Clouds of cool, pillows of refreshment

There was something I was waiting for last night and I just couldn’t fall asleep because of the waiting for it. I wondered what it was that had me so expectant and then it hit me.

When my mother remarried for the first time after my father died, she married a man much older than herself, one who had been in the Navy. His name was Elmer, Elmer *Stinpinchky.

He always had (and I don’t think this a “Navy guy” state of mind — just his own parsimonious personality) special little money-saving things for the whole family to do. Like, he wanted us all to take “Navy” showers (a special routine he learned in — you guessed it, the Navy). That’s where you get in the shower, turn on the water and get wet and then turn off the water. With the water off, you soap up. After thoroughly soaping and washing, you turn the water back on and rinse. Then you turn the water off — immediately — and get out.

My younger brother and I constantly flouted this shower rule and Elmer, in turn, constantly berated us bitterly about it. He habitually harassed us about it because, guess what? He was listening at the door to gauge our compliance. I know, right? Pretty creepy. My mother asked us to comply with his rules and we always assured her we would and probably had every intention of obeying our mother — until confronted with the actuality.

To this day I take v-e-r-y long showers.

Well, his concerns for household expenditures extended to every aspect of daily living and, of course, to the running of the air-conditioning. We lived in Florida and he refused to run the air-conditioning during the day (when it was the hottest). At night he set the temperature for a delightfully refreshing 80 degrees Fahrenheit. My younger brother and I hated this with a passion. Elmer’s arbitrary control of the cool air was a challenge to us — a cannon shot over the prow of our childhood sense of right. He pricked us to our very cores and provoked us to rebel by making us lie in the sweltering heat waiting for the air-conditioning to come on so that we could fall asleep to its comforting song.

The fact that he had very keen hearing, was a light sleeper and could immediately pounce on any air-conditioning infractions didn’t deter us once he had whipped our hearts to mutiny. It really became an all-out war with reconnaissance and special missions on our part against his temperature tyranny.

Elmer and my mother would go to bed and as soon as we heard him snoring, I would, or my brother would, creep out into the hall from our respective rooms and adjust the temperature. This would result in, most times, the enemy charging forth from his room and bellowing about what bad kids we were and turning the temp back to what he wanted (oh, and the horror of seeing him flap around in his boxer shorts and t-shirt as he ranted and brandished his fist!). But sometimes, oh sometimes, he would sleep right through long enough for the air-conditioning to whisk us off into dreams on a cloud of cool.

Finally, tiring of the nightly skirmishes, Elmer came upon what he thought was the perfect solution and which, I admit, at first brought bitter defeat into our hearts: A Honeywell TG511A Universal Thermostat Lock Box…


Image courtesy of the Honeywell Company

Product description from the Honeywell site:

“Make sure your temperature settings stay just where they should be with
the Honeywell TG511A universal thermostat lock box. Compatible with a
wide range of thermostats, this lock box protects against unauthorized
temperature changes while still permitting temperature monitoring. It
also shields your thermostat from unintentional damage as well as wear
and tear.”

But we were not deterred indefinitely. We discovered that touching the thermostat was not necessary to triggering the thermostat. A bump against the wall would trigger the mechanism by jostling the delicate spring system by which the arrow indicator maintained its balance. So, once the lock box was installed we all slept the better for it. Elmer could sleep secure with the knowledge that he held the key and we, we could sleep in comfort once his snoring began and the wall had been gently bumped goodnight.

Last night, on the heels of such hot weather I might have mistaken myself for being back in Florida and with humidity licking at the windows, last night I was waiting for the air-conditioning to click on — just like when I was little.

*Last name changed per my mom’s request

Something to cool off with

Yesterday, Moorehead Minnesota’s heat index was the highest anywhere in the world, according to The Washington Post. With the oppressive heat we’ve been experiencing here in Minnesota, I thought I’d share a cooler vista, a cold perspective from earlier this year. Feel free to fan yourself, metaphorically, with the following:

Winter landscape


Photo Annette Marie Hyder

Unpredictable
Winter 2011
Annette Marie Hyder

The rain was falling like soft tears
but has hardened now into snow—
this can often happen with the heart
as well as with the weather.

Blowing bubbles

Annette Marie Hyder

I walk behind
trying to catch your words
but they are like soap bubbles
and burst as I touch each one
while the new ones continue
to lure me forward with their
gleaming sunshiny dazzle.

I’m looking for something to be in them
maybe Glenda the Good
or maybe just a trinket or a toy
like the kind you get from those gumball machines
but all I get is
one after another after another
the burst of emptiness
followed by the residue
that makes my fingers slipperier for the task
of trying to grasp
the bubbles you keep blowing.

Special Session Called, Shutdown Could End Soon

The Woodbury Patch is reporting that an end to the Minnesota government shutdown appears to be just hours away. The governor is quoted as having said that it will then take a “few days” to notify and call back to work the 22,000 state workers laid off July 1.

From the Woodbury Patch:

“Minnesota legislators have been called back to their seats and an end to the state government shutdown appears just hours away.

Gov. Mark Dayton called for a special legislative session to begin at 3 p.m. today—19 days into the Minnesota government shutdown—after approving preliminary versions of nine legislative bills totaling $35.4 billion over the 2012-13 biennium.

On the phone from the Capitol this morning, Sen. Ted Lillie, a Republican who represents Woodbury, said lawmakers have seen presentations about many of the bills, but there are still some details he has to examine before committing to a vote on the budget.

Still, Lillie said he’s pleased to be heading back to the Senate chambers this afternoon, and added that there are several reforms included in the legislation that “people will be pleased with.”

“This is great news,” he said. Read the entire article here.

Disparity in options

When the state workers do go back to work, they wont receive back wages for the time they’ve been forced to take off. Interestingly enough, the contractors who work for the state will not only be entitled to file for lost wages but will also be able to ask for recompense for — rental space for their idled equipment.

Finance and Commerce is reporting:

“AGC-Minnesota said in a previous letter to state officials that it
expects to be “fully compensated” for things like demobilizing and
remobilizing projects, idled equipment, extended home and field office
overhead, and temporary traffic control.

Worke said it’s tough to put a dollar amount on the financial impact
of the shutdown to contractors. But based on the 90 road projects under
way before the July 1 shutdown, he said, “I would expect we are talking
about costs that could be into the tens of millions.”

One cost is lost opportunities where contractors did not bid another
job because a MnDOT project was on their schedule, Worke said.

“We are taking the position that the shutdown was not the fault of contractors,” Worke said. “The delays were not their fault.”

Robert Huber, a principal with the Minneapolis law firm Leonard,
Street and Deinard, told Finance & Commerce in June that the state
is responsible for “delay damages” for idled construction equipment on
projects stalled by the shutdown.

Contractors will “basically get to charge the state for the rental
value of the equipment sitting on the project,” in addition to other
expenses, Huber said.

“We are telling our guys they have a right to make a claim. It is going to cost the state a whole lot of money,” he said.” Source

The shutdown was not the fault of the idled state employees either but rather than recoup their lost wages for them, their unions have reached a  “memorandum of understanding” with the Dayton administration.

“A memorandum of understanding”

From SCTIMES.com:

One big question after the last shutdown was whether state workers would be able to claim back pay for lost time.Michael
Kuchta, spokesman for AFSCME Council 5, said a memorandum of
understanding between unions and the Dayton administration before the
shutdown granted laid-off workers the right to apply for unemployment
with the understanding that they couldn’t claim lost pay when recalled. Source

In the midst of the heat and the negotiations:
Heat buckles portion of I-94 in Minneapolis

Riddle poems and conundrums

The gentle and literate art of the rhyming riddle

The forthcoming movie, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s book, The Hobbit,  has me thinking about the riddle game played by Bilbo and Gollum. I’ve linked to a great site (at the end of this post) that explains how to construct a riddle poem and has lots of references to riddles from the Exeter Book (an actual historical book, not a work of fiction like Tolkein’s The Hobbit). The Exeter Book is an anthology of Anglo-Saxon poetry. It is one of the four major Anglo-Saxon literature codices.

So riddle me this…

Riddle: What is my name?

By Annette Marie Hyder

My secret is perfume, held close in my arms all through the long night.
My riddle is softness that you cannot feel until my defenses take flight.
My question is what disappears in the dark but appears with morning’s light?

My identity reveals itself, I am a flower and I dream of the sun.
My colors will shine when he is up, my petals will open and allow touch
Releasing my perfume into the air — and into the bottle of your expectations.

Answer: Night Dreaming Flower


Rumplestiltskin (an excerpt)

By Annette Marie Hyder
Previously published in Fairy Tales, Fables and Folklore Magazine

She wears a veil of language
across her face like
gauzy light and fluffy
one way mirror lace

arrays herself luxuriously
swathes herself in words
vermilion silks embroidered with purple
satins, quilted with pearls

says “Was if for nothing that I spun
coarse straw to gold
took the fabrics’s measure with
the size tape of my mind
cut the cloth precisely
with the sharp edge of my tongue?”

Rebus Poetry
By Anonymous –19th Century

Inscribe an M above a line,
Then write an E below.
The flower you seek is hung so fine,
It sways when breezes blow.

M
—  
E

Scroll down past the picture to read the answer.


Image courtesy of agathyum.com


Answer:

M
—   (an M on an E) = ANEMONE
E


Beer stains and smoke damage

Arnold Sanders, Associate Professor of English at Goucher College has a page on the Exeter Book:

“When
English books were rare (before Caxton began printing in English with
moveable type, c. 1475), all the “literature” in a region might be
contained in a sort of single-volume “library” bound together between
boards usually made of birch, from the German name for which we get the
word “book” via Old English.  The great book we know as the “Exeter
Book” was given to the library of Exeter Cathedral by the first bishop
of Exeter, Leofric, who died in 1072.  His will describes one great
“englisc boc” which scholars believe could only have been the Exeter
Book because of its extraordinary size.  Its parchment leaves measure
about 12.5 inches by 8.6 inches, slightly larger than a standard sheet
of American paper, and the book originally probably contained a total of
131 leaves.  It probably was written by a single scribe.  At some time
after Leofric’s donation, but before its first study by a Renaissance
antiquary named John Joscelyn, someone bound an additional eight leaves
to its front, but also, the original first eight leaves were torn out,
leaving the first original text (the hymn “Christ”) lacking its
beginning.  The Exeter Book is our only surviving source for most works
it contains, the most famous of which are “The Wanderer,” “The
Seafarer,” “Widsith,” “Wulf and Eadwacer,” “The Wife’s Lament,” and a
great collection of the witty riddles at which the Old English poets
excelled.

The manuscript survived because the Exeter
Cathedral library resided in a building which would escape the dangers
of fire and storm, civil war and two world wars.   Even so, the ravages
of time inflicted upon this unique text in nearly a thousand years can
best be appreciated by George Phillip Krapp and Elliott Van Kirk
Dobbie’s editorial description of the damage it sustained:

“The
manuscript, though well preserved on the whole, has suffered severe
damage in several places.  The fact that fol. 8a, the first page
preserved of the original manuscript, has been scored over with knife
strokes suggests that at one time in its history the book was used as a
cutting board.  Near the outer margin of this folio, where two very deep
strokes come together, a triangular piece has been torn out of the
parchment, apparently containing the final n of eadga[n], Christ 20.

A
vessel containing liquid, perhaps a beer mug, has made a circular stain
near the center of fol. 8a.  The liquid has been spilled over a large
portion of this page, and has gone through the next two folios also,
causing a brown stain on these folios and making the text in some places
very difficult to read.  This severe damage which fol. 8a has suffered
indicates that the lost folio at the beginning of the manuscript was
detached from the rest of the book at a very early date, and that from
that time on, the book was without a binding at least until after folios
1 to 7 were added at the beginning.”
Read more here.


Links of Interest:

Riddle Poems and How To Make Them: www.catb.org/~esr/riddle-poems.html
The Exeter Book
Rumplestiltskin
The Straight Dope: Why is a raven like a writing desk?
Flower Coloring Pages

There’s a full moon, look out your window!

Calming touch
Annette Marie Hyder

The same full moon
that lays her hands
on the waves
calming the sea —
that same full moon
lays her hands on me.


Full Thunder Moon or Full Buck Moon

Live Science reports:

“The seventh full moon of 2011 will rise around sunset this week, and
it’ll offer a double treat as it appears pretty much the same when it
rises both Thursday and Friday evenings.

July’s full moon is known as the Full Buck Moon,
because it comes at the time of year when new antlers push out from the
foreheads of buck deer. The moniker dates back to the Native American
tribes that once lived in the northern and eastern United States.

Other names for July’s full moon include the Full Thunder Moon, because
thunderstorms are frequent in the summertime, and the Full Hay Moon”