Tag Archives: weather

The Heat Monster

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heat-shimmering

This blog was originally published in Southern Living and was written by Rick Bragg who is a Pulitzer Prize- Winning writer and author of several best selling books. I identified with it so much I wanted to share it with you.

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When I was a boy, when monsters were real.  I would see it in the distance, hovering just above the hot, almost liquid blacktop.  It had no form, just a thing shimmering, indistinct.  Now I know it was the heat itself, distorting the very air.  How odd, to see the heat. But when I was small, it was easy to see more in it than that.  This was the creature that came in the worst of summer, the boiling eye of it.  It was the could in a white-hot sky that gave up no rain.  Aristotle knew it, and the Romans, and then us, in the American South.  That thing of glimmering heat from my imagination did not have a name, truly, but its season did.  We called it the dog days.

The Greeks and Romans believed Sirius, the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (Great Dog), ushered in an evil season in late summer, one that boiled seas and soured wine and sent people and livestock into fits.  In that season, the DogStar and our sun hung together in the heavens, one rising, one setting, which, they believed, produced more heat than the planet could stand.

Now, of course, we know it is the tilt of the planet, closer to the sun, that brings the heat, but my grandmother knew better.  Ava Bundrum knew there were more things than heaven and earth, and spoke of the dog days the way she would any unnatural thing.  She would motion me close, as if the clinging air were listening, wave a cardboard funeral home fan at me like she was giving me some kind of blessing, and tell me to stay out of the pasture, stay out of the woods.

It was more than myth.  Dogs went mad, or lay panting, glassy-eyed, and you could not rouse them to play.  Food went bad in the dog bowls.  Cats, through, did not seem to care.  Cats don’t ever care.

I can remember children crowded around a rattling box fan, as if it were telling them a story.  I remember strong men going white as chalk, trying to catch their breath.

Bulls went mad and tore through fences.  Cows would not give mild, and when they did, it went sour, or tasted of sulfur or onions.  Birds flew in the house, a bad omen.  It meant someone was going to die.  Chickens perished in the coops  Rabies resurfaced, in foxes, usually, and men shot them from the porch.

The gardens withered. You got either quick, violent storms or no rain at all.  Mudholes vanished into pieces of hard clay, like someone had smashed a pot on the ground.  Grogs perished, which made my grandmother sad; the more frogs, the healthier the land.  (Everyone knew that.) Only the insects reveled.  Flies and gnats swirled.  Mosquitoes danced. and there was nowhere to hide.

Air-conditioning was myth. We put a man on the moon before my family had a window unit.  But when we did, when the air blew cool in August, it was like the mean season became myth itself, just another story, like the ones that old people told of the Depression.  I guess I am the old people now.  I think of the dog days when I see that glimmer on the distant asphalt, but when I there, it is already gone.

ZfdfdStar and our sun hung tog

Life in Texas 1850

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???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????The weather here in Oklahoma has been over 100 for the past several days. I have stayed close to the air-conditioning to stay comfortable. I was remembering this morning when I was a kid, it was nothing to have summers with temps at 110 that lasted for many days. We didn’t have air conditioning but we always had a good trusty box fan to blow hot air around. That was a big help. Anything to keep the air moving because with the humidity if it wasn’t moving it felt as if it were taking your breath away.

Homestead jpgAt this point you’re probably wondering why I titled this blog Life in Texas in 1850. That has to do with a branch of my family that lived on the Red River during that time. I can’t even begin to understand what their life was really like. I know it was at times almost intolerable and at other times laughter was happening because that is life.

A family had to worry about survival on a more intimate basis than we are. You know, just even getting hot water was a chore, not only in hauling, but then you had to heat it up. So, all the daily chores than required a lot more forethought—as well as just physical labor. Men, women and children—everybody’s working towards family survival. It didn’t matter if it was 110 outside that fire still had to be built. It went on every day of their life. The struggle to survive.washboard

OuthouseDrawing-150x150We take so much for granted in this day and time. How do you think you would do without electricity and running water? The family back then did what they had to do. That was the life they knew and was accustomed to living. I have a great appreciation and respect for what people have accomplished in the past. Imagine what our life would be like today if our families had not dealt with the life they had.
Have a blessed day.

Avoiding Hypothermia

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Avoiding HypothermiaRight now in the USA a large portion of the country s experiencing extreme cold.  I’m in Oklahoma and at the present time we are having the longest cold stretch (freezing) with wind chills in the single digits that we’ve experienced in many years.  I am lucky that I can stay inside and keep warm by my wood stove and watch the beautiful snow falling outside.  Not everyone is as lucky as I am.  Many, many people have to work in this weather.

Here are some tips to help you avoid hypothermia. I don’t want anyone to experience the problems and possible death that can occur.

The simple way to avoid hypothermia is to dress warmly and stay out of the cold. But things don’t always work out and there may come a time when you don’t dress warmly enough and you’re so cold you can’t remember your name.

Dazed and Confused

No, really. When your body temperature drops below 95 degrees F, you’re hypothermic and one of the symptoms is that you’re dazed and confused, not to mention shivering violently. You also get pale, and your lips, ears, fingers and toes turn blue.

Then things could get really serious. If your temperature should drop as low as 90 degrees F, your organs begin to fail and without immediate medical attention, you’ll likely die.

Forget the Whiskey

Luckily, there are things you can do to reduce your chance of freezing to death. If you think you could be caught outside in very cold temperatures, dress in layers, preferably wool or other fabrics that can dry quickly. Keep your head covered. Drink plenty of warm fluids, but not alcohol or any caffeinated liquid, both of which hinder the body’s heat-producing mechanisms. So forget about that shot of whiskey getting you through the cold night.

Also, do whatever you can to stay dry. Obviously, you’re not going to go around flopping into streams when it’s freezing outside. But if you should get wet, keep in mind that wet clothing can lose up to 90 percent of its insulating effect, so your risk of hypothermia could rise dramatically.

No Massages, Please

If you’re lucky enough to be with someone when your body starts shutting down, what should they do to save you? First, they should call 911. You’re going to need medical help. They also should get you into shelter, if possible. If they can’t get you indoors, they at least should move you out of the wind. Wherever you are, they should wrap you, including your head, in blankets, towels or even newspapers. Ideally, they should put hot water bottles under your armpits and between your legs, making sure that they don’t put anything on bare skin. Finally, they should keep you flat and move you as little as possible. Movement could cause a severely hypothermic person to have a heart attack.

A few things they shouldn’t do. They shouldn’t rub or massage you. That could cause more damage if you also have frostbite. They shouldn’t get you anything to eat. And they shouldn’t give you anything to drink, especially alcohol, no matter how much you think that’s just what you need.bigstock-Snow-Shoveling-In-Winter-Blizz-4294190

 

 

200 Word Flash Fiction (The Rent)

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 Hello everyone, today I am publishing a 200 word flash fiction story which I won a contest with. I was given a specific list of words to use in creating the story. The words are in bold print. I do hope you enjoy reading it and please let me know how you would improve it.   Shirley
 
The Rent

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The forecast for the day is cold with a winter storm warning. I don’t want to get out of my nice warm bed, but I know I have to. There are many errands to run, and I have to do them before the storm hits.
 
Why Mrs. Flannigan has me pay my rent in person, I’ll never understand. It would be easier if I put it in the mail with my monthly bills. There isn’t any use crying and whining about it. That’s the way it is.
 
I back my car from the drive for the ten-mile trip to Mrs. Flannigan’s. Myphone is in my purse for an emergency. The sleet and freezing rain are  already falling. The radio announcer tells everyone to stay off the roads. I’m not the smartest person, because I’m driving. I can’t drive fast because of poor visibility.  My hands are gripping the  wheel and my knuckles are white. Relax, Sally, you can do this.
 
The bridge over the lake is icy. What is that idiot doing? He’s going too fast. I’m in the middle of the bridge. I can’t scoot over. No, oh God help me.
 
Paper reads: Trucker and young woman join fatality toll.

200 Word Flash Fiction ( The Rent)

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Today, I decided to share with you a flash fiction piece which won a contest. I was given a specific list of words to use. They are in bold print and told to write a story in under 200 words.  Let me know ways you think you’d improve on this story. I hope you enjoy it.    Shirley

The RentImage,

The forecast for the day is cold with a winter storm warning. I don’t want to get out of my nice warm bed, but I know I have to. There are many errands to run, and I have to do them before the storm hits.
 
Why Mrs. Flannigan has me pay my rent in person, I’ll never understand. It would be easier if I put it in the mail with my monthly bills. There isn’t any use crying and whining about it. That’s the way it is.
 
I back my car from the drive for the ten-mile trip to Mrs. Flannigan’s. Myphone is in my purse for an emergency. The sleet and freezing rain are  already falling. The radio announcer tells everyone to stay off the roads. I’m not the smartest person, because I’m driving. I can’t drive fast because of poor visibility.  My hands are gripping the  wheel and my knuckles are white. Relax, Sally, you can do this.
 
The bridge over the lake is icy. What is that idiot doing? He’s going too fast. I’m in the middle of the bridge. I can’t scoot over. No, oh God help me.
 
Paper reads: Trucker and young woman join fatality toll.

I Won, Yippee, I won

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Photo of ice-covered mailbox in Spotsylvania C...

Photo of ice-covered mailbox in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, USA. February 14, 2007. Photograph taken by Joy Schoenberger with a Pentax K100D Digital SLR camera. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today I’m posting my 200 word flash fiction piece which won me $55.00. It’s the first  writing contest I have won, so I’m tickled. I have to admit it does make my ego feel good, even though I know it’s not really a big deal.  I wonder what it is that makes winning a contest so enjoyable? Is it the recognition of your work? I think these little ego boosts are good for a writer. Writing is a hard profession, due to all the other great stories out there in the publishing world. I’ve had my three seconds of bowing and patting myself on the back, now I have to get back to the real world and writing my book.
I hope you enjoy my 200 word story.
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The Rent
The forecastt for the day is cold with a winter storm warning. I don’t want to get out of my nice warm bed, but I know I have to. There are many errands to run, and I have to do them before the storm hits.
Why Mrs. Flannigan has me pay my rent in person, I’ll never understand. It would be easier if I put it in the mail with my monthly bills. There isn’t any use crying and whining about it. That’s the way it is.
I back my car from the drive for the ten-mile trip to Mrs. Flannigan’s. My phone is in my purse for an emergency. The sleet and freezing rain are  already falling. The radio announcer tells everyone to stay off the roads. I’m not the smartest person, because I’m driving. I can’t drive fast because of poor visibility.  My hands are gripping the  wheel and my knuckles are white. Relax, Sally, you can do this.
The bridge over the lake is icy. What is that idiot doing? He’s going too fast. I’m in the middle of the bridge. I can’t scoot over. No, oh God help me.
Paper reads: Trucker and young woman join fatality toll.

A Right of Passage

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Brittany

Today is a very big day for my youngest granddaughter.  She is thinking it is the greatest thing that has ever happened to her to this point in her life.  Finally she is going to be an independent young lady, not having to depend on mom and dad.  Have you figured it out?  She is taking her driving test today to get her license. It is a right of passage for most young people, at least in this country.

Being raised in the country, she learned to drive by riding on her Grandfathers lap and controlling the steering wheel.  Just as soon as her legs were long enough to reach the petals she could drive using the controls.  It was the same for me, as well as each of my children.  My son and myself were driving hay trucks just as soon as we could see over the steering wheel.

I can remember the feeling of excitement and how “big” I felt when I began driving.  I would drive on the highway when I was fourteen, but times were very different then.  There wasn’t as much traffic and the highway patrol never came out on 270. It’s not that way any more.

My granddaughter already has her first vehicle. A nice, small pickup, which she loves.  My first car was a 1954, four door, Ford, with a stick shift.  The floor board was rusted out (I kept losing shoes) and the heater didn’t work.  It was hell in the Oklahoma winters.  My girlfriend and I would go to McAlester, to a teen dance hall, called The Attic.  We’d be wrapped up in quilts with ice scrapers in hand.  Every once in a while if it was freezing, I’d stop the car and we’d jump out and scrap the ice from the windshield. Somehow I don’t see any of my grandchildren doing that.  For one thing I don’t believe there is a snowball’s chance my children would let them out on the road if there was a chance there might be ice.  Secondly, I think my grandchildren would not drive a car in the same condition mine was in back in the 60’s.  You know “those good ol’ days.

Times and conditions have changed, but not the right of passage for driving. Do you remember how you felt when  you  were able to get that license? It’s a wonderful time, it’s just a shame we have to grow up and deal with the world.