July 9, 2010

Sweltering Days…

Category: News — Ira @ 5:52 pm


The summer comes again, heat-blazing summer, humid,
murked with mist, sky-glazed with brutal weariness…

—Thomas Wolfe

It’s been one of those summers. Half gone, already, seems like. As is the year. Hotter than a biscuit in the East. Record temps. Much moaning about “climate change,” and how we’re all going to die in the next year or so, if something isn’t done. Strangely enough, AlGore remains silent. Mostly because of his masseuse problems, one would suspect. Not that I’d wish ill on anyone. But his troubles couldn’t have befallen a more deserving man.

Anyway, it’s flat out hot out there. And no, I don’t mean it’s warm. It’s hot. The paved parking lot at work shimmers in the sun. The work crews slog through the day, gulping gallons of cold ice water. And I am hugely thankful for my air-conditioned office job.

I’ve wondered sometimes, when looking at old photos from back a hundred years ago. People standing there in a crowd, in a small town somewhere, or a city. Outside in the summer heat. No air conditioning. All the men wearing suits, most wearing ties. And hats. The women bundled up in large billowy dresses, also wearing hats. It’s hot. You can see it. And back then, most people didn’t bathe every day. Maybe once a week. And their deodorants, if they even had any, certainly weren’t what we have today.

I’ve looked at the old photos and wondered. What it would have been like to stand in that crowd. And I can’t help but wonder how those people smelled. I bet it wasn’t very appealing. Likely quite rancid. Maybe that’s why the dainty maidens of the time carried smelling salts. Probably they needed it to revive themselves and to quench the stench.

Anyway, it’s hot. And I’ve been stressed. More stressed than I’ve been for awhile. More so than I’ve been since the spring of 2007, for those who remember that dark time. Different stress, certainly. But comparable in its intensity.

Stress from this and that. But mostly from working on the book. It’s not that I’m not producing. I am steadily working my way through the picture board chart. But still, seems like no draft is ever quite done, not good enough.

Now July 4th has come and gone. I hadn’t planned a whole lot, but ended up at two different parties in two different states. Which isn’t bad for someone who hadn’t planned a lot. Big Blue was cruising, puttin’ on the miles. First, on Saturday afternoon to my ex-brother-in-law Paul’s home in Lebanon. With a few close friends. We grilled steaks. Hung out late, playing Hi-Lo. I slept on the couch.

The next morning, it was west and south to Hedgesville, West Virginia. Dominic Haskin, my close friend, always throws a great party on the Fourth. This one was no exception, except it was for one day instead of the usual two. Again, lots of great food (but no pig roast). Hanging out by the pool. Chilling with the West Virginia crowd. And after darkness fell, real tube fireworks. Quite the show.

On Monday, it was back home again, in time to get a few hours of writing logged in. And that’s going to be my game plan for the duration. I have no plans for any trips, short or long, in the near future. Not until after late October. Then, maybe.

And so the summer slogs by. As usual, I’m assailed on all sides by a host of minor irritations.

This year, there was the Census. I don’t even remember the last one. Must have been ten years ago, but I wasn’t paying any attention back then. This time, I was.

First, I got the notice proclaiming the form was on its way. Big whoop. How many millions were spent, doing that? Days later, it arrived. I opened it suspiciously. Ten or twelve questions. Name. Address. Income. Blah, blah, blah. Near as I could tell, I was obligated to fill out only one. The first one. How many people live in your house?

So I carefully penciled in the number “1” and mailed it back. Nothing else. No other info. Take that, Census people. I heard nothing for awhile. Then, one evening, a tiny note tucked in the screen door. From a Census worker. Local. Call me, it said. Listed the full name and phone number and convenient evening hours. I glanced at it, then tossed it aside. Come and see me yourself. When I’m home.

A few weeks passed. I always glanced at my drive when pulling up, checking for any suspicious vehicle that might indicate a Census worker lurking in ambush. Never was. Then about three weeks after the first note, a second one. Stuck into the screen door again. Different name. Must be the supervisor, I figured. I was here, the note said. A telephone number. Call me, we can do this over the phone, it suggested cheerfully. And maybe a little hopefully. Again, it listed convenient evening hours, up until 9:30 or so. Unimpressed, I read the note, then tossed it aside with the first one.

And that was the last I heard from anyone. They know how many people live in my house, at least downstairs. That’s all they need to know. And no, I’m not paranoid. Well, maybe a little.

I’ve yawned my way through the long, exceedingly boring coverage of the World Cup. Along with most other Americans, I suspect. All the hype on Sports Center, all the breathless coverage, all the rah, rah, just swooshed right over my head. I don’t understand any of it. Don’t care to. Guess that might make a bit of difference.

Somehow, soccer seems to be by far the most popular sport in the world. Except in North America. Watching a squad of guys running back and forth across a vast field, kicking and head-butting a round ball, that will never be popular here. Never. Not like other sports.

So I yawned when the US team was unceremoniously booted out by Uruguay. Who even knows where that is? I yawn at the upcoming finals. I’ll yawn at the winner, as other countries riot. Bring on real football, American style. And how about them Braves? They’ve been on a roll ever since I publicly scolded them on Facebook a couple of months ago. A most timely happenstance on my part.

And speaking of FB, I have mixed feelings about it. So far, it’s been a good experience, mostly. Sometimes I catch myself surfing when I should definitely be writing. Overall, though, it’s a very good way to keep up with family and friends.

Fifteen years ago, we didn’t even have cell phones. Think about that. Think how different the Seinfeld show would have been, had the characters been equipped with even the most basic cell phones. But it wasn’t an option then. Which makes Seinfeld reruns seem increasingly quaint.

Now, we have cell phones that can access our FB and we can post pictures almost instantly. We’re wired, is what we are. And I don’t even do Twitter, and whatever other new stuff is surfacing out there.

It’s a good venue for quick thoughts and observations. Causes. Short political screeds. Bashing this guy, praising that one. It’s also great for connecting after a tragedy, and for info on deaths and funerals.

I’ve had to learn. On FB, to be careful when disagreeing with someone. Because no one can hear your voice inflections. It’s all written. So a sentence that’s read might seem a lot more harsh than the same words spoken. Because of voice inflection.

I know a few people who have left FB. Didn’t like how it was hogging their time. I respect that. I’d be tempted to do the same thing, except I write the occasional blog, and am working on a book. FB is a perfect medium to announce a new post and to update readers.

I wonder, if a blog like this would even be possible to launch now. I doubt it would attract a similar readership. But then again, it might. Content, I think, is what makes or breaks a blog. But still, it seems strange. When I launched this blog a little over three years ago, FB was barely a blip in the public’s consciousness.

I chuckle sometimes, at the stuff posted. Guys post pictures of the road, grilled steaks or ribs, prate about football, Nascar and boasts of the hunt, and taunts about politics. And battles about religion. Merrily whack each other, amidst much name calling. Thugs and such. Perhaps taking it too far, sometimes. Girls…well, some girl moans she’s having a bad day. Instant response: a cascade of, uh, support. Hang in there. You poor thing. Praying for you. We really must get together soon. And so on and on. Not that I have anything against any of it. Mostly, I don’t even read the stuff. Just saying, is all.

And no, I’m not grumpy. It’s hot out there.



  1. In certain cultures to this day, it is fine to stink because everyone stinks? Plus my height puts my nose in the perfect position to get some good whiffs…

    Comment by Katie Troyer — July 9, 2010 @ 6:15 pm

  2. Dare I say it? Aside from whining -as the rest of us are too- you sound almost happy?!!?

    Comment by glo — July 9, 2010 @ 6:24 pm

  3. Sorry Ira, you sound a little grumpy to me. On a lighter note, I will celebrate with you the success right now of the Braves. And, on this stress issue, you hang in there. We all know that you are capable of producing a great manuscript.

    Comment by Linda Johnson — July 10, 2010 @ 11:34 am

  4. We had a good run, several weeks of mid nineties/ high humidity. Get to the job by daylight, have a few productive hours, then go through the motions with sweat in eyes and attempting to keep a grip on a sweat-soaked hammer handle. Empty plastic water bottles littering the lawn. Now we’re happy for low eighties and a little breeze. No reason to get grumpy though; we could be stuck in an air-conditioned office.

    Comment by Reuben Wagler — July 12, 2010 @ 1:10 am

  5. Hang in there. This too shall pass. praying for you. lol. You forgot to mention the food updates on FB.

    Comment by janice — July 20, 2010 @ 1:29 am

  6. I read that FB would be the third largest country in population, if it counted as such. Interestingly, we see how so many fiddle, while Rome burns. It’d be a great database to round up any group a dictator wanted to – connections and all, right there. Just saying, that’s all ;-)

    Comment by LeRoy — July 24, 2010 @ 9:15 pm

  7. Man! What a grump! And if it were 2010 again I would be right there with you huffing and puffing about anything. Isn’t that what people do when it’s too hot? Well, not Reuben, bless his soul.

    I expect you were swimming in some emotional pain, as well. It’s never easy to stand still while you’re looking back. Most folks run like the dickens if anyone even mentions reflections from the past. You have much courage, Ira.

    It’s been interesting reading about your world in 2010 and now. You seem to be at a greater level of peace or ok-ness. So wonderful. God is good.

    Hope you’re enjoying the nice cold weather. We need some snow, though. My boys want to go sledding. And I want to savour the blue nights. Sure wish I had a snowmobile and a plot of woods, though. That would be heaven.

    Comment by Francine — January 8, 2013 @ 3:04 pm

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