Monthly Archives: June 2010

Answer: The Guessing Game #2

Do you think you know La Mesa like the back of your hand? See if you know where this tiny piece of La Mesa fits into the puzzle of the city.


You’ve got a sharp eye if you do (at least before you walk in the door). If you don’t know, keep your eyes peeled this week. Check here next Saturday for the answer and see if you are right. And the answer is…


Neiner Neiner Neiner, or June Gloat


June is a good month to gloat in La Mesa
[head cocked back diagonally, elbows out, thumbs hooked under suspenders], yes indeeedy. Because while all the beach-area inhabitants are pulling back out their winter chandails (that’s a gloater’s word for big honkin’ sweaters), we in the East are sipping dry, very dry, rosé and pecking pistachios on the patio in our skivvies. Well, maybe we’ve got some day clothes on, but we are enjoying the sunset, and we see the sun. This would not be the case in the beach areas. The proverbial “June Gloom” is for the coast, mostly. So, even though I sometimes make (huge, long, detailed) mental notes about which houses I wished I lived in when I happen to spend the day in Coronado, or Mission Bay, or Encinitas, I LUV the fact that La Mesa is almost untouchable by the evil June Gloom. Sometimes I forget – it’s so glorious out here I pack up the herd, which may be noted for the record is sometimes a very difficult and stressful affair, and haul off to the beach. Yea the beach! But when we get there it’s 40 degrees cooler and their ain’t no sun. Dagnabbit. I feel better when we get back to The Table. Which leads me to ask, to what (or Whom) do we owe this seasonal climatic superiority? It is surely linked to the fact that we are called The Table. Although when I look around me, and when I ride my bike, I wonder just how anyone could have convinced the council elders that a good name for this place would be La Mesa. There must have been a lot of sangria going around at that meeting.

In college I took an oceanography class. Part of the class was allotted to learning about the connection between the ocean, the local geography, and the climate. Proximity to a large body of water, like the Pacific Ocean, is pretty much a defining factor in what your overall weather experience will be. Throw some mountains in the mix and it gets even more interesting. Due to these phenomena San Diego has several microclimates and depending on where you are between the ocean and the desert you will be living a completely different day, especially in June (or May). The dreaded June Gloom (May Grey) is driven by what’s called an inversion layer (not related to tiramisu – but can’t everything be linked back to a dessert?!). High pressure in the eastern Pacific blocks storms from reaching southern California and also pushes warm air downward, trapping much cooler air over the ocean and forming a marine layer which can hang out along the coast in the form of fog or low clouds. Very high pressure confines this layer to the coastline – the inland areas, i.e. La Mesa and Co., are far enough away from the ocean to go unaffected by the blanket of grey.  If the high pressure is a little lower we have a greater chance of seeing the blanket reach out toward the inland valleys and the mountains. Apparently this year was not as gloomy as other years, perhaps partly due to the effects of El Nino which can have an lessening effect on the high pressure in the Pacific and sends San Diego more chances of rain. It did rain a lot didn’t it? Rain or gloom, either way you look at it, not my favorite weather for this time of year!

In trying to (re)discover (alas, college was a long time ago…) the workings of June Gloom I found myself wondering just who is in charge of the weather in La Mesa. By this I mean where is the official captor for meteorological happenings? Of course the Internet is a fabulous resource for anything data-driven such as weather statistics. I ended up fairly quickly on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service website (say that ten times fast!). I clicked about looking for the likes of an official source for La Mesa’s weather and wheedled it down to a weather station which according to its GPS coordinates sits in someone’s yard off of Date Street near downtown. Hmmmm. This made me wonder. (Yes, I am the human version of “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”.) Is this an official weather station? And just how is it that the National Weather Service decides where to put these stations?

For this kind of question, and so many other questions in life, there is no better resource than a human being. I think I’ll say that again in capitals. THERE IS NO BETTER RESOURCE THAN A HUMAN BEING. Mmm, that felt good.

I called the San Diego National Weather Service Forecast Office and made it quickly through the digital button-pushing part of the call to make contact with a real human being. And an extremely cordial, helpful one at that. He explained to me that traditionally, from the 40’s through the 70’s, weather observation was collected manually, and for a fairly obvious and logical reason it was taken at the airport. (I am FOR my pilot having up-to-date weather data.) San Diego’s official weather then comes from Lindbergh Field. This of course does not reflect what is happening in other microclimates around the county (as we gloatingly well know in La Mesa). With new technology available manual weather observation was replaced with automated weather observation. Mr. Weather (I’m sorry I did not note his name, both for the sake of manners and to advertize what a helpful person he was!) then walked me over the phone through a part of the website (see below for a link) called the San Diego Mesonet. The site maps and makes available information from automated weather stations all over the county. I learned that although Lindbergh field is still the official weather station for San Diego, there are many private weather stations that feed into the Mesonet, including the one off of Date Street. These stations are not all technologically equal to the very precise instruments used by the National Weather Service and thus are not “official” observation stations, but they do provide very useful information. You can see various indicators across the map such as temperature, wind, and relative humidity (I would think this last one creates a strong visual of the territories affected by the June Gloom). You can also click on a particular weather station and see hourly reports on the indicators from that particular station. Fascinating stuff. Thanks again Mr. Weather.

Of course, when we were kids we didn’t need a weather station to know that we could wear shorts to school when it was 55 in the morning. We just knew instinctively it would be 75 by the time recess rolled around. Just like as adults we know that in June when you leave the office downtown with your jacket on, you can put your sunglasses on and look forward to that rosé on the patio when you get past Fairmont. Neiner neiner neiner! :-)

The San Diego Office’s National Weather Service Forecast  Mesonet

Good-Bye Spring, Hello Summer

For some reason Spring is traditionally the season that I spend asking myself “what’s today?” whenever I have to write a check. March? April? May? I have to actually think about it. My internal clock must be really busy because it sort of disconnects from the newsroom of my brain. I think my internal clock has several guys running it. The one that knows what time it is is very reliable, to the minute. Whenever I wake up in the middle of the night I play a game. I try to guess what time it is before I glance at the alarm clock near the bed. I’m usually within 2 minutes. Then there’s the guy that knows how long to leave the cake in the oven. I help him by setting the oven timer but when it comes to refining – adding or subtracting minutes, even seconds, to make it just perfect – he’s the man.

It’s the guy who knows when the soft-boiled eggs are done and the guy that answers when I ask “what’s today?” that aren’t pulling their weight. Maybe they’re playing poker in the hold? Anyway, once again, Spring has just slipped through my fingers. I’m glad I used my camera a lot. There were some beautiful days. Here are a few pictures to keep us going when Summer temperatures make us wish for the softer days of Spring. (Note: all of these were taken within a half mile of downtown La Mesa. Isn’t she pretty? )

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Answer: The Guessing Game / #1

Do you think you know La Mesa like the back of your hand? See if you know where this tiny piece of La Mesa fits into the puzzle of the city.


You’ve had a week to find out — do you think you know? Click

here to see if you are right

The Price You Pay

To every action there exists an equal and opposite reaction. The Yin and the Yang. Can’t have your cake and eat it too. (The French version: can’t have the butter and the butter money too – those French, it’s all about butter.) Yep, you know what I mean – you can’t live in one of the nicest places on earth without having something scourge-y… like an earthquake.

If I were to paint a picture of the square footage around our front door it would include a child on the couch, a child on the thing we optionally use as a couch or a place to throw things we don’t want to sit on on the real couch, and a child on a mattress on the floor. No, we do not usually live like rodents, but after the 5.7 earthquake that just hit, there’s nobody who wants to sleep upstairs. Please note, I, and the children that were standing outside on the front lawn with me, all felt that this was much bigger than 5.7. This is the first time we have actually got up and left the premises since the 7-pointer on Easter day. It felt like we were in a rickety wood frame house from the 40’s. Oh wait, we were! What made it momentarily confusing is that I was in a crackiest part of the house (under the wooden A-frame roof) putting away something in the dark when it sounded like the wood all around me had formed into a sort of cracky wave of sound. This was only confusing for a short moment, until my This Might Be an Emergency guy took over the controls and pulled all the levers and strings to make me behave in the Calm Mother Hastily Evacuating Her Offspring From Possible Doom mode. I quickly instructed all my rodents to “oh my god let’s get outta here!” which they did in acceptable fashion. I did have to halt the exodus momentarily to let Henry catch up – he is the only one who has to negotiate a ladder to get out of bed.

If we were in a Who Wins A Fight Between a Tiger and a Shark kind of mood, we might ask What’s Worse an Earthquake or a Tornado? I say an earthquake, because at least with a tornado you have some possibility of getting the news out before it hits. How about Which Would You Rather, Have a Sizable Earthquake or Never Eat a Donut Again? Ooo, there’ll be heated debate tomorrow at breakfast.

Hopefully, everyone will have a peaceful (cakeless) night.

Dear Henry, My Love is Going Sour


My darling. These kind of things are never easy to say. This is probably not the best way to go about it but there are really no good ways to tell someone you have lost the flame. We’ve been together so long now, so close. You were always there, day or night, when I needed you. I’ll never forget how good you smell in the morning… like the intoxicating aroma of fresh baked bread. And though I don’t know if I can completely give you up, I think it’s only fair to tell you I’m seeing someone else, and to try to explain how we got to this point. Actually, it’s not so complicated. I’m sure there are many others who are going through the same turmoil. It’s just that it’s starting to cost so much… How much can a woman stand before she starts looking elsewhere? I’m sure you aren’t oblivious to what I’m talking about. You’ve got eyes and ears. You were bound to find out anyway. I just wanted to tell you myself before someone else told you they saw me…

Do You See What I See? (Do I See What I See?!)

It seems like every day now I notice something that’s been there forever but I just never really paid attention to it. I saw it but I wasn’t SEEING it. What exactly it is that enables the foot to slide into the crack of the door of my attention, I do not know. But today it happened again. I was driving, more slowly than usual, on a street I must hit 20 times a week and just today noticed the blue house with the blue tree. What a beautiful tree. [Oh! I just had an *‘aha’ moment: I’ve become a tree freak. When did that happen? What does this mean? I’ve really changed. I will actually deviate trajectory, stop and turn around, to go back and look at a tree. A tree. Hmmm, yes what would Freud do with that?]


This tree and this house are so lovely together, don’t you think? That tree makes me believe the owners must love where they live. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that the hues in their garden meld so harmoniously together and with their home. I imagine the owners pouring over stacks of tree books around the kitchen table, comparing colors, sizes, species, sweeping difficulty, and all other tree-choice considerations, on a Sunday morning with pots of coffee and delicious bread from our delicious downtown bakery. (Oh wait, we don’t have a delicious downtown bakery – this is the subject of another future blog post: “Businesses We’d All Frequent in Downtown La Mesa If They Existed”…)  Final verdict: to the left, magnolia. To the right, blue. But did they pick the tree for the house paint or the house paint for the tree? In any case its charm is all wrapped up in its discretion.  Charm and discretion make an alluring pair. Discretion makes things hard to see, and easy to miss. But when you don’t miss them, when you do happen to SEE them,  the fact that they were difficult to discover sets the charm factor into motion…

Once again, I’ll probably say it a jillion times, La Mesa is full of treasures. I find one every day.


It's less blue up close than from far away. Anyone know the name of the species?

*an ‘aha’ moment (a distant cousin to the ‘senior moment’ in the family of moments) is where you feel like you’ve stumbled across some new truth about yourself, when in reality for it to feel the way it does that truth has had to sit there waiting for you to notice it for some time. Probably if your subconscious had anything to say about it he/she’d call it a duh-ha moment.