Heatwave Burning

Recently, we’ve had a summer heatwave in Southern California. This is par for the course at this time, and I’m grateful the temperatures have been comfortable up to this point. I am longing for cooler weather as I fight my way through August with glistening skin. Glistening. Ha! Sweat is real. And then there’s the smoke factor.

The “Smoke” descriptor on my phone weather app was new to me.

Fires are burning in the greater Los Angeles area. That’s all part of the season. Thankfully, they are not too close to our home. None the less, they have resulted in two weather advisories. “Unhealthy Air Quality” followed by “Very Unhealthy Air Quality” warnings appeared on my phone weather app this week. You can see more of how to respond to that in a photo farther down in this post.

The smoke from the local fires carries dust-sized particles of burned matter for miles. That was a challenging day and added some additional layers of weariness to the pandemic limits, though we were grateful to be safe.

Notice how the day’s high was predicted to be 105 degrees and we busted right through that one. Overachievers.
We moved from “unhealthy” in the previous photo to “very unhealthy” later in the day. Masks actually served a dual purpose that day.
From my Internet search on “very unhealthy air quality,” here are the instructions.

If we closed all the windows and doors, we may suffocate from heat, but at least we’d have more breathable air. Some days you just have to take your chances. We closed up the house briefly and decided to take our chances with pollution and get some air circulating.

By the way, we do not have central air-conditioning. Our home is over 100 years old. With all its quaint and charming ways, it is a difficult (a.k.a. expensive) structure to air condition. We do not have central air. That’s a choice, not a complaint. We have had a strategy.

When the brutally hot days of summer hit, our strategy included working all day in air-conditioned offices, and then going out for dinner in air-conditioned restaurants after work. That might possibly cheaper than air conditioning and more fun. That also included no dishes to clean-up. We’d return home after dark when things were cooling down. We dodged the blistering heat. Not this year.

We both now work remotely, and restaurants do not have indoor dining yet. Thankfully, well-placed fans provide some relief. Our faithful kiddie pool is just enough to cool the feet and provide a break. The cooling power of evaporation has assisted me, too, with a mid-day shower or a damp bandana around my neck. And there’s always ice cream.

Heat and humidity often go hand in hand. As a child and young adult with midwest roots, I cannot complain. Here the humidity does not usually come with the heat. This week we did have some tropical levels of humidity, and I am well trained for that. I remember the days when drying off after a shower was a pointless activity. I am glad that is the exception not the rule in our climate region.

However, it did evaporate all ambition for the week right out of me. This post is late. All I wanted to do was sit still. Anything that required thought felt like a punishment. Today, I’m up on a Sunday morning in the cool of the day, currently 73 degrees, and sending you warm greetings with this quick post.

I hope you are managing the summer weather challenges well wherever you are. We all endure the heat and humidity. Some have more humidity than others. Some of you deal with the threat of storms, hurricanes, and tornadoes. Some of you have ideal temperatures day and night in the summer, and sit on your deck wondering why everyone doesn’t live where you live. Today, so do I.

And then there’s the fun kind of heatwave!

Stay cool, my friends.

Note: I want to recognize that there are those among us suffering from homelessness or other economic disparities that make these hot days even more crushing and difficult. In light of that, my issues are minimal. Let’s keep them in our prayers and stay open for compassionate ways to assist and also look for action to take to bring justice to community life.

Explore Some More

Two of my good friends from my 1982-83 days at Purdue University came to Southern California for a family event and spent Saturday with us. They got us out of the house. After busy work weeks, we always enjoy slowing down and hanging out at home. But this Saturday we were weekend tourists, showing off the area. We had a great time, and I was left thinking we need to do this more often.

Mollie's Cafe 10.28.17

We started out at Mollie’s Famous Cafe Mollie’s Famous Cafe in San Juan Capistrano. Just your great neighborhood diner, perfect for a good breakfast on a Saturday. It was crowded, which provided a sense of energy. We’d never been here before, but it had good reviews on Yelp. We ate outside, enjoying huevos rancheros, two orders of French toast combo, and a pancake combo. My coffee came in a huge mug. Amtrak trains chugged by across the street. San Juan Capistrano is an Amtrak stop further up the tracks. I always enjoy the sound of a train.

Next we walked up the street to Mission San Juan Capistrano, number seven in a twenty-one mission chain that helped the country of Spain settle California in the early history of our state. I’ve been there many times as a fourth grade teacher on a field trip, studying California history. We enjoyed the gardens, the architecture, the history, and spent some time exploring this beautiful place. We saw two weddings doing photographs on the grounds.

Mission Courtyard 10.28.17Mission Bird of Paradise 10.28.17Mission Arches 10.28.17Mission Fountain 10.28.17Mission Bells & Church Ruins 10.28.17Mission Doorway 10.28.17Mission Bells 10.28.17

We stopped at Starbuck’s across the street for a light snack and water before heading on. And guess what! There was one of the wedding parties just hanging out. That made me wonder if they were modeling for the photographer and not really a wedding, but who knows?

Mission Wedding Party - Starbucks 10.28.17

We also wandered the Los Rios Historic District, a street filled with old homes made into shops, cafes, and restaurants. We enjoyed seeing the old, quaint homes and gardens. We did not stop to shop or eat here. The photo below is from an article in Pelican Hill Magazine. Click on the link below the photo if the Los Rios District interests you further. It was about a block or two, beyond the train tracks from the mission.

We walked back to the shopping area where Mollie’s Famous Cafe is and got our cars. I liked that the day’s stops in San Juan Capistrano were within walking distance for us. It was a beautiful day for the walk while talking and catching up. The beach cities are usually about ten-degrees cooler than where we live.

Driving up the coast, we climbed up the curvy streets in part of Laguna Beach and reached The Top of the World. We parked the cars and walked on up the short path to the top. What a great view! From the ocean, across the valley, to the various mountains in the distance, with lots of suburban housing sprawl in various places.

Top of the World 10.28.17

Back down the hill we went to Pacific Coast Highway. Turning north, we pulled in at a famous restaurant called Las Brisas. I had not been there for a long time. It was busy, but we arrived early and waited for our reservation time. We had a good time sitting on a bench on the ocean side, watching the sunset. A young couple had just gotten engaged in the gazebo with most of their family present, so we felt the joy. This was a magnificent setting and great way to end the day.

Laguna Palms at Sunset 10.28.17Laguna Sunset Palms 10.28.17Laguna Sunset 10.28.17

I could sit by the ocean for hours, but an order of guacamole drew me into the restaurant. We sat in the cantina and enjoyed chips with guacamole and also delicious artichokes. I enjoyed one of my favorite drinks, an Arnold Palmer – part lemonade and part ice tea. We shared the appetizers and more conversation. Meanwhile, the Dodger World Series game #4 against the Houston Astros had begun.

On a side note, I’m not a Dodger fan except for this series, but it is fun living in a town with a team in the World Series. The energy, the hope, the pride, the ups and downs all give to a special sense of community.

We ended the night with a fine dinner at Las Brisas. I shared a Caesar salad and the maple-crusted salmon with my husband. Delicious. It was pricey, but the food and the view were spectacular. And a table of great company made for a fun end to a delightful day.

Las Brisas 10.28.17

It often takes out-of-town guests to get us out to the typically touristy places in our area. We need to get out there and explore more on our own. We had a great time – good food, some exercise, beautiful scenery, some history, and the ocean. We really took a break from the demands of our jobs and housework. That’s always a good idea.

We braved traffic, the challenge of parking, and crowds, fairly constant in Southern California, and got out to explore some of the great spots in our area. Such a fun day away from the routine with the luxury of time to talk. Sightseeing energized us and made a deposit to our soul care accounts in ways we deeply needed.

Where do you take visiting friends? Cheers to weekend tourists! It can be rewarding in many ways. Love your friends. Love where you live.Mission Fun Day - Petersons & Pauls 10.28.17.

Stay charming, my friends.