Posts Tagged ‘weather’

Everything Comes in Threes

10 November 2011

Dear J-

The sky lately has been all kinds of interesting colors and filled with incredible cloud shapes but overall it has been bone-crispingly dry. I feel it in the way my helmet strap crunches as I swing it over my chin; I know it from the coughs and sniffles that have arisen in our family. Cooler weather is finally here although the need for a jacket is blunted by the bike ride: it’s nice when you’re going downhill, but if you’re warm going downhill that always means you’ll be hot going uphill and I’d rather freeze a little first.

Today was the first day this week I haven’t woken up too early from the time change — you’d think that it wouldn’t take this long to adjust to the one hours’s difference but while I would go to bed at the same tim eon the clock I’d keep waking up the same hour earlier every morning until today, when between the snooze bar and the warm cat digging his claws into me every so often my sleep was punctuated enuogh to wake me up around the time I should have left. It is a surprisingly cozy feeling luxuriating under warm covers and reading a book in the dark, but I give in to that temptation too often and have spent many late nights lately as a result.

What else? We’re heading into the weekend and I’m contemplating mutinous thoughts of not coming in at all versus going in on two of the three days we have off from work. That’ll come soon enough, though, having the full weekend back again, and next weekend will be a three-day weekend anyway if I play my cards right. There’s only so much that can be done to help with extra time, but now I think I’ll look back on the luxury of geting paid for the hours I work with a kind of bitter regret. The posting to replace me closed yesterday and though it’s not going to happen I think it would be interesting to see the list of candidates and be able to interview them, although it’s hard to see me riding this train any longer.



Triple Down

5 May 2011




Dear J-

While the rest of the region has been basking and marveling at 90-degree weather in May this week I’ve been grouchily blowing my nose and rubbing my eyes — this hot, this early means it’s been an unusually uncomfortable allergy season so far. I should look at it as a psoitive — my immune system is so strong it can fight normally benign irritants and reduce me to a soggy mess. Not today, though. I woke up to glorious fog suspended in the air and scrubbing the pollen and dust out of the air. For the first time this week it hasn’t been a race between handkerchief and distance to the nearest private spot I cann interrupt with an orgy of nose-wiping.

This week has brought road construction crews to the stretch of Genesee I ride on, between Clairemont Mesa and Governor. Although they work at night they have only made their presence known via their handiwork — ripping up the bike lane to cobblestone-level quality. I can’t help but hope that this means it’ll be repaved but the way they’ve pushed bike initiatives around here it’s more likely meant as a disincentive to bike riding. Today, though, despite having torn up the side of the road they chose to repave the middle, which meant I got to share the single lane with the speeding meteors cars become as they fall into Tecolote Canyon with me. I mentioned the fog, right? Sometimes I wonder how I made it to thirty-six, so intent am I on relying on the good five AM reflexes of strangers in cars.

It’s my last day at work this week — theVet is picking up another half day of work tomorrow — so I get to try to digest the dates I need to reschedule again. Sometimes I’m convinced that the business of sweeping things further and further ahead is counterproductive: if the dates are so elastic why bother with dates at all? Then I remember how I work: first in, first out; without a queue I’d never be able to prioritize things successfully. They talk about the fog of war cloaking movements and whoever is able to successfully anticipate (or recconnoiter) is often the victor. Things keep looming out of the fog of work each week and I would no doubt be better served if I kept chipping away instead of jumping on the next hot thing.


Cold Shoulder

21 November 2010

Dear J-

The weather has turned cold (for San Diego, which means that shorts are now uncomfortable) and so naturally when theVet’s family comes visiting today we end up barbecuing in the brief period between storms.  There’s nothing quite like Korean short ribs (galbi) on charcoal — we could have cooked inside, but the weather and timing matched up quite nicely with the opportunity presented.  Afterwards we took the two older kids out on a brief walk, cut short by the rain starting up again and curtailing any hope of going out.

At one point we’ve got all three kids clustered on the floor, Calcifer wrapped up as newborns are like a burrito:  inert, quiescent, and calmly taking us all in by turns.  He’s a watcher, which is how I’ve lived my life, observing and acting, which has led to some impressively prescient moments, but also a lot of frustrating indecision and ineffective inaction.  Of course, we are talking about a three-day-old person, so let’s not jump to hasty conclusions.

figgy continues to demonstrate (at great length and volume) how much we need her and what she provides to the family, often keeping us simultaneously entertained and frustrated.  I’d forgotten that she hadn’t had a nap today and found myself incredulously regarding a seeming demon of activity, running around at warp speed all day, fueled by a few bites of pasta and a sliver of beef and wired to be wild with her cousin, bouncing around the house until sleep overtook her like a sledgehammer.  Life is great, and I know I’ll regret saying it, but two hasn’t been impossibly difficult.


Wealth of Ways

10 August 2010

Dear J-

So yesterday I get back to the hotel and it suddenly occurs to me that the last thing I want to do is hang out with those guys: there’s nothing wrong with them, and they’re great fun to be around during an audit (the very word that strikes fear into the hearts of millions), but I’d been together with them for the last ten hours and I was done. After my obligatory underwear time (pants off, alone — there’s so much to recommend) I went to explore Anniston a bit. It’s Calhoun County, but the Oxford-Anniston Metro Area and, having seen what Oxford is like from my window, wanted to see what lay off the path in Anniston instead.

There was a sign that piqued my interest on the way home last night: “Historical Zinn Park” pointing west, so I dutifully followed and parked in the street bisecting the park. Did you ever hear the phrase “there’s no there THERE?” I tried to find some kind of historical marker, but the whole thing remains vaguely unremarkable for now — lawn, stairs, and disrepair in the ring of abandoned buildings forming its borders. It did suit my taste at the time, but only for a little bit: the wretched sense of decay made me think that I was the last person left in the world. So I end up wandering about a little more and hoping that I don’t get mugged (tourist, camera) instead.

We may be in for a couple of long, slogging days starting tomorrow. Whether or not the hours are shorter, or the scenery is different, work is still work. It has been, like the last audit trip I took, a fresh way of looking at the things I do — there are so many people who have to team up to get the parts you need. It makes me a little more humble as to what I can actually accomplish and more willing to speak up asking for help. Kublai Khan couldn’t be richer than me, you know?


Full Tank

9 August 2010

Dear J-

One day into this audit — and life in Alabama — and I think I’ve got a little handle on things. As it turns out I was the last to arrive and so the team lead was waiting for me (patiently, I hope) outside of the hotel when I pulled up. Oh, I had all kinds of wonderful plans for the trip over: I’d hook up on the GPS and plot a route over here and unerringly steer my way into the hotel like some racing driver. Instead the batteries conked out of everything I owned (there’s that remnant of last week: I don’t care what you say about making your own luck, because everything I touched then turned to crap) while on the plane and I managed to get myself pointed in the right direction. If not for the lucky phone call at the last minute, I may still be driving around in the dark of Alabama.

The weather here is not as miserable as I thought, although apparently the local sport is to comment on the weather at length and then go hide in frigid air-conditioned cold — no wonder it’s so hot out there, if everyone’s dumping their heat out that way. We scooted out to the factory, where it was educational to watch blank forgings being turned into valves I’ve pulled of the warehouse shelf. It’s interesting to put faces behind the names and voices I’ve seen on documents; somewhere out there are folks who I’ve muttered about on the phone after hanging up, and that knowledge makes me a smaller man.

There are more than enough restaurants here — and especially along Alabama Highway 21, which runs up to Jacksonville State University and then beyond to our vendor — with interesting decor and menus that I shouldn’t have to repeat my experiment last night (yep, McDonald’s is pretty much the same everywhere in the US) and I’ll do my best to avoid chains altogether. On the other hand, I don’t know that a steady diet of barbecue and fried chicken won’t kill me, and there’s not a lot of choice otherwise. Travel is about new experiences, after all, and I’ve got a tank full of gas.


March Time

6 March 2010

Dear J-

The promised rain held off until the afternoon, and then wasn’t even as dramatic it was billed to be. Meanwhile, we cowered inside all morning, even when the sun was pounding down strong, hoping that the skies wouldn’t sweep in the threatening clouds on a moment’s instant. Sometimes the anticipation is worse than the moment; it just goes to show that living afraid isn’t living at all.

If we aren’t afraid of getting a little wet, then, we’d have a chance at real life; if were weren’t held hostage to figgy’s bladder (and really, what’s to be afraid of there?) we might never have to test ourselves. There are many roads to travel and we don’t have time to go down each one, but if we never go down any, nothing will change. Sly glances and teasing, shy words aren’t enough all the time.

We are sold on a lifestyle, that you can’t have X without Y, that there are prerequisites and entry requirements. It’s faintly ridiculous to expect that the weather will always be perfect to allow for outings, but maybe it was a convenient excuse to allow us to stay home when we didn’t need to; another quiet Saturday passes unnoticed; another opportunity passed over, another weekend further along.


Weather Watch

10 February 2010

Dear J-

Even though my bike has fenders on it, it is not weatherproof; the weak link (as it often is) is the rider. I could list a long litany of faults (I need to replace my second set of pedals, now that the chainguards have fallen off the chain has a disconcerting ability to jump the chainwheel under any kind of pressure, and I still haven’t figured out the best way to get the rear fender attached — it just sort of flops around), but the main issue lies with the rider, specifically the laziness (I made a deal in my head: any kind of rain today meant I was driving, never mind that it’s supposed to be nice after noon).

You can get the finest equipment but the operator is the usual limitation, whether it’s computers that spend most of their CPU cycles idle as you’re digesting wikipedia articles, pohnes that do everything but tuck you in bed at night, cars that can drdive at illegal speeds all day (seriously, you can buy 400 horsepower engines for full-size trucks, but why?), or cameras tasked with making something picturesque out of the usual junk I point it towards. The bike fenders are there to keep me from wearing the dust of the road; they’re remarkably effective in the wet, but I also hate being dripped on, so they’re doing their job and I just need something like waterproof clothes to augment; at least I don’t have to commute in a place where it really rains, but then I might have more junk to manage instead.

Of course if we only got the perfectly adequate, we’d all be driving sensible-shoes cars like a Honda Fit/Jazz and brands like Ferrari would never have gotten off the ground; somewhere along the line we’ve convinced ourselves that either we may need it later, or our wants are just as valid as our needs. Since starting the bicycle commute in 2007, I’ve been caught in at least one rain shower per year, which finally convinced me that even if I only need the fenders a few times a year, it’s well worth not having to wipe mud off everything after a wet ride; it doesn’t stop me from looking enviously at folks in warm cars or regret not paying better attention to the weather.


Perfect Light

23 September 2009

Dear J-

The morning dawned full of fog; the world, wrapped in a thick muslin sheet sliding by outside my window, brightening by degrees but still muffled, shifting and roiling in a mysterious boil all the way to work.  I like exploring in fog; everything becomes more intimate and closed-in as vision shuts down, and you realize how much we rely on our eyes to tell us about the world.  We fumble our way through the fog, then; for as much as we believe we control, nature has a way of humbling our pride in mere moments.

I spent the day in a sort of mental fog, really; in the corner, at an unfamiliar station and unreachable by phone or e-mail.  Head down, pedal down, pushing it, uninterrupted.  Is it strange that isolation is both a luxury and a punishment?  We struggle to get our own cubicles, hoping to graduate to a (*gasp*) hard-wall office.  WITH A DOOR.  And yet we throw prisoners into solitary confinement when they do something wrong.  I’m not convinced that I’m meant to work alone all the time; it’s interesting to try it out but in the vast anechoic chamber of your mind, your lone voice has a tendency to get swallowed up by the void.

I left that terrible corner and walked out into the dry heat of a southern California fall; the sun had come and banished the fog while I was stuck inside.  I walked the short walk back to my regular desk, returning to the insistent phone and needy e-mail whispering for just a bit more time, but the sun had recharged me sufficiently; I tidied up the loose ends from the morning and set things right for tomorrow’s particular set of madness.


Sleep, baby, sleep
now that the night is over
and the sun comes
(like a god)
into our room,
all per-fect light and promises.

— INXS, New Sensation

Cloud Kiss

1 June 2009

Dear J-

I like seeing the clouds kiss the hills; it reminds me of mountain passes I’ve been through, where you can physically touch the crisp air.  We used to make the drive from Spokane to Seattle what seemed like once a month towards the tail end of high school (it was cheaper than paying freight on the specialized groceries, which required a dedicated truck); it was always thrilling to rise up out of the desert into the thick trees and moisture of the Cascades.

Here in California, the closest we come to it is heading north out of Los Angeles past Santa Clarita and Magic Mountain; we’ve always had sufficiently underpowered cars that we take things at a leisurely pace, winding up into the sky.  I prefer the sheer drama of the two places we’ve tackled the Rockies — Glacier-Waterton and Banff-Jasper.  Those are some serious mountains, and with any luck, we’ll be able to see them again in our new nuclear family unit.  If I remember right, it’s been at leasr four years since our last trip to a National Park (Yosemite), which I found remarkable for its contrasts (temperature drop was something like 60F from valley floor to valley rim in a bare thirty-minute drive) and seclusion (still miles from the closest airport).

Though it’s been mostly overcast all day, the sun is starting to drive the last stragglers of mist off the hillsides they’re stubbornly clinging to.  My skin tells me there’s still a lot of unrequited moisture in the air waiting to brew something wicked further east, in the mountains and deserts.  There beneath the still-glowering clouds random shafts of sunlight punctuate the landscape with searchlight doggedness; there we speed, away from the control the sea seeks to extend.


Weathering It

6 February 2009

Dear J-

More rain the last couple of days; safely slow in the stately Subaru (130K miles now and still as strong as ever — meaning not very — though the clutch is starting to slip in 5th and the “check engine” light has been on for the last five thousand) and warm, I watch the wipers smear the drops ineffectively, reminding myself again to change the blades when I get the chance.  After all, I’ve got a spare set in the garage.  It’s irresistibly cosy behind the wheel, dry, watching the weather slide by outside, and knowing there’s nothing to do but fiddle with the HVAC to balance the fan between the steady, sleep-inducing roar and check if my voice has improved any on any number of sing-alongs from the Ramones to Bride and Prejudice.

You can listen to the rain too, though, shutting the radio off and listening to it drum on the thin steel roof like some tropical drum; this morning we had what we used to call a Pineapple Express blowing through, warm and wet.  If you could close your eyes (still driving, remember) you’d imagine it to be blowing through your beach-front hut, now contrasting the whisper of rain on sand with the the insistent thrumming on tin roof and fronds.

But my favorite part of the rain is watching it end:  first the moisture on the pavement gets eaten away by magical patches of dry, then the clouds themselves slink away like party guests who’ve overstayed their welcome, wandering around and spilling drinks while you attempt to clean up around them, hoping that they’ll take the hint.  Clouds breaking is like that first hint of decongestion after a week of being ill:  unfamiliar, but gradually you grow to appreciate how wonderful normal is.