Downpour

Jan. 21st, 2010 09:49 am
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Well, it's Raining in Phoenix today. The weather forecast is showing a 100% chance of rain, and I suppose it's correct because it's raining right now. On the radio this morning, the announcer said that we could get over half of the average annual precipitation for this area across the next day or two. So it deserves a capital R. [That justification is just in case any of my pals up in the Pacific Northwest feel inclined to go, "Yeah, well, Arizonans freak out whenever a drop or two falls from the sky. Big deal."]

This weather makes me exceedingly happy. Last night, I pulled in my rubber boots from where they lay rotting in the back yard, so I could make sure the insides were dry and clean. Before heading in to campus this morning, I donned the boots, some rainpants, and my sturdiest jacket - the one I used to wear in Boston through the winter. I put one of my Tyvek Seattle-to-Portland jackets on my backpack as a cover, and put another one over my lunchbag. I hopped onto my grandfather's bicycle, the only bike with fenders, and set out for school.

My rainpants need to be re-waterproofed, so my thighs got a wee bit wet. Other than that, though, I was dry and happy as a clam.

I love it when it rains. I loved it while living in Seattle, and while living in Boston, and I still love it here. It takes a few extra moments to prepare for the deluge, but it's worth it because the streets are so much more quiet.
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I seem to have acquired myself a house-husband. But I haven't yet figured out what that means, exactly. Thoughts? Heh.

Other than that, in case you didn't get the memo, we had some beautiful thunderstorms last night (although they did wake me up occasionally). I guess I won't be eating breakfast on the patio, though, judging by the amount of rainfall.

--

I have been baking my own bread lately. It's far, far cheaper than buying bread, if one can find the time to do it. Most fortunately, I have reached the point where I can actually make a decent loaf of bread--for quite a while, I was pretty good at making dense, crumbly bricks that were barely edible. If you ever decide to start baking your own bread, I highly recommend finding a copy of the Tassajara Bread Book. It does a great job of outlining the important steps for baking whole wheat bread, and has a fantastic collection of recipes for other bread-related items as well. For a long time, I was trying to rely on one hundred percent whole-wheat flour, but was having a really tough time trying to get it to the right consistency. So I have taken to adding about one cup of white flour in with the whole-wheat flour.

The other thing that has helped me tremendously with baking is my housemate, R. She has been baking her own bread for a long time, and there's really no good substitute for watching someone else bake bread. She has been a good role model. I don't know why I never watched my mother bake bread--most of what I remember from our kitchen growing up was watching her make communion bread for our church. Her communion bread was some of the more delicious stuff we would get. But it's not the same as loaves of bread because it has no leavening, and she did not really bake loaves of sandwich-type bread.

Here's what I've been doing (maybe next time I will take photos while I do it): put about 2 cups of comfortably warm water in a bowl, and add 1 Tablespoon yeast and 0.5 Tablespoons sugar. Let that sit for a little while, until the yeast starts to get nice and active. Then mix in about 1/4 C olive oil, 1 Tablespoon salt, 1 C white flour, and 2 C whole-wheat flour. This will make a nice, sticky dough, which should be mixed around in the bowl for a while to give a the gluten a chance to start forming. Then I will add about another cup of flour until the dough starts to come away from the sides of the bowl.

At that point, in our climate, the dough will require about one more cup of flour. I spread half of this flour on the counter, plop the dough down into the middle of it, and spread the other half on top of it so the dough doesn't stick to my hands. Then knead it for a while, until all of the spread-out flour is incorporated into the dough and it gets nice and elastic. Coat it in olive oil, pop it back in the bowl, and cover the bowl with a tea towel for the first rise. After it has arisen (in our climate right now, that takes about 45 minutes), punch it down and let it rise again (another 45 minutes).

Then there's the final knead, which is really fun - the Tassajara Bread Book says to knead with one hand, and then use your other hand fold the dough over itself and turn it 90 degrees. It calls this "winding the clock," because it gets all of the gluten lined up really nicely to give the final loaf of bread good structure. From there, shape the dough and press it into the loaf pan to rise yet again. Once it's almost risen, turn on the oven to 350 degrees, and then pop it in and bake it for a while. You will know it is done when you tap on the bottom of the loaf and it sounds hollow (usually around 45 minutes later).



And on that note, time to watch ants again.
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It's raining today! It's so beautiful!

This morning, K and I finished rowing, and as we started to put the boat away, a few light drops of water fell from the sky and dotted the pavement. On my ride home from rowing, the sky was all sorts of hues of gold and orange and pink and purple and blue, and a rainbow formed off in the eastern sky. While I was showering, I could hear the unfamiliar sound of raindrops striking the roof, and now it's wet outside.

Since I'm an Arizonan unaccustomed to rain these days, I geared up in rain pants and a rain jacket for the ride to school. My rain jacket *almost* covers my backpack, making me nearly waterproof, but the underside of my backpack ended up catching a little bit of the grit flung up by my tires.

It's almost enough to make a girl think about designing her own bicycle fenders out of plastic soda bottles, except I'd only use them once or twice a year.

Still...rain! I think the last time it rained was in September.
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Ah, rain, rain, rain, in its gloriosity of wetness.

I am immensely happy, practically skipping around. (verily, I skipped)

I have not been thusly rained on in an exceedingly long time, and I should point out that I never tire of it.

It is as they say--moss grows on the north side of my bones (shamelessly stolen from Bus Poetry). I am a child of the water.

I spent the day proctoring two final exams--my students suffered mightily. I felt like a miscreant, daring to check my e-mail occasionally while keeping an eye on them. Proctoring is utterly tedious, especially when one trusts one's students.

But now their suffering has at least partially ended, whereas I have a stack of grading to finish. And then the semester will draw to a close. My students struggled more this semester than last semester. I wish I could have done more to help them, but I tried to do as much as I could. I hope they perceived some benefit in my course.
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Let it be noted that there is some precipitation today. Finally. It's probably going to be inconsequential, but it's a morale-booster regardless.

Rain, how I have missed thee.
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I'm so grateful for the rain in these here parts, and I hear it's raining back in Arizona as well. This has been quite a hectic trip--lots of planning/preparation for the big ride, and then lots of good quality time with the famdam. Yesterday my mom and [livejournal.com profile] sytharin and I went to the Panama Hotel for some tea, and then syth and I went shopping!!. I finally got a snappy belt that fits for my excellent belt buckle and some fresh boob supportage (=bras, and no, you don't get to see them). Oh, I also picked up a copy of Small is Beautiful. I can't remember how it got on my list of books to read, but it looks interesting enough. Then my cousin and I tried to go rowing, but failed (we succeeded this morning, however), and then I got to visit with two uncles and an aunt that I haven't seen in a while. I was really disappointed that I wasn't able to attend another aunt's wedding up in Juneau, AK earlier this summer because that would have meant much more good family time, but at least these few visits were some compensation.

I cannot tell you how nice it feels to not be hot for a few days. I wish I had more time to catch up with all you Seattle peeps, but somehow or another I'm flying back to PHX tomorrow, and then I fly out to Vermont on Friday night. I know, you're envious of my travel schedule. If it makes you feel better, the Vermont flight is a red-eye. Ugh. I hope I remember some earplugs. All of the goings-on have made me feel a bit ambivalent about my schooling, but a couple of good hours at Cafe Allegro have made a difference.

And now perhaps I'll do something quiet in a small space somewhere.

I love the rain.

Also, I have to admit that I'm back to being pretty happy in my boy-free state. Silly boys.
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I rolled out of bed and off to the boatyard (I can't dignify it by calling it a boathouse) this morning before I started to notice the lightning off on the horizons. So I called my rowing buddy and rode my bike home again for another hour and a half of sleep.

Weather forecasters have been telling us for about two weeks now that the monsoon season is over, but apparently the weather gods disagreed. The increased humidity has been a tad bit uncomfortable, but the rain and clouds are always welcome.

Last night I bought my plane ticket for the rowing marathon in Louisiana in November. I can hardly believe it's October. The next month and a half are going to fly by, and then I'll be off to Australia for a month and a half. There's so much to do between now and then.
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I am tres happy.
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I went on a bike ride this morning (side note: the ride is called the People's Ride). Yesterday's rain brought out a lot of smells that had been mummifying. There's the usual post-rain smell of creosote bushes, which is impossible to describe but unforgettable and delicious and pungently sweet. And then there is the smell of my neighborhood, which is a bit like rotten fish. I'm not sure what's causing the neighborhood smell, but it's a tad unpleasant. As we biked past the zoo, there was the incredibly strong smell of animal dung and urine, which, oddly, reminded me of Seattle.

There are alleys in Seattle that reek of piss. One would think that, with all of the rain that Seattle gets, it would smell fresh and clean all of the time. But no. Only parts of Seattle smell fresh and clean. Don't get me wrong--the fresh and clean of Seattle is above and beyond the brief hints of fresh and clean that we get in the desert. I just have to wonder--do more people pee in public in Seattle, or what? Are there just more bums urinating in the alleys? Or does all of the public urine just dry up really fast in Tempe, before it can begin to reek?

Despite all of the air pollution, Tempe doesn't smell that bad most of the time. But maybe that's because my nose is usually a bit stuffy from the particulate matter, and following the rain, it has cleared out as well.

But there's still a bit of a brown cloud lingering over Phoenix.

So.

Jun. 7th, 2006 07:10 pm
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The best part of the rain was this:

I'm sitting inside, doing work. I notice that it's awfully dark out. I peer outside and observe that it's raining.

It has been sooooooooooooo long since it has rained here that my first thought was, "Aackthbpth! I can't go outside! It's raining!"

My second thought was, "We're not made of sugar! We won't...MELT!"

As I walked to the grocery store, I observed that all of the puddles in the street were BLACK. Grime and car exhaust have been building up for an extremely long time. There were also some foamy sections. One usually thinks of rain as a cleansing thing; here, it just brings out the dirt.
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Yesterday the miserly rain clouds begrudgingly squeezed out a handful of stingy drops, thus bringing to an end a record period of 132 consecutive days without rain. [can you tell I've been composing that sentence in my head?] Consider that for a little while. That's over four dry months. And the few light drops yesterday do very little to wet the ground.

The humidity has also increased to an astounding 60%, making it a trifle easier to breathe. The air holds hints of the smells that usually manifest after the rain, as if the ground wants rain so badly it will give up anything to get it. The ten-day weather forecasts keep predicting rain on the tenth day, but by the time that day approaches, all predictions of rain dissipate. The remnants of yesterday's rain clouds will move onward today.

Edited to add...

I just remembered another weather-related item that I wanted to mention briefly. [livejournal.com profile] figment80 brought home a boquet of daffodils on Sunday, which reminded me that daffodil season is probably in full force back home. My family isn't too big on the usual sorts of heirlooms, but there's one heirloom that we celebrate every spring: the blooming of the family daffodils and tulips. My mother's daffodils, inherited from my great-grandmother, are always a bit more delicate and graceful than the store-bought variety, and they are one of my favorite heralds of spring. We used to have so many that I would give away bouquets to my teachers at school. I miss them.

New Record

Jan. 29th, 2006 08:41 am
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As of midnight, the Valley (as the GPMSA is called) has reached a new record for number of days without rain: 102. And it looks like that number is just going to keep on climbing.

All of those Seattleites who feel that the weather is getting to them should come down here for a while and see how much they like the opposite situation.

I get nostalgic when I watch scenes in movies with rain.
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I love walking around barefoot in the rain.
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Okay, you know how I said I was jealous of everybody else who was reporting rain? Well, guess what? It rained here! We had a big old thunderstorm last night, and this morning the pavement was still wet and there were puddles everywhere. Glorious, I tell you. The humidity even got up to around 56%, and it appears that today's high is going to be only 109.

What was even more fun was that my friend A invited me over for dinner with her family--husband and daughter. 'Twas a lovely meal, and afterwords we played a game known as Mexican Train Dominoes. I didn't win, but it was really fun. Then A's daughter played a couple of pieces on the piano for me--she was amazing. She's learning the Maple Leaf Rag, one of my favorites.

Well, perhaps I should do some work today, considering how much we need to get done.

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