Up and out of bed so fast

by Lorin Michel Saturday, September 26, 2015 8:28 PM

There are several things that will get you up and out of bed faster than you ever thought possible. My sister and I have had this discussion many times. There are the ones you would expect like a child having a nightmare. Or someone breaking into your house. Though the latter might just make you freeze in place instead and quietly reach for the phone and 9-1-1.

The piercing screech of a smoke detector will rouse you quickly, which of course it’s meant to do. On one of our first nights in the house we heard a detector go off and a computerized woman’s voice say calmly – too calmly – Fire. We were both up and running. It turned out to be a fault in the carbon monoxide sensor.

Note to whomever it is that makes these things. The voice should have just a tad more urgency.

A house alarm will get you up and “adam,” which is actually up and at ‘em, a derivative of a military term of Up, Guard, and at them. I love when people say up and adam. Much like I love when people say prolly instead of probably, or intensive purposes rather than intents and purposes. This mangling of idioms and the English language is fodder for another blog post.

Another thing that gets you up and at ‘em is the sound of a puking dog. This is the discussion my sister and I have had. It will usually go something like this:

“How are you?”

“I’m kind of tired today.”

“Didn’t you sleep?”

“I did, but the dog got sick – “

“And nothing gets you up and out of bed faster” than the retching sound of a dog about to lose his cookies. It doesn’t matter who initiates the dialogue because it is always much the same. At least dogs give you warning. They begin that convulsive sound and you just know what’s coming. You toss the covers aside and your feet hit the floor as you simultaneously call for the dog who won’t come because hello-getting sick here and so you reach for his collar and try desperately to at least get him off of the carpet. It is not easy moving an 80-pound dog that doesn’t want to be moved.

This is but one reason why we now have only tile in the house. Much easier to clean, on all levels.

All of which brings me to this morning. It was early, about 5:45. The sky was still dusty. Not quite dark, not yet light. Kevin got up and I mumbled something about what are you doing it’s Saturday.

He informed me that he was going to get some rocking done. More swale work to abate the erosion issues on the sides of the house. I muttered OK, and be careful and I’ll be up soon. But it was still too early. Riley wasn’t even up yet. Kevin pulled clothes out of the closet, his customary rocking outfit of a pair of Levis with holes in all the best places and a long sleeve tee shirt, equally holely. He grabbed socks and his work boots and padded out to the kitchen. Barefoot.

You see where this is going, right?

I rolled into the middle of the bed, which I often do because it’s cooler and started to drift back to sleep. I just wanted another half hour. A lousy 30 minutes. I wasn’t asking for much. It’s Saturday after all. I get to sleep in until 6:30 on Saturdays.

Then, I heard it. The yelling, cursing, shouting, swearing, anger and general pissed-off-ness. All coming from the direction of the still-dark kitchen.

I was up and out of bed as fast as if the dog had been retching. I raced toward the kitchen.

“Don’t come down here,” he hissed through clenched teeth.

“What happened?” I said from the steps leading up toward the bedroom.

“I stepped on another one.”

I will not go into detail about what the “another one” was. Suffice it to say that if you know about the desert, what you’re thinking is probably correct. We hunted it down and killed it, deposited it off the deck and back into the desert from which it had come.

But I was up. Out of bed. Fast. While it wasn’t the way we wanted to start our Saturday, Kevin least of all, at least we were up. The day was beginning with a bang, or rather a bite. Let the celebrations begin.

Desert musings

by Lorin Michel Saturday, January 31, 2015 8:08 PM

Last night, I drifted off to sleep listening to the tap tap tap of rain hitting the skylight. I find it very soothing. It’s one of nature’s lullabies and one of my favorites. It had rained all day. There was standing water everywhere, the washes were running. Bobbi remarked that she couldn’t believe how much weather we get here in the desert. I agreed. Of course, part of the reason it seems like we get so much here is because they don’t get any there. California has been suffering through a horrendous drought now for far too many years. When it does rain, it’s never enough. And it’s not snowing in the mountains so there’s no snow pack to melt to deliver water.

It doesn’t rain here constantly but it does rain. I remarked that considering when it does rain, it tends to rain a lot, you’d think there would be better drainage. The southwest in general doesn’t do very well when it comes to rain drains, probably because it doesn’t rain very much in general and because when it does, it pours. Too much rain comes down in too short a period of time, overwhelming the system’s ability to deal with it quickly and efficiently.

Oh, but how green it is. I am forever amazed at the color of the desert. People who have never spent much time in the Sonoran think of it as nothing more than endless stretches of sand. I’ve often joked that my mother thinks we live in a sand pit. It’s not sandy at all, and while we don’t have towering oak trees, we do have towering saguaros and they are green. All of the cactus plants are green, and they are plentiful, making the landscape appear alive, vibrant. The rocks are black and brown and orange. The palo verde trees, as the name implies, are also green, from the trunk through the branches. The entire tree looks almost fake, like how a small child might color it.

In the spring, the cacti flower, the birds of paradise open. The colors dance. It is because of the season, and the rain.

It rained all night. This morning, I was lying in bed, having a cup of coffee. It was just 7:30 and I wasn’t really ready to begin my day. The blinds were open and I was looking out into the backyard. I could hear the scuppers running, draining the water from the roof onto the patio, out into the yard. The palm trees were heavy and dripping as was all of the foliage. The sky was gray. There were no birds flitting about. I’m sure they were all safely tucked into wherever birds go during inclement weather. From the top of the skylight came the cooing of doves.  And the tap tap tap of the rain.

The morning was otherwise quiet, and the rain seemed to make it more so. The sounds of traffic seemed muted. I knew that soon, I would hear the telling splash and slop of tires grabbing at wet asphalt. But until then, I was enjoying my coffee, enjoying the rain, and musing about how green the desert here truly is. Another oxymoron, but one truly appreciated only when you’ve witnessed it and realize that the predetermined notions of sand and dust, where little is alive save the occasional rattlesnake or scorpion, is in fact incorrect. This desert is alive and almost lush, beautiful, especially so when painted against the deepening gray of a rainy sky.

Confronting my Houzz addiction. Or not.

by Lorin Michel Saturday, July 26, 2014 8:34 PM

It started innocently enough. One Sunday morning, several years ago, as we lounged in bed, we opened the app that I had downloaded several days earlier. It was on the recommendation of a client. We had been in a meeting that week and as we were waiting for others to join us, we got on the topic of household improvements. We’ve always got a project going, I said. She said, then you must love Houzz.

I had never heard of it. Download the app, she said casually. It will change your life.

It’s amazing how much it did just that. We all waste a lot of time on the internet, some more than others. I’m online all day because of what I do for work. It’s easy for me to bop onto one of the many sites I frequent during the day for an update on news, events, even what my friends are up to. I wouldn’t say I’m addicted to the internet though when it is down, I’m paralyzed. I don’t know how to work if I can’t not work when I need or want to. Not working = surfing. When I don’t have internet I should relish the opportunity to get more work done without being bothered by emails coming in and people needing stuff. Just the opposite happens. I spend all the time I should be spending catching up or even getting ahead trying to figure out why I can’t get online. I’ll reset the router. I’ll check the cable modem. I’ll restart my computer.

In places like China, they treat kids with internet addiction by sending them to military-type camps. Some kids have died, all because they did a bit too much surfing a cyberwave.

Last week, a South Korean couple was arrested because they were so busy caring for their virtual daughter, in an online game, that they neglected to take care of their actual daughter. The virtual daughter thrived; the flesh and blood daughter died.

Internet addiction, then, is nothing that should be taken lightly.

I am not addicted, though. I can stop any time.

But I’m not so sure I can when it comes to Houzz.

We have at least a dozen, perhaps more, ideabooks on Houzz, each filled with dozens of photos. We have a book for general tile and one for floor tile; one for bathtubs only and one for the master bath; one for the powder room; another for wine room and another for wine room doors. We have one for indoor fireplaces and one for outdoor fireplaces; one for garages and garage doors. I started one today for modern front entry doors steel.

We are logged into our Houzz account on the iPad, the iPhone, Kevin’s Android, my Mac, Kevin’s desktop and his laptop. We search and save to ideabooks. We move photos between books. We email photos to each other and other people. We reorganize our books. We spend hours – hours – that accumulate into days.

This morning, there were 42,000 plus modern metal front doors to look through. I kept swiping the screen, studying, adding to the ideabook, sharing with Kevin. I am not addicted. I simply enjoy Houzz. I can stop anytime. I’m just not ready. I’m not frantic. I, I, I. I just, I have a house to build. I need to find things I need to study. I have projects. We have projects.

I can swipe in moderation. I know I can. I just need to get through these 42,000 photos.

Oh, OK. Fine. Hi, I’m Lorin. And I’m a Houzz-aholic.

All together now: “Hi, Lorin.” 

 

Spring rain in the desert

by Lorin Michel Saturday, April 19, 2014 8:06 PM

In the desert, rain is sporadic. In Tucson, we only get about 12” of rain or so each year, most of it in August, and then January and February. This year has been a bit of an anomaly. Like most of the southwest, our rainfall was pathetic; snowfall even worse. Yesterday was overcast and in other parts of the country, you could be forgiven for thinking it might rain. Even though most of the time when there are clouds here it portends the coming of rain, because of this year’s lack thereof, I didn’t believe it. The wind whipped up once or twice and I heard the heavy thud of a dozen raindrops as they smacked the skylight but that was all.

This morning, we woke up around 8, which these days is sleeping in. Kevin took Cooper out and then went to make coffee as Cooper came in to snuggle for a few. He climbed his stairs and went straight to Kevin’s side where he curled up to gaze out the window. Cooper loves our bed. It’s the only piece of furniture he’s allowed on, like Maguire before him, and he takes full advantage of it. But whereas Maguire never stayed on very long unless he was completely alone and could sprawl to his heart’s content, Cooper would stay all day as long as I stayed there with him. I’ve never seen a dog so comfortable as Cooper when he stretches on one side or the other and rolls his eyes back to sleep.

Kevin came back with coffee and his phone, and he sat at the end of the bed, his legs under the bathrobe I always keep thrown over the footboard. It’s a habit I developed in California. If there’s an earthquake in the middle of the night, it makes it an easy grab for something to wear, especially if it’s cold. I grabbed my phone off the nightstand. This is what the modern couple does now, or at least what we do. We check email, we look at seascanner, we surf the ‘nets. In the past we used to turn on the television and look for a Law & Order marathon, maybe NCIS. Something mindless. Now we have the Internet.

The wind started up slowly, ruffling the leaves. The birds scattered for cover. Cooper picked up his head and glanced out the window. He yawned and stretched and flopped his head back down. Within seconds, he was sleeping again. Kevin was reading my blog. He often binge-reads, and often uses Saturday morning to catch up on the week previous. I was looking at Facebook and the news and looking for a restaurant in Tubac since we were planning on a road trip for lunch.

Then came the distinct rat-a-tat-tat of raindrops on the skylight. Soon there was the roll of thunder and then the deluge. Rain poured from the dark clouds above, swirling the trees. In through the open window came the earthy smell of parched earth tasting a drink of cool water after a very long drought. Dusty and damp. I love that smell.

It lasted for nearly 30 minutes. We were so surprised we both left the bedroom temporarily to glance out the window in my office. Sure enough, rain was drowning the pavement, bouncing off the asphalt. In the southern sky, there was sunshine. To the north, over the foothills, heavy clouds.

It rained in the desert today. Unless you live here you don’t know what a huge story that is. Mother Nature decided to live it out loud on this Saturday and we welcomed her with open arms and a big kiss. Rain. Wet. Wonderful. Something to celebrate. 

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Up, up and away

by Lorin Michel Friday, December 27, 2013 11:37 PM

In 1967 the pop-soul group the 5th Dimension released a single called Up, Up and Away. The lyrics talked of drifting up and away “in my beautiful, my beautiful balloon.” I like the Fifth Dimension though I have no idea why. I think it’s nostalgia. I remember when I was a kid and visiting the big brick house in McKeesport where my Aunt Eleanor and my Aunt Beryl lived with their husbands.  The radio was always on in their house. It was a big console radio that sat on the floor under the window that overlooked the Youghiogheny river below. To the right and left the steel mills, then still producing, would belch thick plumes of smoke into the air. And from the radio, I remember the lush tones of Marilyn McCoo singing about marrying Bill (I would find out later that she was, in fact, married to Billy Davis, Jr) and about not getting to sleep at all the night before.

This morning, we took Justin to the airport and on the way back, to the east, three hot air balloons hung suspended in the sky. The sun had come up not much earlier and was blazing across the desert from the east, golden red and cold. The air was still.  The balloons lazed high above the earth, high enough so we couldn’t make out the people, the size of the basket or even graphics on the balloon itself. They were off in the distance; we were on the freeway. And they were majestic.

I wondered what it might be like to hover above the desert in the morning when the sun is just beginning to warm the ground, to alight on the cactus, to make the sand dance and send any creatures scurrying. I love the desert. Love its peace and majesty, its magic and spirit; its mystery. Even its danger. In the summer, under unrelenting temperatures it can destroy every living thing caught in its thunderous heat, with no shade or water for miles. Only cactus and reptiles seem to survive and even thrive. When winter descends, those once scorching temperatures plummet past freezing. People and animals can succumb to exposure if not careful. The desert can kill you easily and in a hundred different ways. I respect its power even as I marvel at its beauty.

Hot air balloons floating above this danger seems a complete dichotomy. No one thinks of danger when they think of hot air balloons. They’re too peaceful to be dangerous; too eerily beautiful. That’s a misunderstanding. Anything that floats above the earth at heights reaching thousands of feet is vulnerable. There is propane gas that ignites to heat the air inside the balloon, keeping it aloft. The wind can come up suddenly. My mother was a hot air balloonist for years and knew of several accidents, a number of which were catastrophic. As with anything wondrous and mysterious, there can be an undercurrent of the unknown. It’s that unknown that keeps many people away even as it attracts so many others.

The song Up, Up and Away was written by Jimmy Webb. It celebrated a genre called sunshine pop, cheerful and upbeat with warm squishy music and vocal harmonies dripping from the vinyl on which they were recorded. It also celebrated hot air ballooning and went on to win Record of the Year and Song of the Year at the Grammy Awards the year it was released.

I thought of the song today as I watched the balloons hang in the air, as we flew by and left them behind too quickly. As we did, I knew that Justin, too, was up, up and away, on his way back to New York to start his post-college career. Like the balloons he was here and then, he was gone. But we’ll see him again soon. And perhaps we’ll see the balloons, too. Perhaps when they next make an appearance, it will signal Justin’s impending arrival. As they descend slowly, drifting lazily to the ground, Justin too will descend and then we’ll all celebrate with champagne and orange juice.

At least that’s how my mom’s crew celebrated the end of a successful Up, Up and Away ride.   

Chilling out

by Lorin Michel Thursday, October 31, 2013 12:16 AM

This morning I woke up with a headache. I think it came from the window being open all night and the cold air stuffing up my nose and my head. Kevin was already up and Cooper had taken up residence on his side of the bed. I listened to the sound of the city, the cars rushing by out on Campbell, swooshing air, invisibly filling the room. The wind had already come up, the palm tree fronds were rustling. I could see the pink of the flowers just outside the window. Cooper stretched. I shivered. I reached for my phone, always next to the bed, and hit the weather button. 52º. I shivered again because I’m always cold. When it’s 72º, much like Sally Albright in When Harry Met Sally, I’m still cold.

The entire day stayed cool, never getting above 65º which I realize for folks on the East, is not cool and is in fact just the opposite. But 65º and breezy is cool here in the West. I actually had a sweatshirt on today over my shorts.

The whole week is supposed to be like this. Cold nights and cool days. The sun stays warm but never warm enough to heat up the day. I love this time of year. This is what fall is like here and while fall is over in the East, all the leaves having fallen to the ground where they were raked up and burned, fall in the desert consists of simply lower temperatures, brighter mornings and earlier evenings that are exceptionally dark.

I chilled out all day in my sweatshirt. I worked but it was a quiet day. Few phone calls, few emails. Lots to do but when it’s quiet it’s easy to push everything aside and concentrate on more fun things, like thinking about the holidays and gifts to buy. We’ll have a houseful for Thanksgiving this year and we are excited. Justin will be home, Roy and Bobbi are coming, as are Diane and Gene. Perhaps Justin will scare up a friend.

Bobbi and I talked today about reviving our Christmas card franchise. Years ago, in the early 1990s, Roy, Bobbi and I would do hand-made Christmas cards for all of our friends, family and co-workers. We would come up with a concept. I would write a story or a poem, Roy would illustrate it, Bobbi would design it and we would have it printed. We’d spend hours over several weekends assembling cards and preparing them to send. Each year people looked forward to those cards; many still have what we did long ago. There was a children’s book about a tree and a star; a carousel poem that took the form of a scroll. There were many cut-out mobiles that people would hang and leave up year round. We haven’t done one since the late 90s. But we’re thinking of doing one this year. We’re going to brainstorm this weekend to come up with a concept. I’ll write, Roy will illustrate, Bobbi will design and Kevin will program it online.

As the weather turns, these are the things that travel through my mind. Creative thoughts and ideas for gifts and cards. What to cook this year for Thanksgiving; what we’ll do for Christmas. When it will be cold enough to wear jeans all day and big fuzzy socks at night in front of the fire sipping wine, watching old movies on TMC. I need nothing more than the change of seasons to settle my soul.

During the Tang Dynasty, a poet by the name of Han Shan, which translates to Cold Mountain, wrote: “Swiftly the springs and autumns pass, but my mind is at peace, free from dust or delusion. How pleasant, to know I need nothing to lean on, to be still as the waters of the autumn river!”

It’s falling toward winter, even here in the West where it will dip down to the low 40s tonight, and I’m celebrating the idea of chilling out.

I hear the sound of my husband’s motorcycle approaching

by Lorin Michel Friday, October 11, 2013 10:53 PM

Kevin and I are motorcycle people. We love them. He had bikes in the past, before I came into the picture. I always wanted one. I had friends in college who had bikes, sport bikes – or crotch rockets as they’re affectionately known – and street bikes. Cruisers weren’t really all that popular until the last 15 years or so. Two of my guy friends in college, Kevin (no relation) and Mac, had the same street bike. It was a Kawasaki 450, if memory serves. One of them was black, the other blue.

I tried to have a motorcycle when I was married the first time, but husband number one was more interested in fast cars and particularly in Porsches. I was OK with that as I’m also a car person. I love old cars, new cars, sports cars and classic cars. I love our current 1987 Porsche turbo. It’s my second Porsche. My first was during HNO (husband number one) and I had to sell it when we got divorced because I couldn’t afford the maintenance. I wish that I had the foresight to keep it. I babied that car; it would still be a great car. The turbo was not babied until we got it. We think of it like a rescue.

A number of years ago, when Maguire was still young and Blockbuster Video was still in business, he and I went for a Sunday morning Rover ride to return whatever we had rented. On the way home, stopped at a light on Agoura Road, two cruisers pulled up alongside of us, each being driven by a guy; each with a chick on the back. They looked comfortable and cool. They looked relaxed. They looked like they were having fun. When I got home I told Kevin that I thought we should get a motorcycle. We had one the following weekend, a beautiful silver Suzuki 850 Intruder. But it was too small, so within the year we upgraded to a Suzuki 1500 Intruder, but we never really fell in love with it. It was awkward, oafish. One summer, in 2007, while Kevin and Justin were in Illinois visiting Kevin’s family, I was standing in the kitchen perusing Motorcyclist magazine and there was an ad for a Kawasaki Vulcan Nomad 1500. A gorgeous bike with sleek lines, and built for two. It came with foot panels for the passenger and hard saddlebags, and a backrest. When Kevin got home, I broached the subject of maybe looking at one. We found a used one shortly thereafter and bought it. Metallic black, with lots of chrome and white-wall tires.  We’ve had it ever since.

Today, he had to run some errands and as he often does when it’s a beautiful day, he took the bike, roaring out of the driveway and down the street, the powerful growl of the engine disappearing into the desert as he rounded the corner and headed east.

I worry when he’s out by himself. He’s a great driver and beyond careful, but people don’t always see motorcycles and that leads to stupid accidents. When he goes off without me, he promises to text me whenever he arrives at his destination. I usually get nothing more than a simple “here.” He texts me again as he moves from place to place, keeping me updated so I know he didn’t go splat.


Kevin, returning home this afternoon

Sitting in my office this afternoon, the windows once again open, the cool of the day once again drifting in and around the room, I listened for the sound. Low and powerful, a lion’s purr, it’s very distinct. Whenever I hear it, I can’t help but smile. He has returned safely on this fine piece of machinery, one of the finest we’ve owned. Sleek as a cat and ready to cruise, it’s joy on two white-walled wheels.

I hear it now. I hear him approaching. I smile. Soon, I’ll be smiling broadly, enjoying the view as he pulls into the driveway, safe at home. Definitely worth celebrating. 

And the desert smiles

by Lorin Michel Monday, October 7, 2013 12:07 AM

I’m in Tucson and looking out at the sun dancing in the Catalina foothills. It’s been a simply glorious day here, not too hot, a gentle breeze tickling the palm trees and running headlong into the millions of saguaro and prickly pear cactus that refuse to budge. Birds have been singing and the butterflies are everywhere in all manner of sizes and colors, from the smallest yellow to the largest orange and black. Occasionally there is one of ghostly white with gossamer wings. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a white-winged butterfly before. I wonder if perhaps the intensity of the sun has faded away the color it once had.

This morning we went for a walk along the expansive and dry Rillito River. The city has created pathways and bridges for walkers and cyclists that runs nearly the length of the river, a bed that I’m sure has water in it at some point during the year but never has during any of the times we’ve been here. There were plenty of people walking their dogs, others walking dogless like us. The number of cyclists was impossible to count. People on mountain bikes, others on road bikes; some out for a leisurely tour, others working up a sweat. Some were young, others older, still others old but all were happy and friendly. Good morning. ‘morning!

The sun crested eventually, dripping heat down upon us. We retreated to the air conditioning to watch a little football, do a little more work. Our entire weekend has mostly been about work and that’s OK. We have work; this is good. It is infinitely better than the alternative.

We relaxed. We enjoyed. We reflected.

Monday is knocking at the door already. It’s a faint knock but insistent. Tomorrow evening we’re thinking of going to the movies since we didn’t get a chance to do much of anything this weekend, at least not much of anything fun, not much of anything that was nothing. Sometimes nothing is what’s needed in order to recharge and re-energize. I did do a little bit of nothing later today. By nothing I mean simply enjoying the moment and not being involved in anything stressful. By nothing I mean something fun. I talked to a friend I hadn’t spoken to in a while and it was delightful.

I’m standing at the window watching as two big bear-like dogs, Newfoundlands I think, are strolling with their owners. Plodding along, also enjoying the something that is nothing.

The last bit of sun is kissing the highest point of the hills; the rest is bathed in shadow, now flat and dark. The temperatures are starting to fall again. Soon the city will sleep and us along with it, before getting up to work another day, another week. Still, as the silence begins to settle, I am struck by the calm of it all. The desert, for all of its harsh reality is a beautiful place. It is filled with color and hope; with life. As the night begins to settle and the sun wanes, I think I can see it smiling. 

Flight of fancy

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, July 30, 2013 12:41 AM

I sit at the window and look down at the clouds, at the patchwork of agriculture, green rectangles and squares, deep browns in a sea of sand. I wonder what is being grown and how since it is essentially desert as far as the eye can see.

Small pools of water dance under the sun, hiding in the shadows of the clouds. I see now how the green grows and the deep brown of the churned soil stays as it does, but only in certain areas.

Rolling hills and jagged land, deeply creviced, nature's musings, flow below in both one and three dimensions. The earth from this visage looks almost flat and deathly, haunted. As if another planet entirely than the one most of us know, love and visit on a daily basis. And yet those hills and crevices are as alive as the desert is, with its harshly beautiful landscape, its reptilian creatures, its cactus.

There are roads carved into the landscape, tributaries of civilization. There is the occasional house or other type of building. It is often impossible to tell just as it is impossible to see if there are cars traveling east or west, or if there are people perhaps outside, for however briefly they can stand the desert sun, the heat. It looks deserted, quiet.

Shadows from clouds drape and move across the landscape.

Sun pours in onto my shoulder warming only my left arm. The rest of me, in shorts, a tee shirt and flip flops, is cool though not cold. Maybe just my toes. I'm not wearing any makeup. My hair, washed and dried, is loose and curly, tucked behind my ears. I am tired and not entirely sure of what to make of my life these last few weeks. But right now I am content; I am relatively stress free. I am anxious to get home.

The roar of the engines fills my ears. I smell fresh coffee brewing but it smells bitter, over cooked. I don't want coffee anyway. I rarely drink it in the afternoon. I’m fine with my water, to keep hydrated. Later I’ll have wine. I can almost taste it from here.

Outside my window the desert is receding and more and more houses are coming into view. Small enclaves appear, up against the rugged terrain, nestled almost into the crevices. They are getting more dense. There is a lake, and another. The desert is retreating and civilization is taking its place, if one can called concrete and freeways civilization. I guess one can. It is definitely urban sprawl crawling and seeing it from above is always a sight to behold.

The sun is beginning its descent, as are we. The air and the ground have turned into shades of gray. There is some rain falling and it is good, cleansing. I am at peace. I am flying.

I am flying home.

Sol searching

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, May 14, 2013 1:08 AM

With the passing of winter comes summer. In some parts of the country, and the world, there is a lovely breeze of a season known as spring. Not here. Here, in the golden state, we go straight from chilly nights and frosted mornings to heated days. Yesterday and today both topped out at 102º in Oak Park.

We like the heat. I’ve said before that I believe I was born to live in the Southwest. The climate suits me. There is no snow to speak of, unless one travels to the mountains to ski. And that is where snow should be. Not clogging the roads that lead to the mall or to work. It should only bury the areas where one can slap a board or boards to one’s feet and shoosh down a hill.

I like the dry heat of an environment where the daytime temperatures can climb to over 100 but the nights cool down to the low to mid 60s. Yes, it’s hot. The house gets oppressive and we’re not big on air conditioning (I suspect that will change if and when we move to Tucson) but once it cools and the air starts to flow through the open windows, it becomes comfortable. At night, we still usually need a blanket on the bed when we sleep.

The sun and I have a long history together. I grew up when there wasn’t so much sunscreen as there was suntan lotion and oil. Most of it smelled like coconut and salt water. If we were going to the beach, we slathered on the oil. If we were laying out by a pool, we used lotion because oil left a film on the water. If we didn’t have Coppertone, we used baby oil. It was all about the tan.

It’s no wonder that I have had skin issues with bad moles and a non-staged melanoma. The dermatologist and I are good friends.

I don’t “lay out” any more. I simply don’t have the time, nor the desire to waste precious time doing nothing but burning my skin. But I still love the sun, that low-mass star that sits on the outer edge of the Milky Way, some 93 million miles from California, and consisting of mostly hydrogen (74%). The rest is helium (25%) so that it floats, and 1% of something else undefined. It’s 4.5 billion years old, and still looks fairly good for its age. It rotates completely once every 26 days, which evidently is one reason it is considered a fairly mediocre star. I’m not sure why since it completely supports life on this planet; without it, none of us would exist. Neither would the plants, the other animals or even the life in the oceans. At this point in its life, the sun has another 5 billion years in its own lifecycle before it starts to substantially change. I think it’s safe to say I won’t be around to see it.

At the rate we’re going, the human race won’t be around to see it either.

Perhaps then it’s time to do a little sol searching, to find what it is that is most important to us, to discover the lives we’re meant to lead. To change when we need to change; to think differently. To embrace the sun; to live, truly, soundly, roundly; out loud. Our lives may be predestined by fate, or they may be changeable. I believe both, just as I believe in helping keep the planet cool when and where it’s supposed to be cool, and warm and tropical when and where it’s supposed to be such; and blistering hot under the dusty desert sky of the Southwest.

I’m not searching for the sun today; nor will I for several months. I search instead for the clouds that offer a brief respite. I search for the shade on a hot summer day; for the breeze to cool the air. I know where the sun resides and I am happy to see it every day. It fills my soul with its sol, and even though the heat has been blistering these last two days, I celebrate it. I love it.

Because I love the desert Southwest. I was born to live here.

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