As the sun sets on Monday

by Lorin Michel Monday, September 15, 2014 10:41 PM

Once again, the storm clouds are gathering in the south. Hurricane Odile has made landfall in the gulf and even though it is weakening, it still plans to pack a punch here in the desert. After last week’s near record rainfall on Monday, we thought monsoon might be over. The season officially ends on September 30. But here comes the rain again, falling on my head like a memory, falling on my head like a new emotion.

The sun went into hiding several hours ago. The light dimmed into gray. The humidity rose. My hair began to curl in unusual patterns and shapes.

This is happening, I have convinced myself, because we had the audacity to finally wash the Range Rover on Saturday. After the last several weeks of weathering the storms, it looked like it had been off-roaded, and even though it is built for such an endeavor, it has never and will never experience such a thing. First, we don’t off-road as it is bad for our backs, and I have bone spurs in my neck. An improper jolt could render me in a bit of discomfort. Second, we don’t off-road. When we got our first Land Rover, the Discovery Series II, we were invited to the Land Rover big off-roading event each year. We entertained it only once and decided against it. Our second Rover, affectionately known as R1 since it was the big body style, rarely even went out in weather, though it did go to the mountains and play on the snowy roads a time or two. R2 mostly sits in the garage because we don’t have many places to go. Occasionally it goes wine tasting, something it truly enjoys; sometimes it slops through the rain and the puddles, always with extreme ease. Again, it is built for such things. Still, it looks best and runs better when it’s clean. I have no imperial data to back up that claim, but I make it with confidence nevertheless.

Tomorrow I have to go get my hair cut and colored. The rain is forecast to begin sometime in the night so it will undoubtedly spoil the beautifully shiny finish. And even if that doesn’t happen, on Thursday, when Roy and Bobbi are here, there is an 80% chance of potentially heavy rain, at least according the

I like the rain. I don’t even mind driving in it though I do mind the fact that no body else seems to be able to drive in it. It seems to be a universal problem, one that never gets solved other than when the rain ceases to materialize. I don’t think that will be the case this week.

As the sun sets on Monday, it also sets on dry weather. The sky is darkening more than usual. Night is rising but with the stars obscured, it is nearly black. Ominous. Sunsets here are a joyous vision as the sky dances in oranges, reds, yellows and deep purple. I’ve never seen anything quite so fiery or nearly as beautiful. There was no sunset tonight, simply the relentless advance of Odile. She looks like she might be mean, maybe even ferocious. But I’ll tell you this: if she messes with my car, I might have to … well, I’ll have to wash the car again. Luckily I like washing the car. It makes me feel accomplished. I like the physicality of it. As Monday rolls toward Tuesday and as the clouds roll up from the south, I remember I also like the rain, falling on my head like a tragedy, falling on my head like a new emotion. Here it comes. Again.

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live out loud

Table Saw: The Final Chapter

by Lorin Michel Friday, September 12, 2014 10:36 PM

Like those insidious dead teenager movies that were so popular in the late 1970s and into the 80s, today was the release of Kevin and Lorin’s movie “Table saw: the final chapter.”

Scene 1.
It is the middle of the day. The sun is bright, the temperature is warm. The camera pans up to see storm clouds gathering in the distance. Ominous foreshadowing. The audience feels the foreboding but having paid the ticket price, they’re going along for the ride.

That ride begins with the filthy red Range Rover traveling west and away from the gathering storm, toward the freeway and the rental place that has promised to hold a lift-bed truck. It was ugly, gray and white, blue Penske lettering clearly printed on the side. Our hero gets out and disappears inside. The building is seedy. There are bars on the windows. As the door opens, inside several men can be seen, all with beer bellies and dirty beards. Our heroine wisely stays in the car.

          I’ll stay here. Wave at me when it’s OK to leave.

He nods.

She sits in the car, constantly checking her mirrors. It is not the greatest part of town. These places are never in nice areas. She glances around nervously. Lightning flashes and she swallows hard. Her eyes train on to the door of the building. There is a sign on the door that is torn and taped, scribbled in black Sharpie. It says “office.” Finally, the door opens and the hero leans out. He waves.

She wonders if he’s being restrained since only part of him is visible and the door closes as quickly as it opens. She drives away anyway.

Scene 2.
Our heroes on jostling along in the rental truck. 

          I knew I should have worn a sports bra.

          Doesn’t bother me.

She glares at him as they pull into the driveway to pickup the saw. Jim is waiting for them. He has a beer belly too, and a shock of twisted gray hair. He is wearing a turquoise striped t-shirt that is too small and plaid shorts.

          I’ve been painting.

Scene 3.
The clouds are black above. Lightning flashes again. Thunder crashes. The rental truck backs up into the driveway of the heroe’s and the heroine’s house. Beep, beep, beep. It stops, the air brake is engaged. It sounds as if a dragon has been unleashed.

It is impossibly humid. 100º. The saw is lowered to the ground but they didn’t think about the lip into the garage and spend the next 45 minutes trying to figure out how to get the damned thing up and over the two inches in order to move on with their lives.

          We could –

          That won’t work.

          Fine. You come up with something better. I’ll just stand
          here and shut up since you don’t like anything I have 
          to say anyway.

          We could –

          That’s won’t work either.

They fight. She hits her shoulder on the corner and draws blood. He hits his head and does the same. Carnage ensues until the blasted table saw is finally secured in the garage and the two collapse into a heap of blood, sweat and tears amongst the sawdust. The saw laughs.

Just then, thunder rages above. Lightning strikes. The rain begins. Everybody dies? Fade out.

The hero and the heroine, with their erstwhile puppy, are sitting at the bar, sipping a glass of Niner Syrah from 2010.

          Hair on your chest wine.

          At last fuzz on your chest.

They click their glasses as Armageddon begins. Scary music sounds.

In the garage, the saw springs to life on its own, its blade glinting with each flash of lightning. Somewhere there is sinister laughter. The table saw has a new home, new people to terrorize. Someone. Will. Pay. 

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live out loud

Weather or not

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, August 12, 2014 10:27 PM

One of the things we Westerners get used to is the lack of weather. We have sunshine nearly all year. The days we have rain can often be counted in single digits, especially in the years when we’re severely drought stricken, like lately. I love the sun, it gives me energy. The heat can sometimes get to be too much, but just when that happens, often there comes weather to cool us down.

I was born and raised on the east coast, predominantly the northeast, where there is a lot of weather. Even in Maryland, which many people think is sort of south, there is plenty of weather. For regular examples just look at Washington, DC. In the winter they are often buried; in the summer they suffer from horrible rain.

I went to college in the northeast as well, at the University of New Hampshire, in Durham. During my sophomore year, I got a job there, at a restaurant in town. In the summers following, I worked at the restaurant and also at several other restaurants catering. In the winter, I catered the occasional bar mitzvah or wedding, anniversary party, on Saturday nights. I remember one Saturday. It had snowed all day and it was piling up. I kept hoping for a phone call cancelling the event. It was not to come. At the appropriate time, I got into my Toyota Celica to drive to Portsmouth.

At one point, the road split in two, with one going off to Dover, the other going to Portsmouth. I went left, as I was supposed to. A car in front of me went right, through the medium, spraying snow onto my windshield, blinding me. I remember thinking how much I hated winter. Hated. It.

By the time March would role around, I was completely ready for anything other than show and cold and ice and sludge. I wanted the sunshine, some warmth; short pants. I had always had a fascination with the west. I wrote stories about Native Americans when I was a kid. I asked for a book on the subject for Christmas one year so I could study my subjects and the west. My mother bought one for me, and it was a bible for a long time. When I graduated from college I never even looked for jobs in Boston or New York, or anywhere along the east coast. I packed up my car and headed west to seek my fortune. I headed west toward the sun.

I settled in Southern California and for years I would joke about how excited I would be just to see a single cloud in the sky. Look how cloudy. My mother always gets a kick out of it. They have so much weather and we have so little. Often in the west when there are clouds there will soon be rain. It makes me happy.

They’ve been predicting major monsoon action for days now. When I woke up this morning, the sky was already heavy. I took Cooper for a walk while Kevin slept and the air was thick. By noon, the sky had dropped so that it was just over the rooftops. My phone said that rain was eminent. By 2:00 there was an 80% chance.

It started quietly enough. Big ploppy drops on the driveway, the back patio. The skylights vibrated with each drop. The wind kicked up. Soon it was pouring. Thunder roared, lightning flashed. Weather had descended upon the west. For the day, the sun was quiet.

It poured for two hours. It was lovely. When I look Cooper for a walk at 6, the temp was 71º and the air was sticky, like gum.  My skin felt weird, my hair curled, Cooper’s leash was damp. This is the part of weather I’m not as crazy about but I’ll take the humidity over the cold and snow and slush any day because it’s not everyday. And on this day, I’m celebrating it, weather or not it’s living out loud.

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live out loud

Sitting on the couch on a Saturday morning waiting on the rain

by Lorin Michel Saturday, August 2, 2014 10:17 PM

I got a text message this morning at 7:05 in response to a text message that I sent last night. I was sound asleep. I rolled over and grabbed my ever present phone. When we went all cellular all the time, I said it was so that I could always have the phone with me. Sometimes, and especially early on a Saturday morning, I find myself rethinking that decision.

When I get an early text, it’s similar to the early phone calls of years ago. When a phone would ring in the middle of the night or in the morning, awaking me from sleep, my heart pounded. I worried. At least with a text message you can automatically see who’s contacting you and decipher whether it’s important or not. Chances are, if it’s a text message, it’s not. Though it can be a way to communicate something horrible when you just can’t talk. When we lost Maguire, I sent text messages to everyone. When Pam lost John, she sent a text. It’s instant, and it’s less stressful in a highly stressful situation.

I ignored the text this morning because it wasn’t important. I thought briefly about getting up since it was 7 and I usually get up around then in order to walk the dog before it gets too hot. I thought I’d lie there for a few more minutes. Kevin was still sleeping, having slept through the bark of my text message; Cooper was sprawled on the floor, snorting. When next I looked at the clock it was 8:27. Definitely time to get up for all of us. Kevin sat up and winced as is the new custom in the morning as he continues to heal from his recent back debacle. Cooper stretched, pushed himself up, stretched some more and shook his fur into place, rattling the tags on his collar. I swung my legs over the side, drank some water and then padded the short distance to the bathroom to drag a brush through my disastrous hair – curls and pillows and tossing and turning make for quite the ‘do in the morning – stepped into some flip flops and took Cooper for his walk.

The day was overcast, the air heavy but not impossibly hot. Both my phone and the weather I saw online said rain today. The temperature wasn’t supposed to go above 88º. Cooper and I plodded along. Traffic was quiet on Campbell. There was a guy walking a small white dog on the other side. We turned the corner onto Prince and kept going, him trotting along, ears flapping like he could take off. It’s one of my favorite things about Cooper, his ears. I love how they bounce up and down when we walk.

Kevin had made coffee while we were gone. I fed Cooper, who was done in the time it took to pour two cups of coffee. Then we all went out onto the patio to sit for a few minutes. There was a delicate breeze, nothing to keep the day cool for long but the sun was still sleeping behind the clouds, and we miss being able to sit outside. We stayed out there for about a half an hour, enough to have a cup and a half of coffee. The humidity started to become stifling so we came inside. Kevin got his laptop, I got mine and we settled onto the love seat.

That’s where we are now. The coffee cups are empty; the coffee pot has turned itself off. We have music on, Cooper is dreaming, his feet racing to absolutely nowhere but his imagination. Outside we can see the clouds getting heavier and more black. The trees are hanging, defeated by the heat. It will rain soon. When it does, the trees will spring to life, the leaves whipping, the palm fronds dancing. The sky will spark and then it will pour. Until then, we’ll wait, sitting on the couch, relaxing and enjoying the nothingness of this Saturday morning. Living it out loud.


by Lorin Michel Thursday, July 3, 2014 8:46 PM

I feel like I should actually title this post Monsoon! But I’m not big on the use of exclamation points. Still, it would be a better way to announce that it is officially monsoon season, that I’m excited, and that last night it absolutely poured. Dogs and cats, puppies and kittens kind of rain. It was 3 am and as such I had been sleeping because that’s what most people do at 3 am. Suddenly I was awake. There was a strange sound. It was a thundering that seems to flood the room. A steady pounding as if someone was on the roof and trying to get through the skylight. Then, through the fog of sleep, I understood. Rain!

I reached over and grabbed Kevin’s arm. This was something he needed to be awake for. It was raining. In July. In the desert. During a horrible drought.

Pardon my giddiness. I know those of you on the east coast who have been living with rain and the threat of Arthur for several days are rolling your eyes, maybe even stomping your feet. You’re thinking: she woke up her husband, in the middle of the night, because of something as arcane as rain?

Yes. Yes she did.

In the Sonoran Desert, monsoon season starts on June 15 and runs through September 30, though the first appearance is generally today, July 3rd. We get an average of nearly 12 inches of rain a year. Not much by east coast standards but about average for the desert southwest. The last few years we’ve gotten even less than average so we’re drier than normal. The ground is hard; the plants parched. The water supply is strained. Enter monsoon.


It should be a movie poster, don’t you think? Like one of those 1950s posters proclaiming the end is nigh, or near, or whatever.

Monsoon’s are caused by warm air creating surface low pressure that draws moist air from the oceans. The winds usually come from the west but in the summer, they shift to the southeast, blowing in moisture from the Gulf of California, also known as the Sea of Cortez, as well as the Gulf of Mexico. Those moist winds run smack into the rising heat from the ground, heat that has been hovering between 100º and 104º just this week, and clouds form. Those clouds eventually build to the point of storms. The rains unleashed are heavy but a monsoon doesn’t last very long. They can, however, occur daily. According to the weather app on my phone, we should be getting storms today, tomorrow, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

The word is from the Arabic word mausin, meaning season or wind shift. It’s a word that’s now used in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and here in North America.

I love this season. It makes living through a summer in the desert almost fun. Scratch that. It makes it very fun. I watch as the moisture gathers into clouds, first as wisps then as darkly tinged pieces of cotton. Finally the sky drifts toward black. In the day, it covers the sun. At night, it blots out the stars. The wind whips into a frenzy, turning the tree leaves upside down, tossing anything that isn’t secured. The sky and the earth collide, however briefly, in an orgiastic frenzy of wind and water and desert. It’s glorious. It’s Mother Nature living it out loud, and we’re loving every minute of it.

Saturday's with Moby

by Lorin Michel Saturday, April 26, 2014 8:48 PM

When Kevin and I saw The Bourne Legacy several years ago, we suddenly became aware of the end credits music. We had seen all of the Jason Bourne movies, with Matt Damon. This latest incarnation starred Jeremy Renner and we enjoyed it more than most people. Part of the reason was the music by Moby. We became instant fans.

A couple of weeks ago, I bought Innocents, Moby’s album from 2013. It’s a very atmospheric album, filled with Moby eclecticism, perhaps less on this disc than on others. We like to put it on in the background, especially on weekend mornings and just let the electricity flood the house. This is what we did this morning, after we got back from a mile and a half walk with Cooper that included stopping at the vet to get his nails trimmed. We used to do Maguire’s ourselves because his nails were clear. We could both get down on the ground with him and I would shine a flashlight through his nail so we could see the vein, then Kevin would snip. Cooper’s nails are black. Neither of us is brave enough to chance it. He’s now very stealthy, stealing around the house and sliding around corners like he’s in socks.

We were back by 8:45. We put a pot of coffee on and listened to the wind. It’s been very windy lately, imposingly strong, in your face. It’s the wind of the desert and when it blows it has a mean streak. I tried to find something I wanted to listen to on live365, my internet radio app of choice but nothing was singing true. Moby was still in the CD player so I fired that up and poured myself another cup of coffee.

The fifth track on the album is called The Perfect Life. It’s got a near gospel sound to it. It begins like this: Oh We close our eyes The perfect life Is all we need.

As I was listening, I thought about those words. Is the perfect life something that’s only seen in dreams; in our imaginations; our thoughts? Is that why we close our eyes? Or is it the fact that life around us is just as we need it to be and so we close our eyes to acknowledge the weight of the ideal we have achieved? This life, the people in it, the lives we have created are all we need.

I thought of this fact all today, through the wind and the rain it brought along to play. The thunder as it rolled across the sky before rolling itself out. Kevin worked in the garage on the Porsche, reattaching the new front-end shocks. I did some cleaning, some laundry. I am always amazed at how mindless cleaning is. There are no thoughts, there are only tasks. It’s liberating, freeing. Easy.

I went to the grocery store. It had been a week and a half since our last trip and the refrigerator, the cupboards, were bare. There was precious little food to be found anywhere. I bought everything we needed and some things we didn’t. When I left home, the sky was brooding. As I exited the grocery store, I could smell the dampness of the dust. It was raining. I drove home and as I turned into the driveway, the garage door was still open. It had been open most of the day. Kevin was now reattaching tires. Cooper was helping in the wonderful way that dogs help which is not at all. They lie nearby and sleep, content to be with you. Maguire used to help me wash the car, which meant he laid underneath the big oak tree in the front yard. Cooper helps dad in the garage by lying on the cold cement.

As soon as I got out of the car, both of them rose to greet me. It was raining, cold. A perfect day. My husband and my dog were there, not necessarily waiting for me, but not not-waiting. Kevin smiled, Cooper wagged his tail. I had a car full of groceries and wine. Later, if it cleared up, we were planning a trip to the property to introduce Cooper to the new house. If not, we’ll go tomorrow.

A rainbow appeared, a perfect arch of refracted color and light against a still dark sky. The clouds were gradually flying east. The sunset was going to be spectacular.

On this Saturday Moby set the stage early on for today’s perfect life. It was all I needed; all I need.

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live out loud

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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The air feels alive

by Lorin Michel Thursday, February 27, 2014 11:45 PM

A storm approaches slowly. The air is crisp though warm, puffy clouds float amongst the blue of the sky. In the distance, darker, more ominous clouds are gathering. They say it’s Armageddon. I suspect they’re wrong. There will be weather but there is supposed to be weather this time of year. Since we haven’t had any of late, it’s much bigger news that it might otherwise be.

I love when the air feels alive. I actually heard somebody say that the other day and it rang so true. The wind blows. There is an electrical charge that pulsates throughout, like static electricity. Touch something and it snaps and sparks. The air flicks.

The wind swirls and gushes, teases the trees and the flowers, ruffles the hair. Birds flaps and fly, and soar, chasing each other up and down and around before coming to a screeching halt atop the building. You can hear the sound of their wings as the pulse through the air.

Butterflies hover and alight. Moths do the same. Small flying insects cruise about, looking for access to the light, the house. The wind helps them as well.

Sunlight streams through the upper windows of the house, the windows up near the ceiling some 16 feet up. Maybe even higher. They cut across the wall, horizontal glass that’s been UV coated so as to hopefully curb some of the fading that inevitably occurs because of the sun. Below, dust particles dance in each stream. I am forever amazed at how much is actually inside the air, things we can’t see until we can.

I am dust particles in sunlight, I am the round sun.
Say I am You, by the 13th century poet Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi

I used to joke to those back east that I didn’t trust air I couldn’t see. They thought it was hysterical, given that I lived in Los Angeles and LA had long been known for its smog problem. When I was in college and visited California for the first time, I spent a day or two in Los Angeles. I remember driving up from San Diego thinking that the air must be so dense with emissions tat you couldn’t see anything. A really dirty fog bank.

It was nothing like that of course. The sky was blue. Yes, there was a bit of smog but it hardly affected the views or visibility. I saw an article today about China and their horrendous smog problem. There was a picture of a man walking his golden retriever. Both were wearing surgical masks to block out some of the bad air. All around them was smog, making visibility only about 16 feet or so. Scary stuff. The air in China is alive in a completely different way; not a good way.

Clouds are rolling in over the desert, filling the air. Those that were fluffy and white seem to have left for drier prairies. These clouds are heavy, a brownish gray, ready for rain. The air is getting thicker even as the winds pick up. A storm is coming and it will be glorious.

It will drench the earth, cleanse the soul. It will be difficult while it’s happening, but once it’s over the air will be clearer, cleaner; crisper. Reborn like tomorrow.

The Japanese writer Haruki Murakami wrote: “And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”

Another metaphor for life, much like the air being alive. A living, breathing entity that surrounds us, keeps us true, it can spark with furry and dissipate in the wind. And then, it can dance in the shafts of the sun. That’s what life is all about.

Here's what happens when I'm cold and wet

by Lorin Michel Friday, November 22, 2013 11:23 PM

Guest post by Cooper

I’m not sure what time it started because I’m not always good with what time it is unless it’s time for a walk, and walks don’t happen until mom and dad get up. It was still dark so I’m pretty sure it was still a ways away from walk time and that’s OK. I was sleeping. Then I heard something that sounded like water running. It had been a really long time since I heard that sound and at first I didn’t know what it was. I shifted in my kennel, and looked up toward the window. The window was open. Dad likes the window open at night because he gets hot and mom just puts an extra blanket on the bed because she’s always cold. I like the blanket she puts on the bed. It’s all soft fur and stuff.

I think I must have growled or something because I heard mom whisper shhhh, baby, it’s just rain.

Rain! I like it when it rains. I especially like it when I get to walk in the rain because there are puddles and I get to go through them and slop and splash. I just hoped it would still be raining when I got up in the morning with dad because rain is like a bath without the bubbles. I went back to sleep and then the next thing I knew dad was saying Cooper buddy come on and he and I went out in the backyard.

Pretty soon mom called for coffee and then we got dressed to go for a walk. I heard dad say something about going right now because there seemed to be a break in the rain. BOL! Like rain can break!

Mom put on her stuff and then sat down on dad’s socks so she could put her shoes on. Are you sitting on my socks? dad asked her and she said yes and was that a problem. He said that his feet were cold and she said that’s why dog made slippers. They’re funny, my mom and dad.

I don’t know what they meant about breaking rain because it was raining pretty hard when we left the house and then when we kept walking it started raining even harder. It was in my eyes and I had to blink a lot. It made it harder for me to see but that was OK. I slopped through the puddles and pushed up against and under the trees. I like getting good and wet when I walk. Then we came home and dad said I’ll open the garage door and we can dry him off. I figured the him he was talking about was me since mom is a girl. Sure enough the door opened a minute later and out came dad with a towel. He started rubbing me all over with that towel and I was trying to bite it and wagging my tail because I love getting rubbed all over, especially when I’ve had a bath or walked in the rain and my fur is all wet.

Me, a little wet, on the bed after my walk. See my spiky fur on top?

Then I got to have breakfast.

After breakfast, I was still kind of wet and a little cold so while mom and dad were getting some coffee I decided to go to the best warm place I know: right in the middle of the big bed mom and dad sleep in. I curled up, all wet and put on my best cute cause I’m sort of allowed on the bed but after mom and dad get up and then mom puts the blankets away and puts more pillows on top, I’m supposed to stay on the floor. But the floor is cold!

Mom came looking for me after a little while and when she found me she said Kevin come here a sec. I batted my eyes. Then dad came in and they both stood there laughing.

At least they weren’t mad. Then mom took my bed out of my kennel and took it into her office and I decided that it would be better to be with her working so I got down and went to sleep on my bed with my guys purp, rat and wubba. I got warm real fast.

And the best part is that tonight I get to do it all over again cause it’s still raining. 

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live out loud

Lightning strikes

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, August 27, 2013 1:29 AM

I read today that Tucson is the lightning capital of the world. Granted I read it on a Facebook page that I follow, Downtown Tucson, but having spent some time in Tucson in the past, and especially in August, I am not at all surprised by the claim. It’s an accolade actually because lightning means thunder and both often are precursors to a fabulous storm. It all just serves to make a wondrous city ever more mysterious, interesting and gorgeous, from the sky down.

Evidently Tucson has been given this designation because it is in the desert, where the ground elevation is 2000 feet while the cloud base in the relatively dry atmosphere is usually around 10,000 feet so lightning bolts can zigzag through two to four miles of dry air, unabated, unchallenged. Lushly sharp.

Just before a storm, the sky swirls and darkens, moving from a light gray to a near black tinged with purple. I think it’s the purple that brings the lightning. Perhaps it’s the mythical aspect of the desert that encourages the sky to turn the color of midnight, dancing in the atmosphere, angry, forceful, purposeful, honest and true. It is a spectacular sight and when the lightning splits the sky, zigzagging down to connect to the earth. It is magical.

I’ve long been a fan of storms, and the ones that lace the desert are some of the most profound I’ve witnessed. I’ve sat on the balconies of the Westward Look, our favorite hotel in Tucson, with the air trying to cool but the humidity still high. Comfortable enough to sit with a glass of wine and watch one of nature’s most powerful shows. In the distance, the sky splits. Lightning always seems to be far away in the desert. It flashes quickly, lighting the air around and for a split second, the ground below. It’s often not accompanied by thunder but when it is, it is low and rumbling, until it cracks through the wall and rattles you to your spine.

Lightning is quiet. It just seems loud. It is all part of the monsoon season that strikes the desert in August.

The engine of the monsoon is the sun. As summer progresses, solar radiation warms the land and Pacific Ocean at different rates, inciting a tug-of-war with the winds. Until the land sufficiently warms, air flow above maintains a westerly flow. When the winds do an about-face, the monsoon begins.

The monsoon first begins in northern Mexico in May. The summer sun evaporates water from the Gulfs of Mexico and California and creates humid conditions over that produce rain. This rejuvenates plants. Vegetation begins to grow and moves water from the soils back to the air in the form of vapor in a process called evapo-transpiration. Humidity rises, fueling more rain and more transpiration.

On June 21, lightning zapped Pima County where Tucson is located 46 times, shooting electromagnetic pulses for each strike more than 400 miles across the landscape. Each pulse passed through a network of sensors that pinpointed where the lightning touched down. A day later, Pima County lit up with another 218 strikes, a large fraction of the 928 cloud-to-ground strikes that occurred on June 22 in the entire state of Arizona.

In other words, lightning strikes. And it is beautiful. It is stunning. It is magical. It is the desert and as regular readers know, I love the desert. I think the lightning is simply showing the way home.

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