home, -ish

We moved! With no disasters. The cats were incredibly good.

IMG_4892.jpgOverlooking a La Quinta parking lot, I can’t remember which one.

We got here and had three snowstorms in March to welcome me back to true winter.IMG_5014

But eventually things have changed from looking like this:B7979491-54E9-4246-A373-96D0788D6052 (1)

To looking more like this:IMG_5164.jpg

And this:IMG_5200

And this:IMG_5190

This is what spring looked like when I was growing up. It’s very strange both to remember this landscape, because it was my default for so many years, and to find it completely unfamiliar, because it has been so removed from my reality for so many years.

In any case, we made it. And I have been knitting – as soon as we got here, I had to start making a hat, because it was really REALLY cold, and I had foolishly packed all my handknits to go on the moving truck, which took about a week to reach us. So I’ll show you those soon. Until then, have a birch tree.IMG_5118

Out of sync

I know I really can’t complain about the weather we have here – sunny and 75 pretty regularly; this past weekend was gorgeous, and I sat outside for hours and accumulated a dozen mosquito bites. Objectively speaking, it’s amazing weather. But I imprinted on northern climes, and it just. feels. wrong. to have this kind of weather in November.

Ah well. This is what the desert looks like in fall-turning-to-winter.  

 

 

 

 

And bonus desert cat (his camouflage would be pretty good if he closed his eyes).  

August in the desert

August in the desert is not the most pleasant of months. We had a visiting dignitary at work earlier this week, and in the introduction, my boss said, “And it’s a true sign of her dedication that she’s come down here to see us in August.” But on a different day last week, I walked out of work to see these clouds:

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It was still fairly muggy, but the temperature had dropped below 90 degrees for the first time in yonks, and I’d been cooped up inside for days, so I went for a walk.

It’s interesting to see little bits of greenery pop up wherever water can collect:

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I also really liked how these trees looked like an elderly lady’s crossed knees.IMG_0987

It seems that the acacia trees are over for the summer, and have been for a while, but you still seem to find tiny yellow flowers scattered in nooks and crevices.IMG_1004

The prickly pear have all fruited, and the tunas (as they’re called in Spanish) are this amazing burnished burgundy, to which my iPhone doesn’t really do justice. I’ve seen people harvesting the fruits recently, too – people make a lovely jelly from them. (You can also eat the pads of the cactus, or nopales, although the one below looks a little unappetizing. I ate prickly pear fries in the northern part of the state around New Year’s, and they were tasty, mildly sweet and a little juicy.)IMG_1035

You have to respect people who are willing to brave the spines, tiny and big, to make food from the prickly pear. Sometimes it feels like everything in the desert that might hold a little moisture is guarded by spikes, to keep away thirsty marauders.

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The clouds never turned into anything more threatening – by the end of my walk, the sun had come out, turning all the wildflowers-gone-to-seed and grasses into gold.
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Monday? Tomorrow? WHAT.

So… it’s Sunday night already? How did that happen?

The weekend was a bit of a wash because I had a big work thing on Friday that simply wore. me. out., and I mostly spent the weekend recovering. It’s depressing that something super mentally taxing, where you’re constantly “on,” focusing intently, ends up making you feel like you’ve been run over by a semi truck, when you don’t actually burn any more calories than normal or gain any fitness, because you haven’t actually been doing anything physical.

(Though, embarrassingly, when I woke up Saturday my legs were a wee bit sore from standing much of Friday – embarrassing because it brought home exactly how much I normally sit each day. I would really love to get a standing desk contraption, but I’m fairly picky about how my computer is set up, and I can’t find one that would meet my requirements without spending ~$600. I’m sick of sitting all day, but not yet that sick of sitting all day.)

In any case, we went out to dinner on Friday night, where this lovely beacon of G&T finally awaited me (sorry for the repeat from Instagram):

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And then I slept and slept and slept.

Saturday I exercised, and got a manicure/pedicure, and listened to the thunder and torrential rains that descended while I was in the salon. Then I picked up tamales for our dinner, and took a quick picture of the monsoon running through our arroyo before heading in to devour tamale deliciousness:

IMG_0851When I was approaching our parking lot, Don Julio, one of the three local feral cats we feed, saw me from the side of the road, and followed me home. He and Daisy, another of the ferals, practically chased me to the front of our apartment, where their food sat in its dish, soaked and turned to mush. Don Julio’s head and chest were wet, but the rest of him was dry; Daisy looked pretty much completely dry, so they weathered the monsoon. (It is entirely characteristic that Daisy seems to have done so more effectively than Don Julio.) I don’t think I’ve ever seen them come so close to me before, but the rain must have driven all the lizards and mice into their hidey-holes, and they clearly really wanted dinner.

(The third feral, Stripey, is friendly, and was sitting in our apartment in absolute comfort throughout the whole storm.)

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Different day, but pretty much what Stripey usually looks like when he’s inside.

I did experience one crafting triumph this weekend, though, because after ripping back yet more rows of my Talavera sweater, I finally figured out how to read the lace! So while I still make mistakes – usually skipping a yarnover, or failing to knit into it on the next row – I can now go back and put in the yarnover after the fact, and get back on track, rather than having to tink back for yonks. (I can’t remember if I’ve said that I’m holding laceweight double for this sweater, but I am, and so tinking is just that little bit more annoying.)

And excitingly, I have just about reached the point in the pattern where I divide for the underarms, which will feel like real progress. I think, though, that I’m going to add a couple more repeats to make it a little bit longer (it’s going to stretch with blocking, I realize, but inevitably when knitting gets longer, it also gets narrower, which for me will be Entirely Unnecessary and Counterproductive, so I hope to avoid that. And while the styling in the magazine is lovely, I don’t wear fit-and-flare dresses like the model in the photo shoot, so will be looking for it to hit a bit lower on the torso).

We won’t talk about the baby blanket… (I need to wind another skein and just haven’t felt like it!).

It was a relaxing weekend. I could really use another one.

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I cannot get enough of the red-orange-yellow gradients you get in the flowers here.

Cabin fever 

Is that what you call it when it’s too hot to go outside?

I associate it with stories of frontier families snowed in for winter, where, when spring comes, neighbors wander by the cabin to find the family went mad from forced proximity and bludgeoned each other to death. (Or ate each other. I’m not so good on frontier history. I grew up in the land of the pilgrims and the Revolutionary War, after which, we were informed, some other things apparently happened in other, less important parts of the country).

But it seems a pretty good term for what happens when stepping outside feels like walking into an oven, where the heat feels like something alive but not sentient, simply a force to be endured. It’s the time of year when you walk out of the house at night and think, well, that feels better, then realize that it’s still 96 degrees.

It’s also the time of year when the creepy crawlies outside start to get fed up with the heat, too. We apparently have some kind of haven for spiders above our bathroom ceiling; last year around this time, we’d walk in and turn on the light and find a dozen baby spiders on the bathroom ceiling; this year, we discovered that was very much seasonal. Baby spiders here aren’t all that small, so all I can say is thank god the husband is willing to do spider duty.

But the spiders aren’t so bad. Mostly I miss being out in the sunshine and fresh air, going for walks and looking at the plants and animals in the arroyo. (It might be cool enough to walk at 5:30-6:00 in the morning, but let’s not get crazy here.)

In the meantime, have a picture of some oleanders, taken between my door and mailbox as the sun went down.

Hitting the century mark

I know it’s not June yet, but it looks like summer here: we hit 100° yesterday, for the first time this year. We’re predicted to hit at least 100° for the next five days, and the next five after that only drop to the upper 90s. It’s about the time of year when everyone hunkers inside during the day, and goes out at night, when it’s still hot, but not blistering. This afternoon I opened our west-facing screen door to let in the local friendly semi-feral, and the metal burned; the cat trotted in and immediately flopped full length on the poured-concrete floor in a puddle of floof.

I’m not sure how well I’ll be able to show the heat in photographs, because 100+° here looks much like 75-100° here: blue skies, clear air, golden light. Maybe the glare is a little brighter, the colors around you a little more bleached, and the world  a little emptier. We’ll see. You may just get a lot more indoor pictures, of cats and crafty projects. But for the moment, have a few pictures of what it looks like here before walking to the mailbox makes the sweat trickle down your neck.

fluffy pink-tipped flower

purple cactus flower

tall pink flowers with dry stalks

cactus bud and agave

poppy and pavement

purple cactus fruit

citrus bush

red-orange flower on green bush