Friday, June 29, 2007

Rated PG??

I just learned of a website you can go to and have your blog rated.

Mine rated PG because the word "gun" appears three times, and the word "hurt" appears once.

Today my aunt told me that she tried to look at my blog, but it was blocked by their computer's filter, which I think is called "BSafe." We were both bumfuddled, but perhaps this explains it!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Summer Appreciation: Storms

I love storms. I grew up in "tornado alley" in Arkansas, where spring simply didn't pass without a tornado coming through somewhere nearby. I respect storms, but I don't recall ever feeling afraid of one.

We just had a wonderful storm. I had migraines three days last week, so I should have known something was on its way. My neighbor this morning mentioned that it was "supposed" to rain a few times in the coming week. Well, it was "supposed" to rain yesterday, too, and it barely dampened the topsoil. So when he told me that early this morning, I thought, "Oh, great, now it will be 90-plus degrees and horribly humid all week, and I'll still have to water flowers."

Driving home after work, I noted a few drops on the windshield. Then a few more. Enough to say, "Hey, it's raining." (I confess, I was talking to someone on my cell phone.) And then, "Wow, it's really raining." Lightning flashed in the distance, but I figured any storm would move on and be over quickly. The sky was mostly light, after all.

After my third comment about the rain, my friend said, "I'll let you go so you can concentrate on driving." And not a minute later, after turning onto Poplar Avenue, I could hardly see to drive. I moved over and pulled into a parking lot to wait it out.

Ah, the wonder of rain pouring down in torrents! Especially during a drought, it is like music to the ears. This rain did not seem to be going along with my "over quickly" idea, so I turned off the engine, undid my seatbelt, moved my seat to a more horizontal position, and lay back to enjoy the show.

Quite a show it was. Cars were creeping along, water was flooding the sides of the street, and everything looked gray through the waterfall.

And the wind! It blew in forceful gusts, making for some serious sideways rain. I could hear it, and from time to time, I felt my car lifting with the force of the wind.

I'm not sure why I love storms so much. Growing up where I did, I've seen towns flattened. I know wind and water can be very dangerous, but something inside me comes alive in a storm, and it feels so good to be alive in that way. To feel so much a part of the natural world, and to be reminded how small and powerless we are. Storms are a reminder that human beings are not in charge.

Maybe that's part of it. No amount of skill or knowledge can prevent a storm, or even guarantee you'll be able to weather a storm. Sometimes you just have to hang on and trust.

Not that this storm felt dangerous, once I got out of the traffic. Truth be told, I was tempted to get out of the car, raise my hands to the sky, do pirouettes in the parking lot, and just get totally wet! It would have felt so good! But I had to go to the grocery store, and thought I ought not go in dripping.

So I stayed in the car and waited, enjoyed the music of wind and water, and for the rest of the evening have felt more alive than I had in a good while.

That’s something to enjoy about this summer.
For the sake of my blog's integrity, I feel I should mention that I didn't take this photo. I found it on a website all about storms.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Summer Appreciation: Roses

Surely one of the loveliest things about summer, even in the South, is roses. They and magnolia blossoms can pull me off a sidewalk, can interrupt a conversation, can convince me to get my shoes wet—whatever it takes to get to them for a close encounter of the scentillating sort.

My friend Joyce and I can spend quite a lot of time in the Rose Garden of the Botanic Garden, like little bees, going from flower to flower. I wonder if the bees have a way of saying to each other, “Oh, man! You’ve got to come try this one!”

The photos are of the cutting from Grandmother’s “sweetheart” rosebush, taken a couple of years ago. Sadly, it died last summer in the drought. I was very sad about that. I hope to get another cutting for next year, couldn’t manage it for this year.

So, here’s to roses—and to the wonderful ability of plants to survive (for the most part) these summers in the South.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Graduating into Summer

The photo is of my sister Lisa’s graduation ceremony a couple of years ago. Today it symbolizes transitions, like the transition of spring into summer. Notice the fans in the photo . . .

No, by the calendar it isn't summer yet. But anyone living in Memphis knows that the season has arrived ahead of the official date, as usual.

Summer is generally the hardest time of the year for me, at least when I'm living "down South." Which would be all but about six or seven years of my life. I get migraines from the heat and generally feel sapped of energy. I freeze in grocery stores and most restaurants. I sunburn easily and live continually with the knowledge that skin cancer runs in my family. I'm sure most of my eye wrinkles come from these summer months, even though I wear two pair of sunglasses most of the time. I tend to waken too early because the sun comes up so early (this, despite a room-darkening shade), and the lack of sleep can add up.

Summer is terrible for my gardener within, and for my poor plants without. At some point, I generally give up trying to keep them alive, because the heat and drought and slugs just overwhelm me. And then I feel bad for the plants, and start doubting my ability to persevere through trials, and it can become quite a morass if I let myself think too much about it (which I usually don't.)

And then there's the knowing that in Italy and other places, they shut down during the hottest part of the day and take a break like intelligent people--while we have to go on working, even when our circadian rhythm coupled with the heat is begging for a little siesta!

But this year I have made a resolve. I am determined to not merely survive this summer. I am going to find ways to appreciate and enjoy even this most punishing of seasons. I have already begun, in fact.

And I'll save that for another post. For now, if you'd like to share your main summer struggles/complaints, here's the forum. (I'll welcome positive summer comments later, but this is a place for people to feel free to lament the arrival of summer. I trust I am not the only one for whom this is an annual rite of passage.)

And maybe Lisa could comment on why this photo is so appropriate to a summer lament theme.

Friday, June 01, 2007

The fullness thereof

He's back! Old Mr. Toad is back!
(Or perhaps he never left?)

I had intended to write about him earlier on the blog after a couple of encounters, but then I didn't see him for more than a week. I thought perhaps he didn't like the fact that I'd cleared out all the leaves in his area, and had moved away.

But this morning, there he was. And can you see the little hole he is sitting down in? It is so cute. I didn't know that toads dug holes for themselves to sit in, just like our dogs do.

And do you notice that he did not dig up the flower in his endeavor? This is significant. I wonder if he could give lessons to the squirrels on living in ecological harmony....