First an owl, then a bear! And storms!

It wasn’t good enough to get an OWL in our house. Early yesterday, there was a big brown BEAR wandering our shopping center!

He seemed friendly enough. Still, I didn’t offer to let him hitch a ride.

Then this afternoon the storms that had been avoiding our neighborhood finally hit. They waited until I was at Sonic getting my mother and my dog some snacks so that I could go into the big Wal-Mart, though. Rain poured off the roof and water ran across the pavement, making lots of waves.

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First Day of Summer–Longest Day & Solstice

It is HOT here.

It hit 100 (Fahrenheit!) today. The forecast is for it to hit 100 for the next five days. Summer, one might surmise, started more than a month ago. Phooey.

I hate it here. I don’t want to be here any more. WHERE IS MY SWIMMING POOL?!?! At least a Slip-and-Slide?

In other news . . . today, June 21, is marked by being the summer solstice, which is the first day of summer and the longest day of the year here in the Northern Hemisphere and Texas in particular.

The Earth, tilted on its 23.5-degree axis (sez Nat’l Geographic, and why would they lie about THAT), tips the Northern Hemisphere closest to the Sun during the Summer Solstice. The opposite holds true for those residing in the Southern Hemisphere, for which today is the Winter Solstice. Today would be the shortest day of the year for them. Just so you know.

Perhaps THAT is the place I should be planning to sneak off to–Oz! Or Kiwi-land (New Zealand)! But I can’t drive there, so it’s challenging. I could drive to Alaska. Alaska would be good. The Pom has the coat for it. And we could see Russia from the back yard!

Usually we don’t have these temps until August, or in bad years mid-July. I don’t know how we’re going to cope. The attendees at the workshop that I’m going to be in from July 6th through 11th will think this is the armpit of the Universe (whereas that crown is properly taken by either Wichita Falls or Shreveport, LA). Yuck!!

See the heat shimmering off of every surface?

(View from window of Mama’s heart specialist’s office)

P. S. My aunt is a little stronger. Her antibiotics are working, and they got all excited about how they might be able to send her to a rehab place this week and get her out of the hospital. But this morning she coughed up blood, and they rushed her down to X-ray, where they saw the bloodspill under the skin of her thighs; this happens because they get her blood TOO thin. (She has that weak heart valve, so they like to keep it thin, but it’s a very fine line–they gave her just a little too much.) The doctor knows that the book-values of how much blood thinner to give are too much on her, but they messed up. So she hasn’t been able to get out of bed for a couple of days . . . but they expect to get her up and walk her around tomorrow. She said to thank all of you for your prayers, positive thoughts, and support!

Boston-area hotels?

Anyone in the Boston area or environs? I’m doing a bit of research for a friend. We need a LaQuinta or Ramada Inn (or similar hotel) that has facilities for an all-day seminar (you know, a ballroom, glasses of water, and so forth, but no food or catering). If you have personal experience with a nice one, please let me know in the comments which one it is so I can make a phone call. Thanks!

BLOG CONTEST: FREE BOOK (not one of mine)!

I came across a pristine hardcover copy of a book that might interest some of you. This one is out of print, and this is the first edition (as far as I can tell). I need to weed everything possible out of my library, so I thought . . . blog contest!

Mid-life Confidential: The Rock Bottom Remainders Tour America with Three Chords and an Attitude–by Stephen King, Dave Barry, Amy Tan, Matt Groening, Ridley Pearson, Barbara Kingsolver, and others

I used to revere and worship editors, agents, and published authors. That’s why I picked up this book when it first came out: I wanted to know anything I could about these people. Now, I realize they are but mortal [wo]men. I don’t need to keep the book on the shelf.

But perhaps YOU are one of the people who toured with them . . . or who knows them personally . . . or would just like a pristine hardcover of the book! Amazon only has the softcover “from selected sellers” and not the hardback.

Whoever posts the funniest plausible names for two characters (and is willing for me to use them in a parody) in the comments field of this post will win the book! Of course, the judge is unbalanced, and she may not choose the funniest names–just the ones that appeal most to her. Whatever! Free shipping to the USA!

(If you are one of the authors or editors, or you have a personal stake in the book and need a copy, let me know and we’ll suspend all rules and send the names-winner something else valuable that I’m weeding out, although Dennis is going to get the Nikon Pronea S and accessories if he wants it, just for kicks.)

One of the characters who needs naming is a Barbie-doll airhead of 22 who likes to wheedle and wink her way into interesting situations. (A complete fabrication, of course.) The other is an introverted insurance salesman who’s too shy to ask people for the sale, and who is about to be fired from his own dad’s insurance agency.

C’mon . . . surely someone wants this book! I know that if I weren’t in need of empty shelf space, I’d be keeping it.

My aunt’s in the hospital

My aunt Jean (the one who’s 86) was taken to the hospital yesterday in an ambulance. Her day nurse (who comes four mornings a week to help her bathe and so forth) came in to find her gray-looking and drowsy, and called for the ambulance. Aunt Jean had been sickly last week, but her symptoms were so much like my mother’s from the change in her Glucophage medication (hurry-up going to the bathroom, stomach and intestinal cramps and discomfort, gas, the blahs, weakness, dizzy spells, general malaise) that we weren’t too concerned. Last Thursday her daughter made her go spend the night at her own house and really wanted her to go to the hospital, but by morning she said she was “a lot better” and demanded to be taken home. *sigh* These tough old part-Choctaw bats are ~tough~.

Anyway, we started getting ready yesterday in case we needed to run up to Sherman, where she was checked right into the hospital for tests to be run, but I needed to wait for some documents that were being UPS-overnighted to us. The UPS guy didn’t get here until 7 PM, of course. I did get some things packed for myself, but Mama is always balky, so we don’t have her things packed (though it won’t take too long).

This morning we called and heard what the doctor said. “Plan to be here indefinitely,” he said. “We’re going to consult on a treatment plan.”

My aunt has blood poisoning. (Sepsis or septicemia. Possibly from advanced bladder/kidney infection.) And an ulcerated colon.

She’s had diverticulitis for some time, but she was supposed to be controlling it with her diet, such as not eating seeds and nuts (and no Pecan Delight ice cream). We suspect she cheated or got some take-out food that had seeds/nuts. Hmm.

The main concern, of course, is the blood poisoning. No wonder she felt so bad and actually admitted to her daughter that she was scared!

My mother NEEDS to go up there, because this stuff can be un-fixable. But she’s not ready to face the facts, I suspect. She’ll rouse sometime tonight and decide we’re leaving tomorrow, I’ll bet. Until then, I’m getting things wrapped up so I can bail.

I can take hubby’s laptop, maybe . . . he does use it for work. I need to take along a larger flat screen, though, because I have to have large fonts to see stuff. If not, I’ll be offline for a couple of days until I figure out a way to connect. It does mean I can work on SONG FROM THE HEART, which may get a new title. I’m going to workshop it at a David Farland/David Wolverton workshop in July, so I need to write some kind of synopsis. Synopsis time is when you figure out you don’t know what your book is about.

Sheesh. Yesterday I saw a black dragonfly, too. It stared right back at me, took off, made a circle, and landed again on the bamboo stick. I don’t even want to know what it is an omen of.

Happy Flag Day!

Today, June 14, is Flag Day in the USA! This holiday commemorates the adoption of the Stars and Stripes by the Second Continental Congress in 1777. President Woodrow Wilson designated June 14 as Flag Day in 1916, and then the holiday was established by an act of Congress in 1949. It’s not a bank holiday nor an official federal holiday, but it’s a state holiday in Pennsylvania!

Our neighborhood has a flag program. For a small annual fee, you can get a flag stuck into your yard next to your mailbox out on the sidewalk on every flag-related holiday. All weekend they were working on this . . . volunteers from the HOA get into trucks and go plant the flags in the prepared flag-holes in people’s yards. Yesterday I was driving down one of our main streets and the flag truck was parked on the left side of the road. Running along the sidewalk on the right side of the road was an eight-year-old redhead with the flag streaming out behind him, followed by his dad with another flag. It was so cute and patriotic. Wish I could’ve taken a photo, but by the time I’d have turned around, they’d have been gone anyway.

Mama is simply irritated by the flags. Every time they go up, she complains, and this time was no exception. “It’s so dumb,” she moaned as we drove down our street to pick up her prescription. “It’s so fake.” Most everyone on our street, except three houses in a row on our side (including us), has the flag. We keep forgetting to send in the fee, or we’re broke when the coupon is sent around.

“I think it’s kind of neat.”

“It’s just a money-making thing! These fools. We three are the only sensible ones.”

“It’s not for the money. It’s to show a solidarity, that we’re all patriotic and we can pull together.” She has never understood anything like that–she never let me wear my Girl Scout uniform to school on Girl Scout meeting days or wear the school colors on game days. I had to sneak the stuff into my school bag and change in the girls’ restroom. She just thought it was the height of conformist stupidity. She has never been one to be part of a group, even worse than, um, moi.

“It is for the money! Add up $40 a year for all these houses, and no cost!”

“Buying and maintaining the flags was a cost. The truck is a cost.”

“The volunteers are free. I’m telling you, this is ridiculous. It’s like all the hypocrites who put out the flag after WWII.”

Then she got mad and sulked. There is no reasoning with an 80-yr-old about some things.

But anyhow, *I* think it’s really neat to drive through the neighborhood and see all the flags waving.

Here’s some flag food porn for you.

You can even bake a three-layer red, white, and blue cake.