Friday, July 11, 2014

Ten Minutes in a Sun Shower

South Louisiana's intense summer heat often produces late afternoon rainstorms. Yesterday's heavy rain would have been no different from that of any other day except that the sun never stopped shining. There's something about that phenomenon that I find particularly appealing: no dark, gloomy clouds, no noisy thunder or scary lightning--just water and sunshine everywhere, like a festive day at a water park. A rainbow is the only thing that could have made it better.

I know I'm not the only person who imagines a magical quality to such a mixed-up weather occurrence. Online articles here and here, among others, address the folklore that has grown up around simultaneous sun and rain through the years in places all over the world. Some of the legends involve devils, witches and strange weddings. Personally, I find sun showers heavenly.

If you're so inclined, click on the following images to enlarge them, and maybe you'll feel as cool and fresh as I did while I snapped them:

5:00:27 PM - Rain falling on the leaning tree, just behind my back fence.
(Viewed from my patio, under the eaves.)

5:00:47 PM - Rain pouring off the roof of a neighbor's cabinet shop.
(Viewed from my patio.)

5:01:07 PM - A corner of my own roof (in shadow) with blue skies overhead.
(Viewed from my patio.)

5:02:55 PM - My driveway and next-door neighbor's house.
Look at all the sunlight!
(Viewed through glass door on side of the house opposite the patio.)

5:04:20 PM - Neighbor's truck (nearer front of my driveway)
in pouring rain but enough sunshine to cast shadows of tires.
(Viewed from under my carport.)

5:04:43 PM - Hard rain spattering on driveway,
shadow of basketball net support.
(Viewed from under carport.)

5:06:55 PM - Rain and sunshine both beating down on neighbor's roof.
Drops that appear larger were falling from eaves of my own roof.
(Viewed from under carport.)

5:08:10 PM - Closeup of rain spatter in deep puddle.
(Viewed from dry spot under carport.)

5:08:39 PM - Rainwater pooling at uncovered end of carport
where mop had been put out to dry.
(Viewed from covered part of carport, but enough
water flowed through there to get my shoes wet.)

5:09:01 PM - From bottom to top: edge of front yard, 
peak of the hilly driveway, woods across the road--and rain.
(Viewed from carport.)

5:09:59 - Walked through the house in wet shoes and
stepped out the backdoor again to take one more shot
of the bright blue sky. It was still raining, but the camera
couldn't capture it against this beautiful background.
(Viewed from patio.)

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Um...What Was I Thinking About? It Wasn't Birds, Was It?

My home office area is set up in a corner of the den where two windows meet and allow sunlight to pour in and brighten the room. I enjoy looking out those windows while I'm pondering a blog post idea, deciding the best way to structure a sentence, or editing photos to share. (I pay bills in the same spot, but that process doesn't involve much restorative window gazing.)

Lately, for some reason, sparrow-sized birds have been flying up and attaching themselves to the window screens. They'll hang there for a moment then hop across to a different spot on the screen or maybe fly away altogether, only to return a few minutes later. Sometimes more than one bird will land on the screen, one right after the other. Most of them eventually move upward toward the corner of the roof and out of my line of vision. I don't know why. I've looked twice and can't detect any sign of a nest up there.

The birds scratching on the screen sound very much like mice inside a wall, so the first time I heard that scratching I was relieved to look up and see a bird. Actually, because they are backlighted by the glaring sun, I see only their dark silhouettes--black, bird-shaped blobs. I can't identify what kind of birds they are.

As much as I like our fine feathered friends in general, about the only thing I can say for certain about these particular ones is they sure have a way of knocking an idea right out of my head.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Corn on the Cob and Strings of Ash

It's America's 238th birthday and I feel excited! Well, maybe not excited enough to justify the exclamation point at the end of the previous sentence, but a pleasant, anticipatory sensation nonetheless. Don't ask me why. July 4th used to excite me because it meant a holiday from work, but now that I'm retired, every day is a holiday, so that's not the reason.

We aren't celebrating with a festive cookout, though tonight I will cook oven-barbecued sausage links and serve them with store-bought potato salad, slices of the single home-grown tomato remaining from those my younger daughter brought us from her garden, and maybe we'll finally eat that corn on the cob that's been in the door of the freezer for god knows how long. That all sounds holiday appropriate, doesn't it?

What I'm feeling might just be residual excitement from childhood. The 4th of July felt like a really big deal in the '40s and early '50s, though the truth is our family celebrations weren't elaborate even then. We usually had a watermelon, which made the day special, and we must have had some kind of picnic food, or else why would I think the occasion calls for potato salad and corn on the cob?

I'm not excited about fireworks. Fireworks displays are nice to see, but my enthusiasm for them has diminished in inverse proportion to the number of dogs I've had who've been frightened by them. When I was a kid, we lived in town. We couldn't have Roman candles or any other kind of "bombs bursting in air." We did have small firecrackers that the grownups would light. Sometimes there'd be a few cherry bombs we could throw hard against the sidewalk, and we could count on having sparklers year after year. I was always afraid of sparklers. (Whose brilliant idea was it to put fire on conductive metal wires and hand them out to children?) I gritted my teeth and waved them around anyway, because my little sister wasn't afraid and I needed to be as brave as she was.

My favorite firework back then (if one can call it a firework) was made of some type of gray-colored material that had been compressed into the shape of a sitting dog no taller than the diameter of a half-dollar coin. A lighted match held briefly to the dog's rear end would cause a long, continuous string of black ash to shoot out of its butt, a sight that cracked me up no matter how many times I saw it. Now that I live with four real canines, dog poop doesn't seem so funny anymore. Although dogs do look funny when they do it.

Whatever. I can't really explain the source of my mild excitement, but it's Independence Day in the US of A, and maybe that's reason enough.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

"I'm Gonna Be Good, Whatever It Takes!"

I'm pretty sure Gimpy has whipped his stealing habit. It's been a long time since towels went missing from the bathroom or dishtowels from the kitchen counter, weeks since papers were snitched from a desktop or books pulled off a shelf. It's always seemed unfair to crate Gimpy while allowing the other three dogs unsupervised freedom, but I've done it for his safety and my peace of mind.

Lately, considering Gimpy's long stretch of good behavior, I've begun to trust him--enough that I haven't put him in the crate the last three times I've left the house.  He hasn't disappointed me; each time I've come home to find everything in its place.

I do wonder if I'm more comfortable with this new arrangement than Gimpy is, if my trust for him may be greater than his own sense of self control. I say that because Levi, Lucy and Oliver come to greet me at the front door when I get home, and there sits Gimpy, way back in the den in his crate, watching the action and wagging his tail, but not coming out of the crate until I call his name.

His self-imprisonment touches me. I kind of understand how much pressure he must feel when confronted with an opportunity to help himself to whatever's within his reach. It's the same pressure I feel when I know there are cookies in the house.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Father and Son

One of my favorite family photos is one I never saw until summer before last when my stepsister gave it to me. It's a picture of her paternal grandfather, an old Kentucky farmer, resting for a moment while working in his field.

Otto J. Hofmann - 1868-1939

I love pictures that show people in their natural environment, as opposed to all stiff and proper in a formal studio setting. Another reason I love this one is that Otto bore such a close resemblance to his son Tommy, my stepfather:

Thomas J. Hofmann - 1913-1996

In honor of these two gentlemen from Kentucky, today's Saturday Song Selection is a bluegrass number, another in the recent series of "old man" songs:

The song is "Old Man and His Fiddle" by Michael Cleveland and Larry Sparks.
Thanks to Marvin Nicholson for posting the video on YouTube.
Click here to read the lyrics.