangs back to the upper 90’s at the end of the week we’ll be able to start swimming in earnest.

I took this picture this morning, how cool is it to have a bird of prey on your pool cover? I am thinking maybe a Hawk?

I have retreated into what I think of as survival mode. I have ditched the habit tracker and the routine. I am taking each day as it comes. You would think I would be a big slug right now but a surprising thing happened. I started doing random tasks. I have cleaned out one whole drawer of the file cabinet. I tackled the memory box project that was one of my cleaning goals for the year.  (One and two are done with a good start on six.) My son and I spent 10 minutes each night after dinner picking up his room. I am so happy to be able to walk in there again without twisting an ankle!

The missed sunset.

Sunday night we took a family walk over to Sabino Canyon hoping to get up high enough to see the sunset. Turned out it was too cloudy and we left a few minutes too late to get a really good view but it was a very pleasant walk anyway and nice to do something out of our ordinary routine.  Ditching my habit tracker and to do list has been good.

Rain to the East during our walk.

Yesterday I took a four mile hike, something I promised myself I would do at least once when the school year started. The hike merits it’s own post so stay tuned.

Today I am feeling better. I have slept well the last two nights. The hot flashes and night sweats are on vacation. I don’t know if it is hormones or the cooler weather but I will take it.  My allergies are not as bad.  I like to think the wind blew the pollen to New Mexico and the rain washed what was left out of the air.

I find I am actually looking forward to today. I will wash my car and paint my toenails lilac while watching one of the many movies I have on my DVR. And popcorn, I deserve popcorn!

I hope you have a wonderful day too!

 

Happy May Day!

No I did not make this holiday up!  May Day is a real holiday that my son and I celebrate by leaving small bouquets of flowers on our neighbors’ doorsteps.  This year our list expanded to eight:  four neighbors, two teachers, our dentist and our church office.

 

Eight little bundles of joy.

Flowers are bursting out everywhere:

Both my chrysanthemums are getting one last flowering in before the real heat starts.

 

 

Baby lemon!  Not a flower but still makes me happy.
I have a few rose buds on my bush.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The seeds I planted in February are flowering!  A rare gardening success. 
No I do not know any names, I am just enjoying their beauty.

 

I will be taking the rest of the week off from the computer.  While I really enjoyed the A to Z blogging challenge I am not used to spending so much time on-line and I am feeling a tad burned out.  See you next week!

 

 

Celebrate a Small Victory

Today you keep a promise to yourself. Today take that first step towards something, anything. Do a few pushups, write one page of a novel, set up an art studio in a corner of your home. Eat a salad for lunch, whatever. Take one small step towards a goal TODAY. And when you go to bed tonight reflect on it, feel happy about it, maybe even make a plan for tomorrow. All goals are met one small step at a time. Today celebrate taking that first step. Hopefully the first step of many.

Cantaloupe plants!

My son always wants to try and grow vegetables or fruits. I explain how hard it is here in the desert weather, in our small yard,  blah blah blah.  This year I let him pick out some seeds and we put them in a pot.  Will they survive the heat to actually produce fruit? Maybe, maybe not. But we took the first step and my son is happy.  And I am happy too. Who knows, maybe we will be eating cantaloupe in a few months!