Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Haboobies! or What I Did on my Summer Vacation

You have to understand that I didn't intend to take two months off from blogging, but it was summer, and the girls were home, and first, I took a few days off, and then it was weeks, and suddenly, at the end of July, it hit me that I had taken a summer vacation... So I waited a couple more weeks, until the girls went back to school, and then another week, for good measure, and here I am, back in your browser, hoping you haven't forgotten that I even have a blog...

Not that the summer was all fun and games.  I do live in Arizona, high temperature capital of these United States, so even before school ended, we were battling the crankiness and lethargy that invades days where the low temperatures start with the number 8.  We did hit record lows this summer... record HIGH lows, as I tried to explain to Fiona.  That means we had a couple of days when our low temperatures were the highest they have ever been; those numbers started with 9s.  We also had (are still having) what's called "monsoon" season here in the Phoenix metro area, which means that it gets humid-- taking away the one advantage we claim: "It's a dry heat!"-- and turning even the sun-baked retirees, who fled here with their aching bones from snow-packed Minneapolis and Buffalo, into whining, sweaty, babies.  During the monsoon, moist, grey, dusty air hangs heavily for most of the day, until the "storm" gathers enough momentum to move across the valley in a dust wall called a "haboob." 

These dramatic pictures I cribbed from the Huffington Post show a 2011 storm, but they all have the same defining features. The feature I especially like is how the girls giggle at the word "haboob" not just when they hear it from the weather people on TV, but for days on end, when they point to each other and say, "haboobies!" and fall down screaming with laughter. You can bet that never gets old...

Sometimes, it actually rains, after some thunder and lightning.  We often get as much as twenty solid 
minutes of serious precipitation, though usually, the rain lands somewhere across town and we only know about it because the evening news shows that people  have palm fronds ripped from the trees and crazy, patio-furniture related debris in their pools.  And, at least once each Phoenix summer, the newscast turns into an awesome action adventure show called "Who Got Stuck In the Flooded Wash?" See, that twenty minutes of heavy precip is enough to flood some of the lower lying boulevards and avenues in town, and drivers know this, because signs are posted in these lowlands with a big red slash and the actual words "Do NOT enter in heavy rain" and everything.  Some people must relish the opportunity to be seen on TV climbing out of the rear window of their floating SUV.  Or maybe they cry "NOT IT" as they start through the flooded area, hoping that will protect them, because, dammit, going around the long way is gonna make them late for that appointment and cost them money...What no one thinks of is the unassuaged scorn of the viewers at home, or bill they'll get from Fire and Rescue on top of the fine from their local municipality.  Oh well, some people just like to throw the dice, I guess... and it does make for some good comedy TV.

When I think about it, this summer vacation was a lot like the ones I remember when I was a kid, except that I had to go to work three days a week, and I never got to go to the beach.  We had some lazy mornings though, and the girls went to fun day camp at the Boys & Girls Club on my work days.  We went to the library and to the dollar movies with friends once a week, and swimming on the weekends.  And we had a couple of days when we all stayed in our PJs all day or closed all the blinds and popped some popcorn and watched three movies in a row. The best thing about this summer was the chance to share the essence of summer vacation, about the absolute value of time spent lolling on the sofa with nothing on the agenda.  There are small windows in life to enjoy low-pressure days.  I think the girls got it, because even though the first week of school was only three days long, they were still looking forward to the weekend when they could sleep late, go swimming, and shut the blinds and watch a movie.