Friday, September 30, 2005

You've gotta love Autumn...

... here in Michigan, we have "extreme" weather. January and
February can be downright miserable at times as the high
temperatures fight to get past zero. On the other end of the
spectrum, July and August can bring non-stop heat and
humidity, making life a sticky, sweaty mess. I don't do well
at either extreme.
...spring can be "hit or miss" here, however. All too frequently,
the season seems to last a short week before jumping right into
summer heat. This is never the case with autumn. We "ease" into
winter with progressively colder nights and daytime high
temperatures that drop a degree or two every few days. It can be
breezy, but still sunny. I really enjoy the months of September and
October here.
...last night was a significant night in the seasonal scheme. The low
temperature hovered a few degrees above freezing for a few hours.
While not cold enough to leave a frost, it killed most of the insects
that were still around and it sent a quiet message to the trees. Big
changes are lay ahead.
...the picture that accompanies this blog entry is a tree that adorns
the yard of a neighbor's house. It's an old tree, healthy, beautiful,
majestic. And it is about to change color. It will go from a deep,
lush, moist green to a blaze or orange, yellow, red, and gold. And
it will end up in a bland, dry, brown and grey. Until next spring
when the warm rains wake it up again.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Bad Karma?

...I wake up early this morning to the bus screeching its brakes outside in the steet. I open my eyes as it gets really quiet again - quiet enough to here a "drip, drip, drip"!! It sounds like droplets of water hitting a puddle. It was raining outside but this is much closer. I immediately bolt out of bed and look at my aquariums. Sure enough, one of the 29 gallon breeder tanks on the rack is losing water. I step on the carpet and it squishes beneath my feet - it's soaked! Immediately I flip the switch on the surge protector and cut off all the electricity to the system.
Ripping the glass tops off the tanks, I stick the siphon in and start emptying the tank water into 5 gallon buckets. The fish all go into another tank and they are as shocked as I am. I throw an old quilt on the floor and soak up as much water as it will hold.
I was lucky, I caught it in time. And even though it was just one tank, I was
sufficiently frightened enough to empty the two other tanks and tear them down as well. I'll save the hardware - the heaters and filters and such, but everything else
is "dumpster bound" once I get home from work tonight. The rack will go tomorrow.
Stick a fork in me, Ethel, I'm done!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

For the next month...

...I refuse to wear any item of clothing that has the University of Michigan logo on it. After watching the Wolverines lose to the Wisconsin Badgers on Saturday, all my Michigan apparel will remain in the closet for a mourning period. It was an embarrassing loss and no matter how many times I have to do laundry in a week, regardless of how deep in my dresser drawers I have to dig, I refuse to put on anything "U of M" for 30 days.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Tuesday Moanin'

(A blog/writing exercise in the style of the late Detroit Free Press "Feature
Page" columnist, Bob Talbert.)

...I don't need an alarm clock. Every weekday morning a Yellow Cab pulls
up to the curb at 7:30 a.m. and blasts the horn two times to announce his
arrival. He waits patiently for two minutes, blasts the horn again (twice),
and waits another two minutes. Just as he is about to pull away from the
curb, a fat black lady comes running out from the front door, waving frantically.
It's always the same routine and I always wonder why she is never ready for
the cab's arrival!
...also every weekday morning from September to June, the "Latin Dad's Club"
assembles at the same curb at 8:15 a.m. They chat quietly until the schoolbus
arrives at 8:25 a.m., load their children onboard, wave goodbye, and dissappear.
...occasionally I hit the "next blog" button on the top of the page and read a
few random blogs. I skip anything with animated hearts and teddybears, anything
that looks like the work of a lovesick teenage girl, anything written in an Asian
language, anything by a new mother that includes pictures of her newborn child,
and finally, anything written in French. I will check out blogs written in Spanish,
Portuguese, and usually, Italian.
...continuing on the subject of blogs, I really dislike it when a commercial enterprise
uses the space as a free advertisement. I dislike it even more when I receive spam
from someone who clicked my e-mail link to solicit my business. Those messages
go right into the trash bin, just like real junk mail.
...a possible solution to spam would be a feature that would allow a person to return
an e-mail as if it were unopened. Spam the spammer!
...if I surf blogs in the morning, my interest and attention wanes about halfway thru
my second cup of coffee. If I am surfing them at night, I lose interest when I am
bored enough to fall asleep.

Monday, September 19, 2005

I'm talking 'bout my paper, man...

...the video I'm posting today is a celebration of sorts. The envelope going out with the morning mail is the last payment on my credit account with a well known national retailer. It is one more step toward freedom from the ball and chain of my consumer debt. I'm following a plan developed after attending a lecture about personal financial management. I took a lot of detailed notes, used the tools that
were presented, made the plan, implemented it, stuck to the plan religiously, and I am seeing the results now.

Friday, September 16, 2005

The weatherman was right...

...for once! It definitely looks like autumn outside now! It's been raining all day and the yard is full of fallen leaves that will need to be raked up!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The last swim?

I heard it on both the television news and the radio station I listen to.

"You'd better get outside and enjoy this last blast of summer weather today
because the next week is gonnna look a lot more like autumn!" They proceeded
to remind everyone that the winter cold and snow is only a few short months away
in the next breath. As much as I want to deny it, I knew that it's true. It will be a long
time before we see another 95 degree day. I headed out to the lake around 3 p.m.,
a little bit sad that it was probably the last time that the water would be warm enough
to swim in.
In town, the "ornamental trees" in yards and roads are already turning yellow
and red. It's different in the country. The true signs are bales of hay and the
brown cornstalks in the fields. At the lake, the trees are mostly still green, just a
random patch of yellow right now. I picked my spot on the beach, stripped down
to my trunks, and walked into the water.
When you know a certain place, I mean really know it, you notice subtle changes
around you. The first thing I noticed as I waded up to my knees, was that the water
was indeed much cooler. It was still comfortable and very refreshing, but colder.
The groundwater entering from the springs is cold and the nights with consistent
50 degree lows aren't going to help. The second thing I noticed was the smell.
It was the smell the lake has when there aren't as many people splashing around
in the water. The water kind of settles down and smells much more "earthy". I
dove in and felt the sting of a cold shower and started to swim across the lake.
When I get to the middle of the lake it's always a tranquil, serene moment. I
usually float around, 250 feet above the lake bottom, and from that unique vantage
point, I feel more in tune with the natural world and my "human animal" than ever.
I was floating on my back, looking up at the jagged edge of the tree tops against
an endless blue sky when a pair of blue herons flew right over me and landed in the
marshy bank. They were big beautiful birds - strong, graceful, and majestic. I don't
know if it was the birds or the cold water that made me shiver. I slowly swam back
to shore.
While I was drying off on the grass, I noticed the absence of dragonflies, black
flies, and butterflies. The sun was starting to sink into the western horizon and the
other folks who came out for their afternoon swim started to head back to their cars.
I lingered with a few other people, in no hurry to leave. Of course I had my camera
with me and had been taping the fun. As I went to put my sandals on, I noticed a
snake in the water, swimming from one patch of water lillies to the next, probably in
search of food. Click the button and let the mpeg load to see this snake!

Friday, September 02, 2005

I renewed...

...the lease on my apartment - again. I waited until the last possible minute, until it would have cost me an extra $100 to put it off any longer, but I went into
the office and signed for the fifth year in a row. I'm hoping that it will be my last year here too.
I'm living here alone now as Miguel, my latest roommate, decided to move out at the end of August. It's just as well, I have my privacy again and the peace and quiet should help me accomplish things that I want to do. I'm sure I'll be blogging about this subject frequently in the future!