January 12, 2008


What a difference an hour can make...

I woke up bright and early, as I usually do on Saturdays, at 4:50. Outside, the morning was cool and clear as I ran across the drive to the laundry. When I ran back a half hour later, to toss the clothes in the dryers, it was still the same.

An hour later, the laundry was barely visible. If it weren't for the light being on, you wouldn't have known that there was another building across the way.

Fog gets thick out here. Very thick. Seems that every year, they have a pileup like the one they had back in November. You'd think that folks would learn, but folks being folks, they don't.

It's know as a Tule fog, and it's known for its limited visibility.

I was asked, almost as soon as I had moved here, if I'd experienced the fog, yet, by someone who had lived in the area a long time ago. It was still too early in the year, but I did some research to see what it was with which I would be dealing.

One of my favorite articles was found on Minnestota Public Radio... it's all the way down at the bottom of the page. (Or should be...) I've posted it below the fold, too.

Anyway, visibility is returning... I can now see a whole block away. 'Tis a perfect day to go back to bed, but I don't know that I can or will... too much to try to accomplish.

From the desk of Tuli-Fog Survivor

Dear Everyone,
During the Holiday Season, I like to think of all the things I'm grateful for. This year it's Christmas Lights, the ones that plaster rural farmhouses, barns and gargantuan front yards up here in the Central Valley of California, a.k.a. "Cal-abama."

This tour de force display o' lights which, according to Ms. Manners treatise on Christmas Light Etiquette circa 1972 shall appear no sooner than the day after Thanksgiving (since your husband is probably home and grateful for the turkey) and stay up until the three wise guys reach Bethlehem on January 6th.

Faithful agri-families in the Valley develop a chronic annual condition known as 'Holiday Short-Term' Memory Loss Syndrome. HSTMLS (pronounced hist-ma-liss) is caused by an optimistic belief in the U.S. economy. HSTMLS affects its victims memory center by blocking out any thoughts of astronomical January utility bills. Christmas Lights burn brightly all night long. However, as we shall soon see, this is a good thing. HSTMLS is also directly responsible for making utility company executives rumba at break-neck speed round the cash registers with glee (ole!) while apparently "tsk-tsking" the overuse of electricity. The third and final stage of HSTMLS is nausea, vomiting and heartburn upon receipt of Visa/MasterCard/Discover December statements. But we're not even going to go there, at least not today.

Let us get back to the Christmas Lights shall we? For those of you who don't know (and being a Minnesotan transplant I had never heard of such a beast) I recently discovered something called "Tuli-Fog" that hovers like astral ecto-plasm, smothering the 99 Highway and associated back roads with a rich layer of fog frosting. Here is what happens when you run into it. Driving alone late at night furiously switching radio stations (desperately seeking MPR) but finding instead Hard Rock in the form of Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and the likes, Mexican Mariachi Music (aka M3) and Christmas carols which plunge a body into pleasant childhood memories of kittens, and stockings and a blazing hearth, a disturbing event occurs. All-of-a-sudden and completely out of nowhere its wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am as you enter the Twilight Zone.

The road disappears, the lone pick-up truck you've been feverishly following for the last 60 miles has been absconded by aliens. Everything is completely shrouded in a pea-soup mist -- a blank canvas of nothingness while the radio plays another Christmas carol.

Reflexes take over as you slam on the brakes and turn off Karen Carpenter as she side-steps into another marshmallow tune. You are hungry - desperate - for sight as you continue crawling towards Oz (which in this version of reality resembles a cozy bed in Atwater where you can snuggle under the covers with your husband) and fall into a dreamless REM sleep. Much better than sugarplum fairies at this point. And here is when 'THE MIRACLE OF THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS' happens. A piercing of the Tuli veil as it were. From the thickening mist multi-colored blobs of light appear. You realize you are driving on someone's front lawn but never mind, you missed hitting Rudolph. Faith restored in your capacity to drive, (after all this is your 3rd Starbucks espresso, they don't have Caribou up here) you relax your death grip on the steering wheel, unslump your shoulders and continue towards that bed.

Happy Holidays and raise a cup of kindness to those wonderful lights.
Sincerely, Tuli-Fog Survivor

Submitted by Laurel Aarsvold of Atwater, CA

Posted by That 1 Guy at January 12, 2008 10:02 AM | TrackBack

Love the Tule fog. You'll figure out that people here will drive twice as fast in the fog as they will when it rains.

Posted by: Navy CPO at January 12, 2008 01:12 PM