Wednesday, August 22, 2012

It Was A Dark and Stormy Night...

It's monsoon here in the valley of the sun.  Yay for the monsoon!  So far this week we've had two really nice storms come through and dump a good amount of water on our exceedingly dry, scorched earth.  Although gutters are still a little ways off, I was able to collect about thirty gallons of water just in buckets from yesterday's downpour.  And it was a downpour...

The worst of yesterday's storm occurred in the late evening.  Just in time for me to go over to my parent's house to take care of their two dogs for the last time before they went to bed for the night.  I was hoping for a reprieve from the rain at least long enough to run the dogs out, but I was denied this basic request.  When I pulled up in the driveway, the rain was fairly light.  By the time I walked in the house, locked the door behind myself, got the first dog out and opened the back door it had increased tenfold.

The first dog I took out was Desi, who apparently had a clue last night.  He stepped out into the rain, realized it sucked and hurried up with his business.  We were out there less than a minute.  Good boy Desi!

The second dog was Lucy, who had a different take on the rain.  She stepped out into the rain, looked like she realized it sucked....and then blinked a lot.  She stood there, blinking in the rain, for eternity.  I tried encouraging her to "hurry up!" but she seemed more concerned with running in circles on her leash and blinking.  Five minutes later she finally decided that she should probably take care of business and get out of the rain.  Not so good girl Lucy (frowny face).

With both dogs back inside, I headed out to put my chickens up for the night.  The girls were pretty much sleeping on their roost when I walked out anyway so it was just a matter of shutting them in the coop.  As I was moving the rock that holds the door open a huge flash of lightning lit up the entire area.  And I realized that I was standing in a ten by twenty metal cage that surrounds the largest tree on the property.  And I'm standing in water.  Yay me!

I head back to the house and lock everything up for the night.  At this point I'm pretty wet, but not completely soaked to the skin and all I have to do is get to the Jeep.  Except as I'm locking the front door I realize that it's Tuesday.  And garbage pickup is really early Wednesday morning.  Which means I have to put the garbage and recycling cans out tonight.  The cans that are currently in the backyard.  Ugh! 

I stand there for a second to try and think things through.  Now I realize pretty quickly that the very first thing I need to do is get my gun into the vehicle so I don't accidentally drop it in a mud puddle (not that it would hurt it as it's a revolver, but still).  In case you're wondering why I feel the need to carry a weapon to my parent's house, I've been taking it with me on the last run over at night because my folks live out where there is open desert backing to their property.  At night is when the predators come out and for sure we know there are coyotes and bobcats out there.  I've heard and seen the coyotes myself and at least one of the close neighbors has had a bobcat attack her dog on the back patio.  And lets face it, if I get confronted by some wild animal I am 100% sure that neither of those dogs is going to defend me.  A best case scenario is if I can hang on to the leash long enough to get dragged back to the house as they're running in fear.  So anyway, the gun needs to get to the dry interior of the Jeep before I go about my last task.  And then I need to get the cans from the backyard to the street.  Well, nothing to do except start I guess...

I push the unlock button and run to the driveway.  Toss my gun into the passenger seat and slam the door shut.  Then I really start moving.  From where I'm at, it's about forty feet to the back gate, it doesn't take long to get there but once I do, the latch decides this is a fantastic time to get clingy.  It takes me more than few seconds to get the gate open.  After it finally gives in, I fling the gate open but before I can get the cans, I must remove the barricade that my dad has put there to keep the rabbits out of his yard.  With a clear path finally available, I grab the first can, drag it through the gate and then leave it a few feet beyond.  I repeat the procedure with the second can.  After I have both cans out, I shut the gate, grab one can's handle in each hand and start moving towards the street.

By this time the rain is coming down in torrents, I can barely see five feet in front of me.  And the street is at least 100 feet away.  So I start running as fast as I can.  Which, considering I'm wearing a pair of Tevas, dragging two huge garbage cans and sliding around in the water, isn't very fast.  And then I hit the end of the driveway.  Did I mention that my folk's driveway ends?  It does.  Rather abruptly when you can't see I might add.  So then I'm not so much running as scrambling through the muddy mess in my Tevas, dragging my now even more cumbersome huge garbage cans whose wheels apparently don't like mud at all.  And I still can't see.  And the rain is actually coming down harder.

Eventually I find what I believe to be "close enough" that the garbage trucks can pick up in the morning.  But I can't just drop the cans and run, because they are backwards to the street.  They need to face the street in order to get emptied.  I grab the garbage can first and by half dragging, half rolling it I am able to get it somewhat pointing in the correct direction.  But now it's too far back from the road.  So I tilt it back on it's wheels in order to push it forward.  And that's when  gust of wind comes up and lifts the lid, rather rapidly, and slams it directly into my face.  I have to say here that while my reaction time is generally pretty good, it slows substantially when the same wind that blew the lid into my face is busy holding it there.  It was a good ten seconds before I could peel that stupid lid off my face and force it down onto the can where it belonged.  Thankfully the recycling can didn't give me as much trouble and I'm soon on my way back to the driveway and the relative comfort of my Jeep.

By the time I get there I am soaked completely to the skin.  My hair is completely drenched and hanging in my face.  My jeans and shirt are stuck to me like glue.  And I'm having trouble seeing because my eyebrows and lashes have five gallons of water each in them that's now streaming into my eyes.  Oh and the window is fogging over.  Perfect.

So I blast the heat (yeah, it's August in Phoenix, it's all good) and head home.  I would really like to drive faster than ten miles an hour but unfortunately the roads suck big time.  The dirt and gravel roads are like a mud bog, but the paved roads are actually worse because there are huge puddles across most of them.  At first I was like "Hell, I drive a Jeep!  Jeeps are meant to drive through puddles!  Screw you puddles, I'm driving a Jeep!"  This was quickly followed by "What the hell?  I can't see a damn thing when the water comes crashing over my windshield!"  So yeah, that worked out well.  Ten miles an hour it is.  Eventually I arrived home, dripping wet and looking like a drowned rat.  I give Mister C credit for holding it together when he got a look at me.  But I don't kid myself, I could totally see the grin he was holding back and the gleam in his eyes. 

So that's the story of the monsoon in Arizona.  And it's supposed to rain again tonight and tomorrow again as well.  Hopefully not until after I get home from taking care of the dogs.  But that would require some sort of good luck that I seem to be lacking in.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Marked Woman

I need a less conspicuous vehicle, my Jeep is too easily identified.  Also, the drop off and pick up procedure at Master J's school completely sucks.  Big time.

On day one at the new school, I did what I have done for the past five years on school mornings, I tried to drop my child off at school.  For five years I have driven up, kicked my child at the curb and then continued on through to the exit.  For five years I have never had an issue with this.   The new school does not allow this.  The new school insists that you drive all the way to the end of the parking lot and ONLY drop your child in an area about ten feet long.  I did not know this.  So I pull up in line, kick my child out at the curb and try to continue driving only to see a lady running towards me frantically.  I roll down my window and she explains that I'm not allowed to drop my child off there, that I must instead drive way the eff down to the other end.  Okay, whatever, I'll do my best to follow the rules.  That's strike one.

On day one after school, I park in the parking zone and get out to wait for my child.  No problems.  On day two, I drop him off in the proper place in the morning and don't get in trouble.  After school I park in the parking zone and get out to go wait for my child.  No problem.  On day three, which was Friday, I drop him off with no issues.  After school, I park in the parking zone to wait for my child.  I see him coming towards me and then he disappears.  My thermometer is registering 118 degrees so I opt to wait in my car until I see him at the curb, with the intention of getting out of my vehicle to get him as soon as I see him.  I don't see him.  Ten minutes goes by and I'm still waiting.  Where the hell is my kid?  Another five minutes pass.  And then I see the principal making her way over to my car.  Uh oh, now what did Master J do?  Turns out, nothing.  One of the teachers saw him and sent him to wait at the end of the parking lot.  Why?  Because they assumed (incorrectly) that my intention was to wait in my car and allow my child to cross three lanes of cars to get into mine.  Um, no.  I was waiting until I saw him to get out of my car because it's miserable degrees out right now.  So now my child has been waiting at the end of the parking lot in the sun and heat for fifteen minutes.  Awesome.  That's strike two.

This morning I dropped Master J off at the end of the parking lot just like I was supposed to.  I had told him on Friday that if he didn't see my car parked, he was to go to the end of the parking lot so I could pick him up.  After school today I pulled into the lot about a minute after the bell rang.  I saw him standing on the curb but knew I would not be able to pick him up there so I rolled down my window and told him to go to the end and I would pick him up.  When I looked up from telling him this, I could see both of the parking demons at the end of the lot staring at me.  Obviously they were waiting to pounce on me should I make the tragic error of picking up my child from the wrong location.  I drove on through, under surveillance. 

At the end of the lot there was a traffic jam with about five cars parked along the "correct" curb and another two in front of me waiting to get there.  Master J was standing next to another child at the end.  The parents in the two cars ahead of me waved their children to them.  One of them was the kid standing next to Master J, so I also waved Master J over.  As the children were getting into the cars in front of me, and Master J was getting into my car, the parking police ran over and opened my front door to tell me that he couldn't get into my car there.  The reason?  Because there was a garbage can nearby and that was "gross".  I'm not even kidding.  And that's strike three.

I'm officially going to be a marked woman for the rest of the year.  You know damn well that every time I pull into that lot they're going to be watching me and waiting for me to make one wrong move.  And then they will pounce.  Folks, I am nothing if not a law abiding citizen.  I don't go out of my way to break the rules or cause problems, especially at my child's school.  But seriously, if you're going to let kids get into two cars in front of me, but get after me because my child is five feet closer to the garbage can, I'm going to have an issue.  And I'm going to start pushing the limits of rules to the very edge.  See ya tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

First Day of Sixth Grade


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Drunken Kangaroo...

I knew I shouldn't have said anything about the divers...


Monday, August 6, 2012

Olympics 2012

I am sadly unappreciative of the Olympics lately.  Not the athletes, they are awesome.  Not the venue, London did itself proud with that one.  No, what I am so disappointed in is the coverage.  Specifically the time delayed, Americanized media coverage.

So the first thing is obviously the time delay issue.  I fricken HATE the time delay.  Why?  Because it means that I can't watch the news, read a newspaper, look at the computer or talk with anyone without fear of hearing the results of some event that I haven't yet watched.  So recognizing that time moves on and technology improves, there was something to be said for only being able to watch the events as they happen.  As far as I'm concerned, it showed your dedication to a specific sport.  Like the discus throw but they're competing at 3:00 am your time?  Suck it up and take at nap earlier in the day so you don't miss anything. 

The second issue also relates to the time delay...let's call it half arsed coverage.  If it's live, you get the whole shebang.  From the worst competitor to the best, you got to watch all of it.  How cool would it have been to be just as surprised as the rest of the world to be watching the women's gymnastics at the 1972 Munich Olympics and watch Olga Korbut do her famous back flip off the high bar?  I'll wait while you google that little gem...done yet?  How cool was that?  Anyway, there was none of this bs of only seeing the top three or four competitors.  I want to see all the dives of all the divers of all the countries.  Don't just show me China and their scarily perfect dives.  I want to see the guy that looks like a drunken kangaroo going off the board as well.  Because how can I judge how fantastic the winner is if I can't see who all of their competition is?

Which leads us to all the competition...why are there so many damned sports in the Olympics these days?  Is badminton even a sport?  How about handball?  Really?  And don't get me started on the heated ping pong competition.  But seriously, the absolute worst has to be the slalom canoeing.  What the hell is wrong with you people?  And as a side note, it only makes it worse when you find out that the badminton teams are deliberately trying to lose in the preliminaries so they can get matched with an inferior team for the finals.  Here's a hint: there's not that much glory in winning gold in badminton in the first place, don't make it worse by cheating.  I know, it's devastating to hear that, but it's the truth and someone had to tell you. 

And finally, how about those life stories?  Can we wring anymore emotive dances out of these broadcasters?  Sob stories, tragic lives leading down the path to Olympic glory, poor kids making good.  Don't get me wrong, I think each of these athletes has greatness in them, proven by the fact they are at the Olympics in the first place.  But I don't need to know every detail of their lives.  I don't want to hear five minutes of what they've overcome to watch them swim a two minute race.  Seriously, I don't care, I just want to see them compete.  And over-sharing mom of fantastic swimmer?  Please, stop.  Just stop. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Garden of Impending Doom

We have several gardens that we put together last fall and planted this spring.  Prior to our vacation in July, the gardens were producing beautifully on a daily basis.  At least as far as the cherry tomatoes go.  Those things were crazy prolific.  I'm talking three or four dozen tomatoes every day.  And they were awesome.  I don't know about you but I've never thought store bought tomatoes were all that great.  They're okay, but they're fairly nondescript.  But these things were downright spicy (comparatively speaking).  Long story short, Mister C was thrilled with his daily allotment of cherry tomatoes and I was eating them every time I walked through the kitchen (which is apparently a lot since my weight loss is at a standstill, but that's another story.) 

Anyway, other than the cherry tomatoes, the only other pre-vacation producers were the cantaloupe and watermelon plants and there were just a few of those.  The strawberries had been fairly choked out by the cantaloupe vines from hell by this point.  The red and green pepper plants were about three feet tall and had several small peppers on each plant.  The day before we left on vacation I had decided to pick the sole cucumber even thought I didn't think it was quite ripe.  My assumption being that since we were going to be gone for nine days it would go to waste if I didn't pick it.  It was actually pretty good, although fairly small.

Upon returning from vacation, the first thing I did was head to the garden to see what remained.  I gleaned several dozen cherry tomatoes, two cantaloupe and several watermelons.  The peppers weren't doing well at all, most of the fruit had rotted on the plant.  There were also several cucumbers.  Or at least what were supposed to be cucumbers. 

Instead of the cucumbers being a nice, dark green and of reasonable size, they were huge, yellow, slug-like things.  I'm not even kidding, I was looking at those things trying to figure out where their eyes were.  They were downright horrifying.  So I pulled them off the vine and brought them into the house for an autopsy. 

I've been watching a lot of "Dr. G, Medical Examiner" on the Discovery channel and I'm pretty sure I know what I'm doing here.  So I take my alien cucumber and I make the classic Y incision in it' anticipation of figuring out what went wrong with the little bastard.  Instead of nice, firm, cucumber flesh, I have mushville (it's a word.)  An "off" scent came rolling off the deceased (I can only assume the cucumber was using some sort of illegal fertilizer) almost knocking me off my feet.  And then my beautiful Y incision kind of collapsed on itself due to the mush factor.  I'll be honest, I didn't see a need to continue the autopsy at this point since the end result was that this particular vegetable was uneatable (and that actually is a word.)  So, into the compost it went.

We've now been home for just over three weeks.  I've pulled a few more cantaloupes and watermelons off the vines and they've been awesome.  Nothing else seems to be producing right now (no berries, no grapes.)  The cantaloupe plants current have a half dozen more melons getting ripe which is great, although their vines have gotten much more aggressive.  Several of the vines are aiming for the air conditioner (it has been consistently over 100 degrees lately) and one pioneering vine has made it's way over to steal nutrients from my orange tree.  But that's not all...

This morning I went out to see if anything was available and after picking another dozen cherry tomatoes, I thought I would check to see if any new cucumbers have shown up.  They have...

Thank goodness we have them caged!