Monday, July 26, 2010

Monday July 26, 2010...Summers of the past

Life goes on. The skunks have left and we feel less trapped. The swamp has dried out because of the heat of the last few weeks. We've been in the 90s with high humidity every day. One good thing about the weather is that it makes the grass go dormant so mowing is done less often. We did have a strong windstorm a couple of weeks ago. It uprooted trees and broke huge branches off of various trees in the neighborhood. Many limbs fell across streets and power lines so access was limited and power was out for several days. We had to buy dry ice for the freezer and refrigerator. We gathered up many piles and sacks of broken branches for the city to pick up.

Now that the hubbub is over, we can get back to the lazy hazy crazy daze of summer. We can now go outside without fear of mean, rabid skunk gangs.

I miss the large elm trees that surrounded my childhood home. On a hot summer day we would be outside under the trees enjoying the cool shade. Back then nobody had air conditioning so the house had all the windows open and we all hoped for summer breezes. At night we had window fans or the attic fan that would pull evening air across the beds for relief. A summertime drive to cool off and maybe get an ice cream cone was nice on the weekend when dad and the car were there. On a hot day we would run through a sprinkler or soak in a wash tub of cool water. Summer drove everyone outside, so we visited with our neighbors. Evenings would find folks out on their front porches in their porch swings waiting for the house to cool off. We would sit there and listen to the crickets or the cicadas sing their songs.

Summers now drive everyone inside to their air conditioned homes to watch the television. We don't often see our neighbors and get little exercise. We have exchanged our comfort for a whole new solitary lifestyle.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Tuesday, July 6, 2010...Summertime

It's turning out to be an interesting summer, so far.

My son-in-law, Chuck, got fed up with work at Deffenbaugh industries and was contacted by a previous employer from Wyoming who wanted him to come back to work for them – they have years of work ahead of them up in North Dakota at a big oil field. Chuck worked for oil riggers and drives the big trucks and is a very responsible worker. He decided to take them up on their offer and will commute from Kansas City to western North Dakota on a monthly basis. While he's there, they will be working 7 days a week for 12 hours a day – so it won't leave him much leisure time.

So now, it's just my daughter, Beth, and my grandson, Zachary and me. And we discovered that we have a family of skunks nested under the front stoop and possibly under the garden shed. This presents a possibly smelly dilemma. How do you get rid of skunks without getting sprayed? We really don't want to hurt the mother and 4 little babies – we just want them to move across the street into the forest that lies between our house and the interstate about a half mile away.

I really need to do something to fill up the space under the stoop. A few years ago I had some rather large wasps that built a nest there and the mail service wouldn't come to my house until I had them exterminated. The problem is that I have a courtyard out front that collects rainwater and the courtyard wall doesn't allow it to drain. Over the years, the water has apparently undermined the stoop and found a way out leaving a small cavern. So, as one thing leads to another, I need to shoo the skunk family away, find a way to either stop the rain or establish a new water course out of the courtyard, and then re-pour the walkway and stoop.

Maybe I need to eliminate the courtyard - or at least the courtyard wall. I've always wanted to pave the front yard so that I would have plenty of parking and no mowing. Maybe I could build a big fortress wall all around the property and then pave it all and have a hacienda type garden.... On the other hand, maybe I could just out-wait the skunks and let nature take its course.

Meanwhile, back in the swamp, which is what we call a good portion of our back yard, the rains keep the low area nice and sloshy. It's hard to mow back there unless you get a run at it and splash your way through it. I've thought about planting a bamboo forest to suck up the water, but I hear that it just keeps on spreading and taking over the whole neighborhood. It would eliminate the need for mowing, but I would probably have to hack my way through it to get to the back fence.

Life is interesting and there is always something new and exciting to discover. I like to think of myself as sort of camping out here in my Missouri home. That way, each little trial and tribulation seems really insignificant because other than the few problems now and then life is generally pretty comfortable here.

I wonder what the summer will bring next? It's hard to outguess the fates.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Saturday July 3, 2010...Don't panic

One thing I've really noticed lately is that panic comes on quickly while confidence comes on slowly.

In the business and financial world panic ensues momentarily with any bad news and a real calamity seems to institute the “herd stampede” mentality. “Head for the hills without thinking” takes over the majority of people involved in most any situation. We seem to be much more cynical about accepting good news and developing confidence.

The stock market drops precipitously with any kind of bad news but will climb slowly on good news and fair weather forecasts. We seem to accept the doom and gloom forecast as if we expected only the worst to happen and that this forecast confirms our expectations. Why aren't we happier and more confident and why don't we expect the best instead of the worst? Eventually, in life, all things work out the way that they will and we accept the inevitable and deal with it. If we accept what life brings us with confidence that it will ultimately work out well or acceptable, we can be much more at ease and a lot less stressed.

Accept the bad news and plan how it can be dealt with reasonably and how best we can adapt to the change it brings. This is what will have to happen anyway, so why not work with it immediately? When the good news comes along, as it always does, accept that as an expected fact and work it into your plan of life also. Level out the road, so to speak, fill in the valleys and reduce the hills and make the road more even and drivable. Save through the good years to help through the lean years. Build for the future and know that the sour makes the sweet more appreciated.

Presently we are experiencing recessionary times and there is more to endure before it gets better, but it eventually will get better. When those better times arrive, don't assume that they are the norm – save for the next cycle of downturn, which will come again. Don't expect the path through life to have no hills or valleys – it will not always be smooth and easy. Don't panic and don't exult – keep a level head and plan for the future. Life will be good and there will be joy as well as sorrow. That's what gives life its flavor.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Thursday July 1, 2010...Humdrum

Humdrum: Lacking variety or excitement

Not everyday can be full of excitement. Some days are humdrum.

Some days you can just sit back and listen to the mosquitoes humming along. The clouds form little puff balls and then slide across the sky before dispersing. The leaves on the trees just hang there limply waiting for a breeze to tickle them into movement. The squirrels are still busy-busy, but sometimes they freeze into squirrel statues --- before scurrying away. I wonder what they heard that made them stop that way. It's a humdrum day and my world is lazily passing by without a worry or a care. You need some days like that.

It takes a lot of effort to get up from the hammock and go get another icy cold drink of lemonade - maybe later.

For now I'm just going to sit back and watch the world pass by.