Coffee heat rising

Up the Hill Again…and back

Ugh. Doing this little climb every morning for the next eight days is going to be a challenge. Not because I can’t do it but because, as usual, I don’t wanna do it. 😀 And because as also usual there are a zillion other things I’d rather be doing. Loafing, for example.

Got a late start yesterday, having foolishly turned on the computer to check email and take a “quick” look at the Internet: always a mistake. By the time I got out of the house, the sun was fully risen, rush-hour traffic was in progress, and I could not find a place to park at the trailhead. So to my intense annoyance I had to turn around, head back down annoying 7th Street to the “Visitor Center,” which because of its entrance off a high-speed major thoroughfare is tricky to get into and tricky to get out of. A boondoggle of recent construction, this fine facility at least has enough parking, most days.

But it’s about 3/4 of a mile from the trailhead — maybe more than that, given that that the trail there winds a little. So that added about a mile and a half to the hike. Pile on the mini-heat wave we were supposed to have on Tuesday, and I was not a happy camperette.

I started out in hummingbird mode — hummingbirds being creatures given to constant rage — and continued pretty much in the same vein. That did not help my attitude about this project, which is, shall we say, jaundiced.

Women who hike for fitness like to bring a friend, and they like to yak. Apparently most women have no clue how far the female voice carries across the desert. Two women babbling at each other can be heard a good half-mile away.

Which might be OK if they had anything interesting to say. They don’t. Hiking, slenderizing women talk about three subjects and only three subjects: their diets, their friends (or roommates), and the office. That’s it. Apparently they think of nothing else. So not only is the chatter of their voices annoying, the fact that they have fuckin’ nothing to say is equally irritating.

Then we have the manners characteristic of the hordes that run up and down the Phoenix Mountains.

You know… A hiker coming downhill customarily has the right of way on a trail. This is because momentum makes it harder for a person walking downhill to stop, especially if — as in the Phoenix Mountain parks — the trails are rocky and littered with roller-bearing stones. If you meet someone coming down as you’re going up a narrow trail, you’re supposed to step to one side to let that person get by. The reason is obvious, if you have ever walked either up or down a rocky mountain trail.

But bear in mind that the trail in question is not narrow. It’s a good fifteen or twenty feet wide — it used to be a road for automobiles, and still bears some of the asphalt laid, decades ago, for that purpose.

The  broad thoroughfare that goes all the way up Shaw Butte is so heavily thumped with daily hiking and mountain-bike traffic that there are two traces cleared of roller-bearing scree all the way from the trailhead to the top. In many places, there are three of them. So, if you see someone coming down at you or if you come up behind someone walking slower than you’re going, the logical (polite…) thing to do is to step one or two paces to the left or the right and go around them on the adjacent trace.

But that’s not what these bitches do.

They come up behind you, yakking blithely all the way, and they tailgate you! They come right up your ass and tromp along at your heels. So you have to step aside, stop, and let them pass.

Or, if they see you coming downhill and they’re climbing up below you, they step into the trace you’re using and dare you to keep walking.

You understand: there’s no point in this. With two and sometimes three traces of beaten path — relatively free of loose stones and small outcroppings — there’s no reason to insist on getting in someone else’s way.

Yesterday morning, I took one pair of them up on the dare. Admittedly, one of them was a guy. But he also was an airhead. These trails are populated with airheads. Believe me.

So I’m headed downhill on one of two parallel traces on this wide trail. This guy and his woman are coming up. I see them. They see me. It is obvious that they see me, from a fair distance away. So they march into the trace that I’m coming down on and proceed uphill straight at me.

I think, f*ck you, and just keep on walking.

We are practically bellybutton-to-bellybutton before the oaf steps aside.

Meanwhile, because I’ve made a late start, the sun is well up over the nearby mountains, and so it quickly gets passing warm on the trail. Fortunately I’ve brought plenty of water and dressed in layers. But that notwithstanding, by the time I got about 2/3 of the way to the top, I was damned hot.

I do not like being damned hot. That is why I usually have enough sense to leave the house before sunrise…

Then we have the view. The trail up North Mountain is best described in one word: boring. It is a boring trail devoid of most wildlife, which has been scared off by the hordes of device-connected, “music”-jangling, yammering humanity. The view off the side of the trail is just plain ugly.

Phoenix sprawls to the north — way to the north now — of the Mountain Preserves. What spreads out below you is mile on mile on mile of elbow-to-elbow ticky-tacky developments, commercial strips, and industrial slum. A huge high school looms in the near distance: it looks exactly like a prison. Even on a clear, relatively low-smog day, it is a dreary view.

Just below the top, I paused to swig a swallow of water. An older man also paused on the point and said hello. I said I sure was glad I was born 50 years too soon to go to a school that looks like a jail. He laughed and said, “Me, too!”

So I need to find some other hiking venues. This morning I probably will go to the flats behind North Mountain. Absent the rather precarious climb I’ve described before, the area really doesn’t have a good place to trot up and down hills. But you can walk from Peoria Ave. to Thunderbird, which is about 1.8 miles. Trails allow for a wandering path, and two of them will take you up low rises. So if a person walks at a fast clip, she presumably can get at least a little bit of a workout. Better than sitting in front of a computer, anyway.

Today I have to meet some friends for lunch at 11:30, so will need to get in some pass at exercising and still have time to get home, get cleaned up, paint my face, and get dressed. Since I didn’t get home from yesterday’s junket until almost 10 a.m., I need to go someplace closer, easier to park, and faster to walk.

Enough is enough…and I’ve barely begun!


The Yellow Skies of Arizona

So this afternoon Tina and I are about to leave our favorite Tempe restaurant, after having loafed and grazed for a couple hours. It was chilly when we arrived — hence our taking up an indoor table instead of our usual patio throne. Peering through a window, she says, “It looks like it’s getting colder out there.”

And yes, it surely does seem to have grown darker. “Some cloud cover must be coming in,” say I.

But no.

What made the sky darker was smog.

The worst smog I’ve seen in Arizona since before my son was born.

Since he’s some 40 years old now, the filth in the air is thicker than it’s been in over 40 years! Literally, the sky has a yellow cast. The touristy little hills at Papago Park, just east of the freeway — within (reasonably healthy) walking distance thereof — looked hazy gray through the dirty air.

Cripes. No wonder my head is stuffed up to the point where my teeth hurt! This is the reason we left Southern California!

If I had a camper, I’d throw the dogs, a jacket, and a couple clean shirts into it and head for northern Arizona. Right now. And if I still had the ranch? Well, I’d prob’ly be living there these days.

Makes Prescott look better & better.

Dust Abatement Update

Yes. So…dust abatement in Phoenix: The Cox guy did show up yesterday afternoon. He did dig a trench across the alley and he did reconnect the cable line and while he was at it he saw the previous service dude had made a mess of the inside of the cable stanchion thing in the alley and so he attempted to fix that.

The phone is working again and my computer is more or less online.

So, yeah: dust abatement is apparently what we need.

Yarnell looks better and better.

Papago Buttes. Joe Flood from Washington, USA – Flickr, CC BY 2.0,

Eclipse: Low-Impact Version

Mercifully, Arizona was not in the path of the total eclipse. (It’s not like we don’t have enough tourists.) (And besides, what would the poor critters do with 100-degree-plus heat?) But we did get a nice partial eclipse.

A partial eclipse has its own Kewl. Why?

Well…y’know those DIY cereal-box projectors you see plugged on the Internet? Trees with lots of leaves will do something very similar. So, for that matter, will a swimming pool. So that means that during a partial eclipse, the shadows cast by a tree graced by a halo of small leaves, such as an olive tree, will display 87 gerjillion iterations of the crescent sun evinced during said eclipse.

The effect is weirdly wonderful:

Strange, strange… Does a dog notice, even?


Be thou our vision
O Lord that thou art…

Banner Image of the Day: DepositPhotos

Solar eclipse


Batten down the hatches!

Sez the US Weather Service:

* From 1 PM MST this afternoon through late tonight
* near-record levels of moisture will result in heavy rainfall
  with any thunderstorms that develop this afternoon and evening.
  Localized accumulations over one inch in a very short amount of
  time may lead to flash flooding.

You should see the black mass to the east. Something bloody scary this way comes. The sky is grumbling and mumbling angrily, and it’s wayyyy too early for those shenanigans: only 5:00 p.m.

Locally, only Faux News is covering the storm, amazingly enough. But maybe not: local news coverage is basically dead. The National Weather Service is reporting it, but in a technical way that most of the troglogdytes couldn’t begin to figure out. This is why we need strong local news media.

Oh well. We do have dogs. The dogs are visibly scared. Managed to get them fed and wrung out. Now they’re hiding in the house.

Welp, I’d better go disconnect the computers from their power sources and check that the lanterns have batteries.

Enjoy, those of you who live in more temperate climes! 😀

Image: DepositPhotos, © outsiderzone

Monsoon redux…

So if we didn’t get hit very hard by the monsoon the night before last, well…. Last night it noticed us. One of those move-away-from-the-windows gales blew through…HO-leee sh!t. The lightning show was spectacular and staccato: flash-flash-flash-flash-flash-flash It went on for I don’t know how long, but eventually the wind delivered hail and then one helluva rainstorm.

The power went out twice for a total of about three hours. As usual, the Internet is still up and down — for reasons impossible to comprehend, Cox’s service invariably crashes when it rains. :-/ They must string their cable on telephone poles.

So most of the debris is now shoveled out of the pool, except for the layer of dust. As soon as the skimmer finishes capturing the last of the palm BBs and piling up the last of the leaves in a corner, it’ll be time for Harvey to go in and vacuum up the dirt.

This will clog the filter, which will mean I may have to backwash today.

Conveniently and inconveniently, today is shock-treatment day, so tomorrow is backwash day anyhow.


[an Anna’s hummingbird just flew up and almost landed on the Macbook’s monitor! 😀 I’m wearing a pink shirt, so he probably thinks I’m the biggest flower he’s ever seen!]


Where were we? Yes: backwash. Normally one has to backwash after shock-treating, which is a bit of an inconvenience because one has to perform a contraband maneuver that will result in a $2000 fine if one is caught at it. So, one must be…ahem…discreet about it.

Having to backwash before tonight’s dose of hyperchlorination and then probably having to sneak out and do it again tomorrow is going to be a PITA.

Sometimes the pool doesn’t require backwashing after a shock treatment — over the past month or so I’ve only had to jump through that hoop a couple of times. But it’s still overcast and wet as a sauna this morning, which means we’ll likely get another of those storms tonight. So one way or another — chlorine zap or no — I’ll probably have to do it again tomorrow, anyway.

I’m supposed to take some friends to breakfast tomorrow, and that will complicate matters. One would like to get these chores out of the way before the sun comes up. But that ain’t gonna happen tomorrow morning.

Got through half the mark-up for the new index yesterday and hope to finish that chore today — though it’ll consume most of the waking hours.

And so, away…

Banner image of the day: Deposit photos, © arhip4