May Gray 2015

The above photo was taken after the Tinkerbell 10K at Disneyland on May 9th. See how overcast it was that day? It was glorious! Cloudy and cool – perfect running weather. The phenomenon known as “May Gray” really delivered this year. The whole month was spectacular. A few weeks ago the Timehop app on my phone reminded me that is was 100 degrees around this time last year (check out the shudder-inducing reminder here), but I loved every moment of May 2015. My sweaters, jackets, and sweatshirts got a lot of wear! Running was so enjoyable during the pleasant evenings and with a cool wind off the ocean. And the days I didn’t go running I walked around Seal Beach in the evenings to make the most of the amazing weather. We even got a good amount of rain in May! A friend of mine and I went to Disneyland on May 15th and it was pouring for the first few hours. We resorted to buying sweatshirts and ponchos in order to stay warm and dry that day. It’s so rare that we get any rain between April and October in the LA area, but it was very much appreciated during this drought. There were a couple of nights where I was awakened by storms, and I swore I heard hail one of those times. Pretty crazy. I knew the beautiful weather wouldn’t last so I spent as much time outside enjoying it before summer arrives. If the last two years are any indication, June through September are going to be uncomfortably warm. I’m definitely not looking forward to that, but luckily June has been lovely so far (“June Gloom” has been in effect in the mornings). We’ll see how long it lasts!

Spring weather

“The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”
-Attributed to Mark Twain, but not verified

A few years ago a friend of mine visited San Francisco and Los Angeles in June. I reminded her to bring a jacket because coming from Florida the last thing you think you’d need in the summer is a jacket of any kind. Proving my point, the one day I met her for lunch was chilly, overcast, and overall really dreary – typical for Los Angeles in June! After growing up where it’s extremely hot most of the year, I was thrilled to discover a milder climate when I moved to California. Unfortunately, it’s much hotter here now than when I first arrived fifteen years ago. We even had some days in the 90s this past January. Yes, January. That’s nuts! I live in a beach city and it should never get that hot here any time of the year. Fortunately we’ve been enjoying some spectacular spring weather this week. The highs have been in the upper 60s and low 70s, and it actually rained a little bit on Tuesday night. I loved being able to throw on a sweatshirt when I went to pick up dinner tonight. It’s too bad I’ve had to put in so many hours at work this week because it’s kept me from fully enjoying the beautiful weather. But walking out of work in the evening to a cool breeze is something I can’t get enough of. Based on the last few years these pleasant days won’t last. I’m not looking forward to summer. Hopefully May Gray and June Gloom (there’s actually a picture of the Seal Beach pier in that Wikipedia entry!) will help keep the temperatures down over the next couple of months. I’ve got a lot of running to do!

Story of a jacket

I went to New Zealand for the first time in June 2007. It was summer in the northern hemisphere, but winter south of the equator so a warm coat was an essential part of my wardrobe on that trip. It was also the rainy season in that part of the world. It rained every single day I was in New Zealand, which got to be pretty annoying by the end, although it made sure all of the tourist sites were nearly deserted. I wore my heavy wool peacoat everywhere I went (it’s in almost every photo) which helped with the cold, but didn’t do much to protect me from the rain. It absorbed a substantial amount of precipitation whenever I was outside and didn’t exactly smell like roses afterwards. As much as I loved my peacoat, after that trip I knew I needed to buy some kind of rain jacket for any future trips to potentially rainy locales.

Fast forward more than eight years…

This weekend started off with rain. It was crazy! I don’t think we’ve had any real precipitation in Los Angeles since February so the storm that rolled through on Friday night/Saturday morning was extremely beneficial. (And it stayed away until after the kids finished trick-or-treating so that was a bonus.) I hope we have a lot more storms this winter to bring us a deluge of much-needed rain. On my way to Disneyland yesterday morning and I stopped by McDonald’s for breakfast. (I know, it’s not grain-free, but Egg McMuffins are so tasty!) I thought the storm had cleared out for the day, but I knew it was still around when I got rained on walking back to my car. I had an umbrella in my bag, but that wouldn’t be ideal at Disneyland so I drove home and grabbed my Arc’teryx GORE-TEX rain jacket instead. I bought it at an REI sale back in 2009 in anticipation of an upcoming vacation. To be honest, I haven’t worn it very much since then, but it did come in handy once or twice in Hawaii. I guess a raincoat is something you want to have in your closet, but hope you don’t need. Although, I expect if I lived somewhere like Seattle it would have seen a lot more inclement weather. Even though I drove through some pretty substantial rain on the way to Anaheim, by the time I got there I was debating leaving the Arc’teryx jacket in the car. But when the sky opened up as soon as I got outside the parking structure I was glad decided to wear the rain jacket! Having that GORE-TEX layer was very helpful during my first hour at the parks. No soggy sweatshirt on a cold and rainy morning! It was lovely. So while it’s a piece of clothing I don’t wear much, I was very appreciative of my raincoat yesterday!

The heat is on

After a few unbelievably hot days this week (as evidence by the above photo) it’s actually very pleasant on this Saturday morning. What a relief! I reveled in the cool breeze as I walked over to McDonald’s to get breakfast. It was lovely. When I left work yesterday and checked the weather app on my phone I was thrilled to see that the temperature was only 82 degrees! Only? That’s still unusually hot for Los Angeles this time of year (10 deg warmer than the average), but after the week we’ve had it felt like heaven. No one appreciated temperatures in the 90s on Monday and Tuesday, but it was completely miserable when we saw triple digits on our thermometers on Wednesday and Thursday. That has never happened since I’ve lived in California. I still remember the first time I arrived in Seal Beach in 2000. It was late May, which if Florida had taught me anything, meant the long, hot summer was in full swing. But when I got out of the car I was greeted by a cool breeze that gave me goose bumps. What an incredible surprise! I loved Los Angeles from that moment on. Where else can summer actually be comfortable? This last week was quite the exception, though. It made me remember why I never went anywhere without a sun shade in my little Neon when I lived in Florida. They were absolutely essential if you wanted to be able to touch your steering wheel after the car had been sitting in the sun for a while. But I never needed one in California until last Wednesday. Luckily the heat wave is over for now, but if we have any more hot days like that I’ll have to break down a find a sun shade for my CR-V. I shudder to think what kind of a summer we have in store if this week was any indication!

Snow in DC

It snowed in DC again today, but luckily I can read about it from the much more pleasant climate of Southern California rather than deal with it in person. Let’s just say I wasn’t exactly prepared when the white stuff started falling from the sky the day after I arrived last week. The photo on the left was taken from my hotel window on Sunday night while the snow was falling, and the photo on the right was taken on Monday morning. I had to work late on Sunday night so I was dismayed to find about three inches of snow on my rental car when I left to drive to my hotel for the night. Earlier in the evening I’d gone out to pick up some pizzas for everyone and it was just starting to snow. It wasn’t a big deal at the time and I actually enjoyed it. Since I’ve never lived in a cold climate I think watching snow fall is really beautiful, but I don’t consider the aftermath of hours of snowfall. Since Budget hadn’t left a brush in my car I had to wipe off as much of the snow from the windshield and windows of my car using my hands that night. I had gloves, but my fingers still got really cold. My fingers hurt so much afterwards that I had trouble getting my credit card out of my wallet when I got to the hotel! The next morning was even worse. The hotel parking lot had been plowed, but my car had about eight inches of accumulated snow on it. Fun. There was no way I was going to try and clear that off with just my hands, especially since I hadn’t brought any shoes with me that were even remotely suitable for walking through snow. Instead I had the hotel shuttle drop me off at work, and a co-worker took me back that evening. I borrowed a broom from work to help dig my car out so I could go to the grocery store and get some much-needed food items that night. The roads were in good shape so driving was easy as soon as my car wasn’t a giant snowdrift. By the time I left DC six days later the snow was almost completely gone. Warmer temperatures and some rain took care of that. The locals told me that this winter had been brutal and they were really looking forward to spring. Too bad they got more snow today. Luckily I’m not there this time!

Disneyland at Christmas

Can you guess what I did after work today? Yeah, I went to Disneyland. I hadn’t been there since before Halloween because the crowds were so overwhelming then and I didn’t want a repeat of that experience. But I thought today would be a day of lighter attendance not just because it’s a weekday, but because of the rain. It only rains in Los Angeles in the winter so the storm last night definitely marked the beginning of the season. And a lot of people here stay home when it rains so I took advantage of that and went out instead. I had to be at work at 6 AM this morning for a test so I got to leave at 3 PM and head to Disneyland before the traffic picked up. That was definitely worth it since the park closes at 8 PM during the week now. I spent about three hours at Disney riding a few rides (Haunted Mansion Holiday, Small World Holiday, etc.), eating dinner (a so-so rice bowl from California Adventure, but then a scrumptious salted caramel hot chocolate for dessert), and doing some Christmas shopping at Downtown Disney (presents for my best friend!). It was a good evening. Since winter has finally arrived I wore a sweatshirt even though I thought I might be a little too warm, but I was actually chilly! I love winter in Southern California so I’m trying to enjoy it as much as possible. (Fortunately “winter” lasts until April or May so there’s a lot of it!) I drove home at 7 PM, watched a couple of TV shows on my DVR (Sleepy Hollow and Big Bang Theory), and now I’m sitting in bed writing my daily post way too late again! But it was a good day so I’ll go to sleep happy tonight.

Weekend random thoughts

My brain and I have been all over the place today trying to get ready for my trip to Florida tomorrow so here’s a list of random thoughts to go with my crazy day:

***Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first – Florida lost their football game today. The Gators are breaking my heart early this season. They made a pretty poor showing against Miami for most of the game and the Hurricanes took advantage of that. My only consolations are that they didn’t lose to an SEC team and that early season losses are recoverable. Let’s remember that Florida has never had an undefeated season, yet they have three national championships. This can be overcome!

***It’s hot in Los Angeles. Really hot. I live at the beach which is the mildest possible location, but it’s still been in the low 90s every day and abnormally humid this week. And when you don’t have air conditioning it can be extremely uncomfortable. But somehow I feel like California is trying to prepare me for Florida, so maybe I should be thankful? I guess I’ll find out when I arrive in Orlando tomorrow! Fortunately my hotel room will be air conditioned, unlike my California apartment, which will be a welcome change.

***Speaking of weather, a few weeks ago I decided I should start looking for a light jacket to wear running when the weather starts to cool off. This makes some sense in Los Angeles where the temperature drops quite rapidly after the sun goes down, but I was in DC when I actually started shopping for this jacket. It was August on the East Coast. Why in the world did I think I was going to be able to find a jacket in any store this time of year? I must be crazy. I will have to resume my search for a running jacket in October. You know, when fall actually arrives?

***I can’t believe I’m going to Florida tomorrow. Preparing to be gone for an extended period of time has really stressed me out, but it’s almost too late to worry about all that stuff now. I finished just about all of the items on my to do list today – meaning I fit two weeks of stuff into about twelve hours. It was a very busy day. Right now as I’m sitting in bed my suitcase it almost completely packed (and hopefully it isn’t over the airline weight limit!) and my alarm is set for 5 AM. It won’t be long before I leave my little home for over a month. I miss it already!

***I’ll finish this post with something truly random – the new Pumpkin Spice M&Ms are dangerously good. Much better than I expected. I have a feeling I’m going to have to stay away from them to avoid excessive snacking, but I think I need to make some cookies with them later this fall.

Tank tops

Let’s try this week of words thing again, shall we? Maybe I can avoid something like Valentine’s Day completely screwing everything up this time! No promises, though.

It was 80 degrees in the Los Angeles beach cities today! In February! Crazy! Usually it doesn’t even get that warm here in the middle of the summer. Looking at the forecast this heat wave isn’t going to last, though (the high will be in the 50s by Monday), so I took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather while I could. I wore a tank top without a sweater or sweatshirt over it for a change! Pretty wild, huh? I was looking good while running errands! I’ve never really been a big fan of tank tops because I don’t particularly like the way my arms look, but I’ve been making some changes recently. And some of those changes involve my wardrobe. (The changes are ongoing – my wardrobe needs some serious help.) Unfortunately I decided I wanted to start looking for tank tops back in December – definitely the wrong time of year for that! But I was glad that I bought a couple of good ones from Old Navy and Target when I was putting together an outfit for a Christmas party at a co-worker’s house. I wear jeans and t-shirts almost every day so it was nice to spruce myself up a little to socialize with folks outside of work. I might have gone so far as to wear a dress to the party, but it was cold that night! Since then I’ve accumulated several more tank tops and I regularly wear them on the weekends (usually with a sweater or sweatshirt, as I mentioned earlier). I’m on board with anything I can do to make myself feel good these days, and if wearing tank tops does that, I will exercise my right to bare arms!

December random thoughts

***Pie is a traditional holiday dessert, right? Well, at work we have a different kind of pie. A much less interesting kind. For the last week a certain group of us have been getting daily emails telling us who still has training to complete and the information is presented in the form of a pie chart. I finished my training a while back so I’m not delinquent (for once, actually), but everyone in the group noticed that one person in particular comprises more than 75% of the pie chart. So someone sent him an email asking him to save some pie for the rest of us! Too bad it’s not edible pie.

***I wore a dress to work again on Wednesday not just because wearing one on Tuesday made me feel good, but also because I had already picked out my whole outfit and I didn’t want to change it all. (My brain doesn’t function at a high enough level early in the morning to select clothes.) This time I wore a red cardigan with my favorite little black dress that my mom bought me at Ann Taylor back in 2001. It’s so gorgeous and it still looks great after eleven years. (And it still fits which is amazing!) After two days I discovered several drawbacks to wearing a dress at work (less comfortable shoes, cold legs, worrying about flashing people, etc.), but there are a few perks too. I certainly liked the compliments. I think I’ll consider dressing up for work a couple of times a year just for the heck of it!

***On Wednesday I realized that I don’t own any sweatpants. I used to, but they disappeared at some point in the past (probably to Goodwill). When I got home from work I was completely exhausted and all I wanted to do was crash on the couch. But before that I had to change out of my dress and heels I wore to work. That’s when I discovered my lack of sweatpants. They would have been perfect to thrown on for a little television watching and web surfing, especially since winter is in full swing here in Los Angeles (rain and much cooler temperatures), but my wardrobe is completely devoid of sweatpants. This speaks well for my fashion sense, but lounging around the house in skinny jeans just isn’t as comfortable!

***It rained on Wednesday night so I made sure to bring my umbrella in to work with me on Thursday morning. I expected it to rain all day, but the front went through early in the morning so the umbrella turned out to be completely unnecessary. Of course. If I had left it in the car it would have rained all day – most heavily when I was walking out to my car in the afternoon. Then today I wasn’t expecting rain (at least not until tomorrow), but of course it was drizzling as I left work. And of course I didn’t have my umbrella. Isn’t that how it always happens?

***I finally put up my Christmas tree tonight. I wanted to put it up earlier this month, but I was waiting for the rain to stop so I could mop the floors beforehand. Gotta start with a clean canvas. The rain stopped over a week ago, but I have to admit that I procrastinated with the mopping and decorating since then. When it started raining again today I was mad at myself for not checking these things off my to do list in a timely manner. The only feasible solution was barricading myself in the house when I got home from work and getting started on chores. I made sure not to walk outside again for the rest of the day to avoid tracking more dirt inside. So this is how I got my floors mopped and my Christmas tree put up tonight. And it looks great.