The whippoorwill singing atop the live oak by the lake can barely be heard above the katydids, the rumbling of offshore storms and the hum of the mosquito magnet working overtime in the backyard’s windward corner. Arrhythemic yellowish-green blinking of lightnin’ bugs and blue-white flashes from the approaching storm fill the impending darkness as the retreating sun de-saturates dusk’s canvas. Even at this time of the evening the temperature remains oppressive while the seasonal sou’westerly winds keep the humidity palpable. Streams merge with tributaries that form rivers of sweat flowing south across our nearly naked bodies as we bask in the sauna that is August in Florida. We are relentlessly deep in the dog days of summer. It seems they will never end. And, making it official, in his normal evening perch in the foxtail palm sits the mockingbird, songless.
Mockingbirds sit out this harshest part of the summer. But no, we aren’t so smart. We continue suffering our daily activities, wondering how anything might have ever been done in the deep south with clothes on and without air-conditioning or a blender and ice. Blended, frozen libations in overpriced insulated plastic tumblers and the occasional dip in the pool are the sum of our attempts at mediating the endless onslaught of dog days. It’s a difficult battle, but one we are willing to wage. One made easier by the knowledge that heat and humidity do not require a shovel. I’ll let y’all know when the mockingbird starts singing again.
I found this mechanical slide adding machine in my father’s desk. It spent many years in his shirt pocket in the time before calculators became portable and inexpensive. They were produced in Germany starting in 1920 through the mid 70s. I can even remember my mother using it to keep a running tally while shopping for groceries.
I’ve been spending lots of time in the car with the girls. One of our favorite pass-times is the famous name game. For the uninitiated, the name of a famous personality is called and the first letter of the last name becomes the first letter of the first name to be used by the next contestant. Our rules: No repeats. Initials are allowed only if common. Character names are also permitted if properly cited. The “famous” part can be challenged and disallowed by consensus.
I always try to be educational by naming authors, presidents and older movie actors and singers but wasn’t above using Sheldon Cooper when stuck on yet another S name. My 18 year-old is very competitive and instituted a 20 second rule. The 10 year-old was allowed sole possession of Disney Channel actors and characters, but surprised us when she called me on incorrectly naming Star Wars’ sound track composer Robert Williams instead of John Williams. Here are some recent highlights:
“She sang Killing Me Softly when it was first a hit in the early 70’s.”
“They had hits back in the 70s?”
“Dad, didn’t you mean Orville Redenbacher?”
“No, Wilbur’s brother…just what do they teach y’all in school?”
“F. Scott Fitzgerald”
“You know…The Great Gatsby?”
“He didn’t direct The Great Gatsby!”
“Dad, are you gay? You don’t know who Sofia Vergara is?”