Is there NO END to the panics?!

[EDIT: We dodged it this time. They’re sending my aunt home right now, after a couple of hours of observation. It appears to have been a mild reaction to this extreme heat, and possibly she took an “extra” blood pressure pill by accident. (She won’t admit that she rode with her neighbor to Kroger this morning, but we suspect she did–and when she got home, she couldn’t cool off fast enough.) They gave her morphine because she got panicky and had some angina early on, but now her vitals have stabilized and look OK (“considering her health issues,” the resident said). Thank you all for the positive thoughts! It always does the trick!]

Please pray or send positive thoughts–my aunt Jean, age 83, has just been rushed to the hospital in Sherman (60 miles north of us) with numb arms and a suspected heart attack or other failure. Thank you for any positive thinks! [EDIT: They worked!]

And it’s 106 out there, heat index, according to reports. We will commence pacing and praying until we hear something; I can’t take my mother out in the heat (not in Orange air alert conditions, because of her COPD/asthma/heart stuff herself) and need to wait until it cools off. But at least I do have that new tire (I forgot to mention that one of my rear tires cracked and the guy at Sears said it was ready to blow, and that it was a good thing I brought it to him last Thursday to be looked at–the crack was on the inside rim, and all I thought was wrong was that it might have a nail, because I didn’t see the CRACK) if we need to travel on short notice.

I’m going to go pack us a couple of overnight bags and get the ice chest out, just in case.


[EDIT: I’m keeping the bags packed. Maybe we can go somewhere FUN. . . .]


Any man’s death diminishes me, for I am part of mankind

The Internet is reeling–Twitter and LJ both crashed for a while, as did the LA Times website and to some extent the MS-NBC site, I am told–and I don’t know HOW I feel, other than a little overwhelmed and sad.

Because not only did Heaven take Ed McMahon just the other day and then Farrah this morning, but also Michael “Jacko” Jackson as of a short time ago. Jacko was only fifty and was a health nut, as I understand it . . . so that one is a shocker. We were kind of expecting the other two, although you’re never really ready. That’s three celebrities in the span of a couple of days. The old superstition holds true.

(I’m counting David Carradine in the previous celeb threesome with Sky Saxon and the Carbondale character whose last words purportedly were, “I can’t believe Keith Richards outlived me!!”)

Last Friday, just before my brother-in-law’s surgery on Monday, one of my sister-in-law’s co-workers threw a pulmonary embolism and died in exactly the same way–she was dead on arrival and was revived, but died again without regaining consciousness . . . she was thirty-six and in “perfect health.”

This is all a wake-up call to each of us to say, “Live for today. Be happy today. Live as if today were the last day of the world.” Find something beautiful in the chaos and ugliness and smile about it.

My mother’s first words on hearing about Jacko were, “Thank God that [Our Favorite Older Celebrity] is safe!” I merely thought it, as I don’t like to sin out loud. Aren’t we awful? But we are steeling ourselves, because many of our favorite celebs are getting up there in years, and it’s scary. [And we believe in the by-threes superstition.]

We mourn. We hurt. For these people, but also for all the unsung . . . the hundreds of people who also crossed over to the Other Side today and who were ALL just as important as these celebrities, people you’ve never heard of but who were someone’s child, someone’s friend, someone’s co-worker. “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee,” wrote John Donne. But the part they quote far less often goes on: “[A]ll mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God’s hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another.”


Cookies being celebrated. What’ll happen next?

Today, June 23rd, is National Pecan Sandies Day.

How did this come about? I smell a marketing bozo. Still, those are good cookies. I can’t eat cookies because ALL of them are high in carbs, and I save my carbs for veggies and such, but if I could still eat cookies, sandies would be on my list. Right after chocolate chip, thin mints (those Girl Scout ones), and Snickerdoodles.

Now my stomach hurts.

Summer solstice . . . Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day to those who celebrate it!

Today is the summer solstice. I can’t remember whether that means the day and night today are the same length, and from here on in the days will get longer until the next solstice, or what. That sounds good, so we’ll go with that instead of Googling up a proper definition!

The Garden Club had its annual tour yesterday. I did the tour the moment it opened at 9AM, because by 10 (when I finished–I stopped to chat with several neighbors) it was hot and muggy and the mosquitoes/gnats from the creek at the last property were out in force. Pretty nice stuff.

(No, OUR yard wasn’t on the tour. Eep! Although I’ll say that aside from the water features and that kind of thing, my mother used to have a yard that would beat any and all of the displays I saw. Back when she could get outside–her twenties through early sixties–she spent most of the daylight hours out in the yard planting and replanting and watering and talking to her plants. When she got too hot, she’d just shower with the hose, which she dragged behind her all the time. Her extension phone was on the patio, and all else could wait. Her cigs were also on the patio. They caused her to get COPD and asthma and now she can’t get out and plant any more. That drives her batty! But she had any and every plant going out there.)

Wanna come out and see the people! (Somebody else’s dogs. They didn’t get to come outside.)

Happy Bloomsday!

June 16th is Bloomsday, for all those who admire the multiverse of James Joyce’s _Ulysses_. You may have run across traveling “re-creationists” today who celebrated by reading the book while copying its protatagonist’s perambulations for the day. But probably you didn’t. *grin*

Michael Nellis of WRITING2 quips, “Personally, I will celebrate by quietly contemplating the fact that I joined the 100 Page Club. Three times.”

You’re either a fan or you can’t stand the book–that’s what I find. Whichever way, you’ve still gotta admire a book with fans like those!

I celebrated by getting up early to meet the lawn/tree crew. Remember how I thought we’d dodged the bullet with our large trees in the back yard, from that mini-nado we had on Friday night?

Yesterday my neighbor on the south side of the fence (side yard) called to tell me that several large limbs actually HAD cracked. She’d been watching to see if they’d fall off on their own (!). Never wish for something you don’t really want, because as soon as she got up yesterday, she heard a CRACK, and saw that a couple of branches had fallen on her side of the fence.

(Oh, so THAT’S what we heard . . . I thought it was something out in the sunroom. Dog barked, but I couldn’t find anything amiss in the sunroom. I just wasn’t looking far enough west.)

Worse, the branches mostly fell on her power/phone lines that lead into the house (yep, we’re in THAT old a neighborhood), so she went outside to pull them off in the heat. But it was Too Hot for that . . . no kidding. Therefore, she was calling to ask me if my yardmen would come tomorrow to saw them into pieces (they’re BIG limbs and branches) and haul them away. (They know my yardmen are fond of Mama and will do things for her on the spur of the moment that they wouldn’t do for just anyone. I don’t know whether this is because she tries to speak pidgin Spanish/Tex-Mex patois to them (“el perro rojas . . .”–hand waving–“you know, like Clifford”) or because she reminds them of their grandmothers, but they’ve even done favors such as burying some of the neighborhood pets and other sorta-personal things like that for the elderly in our little circle. Also, this lady’s yardmen are more expensive than ours, so we got a bargain.)

As she spoke, I peered out and saw that despite Hubby’s assurance the other day, we DID have a few limbs broken off of our trees that line the side yard at the fence line. (Neighbor has two large mulberries there, and we have trees that I planted when I was ten . . . a mimosa that I dug up as a seedling one day when we visited some of my mother’s friends in Oak Cliff is my personal “pet.” It grew tall because it couldn’t go horizontal in that crowd, and it’s fifteen or twenty feet tall!) *Waaah*! Half of my tall mimosa branches! Covered with puffy pink blossoms!

(Mimosa, pre-storm)

Obviously these were too large for either of us to drag out to the front for pickup, *and* there were still a couple hanging off of MY phone/power lines. She said we could go halfsies on having the remaining stuff cleaned up.

It looked to me as if a number of the branches were from her tree, so that sounded fair.

I like to be neighborly. I’ve also known this woman since she was in second grade and I was in fifth. (She came home after a tour of the world to move in with her mom, and is perfectly happy there. Her mom still owns the house.) I called my yard guys and they promised to show up today as soon as it got hot enough. Ha, ha.

True to their word, they got here around 11:30. My heat sensitivity had already kicked in. But anyhow, I met the neighbors around back and watched the guys as they pulled some really large branches down and out and sawed them into the required four-foot lengths so the city can pick them up at curbside. These were five- and eight-inch diameter branches! Good thing we got them before they completely pulled down some wire or another. And I suppose that’s one lucky thing about not having a pool *pout*.

By the time they were finished picking up all the debris, it was REALLY HOT. My neighbor examined the leaves on the stack at the curb and said that most of them were her branches after all, so she tossed in an extra $10 (making it about 60-40). I mourned the BIG MIMOSA BRANCH one more time before crawling inside to lie under the ceiling fan and pour water over my head.

“I want to go to the cafeteria!” Mama had her shoes on and was ready to be taken out to lunch.

“Let me cool off first.”

“But the cafeteria will be packed if we don’t go now!”

Sometimes my family members think of me as a robot that never has any needs and can always just soldier on like a machine that you don’t have to feed or water or wash or worry about.

We compromised. I called in a take-out order to Poor Richard’s Cafe in old downtown Plano, and the dog got to ride and see all the sweaty people. This also meant I didn’t have to eat that nasty cafeteria jello. The flavors are called “red” and “green” rather than “strawberry” and “lime” for a reason.

Whee! What an exciting life! Makes for an exciting blog of nonstop action! No wonder I’ve had a couple of people dump (de-friend) me here on LJ lately. Not that it HURTS MY FEELINGS or anything *sniff*

Want to be HERE (Asilomar State Beach, Monterey peninsula, California, USA)

Or HERE (Carmel-by-the-sea, Calif.)

Instead, this is as far as I can afford to go *sigh* “Whaddaya mean, you don’t got no diet RC left?!”

Consolation view (supposedly from a church in west Texas)

Complaints, b*tchin’, etc.

Amazon doesn’t have a good system for reporting problems with downloads of their MP3s (sales, not free stuff.) I’m fuming because I bought the Puppini Sisters’ “Betcha Bottom Dollar”–they’re an Andrews Sisters-type trio who sing oldies and newies in that style, and they’re pretty good–but after it got the first three songs on side one, my browser popped up a window saying that the Amazon MP3 downloader had a problem and was closing–“input file corrupt.” I reported this through the Amazon online system, but have heard zip. Phooey! It’s back to iTunes Store for me, even though there is crummy protection on some tracks. (I get Plus whenever it’s available so as to get no DRM on the files and a higher bitrate. But still. *fume*)

The first three weren’t the songs I was buying the album for, mostly. *grump* Plus, I prefer the Bette Midler recording of “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” I guess I just like her voice better–it’s more distinctive. She’s another overlooked treasure, IMHO. “The Divine Miss M.”

I turned the house upside down yesterday looking for an old piano sheet music book that I’ve had since I was a kid. It’s “Best Pops ’72” and has the good old arrangements of a number of tunes I would like to play again. I noodled around a bit, and some of them came back in parts, so I know they’d come back quickly if I had the music. I know I’ve seen that, and I had it by the piano, but . . . didn’t find it anywhere. They do have one for sale online through Amazon (hah–as IF they will get more business at this point from me), but it’s priced at over $50. Come on! Get real!

I know that many sites online have PDF files for sale with arrangements of this old music, but it isn’t the arrangement I learned, so (1) it won’t come back easily the way the ones I learned will, and (2) it doesn’t sound right. I’ve already checked.

Why not just play it all by ear? I do, mostly. But there’s a hitch. The piano desperately needs to be tuned. EVERY note is getting sour. She can’t be brought up to concert pitch anyhow, but she can be tuned to herself, which is what needs to be done.

Ripping in tracks off of my old vinyl albums using the Brookstone ION USB turntable works pretty well. But the trouble I’ve had is that you have to press the REC button at the beginning of each track and then again at the end . . . and then again to start recording at the beginning of the next track. This means that I missed the beginning of most tracks. I hate that! Phooey. Man, records sound so much better in some ways than MP3s, but they are lots more work and so fragile.

“That Girl, Season One” is $27 at Fry’s, which is the least expensive place. Man! That’s a lot for ONE season. Why don’t they re-run that somewhere? I know it’s dated. That’s the POINT. It’s supposed to be. I love seeing those old dresses like Mama and my aunts and my teachers wore–and often *I* had mini-versions of the same clothes to wear to third, fourth, and fifth grade. We watched the show after school in re-runs. And what about Dobie Gillis?! Dwayne Hickman is a hottie. Still pretty cute, too (judging by his website.)

And I have a hangnail. *pout*

But . . . there weren’t any more bad storms, and we didn’t lose any more big trees, and we can afford groceries, and my cousin is in PARIS being mentored by an architect there. (This past week, he was taken to see drawings by the Old Masters that are kept under lock and key in the catacombs under . . . THE LOUVRE. You can’t beat THAT with a stick! He can’t believe he’s not dreaming.)

So I shouldn’t complain.

(Why did the neighborhood need a new fountain? It’s cool . . . but we didn’t need another one. Did we?)

Stormy weather . . . mini-twister

The weather bureaus of the world will never admit it, but during the “wall cloud” storm on the evening of June 10th–the one that swept across Texas and stretched down US 75 from south of Dallas almost to the Red River–the bad clouds spawned a number of mini-twisters over our area of northwest Richardson, Texas. And with little warning. The storm came up suddenly, and pow!

The sky had been overcast and oddly greenish-gray most of the day. We were at home working on various silly projects that evening when we became aware of this weird warbling sound. I finally realized that this was the sound of the old Civil Defense sirens (now called something else and used to warn us about weather) that they’d moved recently; now they’re not at our fire station on the corner, but farther north by almost a mile. Mama realized it at the same time, and in a moment the deluge hit. She shouted towards my end of the house, and we both ran towards the sunroom, where Hubby was working on the setup he has out there to test the new computer gear for work.

“Come in the house!” I yelled. He immediately stepped outside under the patio cover “to close the gate,” and was just about blown away. Once I got him hauled indoors, I ran to look out the front windows, and we saw that all our trees and bushes were blowing around . . . as if a whirlwind were rotating them.

The aftermath, today

One of our tree-sized crepe myrtles couldn’t take it, and snapped. A few large branches fell across the courtyard wall and onto the glass-topped table. The power started flickering on and off, so I ran to unplug the stereo and computers. Fortunately, THIS time our old transformer held, and the power only stayed off for a couple of minutes at a time.

The violent portion of this storm passed over us rather quickly, but left a trail of destruction across our neighborhood, including our park with the waterfall/creek. It lost a large Daddy/Mama tree on the edge of the waterfall, as well as many other large trees of all kinds. But it could have been a lot worse.

Here’s the tree that I believe was the victim, in a 2007 shot (to the left of the bench, partial photo):

Here’s what it looked like yesterday, with the neighbor’s kids gazing on the destruction:

My dog is terrified of storms. He couldn’t sleep at all, because the rest of the night was filled with thunder, lightning, and rain. It would have been restful if he could have been calmer. . . .

The weather people may claim this was only “straight-line winds of 80 mph,” and claim that only Anna and Allen got actual twisters, but we know better.