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plotting and planning...

Saturday, August 19, 2017
...for weeks to go to South Carolina to be there when the solar eclipse occurs. I read about it early in the year, in the Farmer's Almanac, and told my pen pal in Greenville I was planning to come and visit to be there for the complete eclipse that will occur in the upstate. And looking forward to the trip.

Until I talked with my cousin after I got home tonight, who said there it is going to be chaos there. The news reports that thousands and more thousands of people will be swarming into the area to view the oddity. She was warning me to stay away, and stay at home. Keep away as far away as possible.

It is always my plan when I am traveling to SC to spend the night in Decatur and get up really early to get out of town before traffic gets bad. I dislike that high speed, crazy-ness so much I do every thing I can to avoid as much as possible. Like keep to surface streets until absolutely necessary to get on that twelve-lane-wide-screaming-banshee mess. Which is what I had planned to do on Monday. But I am having second thoughts....

The cousin laughed at me when I said: "Wow!" and "Really?" Making her think I am a hopeless bumpkin. Ignorant and completely naive. The kind of person who thinks like a chicken when a solar eclipse occurs and goes right to bed/roost for two and one-half minutes. I have not listened to the radio, or seen any news with reports of those thousands and thousands of people who are flocking to the area of total darkness. I was thoroughly amazed to hear that it will be bedlam in Carolina while the sun disappears in a shadow. For 2 1/2 minutes.

sitting here typing...

...looked up and out the window. Saw a beautiful sunset, over towards the golf course that is across the street from our house. Sky streaked with clouds that were a gorgeous shade of orange, with the sun lighting them from beneath, so the color was almost golden. It was so striking, brilliantly colored, I hit the save button, immediately got up and walked out into the yard, up to the street to see the end of the day. It is now completely dark. Only nine o'clock. Days ago it would be almost fully daylight until nearly 9:30, so it is obvious the days are getting shorter, and summer is drawing to a close.

When I went in to work this morning, I had to be there at 7:00. I usually go in at 5 or 6 a.m., when it is still pitch black dark. So do not often seen the sunrise, unless I am traveling, on the road and seeing the sky gradually lighten out in the woods, trees slowly become visible across fields of cotton, corn or soybeans. But I did see the early morning sky today: beautifully colored clouds of pink and palest orange, almost looking like watercolor paintings, just a faint wash of color. Pale blue sky, with fluffy clouds up high enough to catch the early rays of the sun, and be an enticing shade of cotton candy pink.

Sadly, I spent the entire day inside, and did not see the world until I left the store at 5 p.m. But I did see the end of the day, with streaked shades of gold and brilliant orange, as the sky faded into gray and black. Thankful for the beauty of creation.

sounds just like...

...something I would do, so not at all surprising to hear this hilarious tale from the daughter who gave me a good laugh today. I knew she had been in the right frame of mind to do some housecleaning during a break from work. Having heard about sorting through closets and bins of seasonal clothing to decide what to keep and what to donate. The story is about going through a bin of things she was contemplating taking to the thrift store.

She decided to put the dress on one last time to enjoy before adding it to the assortment that she was willing to part with. They were going out to eat, and she slipped it on over a tank top and leggings, before walking out the door to go to the cafe. When they got to their destination, the young woman who was taking the order commented on how much she liked that colorful, flower-strewn dress. Not knowing it was headed for the donations box. When they finished eating, and the woman returned to give them the check for their meal, she was asked if she would like to have the dress. Whereupon the wearer immediately took it off and gave it away. What fun!

I've taken off scarves or hats or pins and given them to someone who admired them, but never a complete outfit. How much fun would that be to make someone's day, have them thrilled with an unexpected gift and smile the rest of the day with delight? Tons! The daughter who gave the dress away is not the one in the photo. But that is the dress - or actually one just like it, that her sister had on when she went to breakfast and left it there in the restaurant with the server.

perverse, yet strangely gratifying...

... stomping on big black grasshoppers that are just asking for death by sitting out on the driveway when I come home. I know it sounds absolutely disgusting and repulsive. I apologize, most sincerely  sorry if your sensitivities are cringing at the thought. But chasing them across the concrete apron and finally giving them a good stomp is very satisfying.

Also probably quite amusing to watch if you are standing in the house gazing out the window. Seeing me hopping about in the drive, jumping around as the insects industriously try to escape certain death. I often get tickled myself, thinking of how comical it would be to an onlooker: hop, stomp, hop-stomp, hopstomp.

There are lots of dessicated crispy shells of large insects scattered across the paving and grassy lawn in front of the house. I think they are one of those creatures that have an exoskeleton, so that part you see on the outside is what holds it all together? The most gratifying part of knowing they are deceased is the assurance of preventing their children from hatching next spring to devour plants and flowering things. They are voracious, in a Biblical sense, can completely clean every leaf off a plant in a matter of hours when there are enough of them at work. Plus, when they munch their way through blooms, they are consuming the food I deliberately planted to attract pollinators.

I honestly believe I have stomped upon one or more every single day for the past month. There have been times when I have gotten a double: stomping on a pair as they were mating. So got the guy, who was on the girl (he likely promised to respect as much tomorrow as he did before he talked her into letting him in her pants). Whereupon they met their demise long before she could plant her eggs that would hatch and turn into an eating machine, gobbling my plants next spring. Very satisfying.

book review: "Miller's Valley"...

Sunday, August 13, 2017
...by Anna Quindlen. I read it on seven Cds while driving. The story is told from the point of view of Mary Margaret, called Mimi by her family. Starting when she is a young girl of about ten years of age, throughout her life as she grows, leaves home, starts a career and a family. I enjoyed hearing the tale of a community that changes over time,and of her family as she matures and becomes an adult.

The place she grows up in is a valley that the federal government wants to flood, to use as a reservoir. There is a dam in place as the story begins, though the community is resistant to the idea that their lands will eventually be covered by a lake as the water rises. People age, die, move on over time,  homes and land is sold, giving the government an edge to apply more pressure to the families that are still holdouts with land they have farmed for generations. Mimi's family is resistant, but times and people change.

A sweet tale of a young woman learning some of life's hard lessons, as she interacts with family and friends in her community. A few surprises pop up in the course of the story, unexpected plot twists. The reader spends so much time with Mimi, it is difficult to get to the end and let her go, even though she has had a long, full, happy life. At the end it is gratifying to have shared her experiences as you hear her reflect on her history, and successful career as a family practice doctor.

'rest of the story'...

Friday, August 11, 2017
...as things evolved with the deceased battery in the Toyota belonging to the auntie. I did get a key with the chip that was 'original' delivered to the dealership.  One that I assume was given to the auntie when it was purchased. The service guy ( if you recall: 'Bubba'?) said that the battery was so thoroughly dead that the computer could not read the chip in that key that was given the new owner when she purchased the vehicle. Making the root of the problem appear to be nothing more serious than a completely dead battery. Which would, as you might guess, cost twice as much when purchased and installed by the service department at the dealership than anyplace else in town.

But: they had the car, sitting there, awaiting service. I would have had to call to get a tow to take it elsewhere. So they did install a brand new battery at twice the price. Which seems to have solved the problem.

Bubba reported that the duplicate key would not communicate with the computer, and seemed to want me to believe it had somehow mysteriously 'de-programmed' itself. Something he wanted me to think was not impossible. When I told him I thought the dealer would be responsible for that problem, he said only if it was under warranty. Then, after more research, he agreed that the duplicate the auntie bought came with a twelve month warranty. Admitting if the unlikely deprogramming had occurred, the dealer would make it good, replace the suspiciously non-working key.

After all that, I am no longer thinking ill of the service department. Provided I receive two working keys when I go to pay for the new battery. And find someone who will drive it back to the house for me next week, to avoid paying for shuttle service.

book reveiw: "In Sunlight or in Shadow"...

... randomly taken off the shelf at the local library. Edited by Lawrence Block, copyright 2016. A collection of short stories written by well known American authors, based on paintings by Edward Hopper. Block reported he has long been an admirer of Hopper's art, and requested a number of writers use specific pieces of Hopper's work as inspiration to provide an accompanying tale to be included in the collection.

The authors of the words in the collection have some standing in American literature, and will be household names. Including people like Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Jeffery Deaver, and a dozen others. I am not a fan of King's style/subject matter, and not even aware of some of the others. We should assume they are all successful writers, in the sense of well paid for their efforts in popular literature. Some of the stories were better than others, and a couple I merely skimmed, in order to move on to the next.

Hopper's works often have a moody, melodramatic feel. Most depict people as if caught in a snapshot, but the lighting is somehow subdued, to give a feel of impending storm or awaiting some unexpected disaster. There is an edginess, a sense of doom, when viewing many of his carefully planned, meticulously arranged paintings. Each short story from the successful professionals, invited to pen words to accompany the illustrations is well-suited to the preceding painting.  The tales from these wordsmiths, using their imaginations to generate stories, are as often as unsettling as the scenes Hopper's brushed portrayed.

I have long been an admirer of Hopper's style, and think the idea of dreaming up a 'back story' for a particular piece of art work a great way to develop appreciation for art. Something that would be useful for a teacher in a classroom, as a way to generate interest in fine art and hone writing skills.