Time for some short-attention span blogging.

Remote control misfire: I TiVoed the movie, “Hollywoodland,” a few weeks ago, and was looking forward to having some free time to watch it — and that moment came Sunday night. I reclined on my chair, pressed play, clicked on the information button to get a little blurb on the plot, and I couldn’t read it. It was words, but it was scrambled. I know my eyesight is poor, but this was borderline dyslexia. So I squinted and leaned closer to the TV screen and realized… it was in Spanish. I recorded the movie from HBO’s Latino channel. Argh.

Corn dogs, anyone? So on Monday afternoon I was in this new development anchored by Home Depot three blocks from home when I came across Wienerschnitzel! Yes! Previously, the closest Weinerschnitzel to my home was a 10 to 15 minute drive away. Much too far. I ordered a chili dog, a chili burger and two corn dogs to go. When I reached the window, I told the woman, “I love Wienerschnitzel! When did you open?” She said, “Last Friday. Are you from California?” And I said, “Yup.” Apparently, I’m not the only one from Cali who screamed for joy.

The Californiacation of Arizona continues. We have invaded your state, we’re clogging up your freeways, and now our fast food joints are clogging up your arteries! (more…)

110 degrees

Every Arizona summer is scorching hot, but this year is one of the worst ever. Two weeks ago, the state broke its record for most number of days in a year with 110 degree temperatures — 32 days! The old record was 29 days in 2002. On average, we only get 10 of these super-hot days a year.

Telling myself “it’s a dry heat” doesn’t help when I walk outside and it feels like I just walked into an oven. We have this rule when we go out. We call it the “one-minute rule.” To minimize our global warming-induced miserableness, we give ourselves one minute to go from our air-conditioned, parked car to our air-conditioned destination, whether it’s a restaurant or a store.

So this past Sunday, the TV meteorologist predicted a five-day forecast of 104 to 106 temperatures, and I actually yelled, “All right!” because it was going to be cooler. Let me repeat — 104 to 106 degrees, and I’m happy. How sad is that?

Another month of this and we’ll enter the pleasant part of desert living — mostly 80s and 90s and sunny skies — in the fall and winter. We do run into a rough patch in January when the overnight weather dips to below freezing and we have to cover our fruit trees to protect them. But then it’s pleasant for another few months until temperatures start reaching the century mark in May. That’s when I start complaining about the weather and start eyeing flights to the Bay Area.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It’s off to the gym I go

When children leave for college, some parents leave their kids’ rooms untouched, in pristine condition, so when they come back for the holidays or during summer vacation, it’s the same as they left it (without the piles of clothes on the floor, of course). But not us.

When little m went off to college, Miiko cleaned it out and moved all her stuff into the smallest bedroom, and turned her much bigger old room into a mini-home gym. That was in November, and incidentally, that was the last time we actually visited our regular gym. Why drive two miles to the gym when I can just walk across the hall from my home office and work out? When little m came home for the holidays last fall, and Miiko broke the news to her, I remember her saying in an annoyed tone of voice, “Uh, mo-ooom? Some parents leave their children’s rooms the same. Forever!”

Some do. But not us!

Her room is prime real estate. Two rooms, actually. A regular room with several steps that lead up to a second, octagon-shaped room, just big enough to fit her bed. Sunny. The highest point in the house. A princess in her castle. I would have been annoyed, too.

But now it was our gym. And we used it regularly. Months ticked by. Every month, our regular gym deducted our membership fees. We considered canceling our memberships, but in the back of my mind, I was going to go back. You know, next week. Some day. Real soon. (more…)

Can I have your autograph?

It’s always cool to instantly bond with strangers – chatting with other dog owners at the park, befriending other backpackers in a foreign country, or simply bonding with the cashier at a store. The connection is always short, but it’s often about something you’re interested in or passionate about. Last night, I was at Barnes and Noble, picking up Lee Child’s latest thriller when the cashier goes, “I’ve read all his books!” So, that was my cue to say, “Yeah, isn’t he awesome?”

So we gabbed a bit, and I tell the cashier, “He was in town recently doing book signings at the Costco in Gilbert and the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale. And I thought about going, but then I realized I’m too old to get autographs!” And once I said that, it slightly depressed me. I walked out of the bookstore, pondering what I just said and what it meant. Was I really too old? Growing up, I was an uber-fan and loved getting autographs of sports heroes and writers I admired.

When mom got me Willie Mays’ autograph in the fourth grade, it was my most prized posession until dad got me Willie McCovey’s autograph in the seventh grade. In my teens, I collected comic books and baseball cards, and got them signed. When I was 16 or 17, I wrote an eight-page letter – eight pages! – to mystery novelist Max Allan Collins, telling him how brilliant he was, how he inspired me to become a writer and how I’ve read everything he has written except his first two out-of-print paperbacks. A month later, a few days before Christmas, Collins sent me a brown package. I ripped it open, and it was copies of his first two books – and they were autographed! (more…)

The weed is dead

It’s over. I lost. My neighbor is the winner of the 2007 Tallest Weed Contest. This past week, I hired a new gardener, pointed to my tallest weed – about 4 1/2 feet tall – and told him not to rip it out. Well, this Saturday, during a two-hour cleanup, one of his workers pulled it out of the ground. The gardener rang the doorbell and told me the bad news afterward: “My worker just got really excited because it was so big – and those kinds of weeds are really easy to rip out, and he just….” (The gardener stopped talking and showed me the proper swoop-down-to pluck-a-weed-off-the-ground technique).

I shrugged my shoulders, and said, “Eh, no big deal.” At least my backyard is clean!

I can’t believe I’m blogging about weeds.

My Backyard, My Weeds!

This week I bet my neighbor that I can grow a bigger weed than he can. No, not the illegal kind of weed. I’m talking about the kind that have sprouted up all over my backyard ever since my #$@%! gardener decided he no longer wanted my money. (more…)