Estate Piovoso

I have decided that “summer part II” shall be officially named “Estate Piovoso” which is Italian for rainy summer, because everything sounds better in Italian!

And boy has it been raining!  We had 14 consecutive afternoons/evening with rain.  And not just a sprinkle or quick downpour but hours of showers. I believe at my house we have had more rain this summer then in the previous six summers combined. Crazy!

I have not been spending much time on-line these days.  Just not in the mood I guess.  Instead I have been working on this in my sketchbook:

Listening to “The Island” by Elin Hilderbrand while working on my latest needlepoint project:

Getting close to finishing the ice cream puzzle:

Watching 50 years of Alfred Hitchcock on TCM Wednesday and Friday nights in July.

I took a trunk full of items to Goodwill and mailed off a bag of clothes to Thred Up.

And I tried to take a picture of the back of my hair to show how humid it is here in the desert.  Not easy to do and then I was quite shocked at all the gray!  And here I thought I just had a few strands in front.

On that note I am off to make popcorn and my son and I are going to watch  “House on Haunted Hill”.  (His choice, not mine!)

Instead of my hair here is a picture of our Cat’s Claw blooming which only happens after a lot of rain.

 Felice Estate Piovoso!!

*I hope I got that translation right!


Two Summers

“You don’t need to have the life you want to enjoy the life you have.” *

This has been my motto the last few months. I am still missing my four seasons life terribly but I am learning to make the best of the life I have now.  As one can imagine summers in the desert southwest feel incredibly long but as the monsoon rains started I had an epiphany.  We actually have two summers here.

Summer Part One I like to think of as “normal” summer.  It lasts from sometime in May until sometime in July. The weather is hot and dry and sunny. The pool is warm and it is too hot to do much outdoors other than swim.  So we spend a lot of time in the pool. We usually have at least one camping trip and/or our big vacation during this time. It feels like a normal summer.

Then sometime in July the weather changes.  The monsoon part of summer starts. More clouds, less heat. It usually takes a few weeks after the initial appearance of clouds until we get rain at my house (except for this year) but late afternoon and evening thunder still keep us out of the pool. The temperature drops but the humidity rises. It feels like it has been summer forever, because it has.  Summer Part One, “normal” summer is over.  This is the start of Summer Part Two.

I actually pulled over to take this photo. How cool it is to see rain falling.

In addition to monsoon weather Summer Part Two includes getting ready to go back to school.  My son resumes school the second week of August so the end of July has us buying supplies and new clothes.  It always felt weird doing this in the middle of summer but this year we are doing it in Part II of summer.  A completely different season from Part I of summer!

Amazing how the mind can adapt.  If it takes me creating a whole new season to survive desert life so be it.  I do think I need to come up with a more creative name for Summer Part II, keeping Summer Part I as just “Summer”.  Any suggestions?


*  The quote is from “Julia Child Rules,  Lessons on Savoring Life”  by Karen Karbo.

The Great Outdoors


San Diego Bay


We spent three full days last week camping on San Diego Bay. Temps in the 60’s, clouds in the morning, sun in the afternoon; it was heavenly. I spent most of my time outdoors. I walked on the beach or stared at the water from my lounge chair and ate meals overlooking the bay.  I watched sailboats and battleships go by.  We did a harbor tour, walked around the campground and visited the ocean via a nearby state park.  I thought about how much more time I spent outdoors when I lived in New York and Montana then I do now that I live in Arizona.

In New York I had my dream front porch, wide, covered and with a wide wall for a railing you could use as seating  or put candles or flowers on.  I had a small table and chairs out there along with a rocker and a papasan chair.  It was an extra room in the summer and fall.  I frequently ate breakfast or lunch out there, read and admired my roses.

In Montana I missed my front porch but had a park like backyard.  My infant son and I spent much time in the backyard with a blanket spread under a large tree.  I loved hanging out laundry while he sat in his little tree swing.

I don’t find the weather in Arizona conducive to being outside.  Mostly it is too hot or too windy.  I do not enjoy being outside in harsh wind.  I do like to sit under the covered patio and watch monsoon storms.  We don’t have the best vantage point from there but sometimes we get good views of the clouds or lightning.

The biggest difference in getting outdoors between here in the desert and up North in Montana and New York was being able to walk to do many errands.  Up North the few days when walking around would be hazardous or very unpleasant were scattered throughout the year.  My neighborhoods had sidewalks and walking to the store, bank, library or post office took paths down picturesque residential streets.  I could admire flowers blooming in spring and summer and holiday decorations in the fall and winter.  I also liked looking at all the different houses.

Here in Arizona walking for errands doesn’t happen much for two reasons.  First, six months out of the year the sun is blazing hot.  In the summer if it has clouded up you are in danger of being caught out in a violent thunderstorm.  And while the bank, grocery stores, a few restaurants and post office outlet are just over a mile away the walk isn’t pleasant in the best of weather.  There is no sidewalk along the busy 45 mph street meaning you have to walk in the also busy bike lane.  Along some parts people have trod a dirt path through the weeds and brush and I walk there where possible.  It is not relaxing though as you have to keep a sharp eye out for snakes and pricklies.   There isn’t much in the way of scenery, mainly cinder block fences, cacti and the backs of two story houses.  The mountains are to the north and west but they don’t change much and after a few minutes I lose interest in them.

What I loved about walking to do errands in NY and MT was being able to take different routes through residential areas admiring all the different houses, yards, porches and landscaping.  Here everything is beige.  Most houses look pretty similar and the landscaping is all the same.  There are a few weeks in the spring where there are some blooms but not many along the busy road.  Each housing area is self-contained so you can’t try and detour down  side streets.

Coming back from San Diego I tried to brainstorm how to spend more time outdoors.  Of course this isn’t the best time of year to start as it is triple digit heat and the sun is broiling by 8:00 am but I thought I would give it a try.  Of course there is the pool and I do try and swim every day.  This summer I am getting into the habit of getting up about 6:30 am.  I put on my workout clothes and go out into the backyard.  It is already warm but still pleasant in the shade.  I water the plants and simply sit for a few minutes and listen to the birds.  Sometimes I plan my day, write down my to-do list.  At 7:00 am I either jump rope (M-W-F) or come inside to do yoga (T-TH).

It is easy to spend time outdoors when you have a sense of purpose and decent weather.  In New York and Montana I didn’t have to think about getting outdoors, it just happened.  Being outside here requires more planning, effort.  You have to decide to go up the road to Mt. Lemmon, packing a lunch or researching a hike.  You have to check the radar for storms.  You have to get up early to beat the heat.  (Walking after dark in not an option for me with no sidewalks or streetlights and an array of wildlife to be leery of.) Some days my son and I get out of the pool and eat 3:00p snack on the patio.  Once the monsoon season starts we will sit under the back patio and watch the rain.  It’s not much but it is a start.  In the heat of summer that is all I ask of myself.