Wicked Weather Witchery (#367)

I usually like rain.

I mean, aside from the time it stormed during what was supposed to my outdoor wedding–with lightning and hail.  Or that time the out-of-season atmospheric river hit during Baby D’s outdoor baby shower. Or when my new car was destroyed by a hailstorm while driving across the country.

And no, I did not love the surprising hail (AGAIN) that hit us in southern England during our one vacation that didn’t involve visiting family.

Ominous hail clouds approach St. Mary’s

While we were sheltering in a church in Thornbury, we chatted with some locals.

“We expect rain,” one man told us. “Hail is rather…odd,”

“I’ve not seen hail before,” another agreed.

Andy nudged me and said, “It’s her. If she has an event or vacation, there will be rain, hail, or snow.”

“Shhh, honey, they used to burn witches around here,” I joked.

My Lawyer Sis, on the other hand, is the good weather witch. The day of her wedding, in Washington, D.C., (notorious for summer afternoon thunderstorms) not a drop of rain fell until she slipped indoors at midnight. Then it poured.

But just as my (admittedly imaginary) rain witchery is ultimately no match for Southern California’s dry climate, Lawyer Sis is stuck with D.C.’s cold and gray winters. In an effort to combat seasonal depression, she sometimes flies to SoCal for a visit in the winter. She spends days sitting on our south-facing patio, yelling, “No! Get away!” at me when I offer her hats, umbrellas, and sunblock.

This year, her trip was from last Thursday through the weekend. I had warned her about the incoming atmospheric rivers: one was scheduled for Wednesday-Thursday, the other for Sunday-Wednesday.

On Wednesday, as the rain fell, Andy asked, “Is she still coming?”

“Yep.”

“She’s counting on her sunshine witchery?”

“Yep. It’s a solid gamble. I don’t have any events and it’s not my vacation.”

But what we did have, hidden under the asphalt shingles on our roof, was a problem.

The rain was much heavier than expected on Wednesday. We got two inches overnight. As soon as Andy left for work on Thursday morning, I heard dripping. Water was falling on the hall bookcase, coming from an HVAC vent in the ceiling. I headed into our unfinished attic with my phone and a flashlight.

Sure enough, water dripped from the roof, splattering insulation around the ducts. I rigged a bucket to catch the water and dried up the wood and insulation as best I could. Then I set up a fan and called my husband.

“It’s leaking where they put in metal flashing and vent for the new furnace and AC three years ago,” I reported.

“Shit. Want me to come home?”

“Nah, nothing else to do here and you have to pick up Lawyer Sis. Her flight is early and I have to get back to cleaning while I file an insurance claim and call the roofer. But I’m behind schedule so DRIVE SLOW and pick up something for lunch!”

Since the rain, of course, stopped the second my sister’s plane touched down and Andy is firmly committed to breaking the “slow Asian driver” stereotype, they made it home while I was still cleaning. By afternoon the sun was breaking through the clouds when we walked the dog.

“Sorry it’s not as sunny as usual,” I apologized.

Lawyer Sis waved my apology away. “It’s just nice to be where the air doesn’t hurt my face. We had a whole week of twenty degrees or less!”

It rained again that night, but Friday was gloriously sunny. Saturday was also unexpectedly sunny.

“Looks like your sister’s weather witchery is stronger than yours,” Andy chuckled, after he’d climbed on the roof and applied some roofing patch to the flashing. (We have yet to hear back from the roofer and insurance companies are currently as inundated with claims as California is with water.) “I think we can get rid of the bucket!”

“Not for long,” I countered grimly. “Now that I have a hole in the roof, just wait…”

Sure enough, meteorologists began predicting even more rain, starting Sunday. Maybe more rain than SoCal normally gets in an entire year—in 2 days. They also predicted wind gusts of up to 40 mph.

Andy grudgingly put the bucket back. It was filling up again Sunday evening.

I sent Baby D into the wind and rain to take out the trash. Upon his return, he announced, “There’s a plant in our backyard.”

I envisioned someone’s airborne potted palm landing our yard. “Wind must’ve blown it there.”

I grabbed the flashlight, headed outside, and discovered…

…that my son is a master of understatement.

Our twenty-foot Ficus tree had been uprooted and lay across the backyard. Next to it was my beautiful fuchsia bougainvillea, its trellis ripped off our cinderblock wall.

The downed tree Dalton casually described as “a plant” in daylight.

Later, after Andy checked out the damage, he asked, “What kind of replacement tree do you want?”

“I don’t want a replacement,” I grumbled. “They had matured to the perfect height to block the view of Cop Neighbor’s ugly, oversized Chino Hills tract house. Plus, I wanted the bougainvillea to continue dumping leaves in his yard because it pisses him off.”

I glowered out the window, where the wind was driving sheets of rain nearly horizontal. “Stupid rain.”

Andy patted my shoulder and said, “At least your perverse weather witchery is stronger than your sister’s?”

“More like, at least there’s no hail.”

Yet.

Uprooted and de-trellised.

 

Cold Wars (#334)

My Chinese American husband grew up in tropical Hawaii. When he moved to Los Angeles, his mom sent him with an electric blanket.

Years later, I laughed over that blanket before donating it to charity. I grew up on the East Coast, spending many holidays in New Hampshire. “Southern California is not cold,” I told Andy.  “Twenty below on a chairlift is cold.”

The disparity in our experiences was highlighted during vacations. I ignored Andy’s advice and ran up a sand dune barefoot on the island of Kauai, yelling, “How hot can it be?”

Answer: “Hot enough that you wind up whimpering with ice packs on your burning feet.” Continue reading Cold Wars (#334)

Summer Vacation or Summer Purgatory (#324)

I know parents who can’t wait for summer vacation.

“No more making lunches!” a mom of three rejoiced on the last day of school a few years ago.

“We’re totally sleeping in,” said the mom with twins.

Another mom chimed in with, “No nagging about homework for 2 whole months!”

There were moms who had vacations planned, or had already purchased season passes to Disneyland. They were as giddy as their kids about the end of school.

I was never one of those moms. I dreaded summer vacations. My only child NEVER slept past 6 AM. Baby D was a restless bundle of energy (and if you let it build up it would explode as destructively as possible). Continue reading Summer Vacation or Summer Purgatory (#324)

The Joys of Downhill Skiing (#271)

Wondering where I’ve been?

Working on maple sugar rugelach.

Well, first I was in the kitchen, covered in flour, making Christmas cookies. Tons of cookies, because we were meeting up with the familial horde in Utah.

Then we were on the road, and then we hit the slopes. Continue reading The Joys of Downhill Skiing (#271)

Fun Dad (#264)

I was primary caregiver to our son. This meant that I was also primary disciplinarian, Sayer of “No,” Destroyer of Fun.

It’s no picnic parenting a headstrong, contrary child. Ideally a parent can redirect a toddler to a non-destructive activity. But sometimes, you just gotta say no. Then you have to back it up with consequences. Otherwise, you’re raising a privileged monster who flouts the rule of law and does whatever the hell he wants. (You know, your basic born affluent white man.) Continue reading Fun Dad (#264)

Not Dead Yet (#229)

Much like the Monty Python plague victim…

Yeah, I know I haven’t posted in a while. Thank you for your patience while I’m off having adventures in the Northeast, which is green and quiet and soothing and far away from the Chinese mother-in-law telling me that I should be eating celery to lose weight while also insisting that I should go to dim sum daily. (No, celery is not a dish served at dim sum. You see my issue.)

The rural Northeast is also soothing because cell service and WiFi are questionable, at best. More than once I’ve hiked 2 miles to get a decent signal for a phone call. Continue reading Not Dead Yet (#229)

When the Cavalry Sucks (#181)

You know those big, dysfunctional but lovable white families you used to see in television and film? They were all about siblings being super shitty to each other. Yet when one member of the family was threatened, the family closed ranks and fended off the attacker.

I grew up in a huge, white, broken, dysfunctional family.

I thought those stories were bullshit. Continue reading When the Cavalry Sucks (#181)

Stocking Savior (#164)

My family collects college degrees. We have some BAs, a lot of BS, an MD, a JD, an MBA, a MSW, an MFA, and a Masters of Education. Big Brother added second MBA when he married. Judgmental Genius Doctor Sister married a second lawyer. I brought the most, though, when I added Andy — a Masters of Engineering AND a Masters in Cyber Security (so, HA, you Russian hackers, give up attacking my website already).

I think the only degree we missed was a PhD. Bummer. Continue reading Stocking Savior (#164)

London Diary: Day One (#130)

T-12 hours: I check the forecast for London:LondonForecast

So much for, “Oh, to be in England now that April’s there…” But as the Vacation Rain Goddess, I am unsurprised.

[22 hours later]

Our 777 approaches Heathrow. Then passes Heathrow, circling London and heading back east to the runway. It’s sweet that the pilots like to give incoming tourists a view…of the RAIN CLOUDS. Almost like they’re saying, “Here’s a preview! Next time, when you think British vacation, think British Virgin Islands, you bloody fool.” Continue reading London Diary: Day One (#130)

16 Things Americans Oughta Know Before Landing in London (#129)

When Andy and I went to London earlier this month, I thought I was prepared.

Turns out, Dr. Who, Top Gear, Graham Norton, Inspector Lewis, and Downton Abbey may leave gaping holes in your education that authors P.D. James, Helen Simonson, and Elizabeth George cannot quite fill.

The internet doesn’t exactly do London justice, either. But for those of you who are either looking to laugh at the clueless Americans or hoping to visit London and NOT look like clueless Americans, I’ve made this handy list: Continue reading 16 Things Americans Oughta Know Before Landing in London (#129)