Saturday, July 30, 2005

15 minutes of Success

This morning I went out and rode the wild and crazy Duquesne.

Ah, that's a lie. At 15 years old, Dink doesn't get very wild and crazy anymore. Especially when he and I have both been getting hardly any exercise for months. I saddled the Little Duke up, avoiding being bitten, and hauling a mounting block into the arena, got into the saddle and rode for 15 minutes. I probably would have ridden longer (which would have been really stupid) but the Messengers of God had inspired the ranch owners to go on vacation to the coast, (where it is cold enough that they will all need warm coats) and thus the ranch gates were locked and I could not venture onto the orchard roads with my horse.

I didn't feel as badly afterwards as I did last week, so I'm thinking a regimen of riding for about half an hour on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday this next week is in order. Much of that will depend upon how I feel tomorrow. Tonight I feel tired, but not beaten to a pulp. Muscle spasms are at a minimum, although I'll still take Valerian tonight and hope for a peaceful sleep.

And so it will be a Horse Week. In addition to riding, I'll be hosting the farrier on Wednesday, holding Dink's head while the shoer works on his front feet so that the fearsome Duquesne doesn't bite him, and holding Dink's tail so that he doesn't whack the shoer while he works on the hind feet. I also get the "privilege" of holding a friend's mare while the shoer takes care of her. Nobody tell her I hate mares.

And it's still too freakin' hot.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Can it be?

Each day the weather service says the high temperature will be 99 F. (37 C.) or less.

Each day, the temps in the afternoon have been diddling 106 and 1o9 (43), but today, at what should be the hottest part of the day, the temperature outside is a mere 99. What's even more promising is that the low overnight is supposed to be -- 60???? (15???) Dare I believe in such a scrumptious tale?

That, if true, should slow down tomato production a bit. I had to freeze two big bags of tomatoes because we couldn't eat them fast enough, and there's a whole basket out there that need to be picked today. If the Delta Breezes pick up in an hour (and they should if we're going to have such a temperature drop) I'll go pick tomatoes in the evening light.

Yesterday I spent twenty minutes brushing the big dog. And let me tell you, this was no leisurely thing of caresses and detail. I was using a special brush called a "rake" and working as fast as I could to comb out the loosening undercoat before the old guy had to lie down again. Babe is 11 years old, and his hindquarters are shaky, but he stood for the whole 20 minutes while I drew the rake through his fur. I think it must have felt good to get rid of all that fur. There was so much coming off with each stroke that Alex, passing by, stopped to gawk in amazement at the pile of hair on the floor. When Babe had had "enough," I took a picture of the pile of hair -- it will accompany my article in the Piker Press on August 15th.

Last night I decided that I would strike the tent today and return to sleeping indoors. How radical this is for me! What on earth am I thinking? Basically I am just tired of sleeping outside alone. The air mattress we've been using prohibits Howie from cuddling with me, and Bernie has to work overtime so much that it's dawn by the time he gets home. Maybe I'll change my mind again after sleeping inside tonight, who knows? I just need a full night's sleep. Between the bluejays screeching at 6 am, and lost ducks that circle the neighborhood at 4 am, and that damned fat black and white cat that tries to get into our yard at 5 am, my sleep is too broken, and I'm starting my days in exhaustion.

Can it be? Can the temperatures really be moderating? Can a dog really shed that much hair and not be bald? Can this hedge shaman really sleep indoors?

We'll see.

Color me skeptical.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Mmmm, cool

The air conditioning is fixed, and the house is cool.

Very cool, compared to yesterday's 109. The weather service said the high was 105, but I don't know where they were smoking crack. It was far hotter than that here.

Our air conditioning unit was repaired by a worthy person named Eddie Caballero, of Airdynamix. Anyone who lives in this local area, make use of this admirable young man! He's just starting his own company, he's efficient, polite, honest, and KNOWS HIS STUFF. We called him in desperation after the company called "Service Star" stiffed us on service twice, and then not only didn't call us back to say when they could be here, but also disconnected their answering machine and stopped taking calls. Mr. Eddie C., upon taking our call, apologized that he could not be here the same day, but would come by to help us out the next day. He fixed our air conditioning unit (a large black beetle had most unfortunately placed himself in the contact points of a switch and shorted everything out) by replacing the burnt out switches, and now we are in bliss. Mr. Eddie C. is henceforth a fixture and a hero in this family.

Oh, yes, I'm a weasel, a pig, a coward, a slacker, whatever -- but I love having air conditioning on such a hot day. I can only make up for my weakness by praying for all those people in the world who are suffering in the heat. May they find comfort in cooling breezes and shade, in sweet rivers and cloud cover.

Howie is well again. What a relief to see my dog leaping and playing, flinging himself about with abandon! When he hears me pick up his bottle of pills, he runs to me and sits, anticipating. His anticipation is not for the taste of the pills, or of me sticking my finger into his throat to push the pills in, but for the reward of having me press my face against his muzzle when the dosage is done.

What a humbling response! He's willing to endure discomfort for nothing more than a gesture of love.

More about that kind of response soon.


Thursday, July 21, 2005

A clever forgery

I can't eat a lot of dairy products.

A bowl of ice cream produces in my stomach a sensation that might be rivaled by a mouthful of angry bees. Milk and ice cream used to be the main offenders, but as I've grown older, even cottage cheese (which I love) will make me very uncomfortable. And even yogurt.

The yogurt thing is a real tragedy, as my son-in-law introduced me to the incredible taste of chopped cucumber and onion in Greek yogurt as a sauce for slivered lamb on flatbread (gyros) and on kufta, a kind of meatball made from either beef or lamb. Sheer bliss in taste, agony for my innards for days afterwards.

At the store the other day, I was smitten with desire and bought a package of ground lamb, thinking that kufta without yogurt was better than no kufta at all. However, as I began frying the cute little kufta patties, my subconscious kicked out an idea for fake, non-dairy sauce in which to dice cucumbers.

To my chopped half-cucumber, I added a tablespoon of ranch salad dressing, a teaspoon of sour cream, and about two teaspoons of mayonnaise. I used onion powder to season because I was too lazy to chop onion, along with some garlic powder. To imitate the distinctive tang of Greek yogurt, I added about 5 drops of vinegar.

Side by side, I know I could tell the difference between the real and the faux. However, without the authentic on the table, Bernie could not discern a difference, and had I not known my recipe, I wouldn't have been able to put my finger on the difference either. Hee, hee. Gyros, here I come. Well, once this heat wave is over, anyway. Making flatbread on hot days isn't much fun.

When I was a little child, I always thought being forgery would make a great career. I've achieved another life-long goal.

Feels so good

By 11 am I had all I could stand.

My car-full of recyclables was sorted into the proper bins: paper, aluminum, glass, plastic. It was already in the 90's (35 C or so) and sweat was trickling down the back of my neck from standing in the sun. What a disgusting feeling.

As fortune would have it, there is a beauty salon across the street from the recyclers. I walked in and asked how long I would have to wait to get a haircut. The lovely ladies ushered me right to a chair and asked what style I would like. I pointed to a short men's haircut and said, "Just like that."

Of course she thought I was crazy, and asked me several times if I reeeeaaallly wanted it that short, but in the end she complied, and now my hair is not quite all shaved off, but only about half an inch long on the sides and back.

Mmmm. Such a pleasant difference in comfort. I didn't even get cranky when I harvested tomatoes in the afternoon.

Monday, July 18, 2005

No Relief

The repairman can't get here today.

The company had an emergency come up (they put elderly and sick people at the front of the list of repairs, as well as mobile homes, which can quickly become People Ovens) and so we've been bumped back a day, maybe more. Now the weather service says that the high temperatures are probably going to last for at least another week. I truly want them to be wrong, as wrong as they were about the cool-down that was supposed to happen a few days ago.

I bought a voluminous red linen shirt a couple weeks ago. Maybe not even that long ago. In the mornings, when I would come inside from the tent and turn on the fans, it was chilly enough that I could slip the linen shirt on and drench myself in redness and comfort. The shirt is draped over the chair in my studio, waiting for a break in the heat, too.

Maybe this is what Kris called dhristi: the miserable heat not being enough, a small green bug bit me on the foot and left a nasty blister. And while I was sitting in the relative coolness of the mist machine, mosquitoes bit me twice on the ankles. They probably looked very juicy to the insects, as my feet and ankles are swollen from the heat. And while I had an appointment with the veterinarian to give Howie his rabies vaccination, they were to busy to do a quick exam to make sure that his continuing sickness isn't serious. All they had to do was take his temperature, for heaven's sake.

We still have the shaver I used to shave my head last September. Somewhere. Maybe Bernie hid it away until the heat wave is past, because I'm certainly tempted to get rid of this heavy blonde mop again...

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Time Traveler

It's done.

In spite of the heat, in spite of the dog deciding yesterday to fall ill (courtesy of eating the nectarines that fell out of the tree), in spite of my granddaughter begging me all day to put my bathing suit on and play in the pool, the book is done, including the added sexy paragraph that Wendy so kindly informed me needed to be added. A few words have been changed, here and there, hopefully for the better. But there it is at Lulu (see link at the side of the page) with one of my unnamed ancestors gracing the front cover. (She conveniently had very blue eyes, as one can extrapolate from the daguerrotype.

If anyone reads Time Traveler, and finds typos (please God, no) revisions will have to wait until December when it's good and cold. I'm not working on this book again until the dog is well, and the temperatures drop.

You would not believe how good it feels to be done.

purple = wildly enthusiastic

Friday, July 15, 2005

I'm hot blooded, I have no choice

The temperature hit 106 F. yesterday, and today is supposed to be the hottest day this week.

Incidentally, that would be over 41 C. The house is currently at 73 degrees (22.8 C) and will stay reasonably cool until around 4:00pm. Then we'll swelter until the sun goes down.

The first summer I lived in California, we had a July that kept rocketing up to 112 degrees. I remember marveling at the heat, and how it really wasn't nearly as bad as hot weather in Pennsylvania, where the humidity makes you feel like you're dying if the temps go above 90. However, that first summer, I also remember it getting chilly at night, down in the 60's. This time around we haven't got that kind of cooperation from the weather.

The heat makes it hard to work on editing my current project. The novel Time Traveler is a nasty, angsty story anyway, and working with the manuscript while sweat rolls down one's back is just plain old irritating, and a lot less fun than wallowing in the swimming pool with a throwaway paperback. Nevertheless, I have my cover design done, the interior graphics ready to insert, I've done all the formatting I need, and now it's just a line-by-line edit, correcting spacing errors and messing with a few words here and there. Bleah.

Did I mention that I wanted to have it available for sale by Monday? That means an awful lot of work this weekend.

Did I mention that our air conditioner decided to die in the wee hours of the morning two days ago and no one is available to look at the monster until Monday? That means I either work through the heat or change the deadline. I'm working.

The first chapter of Time Traveler will appear in The Piker Press on Monday, too. At least that's good to go.

A deep bow to Kris, for prodding me to get back to blogging.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

More About Stupid Fronts

The onslaught of the Stupids is something like a weather system,

but is not necessarily associated with a weather system. Sometimes The Stupids are brought on by a season, as in the stupid behavior one can observe at shopping malls in December -- a veritable frenzy of stupidity brought on by mob consumerism.

Understand I'm not talking about stupid people, or people who act stupidly on a regular basis, like boys who wear their pants half pulled down and walk around slouched with their mouths hanging open, or girls who have collagen injected into their lips and wear clothing that is too tight, making them look like Daisy Duck in a sausage casing. No, I'm not speaking of them, except in passing. I'm talking about something like a spirit of stupidity that sometimes infects whole areas.

I've been places where a cloud of stupidity perpetually blots out the light of reason. Certain towns whose names I won't mention fall into that category. And there's a parking lot in Manteca where the Stupid Cloud is so thick you can just about cut a slice off with a knife. Normally sensible people drive into that parking lot and zip! the Stupids sink in and they hurtle through the aisles of cars, making pedestrians dive out of their way; they take up two parking spaces and leave shopping carts and litter everywhere; they angrily curse anyone who moves slowly or suggests that they slow down.

Nevertheless, there is some weather that stirs up the Stupids, I have to admit. High winds and very hot days seem to leave people more vulnerable to the spirit of Stupidity, so one should be extra careful at those times, moving slowly and carefully and working systematically, and drinking plenty of water.

And a special side note to Kris: I don't know if such things happen in your country or not. You should blog more about what you see around you -- I, for one, would truly enjoy hearing more about your land.

Cheers, all! It's a holiday weekend here, so aside from a possible movie review for the Press, it's unlikely that I'll write more before next Twosday.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Attack of the Stupids

You know how they show weather systems moving through an area on radar or on satellite images?

We've got a Stupid System moving through the West Coast. Yup. People have got the Stupids all over the place. On the way to work, Bernie's commute partner ran two red lights -- thought he had time to get through them before they turned. Our daughter inadvertently deleted ALL of her writing work -- hours and hours of work. "What was I thinking?" she asked.

"It was Stupid Weather," her father told her. "At the plant, even the machines got stupid and ended up shutting down the assembly line two hours early."

I knew it was Stupid Weather starting Wednesday. I could feel the Stupids coming on the wind, and didn't even want to leave my studio except to eat. I didn't want to try to create anything while in the depths of Stupid, so I ended up playing solitaire on the computer and reading on line comics most of the day. I was able to wash dishes without breaking any, so that was a good thing.

A man up the street was sitting in his garage in his car, honking the horn over and over again. Stupid.

A woman entered the restaurant where we had lunch, wearing black capri pants with a scarf as a belt, stiletto heels, and a tight tight tight pink shell top (she had to be in her 50's) and a hairdo like a toupee pasted on an army helmet. Stupid.

My mail-order pack of $10.00 supplements arrived today. The good folk based in Washington State had the invoice PERFECT -- however, what was in the box was over $100 worth of somebody else's order. Whoa, someone got the Stupid Weather big time.

The stupid tent stupidly ripped, leaving a hole in its dome that needed to be patched with duct tape.

Still in the throes of Stupid Weather, the supplement people sent me an apologetic note that said United Parcel Service would be by to pick up the erroneous shipment on Tuesday -- not remembering that the order was sent by USPS (United States Postal Service) in one of their Priority Mail boxes -- which UPS won't touch. That's okay. I have an old unlabeled box I can send the return in.

I understand getting the Stupids. That's why I've stayed home for a couple days.

this color = hoping I'm on the mend from the Stupids