Posts Tagged With: weather

Vortex, S’mortex

It’s Gratituesday! Today I’m grateful to live in the desert.

I don’t often feel terribly thankful for that. Brutal best describes summers here, and sometimes Spring and Autumn, as well.

Feeling grateful for mild warmth, not blasting heat or mean cold.

Feeling grateful!

But today, while most of the country dug out, or slid around or hunkered down in the onslaught of another polar vortex, we desert rats enjoyed eighty degrees. The windows stayed open all day, a breeze tickled the wind chimes, I watered my garden, walked the grand dog after dark without a sweater on and generally enjoyed perfectly pleasant weather.

I don’t say that to brag or to make others feel jealous. I really, truly do feel thankful that I don’t have to endure the meanness of temperatures in the teens. I couldn’t feel more happy that I’m not digging out a car from a snowdrift, or attempting to navigate roads covered in ice and snow.

Photo By Sage Ross (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Photo By Sage Ross  [CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

I spent a few decades in weather like that and it got old. Sometimes I fantasize about living somewhere with four distinct seasons. And then I visit somewhere that leaves me shivering regardless of how many layers I put on and the fantasy goes away for a while.

The icy chill that runs down my spine as I watch the news and weather reports about the rest of the country reminds me how thin my blood runs now that I’ve lived in the desert nearly twenty years. Once I liked the idea of shoveling for the exercise, or building snowmen, or the muffled sounds when snow falls. Now it simply makes me wince.

I planted radish, carrot and lettuce seeds on Saturday. Tiny green fruits grace the four-foot tall tomato plant in my garden. Jalapeno and green peppers ripen for salsa making. The oranges are just now turning from green to orange. And the flowers, oh my,  seem to double in size and amount almost every day.

A day like today serves as compensation and grand prize for enduring the onslaught of summer’s temper tantrum.  A few months of perfection with a few days of chilly and a Phoenix winter sounds just fine to me. Thank you, Typhoon Nuri, or God, or Mother Nature or all three! I appreciate the sweetness of the desert today.

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Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, phoenix | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Flummoxed

The sun rose from the southern sky this morning. Okay, maybe it leaned a bit to the east, but not by much. I wondered if winter solstice got ignored, or the axis of the earth shifted a bit over the past few days. I wouldn’t have noticed with how sidetracked and discombobulated I’ve felt.

So yeah, apparently, we’ve bypassed winter solstice and moved into a new phase of the earth/sun cycle.

I suppose it’s possible that the sun has risen further south every day for months and I’ve only just today noticed. In fact, that’s the more likely explanation isn’t it?

Reason flew out the window, though.

Barometer Glass

Barometer Glass (Photo credit: cobalt123)

It feels to me like the other way around. A change in the cosmic mechanisms of the universe feels more likely. Cogs slipping, everything off kilter just a bit. At least in my heart and in my head that’s what’s happening. So if the sun chose to follow along, I’d completely understand.

There’s more to it than the angle of the sunlight, lower and more southern than normal. My wildflowers pushed up through the rocky soil of the front yard four weeks ago. Normally those tenacious little seedlings wait until after December and sometimes into late January to show off their leaflets.

But not this year. Nope. My front yard’s awash in a carpet of green. African Daisies cover the majority of the area, but even the California Poppies have spread out and filled in normally barren areas. Odd.

I blame it on the ridiculous three-day rainfall we experienced around Thanksgiving time. Our winter rains, traditionally a December thing, showed up early and often.

As further proof that nature’s off-balance, the trees are dropping bright orange leaves as if we live in New England in the fall. That usually happens in a much less colorful way in January, when we have a freeze, the leaves turn brown overnight and then a windstorm rips them from the branches a week or two later.  But not this year.

There’s frost covering the lawn at the park every morning as well. There’s a solid white sheet draped over the whole expanse of green, giving it an aged patina with a bite of cold. As the sun inches up, (from the south) a kind of steamy fog lifts off the surface of the grass and gives the area a Middle Earth feel. If Hobbits and Trolls and Elves start tromping about the earth’s surface around here I won’t startle one tiny bit.

We’ve even had some unseasonably warm temperatures. High seventies, flirting with eighties, in December! Kids run barefoot in the grass that hours earlier wore an icy film. How is that possible?

Because, as I’ve been trying to tell you, everything’s flummoxed.

flum·moxed 
adjective
1. bewildered or perplexed.

Confusion abounds here in the desert this year.

It all matches my internal environment, that tundra in my mind and heart. A little lost, uncertain, trying to leaf and bloom, drenched in sweat and rain, changing colors and moods in a confusing array of signals about what life is or is not going to do next.

Aneroid barometer

Aneroid barometer (Photo credit: explainthatstuff)

If the sun decides to rise from the north or even from the west tomorrow I’d just nod and say, “of course, that stands to reason.” If snow decides to fall from a desert sky and settle in among the cactus needles, I’d not wonder at such a rarity.

Honestly the most appropriate weather, to match my internal barometer, would rain down in torrents a cold, soaking waterfall of heaven’s tears to mingle with my own.

Any day now a dam will burst and earth will fill with sorrow.

At least for a while.

Categories: Cancer, Death, Nature, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Persuasion of a Cool Breeze

It’s Gratituesday! Today I’m grateful to have stepped outside two nights ago and felt actual cool air. I know in most parts of the world that’s a normal occurrence. In the Phoenix area it only happens for about five months of the year. After the summer’s onslaught of daily blast-furnace heat followed by evenings of sweltering baking, a cool breeze in the evening amazes and soothes.

Flower sad

(Photo credit: @Doug88888)

When the cooler weather arrives, a morning walk could happen without a bottle of water as a basic survival tool. The cobwebs get cleared off the front porch swing and long evening chats can happen again.

There’s a lighter quality to the oxygen in the air, a weight of oppression lifting. Hope returns that once again the park will fill up with people playing  games of capture the flag, soccer practices, tag, frisbee and lacrosse.

In a few days the air will begin to fill with the October smells of overseeding for winter lawns. Steer manure is the seed cover of choice around the valley. Things smell like a million head cattle drive moving  through for a few weeks. But after a brief spell of that malodorous scent on the breeze, grasses will green up in a riot of brilliant color. Flowers will burst out in a song of relief. Kids break out of their air-conditioned confines and populate the neighborhoods once more.

The idea of a walk in the moonlight no longer oppresses but instead sounds delightful and romantic.

With cooler air that blue hue in the sky just feels lovely instead of boring and repetitive.

To be honest with you, a few weeks ago I thought about moving. The idea of leaving this wretched heat played with my heartstrings in spite of the people attached to them. Now that the coolness, at least evening coolness, has arrived, I think I can stay.

English: Fishhook Barrel cactus (Ferocactus wi...

I’m pretty sure, in spite of the portent of milder weather and loveliness ahead, that deserts weren’t intended for human habitation. And yet, we as a species continue to insist on living  in them. Why do you think that is?

Is it like the mountain thing? We climb it because it’s there? We live here because we can? Do we always have to pick up the gauntlet when it’s thrown down at our feet? Could we just pick something in-between-ish for a change?

Or is that giving in to something, fence-sitting somehow?

I haven’t figured it out yet. I’m still not sure why I’m here after all these years later. Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad I’ve been here. Mostly. What an incredible sixteen year ride it’s been.

Still I wonder how I’ve managed to get through that many summers. And why I continue to stay.

If I had the choice would I go?

Maybe.

Depends on if the breeze blowing through my cropped hair was a warm one or a cool one.

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Nature, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a 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

“There’s Rain in My Head”

It’s another delightfully gray, wet day in the desert. To celebrate I thought I’d share this lovely poem by Shel Silverstein. He’s always been one of my favorite writers for his unmatched, quirky perspective on everyday things.
I also found these unusual photos of rain that seem to match the poem quite nicely. I hope you find joy in unexpected places today!
Rain days

Rain days (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Rain

I opened my eyes
And looked up at the rain,
And it dripped in my head
And flowed into my brain,
And all that I hear as I lie in my bed
Is the slishity-slosh of the rain in my head.

I step very softly,
I walk very slow,
I can’t do a handstand–
I might overflow,
So pardon the wild crazy thing I just said–
I’m just not the same since there’s rain in my head.

Shel Silverstein (1930 – 1999)

Rain camera

Rain camera (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Categories: Outdoors, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Clearing the Cache in My Brain and Wishing for Rain

I just need to say this…

You know that thing you do when your computer gets sluggish? Turn the whole thing off completely, then turn it back on. I think it’s called a hard reboot or maybe that’s clearing the cache.  Or maybe they’re the same thing or not at all related. I only know that if the computer or my smart phone behave badly, turning it off and then back on will often solve the problem.

I’m sorry If you’re a computer person and you’re cringing right now.

What I’m getting at is that humans need a process like that.

Actually, I think they do. It’s called sleep. Switch off for a few hours, ideally eight, and then restart. The human warms up and begins functioning as it should again.

sleep

sleep (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

The amount of sleep seems important, not just the off/on thing.

I’ve let my sleep take a hit the past couple of weeks. A little off the beginning, a little off the end most nights. And instead of eight hours, it’s more like six. Then a few five-hour nights and I get sluggishly slow in response times.

Add in a really short night’s sleep, say two or three hours, and bam. Sentences fall apart. New words get created that are gibberish. Driving isn’t recommended.

Even a nap just seems to aggravate things. I need two or three solid nights of uninterrupted slumber to get my groove back.

And another thing…

Virga, Valley, Mountains

Virga (Photo credit: sea turtle)

All day it’s looked like it wants to rain. That kind of teasing isn’t nice to do to desert dwellers. Give me sunshine, or possibly high, thin clouds, or actual rain splashing down from the sky onto the ground. But don’t do the gray sky, virga, smell of rain on the breeze thing. It raises our hopes.

Just saying.

And all this whininess is because…

Lonely Monkey Ape at Zoo

Lonely Monkey (Photo credit: epSos.de)

My cousin isn’t here anymore. And I miss her. Already. A Bunch.

Yup. It was a short visit. But we packed it full to the brim. Saturday felt like three days in one. Even today had a kind of time warp feel to it. Nice. She lifts my heart and makes life cheery and wonderful.

She’s getting on a plane any second here. So now I am feeling blue. It’s temporary. It’s that blue funk I’ve written about before. I’ll be okay.

I kind of need to wallow in it. Sorry to involve you. I’ll try to find a good joke, or story, or something fun for tomorrow.

To summarize…

  • Wish me happy dreams.
  • Pray for rain.
  • Feeling sorry for myself, but only for a little while.
Another Fun and Safety Guide

Another Fun and Safety Guide (Photo credit: Sam Howzit)

May the force be with you. Keep your hands and legs inside the ride at all times. Drive safely. Just say no to drugs. Call if you’re going to be late. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.  Have a nice day. And turn off the lights when you leave the room.

Categories: Mental Health, Relationships, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Singing and Dancing in the Rain

rainy dayIt’s Raining!  Hooray!  It’s rained so much that the park across the street, which is really a water retention basin in disguise, is filling up and almost ready for a few canoes or inflatable boats. 

Here in the desert, nothing brings out the smiles faster the sound of rain.  There’s no smell here more delicious than rain scented desert air. Nothing brings out the child in people around here faster than the steady drip and splatter of raindrops. It’s a joyful, snow day kind of excitement. We all become puddle jumpers, splashing with abandon, leaving the umbrella’s closed and getting drenched.  

The three girls under umbrellas who let me take their photo fifteen minutes ago, are now at the park running along the edges of the newly minted “pond,” no umbrellas in sight.  

Is there any movie scene more charming than Gene Kelly dancing in the rain?

“I’m singin’ in the rain

“Just singin’ in the rain

What a glorious feelin’

I’m happy again.

I’m laughing at clouds.

So dark up above

The sun’s in my heart

And I’m ready for love.”

Something about cloud cover and water falling from the sky puts sunshine smack dab in the middle of my heart, just like those lyrics say. 

I suppose if it rained often here, it’d be less delightful.

When we lived in the Seattle area the clouds were a constant companion, rain was as common as blackberries growing on the side of the road, and humidity was the norm.  Summertime occasionally let the sun peak through, and it didn’t get much warmer than the 70’s.  80’s was a heatwave there. 

Having spent 15 years in this desert now I’ve learned to cherish the few rainy days we have. We open the windows and doors and let the freshness waft through the house.  Here, rain is like a gem and we cherish the intermittent, the atypical, and the rare.

Let the stromy clouds chase.

Everyone from the place

Come on with the rain

I’ve a smile on my face

I walk down the lane

With a happy refrain

just singin’

singin’ in the rain… dancin’ in the rain…I’m happy again…

I’m singin’ and dancin’ in the rain…”

I suppose learning to sing or dance in stormy weather requires that we suspend reality or access the inner child in ourselves. Dancing in the rain means we’ve set aside worries and negativity, at least momentarily, in order to just enjoy that short moment. We’re not concerned about what anyone thinks about us.

It’s not always easy to do that, that’s for sure.  Sometimes the emotional or psychological climate we’re in just sucks the life right out of us. Singing and dancing are the last things we feel like doing.

It’s possible that’s exactly what we need to do.  

Whatever the weather is bringing you today, I hope you can find joy in it, see the beauty in it’s variety, cherish the changeableness in it. Maybe you don’t feel like dancing about it.  I hope you can find that sunshine hiding out in your heart and dance anyway.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Joy, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Top Ten Reasons November is the Best Month Ever

A Dust Bowl storm approaches Stratford, Texas ...

10. Snowbirds convene for the longest flashmob ever staged.  What?  You didn’t know they  were the original inventors of the flashmob?  Wait for it…wait for it…wait for it….keep waiting.  Gotta love those retirees!  They have such perspective, incredible wisdom and lots of cash that flows into our local economy.  There are many reasons they are known as the greatest generation.

9. Perfect weather.  Well, it is here in Phoenix.  Not too hot, not too cold.  No apocalyptic dust storms, no skies opening up with a year’s worth of rain in one hour, no searing I-can’t-touch-the-steering-wheel heat. Mmmmm.  Ahhhhhh. I am in heaven!

8. NaNoWriMo  National Novel Writing Month.  It’s fun to watch and read about various writers’ efforts to write an entire novel in one month.  Oh, the obsession, the angst, the insanity, the desperation! Sounds so fun!  Maybe someday I’ll try it.  Or not. For now, my novel’s characters are all in a drug-induced stupor until the holidays are done and over with in January.  Believe me, it’s for the best.

7. Water returns to the local Riparian Preserve, bird sightings increase.  I start bringing my binoculars on walks so I can get a better view of all those incredible birds. Where do you think all those northern species hang out while winter cold rages elsewhere?

6. My favorite cousin is coming for a visit and a 10K race.  You should be excited too!  She’s awesome, cool, smart, a killer Scrabble player, very funny, athletic, a book reader, a water engineer, a biker, hiker, runner and she’s single. Just saying.

Arizona Sunrise

Sun rises at it’s scheduled time, once again.

5. Daylight savings time ends for six months, give or take an hour. I don’t have to do complex math calculations before I make a phone call out-of-state.  Arizona doesn’t participate in this odd hoax on time manipulation.  We’re waiting for actual time warp machines to be available at Walmart.

4. AnClOuGaSoMo. Not familiar with this one? Annual Clean Out the Garage Sometime Month. Also known in the Tilby house as Pack Rat Rearrangment Day or I-wish-I-lived-anywhere-but-in-this-household day. Once we’ve survived the self punishment of organizing all our junk it’s a nice feeling to be able to find things we didn’t know we owned but might want some day.

3. Gratitude, thankful status posts and happy lists abound.  Nothing wrong with a little optimism, some paying attention to the positive in our lives. Some people set a goal to post something they’re grateful for as a Facebook status every day of the month.  We are a very blessed group of people and ought to acknowledge that a little more often.

2. The Presidential Election will be over with – for a couple of months anyway. Hopefully, (cross your fingers) there are no hanging chads or other such anomalies.

1. Pie.  ‘Nuff said.

 

Categories: Humor | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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