Sometimes You’re the Windshield

Sometimes you’re the bug.

Mary Chapin Carpenter sings the Lauratarian’s Theme Song

I arose before my alarm went off, well-rested and in high spirits this morning. That should have set me on edge. Instead, I was like Cinderella before the ball– beset upon by the bluebird of happiness.

The fact that today is Monday is yet more evidence that I should have been prepared for the prospective effects of an imminent Mercury in retrograde.

(If you know, you know)

I worked on my class notes for 3 hours before class and then uploaded the wrong set to Moodle. I was able to download the information I needed from the book publisher’s site, and struggled through class like a 5-star running back with no offensive line trying to run it up the middle on 3rd down against Alabama.

It was ugly and got uglier.

When I tried to do an end-around the notes situation by using the the document camera, the projector wouldn’t work. Nor did it work when I tried to switch back.

Reboot.

Restart.

Restrain myself from going full on Bobby Knight in the classroom when the blue screen of death remains on display.

Bobby Knight Throws Chair GIFs | Tenor
What I want to do when the computer equipment doesn’t work and makes me look like an idiot.

After a grueling class (for everybody), I made it back to my office where I managed to spill my lunch on the floor.

Today was one of those days. One of those days where I’m the bug and not the windshield.

The good news is that I can regroup and make another run at it on Wednesday. Wish me luck.

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Churn Butter on Me: An Ode to US 167 S

Some roads could jar loose fillings right out of one’s teeth with a single, well-placed, deceptive pothole. Lanes near an intersection are susceptible to excessive wear and tear– the physics of oversized loads grinding to a halt warps the pavement, and red clay underlayment gapes like a flesh wound . Numerous bad patch jobs, like homemade haircuts, only make the situation worse.

Who among us hasn’t done this?

My least favorite roads are those so frequently travelled by log trucks that there are distinct grooves wallowed out in the asphalt. If you aren’t driving a big rig, your tires can catch the rim and then it’s a battle to keep from being slung off the road, especially if it’s raining. These are the kinds of roads that make me grateful for airbags and leery of self-driving automobiles.

US Highway 167 South from I-49S to Pine Prairie should be flagged for pass interference, unnecessary roughness, and a flagrant foul. This 15 mile stretch has to be some of the worst roadway in the country, and I say that as someone who drove rode over 2,000 miles and crossed the Great Divide this summer.

This Monday I returned to Baton Rouge via a detour through Mamou. I exited I-49 South at the the Turkey Creek/Meeker exit, and spent the next 20 minutes wishing I’d worn more supportive undergarment capable of keeping Debit and Credit locked down. The asynchronous jiggling soon turned continuous, and I had the thought: I bet you could churn butter on this rough road.

It was at that very moment the infernal shuffle feature dealt my hand: The Gap Band’s Burn Rubber on Me

The Gap Band: Burn Rubber on Me, the inspiration for Churn Butter on Me

I never, ever had a lover

Who put the pedal to the metal

And churned butter on me . . . .

I’m hoping that by putting this earwig out into the Universe, that it I’ll lay it to rest and I’ll no longer be strangled 24/7 with the knock-off Churn Rubber on Me looping around in my head. (Hey, Red Solo Cup

I’m also hoping that this will be my last night of insomnia. Slept 5 hours last night and fewer than 5 hours remain until my inner alarm clock shouts at me self-administered invitation to rise by 7:30AM CDT tomorrow.

Namaste

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Me, Myself, & Monterey

Hermits are crotchety for a reason. Their interactions are limited to watering silent orchids, thwarting random ant invasions, and forcibly, but humanely, removing unwanted spiders from the lavatory.

Are hermits lonely? Absolutely. Do they want company? Absolutely NOT!

Imagine if you will, a single person chilled to the bone during a misty Monterey summer. Transport her to South Louisiana where the heat index surpasses 112, and then double down with a hurricane evacuation with a dozen other individuals and their assorted pets (my friend Leslie’s evacuee tally is 7 people, 2 dogs, 4 cats, and a hedgehog).

It’s overwhelming for everybody.

And, yet, how fortunate are we to have our family, safe from harm?

How fortunate are we to have compassionate children who will share their rooms with their friends?

How fortunate are we that we are not financially or physically impacted from this storm?

Despite the immense damage done to our state and the high hurdles of recovery, we are fortunate to have each other.

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Unsolved Mysteries

I bought a shower curtain liner with 3 magnets for $4.99 that tried to get fresh with me every time I showered. The liner was short, ithung barely below the tub line, so I lowered the rod, which did nothing except allow spray from the showerhead to escape over the top. Next, I purchased a medium-weight liner for $9.99, thinking that perhaps a heavier piece of plastic would be impervious to my charms.

Wrong. (I should have expected this. My charms are legion.)

My Google searches of YouTube and Wikipedia comprehensive and exhaustive research led me to discover that the shower curtain effect is composed of many possible parts: the chimney effect, the Bernoulli principle, vertical vortex, the Coanda effect.

Occam’s Razor would suggest that BigFoot is most likely responsible for the shower-curtain effect.

I guess I need more weights on the liner. Or a curved rod.

While I was avoiding the news down the rabbit hole, this week I learned that scientists don’t know how freshwater eels reproduce.

A brief synopsis is that they originate in the Sargasso Sea aka The Bermuda Triangle. They then swim from the ocean (salt water) to fresh water habitats to live (for decades), and then return to reproduce in some kind of secret, mystical fashion.

Sometimes I think we’re most definitely in some kind of Matrix-like artificial simulation and the programmers are just playing around with The Bermuda Triangle being the most obvious Easter Egg in the whole elaborate production.

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Strait Road Trippin’

Once upon a time, before Pandora, before iTunes, before satellite radio, we listened to local radio stations.

If you know, you know

In the early aughts (2000’s), on the rare occasion that we went to Texas, Mark and I would play a game similar to the Price is Right. We’d bet on how long it would be before we heard George Strait played on the radio after we crossed the state line.

Our only rule was that when commercials came on, we had to hit the seek button to find the next English station within range.

The only rule is: there is no rules!

NEVER, in all of our times playing this game, did we fail to hear a George Straight song between the Sabine River at the Louisiana border and our final destination of Houston, Texas. NEVER.

(I just realized the early 2000s was 20 years ago.)

With all of the choices and XM radio channels and Spotify playlists, I’m not sure that such a thing would be possible today. But, as much utility as I get from the familiar, I’m not sure I’d be eager to return to those days before the proliferation of choice.`

I remember dropping my kids off at school, driving down Front Street with the rumble of the uneven, handmade bricks, as a backdrop to Ray Wylie Hubbard’s Conversation with the Devil playing on XM Satellite Radio’s Outlaw Country channel.

I remember Elizabeth Cook (closet accounting major) hosting Apron Strings (again on Outlaw Country) and finding her Welder album, with the cult classic El Camino. Her Heroin Addict Sister resonates at the soul level.

“It takes her somewhere she’s got to go, but can’t afford to stay.”

I remember driving down Interstate 49 south of Alexandria and hearing John Craigie’s Rough Johns, and finding out he had a concert scheduled at Dyson House in Baton Rouge 2 weeks later.

Satellite radio is responsible for my discovery of several artists, who I have made an effort to see them play their music in person.

Some of my first live music memories (if you don’t count me singing in my car) is listening to Angel & The Bad Boys playing bluegrass at M’s Cafe in the Fonville Winans building in downtown Baton Rouge.

The Fonville Winans building. Notice the fung shui efffect of the door offset to the corner.

Two of my favorite songs they performed were Carmelita by Warren Zevon and Listen to the Radio by Nanci Griffith.

RIP Nanci Griffith  (July 6, 1953 – August 13, 2021).

This week is definitely one of those weeks where I ask myself:

Where would I be in times like these without the radio?

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It’s the Little Things

It’s the little things like ceiling fans, grounded electrical outlets, and a chorus of crickets that makes one long for home.

2-hole plugger

It was 56 degrees (F) when I left Monterey, CA, and Louisiana has been under a heat advisory with a heat index of 110 degrees (F) since I arrived.

A wise man (Steve Hall on a hike of Andrew Molera State Park) once told me that there is no perfect place to live, only perfect acceptance of the present.

Belonging is up to the decider. Everyday we have a choice. We decide.

Choose wisely.

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Hey, How’s It Goin’?

A couple people called me today and made the mistake of asking me how my day was going. For their sakes (and mine), I developed a scale, so that in the future we can dispense with my 48 minute rant that doesn’t benefit anybody.

1 – A Very Bad, No Good, Terrible, Horrible Day

2 – Lightning Struck Your Car Again and Killed All Your Appliances

3 – Most Days

4 – Summer Vacation

5 – Just Won $100 mm Powerball Jackpot

Hint: I’m hovering around a 2.

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Meanwhile in Monterey….

It’s 54 degrees (Fahrenheit) in the middle of July and I had to turn the heater on. For the record, in 2021, I ran the heater until mid-June. Every. Single. Day.

Tonight my hands are wrapped around a warm ceramic mug filled with a blazing hot toddy to avoid frostbite, but 10 days hence, I’m heading back east where I’ll have to contend with South Louisiana summers, which include hurricanes, floods, and the occasional drought or swarms of locusts, but never sweater weather.

It’s the truth.

I had a good 3 week run where the high was above 62 and I went to bed with the windows open. Getting to sleep was occasionally difficult because there are critters in my yard. Bats, jaybirds, raccoons, deer, a mating pair of Great Horned Owls, and possibly a mountain lion (video evidence of one on the street behind my house was posted on the Nextdoor app & there’s a newspaper article about it: https://www.montereyherald.com/2021/04/15/mountain-lion-recorded-near-skyline-drive-in-monterey/).

QR Code for a page about Great Horned Owls: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Great_Horned_Owl/sounds

My imagination has free rein when I hear the sound of an unidentified animal scritching through the dried leaves in my backyard. Investigation is out of the question. Outside, alone, and in the dark– I could only be dumber if I wore a red shirt, high heels, and matching underwear to check out the noise.

Tonight, the windows will be closed and extra blankets piled on and I will have this post as a record of that time I had the heater on in July.

Namaste, y’all.

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Paradise City

Well, the grass ain’t green, but the girls are pretty….

It was hard enough to memorize poetry in the 10th grade when I was stone-cold sober AND hadn’t had any kids eat my brain in utero. I’m super impressed with all the rock bands that are lit up light a levee bonfire on Christmas Eve and/or are higher than a giraffe’s tonsils, but can still remember the lyrics.

Monterey, aka Paradise City, has been my home for the last 2 years. It’s safe to say that when I was when growing up with no neighbors on Rural Route 1, Many, Louisiana (population 2,853 in 2010), I never thought I’d have a California drivers’ license.

Ever.

Never, ever.

Never. As in the hell frozen over kind of never.

If I was gonna be an ex-pat, I thought for sure I’d wind up in San Pedro with Jerry Jeff Walker, going to the chicken drop contest on Monday nights, Front Street tacos on Tuesday, and shaking my groove thing at the Barefoot Iguana.

San Pedro Town, Belize, CA. Photo credit: https://www.boazgolfcartrentals.com/ambergris-caye/san-pedro/

Or maybe Roatan, Honduras. It’s like Belize (same water– the Carribbean, and also Central America), but with mountains. The fact that I no habla Espanol isn’t a factor in my relocation dreams.

The left coast was not on my radar, and I wanted to avoid places with low humidity for the sake of my vanity skin, so California was not a place that I initially considered.

But, I will be forever grateful that I got a chance to live on the Central Coast.

Grateful that I went to the Alvarado Street Farmers’ Market and tasted my first ripe pluots. Between the grapes, apricots, and the Fresno oranges, I was cured of my Cadbury mini-egg addiction.

Grateful that I witnessed the migrant farm workers hoeing the field during wildfire season. If you had fresh produce this winter, it was at great cost to the people who breathed in smoke and ashes during the spring.

Grateful that I had fresh, ocean air anytime I wanted it, and the resources to pay the rent.

Grateful for the friends I have made. Some of my best friends are also ex-pats: an immigrant from Syria who listens to country music, and former military from India who want to know what the US is going to do about China. Immigrants who love the United States– for all her flaws and her opportunities.

Perspective is so important and I’m channeling the Wylie Lama:

NB: originally written in June, 2021 and never hit the oublish button.

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Trap Day

To quote the wise Admiral Ackbar:

Admiral Ackbar in Return of the Jedi

Monterey slang for the “summer” months includes the terms June Gloom and Foggust.

This week has been stunning on the peninsula. Bright blue skies and daytime temps in the mid-60’s. we call these kinds of days trap days.

Roses in Carmel. The blooms are bigger than my hand.

Premium gasoline for the TBird is about $4.50 a gallon, but it is well worth it in these final weeks of my Monterey experience.

Western flowering dogwood in Carmel. My iphone photo out the car window doesn’t do it justice.

Mindfulness, being present in the moment, has never been easier.

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