Manna blesses Phoenix for a moment

Was it manna from heaven? Or a dream?

Some of each.

Manna in Phoenix (Arizona) means one thing:

Rain. Precisely, monsoons. Which normally in a 3-month season (June-Sept.) provide half our annual water supply.

Normally. This year’s monsoons — bupkus. “Nonsoons” they’re being called.

Were it not for 5 million people and sprawling behemoth of concrete, freeways and vehicles, Phoenix would eerily resemble the Dust Bowl of “Grapes of Wrath.”

Then is delivered unto us a miracle.

For the record: August 28, 2019.

Rain. Wednesday evening.

So when I saw that it was RAINING — ACTUAL WETNESS!! — I exited the pub early …

… to stand, simply stand on the dimly-lit street corner, under the manna.

Phoenix rain

Manna in Phoenix for an hour in summer 2019. Spelled R-A-I-N.

It. Was. Glorious. Elevating. Refreshing.

To experience wetness … on my skin, my clothes, on my face, head, my glasses, my feet in typical flip-flips … I rejoiced.

‘Twas joyful and bittersweet.

When was the last time I saw rain? January?

Way too long anyways. It’s on record. Phoenix summer 2019 has been brutal — concurrently in Excessive Heat and Absence of Monsoons.

Everyone and everything’s feeling the pain. Some more acutely than others. I’m a water baby. Pisces. I took to pools, swimming early in life, like age 3! Water to me means Life.

Saying I’m a fish outta water in southern Arizona is a tiresome cliche — yet true.

So I stood soaking up the drops — a “regular” rain — not the torrential downpour other neighborhoods got — breathing … remembering this unfamiliar element called moisture.

I stood appreciating … reawakened to and longing for water in ways never before across MULTITUDES of residences domestically and overseas.

Then I drove home. I hoped for continued wetness. Like a child at Christmas, I didn’t want it to end. Unfortunately in my hood, it was bone dry. Sprinkled for some seconds. That’s the way of monsoons. Torrential rain here. Across the street, zip, zero, nada.

As if to prove that God is indeed cruel, this is Labor Day weekend. (Aug. 30-Sept. 1). The year’s last big blowout “while the weather’s still good” — ha! — where outdoor activities, BBQs, family vacations, camping, traffic prevail.

Weekend temps are forecast at 111 F (43.8 C). Unusually hot. Yet another Excessive Heat Warning, yawn.

And to really stick it to us, no rain in sight. One month left in the monsoon season. If the “nonsoons” remain, we’re all soooooo fucking screwed!

Thing is, going into 4 months of unrelenting HEAT and DRYNESS without replenishment from precipitation only heightened the hallelujah!!! that resoundingly rang across the Valley of the Sun on Wednesday.

‘Twas over before it began.

Roads dried up. Plants opened their arms then shriveled.

And we the people resumed being baked and grilled under a blazing sun.

Painfully apropos given a holiday weekend that’s all about parties and BBQs.

BBQ

All living creatures in Phoenix over Labor Day weekend 2019

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Move over, Pillsbury Bake-Off, Phoenix is here!

Water water everywhere … but Phoenix.

It’s the last week of August. Approaching autumn, haha, right!

And yet again Excessive Heat Warnings are in effect for today and tomorrow for us baking here in southern (and central) Arizona.

Predicted highs of 114 F. (45 C). Near record-breakers.

This current excessive heat spell is the fourth of the month. Our hottest day this month (Aug 5) was 115 (46.1C).

For comparison, the average high in August is 102 F. (38.8 C).

Equally newsworthy but more frightening is the absence of monsoons. This desert state depends on a few months of massive rainfall for its annual precipitation.

Grab the galoshes! …

… for  a whopping 0.11 inch (0.27 cm) of rain has fallen in August.

Average monthly precipitation is 0.94 inch (2.38 cm).

Our hot season — when daytime temps strike triple digits (100 F  … 37.7 C) and there remain — runs from around June to October.

That’s of 4-5 months of an unrelenting dry summertime Bake-Off. Not even Pillsbury could pull this off!

It is taxing.

It is trying.

It is time for frying eggs!

skilletegg

Not your brain on drugs but your stovetop in Phoenix, Arizona

That’s a stock photo. Sidewalk egg-frying competitions, official and unofficial, do occur.

I myself have never given it a go.

I’m partly curious and partly recoiling. I mean, if I can actually cook an egg on a sidewalk, then I’m in the fucking wrong place!! And I need to haul my a** outta here and get back to water, baby.

Water baby. Pisces. That’s me. Water is my element, the ocean my joy, my place, my natural home.

pisces

This is my first full summer in Phoenix. It’s pure bad luck that it’s been one of the driest and hottest on record.

Because it’s my first, I’ve paid attention to my experience and responses — physically, emotionally, mentally.

I’ve sought to use these taxing hot dry months that go on and on and on as an educational experience to help chart my course in current Bigger Life Choices and Demands — primarily where to live and settle down and Move No More!

I’m 62. I’ve moved like 60 times. Most on my own — independent, without movers or much if any help.

It is enough. I’ve got maaaaaaaybe one more move left in me. Which is why it’s SO incumbent upon me to make a positive and lasting choice of location.

Like 114 F. (45.5 C) … on August 28 … Phoenix, Arizona. Not leading that list.

There is this silver lining however.

anti-theftAZ

Steinbeck’s spirit slogs along in the Southwest

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. NOT!

More like the Dust Bowl from “The Grapes of Wrath.”

(A classic novel for illiterate millennials whose notion of literacy is largely-illiterate social media posts.)

The heat and dryness go on and on and on …

Was 114 F (45.5 C) the past coupla days here in Phoenix / southern Arizona.

We’re in a “cooldown” at a mere 106 (41.1 C)!

Won’t last. In a few days it’s back up to 110 F (43.3 C) … at the end of August, when, in other regions, autumn’s already peaking through the seasonal veil.

More disconcerting than the severe heat is the absence of monsoons.

Bear in mind that Phoenix is bone dry 9-10 months of the year, thus is entirely dependent on a few months of monsoons for its annual water supply.  This includes the ecosystem (such as replenishing cacti root systems).

So it’s not we the people who most suffer from the absence of monsoons but Mother Earth and her living creatures. My heart’s aching for them.

Nonsoons” they’re being called here in the Valley of the Sun (aka Phoenix / southern Arizona).

How bad is it? Take a gander.

norain

Translation: 0.27 INCH = 0.68 cm …. normal of 1.55 inches = 3.9 cm … deficit of 1.28 inches = 3.2 cm.

The monsoon season runs from June through September — with July-August often being the wettest.

Note that these figures are the TOTAL “precipitation” we’ve had since June.

Bone-fucking-dry.

Abnormally hot.

The Dust Bowl of 2019 is upon us.

As exhausting as the extreme heat is, month after month after month after month, it’s the lack of moisture that’s the killer.

Particularly for this water baby.

The undisclosed irony is: Phoenix remains one of the FASTEST-GROWING cities in the country! And the COUNTY where I live … the fastest-growing!

Water water everywhere … or nowhere.

Welcome to Phoenix, Arizona 2019. Darn Dust Bowl.

Any day now I expect to look out my car window and spot John Steinbeck slogging along the side of the dry dusty road.

These blackout curtains are hot stuff!

I like to give credit where credit is due.

And credit is due these curtains.

Silk Home blackout curtains.

They do more than block out the light … which they do extremely well.

I know. I’m a night owl. My normal bedtime is 4 a.m. Sometimes as late as 5:30-6 a.m., thank you insomnia.

I’m also incredibly light sensitive. Like to surreal levels! Like alien-not human levels! A sliver of light’ll wake me up. So my sleeping space needs to be pretty pitch black, like a cave.

I’ve tried lots and lots of blackouts. Some I’ve purchased. Some I’ve fashioned in my skillful creative McGyver ways.

These Silk Homes rock at keeping out the daylight so this vampire can sleep.

However, perhaps my greatest enthusiastic endorsement lies in their insulating thermal quality.

I live in southern Arizona — desert Phoenix. It is f-ing hot.

Blazing sun.

Daytime temps from 100 to 120 F. (37.7-48.8 C) for 4-month stretches. Midnight lows at 100 degrees (37.7 C). Currently it’s 113 degrees (45 C)  in early evening (4:44 p.m.)

Brutal conditions that put any window covering and sunshade — down to your windshield  shades — to a test.

Moreover, my little studio is particularly challenged by sunlight from sunrise to sunset  — as one of two of its windows faces east, the other west.

Nice! … in winter! Brutal! …  in summer.

Naturally the curtains are kept closed to keep out the sun and keep in the air-con cool.

However, I do need to crack them open to let in a little natural light.

And I am ALWAYS impressed — if not a little alarmed — by the curtain’s temperature! The thermal side facing the window is so warm, you could toast a slice of bread!

That hot thermal surface affirms just how much heat they’re absorbing … how much heat they’re keeping OUT of my residence!

So yeah, these Silk Home blackouts – thermal/insulating curtains — best I’ve ever had! Plus they drape well, look stylish and are available in a variety of pleasing colors.

(BTW, this is a purely personal endorsement …  it’d be cool if one day Silk Home reads this!)

I got mine at Costco (online — as I needed extra-long, not available in-store).

And the price, omg! About $30 for a pair!

Kudos! They’re a keeper!

Silk Home blackouts

Silk Home Blackout Thermal Curtains

“But it’s a dry heat” – and fatiguing as f*ck

Winter fatigue gets all the attention and airtime.

Summer fatigue — heat fatigue — just as real.

This is my first full summer as a resident of Phoenix, AZ — aka the Valley of the Sun. (Makes the hideously crowded Los Angeles-of-the-Southwest sound sooo much nicer!)  

Heat here starts early and runs long … from June to October. Four months of Triple Digit days that begin at a “cool” 100 F (37.7 C) — official entry into the triple digits always garners headlines and elicits dread for what’s ahead — then escalate into 115-120 F (46.1-48.8). Not uncommon for it to be 100 F (37.7 C) at midnight.

“But it’s a dry heat.”

The running line here. The lack of humidity has its challenges. Still, Phoenix is an oven. Creatures bake. You bake. And yup, egg-frying contests on sidewalks ain’t a rumor.

dryheat

Summer relief comes intermittently with the monsoons. Most people think Arizona’s just hot dry desert. SOOOOOOOO not the case!

Not only does the state have VERY varied climates — from Snow Country to the north to Brutal Desert to the south — but it receives very powerful and dramatic monsoons between, officially, June-September — though in practice more like July and August.

Except this year. “Nonsoons” they’re being called. Virtually no monsoon activity.  We are in a heap of trouble.

My first summer in Phoenix has been tough. Educational. Memorable — as most firsts are. I want to capture the highlights while they’re blazing in my face.

I’m Tired of Blazing Blue Skies

Sure, clear bright blue sunny skies are great — ESPECIALLY if you’ve lived under miserable constant gray damp cold sunless skies of the Pacific Northwest. Every day I see the sun — even in excess — I’m reminded of where I’ve been and am in gratitude to no longer be there.

Still. Imagine a humongous blue canvas hanging in your home for months on end. Sure, it’s a pretty blue but after a while it feels flat, redundant. My eyes, my mind hunger for visual stimulation, for something OTHER than Blue Sunny Sameness.

True, this Sameness is exacerbated by the absence of monsoons, their incredible cloud formations, torrential downpours, lightning, haboobs (dust storms). What clouds we have seen pass too quickly. It’s Back to Blue. The upbeat version of “Back to Black” by Amy Winehouse but still depressing in its way.

Heat is Exhausting

I’m of European Nordic heritage. I’m not built for this. I’m wired for cold — DRY, please! I’m not in my element. It’s simple Biological Dissonance.

I‘m Tired of Living in Containers

Take my home for starters. A tiny studio with two windows. One faces east — thus is bathed by (hot) morning light — and the other west — thus is subject to summer blaze.

Thermal blackouts are imperative to keep out the natural elements: the heat and sun … and keep in the cool of air-conditioning.

I can’t remember the last time I got to open my curtains and windows! Oh wait! Like June!

I am ALL ABOUT natural light and fresh air. I REALLY need both more than most people. I’ve ticked off more than one past roommate by opening a window in cool weather!

Having to keep my studio sealed up is tantamount to a prison cell. My brain cells rebel. My mood shifts to DEPRESSIVE. To combat that, I often crack a curtain to allow in some natural rays — at the expense of losing cooled air and related cost.

I’m Tired of Life in An Airplane Cabin

EVERYWHERE you go in Phoenix is air-conditioned (sometimes to the Arctic Zone, which presents its own issues).

You’re breathing recycled manufactured air everywhere for months on end as you bounce from one air-conditioned space to the next. From your home to your car. Your car to your workplace to store to cafe to fill-in-the-blank.

Sharply contrasting life in the airplane cabins is the Space Between — the Phoenix Furnace. You do not linger there. In fact, you’d RUN through it to the closest air-conditioned space if only you could! Truth is, the HOT forces you to move slowly if you can move at all. The heat does not fuel your zip. It zaps it.

Some people fare better than others but every body is affected. Articles on surviving the heat abound. Excessive Heat Warnings are a norm. People die from it. Phoenix heat is as deadly as winter freezes …. just not talked about or appreciated outside the region.

Point is: Air-conditioning is ubiquitous because it has to be. It enables us creatures to survive. Nonetheless, it’s artificial recycled air — an airplane cabin — for months. My body, my lungs yearn for natural air. But I sure as hell ain’t gonna go hang around outside in 115 (46.1 C) for it! It’s an effort just getting from my studio to my car!

Excessive Heat Zaps My Will

This is somewhat surprising. I live in far too much solitude in a tiny studio.  Whether it’s to the gym or nearby favorite craft brewery,  I need to get out, meet people, TALK with humans, engage beyond the confinements of four walls exacerbated by the dampening effects of thermal curtains, closed windows, the constant running of a fan and air con.

It’s all I can do to move.

Even as I know my well-being and health require getting out, CONSIDERABLE effort is required to lift myself up, face the blast of the furnace, drive with air-con blasting and deliver myself into another air-conditioned spot

The mystery is that even when I’m indoors, not directly in the heat, I still feel the heat. It zaps my will. Sucks the life outta me. Frighteningly, it prods me toward an eternal siesta from which I’d never awaken.

Climate Control is Costly

Air-conditioning strains the budget. I keep my space at 78-79 F (25.5-26.1 C) — which many folks consider rather warm. I’m tough — definitely not a Whining Snowflake Millennial!! — and will endure discomfort to cut costs. That said, I’m ready for my electric bill to return to a reasonable level. Really ready.

In sum …

The extended Phoenix summer is at the halfway point. Come mid-October generally, this excessive oppressive heat lifts and the best, most temperate time — envied by America’s wintery regions! — begins.

Nuthin’s free in life. We PAY for pleasant winters with brutal summers.

 It’s official. I’ve got Heat Fatigue. 

The will to endure has been replaced by the need for it to be over. Think of it like the holidays. You feast on carbs, meals, sweets, drinks. Come January, you’re beyond ready for regular food in moderate amounts!

Heat Fatigue deserves equal attention and airtime given to Winter Fatigue.

Perhaps it doesn’t get its fair share ’cause everyone’s too zapped to speak and write! (haha)