Looking forward to fall!

Summer is fading, and I can totally feel it, even though it was 105 degrees yesterday. The sun is rising a little later, setting a little earlier. People are getting their fantasy football teams together. The snowbirds from up north and back east are preparing to migrate to Phoenix Metro. Soon, we’ll see them on their jaunty walks in their shorts and t-shirts (while we desert denizens put on light jackets.)

I love summer giving way to fall. We do have seasons here in the Sonoran Desert part of the Land of AZ… maybe not in the traditional sense, but we do. The desert just expresses itself differently. The desert is a season-rebel. It does not conform to the norm. You have colorful fall leaves? We have colorful, blazing sunsets. You have chilly, moist temperatures? We have perfect temperatures… dry temperatures in the 70-80-degree range.

I love the heat, but hospitable temperatures make certain things possible. At some point in the late summer, I start anticipating aspects of the fall, as I know everyone around here does. Some of them can’t come soon enough. Here are 10 off the top of my head:

1). Garage gym workouts.

Cooler weather will put our garage gym back into the equation of my combat-sports fitness training.

2). Opening the front door.

Sitting in the living room at dusk with the fall breeze coming through the screen door is one of my favorite things. In the world.

3). Roasting veggies.

Brussels sprouts. Broccoli. Sweet potatoes. Purple Peruvian potatoes. Onions. Garlic. Fall in our house smells delicious.

4). Pears.

We eat pears year-round, but they come into season in the fall, and they are rapturous.

5). Pomegranates.

Pomegranate season! The flavor of pomegranates also signifies fall to me.

6). This is Us (Sept. 26) and Stranger Things (Oct. 27)

This fall, the two T.V. series I’m anticipating are This is Us and Stranger Things. I’m seriously emotionally invested in the family members of This is Us, and, like all fans, I’ve been waiting forever to find out what happens next in Stranger Things.

I would normally look forward to American Horror Story, but its early start this year puts it more in the summer than in the fall, as far as I’m concerned. Homeland is another fall series that isn’t starting in the fall this time around. Seems that the new season won’t be out until spring.

7). Candlelight writing in the early morning.

There’s something about writing in the early morning dark with just the glow of a candle flame to illuminate what needs illuminating.

8). Fall cleaning.

I’m more eager to deep-clean the house in the fall than in the spring, and the house feels so good after it’s done!

9). Creative inspiration.

Maybe it’s from a lifetime of “back-to-school” mental conditioning, but I’m more inspired, motivated, and revved-up in the fall than at any other time of the year. This is especially good this year, as I’m working on the toughest part of my book right about now. The fall magic will arrive just in time.

10). An extra cover on the bed.

For me, a heavier cover at night somehow leads to a more satisfying sleep. (By “heavier cover,” I mean the bathrobe I throw over just my side of the bed at night.)

Nenette shares my enthusiasm. Earlier this morning, I talked to her about fall, and she looked out the window like “Where is it?”

 

Late summer Nenette, awash in the early morning light.

 

Happy weekend!

 

Cold weather joy!

This last week we’ve had quite the cold snap here in Phoenix Metro, which I believe we can actually attribute to El Niño. A few days ago, our state registered the coldest temperatures in the U.S. while everyone else basked in unusual warmth. Hell has frozen over here in Sun Devil country!

It’s all good, though, because cold weather means a lot of enjoyable things. Such as:

1). Cold weather means I can light a lot of candles in my office at home.

 

Forest of candles.

Forest of candles.

 

It’s normally too warm for so many candles at once, obviously.

 

2). Cold weather makes savory, hot food even heartier.

 

Bocca burger at Red Robin (with iced tea, which I love in all kinds of weather).

Bocca burger at Red Robin (with iced tea, which I love in all kinds of weather).

 

We eat stuff like this year-round, but I find it most fulfilling when it’s cold outside. This particular visit to Red Robin was especially welcome because it was the day after we got back from France, where I’d spent over a week subsisting mostly on salads, bread, and the Larabars I’d packed. Those salads were wonderful, for sure, but by the time we got back I was ready to sink my teeth into something savory and hot!

 

Roasted purple potatoes.

Roasted purple potatoes.

 

Pinto beans in the slow cooker.

Pinto beans in the slow cooker.

 

Pinto tacos!

Pinto tacos!

 

Side-note: Did you know that Field Roast makes vegan cheese? I didn’t know until we found it at the store last night. It was great in these tacos! My favorite vegan cheeses have been Follow Your Heart and Daiya, but now there’s Field Roast. Daiya probably still works best on pizza, though. I might have to do an experiment to find out. There are other vegan cheeses out there, too.

 

3). Cold weather means that chocolate tastes like Christmas.

 

Stonegrindz Chocolate

Stonegrindz Chocolate

 

This chocolate is made locally, and it is delicious. Somehow, cold weather and Stonegrindz’ midnight dark chocolate really go together. Callaghan even likes it, and he generally doesn’t care for dark chocolate! We get it at the Farmer’s Market down the street, of course.

 

4). Cold weather makes garage workouts possible.

You know it’s been cold if you see that my elbows are bruised… it means that I’ve been working out on heavy-bags in the garage, a thing you can’t do in Arizona heat if there’s no A/C out there.

 

I waited seven months for this.

I waited seven months for this.

 

(A selfie was going to be impossible, so I took these pics with the web cam… that’s why they’re kind of grainy and dark.)

 

Garage workouts once again!

Garage workouts once again!

 

Because let’s be honest… there’s nothing like an intense workout on heavy-bags to relieve your frustrations. Any shrink would back me up on that, I’m guessing.

The cold also means that I can lift weights in the garage, since we have some dumbbells out there. I need to build up some strength.

Did I mention, by the way, that my strength-training attempts at the work gym ended in failure? The plan was to go during lunch, but evidently the rest of the world had the same idea. I couldn’t get the weights I needed because they were always in use, and I didn’t have time to wait. I gave up after three or four days.

 

5). Cozy winter kitties.

 

Nenette in her favorite windowsill sunbeam on a cold day.

Nenette in her favorite windowsill sunbeam on a cold day.

 

Nenette asleep on the back of the couch, one of her favorite spots.

Nenette asleep on the back of the couch, one of her favorite spots.

 

Sleepy Nounours and his little pink freckled nose.

Sleepy Nounours and his little pink freckled nose.

 

Blanket weather!

Blanket weather!

 

It’s supposed to warm up a little starting today, but it’ll still be cold enough to be magical!

Looks like this turned out to be something of a “favorites” post, which I didn’t intend, but it’s great because I wasn’t going to do one for December. (At the end of the month I’ll do a “best of 2015,” instead.)

My Super Bowl Curse.

This is not the post I’d planned. This was supposed to be my 2014 Favorites post, but it turns out it takes energy and strength to put such lists together, neither of which I’ve had at all for the last two days… so instead, I’ll tell you the weird little story behind that.

19 years ago, in 1996, the Super Bowl was hosted here in the Valley. All of Phoenix metro prepared for the arrival of the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were set to play in Arizona State University’s Sun Devil Stadium, and the requisite chaos ensued. Super Bowl fever is a thing in and of itself, so you can imagine that Super Bowl fever in the hosting city is madness. Sun Devil Stadium holds almost 70,000 people, and ticketholders flooded into the Valley from elsewhere to fill it up for the annual championship football game. Exciting times, right?

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-SuperbowlXXX1996

 

I was a senior at Arizona State, carrying a full course load and working 20 hours a week in the foreign languages department, so I pretty much lived on campus.

At some point during that last week of January, I started to feel sick with nausea that ebbed in and out for days, getting progressively worse. I visited the student health clinic on campus twice. They said I had an ear infection, though I had no pain in my ear, and they sent me off with stuff for the nausea. Finally, I woke up one morning and headed to my 17th-century British literature professor’s office for his early office hours. Our class was scheduled to take an exam that day, but I knew I wasn’t going to make it. I went to his office, told him I was sick, and asked if I could take the exam early. (I still remember the expression of trepidation-bordering-on-disgust on his face as he regarded my sick ass sitting there in his office for an hour!)

I finished the exam, went to the language lab, told them I was sick and wouldn’t be able to work my hours that day, and left. Soon after I got home, all of proverbial hell broke loose.

I’ll spare you the graphic detail and skip ahead to the part where my friend came to my apartment almost six hours later to take me to the Emergency Room. When we arrived, the triage nurse took my vitals and said, “I don’t understand how you can still be conscious” before installing me in a bed. Wow! How to avoid waiting for hours to be seen in the ER: arrive severely dehydrated!

Bits of the night surfaced and wavered before me between periods of oblivion. At some point, my boyfriend arrived. I remember him watching me and remarking, “When you do get sick, you REALLY get sick.”

Truly, I had never been so sick with infectious disease. I had an I.V. drip for hydration, another with anti-nausea meds, a third one with a painkiller (for the lower back pain resulting from dehydration) and a catheter. The situation was described to me as my stomach was drawing the water out of my muscles and that’s what I was throwing up, which was a ghastly notion, but I was more intrigued by something I overheard as I drifted in and out of consciousness. A doctor and a nurse were standing over me, talking, unaware that I could hear them. One of them said, “Yep. This is how they all end up.” This is how they all end up. The words sounded sinister. I found out later that they’d been talking about what the medical community was calling “the Super Bowl flu,” an epidemiological phenomenon. When thousands of people visit an area at the same time – as in Super Bowl week – the local germ pool gets infiltrated with foreign germs to which the locals have no immunity, and the locals get sick. Phoenix residents were getting clobbered by this vicious stomach virus, with many of us landing in the ER. I was a Super Bowl statistic.

Toward noon the next day, the crisis was over. I was feeling slightly better from all the treatment, and I wanted to go home. “You’re not going anywhere until you pee,” said the matter-of-fact nurse in her matter-of-fact nurse way. “We need to see you pee!” But I couldn’t. They kept me there until I could, and then it took a whole week of bed rest at home to completely recover.

That was in 1996, and that was the last time I had the stomach flu… until two days ago, when my blissfully long run of avoiding the dreaded throwing-up virus came to an end. Again, I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that it flattened me pretty good. Yesterday morning, I wanted to work on my 2014 Favorites post for today. I was sitting on the couch with my laptop next to me, and I literally did not have the strength to pick it up and set it on my lap. Flattened.

Out of curiosity, I stepped on the scale this morning. I don’t often weigh myself, but I know the general weight that I maintain, and by my estimation, the scale showed nearly six pounds less. I either lost over five pounds in the last two days, or I’d started out weighing less than I’d thought I did. I wouldn’t be surprised if I did weigh what I thought I did and lost almost six pounds, though, considering the efficiency with which my body evacuated itself of everything I’d consumed in the last week.

Why is this all of this significant, you might ask? Well, THE SUPER BOWL IS COMING BACK TO PHOENIX THIS MONTH. Coincidence? I think not. I think the next time the Super Bowl comes to the Valley, I should lay in a stash of supplies and barricade myself inside the house for the entire month of January.

I’m feeling better now. I’ve been sleeping a lot. Though plenty dramatic, this time was not as severe as last time. My temperature is back to normal, my headache is mostly gone, my lower back pain is subsiding and I’m recovering some energy, but I’m still weak. I’m taking today to start eating again and regain some strength so I can return to work tomorrow.

Also, my gym bag is packed for Body Combat tomorrow night. Yesterday, I was so lacking in energy I thought for sure I’d miss Wednesday’s class, too, but now I’m jumping out of my skin because I missed last night!