Thursday, July 28, 2016

Grand Dogs

The weather in the Mid-South this summer has been the usual cross to bear. Including the heat index, most days this past couple of weeks have been slightly over a hundred.

This presents a challenge for our better-than-standard poodle, George, who is dark gray and can't sheug off his fur coat and leave it at home. He's been known to walk from shade tree to shade tree and take an extended  respite before moving on to the next shade.

As far as George is concerned, the back yard is available only for sniffing the air while seated on the patio; all elimination is done in the front yard or farther afield.

We did get a break mid-afternoon yesterday when storm clouds gathered, and we had two or three nice thunder showers. It cooled us off, but poor George is terrified of electrical storms, and we weren't able to take our usual four pm constitutional which is why we were out walking last night in front of our subdivision around nine.

We live in the very back corner of our small neighborhood. Both of us are hard of hearing and prone to put our heads in a book and not look up for hours at a time. We never know what's going on around us until we read about it in the paper or one of our bridge playing neighbors tells us about it three days later over the bridge table.

It was merely drizzling around nine last night when George announced it was time to visit the bushes. At the front of the subdivision, we found huge loudly humming trucks parked at the curb with orange cones set out at either end for a block. A man wearing a hard hat and carrying his cell phone happened to walk by, and I inquired about all the activity.

You never know when someone might have decided to dispose of someone who needed killing down a drainpipe, but ours was a more mundane problem: flash flooding.

We stood there in the dark with no umbrella and had a great conversation in the drizzle about adopting dogs and where we'd seen dogs dumped. At that point, my new best acquaintance scrolled through his phone files to show me pictures of his son's dog, Oreo, a lab/pitbull mix; darling dog who looks like the dog in Our Gang.

It was a most satisfying intercourse for all concerned. Well familiar with such behavior, George sat calmly in the middle of the street while we humans took a break from our usual routine to pass the time of day or night. It's the little things that make life worth living.

My Crock Pot and I

There's been a death in our extended family. One of our daughters has lost her dear father-in-law. He had a good, long life of service to his family, country and God and been in poor health for quite a while, but there's never a good time to lose a loved one.

As at any other momentous occasion, I found myself in the kitchen this morning preparing for the mournful week ahead. This particular daughter and her husband have two sons who are in that stage in life in which they cannot get enough to eat. With a wake and funeral in Mississippi and a memoiral service here in Memphis, there will be no time for her to cook proper meals which is where I can make myself useful as well as ornamental.

Early this morning I made stops at the local farmers' market as well as the grocery. The local deli sold me a huge ham bone. Dried pinto beans soaked all day here while a roast from our freezer thawed.

The browned roast along with the beans and ham bone are now in the crock pot where they will simmer slowly all night with chili flavoring, Rotel, canned tomatoes, garlic and onions. Tomorrow I'll make two cast iron skillets of corn bread. It will be enough for both of our married daughters to feed their families one or two meals. At least they'll be able to grieve on a full tummy.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

How Short Am I?

There's been a recent edict from the Powers That Be in our family: from now on in all group snapshots, I'm to stand in front of the grandchildren. Yesterday I stood behind them for an informal picture, and all that showed was the brim of my strawhat and the top rim of my glasses.

I was taking pictues with my phone yesterday at the World War II memorial on the Mall in Washington D.C. I finished and turned round to find a man standing right behind me and holding his camera directly over my head.

It could give a girl a complex.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Texas Flip

Friday nights are my favorite time of the week. After dinner, I curl up on the sofa in the sitting room with my needlepoint and watch the DIY (Do It Yourself) channel.

I'm a huge fan of the Texas Flip show featuring the Snow family who make their living by buying derelict houses. At a site specially set aside for this purpose, the houses are completely rebuilt (usually from the studs out), decorated and auctioned off.  

At the beginning, the houses are always hopeless wrecks. Asbestos and mold are just two of the potential problems contractors can expect in the course of remodeling. The finished product is always great and sells well at auction.

What I don't understand is why anyone would be willing to go to so much trouble to buy one of these houses. They are not inexpensive; it's costly to move one to its permanent location not to mention the additional cost of a new foundation, connecting the utilities, and repairing the unavoidable damage incurred in the relocation.

The elder statesman Mr. Snow and his son jack the buildings onto a huge truck and do the actual moving while Donna and Toni, the Snow sisters, are in charge of renovation. These two are hugely talented; can do anything and aren't timid about hard work.

I watched three episodes of their program last night. In the first, they bought a house built by their Grandfather Snow in the 1920's. Donna and Toni were excited to have the opportunity to restore their father’s childhood home and cried the first time they toured it.  Toni didn't have a hanky and tried to wipe her nose on the sleeve of her sister's t-shirt. I can only hope someone behind the camera suggested she do it to add drama or humor to the program. 

They also bought an old passenger train car in another episode and turned it into a bungalow that was purchased for a lakeside cottage.

It’s a unique show set in the Fort Worth area of Texas. I enjoy hearing the accents as well as watching creative people give new life to an old house. If only the walls could talk.


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

July in the Mid-South

Something came up this morning, and I didn't water the potted plants on the patio. By noon, they were beginning to droop a bit. My conscience forced me to brave the mid-day blast furnace heat and water them before they drooped all the way to the soil.

The water hose is long, and for convenience sake, I leave it stretched out across the yard and doubled back with the nozzle at the faucet. I walked out barefoot to water and held the nozzle over my dusty feet as I turned on the faucet.  The tops of my feet were blistered with the boiling water that had spent the morning heating up in the hose.

This is a statement of fact and not a whine: it's too hot for words here. One step outside, and you feel as though you've been enveloped by a moist, heating blanket turned on high.

A T & T laid cable here a couple of weeks ago in our zero-lot line subdivision. (That's the regional term for normal sized houses on postage sized lots.) One of our irrigation pipes in the front yard was punctured in the process. It came on one morning and washed half the mailboxes in the subdivision to the Wolf River.

Repairing the puncture required the irrigation maintenance men to dig yet another six or eight foot hole in our front flower bed. This is a major deal when the flower bed is only about three feet wide in a five feet wide front yard.

I returned home at high noon to find two muddy, red-faced men digging in my front yard. Including the heat index, the temp was close to a hundred with humidity around 75%.  I emptied our ice maker into a clean plastic bucket, dropped two tea towels on the ice and filled the bucket half full of water. A cold, wet towel draped across the back of the neck is a great antidote for the heat.

"We have rules in this household," I announced as I carried the bucket out to the workmen. "There will be no heat strokes or fainting from the heat in our yard."

As they cooled off a bit, we discussed the severity of the required repair, and I noticed their accents. One darling young man with a dry sense of humor was from Long Island and bemoaned the availability  of good Italian food here; the other, from Boston.

Why are they in the mid-South? To avoid the bad weather.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Sometimes Crazy Is Just Right


Late last month at the annual Writers' Conference of Texas gathering of editors and agents, I heard Jenny Lawson speak. She's the author of Let's Pretend This Never Happened, which is number one on the New York Times Best Sellers List. Her latest book is Furiously Happy, A Funny Book About Horrible Things.

Ms. Lawson has a drop dead hysterical approach to dealing with mental illness and arthritis. Suffering from awful, unavoidable physical and mental pain, she's come to learn what it takes to make her truly happy: banana popscicles dipped in rum.

Jenny takes everyday situations and relates what went wrong and how when combined with her conditions. (I almost wrote "simple" everyday situations, but we all know nothing is "simple".) Picture Erma Bombeck as a blogger rather than a columnist with a hip, R rated vocabulary, and you're close to Jenny Lawson; close but not quite because this gal is totally unique.

Having a bad day? Treat yourself to a copy of Furiously Happy, a Funny book About Horrible Things. It will make you feel all better.