Saturday, March 29, 2014

"Soft as Music, Light as Spray"

So many of the songs I post here on Saturdays hold special meanings or memories for me, but today's song does not. What it does instead is take me on a four-minute trip south of the border to a place I've never been but can see clearly when I close my eyes and listen. In fact, I've taken so many quickie Mexican vacations that this song has become one of the most-played songs on my iTunes list.

So, you wanna get away from it all for a few minutes? Press play and vaya con dios. (Just don't drink the water.)

The song is "Spanish is the Loving Tongue" by Asher Quinn.
Thanks to Asher Quinn for posting this video on YouTube.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

With Apologies to the Artist Once Again Known as Prince

Yesterday's mail delivery included the cane I ordered recently. I'm happy to report that it does relieve the pressure on my bad knee, and its little wrist strap comes in handy after I've taken half a dozen steps, the knee has unlocked, and I don't need it anymore. It's very lightweight, easy to dangle from my arm until I figure out where to park it so it'll be available next time.

The dogs keep sneaking up to sniff it, then backing away quickly, as if it's a stiff snake poised to strike them. I think they'll be more forgiving of it once they realize it's almost as good as the broom for knocking their ball out from under the coffee table.

I have to say it's a pretty little thing. As soon as I opened the box, the music in my head kicked in, and I've been singing ever since: "...I only want to be here laughing with my purple cane. Pur-puh-ul cane, pur-ur-pul caaaane..."

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

To Quote John Lennon: "Imagine..."

Stopped at a traffic light on the way to Life Writing class yesterday, I glanced up at the birds on the utility lines overhead and saw two doves, side by side, with a red-tail hawk perched just below and a foot or two to the right of them. All three of them were watching the cars pass by, showing neither fear of nor interest in each other.

I wanted to share with you the promise I perceived in that avian symbol of world peace, but there I was, without my camera. Obviously, I'm not the star student in the Drawing 101 class, but I have now recorded that tranquil scene for posterity:

Just imagine.

What I've Been Reading

Reading time has been limited lately, but there's always bedtime. No matter how sleepy I am, I love the way reading settles my mind before I turn out the lamp and go to sleep. The house is quiet and I can escape the cares of the day for a few minutes in another place, another time, with the new friends I find in the pages.

Twelve Years a Slave
by Solomon Northup

The Misremembered Man
by Christina McKenna

Burial Rites
by Hannah Kent

Lauren Bacall By Myself
by Lauren Bacall

Dandelion Wine
by Ray Bradbury

Leaving Church
by Barbara Brown Taylor

The Best of Me
by Nicholas Sparks

To read a description and reviews of any of these books,
click on it's image above.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Bright Spot in an Otherwise Ordinary Day

Wednesday afternoon, as I loaded bags of just-purchased groceries into the trunk of my car, I heard music. Looking around for the source of it, I spotted an elderly man sitting in the driver's seat of a parked, faded-red pickup truck, his elbow sticking out the window, fingers tapping on the steering wheel to the rhythm of the song on his radio. The best part was that he was singing along in a clear, perfectly-pitched voice, not missing a note or a word.

The man stared off into space as he sat there singing and, I'm guessing, waiting for his wife. The movement of my car backing out of a parking space across from his caught his eye, and he glanced my way. In that moment I smiled and said, "That's a good song." He turned down his radio and cupped his ear to indicate he hadn't heard what I said. I repeated, "That's a good song."

"Yes, it is," he replied. "It's an old song," he added, a wide grin splitting his face. I nodded and waved, still smiling as I drove away.

The song was one I remembered from 1960, the year I graduated from high school. I have good memories of that year. It was easy to see that the song stirred up pleasant thoughts in the old black man in the red truck, too. History leads me to believe that my experiences in 1960 were different from his, but the sweetness of a brief moment shared in a South Louisiana parking lot in 2014 tells me that the differences between us back then weren't nearly as great as some people thought they were.

The song is "Save the Last Dance for Me," by The Drifters.
Click here to read the lyrics.
Thanks to dannypsych for posting this video on YouTube.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Four Pairs of Grooming Shears and One Paisley Walking Cane

The title of this post represents my most recent--and perhaps oddest ever--online shopping order. The shears have arrived, and (I never thought I'd say the following words) I can't wait to try out the cane.

After Levi's first and only professional grooming session blew a big hole in my budget, I decided to attempt to take on that job myself. When Gimpy joined the family, the DIY-incentive doubled. Goldendoodles are beautiful when they've been groomed professionally, and mine are almost as beautiful, at least to me, after I've taken the scissors to them. Just a little more ragged around the edges. Thank goodness they're beloved family pets, not show dogs.

My favorite grooming shears are lightweight and extra-sharp with round safety tips at the ends. As good as they are, the blades start getting dull after about two haircuts on a dog the size of mine with hair three inches thick. The big-box store where I used to buy them no longer carries them, but there they were on Amazon, so I stocked up. I've never thought of scissors as disposable, but these cost only about $8 a pair, which, compared to $120 for a professional to groom one dog one time, makes me think these shears are a good investment.

Here's Levi's "after" picture:

Bless his heart. His lovely, naturally plumed tail was not just matted, it was as ratted and teased as l980s mall bangs and had to be clipped down to nothing but one sad little lion-tuft at the end.

Gimpy is next. He's a lot more suspicious of the clipping process than Levi is, so I have to cut his hair in a series of short sessions rather than one, all-day one. Today's a good day to get started.

As for that cane I ordered ... I don't need it to walk, only to get started walking. My right knee now seizes up every time I sit still for more than a few minutes. As soon as I stand up again, I have to wait for gravity to straighten out the leg (a painful process, by the way) before I can go anywhere. That means clinging to a piece of furniture and balancing on my left leg until the right knee is straight enough to bear weight. I'm hoping the cane will provide better support and stability while I'm just standing there revving my engine.

These are examples of the kinds of things we have to do on a daily basis to get on with our lives, aren't they? We encounter a situation, figure out how to adapt to it, and move on.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Scents and Sensibilities

Last week's Life Writing class homework ended up as something entirely different from what I'd started out to write. Here it is, courtesy of a rather pushy muse:


On the Internet there are pages and pages of articles about olfactory memory. In one of those articles, “How Smell Works," Sarah Dowdey wrote:  “A smell can bring on a flood of memories, influence people’s moods and even affect their work performance. Because the olfactory bulb is part of the brain’s limbic system, an area so closely associated with memory and feeling it’s sometimes called the “emotional brain,” smell can call up memories and powerful responses almost instantaneously.”

Boy, is that the truth! Except for familiar pieces of music, nothing else takes me back in time faster than smells I recognize from my childhood. I’ve made a list, incomplete and off the top of my head, of scents that embedded themselves deeply in my youthful brain, so let’s try an experiment. Whether you’re listening to my list with your ears or reading it with your eyes, pay close attention to what’s happening with your nose. See if it remembers smells like these:

• Rain, its pleasant scent especially noticeable when there was no thunder or lightning and I was allowed to carry an umbrella and walk at the edge of the street to the end of the block and back, bare feet splashing in the narrow stream of rainwater that flowed against the curb.

• Lilacs and roses, the most fragrant of all the blossoms in my grandmother's carefully tended flower beds.

• Clover, growing wild in the yard or picked by little girls and woven into chains.

• Ripe tomatoes and tall stalks of corn growing in my grandfather's garden, their separate scents as pleasing as the taste of their juices mingled with salt and butter on my plate after supper. I'd stay at the table until everyone else was gone so I could tilt my plate and drink that juice.

• Cinnamon, sprinkled on sugar cookies my grandmother baked mid-afternoon, stacked in her big, porcelain dishpan, covered with a tea towel, kept warm until my sister and I came home from school.

• Crispy, juicy chicken Mammaw fried after church every single Sunday.

• Hamburgers at Taylor's Drive-In, where Mother would take us after a show or a circus. They were made with thin, thin meat patties and dressed with mustard, sliced dill pickles and onions. Their distinctive smell must have been due to the onions, because Taylor's was the only place I'd eat them.

• Baloney sandwiches unwrapped from waxed paper in the school lunchroom; also Fritos, pulled from the same brown paper bag.

• Popcorn in downtown movie theaters--the Landers, the Fox, the Gillioz--to which we rode the city bus on Saturdays to see matinees, black and white newsreels, and colorful Disney cartoons.

• The school smells:  chalk dust, crayons, wood shavings in the pencil sharpener, white paste, oilcloth brought from home to cover desks during art projects, and purple-printed, mimeographed pages to be taken home to our parents. (Of all those items, only the white paste tasted as good as it smelled.)

• Telephone poles. I sniffed them at every inconspicuous opportunity after I discovered that their smell reminded me of the monkey enclosure at the Springfield Zoo. Only later did I learn that that smell was creosote, painted on telephone poles and the wooden posts of the big wire cage as a preservative.

• The healing scent of Band-Aids and adhesive tape and the sinus-clearing smell of Absorbine Jr. rubbed lovingly onto a sprained ankle or Vicks VapoRub spread on my chest under my cotton pajama-top.

• Ivory soap, the big bar that floated in the bath water in the claw-footed tub.

• The cherry-almond fragrance of my grandmother's Jergens hand lotion.

• The lingering smell of shaving cream on my grandfather's cheek when he hugged me soon after a shave.

• The Evening in Paris eau de Toilette I bought for my mother at M. L. Hunter's 5¢ to $1 Store--the smallest, cheapest, deep-blue bottle of Evening in Paris the store sold and the only one that fit my budget.

• The fresh smell of laundry starch being cooked on the stove to be carried in its pot gingerly, with pot-holders, down the basement stairs and poured into the tub of the old wringer washing machine.

• Sheets and pillowcases that had hung all day on the backyard clothesline to dry in the sun and wind.


Some things stink; it's a fact. Not all the smells that stir memories are pleasant ones, even if the memories themselves are nice. Here are some not-so-nice smells that have stayed in my brain in a good way:

• The dank mustiness of the basement when my sister and I played down there to beat the summer's heat.

• The chlorinated water of the swimming pool at Fassnight Park and that same strong chemical odor, diluted by a mere hint of urine, in the bathhouse next to the pool. Those smells meant cool water on a hot day; it was easy to tolerate them.

• My own perspiration on my fingertips after I'd sat outside on the front-porch swing in summer, arms crossed over my chest, hands tucked into my armpits. There was a time when I thought my sweat smelled like corn silks, but that changed well before junior high.

• Dirt kicked up by children's feet on dusty playgrounds. Along with bruised arms, dust in our nostrils was the price we paid for Red Rover, Red Rover.

• Lightning bugs. Their odor wasn't noticeable unless a bunch of them were collected in a jar or a lighted tail was crushed and spread around the base of a finger to make a glow-in-the-dark ring.

• Sneakers and socks, wrapped in gym clothes brought home for laundering after five days crammed in a school locker.

• Rotten eggs, previously hard-boiled, dyed, and surrounded by jellybeans and chocolate-marshmallow goodies in an Easter basket, then hidden by me for more than a week behind a rack of winter coats and a big trunk on the floor of the closet underneath the stairs. My Uncle Joe never found my basket, but I had to throw out more than he would have stolen.


Good or bad, smells are powerfully evocative. My sister and I once traveled together to a family reunion in Springfield, Missouri. That was in 1996, nearly forty years after we'd moved from there to Texas. About thirty miles before we reached our destination, Judy opened the sunroof and a forgotten but familiar fragrance wafted into the car and hit us right in our hearts. The scent was so compelling that nostalgic tears began rolling down both our faces. We never did find out what unidentified substance our olfactory bulbs had picked out of the Southwest Missouri air; none of our relatives who lived there noticed any unusual or distinctive scent at all. Whatever it was, it smelled exactly like home.


One purpose of the Life Writing class exercises is to remind us of stories we might not otherwise think to write. After finishing the homework piece above, I realized that there's at least one story to be written about every item on that list of remembered smells. I may write them--using the list as a meme for blog posts--when the current class sessions end.

Now it's your turn:  What smells from your own childhood have stayed with you?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Trinkets and Treasures - No. 12

It's been over a year since I posted anything in the Trinkets and Treasures category. I guess that series had slipped my mind until last Friday, my younger daughter's 50th birthday. I wanted to give her something special to mark the occasion, and the item that came immediately to mind was this garnet ring that once belonged to my mother:

Here's a picture of Mother (during her blonde years, about 1954) wearing the ring as she sunbathed beside the swimming pool at Fassnight Park in Springfield, Missouri:

The ring was custom made for Mother, a copy of one that belonged to her grandmother, Dora Hetherington Elliott. For years after Mother's death I wore the ring on special occasions that she might have attended had she still been alive and other times when I simply needed to feel closer to her. Its gold band is so small that I had to wear it on my little finger, but it fits Kelli's ring finger perfectly--just the way it fit Mother's.

Kelli and I both cried when I gave her the ring, the photo of Mother wearing it, and a handwritten note about its history. Through her tears she said, "Did you ever think I'd get old enough to care?"

Yes. I knew she would.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

La Buena Vida - 1970-1971

The assignment for the Life Writing class I'm taking was to make a timeline of important events in our lives, then write about one of those events. Here's my story (with added links and photos) about our move to Miami, Florida:


In the summer of 1969 my husband, Richard, two daughters, eight-year-old Kim and six-year-old Kelli, and I moved back to our home in Orange, Texas after a six-month stay in Mentor-on-the-Lake, Ohio. As happy as we were to be home, it didn’t take long for us to realize at least one advantage of living away from there. Richard was my second husband. Our friends and families in Texas couldn’t resist giving us regular updates on the activities of my ex-husband or his ex-wife, reminders that plunged us momentarily into our separate, not-so-pleasant pasts. In Ohio it hadn’t been like that; new friends and neighbors there treated us like the bonded family unit we’d become since our marriage a year earlier.

That’s one reason why we didn’t hesitate to move again the next summer, 1970, when the number of East Texas construction jobs trickled down and Richard’s union spread the word that  the Turkey Point nuclear facility in Homestead, Florida, near Miami, was offering premium pay for highly skilled, certified welders. We put our house up for sale, sold it quickly, then waited around for both the closing date and my ten-year class reunion. Over the next few days we put our best furniture in storage, gave away the rest of it, then loaded up the station wagon and a small trailer, said our sad goodbyes, and took off early one morning for the bright lights and big city.

Our first bit of bad luck occurred about four hours into our trip when the station wagon broke down as we passed through a seamy-looking, industrial section of New Orleans. Richard managed to get the engine going again long enough to coax it to an auto-repair shop, where he parked and unhooked the trailer at the side of the lot. The family parked in the non-air-conditioned shop office, spending an entire afternoon and a hefty chunk of our savings there.

Upon our eventual arrival in Miami, we checked into a motel and settled in to stay for a few days. The next morning, after a Waffle House breakfast, Richard left to locate the nuclear plant, where he was tested for the better part of the day and hired to begin work the following day. Meanwhile, we began searching the newspaper for a furnished house in a good school district. The cantaloupe-colored, stucco-sided, two-bedroom house we found and rented was owned by a Cuban lady, Mrs. Phelps, who had recently moved to New Jersey, leaving behind cupboards full of dishes and an attic full of Christmas lights and decorations. The house was on a corner in a neighborhood of similar stucco, pastel-colored houses, the elementary school within easy walking distance. A fruit-laden mango tree grew in one corner of the backyard near a cluster of other small trees on which Mrs. Phelps had cultivated beautiful orchids.

Kelli and Kim in backyard of Miami house.

On our first full day in the house Richard went to work, I got busy putting the house in order, and the girls went outside to play. Moments later I heard a scream and looked out to see Kelli flat on the ground. She had tried to climb a tree in the front yard and had fallen from its branches. She was unconscious for a brief moment, her thoughts noticeably confused after she came around. I was panicking inside but tried to remain calm. We had sold our second car before the trip; I had no way to drive Kelli to an emergency room, even if I’d known where to find one. Our telephone wasn’t due to be installed for another day or two, so I couldn’t call for help, and we hadn’t yet met a single neighbor. All I knew to do was pray silently, put an ice bag on the bump on her head, and watch her constantly to keep her from falling asleep. As I remember it, she recovered long before I did.

On Richard’s first day off work we couldn’t wait to explore the tropical paradise we’d call home for the immediate future. We put our bathing suits on under our clothes, jumped into the station wagon, and drove over the bridge across Biscayne Bay to spend the day on glamorous Miami Beach. We were disappointed to discover that most of the beachfront property was inhabited by high-rise hotels and restricted to their guests. Finally, after driving around for a while, we spotted a stretch of beach that was accessible to us. Amazingly, it wasn’t even crowded. We undressed in the car, picked up our blanket, towels and picnic lunch, walked across an asphalt parking lot into the sand, and got our first clear view of the Atlantic Ocean. We were filled with excitement as we dropped our bundle and raced knee-deep into the gently lapping waves. The girls squatted down to immerse their bodies in saltwater up to their necks, and Kim stood up again almost immediately, saying, “Look! I found a balloon.” Kelli popped up right behind her: “I found one, too!” Each of them was holding up a used condom. Richard and I gaped at each other for a split second before he ordered, “Drop it and get out of the water; we’re going home.” Our first dip in the Atlantic Ocean had been in a stream of raw sewage from a nearby posh hotel. I don’t remember how we explained our sudden departure to the girls.

Things got better after that. The girls made friends in the neighborhood and more friends once school started. I was Kelli’s first-grade room mother and did my share of walking the same path they walked to school, usually with cookies or cupcakes in hand.

We quickly established favorite places to go in Miami: the Steak & Brew restaurant for Saturday night family dinners that included unlimited pitchers of root beer; the rock quarry where the girls could swim in clean, crystal-clear, fresh water; and, best of all, the grassy inlet where we could wade out and surf fish in saltwater. We baited our hooks with long strips of mullet and caught two-foot-long, hard-fighting barracuda, one right after another. Richard cleaned them on the spot, storing thick fillets in an ice chest to fry when we got home. We left those fishing trips feeling tired but happy. Richard drove while I rode shotgun with my bare feet on the dashboard and sang along with the radio about "me and you and a dog named Boo.” In the backseat the girls munched on fresh peaches, the dripping juices leaving trails in the dirt on their arms. We fished that same spot many weekends, abandoning it only after staying there till nearly dark one evening when Kelli got her line tangled on her last cast and Richard slowly inched it back in to find a five-foot shark on the end of it.

Kelli and Kim in crystal-clear waters of rock quarry.

We visited the popular tourist attractions, too, mostly when friends from Texas came to see us. Unenlightened in those days about the plight of dolphins, we thoroughly enjoyed their leaps, spirals and splashes at Miami Seaquarium. We visited the Serpentarium, fronted by the towering head of a giant, concrete cobra, and made numerous trips to Parrot Jungle & Gardens, a mecca of tropical plants and brilliantly colored birds where we took turns being photographed with parrots on our heads and outstretched arms. We went several times to the real tropical beach, the kind we’d expected in the first place, at Crandon Park on Key Biscayne. We’d alternate playing in the ocean and resting in the sand, frequently treated to Calypso rhythms on drums and guitars played by dreadlocked musicians set up under a tarp a little way down the beach. We also enjoyed watching the ever-present Limbo dancers: young, suntanned men and women who threw their heads back and laughed as they competed to answer the challenge: “How low can you go?”

Top to bottom: Kelli, Kim and Linda at Parrot Jungle

Kelli and Kim on the beach at Crandon Park

One day we traveled north of Miami into the Everglades National Park to show Kim and Kelli the wilderness, a place untouched by time (if you don’t count the wooden boardwalks with railings to keep fools and children from falling into the swamp). We took off once for a weekend mini-vacation in Key West, driving seemingly endless miles across narrow roads and bridges to see sea turtles and spectacular sunsets. Another day we woke the girls up before daylight and drove to Cape Canaveral (called Cape Kennedy then) to see the launch of Apollo 15. A lot of other people must have had the same idea, because what I remember most about that event was a vast sea of parked cars that stretched interminably around us. We waited and waited, in and out of the car, and finally saw in the distance a big puff of smoke that obscured the rocket-ship headed for the moon. 

At some point we did get a second car. Having the station wagon always available made my life easier, and the little blue Corvette (used) that Richard had fallen in love with was perfect for him to drive to work and for the rare nights we went out dancing. Those were the days when hot pants were in fashion, so I’d put on mine, either with go-go boots or Roman sandals with long straps that wrapped around my calves and tied behind my knees, and Richard would wear his striped, flare-legged pants and a gauzy shirt that had puffy pirate-sleeves and a big, pointed collar, leaving the shirt unbuttoned halfway down his chest. He’d pick up the kids’ favorite baby sitter, then we’d head out in the Corvette for a night on the town. Miami was known for its nightlife, but it was expensive. Most of the nicer clubs had a three-drink minimum, and we limited ourselves to that. Fortunately, I never acquired a taste for liquor, so we’d both order bourbon with Coca-Cola on the side. I’d drink all the Coke, and Richard would drink the bourbon.

Linda, Kelli & Kim with Richard's blue Corvette.

Linda, posing with Flamenco dancer at Miami Beach nightclub. 

There were plenty of ordinary days in Miami, too. Richard worked from four to midnight, so I slept in shifts. I’d stay up until he got home around one in the morning, fix him something to eat while he unwound and we shared the news of the day, then we’d go to bed. I’d sleep for a few hours, get up to get the girls off to school, then go back to sleep another hour or two. After a while it began to feel normal. We had a house to clean, grocery shopping to do, dentist appointments to keep, all the things people need to do wherever they live. Somehow, though, surrounded as I was by dense greenery, vivid flowers and bright sunlight, I didn’t mind those chores and errands as much as usual.

In Miami I felt alive, almost electric, with a grand sense of freedom and adventure. We lived there for just over 18 months. When the nuclear expansion became operative and Richard’s job ended, we moved on to new places and new adventures, but I don’t think we were ever again as carefree as we’d been during our Florida days.

I’ve been told that Miami has changed in the forty-plus years since we were there, that it’s a harder, harsher place to raise a family now, not as safe as it once was. I guess that’s true of most places.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Time Marches On...

...and while each second or minute of time might be finite, the life that we live during any given amount of marching time is not predictable nor orderly like a John Philip Sousa number; rather, it's more like a march played by a New Orleans street band: a little extemporaneous, a little messy, doesn't always hit right on the beat, but always, always pulls us deep into its rhythm and keeps us moving along from milestone to milestone.

Yesterday was a milestone for my younger daughter, Kelli: her fiftieth birthday. She neither looks nor feels fifty, and if I hadn't been present for her birth, I wouldn't believe she's already racked up half a century. She's certainly a young, vital fifty.

Her husband, Troy, threw a birthday party for her last night, ably assisted by her daughter, Kalyn. It was the first party I've attended in years where dancing was on the agenda and, boy, did they ever dance! I knew Kelli had rhythm (she always did), but I had no idea my buttoned-up, to-do-list-making son-in-law could move like that. Wow!

Troy and Kelli danced together; so did other couples. Also, fathers danced with daughters, mothers with sons, brothers with sisters and sisters with sisters. Friends with friends. Lots of women and a couple of self-assured men did line dances. More often, instead of dancing with partners, a large number of individuals danced all together in a loosely defined circle so they could watch each other. They danced the Dougie, the Bernie and the Wiggle like their white selves had been doing hip-hop moves their whole lives, and they laughed and laughed and laughed.

Near the end of the evening my grandson's girlfriend came to where I was sitting and tried to pull me out onto the dance floor. It wasn't as easy as she'd thought it would be; I'd been sitting for a while and my right knee was locked up tight. "Shake it out! Shake it out!" she encouraged, holding my arm while I literally shook my leg so it would straighten enough that I could walk; then, there I was, on a dance floor for the first time in ages. I couldn't do what the fifty-and-under folks were doing, but I moved feet and hips to the rhythm for nearly ten minutes. It was terrific fun but also a little nostalgic as I faced the realization of how far I've left my best dancing days behind me. That's what happens when time marches on: we hold on to what we can, let go of what we must, and fill the gaps as well as we can with interests and activities more closely matched to our evolving physical and mental conditions.

The party was a huge success. It touched my heart to see Kelli and Troy, their grown-up kids, extended family and good friends interacting with so much joy and enthusiasm. I came home with a heart full of love and a mental tape of the evening's music playing in my head. Most of the songs were fast and loud, but I specifically remember a moment when a slow song gave the room an intimate feeling. Only one or two couples were dancing, but they weren't the only ones involved in the music. I turned around and saw that all the people sitting behind me were watching the dancers and softly singing along with the wistful music. It was a sweet moment--almost as sweet as Tupelo honey.

The song is "Tupelo Honey," performed by Van Morrison.
Thanks to neo16280 for posting the video on YouTube.
Click here to read the lyrics.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Ice, Ice, Maybe?

As many folks around here might put it, "There ain't no 'maybe' about it; that there is ice!" (It's itty-bitty South Louisiana ice, though; you might have to click on the photos to see it.)

See these pretty blossoms I photographed on Monday?

Here are those blossoms today:

And remember that grapevine that's in most of my sparrow shots?

No sparrows in today's icy tangle!

I did spot a small flock of larger birds in a tree two backyards away:

The thin coating of ice is pretty. It gives all the trees a soft, enchanted-forest appearance:

Especially since everything else (including Oliver, who photobombed this shot) is unfrozen and still in living color:

In the time it's taken me to post these photos, the ice has begun melting. Thank goodness! We have things to do and places to go.

Monday, March 03, 2014

A Cooling Off Period

Yesterday the temperature here reached 81°F; this morning the "feels like" temperature was back near the freezing point. "Enough!" I say stridently, my lips pressed together in a thin line, brow furrowed for emphasis. Who is screwing us over weather-wise? Are enemy agents manipulating U.S. air masses, their scientists testing ways to bombard us with snow and hail and slide us all into one another to gridlock our highways? Have the Tea Partiers, those right-wingers who have tried to interfere with so many other human rights in the name of God, found a way to tinker with the weather and freeze the hell out of the rest of us? I've been cold for too long, and I really, really want to blame it on somebody.

We had a hailstorm in the middle of one night last week that was so loud it woke us up and made us think the roof was about to fly off or cave in. Kim and I actually gathered up all four dogs and huddled in the center of the house until it stopped. It didn't have the reported freight-train sound of a tornado--more like a fleet of masked jackhammer operators attempting to break in through the roof--but we huddled anyway for lack of a better idea. The news the next day reported baseball-sized hail in our area.

In the days since then, two different roofing companies have called, saying they would be in the neighborhood and would be glad to stop by to do an inspection and give us a free repair estimate. I declined but was pleased later when my son-in-law came out to inspect it for himself and found it intact. This is the new roof we got last July; I wonder if the old one would have come through as well.

At this point it appears that the only damage may have been to the dogs' psyches--at least my two dogs, especially Gimpy. They were not the least bit storm-phobic before that night, but we've had thunder and lightning twice since then, and it's clearly made them nervous. Levi poked me awake with his nose the first night it thundered, I guess checking to see if I thought it would be a good idea for us to get in a huddle again. Gimpy did the same thing last night, waking me up, following me to the bathroom and standing by my knee until I finished, then, when I went back to bed, lying on the floor right next to me instead of in his own, more comfortable bed. They must have sensed my own fright on the night of the hailstorm. Shame on me for showing it, but it was scary.

This afternoon, leaving the Life Writing class, one of the ladies remarked that she bet there wouldn't be too many women baring their tatas for beads at Mardi Gras tomorrow in this cold weather. Another lady answered, "Well, if they do, the people who see their pictures will be able to tell how cold it was." Hahaha! Witty people like that could almost make me forget about my animosity toward enemy agents and Tea Party extremists.