BUT IT’S A DRY HEAT

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

 

weather mapWell, here we are. The dog days of summer only…oh yeah, it’s only the first of JULY! Everyone on the West Coast is experiencing a heat wave but aside from Death Valley (aptly named this time of year I might add), Arizona is as hot as a place can be without actually experiencing spontaneous combustion. Right about now our nickname of “Valley of the Sun” changes to “Face of the Sun”. But just as people prepare to live in Minneapolis or Fargo in January, we denizens of the desert have also learned the best way to adapt to summer: we make lists. Those of us who spend any time here frying in the summer heat start making lists of projects to undertake when it’s just too darned hot to venture outside. Usually my list is filled with really exciting stuff – alphabetizing the spice rack, sorting socks, reviewing just how it is that I didn’t lose those last 10 pounds over the winter.

One staple on my list is “clean out closets”. I don’t know what happens over the course of a year to mess them up. Surely it isn’t anything I’ve done. I’ve long suspected that little elves come at night with U-Hauls full of crap to dump in my storage areas. However, as it happens, each summer I spend a good part of my time throwing stuff out. My litmus test for every piece of paper, dusty lampshade or two-year old box of oatmeal is this: if we sold our house would I pay to move or store this item? It’s amazing how quickly that separates the wheat from the chaff. Or in this case, the possible antique from the junk that wouldn’t sell at a garage sale.

So on Saturday, when the temperature reached 119, my choice was to begin to work on “my list” or spend the day looking at the beach on Google Maps. I chose to clean closets. I started with my office – or as I like to think of it – the low hanging fruit of closet cleaning. Amongst all of the paraphernalia I found a box from my working days. It was a treasure trove of useless junk, most of which no longer has any appreciable use. For example, I don’t know why I brought the desk plaque with my name and title on it home. I’m fairly certain that my husband and the dog know my name. I found a file that contained every performance review that I had received since 1987. Really. What in the heck did I ever think I would do with them? Surely the neighbors are not interested in coming over for a robust discussion about my goals in 1994 no matter how much wine I give them. I had congratulatory letters from my promotions and cards that people had written to thank me for something that I can no longer remember. Worst of all, I had saved all of the cards I received when I retired. Worst, not because I had kept them, but because I couldn’t remember who half of those people were. (On the flip side, I was amazed how many people I do stay in touch with. Thank you, Facebook.)

At the bottom of the box was a file labeled “Interesting Articles” . Over my working years I would collect magazine articles or newspaper columns that I found either motivating or inspirational. Anyone who ever worked for me became familiar with my “worth sharing” memos. And now, looking back on it, I suspect that most of the time my pearls of wisdom went to the bottom of their reading pile and then mysteriously found its way into the waste paper basket. But now that I’d found the file I was curious to read them again and see if they stood the test of time. And you know what? They have. I guess whether you’re a business executive or just the head pooper scooper, there are some things that remain constant.

For example, one of my favorite articles was titled “Not Everything Is Worth Doing Well”. When I first read it back in 1986 it was a real revelation for my Type A-perfectionist-drive everyone crazy personality. Back in the day there wasn’t much I did that was slap-dash, if one can overlook some rather unfortunate hairstyles. Even now, some people might say that I’m wound a bit too tight. Some people like my husband or anyone else who has spent more than an hour in my company. But the gist of the article is that you can drive yourself crazy trying to do absolutely everything to perfection. The author suggests that we prioritize our tasks and give our all only to the items at the top of the list. For example, she says that housecleaning doesn’t always need our very best effort. See? I told you it was a great article. Now if people look at my dusty coffee table with disdain I can tell them with clear-eyed conviction that “dusting” simply isn’t near the top of my list. Think of the possibilities. If I really focus I think I can add several more domestic chores that simply aren’t worthy of my time. Like cleaning closets. Next year, it goes to the bottom of the list.  I’m going to the beach.

 

THE MIGRATION OF THE SNOWBIRD

 

SnowbirdBy Suzanne Sparrow Watson

 

Well, it’s that time of year again – the annual migration of the snowbirds has begun.  “Snowbirds” for those unfamiliar with the term, refer to all the people from colder climes that come here in the winter just so they can call home to their friends and brag that they’re not having to shovel sunshine.  There are so many people here from the Midwest that someone once said that the definition of diversity in Phoenix is when someone from Chicago moves in right next door to someone from Minneapolis.

 

A quick trip to the grocery store this morning made clear that the snowbirds are on the wane.  I did not have to swerve coming out of my neighborhood in order to miss some “high flying” snowbird with his top down, talking on a cell phone, and smoking a stogie.

 

Nor did I have to endure people turning left, no, then right, no, then left again because they didn’t have GPS in their car and can’t figure out our complicated street system.  (I will say that having streets that dead end and then pick up again three miles down the road is a tad bit confusing)car transport

 

And best of all, I breezed into the parking lot, found a space up close and was able to complete my shopping without having to stand in a long line of people stocking up on gin, cocktail napkins and sunscreen.  Rest assured, the most beautiful sight we see this time of year are all the car transport trucks heading out of town.

 

The bad part about the migration is that most of my friends are snowbirds.  They return this time of year to the mountains or the Midwest, carry on with their lives at home and leave the rest of us here to sweat out the summer.  Just as they have their unique moniker, those of us who stay here are affectionately known as the “summer sluts”.  At least I think that’s a term of affection.

 

In any event, last week a friend asked me if I actually looked forward to everyone leaving for the season.  Since she was “migrating” back to Chicago the next day, I did what I thought was right. I lied.  I told her it was awful here in the summer.  And, of course, I do miss my friends.  But the truth is, it’s kind of nice once everyone clears out.  We can get into any restaurant we choose at 7 p.m. on a Saturday night.  We can arrive 10 minutes before the opening of a blockbuster movie and still get a great seat.  Oh sure, you can fry an egg on the pavement in mid-August but  that’s a small price to pay to be the first in line at the Nordstrom Annual Pre-Season sale.

 

But the best reason to enjoy the snowbird migration?  No more dinner invitations.  We control our schedule – from now until November we will not be on a social merry-go-round.  We will only go out when we feel like it.  We will not have to get dressed up.  We can sit on our sofa, wearing Bermudas and a tank top, and download movies from Netflix.  We can munch on junk food.  We can drink beer and vodka tonics to keep cool.

 

Come to think of it, maybe I am a summer slut. white trash