Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Star Spangled Banner

I have to admit to a time in my life when my patriotism was at a very low ebb... Then I met Lisenby, and he was an ex-Marine, and Southern.  But, he was a patriot... and he explained to me how important patriotism is... And, he made me a believer...

Patriotism after the Vietnam War was not a popular thing. Sad to say.

Ronald Reagan, as President, made it okay to be a patriot again, and that was a good thing.

Now, when I hear patriotic songs, my heart swells, my throat clutches, and I want to cry. I love patriotic music. 

I am so glad that "The Star Spangled Banner" is played at the beginning of most sporting events in this country... I go to the West Winds Brass Band concert, and they start each concert with the Star Spangled Banner.  What other events begin with The Star Spangled Banner?  Gee, I do not know.  School children may or may not say "The Pledge of Allegiance" to the flag.  Where, except for sporting events, do we extol our country? I do not know... Oh my. 

How do we expect our country to persist and exist and maintain, if we do not include patriotic acknowledgements in our daily lives.   I am not a zealot.  I am not a fanatic.  I just think we need to recognize our patriotic feelings openly.

A couple of years ago, I was taking a train at an airport from one concourse to the next.  A soldier in uniform got on the car, and an elderly woman immediately spoke to him, telling him that she thanked him for his efforts.  The rest of us in the car echoed that... But, who amongst that group would have thought to do that without the prompting from that woman?  I do not know.

The American Flag flies outside the TDCJ prison unit where  I work... Maybe I need to start saluting that flag every morning, as an acknowledgement of my patriotism...

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Hopping Around

I enjoy the companionship of my cats, as I have remarked more than once.  Tonight, Sake has been outside on the leash and harness, eating grass. Both Haiku and Sake have been in the office with me, laying peacefully beside me... 

Haiku has also been jumping and hopping around.  She does that sometimes.  I can not tell if it is fun or fear for her:  she sometimes has to get away from Sake.  Tonight, I think it is fun... That would please me....


Closing Out the Month

I have been trying to do a blog every day, but have not been as faithful and diligent as I could be...Recently, while I was on vacation, I got very behind the quest, and have been trying to catch up... The problem is less to do with time, and more to do with topics... But it is the end of the month, and I am wanting to close out the month "caught up." 

So, tonight, I am diligently trying to think of things about which I can blog.  I started out four blogs behind, but I feel confident that I can complete this quest.

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The Difference in Perspective

I had lunch with a colleague today, and we discussed the fact that children in the same family grow up with different perspectives of the same thing.  If you think about this, it makes sense.  There is usually a time span between the oldest and youngest child.  In my family, the time frame is 10 years.  

There have been multiple times, over the years, when we talk about family activities, and my youngest brother will make the comment that he does not remember that, or will say something like "Where was I?"  Well, he may have been there, but he was so young, that he does not recall the event, or recalls it very differently.

That's okay.

But, it adds an interesting twist to nature vs. nurture...  We hear comments about children who grow up in the same family who turn out differently, and that is an argument for nature not nurture.   But think about it seriously.  Every child's experience in the family is very different.  Each child my feel differently about how parents relate to them.  Each child may have different experiences in school, socially, with family members. So of course, each child brings something different to their memories of the same events...

And, it gives us something to think about, and be sensitive about:  each of us brings our own load to each event in our life....

Part of this discussion included that we felt each generation had its own "Pearl Harbor."  9/11 is one such example... The shooting of JFK is another.  This is an interesting concept...


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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Batten Down the Hatches

Ah, Alex is the first named storm in the Atlantic of this year's hurricane season.   Alex is anticipated to be heading towards Mexico, but is a large storm that will be influencing a large area of the Gulf of Mexico, and much of Texas.

While not heading towards the area of the oil spill,  Alex will have a definite impact on the recovery efforts, and delay them.  Who knows what impact it will have on the wildlife already impacted by the spill.

And, I am hoping, West Texas will get some rain, although if we do, it may happen over the holiday weekend.  Well, if that is the case, I have plenty of good books to read, and will be able to Batten Down the Hatches and ride out the storm....

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

I want attention

Sake has been very close and clinging today, including spending a lot of time next to me in the office.  She dislikes my being on the computer in the office, and prefers to sit next to me on the sofa. We did sit on the sofa today, but I have spent quite a bit of time on the computer today, and Sake has been right there with me.

I know that she wants a lot of attention.  Intermittently, I have combed or brushed her today, and while she has complained, she has not gone away. This tells me she just really wants to be near me. Which is okay by me.



I am not a soccer fan per se, although I have watched a little of it.  When a friend's granddaughter was playing, I loved to watch the little kids play.  It was SO fun.

I will say, I watched part of the match between the USA and the United Kingdom. I do not remember this country spending as much time and attention on the international soccer championships as they have this year.  I think it is a good thing... The USA is so egocentric, we think everything revolves around us... It is good for there to be a competition in which we are small potatoes.

I know we have soccer teams that compete regularly, and many young people are much more involved with soccer than when I was going up.

I heard mention that in 1950, the USA actually and surprisingly beat the United Kingdom team.

I think it is great that there is that much interest in the International Soccer Championship.



The clouds built today, and the storms seem to be in the area.  I went to the West Winds Brass Band Concert, and the air was so unnaturally still, until about 8:30 PM.  Then, it started moving.  I heard some distant thunder, and felt the random rain drop.

It is cool enough tonight that I can open the windows earlier than midnight.  The breeze is minimal but there, and hopefully, it will cool the house. I have not had the windows open much lately, but was able to do so this morning, and while the breeze was not brisk, it was nice to air out the house.

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Hot is Hot

We are experiencing a period of very hot weather...It is 90° plus every day, closer to 100° during the day... If it cools off to mid or low 70s° it is very late in the evening...So the cooling effect is minimal...This is really not unexpected for this time of year....


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Returning to Work

Today was the first day that I returned to work after being off about a week and a half... I am thankful that I have a job to which I can return... I am reluctant to return to work, wishing I could live the life of a more carefree existence.

But, I am so glad to have a job, and not an unemployment check, or no means of support...So, returning to work is important.  I am thankful I was able to return to work.

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Skinned knees

When I was a kid, I fell frequently, skinning my knees. Having skinned knees was just common for me.

Recently, I have fallen not once, but twice, and skinned my knees.  The most recent episode occurred when a young woman was nearby, and she most graciously stopped to be sure I was okay, and to help me up.

I am not sure why I am falling to skin my knees these days.  My knees hurt.  I am embarrassed. And, it concerns me that I am suffering from some other neurological problem.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Vacation vs. Time Off

Over the past several years, I would take time off from my job, but go to my childhood home, and take care of my mother...  I was glad to have the time with her, and did not resent the responsibility involved.  My younger sister was primarily responsible for tending to my mother, as she was the one child, of five who lived closest.  At that, she lived almost 2 hours away.  She never complained, and did a wonderful job tending to my mother.

When I went home, frequently, I did not see my sister.. She needed a break, and my presence allowed that... I knew and understood...

But, my trips home were to tend to family business.

After the death of my mother, my trips to the general area of my upbringing involved the wedding of a niece, the wedding of a nephew, the graduation of a niece.  While these were happy occasions, the visits were scripted for the event at hand.

This year, I was able to schedule a trip to my home area without there being a chore or task attached, although I did want to, and succeeded at, meeting a great nephew. 

But, I was also able to do tourist activities and sight seeing just because... It was wonderful, relaxing, rejuvenating...

The difference between taking time off from work versus vacationing is not difficult to understand:  the vacation involves fun, relaxing, refreshing activities... I am grateful for the opportunity to have such activities.

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Cemetery Rounds

Recently, a cousin and I had the opportunity to make the rounds of the cemeteries where so many of our loved ones are buried... We identified the grave sites, read the headstones or plaques, sometimes pulled weeds and grass and then, went on...

What is the point?  I think for everyone, the point is different.  For me, I say I am going to visit the person buried at the site.  Not to see the grave, but the person... I do not see ghosts, emanations or any such auras.  I just have a sense of going to visit the person interred...

For me, the point is to acknowledge the person.  Their life, their memory. 

It also gives me a sense of peace, of centeredness, and oneness with those who have come before, and hopefully, those who will come after....

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

I was recently able to visit the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame . My first impression was the same as when I went to the National Baseball Hall of Fame:  there is too much information thrown at the viewer all at once. 

But, really, it was not so bad. And, the Naismith Hall of Fame was located in an area that had some shops with athletic clothing for sale, as well as the museum shop, and some restaurants. So, visitors were allowed (even maybe encouraged) to leave, to take a break like a sit down lunch, and return to view the museum.

The basketball hall of fame includes sosme interactive activities for children, and the opportunity to be on the basketball court. Since I was not interested, I did not explore the criteria to be on the floor. The kids on the floor were apparently having a great time...

As with the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the role of basketball in the integration movement is reported... Which, interestingly enough, provides SPORTS as a socially important role in our society... Frankly, I agree strongly with that...

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Sports Halls of Fame

I recently have had the opportunity to visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum at Cooperstown, NY. There was so much information that it was not possible to absorb it all at once. Wisely, the Hall of Fame allow for multi-day passes so fans can return and re-absorb the information presented.  I did the best I could to absorb the information presented in my afternoon tour.

It was a great experience. As a baseball fan, I am appreciative of the opportunity to see the history of baseball.  I am glad it included information about the Negro leagues, the integration of baseball, the women's league. 

I am so appreciative of the fact I had the opportunity to visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Chrome Diner Fad

I recently had opportunity to eat dinner at The Chuck Wagon Diner,+NY&cid=2095122581951968505

The menu was not especially unusual, a combination of barbecue, hamburgers, sandwiches, general hot meals, fried fish, and the assortment of sides and salads.  The food was tasty, the portions generous, service prompt.

What prompted me to stop and eat at this place was that it was an old fashioned chrome diner. If you Google "Chrome Diner" you can see many examples, but not the picture of this diner.  I was not eaves' dropping, but heard the owner tell a customer about what was original, and what was replaced...  I was delighted that there were jukeboxes
at the booths, and my quarter was among those that proved it worked.

This was a pleasant dining experience that included an invitation to return again, the next time I am passing through!

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Different Perspective

I recently had the opportunity to be in a part of the world where I could access "YES" which is The Yankee Network.  Since I am Yankee, and usually only get Yankee baseball games on network coverage, it has been really fun to listen to announcers who are pro Yankee.  That is really fun.

However, what was not fun was to watch the Yankees lose.  They are a good team, but they were not up to the challenge of inter-league play against the Philadelphia Phillies .

Oh well, that is why they play the games.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Checking the Weather

I do not get paid for advertising The Weather Channel , but this is one of the instances that I really appreciate it.  I have had occasion to be in various parts of the country recently, and having access to The Weather Channel, has helped me to prepare the clothing I packed. 

Granted, the predictions made were not exact, but they were helpful.  Anything that assists with preparing for travel is much appreciated.

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Monday, June 14, 2010

New Technology

I was looking at the new phone Sprint has advanced:  the EVO4G and am amazed at how many functions it offers.

Technology is amazing, and this is just one example of it. 

I am seriously thinking about upgrading to the EVO4G.

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Brass Band Concerts: A Summer Tradition

As a child, my parents would take us, on a Saturday or Sunday night, to hear a brass band concert at a small concert shell in a community park some few miles from my home town.  And, as a child, I could have cared less.

As a young adult, I would ask my parents if they wanted to join me going to these concerts... What a difference a few years make.

When I moved to Lubbock, I discovered there was a brass band concert here, performed by the Westwinds Brass Band  I got away from attending those concerts.  In the mid 1990's, when the Caprock Neighborhood Association (my neighborhood) had concerts, I, of course attended (I helped start the neighborhood association and was involved with it for several years.)

Now, and for some several years, the Westwinds Brass Band has played in the Tech Terrace neighborhood, and the last couple of years, they do one concert at Vintage Township .  They also perform at the 4th on Broadway Street Fair, and they do a patriotic concert in combination with the First Methodist Church Chorale .  I do not usually get to the First Methodist Church concert, because it starts at 6 PM, and the timing is bad.  But, I love brass bands and marches and anything by John Phillip Sousa, so I make it a point to attend as many of the Westwinds Band concerts as I can.

There is a 1996 movie, "Brassed Off" that I have had on my Netflix list for a long time, which, apparently is quite unavailable.  

I also understand that there is biographical movie about John Phillip Sousa  which was released in 1952 (the year of my birth.)  For the record, he was born on November 6, 1854, some 98 years before I was born. When I realized this as a child, I had a certain affinity for him... I loved his stirring, patriotic music.  And felt I shared what, as a child I would not think of as a karmic connection, but as an adult, I do...

There is something rousing and stirring about listening to a brass band.  It resonates with my heart beat, and stirs me emotionally...

I am thankful I can attend the brass band concerts

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Sports Bonanza

I could have watched the Yankees play the Astros in New York last night, had I not gone out to dinner... I returned home in time to see the post game interviews.

But today, I was able to watch the Yankees vs. the Astros, on the Fox Southwest network.  Sadly most of the time when I see the Yankees on TV, the announcers are aligned with the opposing team.  Having said that, today's announcers were fair, and then some.

My niece mentioned she was going to watch the soccer match between England and USA today.  I had not thought to do that, but after the Yankee game, I flipped to the soccer game, and was able to watch the end of the game... It was a draw (evidently soccer does not do "overtime") but those results were an admirable showing for USA.  Thank you Linda, for that suggestion.

So, then I flipped to the Red Sox vs Phillies game at Fenway Park...The exciting story was the call up of left fielder Nava, who, at his first at bat, hit a Grand Slam Home Run.  His parents were in the stadium. 

The Red Sox won... So that is good. Later, tonight, I will watch some or all of the NASCAR Nationwide race at Kentucky Speedway.

It was too windy to go out kayaking, and I had some in household chores to which I needed to attend.  So, the sports supported me while I did the tasks that needed doing.  A good day.

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Friday, June 11, 2010

NASW Workshop

Today, the director of the Texas Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (Vicki Hansen) was in Lubbock to do an all day workshop. Honestly, I would not have planned to attend on my own dime.  But I was asked to work the registration desk (which I do for the South Plains Branch of NASW at our yearly workshop) so my participation in the workshop was free. 

I am so glad I attended the workshop. There was so much current, timely and important information imparted that had much value for me as a professional social worker. 

I grumble at paying the high dues for NASW.  But, when we have successful and helpful events sponsored by NASW, I am always glad I am a member... This was one of those days.  For Lubbock standards, the attendance was low:  30... Generally our workshops are closer to 45 to 60 with as many as 75.  But Vicki thought the turn out was okay...

It was a good day... I am glad I went to the workshop.....

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Difference Between Being Neat and Being Organized

I have struggled with this for a long time, and am just now beginning to realize what it is that I am dealing with:  the difference between being neat and being organized.

I am told, regularly, by coworkers and friends that I am well organized.  I do not feel well organized.  I feel scattered and at loose ends...  I see piles of papers jumbled together, stacks of stuff needing sorting, a hodge podge of this and that.

I have mentioned this before. I had an office mate who was very neat:  he filed everything away.  And, when he could not find where he filed something, he would ask be if I had a copy, and I would be able to pull it out of one of my stacks...He was neat, but he did not know what he did with his neatness.  I was messy, but I knew what was in my messy stacks...

It was years before I realized my organizational skills were an asset: I could align things as they need to be; I could remember what need to be done when and where. I could make sure that other people knew what they needed to know.

I left a job, and before I did, I organized my files for the next social worker... But there were some obscure things filed.  The person succeeding me would call me to ask what file something was in... My brain would work it out and give her the answer, or sometimes the options based on how I organized.

I am not neat:  I do not keep the cat hair vacuumed off the carpet every day.  My cats like to tear up cardboard boxes.  If you think that is not messy, think again.  I have stacks of unread stuff on my dining table. I have all kinds of things stuffed into my vehicle.. But, if I need something, I know where it is .. So, I guess that is organized....

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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Baseball on a Hot Summer Night

Hot summer nights when I was growing up often meant Red Sox baseball, on TV or on the radio... I hunger for the Red Sox or Yankee games on TV.  I have never gotten into Ranger or Astro baseball. But sometimes, if there is nothing else on TV, I will listen to whatever baseball game is on, because baseball on hot summer nights is so nostalgic for me....


Cats in the Yard

Tonight, Sake and Haiku both were in the back yard, harnessed and tethered.   Haiku skulked around some, but after 30 minutes or so, was ready to return to the house.

Not so Sake... After a slow start, she checked out the perimeter of the yard, frequently snacking on grass or plants along the way..More than once, she eyed the fence, and my verbal warnings deterred her.  She made a feint and back to the fence corner, after going about three quarters around the yard.  I was very stern about not allowing that... She became upset, but sauntered to the door. 


Monday, June 07, 2010

Running the Air Conditioner

Well, dummy, the air has cooled off enough to open the windows, and there is but a slight breeze, which means, the house will not cool off quickly... Usually, when I open the windows, it is cool enough outside, and the breeze is strong enough that I do not need to shut off the air conditioner, as I wait long enough for the air to be cool enough outside.

Not so tonight.  Although the outside air is cool enough, the breeze is lacking, and I had to shut off the air conditioner... This is the time of year this happens...

It may be a stuffy night.  I may need to close up the house and turn the AC back on.  A couple of nights ago, I did not even try to cool the house with the outside air, which was too hot...

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Rewarding Good Sportsmanship

If you read my blog, you will recall my writings of June 3, 2010 called "Owning Your Actions" about umpire Jim Joyce, who blew a call that cost Detroit Tiger pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game, and upon review of the video, revealed that Umpire Joyce blew the call.

He apologized to Galarraga, who was extremely gracious in his acceptance of the apology.  Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said nothing will change regarding the outcome of the game, based on the rules of Major League Baseball.

My thought, in case you did not read my blog, is that both Jim Joyce and Armando Galarraga are heroes, the kind of sports figures  that we want to admire, and emulate in character... We can make honest mistakes, but upon doing so, we acknowledge them, apologize, and try harder in the future.

Okay, enter GM, who presents Galarraga with a luxury GM vehicle.

Now, the criticism begins.   Because GM had such financial problems that it was bailed out by the US Government, and is still indebted to the government, should spending  be allowed to give gifts or vehicles to certain peoples.

Hopefully, this link will bring you to the story about the gift to Galarraga and also the gifts to a woman who gave birth behind the wheel of a  Cheverolet Cobalt.

In my mind, much of the problem with corporate America is that it is self absorbed.  This is reflected in the effort to make "the bottom line" pay off, make the best profit regardless of employee risk or product acceptability; reward its corporate executives at the expense of production, staff compensation, customer satisfaction etc.

Corporate America seemed to have abandoned any awareness of values and character traits such as honesty, graciousness, benevolence, generosity, kindness, fortitude.  The gratuities granted by GM recently may be great marketing tools, but they are bestowed upon people who exhibit some admirable character qualities. 

Do I want my government monies to be spent on honoring good character qualities.  If I did not, I would not have attended the Memorial Day Ceremony at the City of Lubbock Cemetery, honoring the veterans buried there.

What is the cost of recognizing good character?   I do not know.  If the gift from GM was truly magnanimous in regards to Galarraga's reaction to the the situation regarding the blown call, then  I say it was a wonderful investment in my country's character development...

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Friday, June 04, 2010

A Trip to the Veterinarian

It was shot day. 

I left work early to gather the cats for the trip to the veterinarian.  I had a sense I might have trouble rounding up Sake for the trip.  She was slow coming out.  But she and Haiku got crated in plenty of time, and complained about it.  They were not in as much distress as they claimed, because when I was still in another room, they stopped complaining.  I sprayed catnip mist into the crates, thinking that would help, but I do not know if it did or not.

It was 100° today, so I had the Vue air conditioning going full blast, and kept the girls in the vehicle a minimum amount of time. 

The vet was prepared for Sake, and we tended to her first.  We got her out of the crate, and immediately covered her with a towel.  Holding her head down, and keeping her covered, the vet was able to listen to her heart between growls, check her teeth during a hiss, and give her the injection.  

The vet said she has started giving injections in the rear legs.  She explained that there are rare but occasional sarcomas related to vaccinations
and if a sarcoma occurs, the leg can be amputated if need be.  Previously, vaccinating under the scruff of the neck was common, and that is not an area that can be amputated.

Sake went back into the crate.  Done deal.

I decided to stay in with the girls tonight, because after an ordeal, Sake sometimes takes her anger out on Haiku.  She tried, at first, but I was able to anticipate and scold.  They both have been looking for attention, maybe a little more than usual. They are fine.


Thursday, June 03, 2010

Owning Your Actions

Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers was pitching a perfect game, with one out to go.  Jim Joyce, the first base umpire called Jason Donald, of the Cleveland Indians safe at first base... after the game, Joyce reviewed the call and realized he had made a mistake... He asked to meet the pitcher, and apologized...The apology was accepted.

This is class.  This is the best of the best of sports role models..People admitting they make mistakes.  The victims of mistakes saying yes, thank you, but you are human too and we all make mistakes.

These are heroes....

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Denial is actually a very important coping mechanism of the human psyche.  We experience it often.  Elizabeth Kubler Ross identified it as one of the stages of grief, in her early works on death and dying.  Denial saves us a lot of pain and suffering, when we are not able to withstand the emotional impact of the early onslaught of pain and suffering.

I am very much aware of the enormous, catastrophic impact of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  It makes me physically ill to think about it, and the impact it is having on the wildlife and environment.  So much so, I just can not think about it much.

So, when my friends tell me that it makes them sick to think about it, then proceed to talk about, I tell them to stop...

Sorry. I am in major denial.

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Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Kayaking vs. the weather

A friend and I had talked about going kayaking tonight.  I checked The Weather Channel on line mid-afternoon, and there was no mention of storms in the area.  I could see the clouds building to the west, from our office area, and when I walked out from work, I knew there were storms in the area, The Weather Channel not withstanding...

When I called my friend, she was of a like mind that it would not be safe to kayak given the storms in the area.  The air has cooled, I have heard thunder and sometimes see lightning.  No rain (we could use the rain. ) Although the air has cooled, it is not cool enough to open the house to the outside air... But the lightning has become more frequent....

We made the right choice.  No kayaking tonight.

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