Heat and the Heart of the Problem

109 degree Heat Index in the Dallas area for the second straight day. It is hot. It is humid. But I can work outside because the heat causes the West-Nile Virus-carrying mosquitoes to burst into flame before they can fly far enough through the Texas air to drink all your blood.

And I have work to do. We are planning to go to Iowa this month. So, I had hoped to have more of the work mending the retaining wall done before we go. You can see that I took Ian Malcolm’s advice from the movie Jurassic Park to heart. I dressed all in black to radiate the heat more efficiently. And I will never do that again. Black is also a color that absorbs heat. The movie-based advice was COMPLETELY AND IGNORANTLY WRONG!!!’

Of course, the dirt that was to be dug out was mostly clay. It was recently moistened by excessive rain in June, and then baked at inside-a-kiln temperatures just long enough to get baked hard as the bricks it needed to be separated from. I almost broke the danged shovel.

And, naturally enough, because I had chosen a time when there was supposed to be morning shade from the live oak trees to work in, there had to be an opening to the sun right above the spot where I was to work and sweat for at least an hour.

And number two son had a dentist’s appointment. I had to work alone.

There was no one besides passers-by and squirrels to complain to. And those squirrels have shorter tempers than I do.

But an old man on a bicycle wobbled by with what had to be either his granddaughter or his daughter, if he was like me and waited until there was gray in the hair on top before he mistakenly decided he was mature enough to have kids. Make no mistake, the girl, about ten years old, was a real mistress of the two-wheel velocipede. Her riding style bespoke grace and mastery and loads of practice. The old man… not so much. He spent most of his time wobbling, stopped, or coasting with his legs splayed out. It looked like she was teaching him how to ride. She even stopped him to ask if he was all right, then let him take the lead so that she could keep an eye on him and make sure he was not going to hurt himself. It was cute. I laughed. But only because they were too busy to look at me and notice how horribly things were going for me and laugh at my expense.

But all is not Laurel and Hardy slapstick comedy with our efforts. All the bricks between the two gaps we are working on have been put back in their proper places by me and number two son working continually since last November. I look at the extent of what we have already done to chill myself out over the literal hot mess this job has become.

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