Trees

 

 

The photo above was taken in Louisiana. They have some pretty spectacular trees there. Lots of places do, really. Los Angeles is no exception, either. We have some mighty fine examples spread about town.

 

But yesterday my next door neighbor had his trees raped. He would probably say they were trimmed, but those poor trees would surely say otherwise. And until they’ve had time to fill in and grow, those trees are gonna appear pitiful.

 

The construction project that’s going on in our neighborhood led to the recent death of a grand old tree. The scrubby shrubs and spindly specimens meant nothing to me. But that giant, beautiful old tree – that was another matter. I about cried when they tore it down.

 

It’s funny that I’m nostalgic for trees at this time of year. Leaves are falling, leaving nothing to appreciate but bare branches. And a lot of varietals are nearing winter slumber, where they’ll stay until spring’s buds decide to show their fresh faces, like young girls wearing lip gloss for the first time. Maybe I’m not nostalgic for trees. Maybe it’s the change of season. Or rather, the time when there should be a change of season.

 

The other night at a party, I was talking with someone about our extended southern California summer. She said that if she complains about it to anyone outside Los Angeles, she’s reprimanded for not appreciating what we’ve got here. She and I went on to discuss how challenging our “perfect” weather can be. Maybe that’s what’s weighing on my soul today. That and the knowledge that there’s one less majestic tree in the world. I really could just about cry.

Farmer Tan

 

 

The last few days brought a heat-wave to Los Angeles. Not only have we been dealing with high temperatures, we’re also seeing fires here and there. I’ve mostly avoided it all by staying inside with the conditioned air – thank the gods. I was out and about a few times, though, and have I mentioned there’s no conditioned air in my old car? Well there isn’t.

 

So here I am, in October, and my farmer tan is on full display. It’s only from this week, y’all! Dag!

 

We’re supposed to get back to pseudo-normal temperatures in a few days or so and I for one can hardly wait. I want my left arm tan to fade, for cry-eye. I appreciate the “D” and all, but come on, weather! Don’t be a fool – be cool!

 

That’s about all I have to say about that.

May Gray

 

 

The forecast was for heat. Instead we got gray.

 

In Southern California, we refer to this month’s overcast days as May Gray. And for some of us, it’s lovely. We know the sun is there, because it peeks through the clouds every once in a while, reminding us to be grateful for the cool days. To appreciate wearing a t-shirt during the day and needing a light sweater at night. And perhaps warning us of what’s to come. And what is to come? June Gloom.

 

I knew of June Gloom long before becoming aware of May Gray. June Gloom has been a constant for my entire tenure in Los Angeles. Personally, I certainly don’t consider it gloomy. I like the cloudy days. I like not running my a/c. I like sleeping with a slight chill in the air at night. Yes – June Gloom comes with the calendar. And yet, every single year I hear people expressing shock at the lack of sunshine. Some years we get loads of overcast days. Other years, not so much. I don’t keep meteorological records or anything, but I can remember years when June Gloom was more of an idea than a reality, and those years sucked. Because when we miss out on our clouds in June, summer heat can be unbearable. During those past sunny June months, summer just about wilted us and everything around us. Talk about the vapors.

 

So I’ll take May Gray. And starting tomorrow, I’ll look for June Gloom. Sorry if you’re visiting and not getting the weather you wanted, but trust me when I tell you we need this. Our plants need it. Our drought needs it. Our psyches need it. Besides – tanning is bad for you anyway. And honestly – there’s so much more to do here than bask in the sun.

Please Forgive Me

 

 

I would like to apologize to all of Southern California.

 

I know you were expecting super-duper rains this winter. I know you hoped effects of the years-long drought would be alleviated. I know you had plans, such as keeping your lawn. Maybe running through a sprinkler come summer. Maybe going fishing in a healthy, heavy-running stream.

 

I’m sorry. You see, it’s all my fault – this lack of rain. My first mistake was unpacking my rubber boots and leaving them in a corner, ready to wear when needed. My next mistake was buying a pump for the pool, in case it ran over. And lest you think this past Friday’s rain let me off the hook, know this: I told Mister – that very morning – that I wanted rains to fall and wash my car. See? It was on me.

 

Please don’t think I intentionally ruined our El Niño rains. I assure you – it was quite unintentional. I just didn’t know how powerful I am. And for that, I sincerely apologize.

When It Rains…

 

 

Mister and I have been battling Marvin. Marvin is the name of our pool sweeper, and we love that little motorized rover because he generally does a great job of keeping the bottom of the pool clean.

 

But not lately. Something’s causing the little guy to be sluggish, when he moves at all. The recent devil winds only complicated the situation by throwing copious amounts of debris into the water. And then there’s the cold.

 

We are spoiled here in Los Angeles and we know it. My friend Nicole put it best when she said she’d recently talked to family in Chicago who’d told her it was 55 degrees there – a heatwave! And then Nicole told her family it was 55 degrees here – and we were freezing! That is rather typical of our winter weather and our response. But know this: It was 32 degrees here when Mister woke yesterday morning. That is friggin’ cold, friends. Now ordinarily, the cold would just be something to comment about and use as an excuse to build a fire for visual warmth (while the good people at So-Cal Gas provide fuel for the house heater – the one that does the real work of keeping us cozy). But when it’s freezing outside and you have to reach into the pool to try and figure out what the hell is going on with Marvin, well, you start trying to remember your childhood training of how to deal with frostbite. You also find yourself thinking thoughts of gratitude for your pool man, and wondering just when that dude will be back from his holiday break.

 

So though that’s been on our minds, we’ve been enjoying home and each other’s company. No real drama, no real issues. But you know how it goes. When it rains, it pours. So yesterday morning when I walked into the kitchen and spotted a small puddle beneath a cabinet, my first worry was that it might be a plumbing leak from the wall (a bathroom shower is behind that wall). But I checked the puddle and it was isolated and not near the wall at all. It seemed to be coming from the cabinet itself, so I had a gander and found the culprit: a leaky container of peanut oil.

 

Y’all – peanut oil had gotten into roasting pans and serving platters, and just about everywhere else it could run inside that cabinet. And though it took me way too long to clean up the mess, I was grateful the majority of the oil had been contained by the platters. Otherwise, that mess could have been much worse. (You’ll notice I’m not talking about the loss of perfectly good peanut oil. It hurts too much to even think about it.)

 

And then… I blame myself. Why? Because I had the thought: 2 things have gone awry, will there be a 3rd? The answer was yes. After I’d cleaned up the peanut oil, I rounded the corner to check on some laundry and I stepped in water. The washer had leaked. It’s happened before, due to a too-large load of towels. I guess I’d pushed the upper limits again with the same dirty laundry. So that was the 3rd home craziness. I didn’t lose it or anything, I’d like you to know. Why would I? At some point, you just clean up the next danged mess and move on. I mean – that’s life sometimes, isn’t it? Sure, I could get in a funk about everything, but that blue mood would linger longer than the messes themselves. And I’ve been down that road. It doesn’t lead anywhere I want to go.

 

For now, Marvin’s problems will have to wait for the pool man, as Mister and I have done all we know to address that problem. And the peanut oil incident of 20-15 is merely a memory. I’m testing the washing machine to see if we had a one-time leak or are facing a bigger problem. I’m also looking for clear skies. At least where our house is concerned. 3 may be a magic number and all, but it is also plenty when it comes to challenges, thank-you-very-much.

Devil Winds

 

 

We’re in the midst of some devil winds here in Los Angeles. And they’re not the type we’re used to.

 

During autumn, we usually experience Santa Anas, which are warm or hot winds that blow everything about and scare the bejesus out of me. Santa Anas often coincide with fire season and they tend to make things worse. After 2 decades of living here, I’m still surprised each year when they arrive. Surprised, but not flabbergasted or anything. I suppose on some level I’ve come to expect them.

 

We are not experiencing Santa Anas right now. We are told this is the beginning of our El Niño weather. That it will continue, off and on, for months. Rain is promised, and prayed for. Flooding is expected and we’re receiving regular admonitions to batten down the hatches and prepare for the worst. Snow has started hitting the Sierra Mountains and that’s great, as we desperately need it. Locally, there’s no rain but the winds are a-blowin’ and they’re fierce. They’re also cold. Cold, y’all! Everything is still flying about and I guess the bejesus is still getting scared out of me, but I’m wearing a sweater while being a wuss. And a hat. And a scarf and gloves. I’m not kidding. Friends are laughing at me when I’m bundled up so, but then I notice they’re doing a fair bit of shivering and I’m pretty sure they wish they had all the winter gear I’m donning. So there.

 

Yesterday I was in a Holly-weird skyscraper and I watched giant, metal light posts swaying in the wind. It was odd. And I could hardly bring myself to look away. But I eventually did, and then I left the building and walked the swirling sidewalks. As I passed others along my way, not a single person laughed at my warm, protective gear. And I understood why. I was surrounded by wusses. My thin-skinned people.

Satan’s Butthole

 

 

Yep. We’ve had it good. For quite a while we’ve been waking to a lovely marine layer and its benefits. Our weather has been the thing for which we’re envied. And we’ve enjoyed it.

 

Now we wake to a fierce sun. Its force is so powerful, it scorches by day and then the air barely cools down at night. It’s been this way for a couple of days and looks to stay the same for several more. There are heat warnings in effect. Shelters have been set up. Iced tea has been made and is being consumed in copious amounts. At least that’s true in our house.

 

I remember a few decades ago, when Mister and I first moved to Los Angeles, we rented a little house with a single window-unit a/c. During one particular summer, Satan’s Butthole-temperatures were hit and remained for a week or so. One or two days were so bad, I headed to the beach for cooler weather. Once I got there, I found little relief, as the harsh heat was beating up the beaches, too. Anyhoo – one afternoon I returned home and began opening up the house in a vain attempt to cool it down. As I walked from room to room, I stopped before the dining room table and stared. The candlesticks that were left there had drooped to one side and melted. That’s how hot it had gotten. I seem to recall hearing we had peaked at around 111 degrees or so. Maybe it was more like 109. But really – it didn’t make much difference. Once you hit H-A-W-T, a couple of degrees just don’t seem to matter.

 

Today I plan to work out early (we’re nuts, I know), then be as still as possible for as long as possible. I have plenty of sunscreen, a big hat and pool floats. That water may just save our lives. That and the conditioned air and iced tea. I’m just sayin’.

Doing Alright

 

 

 

You know your skin fits when you find yourself at a Ladies function and the temperature has topped 90 degrees, and your old Volvo just ain’t gonna make it home without you adding some water to the radiator, and you pop the hood right there in the parking lot of the historic building where your meeting just took place, and you hike up your proper clothes and fill that radiator to the top, in front of all the other Ladies you just saw at the function, and instead of batting an eye, you smile at each of them and wave.

 

Yep. I’m doing alright.

Sun

 

 

It’s happening everywhere I go. People in stores and out in the world keep saying the same thing. “It’s too hot for March!” And they’re right.

 

One night I heard the local weather man say it was a full 80 degrees warmer in L.A. than in Boston. And that was before we hit 90 here. It breaks my heart to tell you this, but Mister and I gave in and turned on the conditioned air this weekend. In March. Before the first day of Spring. Dag.

 

Recently I read something about how the majority of Angelenos choose to live here just for the weather. And I believe that report. I hear so many people comment about L.A.’s fab weather, I’m starting to think residents are issued a prerecorded response for all climate queries. Personally, I’m questioning our weather as a viable reason for myself. And though I don’t have any pending options on the horizon, it is something to think about.

 

In the meantime, the Lord does make conditioned air and I have to admit – the sun streaming through the windows is just lovely. You know – we really do have awesome weather.

I’m Jealous

 

 

I’ve talked to folks (or read blog posts of folks) who live in other parts than these here and I keep experiencing the same feeling: I’m jealous.

 

Y’all have crossed over into Autumn and we clearly have not. Mister and I spent Saturday doing our best to be perfectly still, as any movement would have only added to the heat of the day. And in case you don’t know, that day’s heat was over 100 degrees F here in Los Angeles.

 

I know I bitch about the heat more than I should. And I hope that in a month or so said heat will be far enough in the rear view for me to forget about it for a while.

 

But that ain’t how things were on Saturday. Nor today. (Nor this week…) So for now, I’m simply letting you know how terribly jealous I am of you and where you live. Feel free to keep that knowledge in your back pocket, in case a challenging moment finds its way into your day. You can tell yourself, “Hey! Someone in Los Angeles is jealous of me! So there!”

 

Now that I think about it, I’m sure my being jealous of your Autumn makes absolutely no difference whatsoever in your life. I guess that means I’m jealous and delusional. How pitiful.