Merci, Mother Nature!

A pleasant surprise awaited me when I got up today.

My thermostat read 82 degrees (27.7 C).

Amazing relief compared to the 95 in my little studio just the other day!

Phoenix, Arizona, is getting a break from burgeoning heat — why, just 4 days ago, we officially tapped into the triple digits of 100 (37.7)! — due to a weak cold front sweeping the nation.

Some states are getting snow, rain.

Phoenix ain’t so lucky. Our luck rests in relief from heat. We’ll take it!

Today’s forecast says a high of 84 (28.8 C), low of 63 (17.2 C). Verrrry comfortable! Course the cooldown won’t last.

However, the difference between 84 (28.8) and 100 (37.7) is remarkable — the dry heat notwithstanding.

That’s the big line in Arizona. “But it’s a dry heat!” True enough. Images like these abound on postcards, souvenirs, etc.

Miniscule humidity most of the time. You bake. You fry. You run, you crawl toward any place cooler — or the illusion of cooler. Shade, for example.

Public air-conditioning is ubiquitous in Phoenix. Has to be. More than half the population would flee otherwise!

Anyways, today’s cooler temp brings with it a slight breeze. Whoooo-hooooo! My two windows don’t open wide enough to bring it on  — and in!

I’ve been feeling oppressed by the heat … while fully realizing that 100 (37.7) ain’t nuthin’ compared to what’s ahead in July, August.

We got 118, 120 degrees (47.7, 48.8 C) to look forward to (cough cough}.

Say it ain’t so!

Oh it be so!

So fucking hot.

So as I luxuriate in today’s comfy cooldown, I can’t help but be disturbed by something.

At 11:34 a.m., the outdoor temp is 76 (24.4 C). In my little studio, it’s 80 (26.6 C).

Can you say heat trap? Does not bode well for what’s ahead.

Which is why I’m in the business of fans. Portable powerful fans. Researching fans like never before! Like my life depended on it!

All too soon, it shall.

But today, we’ve got relief, merci mother nature! Daresay it’s even better than an icy gin ‘n’ tonic.


Making good with my modem

You’ve not seen the light ’til you’ve had this modem.

Got this Motorola modem when I moved into my little studio in February.

It’s been in two spots as things morph in my new space. Where it can be placed is limited as there are only two cable outlets.

In actuality, the modem can go only around the patio door/kitchen — as Cox cable informed me that that yeah, they can activate the second outlet (thereby affording me more options)  … for some $60 and a visit from a tech! GRRRRR! No f-ing way!

So near the patio door / kitchen the modem remains.

This modem’s been driving me bonkers! Here’s why.


them’s one holey Motorola mother!

Holey-moley! Lookit them thar holes!

Bright blue light POURS forth like water through, well, fittingly, a sieve.  You can’t tell from that pic but believe me, at night, looks like half a police car in here!


This modem’s mucked up my sleep BIG TIME.

I’ve shrouded the darn thing every night — a fine line since it really needs ventilation, this thing operates hot — then every morning removed coverings to avoid overheating.

Pain in the ass and STILL the blue light bled through.

Then the other day, I was in the kitchen, unofficially meditating on my modem, and inspiration struck.

The cupboard above the fridge!

The modem, router, surge protector, wires … the whole unslightly shebang could go there!

Plus it’d be protected. Never liked electronics by the screened patio door with the Arizona winds, dirt, dust and most of all gusty monsoons in summer.



What’s behind cupboard number 1?


Electronics get a private suite

Not so high speed.

Those two thick cords make it impossible to close the cupboard door.  It’s ajar about 2 inches (5 cm) along three sides.

I went to bed all optimistic about problem solved and promised sleep.

Not so high speed.

As I drifted off, sorta, I was disturbed by something all aglow in the kitchen. As if a UFO was hovering.

I turned my head, focused my bleary vision.

It’s the damn modem!!!

Blue light seeping through the narrow gaps and flooding a quarter of my kitchen!


So in those wee hours I pulled out the step stool and McGyvered a light barrier  — a dishtowel.

A Band-Aid solution.

Today comes a blackout curtain for the electronics suite. Probably cardboard, cut to size, covered with blackout fabric to go inside the cupboard.

More than two months it’s been, my modem ‘n’ I duking this out. We have got to make good.

Don’t misunderstand. It’s a fine device that delivers the Internet into my little studio.

But the amount of blue light is UN-REAL.

Even a UFO is more subtle.

Perhaps when I’m done with this holey modem, I’ll set it outside, still plugged in, to signal a landing strip for aircraft.

Or aliens. Whichever.

What’s to celebrate? Uh, wilting for starters.

Had to happen.

Always does. Not as predictably as Christmas on Dec. 25. Still, from media to bar folks, it’s had everyone talkin’.

Today it happened.

Phoenix officially hit the triple digits — 100 degrees (37.77 C) — for the first time this year.  At 2:10 p.m. and a week earlier than last year.

Records are kept on Phoenix weather, you betcha! From summer monsoons to heatstroke to air-quality warnings, seldom’s a dull moment in Arizona’s Valley of the Sun.

Speaking of air quality, Phoenix just made a nationwide list again. Ranks No. 7 as the most ozone-polluted metro area. Up from 8 last year.


No bragging rights there.

And rather contrary to a widespread perception that this desert Phoenix air’s great for health and respiratory issues. Retirees relocate here from all over the country for health. Car emissions are chiefly to blame for the shitty smog in this city of 5+ million, where drivers crowd narrow roads and sit daily in standstills.


Not that anybody’s dissuaded by this and other local unpleasantries. Phoenix’s largest county (Maricopa) also made the list of the fastest-growing county in the country for like the 4th year in a row.

Ugh ugh and ugh.

My relief lies in having no plan to stay. Even 6 months ago when I officially became a resident, I knew my stay would be short-lived … 1-1/2 years perhaps, time necessary to figure out the next move.

Anyhow, the Triple Digits arrived early. In no time, today’s high of 100 (37.77 C)  will be the low at midnight.


It was 95 degrees (35 C) in my studio apartment today.  I’m not happy. Neither are the blooms I bought just a few days ago.

They seem appropriate to mark the day’s occasion.


April 26, 2019. Happy Heating, Phoenix, Arizona




Begone gross grungy guest!

I’ve got a houseguest.

Arrived through the patio screen door that I left open briefly yesterday. My bad.

He’s made himself quite at home. Flits about as he wishes.

Displays no intention of leaving. He’s in fact downright rude about it. Laughs in my face while evading my attempts at his departure.

Rude. Annoying. Doesn’t leave me alone but won’t get out. A true pain-in-the-ass guest.

The housefly.

What is a fly’s lifespan? This I ask myself while my morning coffee brews. He tries to hone in on my ritual. He’s discovered perched alongside the kitchen sink. Smirking, challenging “swat me if you can.” 

Unprepared for his haughty arrival, I lock my sight onto his position and standing still stretch ninja-like for the nearest weapon for a swatdown: a folded moist used sheet of paper towel.

Not exactly a B2 bomber.

Aim. Arm raised.



Miss him by 2 hairs. Quick clever bastard.

He’s somewhere here.

Probably hanging out in a corner plotting his next step in a Strategy of Annoyance. Smacking his gross grimy chops over potential of water or food.

He won’t get any. Or precious little.

See, my houseguest picked the wrong girl to tangle with. I am a CLEAN freak of the highest order. Every inch of my studio apartment, from floor to ceiling, is spotless. All the time.

Even the kitchen sink’s usually wiped dry — to deter cockroaches.

They’re due any day amid this fast-warming Arizona climate and abundant goodies in this massive apartment complex. Heck, dumpsters alone offer more bountiful feasts than even armies of cockroaches could finish off.

There’s an image to wash from the brain.

A fly’s lifespan is about a month, according to google.

It’s commonly said a fly lives only 24 hours inside a residence.

Total bullshit!

He could stick around for 2 weeks, depending on conditions.

Odds of that are damn low for my houseguest in my extreme cleanliness and orderliness. Good old-fashioned German genes to the hilt!

Arizona flies are known for being plentiful, tough, aggressive. Would hafta be in this rugged brutal climate.

I’m just as tough, no, tougher.

What my guest failed to take into account is my ability to construct an arsenal. A fly-swatter, spray, a strip, for starters.

Even a Ziplock baggie containing water and several pennies hanging above an entry’s supposed to repel the dirty bastards. May give that a go outta simple scientific curiosity.

Regardless, the fate of my gross grungy houseguest is sealed. He’ll leave by force of nature or my hand.

And in less than the proverbial three days in which guests, like fish, begin to smell — thanks Benjamin Franklin for that contribution to mankind.

Moral of the story: Leave a screen door opened for no longer than necessary. Arizona flies are strong, speedy and resilient. Like the gunslingers of the old Wild West.

Bang bang bye bye fly!


Leaping from long johns to longing for lakes

These lightweight long johns will be too heavy soon enough.

They’re pajama bottoms actually. A cute patterned garment with a waistband and cinch tie designed like long johns. Ideal for mild winters. For hot springtime — such as Phoenix’s — not so much.

Phoenix came thiiiiiiiiiiis close to cracking the barrier today. The mercury reached 99 degrees (37.22 C).  On April 19, 2019. Good Friday. What’s good about it for this uber non-religious person is that it stayed a degree shy of that Triple Digits.

We know it’s coming. The light of the train in the tunnel that’s speeding toward us. It’s unavoidable. Sho ga nai, in Japanese. Can’t be helped, loosely translated.

Weather’s much talked about in the desert. As it should be.

While Phoenix fell juuuust short of its initial and official entry into the Triple Digits — and I’m grateful! — the looming inevitability gets mucho airtime on the radio. Like the annual first blizzard in New England. Stats are kept, dates written down, records are created and broken. Theirs center around snow, ours sun.

Crossing that boundary from double to Triple Digits foretells what everyone already knows! It’s psychological as much as physical. Once the Triple Digit is achieved, there’s no turning back for about six months.

I’m not new to a desert climate. Resided in southern Utah, whose climate is similar to Phoenix’s. Also visited Phoenix briefly — only way to visit, especially in summer — during the hot months. I blistered, flopped about and withered like a fish outta water.

I’m a new resident (as of October) so this is my first cycle through the seasons. Having visited, I know what’s coming. Having visited, I had an immediate built-in escape — an effusive PHEWWWWWW!!!!!! Having no real affection for Phoenix or plan to stay, I brace myself for the miserable looming Furnace by telling myself two little words:

It’s temporary.

Or three words:

You’re passing through.

I don’t need Triple Digits daily highs around 118 (47.7 C) exhausting brutal heat and yeah at least it’s a dry heat to know I don’t wanna be or stay here.

But here I be, for now, bracing for what’s quick around the corner, adopting best I can a philosophical stance — a perennial favorite for those surviving horrible circumstances and trauma.

I tell myself — or perhaps kid myself? — this:

Experience has value.

One full summer in Phoenix, then I can say I did it and be gone.

No real value there in the context of philosophy, life experience and cultivating wisdom. It’s simply what is, for now. 

Today when I got up, it was 91 (32.7 C) outside and 81 (27.2 C) in my studio apartment. A 10 degrees difference ain’t much. I shudder imagining my studio — which faces west, oh boy! — when it’s 118 outside!

The air was warm, still. I craved a whisper of a breeze.

And it’s not even HOT yet! I mean, 99 (37.2 C) is laughable. We’ll all be celebrating 99 in September!

Weeks ago I switched from flannel sheets to uber lightweight summer cotton sheets.

Now it’s time to launder and store these PJ lightweight long johns. Even rolled up, they suddenly feel like heavy heat traps.

Is there a garment light enough for sleeping in a Phoenix spring-to-summer?!

Perhaps. It’s called skin!

From long johns to longing for lakes … it’s a quick leap here in Phoenix, Arizona.

Mrs. Fry, Mrs. Perez and the Mediocrity Between

It is noble to teach oneself, but still nobler to teach others.  

–Mark Twain

What kind of teacher are you if you haven’t command of your subject?

A poor one.

Been contemplating teaching from both sides of the coin — as one who’s taught both native and non-native English speakers and been taught. My passion for education began in infancy and has not waned across the decades. “Very curious” teachers oft commented on report cards. To be curious is to be ever learning, growing and becoming.

We’ve all had ’em — singular teachers we remember long beyond formal education. We remember teachers who sucked and had no business in classrooms and exceptional teachers who knew their subjects inside out.

Between lies the Majority of Mediocrity.

Mrs. Fry – speech (arts) teacher. Mr. Spain – history. Mr. Kurtz – also history. Herr Witting – German.

Oh so different were their personalities yet each brought to the classroom a genuine passion for and command of their subjects.

And in the case of Mr. Spain, he taught not only how many fatalities occurred at any given battle — I can still see his numbers on the blackboard! — but you’d be tested on it!

Mrs. Perez – 7th-grade math. The Really Sucky instructor whose command of the subject might get a passing grade, in retrospect, but her personality did not suit the classroom. Not only that but she committed a terribly unfair act that catalyzed my father (also a keen proponent of education and adept thinking) into a private conference.

The matter got rectified but the damage was done. Mrs. Perez soured me on my own latent mathematical talents. I came to circumvent the subject as much as educational requirements permitted.

What kind of teacher are you if you haven’t command of your subject?

A poor one.

I profoundly hold that every teacher bears a responsibility — to the profession and above all the students. To be the best that you can be in your subject is more than a point of pride. It is the job and responsibility of teachers. You are serving the community, children, humankind in ways meaningful, profound and lasting.

Why would any teacher tolerate being sucky or even half-sucky? It’s a disservice to the minds and interests of students.

I’ve been told that I’m a very good teacher. Many reasons make it so. This is not a bragging point. On the contrary, I’m quite good at something I don’t aspire to do — and certainly not within this Western educational climate and society and attitudes and dumbing-down, ohmygawd the dumbing-down! I’m good at it but it’s not my calling to be in the classroom.

I’m continuously teaching outside the classroom, however! I don’t get paid obviously but being outside a school system offers a freedom essential to my nature and intelligence.

I concur with Twain. It is noble to teach oneself, but still nobler to teach others.

But how can a teacher accomplish that if s/he is incompetent?

This post is dedicated to the two teachers who left indelible marks on my psyche and mind and memory:

Mrs. Fry — the best darn teacher! You not only knew the subject (speech arts) like the back of your hand but in your bring and cheerful disposition you knew how to bring out the best in students and make a terrifying subject (for most, not me) — writing and presenting speeches — fun.

Mrs. Perez – the blemish. Whether you were adept in the subject (math) is questionable; whatever your competency, it neither endeared me to you nor earned my respect. Your “bedside manner” really sucked. I remember feeling quite convoluted and dark in your classroom — so much so that it kinda put me off math for the remainder of my formal education.

I wish I could tell every teacher this:

You’ve no real idea of the impact you’re having on your students and any particular students.

I’ll bet that Mrs. Fry wouldn’t be surprised that I remember her so vividly and positively. However, Mrs. Perez I’ll bet wouldn’t have a clue. Yet here she appears, in my post!

So why not KNOW unequivocally that you know your subject like the proverbial back of your hand and thereby are providing students with the education they need (and deserve). Then and only then are you doing your job well and meeting your responsibilities in an intrinsically noble profession.

Whatever the subject and level, every teacher shares three choices:

Shine (like my Mrs. Fry).

Suck (like my Mrs. Perez).

Swim with the Majority of Mediocrity.

Incidentally, there’s no harm in exiting a profession for which you’re ill-suited (and truthfully many teachers would better serve education by doing so). There is, however, shame in remaining in one.

Last but not least, take to heart those words of a wise, witty and wildly observant humanitarian:

It is noble to teach oneself, but still nobler to teach others.

Know cubit? Raise your hand.

I’m not average. Merriam-Webster proves it.

… though I certainly didn’t need to M-W to validate what I’ve known all my life. 🙂

Today’s Word of the Day: cubit

“any of various ancient units of length based on the length of the forearm from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger and usually equal to about 18 inches (46 centimeters)”

A factoid buried somewhere in my brain that rang familiar.

Curious, I pulled out my tape measure. The one I carry always in my daily backpack. Yes, that little one that measures only up to 6 feet. 😦

You never ever find a droplet of mascara or dusty particle of powder foundation in my backpack — or residence!

But if need something measured while out and about, I’m your gal!

I laid my outstretched arm on the bed. Measured precisely from fingertip to top of elbow bone. Twice. Like any engineer or cutter would do. “Measure twice, cut once.”

Precisely 16.5 inches.

I’m a petite 5-foot-2 (157.48 cm) so not surprising — nonetheless refreshing to fall yet again outside the average.




Think on This: Thole

Thole. Not a misprint. Or a lispy stutter. A real word.

Know what it means? I didn’t, hadn’t even seen it ’til Merriam-Webster delivered its Word of the Day into my email box. 

What I love about the free subscription is being introduced to the really odd word and its etymology.

Discovering a word that’s fallen out of circulation or may be in use but is novel or out there is pure delight to this passionate wordsmith.

I can’t but marvel at and adore its existence. Even if I never again cross paths with the word or recall its definition, just to have met a new word is a joy.

For the odd and unfamiliar bird, I like to imagine the definition before reading it.

Take thole.

Sounds like an abnormal growth or fungus under a toenail. 

In fact, thole means: endure.

Thole has a long history in the English language. It existed in Middle English in its current form, and in Old English in the form tholian, but in these modern times, it tholes only in a few of England’s northern dialects. It has, however, a linguistic cousin far more familiar to most English speakers: the word tolerate traces back to Latin tolerare, meaning “to endure, put up with,” and tolerare and tholian share a kinship with the Greek verb tlēnai, meaning “to bear.”

Examples of THOLE (courtesy of Merriam-Webster):

“There was now temptation to resist, as well as pain to thole.” Robert Louis Stevenson, Kidnapped, 1886

“They view bad weather—whether it be a temperature of minus 14 or the northerly wind that comes howling down the loch—as a pleasurable challenge rather than something to be tholed.” — Peter Ross, The Scotsman, Oct. 2012

Forced to thole severe neglect and abuse from infancy, I became a fiercely independent and self-reliant survivor and a cripple in receiving help from another. — Me, April 2019