{sometimes I just can’t stay on topic!}

I recently helped Sophia with some of her homework. The assignment involved rudimentary outlining with the goal of writing one cohesive paragraph. We took it step by step, starting with her topic title and breaking down the supporting ideas in an organized manner, and there was only one warning: Don’t meander off into new and unsupported topic territory!

Ironic, since I’ve had nothing but trouble sticking to one topic and coming in for a landing. But I blame the heat!

If there’s a theme or topic in here at all, it’s “weather”–again! California is one of the few places where five major climate types exist in close proximity, and sometimes they all seem to be doing their own thing! I don’t always like that, but I do always find it interesting.

A really ridiculous heat wave came to visit last week and the words  being thrown around to describe it? Suffocating. Scorching. Sweltering. Stifling. Relentless. Hell.

I think maybe Arizona experiences 90 degrees at 9:00 PM. but I don’t have any memory of malevolent weather like this. I recognize that weather is not a person, and therefore, incapable of deliberately inflicting harm, but I think at some point in my fatigue I began to take it personally. If I have the chance to vote on this kind of heat in the future, my vote is NO!

And unstable weather has contributed to terrible fire conditions.

Have you seen any footage of the devastating wildfires in Northern California?

We live hundreds of miles from these fires and aren’t personally affected, and in fact, we really accept that this time of year wildfires are as much a part of California as tornadoes in other parts of the country. But these fires feel different and as I look at our local mountains I realize that the multi-year drought has turned so much of the land into kindling.

Following these recent weather conditions I’ve learned quite a few new pieces of background information about these Northern California fires as well as California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire). Perhaps at a later time I’ll share more–but not now. It isn’t just an “interesting” story. The destruction reflects devastation to thousands of people who have lost their homes and all possessions. So far there has been one reported loss of life, but the concern is that there may be more as yet unidentified.

It’s hard to segue from the enormity of the fires to my small corner of the world. And being regularly kicked offline is definitely in the “small stuff” category, but if I say that my very frequent Internet outages were also weather-related, am I at least staying on topic?

I was convinced there was a person sitting in a control booth down the street laughing his head off every evening between 8 pm and 10 pm just clicking the switch up and down making it toggle back and forth between “on and off.” And then it moved from intermittent “off” to going off in the earlier hours of the evening and not coming back on until the morning. Every day.

The cable company didn’t initially want to own the problem, but after greater insistence the cavalry finally arrived to remedy the situation and we learned the cable lines behind our house had been severely damaged by “small animals.”  The workers implied squirrels, which I thought planted a kinder than practical image. Sophia and Karina thought it might be opossums or raccoons. None of us are choosing to even think of considering it could be rats.

But here’s what turned a frustration into at least an interesting circumstance.  Physics!

The connectivity–or lack of it–followed the daily weather pattern and our temperatures have been all over the place. Between 7 PM and 8 PM when it began to cool down the fraying cable connections would contract. Bam! We’d be off-line until sometime the next morning when the temperatures would rise, the cable would expand and we’d have “lift off.”

Mystery solved! No little man playing games with us after all! Relief!

And another situation also resolved itself.

Today brought wet and rainy relief, thanks to Hurricane Linda coming at us as a tropical storm from off the coast of Baja.  All too often we get promises and no delivery, but this was a good one!

It rained hard enough in the night that at 2:30 in the morning I was up comforting a dog and worrying about a tortoise! They don’t know too much about rain.

Sophia’s writing assignment contained an expectation that she’d conclude her paragraph with a good final sentence.

I wonder what her teacher would think of my plan?

When you don’t know how to wrap up your “writing assignment,” try to distract with a nice piece of music!

Sonny & Cher are always a nice distraction. And if I could get away with dressing like Cher, I probably wouldn’t mind the heat as much either!

Despite the distractions, I’m doing my best to breathe lighter. And I hope you are doing the same!







20 thoughts on “{sometimes I just can’t stay on topic!}

  1. I’m glad to hear you’re not near the terrible wildfires Debra. I saw the Napa area has been badly hit so I expect the wine industry has been affected.

    Intermittent cable faults – lovely 🙂 All sorts of rodents love chewing cables including squirrels and rats. If you are served by overhead cable then squirrels are the likely perpetrators. Underground it’s usually rats. In the good old days my external colleagues had a time booking code F2BMISC which was for ‘Ratting in manholes’. In London’s Gerrard Street there is a cable subway which was always infested with rats – probably as a result of the number of restaurants in Chinatown above. One of my old colleagues used to tell of seeing all the eyes light up in his torch beam.

    Sorry if I’ve put you off your breakfast – we telephone engineers view rats as nothing more than an occupational hazard!

    1. Well, thank you, Martin! You’ve put my mind at ease towards the rodent issue, I believe. Our cable wires are all above ground and we do have plenty of squirrels. I feel better. 🙂 You surely made me chuckle regarding your experience with rats as “occupational hazard.” I suppose that’s absolute proof I could never be a telephone engineer. I wouldn’t be able to cope. LOL!

  2. I’ve heard from my sister that you’re having incredibly hot weather. Meanwhile, while we have had a couple of nice spring days, it’s very cool in Sydney at the moment and rain is predicted for the next five days. How lovely of you to help Sophia with her homework – that’s a chore I’d love to delegate if I could. What a nuisance about your internet woes and how annoying it’s taken so long to fix! I do hope the damage was caused by squirrels rather than rats! xx

    1. A lovely spring day sounds so nice right about now, Charlie! Anything your sister had to say about the heat I can tell you was not exaggerated. It’s been brutal, but has cooled some since last week. I’m going to continue telling myself that our line damage was squirrels. There are a lot of fruit trees and I probably don’t really want to know what happens back there at night. 🙂 Enjoy that lovely rain, my friend!

    1. Just the thought of rodents makes my skin crawl, Philip, but I guess we all know they’re there. LOL! I’m so glad you enjoyed Sonny and Cher with me. I just smile when I see the two of them together in all their 1970 finery. 🙂

  3. “it pours, man, it pours” . . . and I’ll be humming this all day long (a sunny, fall-like one here).

    Oh, Debra, those poor folks in the northern part of the state. We just watch in dismay at what they must be going through and all of the many people involved in so many way. Still, I’m glad you are safe in your little kingdom.

    We had a similar, nightly, outage several years ago. Every night, 10 am to 12 pm. We were told that cable out in area due to storms, when there were no storms, or, “we are working on it” yadayadayada. Finally, one night, I’d “had it”. Made the first phone call, then the next, asking each and every person, when I got a person, for their name, then repeating their name, writing it down. Eventually, I collected about 8 names and got to someone who seemed to have a real name. Sam (no offense to the Sams out there) after hearing all the names, and amount of time I was put on hold, finally got to the bottom, or top in our case, of the problem, which WAS a fault of the cable company and I got them to deduct all those two hours of interruption off of our bill. Phew. Nice getting that off of my chest, but, doesn’t solve your problem.

    Sorry. I’m rambling, Debra. If I were Sophia’s teacher, I’d say “well done” to the wrap up.

    1. “Go Penny!” You really did track down your cable problems and hold them accountable! I mostly grumbled. LOL! It was really funny how much attention we began to pay to the pattern of outages. We’d wake up in the morning and realize it was still off and then I’d get a phone call from Jay later in the morning announcing it was back on. I’d get on-line and be reading a blog and then about the time I decided I’d respond it would go out. So much wasted time. Now with the new lines it’s faster and we are in very good shape. I have no more excuses. LOL! And I’m sure the story of the NorCal fires is going to be big news for the next few weeks. The worst of the fires are still not contained and there really is concern that they will later discover more deaths. People literally ran for their lives not even able to grab a purse or wallet. I can’t imagine. But what about the people who couldn’t run. It’s all so sad and I think there will be a huge assessment later as to what could have been done differently, if anything at all. It makes my complaint about being hot more than a little silly. I’ll probably still complain, though. Complaining about the weather is a long-held habit. 🙂

  4. I can’t even fathom fires like the ones CA is experiencing. It’s so foreign to us. I’m happy you got some much needed rain! And yes, I too hope you don’t have heat like that again anytime soon. 90 at night is hot!!!

    1. The 90 degrees at 10PM was utterly shocking to us, Kristy! That really is so rare I have no memory of it ever being that hot. But the fires are a natural part of the west and many start with lightning strikes. The ones in Northern California right now are among the worst in many years. I think to have lost so many homes is very unusual. These natural phenomena are at once terrifying and fascinating. Tonight our coastal cities are on tsunami watch because of the huge earthquake in Chile. It really is all about our geography wherever we live isn’t it? We all have to be tough. 🙂

  5. At my last house, my phone cables came in the back along a shubby boundary line. I had a lot of trouble with it until I finally got a more seasoned phone guy who traced the entire line. I had squirrel damage and depending on weather or wind (or squirrels!) the phone would kick out. This was back in the day before everyone had cell phones. It was really annoying! Glad you got some rain and rain is harder on dogs than on cats and I’m not sure why.

    1. Since you mention that you had squirrels eating away at your phone lines, Kate, maybe we did have squirrel damage! We have a lot of squirrels. I just thought the cable crew was being delicate for me. LOL! The rain was lovely, thank you! There are predictions that we can expect a lot more rain this coming season, which I sure do hope is true. Maybe Zena will get used to it and be less nervous when she hears the sound of the rain. I thought the sound was heavenly! 🙂

    1. It is so nice to be able to sit down at night and have confidence in our connectivity! It was so frustrating for a while when we couldn’t figure out what was going on! Now I’m playing catch-up! 🙂

  6. We had a very hot and dry summer Debra, so I can at least sympathise with you. I don’t know how I would cope with weather like that long term! I hope the rain has also lowered temperatures, and that the dog and tortoise came through the storm without too much trauma!

    1. The rain was so nice, Cathy! We have been on mandatory water rationing and can only water our gardens twice a week, so in the heat we’ve had my poor garden is so stressed! I was doing a happy dance on Tuesday with that lovely rain, and I can only hope we get some more of it! 🙂

  7. Baby bear really enjoyed the video…thanks for sharing. Is it me or do they look like they had a little bit of some happy juice before singing? Happy homework time!

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