Foggy morning, December

We finally had a good soaking rain. It has been over 3 months since we had any precipitation, and the whole place – the house, the yard, the whole city for that matter, had been covered in layers of dry gritty dust. There was a lifeless pallor over everything, keeping the color and vitality of the desert hidden from view.

While everyone in the rest of the country gets hammered by storms, here’s us:

Not that I’m asking for a hurricane (my heart goes out to everyone affected by Sandy), but a few drops here and there would be nice. Below is a lovely photo of what we Phoenicians call “the brown cloud,” caused by ozone: “Ozone is an invisible gas created when other pollutants in the air – such as those created by combustion- are heated by the sun.” Just another day for us:

And then I’m sure this doesn’t help the dust situation – summer dust storms known as Haboobs. (Yes that really is what they are called, and yes, they really do look this big and freaky)

So when we hear we are getting rain after almost 4 months, we kinda freak out. All the weather people have their sleeves rolled up, the maps are flashing all over the place, and weather is the LEAD STORY.

before the storm

What is just an average storm in any other part of the country is an event for us. I mean, it didn’t just rain…it rained for two whole days!! 

I loved it.

Sat in my jammies drinking coffee all Saturday morning, then actually got my rain jacket out of the closet (yes, it had DUST on it!), and went out Christmas shopping.

In the rain!

It was kind of exciting. Everyone had jackets and/or hats, and some even had this fancy type of nylon water shield that they would hold over head. You see them a lot in British shows.

But the cool this was, everyone was in a good mood. And mellow. No grumpiness, obnoxious yapping or complaining…just cool, you know? The rainy day vibe.

The horses loved it, too. They stood out there, just soaking it in, and getting good and muddy.

And then I woke up Sunday morning, to

FOG.

um…mom?
isn’t it time for breakfast?
over there. see? the hay?
look at those ear tips. she might be a vulcan.
talk about my ears, will you? hmph.
(there’s a foreshortening exercise for you art students)
no, seriously, where’s breakfast?
see? I told you! breakfast time!
umm nom nom nom….
mud? what mud? I don’t know what you’re talking about…nom nom nom
of course these two have to see what’s going on
what did you find, Butter?
her ears don’t work so well anymore, but her nose is juuust fine… :)

then I almost tripped over this…when you have boys, this is the kind of thing you find in your yard
and when you kneel down to take a picture of a baseball, your labs take the opportunity to climb all over you.

Let’s see what else we can find around the ol’ place…

I’m trying hard to keep my own fresh herbs

the lemons are getting more lemony. they look like limes until they begin to ripen.
this eucalyptus tree has to be over 50 years old. it’s HUGE.
looking up

ah, the challenges of living with taxidermy
this is what happens to the street in front of our house after two days of rain
this lady doesn’t want to splash her fancy schmancy car.
wuss.
the fog is already starting to burn off. I knew it wouldn’t last long.
but it’s nice while it lasted
back inside…
back to the blog, and baking christmas cookies.

Thanks for hanging out with me on my foggy desert morning! I hope you are enjoying some crisp fresh air, wherever you are.

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Arizona Haboob

Have you ever seen a Haboob?

If you’ve watched the movie Hidalgo, you’ve seen a Haboob. There’s a scene where they have to outrun a huge dust storm. I mean HUGE. You may have been thinking, “Wow,  great special effects – that can’t be real.”
While the special effects were spectacular, I can guarantee you, storms like that are real. I saw it happen last week.
This is what it looked like:
This storm was over 60 miles wide, and reached a height of 3,000 feet. It engulfed the entire Phoenix metropolitan area, otherwise known as The Valley of the Sun. My oldest son and I were out running errands at the time it hit, and as it approached us, the cloud looked like something out of a sci-fi movie, a huge black monster eating everything in its path.
While haboobs are not uncommon for this part of the world, they aren’t frequent, and as many Valley dwellers have remarked, never this huge. Most people I’ve spoken to said that they’ve never seen a dust storm of this magnitude before. The other strange thing about this one was the behavior of the storm.
Usually when you see an enormous wall of dust move across the desert, it is accompanied by fierce, gusty winds that make you feel as if you will blow over. First the wind, then the dust, blowing hard. Then there will be a strong downpour, dumping several inches of rain in a rather short period of time. And the before you know it the clouds are gone, the desert has been scrubbed clean, and everything has this wonderful damp woodsy-deserty smell.
And there will be a puddle in front of our house about the size of Lake Michigan. This is all normal behavior for Arizona monsoons.
But this storm had the creepy, eerie factor of just…hanging there. The wind stopped, and with minimal rain, the dust didn’t have anywhere to go. It was like fog, only dry and gritty, and for days afterward, everything was coated in a fine powder.
The haboob reminded me of a movie I once saw about the dust bowl days, and in the film, this woman literally goes crazy because everything in her house is covered in dust; she opens the cupboard to get the dishes, and dust just pours out; there’s dust piled up in the corners of the room, drifts of it.
And while our house didn’t look quite that bad, it sure wasn’t pretty. Especially when you throw in dog hair dust bunnies big enough to build a new dog…Am I the only one who hates doing housework? I didn’t think so.
And sometimes during weather like this I look out at my poor little British equines.
Gypsy horses certainly weren’t made for the dry, dusty, dirty desert. One of these days when I win the lottery :) I’ll have a summer place with lush green pastures for them to frolic and skip in, with daisies in their hair. Until then, they’ll just have to suffer through it like the rest of us.
I mean, a few months of unbearable heat is better than snow, windchill and below freezing temperatures, right?
Right?