August Again

Here it is again.  The dog days of summer. August has started out not so treacherous.  Lower 90’s instead of near 100.

I so want to have enough energy to do more in the evenings after the 9-5.  It just doesn’t happen.  By the time I get to the house, I just want to sit and stare out the window or scroll through Instagram. I am scheduled to retire next summer.  Everyone asks me what will I do with myself retired.  I can’t seem to make them understand how important taking care of him and keeping house is to me.

I might write more. I might read more. I might be able to get my house the way I want it. I have some painting to do and some floors to recover and windows to redress.  I might even be able to get every closet, pantry and drawer cleaned out and organized.  I have some special projects still sitting in the wings.  I also have a major ambition to pursue.

With my pain level like it is, the fatigue overtakes me and then I cycle into a downward spiral.  My 9-5 job is very high stress and not rewarding emotionally or mentally.  Just an endless round of reports and meaningless data collection for the politicians. It drains me.  I hate feeling like this.  The upside is that it leads to an early retirement and lifelong health insurance for both of us.

I want to be able to do things with him and for him to make his life better and happier.  I try to research what to do, but then can’t focus long enough over the days to make the changes called for.

I am not alone in my frustrated state.  Many of my friends have the same or similar issues.  Not necessarily the pain, but the fatigue and the seeming inability to make things better despite having some vague ideas of what would help.

It is not that we have such desperately terrible lives.  I count myself among the blessed in this world.  I live in Texas. I have a solid house with hot and cold running water, two indoor toilets, a bathtub and shower. I have a well equipped kitchen and pantry and freezer full of food.  I have central air that I can afford to run.  I have good health in the sense that I don’t have to take any medications for anything right now.  And insurance if I did. My vehicle is new and I always have gas money.  My children are grown and independent and well.  Both happily married and raising healthy children.  I don’t have aging parents to take care of, though I wish I did.  They have all been gone for many years.

I guess my point is that everything should be fine.  But, somehow I have this nagging sense of unease.  And the physical pain and fatigue that no doctor seems to be able to figure out what is caused by nor how to fix it.  I have made yet another appointment with yet another doctor for later this month.  He has a reputation for non-traditional evaluations and treatments.  Maybe he won’t try to give me anti-depressants. I’m not depressed.  I just don’t feel well enough long enough to get more than the minimal tasks completed.  And that frustrates the daylights out of me.

Enough of this pity party.  I am blessed. I love and am loved.  I will do what I can and be glad for it as much as I can.  I will try to forgive myself for all I can’t seem to get done and for the anxiety that builds up and causes me distress.

The cicadas just started buzzing close to this porch window.  He will be home soon.  The evening shadows will blend into dusk.  The night will bring restless sleep, yet the coming dawn will break on a fresh, new day.  Please, Lord, help me rejoice and be glad in it.

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Armadillo Blessing

To anyone reading this who knows me and is still wondering if I am touched in the head, this will leave no doubt, most likely.

I was blessed with an armadillo under the porch. I have been hearing him over the past couple of months and finally this past Sunday morning, he was caught outside.  Caught with a bullet, by him. Not me.  But, he ran back under the porch.  So, suddenly the situation became disastrous rather than a concern. It was a concern because we have a dog and a cat. An armadillo is a potentially disease carrying critter that could become an issue with one of the pets.  Now it was a disaster because I probably had a dead armadillo under the porch.  In July. In Southeast Texas. In a heat wave. If you don’t understand from that, you wouldn’t be able to imagine.

Our house is on a slab, but the porch is pier and beam. He pulled some of the skirting off.  No sign of the critter.  He decided it was as good a time as any to pull out the back stoop that was in need of replacement.  He might be able to see from that angle.  Still no sign of the critter.

He did notice that the air-conditioned air was flowing freely between the cracks in the floor under the carpet.

Let me back up a bit.  This back room started as a screened porch. But, it was too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer.  We don’t have anything in between much here.  Mama had windows and a window unit a/c installed. She had indoor/outdoor carpet put down. The carpet was to keep the mosquitos from coming through the cracks that had developed between the floor boards that were just wide enough for them. We replaced the window units with central air and I just open the French doors to cool or heat it.  After all these years, the carpet is still in decent shape, but has a few stains and a lot of set in dust. I have been wanting to replace it with stained plywood.  I saw that in a place that was on Village Creek at a wedding reception years ago and I think it would be perfect here.

So he noticed the central air flowing right through the floor cracks and indicated the porch could no longer be air-conditioned until after the floor has been corrected.  It has been running in the upper 90s for a while now. I should have been upset. Remember the armadillo under the porch?  The dead one?

Another factor involved in this very complicated story is that I am on vacation, or staycation this week, if you would rather call it that.  I never work on my birthday, so I took off last Friday. And I like to be off for a week this time of year and stay home puttering around the house.  So, I am off all this week. First time I have done this in years.  My time off in recent years has been spent traveling to Hawaii, California and Houston. Traipsing after my children and granddaughters.  I have really needed this week off at home.

Here is the miracle. There is no smell from the armadillo that is dead under the porch.  Did he have a hole that deep? Did he make it out and away into the woods before he died?  There is no smell.  I thank my Heavenly Father for the very personal favor He has shown me in this matter.  I can think nothing else.

He will be replacing the back stoop in a day or two. And all the skirting will be replaced. We may have to wait till the jungle subsides in the cold for that.  And the floor on the porch will be redone sooner rather than later.  He has a lot on his plate these days.  So, the armadillo wasn’t a blessing for him. Still, I am glad for it.

Here is the blessing for me and why you will finally know I am not quite right in the head.  I have enjoyed not having a/c on the porch.  Years ago, I spent most of my summers outdoors.  As kids, we all played outside.  There wasn’t any a/c going in the house anyway.  And later as a young adult I just stayed outside.  I would take a book out to a shady spot and enjoy the heat, the sounds, the feel of summer.  I sit at a desk in a windowless office all year these days.  I love being on the porch. I love it now with all the windows open and the fan blowing and feeling the summer, again.  Oh, I have been in and out throughout the days.  I have all that puttering to do.  But, I return to sit out here and listen to the cicadas and the birds and the hum of the fan.  Feeling alive and at peace in the Texas Heat.

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Summer, again.

I miss some of the full experience of summer.  When I was growing up, we didn’t use air conditioning. We had a window unit, but it was only used to cool the living room in the evenings while we watched television after our baths.

This insulated world I inhabit does not allow the sights, sounds and smells of nature reach my senses. I don’t feel the thick tropical air of my Texas jungle home.  People today seem personally offended by the natural heat and humidity of a Southeast Texas summer.  I just take off my fogged up eyeglasses when I go outside to get in the car.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the air conditioning very much. Especially to sleep at night.  Still, I sometimes wish to open the windows in the darkness of twilight and hear the crickets and frogs sing to the stars.

When I was a child living in this very house, a pair of whippoorwills lived in the front yard near the cedar tree that is no more. I heard one a few nights ago when I happened to be outside at dusk. My heart was thrilled at the sound of music in the fading light.

Grape sodas, fudgesicles, bologna sandwiches all tasted wonderful when I was a kid. Water from the end of the water hose was the best thing in the world to drink.  I had to be careful to let all the scalding water run out before touching it.  There will never be a watermelon that tastes like the ones I ate before age twelve.  It all tasted better because my body was hot, thirsty and tired from physical exertion running and riding a bike and swimming.   Anyone who knows what it means to “smell the rain” understands the feeling of relief and sense of peace it brings.  Childhood was summer spent outside.

The world felt better because I was innocent.  I didn’t know about death and disease, war and hate, discrimination and intolerance.  I knew the clean facts of history presented in school classrooms, but never imagined all the horrors as an adult I have learned existed and still exist.

Innocence of childhood. Truth and honesty of living. I can only bare so much pain.  It is a fine balance point to remain compassionate and not become indifferent to others’ sufferings.  It requires retreating to the mind of a child.  Taking things as they come and responding with honesty and truth.  Tasting the fullness of living and not gorging on the horrors of life.

I must again express my gratitude for having a loving Father and a loving spouse. Both provide me with strength and protection from the horrors of life. When He allows or sends something into my life that is too difficult to bear alone, He and he are with me to get me through to the other side.  They help me remain compassionate and regain my balance.  I am eternally grateful for what I do not deserve.  The blessing of being able to smell the rain and hear the night creatures serenade the stars.  A Father’s Mercy and a husband’s love. I cannot regain innocence.  I can get up and live fully, engage with life to become thirsty and hungry and truly taste the fullness of living.

Summer

Dog days ease into sultry evenings.

Fire of day tempers into balm of night.

Brilliant blue dotted with blossoms of white

Transform into majestic tones of sky jewels.

Pine scents the heated air.

Katy dids make an evening song.

Mosquito hawks give way to tiny bats.

Another summer day fades.

Already the trees loosen their hold on leaves.

The dry ground and intense heat weakens the will of all creatures, it seems.

Relief is many weeks away.

Nature does not complain for her own comfort.

Nor will I complain for mine.

I will not question or complain about the weather.

A Greater Master controls such things.

The seasons are His.

I simply observe and acknowledge what I perceive.

Such a limited perception is mine.

It is enough, though, to bring me great satisfaction with many things to ponder.

He even let the rain shower come up the hill today.

Exception to the rule.

Unexpected blessing.

Coming from a completely different direction.

Something to reflect deeply upon.

A reminder from Him to me about His blessings.

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Texas Summer

We had Texas Spring for about an hour the other day.  The morning was fresh and clean feeling.  The birds were singing, the scent of flowers wafted, the breeze was light, the sun gentle.  Yes, about an hour the other day, it was spring.

Texas Summer, with its heat, has arrived.  It actually was late coming this year. The calendar still says April, but the weather says early summer. Damp, stifling, thick hot air.  The world is a steam bath.  Suffocating, deadly. 

I love it!  Really.  Not joking at all.  I love my Southeast Texas summers. 

Sunshine, thunderstorms, trips to the river to laze on the banks and cool off in the deep, clear waters. 

Fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, melons grown just out the back door.  Banana trees reaching up to provide shade on the porch just in time for the hottest days. 

Making pickles.  Watching fireflies.  Firing up the pit for barbecue.  Fish fries, fireworks, flags waving. 

When I was a kid, living in this same house, we did not turn on the air conditioner.  We used an attic fan to draw air in from outside.  Mother would cover the arch from the living room to the rest of the house with a king size sheet and run a window unit in the evenings while we watched one of the two television stations we received.  Musical/comedy variety shows, family dramas, detective shows. 

At 6:15 p.m., the house was quiet to see the local weather forecast.  Ssshhhhh……the weather is on…….. In summer, so near the Gulf, plus a sailor father, the hurricane season was as critical as the football season.  No longer any sailors with us, but the habit lingers.  And the hurricanes still come. 

The roads were white sand.  With the baking of the sun and the grinding of car tires, the sand would become like the finest talc and coat my bare feet and legs by the end of a day of bike riding.  There were ever flowing artesian fed pipes of cold water scattered at the park on the lake.  Refreshment.  No need to go home for a drink.  The white sand and the artesian wells have fallen prey to “progress”.

Summers.  Memories.  Already we are planning our summer adventures.  The river beckons.  The heat reminds us of rope swings and muddy banks.  Sand bars and blow up floats.  Wade fishing before the other boats arrive to crowd the shore. 

I love my Southeast Texas Summers……………

 

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