Saturday, March 24, 2018

South to Spring

I came home today (Well, I started more than 24 hours ago - got on the train at about 4 pm yesterday, pulled in my drive here a few minutes past 4 pm today).

There was a roughly 3 1/2 hour delay - all accrued outside of Marshall, Texas. A freight train experienced "mechanical difficulties" and was stopped ahead of us. We had to wait for it to get fixed and clear the tracks, and apparently that fix didn't happen - in the end they announced they were "cutting" the affected car off the train and it would be another half hour. Then we had to wait for the other freights that stacked up behind it to I wound up getting lunch on the train when I was scheduled to get off at 9:25.

It was okay, though. All I have to do tonight still is:

a. Pot up the start of a Haworthia (a type of succulent; they are related to aloes) my mom gave me - she was dividing hers and I said I'd take one. I like low-maintenance houseplants and you can't get much more low-maintenance than a succulent.

b. Wash my hair

c. Do a quick Sunday school lesson for tomorrow (Maybe that after dinner).

One striking thing is how much farther advanced spring is here. Leaving out of Normal, it could have still been December - grey dead vegetation, overcast skies. Part of the time it rained. And now today, my mom says they got wet heavy snow (it probably won't last long).

But here - it's nearly eighty degrees out, sunny, the leaves are all coming out. I am ready to see leaves and flowers again, but I am not ready for heat and I am really not ready for wasps. (There were lots of wasps around the gas pumps at the place in Emory where I bought gas).

Also, I had to put the dehumidifier on when I got home. (After a week of sleeping with a vaporizer running in my room up there, because it was so dry).

Break was too short but I guess it was good. I didn't do much. I'm still not acclimated to Daylight Saving because I forgot my parents are on "retirement schedule" and don't get up before 7:15 or so, and I didn't want to really get up and disturb them by being noisy (even opening the front door to get the paper triggers the "door open" chime on their security system) so I just went with it. Monday will be a bit of an adjustment....but it does get light earlier there than here (closer to the Eastern edge of the Central time zone), but it also gets dark earlier in the evening there.

Some other random things:

I only watched local news (and then not much of it) while up on break. The local news there - larger market - is more professional and has better people. That said, one of my favorite news anchors from there, Garry Moore - well, I guess I saw him anchor for the last time I'll get to see him; he's retiring in April. (He put in 30 years there, so he started shortly before my parents moved there). He was such a fixture when I was in grad school. I always liked him - he played a slightly curmudgeonly personality but also had a dry sense of humor, and despite the curmudgeonly front, I got the sense he was probably a good-natured and warm-hearted guy underneath it. (He does a lot with Peoria schools, apparently, and I don't think you can really be a grouch and still want to do volunteer work with kids).

Even with avoiding the news and being away from work, the scumbag part of my brain still gave me a few bad dreams. It was like "Oh, hey, you're not experiencing work stress? Here, then, let me remind you of every loss you've had in your life in the past 15-20 years." (Seriously: one dream was about my struggling to make travel arrangements for my Aunt Chickie's funeral; she died in like 2010).

My parents now get something called the Smithsonian Channel and I am slightly jealous even as I recognize most of those channels that set out to be all educational over time experience some sort of rot and have to go for the lowest common denominator. (And also, that there will be inaccuracies in anything that is pop-history or pop-science). But still.

I read all of  the first Bobby Owen mystery (this is yet another series of between-the-wars British mysteries - this one by E. R. Punshon.) The book started off slowly but was well-written and a more-or-less satisfying story. (Dorothy Sayers spoke highly of Punshon's writing, but apparently he has gone so totally out of print....the copy I had noted it was printed under some "orphan works" scheme, which apparently means the owners of the rights are either unidentifiable or cannot be gotten into touch with....) Anyway, it's kind of a shame they were out of print for so long, and I plan to look up and read some more of the series.

I also started yet another "Inspector Littlejohn" mystery (Well, this was during the long delay on the train). "The case of the Famished Parson" which looks to be a bit weird, but I enjoy the "one sane man" trope (Littlejohn is that man in this series). I guess I like police procedurals like this because they do seem a bit more realistic than the "amateur detective" trope - I know a joke commonly made about "Murder, She Wrote," is that Jessica Fletcher certainly seems to happen on a lot of murders....or that Cabot Cove must have a serial killer. (And, truth: my town of about 15,000 has maybe 1-2 murders per year, and usually those are the sordid "domestic dispute" sort of thing or "drug deal gone bad" instead of a "photogenic"murder like you read about in books.)

I'm glad to be home, though. One incident on the road that made me lean on my horn - some guy driving a flatbed type truck (the trailer was empty) very suddenly pulled over into the other lane (the one I was in and if I'd not been attentive I'd have rear-ended him). He was also deucedly close to the car ahead of HIM. I am guessing he was either tired or just not a very good driver...

I was also delayed getting on the road from the station because today was the day of the Dreaded Wine Train. About once a year - usually the Saturday my spring break ends - people from all over East Texas converge on the Mineola station to catch the train to Dallas and, I assume, drink  mass quantities. (There were people already with wine glasses and beer cans in hand....isn't mixing beer and wine a bad idea, hangover-wise?). They were very loud and there were very many of them. I don't drink so I'm trying not to be judgey but even if I did, I think being in that big a group, with that much loudness and what seemed like forced jollity, would give me the fantods. (I would much, much rather get together with one friend, or a group of no more than five, and go have a nice quiet dinner somewhere and talk. And if the others wanted to drink wine, that's fine: I'd drive. But the level of sheer loudness and "WE'RE GOIN' TO GET OUR DRANK ON!" was slightly...offputting to someone like me.)

I had to wait for them to start boarding to even get into the station (you have to go through it to get to the car park). Fortunately, they were still boarding so I was able to cross the tracks safely well west of the station (there is a cross-road I found out about one day). But....yeah. I suspect the train crew was not that excited to see that many loud people coming.(And the bathroom in the train station - at least the women's - was a MESS.)

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