Posts Tagged With: summer

It’s Really Gratituesday Every Day

One of a hundred sunrises I enjoyed.

One of a hundred sunrises I enjoyed.

It’s Gratituesday! I wrote this a while ago hoping to sneak in a quick write before a certain one-year old woke up from a late nap and before a three-year old moved on to a noisier, less productive project. Turns out I abandoned this and just today, a month later I picked it up again. Now it’s nearly November, but I still feel thankful for a Summer enjoyed.

One month snapshot of from my Gratitude App.

One month snapshot of from my Gratitude App.

Favorites

Looking back over the summer in my Gratitude App, it turns out I’m often grateful for those two little people. Also turns out I’m frequently thankful for a favorite six-month old and a favorite thirteen-year old, too.

Walks

And walks. I took a bunch of those this summer, in spite of the heat. And because of the heat I went early enough that I ended up grateful for sunrises nearly every day. Pretty much any activity that took me outside made my gratitude list, family reunion, camping, time on a porch swing, swimming, picnics, outdoor dining, gardening, yard work.

That's a lot of rain for the Sahuaros to drink up.

That’s a lot of rain for the Sahuaros to drink up.

Rain, Oh My

The rain made itself known more than a few times and I’m always grateful for that, even when it comes four inches at a time. But then, my house didn’t get flooded like others in nearby towns did.

Sleep

Not the least bit surprising, sleep came in as a big winner in the frequently appearing in my gratitude list contest. Probably number one if I took the time to actually count. Right after food, bread and chocolate.

Work, the Volunteer Variety

The surprise that showed up often as something that adds light to my life falls in the volunteer work category. You’d think that wouldn’t get mentioned, but I always find myself helped more by helping someone than any amount of help I’ve given.

Quaking Aspen. I like to think of it as a family tree.

Quaking Aspen. A family tree.

Family

Time with family topped the summer gratitude list. Extended family, my kids and their spouses, my four favorites, their pets and of course, MSH.

What didn’t land on the lists very often? Things.

Things.

Should I be more grateful for STUFF? I don’t know. Probably, yes.

I don’t often list as Gratitudes all the luxuries I live with like a washer, dryer, electricity, a home, a safe neighborhood, a working air-conditioned vehicle, a soft bed, plenty of food, clean and copious amounts of drinking water. Do I take them for granted? I hope not. Maybe I view them as background to what seems really important like people or experiences. Maybe I should verbalize some gratitude for those as well.

Proof

Surely I basked in a summer of blessings. I’m glad I kept track of those daily joys. Otherwise, I might have looked back over what looks from this distance, like merely another hot summer endured. Instead I have months worth of happy thoughts and proof that life smiled on me.

And I smiled back.

Condensed sunshine.

Condensed sunshine.

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Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Happiness | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lizard Breath

We’re gearing up for the onslaught of summer’s heat here in Phoenix. Not a fun prospect, but ways do exist to survive and thrive or at least laugh a little about it.

For instance I snapped this photo last week of a little wall lizard on the outside of my screen door. (I’m sure they have an actual name but I don’t know what it is.)

"Let me in, I'm melting, I'm melting!"

“Let me in, I’m melting, I’m melting!”

 

These little guys are out in force during the summer. From what I can tell they feed on crickets, mostly around the brick walls that encircle and isolate homes in the suburbs.

They don't hold still very long. I was lucky to snap this shot at all.

They don’t hold still very long. I was lucky to snap this shot at all.

My favorite thing to see them do, besides scurrying about is push ups. Yes, they do push ups a la Jack Lalanne. I’m sure it has something to do with heat regulation, or optimizing the shade their bodies create or maybe they’re just into physical fitness. I’ll try to get some video one of these days. Until then you’ll have to rely on your imagination.

The lizards are quite small. Nose to tail they’re only about five inches long.

There are, from a quick google search, approximately sixty lizard species in Arizona. As far as I can tell, I’ve seen one kind. Not so sure I want to meet any of the other kinds. A little too Jurassic Park if you ask me.

What a friendly face.

What a friendly face.

The Geico gecko sounds like a good conversationalist with some wit and snark and might be fun to do lunch with. I’m pretty sure he’s a California lizard, although his accent is tough to pinpoint. You know those Hollywood types…

Speaking of talking lizards, here’s a lizard joke for you. (Laughter is one of our ‘extreme heat’ coping mechanisms around here.)

The devout cowboy lost his favorite Bible while he was mending fences out on the range. Three weeks later, a lizard walked up to him carrying the Bible in its mouth. The cowboy couldn’t believe his eyes. He took the precious book out of the lizard’s mouth, raised his eyes heavenward and exclaimed, “It’s a miracle!” “Not really,” said the lizard. “Your name is written inside the cover.” ~ jokes4us

Did you know lizards can regrow their tails? Yup. It’s a fact. I suppose that’s handy when your tail is as long as your body and tends to drag a bit. Cats, kids and birds all want to grab at you and they’re most likely going to snatch at your tail. That’s gotta sting a bit when it snaps off. I’m sure there’s some amazing biology involved in that whole process.

funny-lizard-bungee-jump

Don’t try this at home.

 

Sometimes I wonder if my cathartic laughter isn’t actually a little maniacal. The heat here wears on a person. Just the thought of the upcoming incessant thrumming of above one hundred five degree temperatures gives me a headache and makes me thirsty.

We haven’t hit the century mark yet, so I’m getting ahead of myself. Seventeen years here and I still haven’t figured out how to do the snow bird thing. That’d be nice. Or boring. Who wants the same weather year round anyway? Oh yeah, Floridians, Californians, Arizonans. Aliens.

randall

Have you ever wondered why so many aliens and monsters are depicted as lizards? Makes me go hmmmm.

I still consider myself a temporary transplant. One of these days I’m packing up and heading for a different climate. Until then, I’ll laugh a bunch and make the best of it here.

And I’ll keep a lookout for aliens, er, lizards.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Fun, Humor, phoenix | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Weather, I Like It or Not

Tornado sirens keep going off in my head.

Nope, I don’t live in Oklahoma anymore.

All the noise and turmoil jostles me from the inside, mostly in my head, but my stomach seems involved as well. This happens sometimes in the summer, at least it does here in the desert.

Maybe my body and brain attempt to hibernate like those frogs from around here that emerge for a brief season and then burrow underground until the next wet season. Unfortunately that’s not an option for we humanoids.

English: cloud and rain, weather forecast symbol

Cloud and rain, weather forecast symbol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hibernating sounds delightful doesn’t it? Sleep for three to five months while the land bakes, crackles, pulls away from the edges and curls up in tight little fists. I’m certain this climate wasn’t intended for human consumption. Look at how many hoops we have to jump through to make it habitable. Miles of canals, cavernous wells, refrigerated air, draining a river dry before it reaches its final destination.

Clearly the heat plays its games with my neurons, my electrolytes, my sense of well-being. Surely I’m a snow bird with a need to fly north with the spring winds, then waft back on southern breezes during the winter months. Can someone please tell my bank account about my true nature and needs? Being stuck here in 110 plus degrees turns me into a pillar of salt as I look back at all the moderate, temperate, reasonable places we’ve lived. Even twenty below winters sound mild in comparison to this silliness.

I recently spent three weeks up north in cooler country, admittedly mostly indoors. But, it was still gloriously cool in the evenings, reasonable in the daytime, tolerable any time. So, coming back to the desert has thrown my body into conniptions.

I’d forgotten that taking a walk any later than eight in the morning might result in a daylong headache. It had slipped my mind that stepping outdoors for a breath of fresh air might not smell the least bit fresh. Burnt and over baked and ozonated, yes, but fresh, no. I had easily let the hard truth of endless summer filter out of my consciousness.

Stepping off the plane into the physical onslaught of oppressive heat, even in the relative shelter of the temporary hallway from plane to terminal, left me feeling drained of energy and instantly tired. My very cell remembered, even if my head forgot, that desert summers suck the life out of a person. Literally and figuratively.

Sorry for being such a downer today. The transition has been a brutal one. And that’s WITH a great air conditioning system.

This time of year the seven-day forecast teasingly shows pictures of clouds with raindrops. Then, in the fine print below the cloud something like “10%” or “20%” shows up. They call that a chance of rain. I call it teasing. I call that false advertising. In fact, it’s downright mean.

English: A example of Cumulus congestus which ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many mornings I wake to billowing cloud formations tinged in pinks and corals with a promise of moisture in the air. I’ve learned not to fall for the ploy. Late afternoons do something similar with huge plumes of clouds over the distant mountains taunting and laughing with the potential of a downpour. The clouds lift to dizzying heights, establish an anvil shape and collapse into a dry, hot wind and then disappear.

I think straight blue sky is easier to take than those pretender clouds. At least with blue you know where you stand. Heat, all day, no matter what.

Sure, someday the cool weather will arrive. Someday after Halloween usually. And by cool I mean high temperatures that don’t breach the one hundred degree Fahrenheit mark.

Kids come out of the woodwork on a day where the temps are under one hundred. It’s the jackpot, the lalapalooza, the signaling of the end of cabin fever days stuck inside with recirculated air and inactivity. I can hardly wait to see frisbees soaring, lacrosse sticks flying, children on the playground, night games in the park and pickup football scrimmages.

Even more I look forward to planting my fall/winter garden.

It’ll happen. Eventually.

Until then I watch.

I wait.

I hope for rain.

Categories: Mental Health, Nature, Outdoors, The World | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Bit of Compensation

The heat is on.

Tomorrow is June. We’re set here in Phoenix to bust past the triple digits after a month of nineties that merely flirted with the hundreds. We were spoiled by that. But that little dalliance of sweet summertime romance is over. Reality is about to set in. Unrelenting, pounding, incessant, oppressive desert heat is about to clamp its fiery grip around our throats and lives.

Sounds melodramatic? Overdone? Silly? I invite you to visit for a week or two. Drive around with the AC in the car not working. Attempt a brisk morning walk with the sun peaking over the horizon, grill a few burgers in the blaze of the sunset, sweat a bit at midnight.

Oh, I know it’s not like Iraq, where my brother worked on an army base in an undisclosed location and the average daytime temperature was 124. No, it’s not that bad. But it’s not all that good either.

I wonder often why someone would settle in the desert. Of course there’s evidence all over the place in the desert southwest of native Americans settlements, canals, living spaces, communities, long before Columbus hit the coast of North America. When they had a choice of the entire landscape why here? Flat, hot, arid. I suppose it’s tough to have your enemy sneak up on you when there’s nothing but flat for a hundred miles in every direction.

I often wonder what we’re doing here. So does MSH.

Money brought us here. Family and friends keep us here.

But that’s not where I was going with this.

I meant to talk about my sunflowers.

Yes.

Sunflowers.

20130531-080301.jpg

Look at these babies! The cinderblock wall they’re planted next to is six feet tall. And they’ve rocketed into giant growing fortresses of greenery. The stems are bigger around than my hand can reach! They’re more like trees than flowers.

20130531-080359.jpg

And these! Happy yellow faces of bright sunshine on a stalk, all lined up and waving at me every time I glance out the back window.

20130531-080445.jpg

It’s like sunshine, compacted into a flower. Instead of the burning, gaseous orb of hydrogen and helium, with its eye-squinting, brow beating heat and light, it’s condensed itself into these massive, delicate, powerful bursts of golden petals.

An ironic gift, held out to somehow compensate for the meanness of the hundred plus temperatures and earth parching relentlessness of the next four months.

I’ll take it. I’ll take whatever relief and wonder I can get when it’s this hot.

It’s like being on the receiving end of a repeating phone message to a busy office where instead of music you hear, “Please enjoy the flowers while you wait.”

Fine.

I will.

Categories: Gardening, Nature, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Summertime

School’s out today for the next couple of months. No more national anthem wafting across the park every morning at 8:45. No more a.m. and p.m. traffic as parents drop off and pick up their littles. No more playground noises, of tether ball chains against poles, kick ball, swings squeaking, girls screeching, boys in mock battles, girls piled up in little cliques like so many fall leaves blown into a pile.

Ah, the summer freedom of children.

Months stretch out before them in a vast sweeping prairie of waving grasses, unexplored trails, toes in cold streams, popsicles dripping, and entire days spent swimming.

Oh wait, that was my childhood. Do kids still do that?

English: Cottonwood Trees in Lions Park

There’s still a sense of freedom, but I get the feeling that it’s only a pale shadow of the freedom I enjoyed.

I took off running by ten every morning to my best friend’s house. From there the two of us would race to the park, with its open grass fields, a swampy tadpole pond, a meandering creek, a cottonwood tree-filled valley, ivy covered hills, rusty barbed wire fence lines. We spent most of the day there roaming, dreaming, romping, hiding, in imaginary wars with other kids who also played there.

Completely unsupervised.

Yes.

Not an adult in sight. Can you imagine it?

It was a different world. An innocent time. A protected, sweet existence.

A small pocket of pure perfection.

Categories: Memory Lane, Nature, Outdoors, The World | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Beauty of Frost, The Power of Sunlight

Happy Winter Solstice!! Enjoy the sun while its up for its shortest amount of time all year.

Frost

Frost (Photo credit: ahisgett)

Been looking out across the park this morning at a layer of frost.  If I didn’t live in the desert I might have thought it was a smattering of snow.  We get frost here about a dozen times over the winter months. Fortunately I can usually just throw some sheets over my potted flowers, my veggie garden and a couple of frost sensitive plants.  They stay just cosy enough under that thin layer of fabric to keep from freezing. That just about defines our winter.

If only it were so easy to keep my flowers flourishing in the summertime here.  The price we pay for the extremely mild winter is an inversely proportionate brutal summer.  But that is a distance memory as well as a future I’m going to pretend away for now.

Here’s  a quote by Albert Camus that seems fitting, in a way:

“In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”            

Some days, this quote seems more true than others. On good days, it feels very true.  On days with too much weight in them, too many obstacles piled up, I’m not so sure I believe it.

Frost Ferns

Frost Ferns (Photo credit: CaptPiper)

Maybe that’s the problem right there. My lack of belief in myself.  I doubt my strengths, my ability to cope.  Which is silly.  Why doubt when I have evidence mounted to the ceiling that says otherwise?

Is it human nature to doubt ourselves?  Some people seem so sure of themselves, so sure of their invincibility, so confident.  Or is that a front, an act, a fakery?

I once had an impromptu discussion with a group of women about how we’re taught to see ourselves.  I still have the napkin that someone wrote on while we were talking. (thanks, Christine)  What we see in television and movies, in advertisements, in books, what we observe in human relationships, all tell us what the world expects us to be. Which is silly, mindless, inconsequential and powerless.  Think about it, look at the television shows you watch and tell me that isn’t what’s portrayed.

We decided that who and what we really are is more along these lines:

wise, sober, fun, intelligent, creative, focused, insightful, important, beloved, valuable, respected, powerful, influential, dependable, impactful, independent, stalwart, self-sufficient.

When was the last time you saw a person portrayed this way?  Do you believe those things about yourself?  Do I believe those things about myself.

Can I be fun without being mindless and silly? Do I really believe that I am respected, valuable and loved? Do I realize that I can have an impact, that I am powerful and influential? Do I feel, am I, independent and self-sufficient? Do I have insight, am I focused, am I creative and wise?

Maybe I need to remind myself every single day that I am all of those strong, good things.

Maybe the warmth and sunlight within me, needs to shine stronger to burn off the frost that the world would cover me with.

English: Winter Sunlight in Commonty Wood.

English: Winter Sunlight in Commonty Wood. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

*******

Here’s a fun, revival version of a song that might add a kick to your step today while it reminds you of your own sunlight and power.

This Little Light of Mine 

Categories: Joy, Outdoors, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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