Saturday, April 30, 2005

If it's cold in April, this must be Louisiana

Woke up this morning to a cold rain on this, the last day of April, 2005. I thought I wouldn't need the heaters anymore, seeing as how spring supposedly has sprung. One thing I can say for Louisiana is that the weather is never boring--often scary, often surprising, but never boring.

As I've been driving home the last two evenings, I've seen several coyotes, looking lean and running fast. I narrowly avoided hitting two of them with my nice, new car. And, Thursday night, as I sat in my chair ruminating on the day, I heard them howling. Their howls are so different from a dog's--chilling, spine-tingling.

For the first time in many, many months, I have the weekend off. Of course, "off" is a relative term. What that simply means is that I can hang around the house in my pajamas; I don't have to physically go to either of my jobs. That doesn't mean, of course, that I'm not working. I'm taking time out to Blog a bit, but I have papers to grade and I'll spend most of today doing that. I wanted to mow the grass, but, alas, the rain prevents that.

This free weekend, though, allowed me to do something I haven't done in a couple of years--actually go somewhere and have some fun. Last night (my first Friday night off in a long while), I went to a party held by the Liberal Arts department of my college, stopped by the American Cancer Society fund-raiser, and stopped in at the bookstore where I usually work on Friday nights for a cup of coffee (as a customer, no less!). I ran into a friend there and talked to him until the first closing announcement. What a luxury!

Today is my daughter's 30th birthday! Happy birthday, Dot! I can't possibly have a daughter that age (and she certainly doesn't look her age--more like 18). Well, I also have a son who will turn 25 this year. They grow up quickly. And, really, if they weren't my children, they'd be the kind of people who would be my friends. Talented, quirky, funny, creative, smart, and employed! Everything a parent could want in a child!

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Green, green grass of home

I am not an "outdoor" person. Don't get me wrong--I like to fish and camp, like taking long walks, but I don't like sweating a great deal and don't like participating in "sports" that make me sweat. But, since I live in a house that has a yard, I HAVE to mow the grass. You want a house, you mow the grass or you pay someone to do it.

I hate spending more money than I have to, especially when I can do it myself more cheaply (in the long run, that is). So, I went to Lowe's and bought an electric lawnmower--electric, simply because I'm a little person and do not have enough upper-body strength to pull a cord. Also, to protect it, I have to keep the lawnmower in the house, and I don't want to store anything with gas in it in the house. So, it really was a rational decision for me.

I started mowing the grass on Tuesday; the grass was pretty tall, and, in places, it's pretty thick. I plugged the 100 foot extension cord into a power strip, since my house has NO grounded plugs--not one. The house was built in 1918; the electricity was added later, at a time when "grounded" plugs didn't exist, I guess. And the owner hasn't added any. So, to protect me and the house, I have power strips everywhere.

The problem was that the power strip kept shutting off--protection from overload; it didn't occur to me at the time to turn off everything that was drawing power from that circuit. As a consequence, I spent two hours mowing and running inside the house to pop the power strip back on. I managed to get half the yard mowed on Tuesday, then gave up in frustration.

This morning, though, I did what I should have done Tuesday. I managed to get the rest of the yard mowed without tripping the power once (gee, I really am smart when I want to be!). I feel so empowered! First, I bought the mower myself; second, I put it together; and third, I got it to work. I feel as though I've really accomplished something.

But now I'm really sweaty, so I need a bath before I teach my class this evening. And I'm about three days behind on grading papers. Oh, well. Having a life is tough, isn't it?

Thursday, April 14, 2005

When the Rain Comes...

Louisiana is one of the few places where rain brings nearly everything to a halt. It's almost as bad as, say, snow in Washington, D.C.

Six people (out of about 23) showed up for my 9am class on Monday because a torrential downpour flooded the streets and apartment complex parking lots, or, maybe, these students woke up, saw it was raining, and just decided to roll over and go back to sleep. I wish, at times, that I could do that, too. To be truthful, on days when I don't have to get up early (which are few), I tend to loll about in bed longer than I normally would. One thing I can say, though, is that I seldom skip work or any other appointment because "it's raining too hard."

As I reminded my students on Wednesday, when a majority of them did show up, I drive 45 miles one way, every day that I work. I watch the weather--indeed, the weather report has become my "horoscope." It's the cornerstone of my day. If the weather is dreary, rainy, foggy, windy, I need to know. Driving on a two-lane highway requires a knowledge of the elements, if only for time's sake. If weather conditions warrant an early start, then I make an early start. I seldom leave my house with "just enough time to spare" to get to any place I need to be. I usually start an hour early, just to give me time in case of an accident on the road, slow trucks, or bad driving conditions.

But, I suppose, that's the difference in our ages. Time and age have taught me that punctuality is a virtue, as is dedication. My work ethic is such that I can't imagine missing a day just because I don't feel like working. Let's face it, if that were a legitimate criteria for skipping work, few of us would ever show up. What I know is that people depend on me to be where I'm supposed to be. If I don't show up at the bookstore, or I arrive late, someone's lunch is delayed, the schedule gets off-track, and the rest of the day goes to hell in a rose-colored handbasket. As an instructor in a college, I've made a commitment to teach my classes and my students would get pretty upset with me if I routinely blew them off.

Honoring my commitments is important to me and says a great deal about who I am as a person. I realize, of course, that many of my students haven't cultivated that mind-set, and many of them probably won't unless they are pushed to it. But, that's the great thing about time and age--usually, maturity is a by-product, if only by default.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Saving "Time"

It's 8:18am on Monday morning, the day after "Daylight Savings Time," the old "Spring Forward." I feel as though I've lost a whole day, not just an hour. And where does this "lost" hour go, anyway? I think it's all a ruse to get us synchronized--if I were Chief Bromden (the narrator of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest), I'd swear Nurse Ratched was up to her tricks.

I finally cut my hair off. Big shock, big difference. My sister is a hairdresser and, about three years ago, she asked me to grow my hair for an organization called "Locks for Love." They use donated hair to make wigs for cancer patients, mostly children. All you do is grow your hair until you can cut off about 11 inches; after you cut it, you fill out a form at their web site and mail it in. It's painless (unless you get used to your long hair and really want to keep it) and it helps a good cause.

Actually, I feel a bit "lightheaded," but in a good way. My hair is about shoulder length now, just long enough to gather into a ponytail if I want one, but short enough to be springy when I curl it. I'm not really vain about my hair, so cutting it didn't really matter to me. But I'm amazed at how many people haven't noticed that it's shorter.

I've noticed the last few days that the hawk numbers have dropped. Many red-tailed hawks migrate here for the winter and head back north around the end of March or the beginning of April. Last year, they seemed to linger well into April, but we had a late Easter. This morning, I only counted two; my high count this winter was 17 on a morning drive. They clue me into the seasons of winter and spring. I may not notice the changes in the tress, but I notice the birds.
We have a few indigenous species of hawk here, so I'll still see a small number on my drives. But I'll be looking for them again in the fall.