Schooled by Summer

Never mind the calendar. On the Texas coast, summer shimmers into being when she will, and when she arrives, the signs are everywhere.

Store shelves begin to be emptied of Gatorade and bottled water. Bandanas and straw hats appear. Yard workers stop more often to wipe their faces, and even the Ladies Who Lunch begin to sweat. They don’t “perspire” or “glow,” as proper Southern ladies should. They sweat right along with the yard crews, and they do it at nine in the morning. 

Soon, it becomes too hot to walk barefooted on a boat deck or dock. The sharp, metallic trill of cicadas replaces birdsong, and rueful humans can’t resist asking one another,”Hot enough for you?” It’s summer for sure, no matter what the calendar says.  (more…)

Reclaiming Independence

Few of us remember our first birthday, or even our second. Those celebrations were less for us than for our parents, joined perhaps by a few siblings or other relatives. Presents mattered less than the party itself, with its cake and ice cream, memories, smiles, and photos to share.

By our third or fourth birthday, we began to participate in our own celebrations. We asked questions: “What time was I born?” “Why did you give me this name, rather than that?” “Can I have strawberry cake this year?” (more…)

The Shying of A Violet

So,
  shaded
violet,
sweetly bowered
  beneath these tendriled
  branches, why turn away
from morning’s recognition?
Avert your face from plucking hands?
“True mystery,” sighs the bending bough.
 “A puzzle,”  flocked and wand’ring warblers sing.

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For more information on the Etheree, a syllabic poem that, in its basic form, contains ten lines and a total of fifty-five syllables, please click HERE.

Going Up the Country

Had I known what lay ahead, I might have chosen a pith helmet and khakis for my evening attire.  Instead, I opted for what I imagined to be Country Casual: a denim skirt, a white piqué blouse, and turquoise bracelets.

After years of sweating through the swamp-like heat and humidity of Houston, I’d already experienced one benefit to living with more earth and less concrete. Country air seemed to cool more quickly after sunset, making the sweater I’d already thrown into the car a reasonable accessory.

Plucking the directions I’d been given from the side of the refrigerator, I re-read them before tucking them into my bag and heading off to dinner. Written in a neat, almost pinched hand on paper torn from a spiral-bound notebook, they seemed straightforward enough. (more…)

Published in: on June 24, 2014 at 3:39 pm  Comments (82)  
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Arcing to Arcturus

On July 13, 1977, at 8:37 p.m., a lightning strike at the Buchanan South electrical substation on New York’s Hudson River tripped two circuit breakers.  At the time, Buchanan South was meant to be converting 345,000 volts of electricity from the Indian Point nuclear plant to lower voltage, but a loose locking nut, combined with a faulty upgrade cycle, meant that the breaker wasn’t able to reclose and allow power to resume flowing.

When a second lightning strike caused two more 345,000 volt transmission lines to fail, only one reclosed properly, resulting in a loss of power from Indian Point and the over-loading of two more major transmission lines.  Con Edison tried to initiate fast-start generation at 8:45 p.m., but no one was overseeing the station, and the remote start failed. (more…)

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