seasons change

The house my brother and I grew up in was a big brick kind of rambling, drafty old house in central North Carolina. Back then we had cast iron radiators for winter and an attic fan for summer. It never seemed to get hot enough to need that fan often. We kept all our windows open, up and downstairs, and when my father turned the fan on it clicked several times before revving itself up to begin drawing in the cooler outside night air.

Central heat and air is a godsend when it works. Not long ago I came home from a morning volunteering at a local public garden with other avid gardeners, some master, some amateur, all compatible and happy. In our element. Rescue dogs Lily and Lulu greeted me with robust enthusiasm and joy and after a shower we settled in to a quiet afternoon.

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Noticing I had become restless, Lily was incessantly panting,  I realized it was quite warm, so wandered over to the hall thermostat.

Blank. Just lines on the screen. No numbers. I randomly pushed some buttons. Nothing.

I have lived here for two years. The central air unit was a year old when I moved here so I pretty much figured it had not died. That first summer I was still unpacking and storing things in the very small attic floor space when I noticed water in the pan under the unit. I retrieved my little carpet cleaner vacuum and suctioned it out. Probably between 2-3 gallons of water. Then I called the air conditioning repair people. They came and suctioned out more water, flushed the system for clogs. This happened two more times that summer.

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Last summer nothing happened. Refreshing cool air, ran fine all summer long. No trouble at all. So after the storm the service person came out in the fall to inspect and service the system. All clear, all systems go.

But the blank screen again this summer. After the service call visit where they checked the system, cleaned out the pan of water, cleared the lines, flushed for clogs I climbed those rickety steps and poked my head into the stifling hot attic to check that pan every couple of days. Dry as dust.

Until today.

So though I’d love to blame things on anything else I will never really know. I do not know anything about air conditioning units. I understand something about condensation but nothing much about why a system develops a clog. My dogs are long-haired but they would never go up those rickety pull-down attic stairs. I am told we have here on the coast a chlorine-resistant algae that is fond of growing in air conditioning units. I regularly change the filters in the ceiling. That is all I know to do. So when something goes wrong I do what I can but it is only alleviating the symptom. I need the root cause eradicated.

Maybe I could start a new career….

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And so for now I am heading back up into the suffocating attic to suction out that pan. But I have a repair call in for this week.

 

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seeing

Eyesight is so taken for granted. When asked if you had a choice of losing hearing or eyesight (neither!), many prefer to keep seeing. Things we experience by sight are very hard to describe unless others have experienced it too. If the only star someone can imagine is a pentagram or stars in the night sky how do you describe a flower?

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How would you describe the curl of an ocean wave, or the liquid gold surface of the ocean as  it reflects the morning sun?

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There are caterpillars that cause a lot of damage, destroying an entire tree, and borer beetles that destroy whole pine forests. There are other caterpillars that eat a plant to a nub, only to have the plant grow back because that is one of the things the plant was created for.

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I can’t imagine not hearing the dawn chorus each morning, rain or shine, cold or hot. Or not seeing the bright red plumage of a black-masked male cardinal. Or floating on the scatter-brained song of a bluebird. The sound of wind in the pines, ocean waves crashing on shore, rumbling of distant thunder.

Offerings of creation.

 

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making new friends

Runs with scissors. This would be me. So far, except for one small mishap in high school which only required a butterfly bandaid I have been very lucky.

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Don’t Play Well With Others

This would apply to rescue dogs Lily and Lulu.

I adopted Lulu somewhat late in her life, 3 years ago. She is maybe 8 or 9 now. I adopted Lily when she was about a year so she is now around 11 or 12. Lily’s sole purpose in life (after eating) is to be my Nanny. She follows me everywhere, keeps me in her line of sight at all times. If we encounter other people on a walk she places herself between them and me. When she lost her rescue buddy Murphy 5 years ago she was heartbroken. This was a surprise since they tolerated each other but did not appear to much care if the other came or went. When Murphy died I realized that despite outward appearances animals form strong bonds. Lily looked for him, even after I moved 200 miles east. So enter Lulu.

I fostered her for about a week to see how things would shake out. Lulu confiscated all the toys and appropriated all the beds within a day or so. Only once did I find her shaking, cornered by Lily for some unknown altercation. Lily and I discussed her new friend and that put an end to her hostility toward Lulu. They are sisters now.

On walks and hikes whenever they encounter any other dog, happy, peppy puppies, sullen surly dogs, or any other attitude they are tolerant, receptive but non-interactive. So I figured they had decided they were enough. Until a few days ago.

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This happy but laid-back little fellow ambled over one afternoon. We had just finished our walkie and were about to head home. Taking an immediate interest, he was undaunted by Lily and Lulu’s complete nosiness. He welcomed it! There was no growling, no defensive posture. Just happy sniffing and wagging of tails.

So sometimes there are exceptions to even the truest of generalizations.

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It’s important to keep an open mind.

 

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life on the river

I have never built a raft and explored a river. It seemed though wherever I lived (six states), I found myself near large bodies of water. With the exception of three and a half years in Tennessee. I can count the time I lived in New Mexico because the town where I lived, Farmington, is at the confluence of 3 rivers, The Animas, La Plata and San Juan.

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The other 4 states, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey and Florida are all coastal and each is  very different.

Here I have the bonus of a large river, the Cape Fear. Being a tidal river some days when rescue dogs Lily, Lulu and I go there for our walk we can’t walk alongside the water but this morning the tide was out. Its mouth is near enough to the ocean that it is mainly salt water, not brackish and Lily forgets.

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Which is why I carry drinking water in the car for her. So normally we’ll see a few beached jellyfish, clam shells. As we walked up the bank there were hundreds of tiny scurrying objects that I figured were these centipede-like insects that hang around washed up driftwood. We got closer and they all darted into little holes in the bank sand which those bug things don’t do. They were tiny fiddler crabs.

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This is one hiding in front of a lump of sand. He does not have the fiddle claw, a claw as big as the crab.

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The larger claws look harmless but they actually have a powerful pinch so I avoided those with them. The others have tiny pincers which will cling on you but are not painful.

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I wonder what the little crab thought. Cornered by an unimaginably overwhelming creature that didn’t look anything like a crab. Anything that looks unfamiliar is perceived to be the enemy. Fight or flight. The little crabs all fled for their holes but those who got cornered  away from safety raised their little claws. Harmless maybe, but it was all they had. To another little crab it is a formidable weapon.

I am not often up against an enemy. I had the great good fortune to be born in the United States where life has been for the most part peaceful. Despite our differences I also had the good fortune to have parents who taught me to be responsible, never a victim. I was taught to put up my claw and fight when I needed to. Usually with words, calmly but with the strength of truth behind me. When I am wrong I was taught to admit my error and apologize if it was necessary and bear no grudge. My mother taught me to move forward without holding grudges. My dad taught me to be the bigger person in the event of an unfair difference and make amends.

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As I have lived more on my own, and raising a son I have better understood Holden Caulfield’s angst. Catcher in the Rye was not on the banned books list when I was in 7th grade and I understood why some books are worth reading if for nothing else than to emulate and be empathic in what pre-teens go through. Some don’t I imagine but most do.

And God. No matter what or who God listens. He sees. He knows and I can tell Him. I learned the value of His friendship in Jesus Christ.

Never alone.

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klutz

No one else in my family is. Only me.

I looked it up. According to Merriam-Webster online it became commonly used in the late 1950s in America. It is derived from the Yiddish word, klots which literally means ‘wooden beam’.

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I used to laugh this off but as I get older it gets a bit more serious. Like about 15 years ago I was visiting my dad and my step-mother at their house at the beach. She handed me two nested glass bowls that were stuck to un-nest.

Yes. They broke and sliced my finger.

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I wrapped it in a paper towel and figured it would stop bleeding. We kept the conversations going. Three hours later it’s still bleeding. There is no nearby hospital or even a doc-in-a-box (urgent care), so they called an ambulance.  For a cut finger. The ER doc gave me 5 stitches.

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There have been many more instances, I will spare you. Fast-forward to today. Years ago I learned the hard way I can not use a weed-eater. Not only do I get too close to that whacking string but I beheaded many unsuspecting plants. So whenever I want to edge flower beds I use a garden snip. This works really well but is time-intensive. On a day like today I was happy just to be outside. Even though my area of town did not get the quenching rains so desperately needed, the thunderstorms that passed through last night cleared the hot air and humidity.

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So I plopped down in front of the garden stones and clipped the overgrown grass. Lily and Lulu stretched out close by occasionally sniffing the light breeze.

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I absent-mindedly commented to Lulu how much the grass had grown, snipping away, hands buried deep when I felt a sharp pain on the same finger I nicked for my step-mother. Drawing it out sure enough a bright red spot bloomed where I actually sliced off a good chunk of skin.

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I ran inside, wrapped it in thick paper towels, again, holding it over my head. It finally stopped bleeding to the point where I could put anti-bacterial ointment and bandage it in gauze. It has even stopped throbbing now, so I think I will live.

Maybe I should get a weed whacker anyway. I can always replace the flowers.

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Lulu exhausted from the excitement.

 

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