Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Miserable-o-meter @ 106

It's still pretty hot around here. Were at about 106 on the miserable-o-meter. The sky isn't even BLUE anymore. It's just a HOT sky. Look in the big Crayola box of 64. The one with the sharpener on the front. The one that my mother would NEVER, EVER, EVER buy me (thank you , Granny, for making my Crayola colored world whole). So, flip that sucker open and look for the dullest, ashiest, duskiest looking blue crayon you can find in that waxy smelling choir loft of crayons. Now color the sky. Now, squint. That's what the sky looks like on a 'clear' day when we're sitting at 101 on the miserable-o-meter. I would know that better if I EVER took my sunglasses off. Ever.
Pretty Pretty Princess is a child after my own heart. She likes to do the things we have "always done." She is a 'good girl.' When you are the MOM, that's pretty much a blessing. My elder girl, did NOT choose to follow the 'good girl' model of adolesence, she chose the wild-maniac-scare-your-mother model of adolescence. She has survived to begin her student teaching....today she experienced her first 'registration day' - she texted me to tell me exactly how many hours she spent at school. Welcome to the world, Sophisticate. I spent 2.75 more hours at school today. I win.

We live in a city - in a 60 year old enclave of yards and trees, but in the city nonetheless. And about a mile from us is a property the old-time city dwellers call 'THE PENAL FARM." PENAL as in JAIL. FARM as in 'grow things.' Cross the HIGHWAY there and over the hill - there it sits. A mile from my house. When I was a girl, it was OK , even kind of noble, because it was on a FARM, and they grew their own vegetables and cows and stuff, so the whole jail idea was not costing anybody anything, and the prisoners were learning to farm. Here in the city, where there's a HUGE job market for farmers. Oh, the naivete of my childhood. Later they built a real live PRISON over there too. Not just this criminal/farmer s..... stuff. Those are some serious non-farming FEDERAL prisoners. I put my faith in concertina wire.

We had to go to the county jail in 9th grade Civics with Coach Donald to be terrified out of a life of crime, which would have started immediately had we smoked cigarettes, drunk beer, or fooled around with boys. Or, if you ask my mother, show too much of 'the girls' to a certain boy, who loved the whole idea of cleavage, and he was taller enough than me to work that to his advantage. After morning football practice. (Happy Birthday, Scottie boy) Of course some were ALREADY doing all of that pre-criminal activity, so...whatever. Not ME, I didn't do ANY of that, until I got older. In fact, I drank a beer tonight. It probably was my first beer. Ever. I saved myself from a life of crime. And cleavage. Not the cleavage, maybe.

I did learn to cuss after I was a sophomore in high school. I visited my cousin in *gasp* CALIFORNIA! Her friends went out and drove around every night. And most nights they drove up onto a mountain, like it was no big deal (I come from a land with NO mountains, so that whole drive-up-the-mountain and crawl around on the edge of the sky - not so much for me.) Anyway, they drove aimlessly, cussed, smoked pot, and drank beer and did things in the dark that I had no notion of. Prissy little goodie two shoes that I was. OK, I was absolutely terrified every night of the whole visit. TERRIFIED. But, man, I came home from California cussing. And my little other goody-perfect friends were shocked. It was awesome. I was shocking. Also, I brought home the pleasure of driving around aimlessly on a hot summer night. With a foul mouth. I grew up, and gave up the foul mouth. Mostly. Lots of the time. Not. At. All.

So...back to the PENAL FARM.

I still call it that, even though now, parts of it are deemed a PARK and other parts are some sort of agricultural testing farm-like lab. Also, two square faux-lakes, where people can go and fish. And you have to be a total moron not to catch something, because I have seen the fish truck drive up from Mississippi and dump fish in the little square faux-lakes, about once a week.

And in a whole different part, for some reason, there are buffaloes. That blue sky? That's a June sky. August sky is grayish-bluish-duskiness.

Seriously? In this state? There are no naturally occurring buffaloes anywhere near here, so what the &$#% are buffaloes doing 1 mile from my house near the prisoners, who are probably riding to court in that white police-looking car back there. Since we are in the PENAL FARM.

I don't think they are eating Buff-burgers in the jail house. Poor things, I bet it's not this hot where these animals occur in nature.
On this farm/park/buffalo field/prison/agricultural testing ground/faux fishing hole they (who? I don't know the answer to that...but it's a big THEY).

THEY grow sunflowers. A big field of them. Usually a couple of really big patches that you can see from the road. It's like life's little consolation...the field of sunflowers blooms gloriously in the 109 degree heat on your a.m. commute.

In rush hour traffic, if you're lucky, you'll get stuck right beside the sunflowers. And the car will immediately overheat. Because the miserable-o-meter is up there. But, dammit, we've got sunflowers. And the sunflowers themselves look hot and wilty.
So, PPP and I like to go over every summer and take a closer look at them. If some accidentally fall at our feet, we will take them home. But only by accident. Sometimes we make weekly checks to see how many have fallen. It was a miserable-o-meter 95ish hot night on Sunday, and PPP went with me to take a look, in case any had fallen to the ground and needed a big nice glass vase. And, she *gasp* wanted a hand with the camera.
PPP took some arty pictures, as she described them. It was so, so, so hot. And then some. The weird thing, which surely someone can answer, is this. Why do all the faces of the sunflowers look to the east? Theoretically, I know it must have something to do with the sun. But the sun is equally brutal and horrible from any angle. There is no shade, there is no respite from the sun. Yet, oddly, the sunflowers are lined up like Soldiers with their Faces turned to the East, looking for marching orders. As if they want only to see it coming, but can't bear to watch it going. OR...it's just so damn hot in the afternoon, they can't risk taking a look to the west.

If I were doing a science experiment with 6th graders, which I am blessedly NOT doing - rather I will merely try to teach them an ancient language. Anyway, IF I were doing this experiment, planting sunflower seeds...my 6th graders would hypothesize (a science vocab word in the 6th grade) that the faces of the sunflowers would be randomly facing different ways, Because it's hot as hell from every angle, due to the unrelenting sun. But, not so. They all look east. Is there is some kind of ancient native myth about this? Is there a trick to the angle that the seed lays in the ground? Is it a certain breed: the east-facing variety? Come on, all you farmer-women people. I think it's just that it's so hellishly, damnably, $%&*#!%&$*%!!! HOT. I'd turn my back on the sun in the afternoon too. And, keep my sunglasses on.

DISCLAIMER: One year at one of the patches there was a sign directing people not to take them - no cutting, no stem snapping, no clipping. They are for the enjoyment of the community, but you could photograph them. There are at least 3 or 4 acres of them. As if I even know what an acre is. This year, I looked really, really hard. There is no sign. Anywhere. Note that fact.


Kathryn said...

106????? Ouch. That is HOT. Wow. Those poor buffalo in the water. They must be melting in all that girth and fur. Yipes!

Steph said...

Oh my! I can't imagine how miserable that must be. And I complain when it hits the 90's with 100% humididity (here in VA we add a syllable to that word to give it more impact). I am no longer complaining. It is beautiful and balmy here compared to your neck of the woods. Love the term "Miserable-o-meter"

By the way--Tag you're it! Come see what for!

justlori2day said...

Hi Ann! YES, I am a chronic pain sufferer! I have Fibromyalgia and RA. Recently I have been dealing with kidney issues. So no, you are not alone!

I found this in a gardening website I frequent:

Facing east at sunrise, the sunflower’s head follows the sun across the sky to face west at sunset. This heliotropic movement, called nutation, results from a bending of the stem toward the sunlight; there is asymmetric growth on the shaded side, causing the flowers to be in a position facing toward the sun. Growth is equalized during the night, the stem slowly straightens out and by dawn is facing east again. On a cloudy overcast day, the sunflower remains facing eastward, awaiting the next clear sunrise. The leaves of the sunflower are also heliotropic. If they are removed, the sunflower head would be unable to follow the sun.

When sunflower plants reach maturity, most flower heads permanently face east while their backs change color from green to yellow. "

Dont know if its true or not, some websites say the opposites, but on a few seed sites they do say when they are mature they always face the east. Doesnt say "why" though!

justlori2day said...

Oh, and I am miserable at 80, so I truly fear for you!

justlori2day said...

I have a friend with RSD.

They actually considered it for me but ruled it out because I didnt have an injury per-se although I know it can happen without. My symptoms go both ways. So I call it my "garbage can diagnosis", but at times I think it is more than Fibro. Its frustrating - and heat and humidity make it worse! I think I will not complain about my upper 80's! Take care, and know I am here to commiserate!

Muddy Boot Dreams said...

Love the term Miserable-O-Meter. And we were complaining yesterday of 33 C. weather. But our humidity is very high here by the ocean. No dry heat for us, like the Okanagan, and interior.
Those poor buffalo, wearing a fur coat in the heat.

Anonymous said...

I love the buffalo! What an amazing sight. You have sent my viewing pleasure into freefall with the buffalo and the Sunflowers.
We have nothing but rain here at the moment and more on the weathering horizon! :o) Send me some over....

Liz said...

Well, Penal Farm or not, it's a beautiful place! You guys must be pretty close to us... the heat has been miserable!

Rebekah, The City Farmgirl said...

I don't know which link-after-link-after-link has lead me to your 106 degree farm, park, buffalo field, prison, agricultural testing ground, faux fishing hole, but I sure did enjoy my visit! Great post!

sophisticate said...

mother the sunflowers follow the sun throughout the day. its quite interesting and that is why i will one day have to teach that to 6th graders. AND in my defense i was not the worst child you had..i think someone else wins that award. but i agree ppp is perfect.

Angeline said...

its super hot over here too! the lucky part was it rain alittle today....

oh girl, I love the sunflowers, they just made me smile, though I'm in misery right now, cos I still can't sleep at 4.48am over here!

AlyiceEdrich.com said...

I can honestly say I don't miss that heat! Though it's been pretty hot here in this neck of the woods.

Hope you feel better.