Doni’s Random Summer Musings: From Redding Heat to Facebook Weirdness

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• Each spring I buy pretty flowers for my flower pots and front flower beds, varieties like hydrangea, pink geranium, purple petunias (only purple), yellow primroses (only yellow) and one of my favorites; gorgeous, delicate purple lobelia.

One of Doni’s favorite annual flowers, lobelia, is seen cascading down the left side of this pot. Those same flowers are now a shriveled, crunchy brown.

I fertilize them and care for them and derive so much joy from looking at them. And then Redding’s temperatures descend upon our valley and deliver heatwaves that bitch-slap my flowers into a sickly state that no amount of water can resuscitate.

The only flowers that are growing strong right now in my yard are some sturdy zinnias. Those were Dollar Store seeds that I literally threw out onto the gravel. Those flowers look great. Go figure.

This is the time of year when Redding’s heat has fried most of my flowers, which are mostly on on life-support. I’ve made peace with letting them go. I’ve lost interest in my spring flowers. They’re dead to me. However, next spring, like a woman who “forgets” the pain of childbirth and joyfully plans another pregnancy, I’ll do it all over again.

• Speaking of Redding heat, there’s no shame in admitting that I’m a heat weanie subsisting in here in the north state where temperatures routinely skyrocket into the hundreds, even as high as 118 degrees, which many of us have lived to tell about. I had my first over-heating episode when I passed out at the Redding train depot when I was 5 after we’d traveled from Vancouver, B.C., to Redding in July. My thermostat’s been off kilter ever sense.

I’ve adapted into a fair-weather vampire who slips outside mainly in the cooler early mornings and late evenings. Otherwise, in the middle of the day I race from air-conditioned house to air-conditioned home to air-conditioned banks, meetings, post office and grocery stores. If I absolutely must work outside in the heat, I keep a hose nearby and periodically soak myself – clothes and all. It’s like a wet T-shirt contest, but not as sexy. The look is more along the lines of a senior flood victim.

That’s why I am in such awe of and have the utmost respect for those who work outdoors in Redding, especially landscapers, AC workers, construction workers and roofers. And the homeless … I have no clue where they go and how they handle Redding’s heat.

• I’m baffled by many things I see on Facebook, but I’ll just mention three here today. The first is when someone announces some event on FB – whether it’s a yard sale or a fundraiser – and people who can’t attend chime in publicly to say why they can’t go. “Sorry! I’ll be in Cabo that day!” (Annnd now, the bad guys know your house is empty.) I mean, what’s the point? Do we really all need to know that you won’t be there?

The second is when someone posts something along the lines of, “Hey, guys, a life-changing, horribly terrible thing has happened and I’m devastated beyond belief and wanted you to know but I’m not ready to talk about it.” Again, what’s the point? Why bring it up to hundreds – or thousands – of people if you don’t want to talk about it? (Oh yeah, right. Thoughts and prayers. Uh, dear Lord, please help my FB acquaintance with whatever . . .)

The third is videos of marriage proposals, which means somebody had to be asked to videotape a moment that you’d think would be a private moment shared only by the couple. Was it staged? Does the person receiving the proposal wonder why someone is standing there, videotaping? Strikes me as weird.

That’s all. I’m just baffled. Or maybe it’s my age showing.

• Have you ever lost a guy in Home Depot and tried to find him? I have. It’s a sea of baseball caps, T-shirts and jeans up and down every aisle. Reminds me of son Josh’s Marine Corps boot camp graduation when all the young recruits marched out from the darkness into the light for families to glimpse for the first time since they’d enlisted: They all looked so much alike – same haircuts, same posture, same uniform, same serious expressions – that even their own mothers had difficulty spotting their sons.

• My name is Doni and I’m an emailaholic. I can’t let go of emails. I want lifetime access to every one just in case I need to search and find a communication from long ago. That’s why I have more than 43,000 emails in my inbox, and that’s after spending an hour this morning filtering and deleting crap after my computer was acting sluggish.  I need an intervention. Friend Jim Bremer suggested a name for my condition: electronic hoarding. I think he’s onto something.

• I also have electronic issues with my phone’s audio texting feature, which I use a lot. (My sister makes fun of me over it. I can take it.) Anyway, two things bug me. First is that I must not enunciate as well as I think I do, because often the word “guest” is spelled “gas” and the word “Doni” is spelled “dying”. Not good.

The second thing that bugs me is that my phone is a prude and refuses to obey and spell my favorite cuss words. (And yes, there are times I do need those words.) Instead, my phone translates them to “b****** ” and “a****** ” and “b**** “- so I must go in and convert the asterisks into the appropriate (inappropriate) letters.  Interesting enough, my phone does allow chickenshit, which happens to be one of my favorite words. So, that’s cool. Damn cool.

My grandson’s 8 – at that age when he’s fascinated by curse words – and no, I don’t curse in front of the children . . . unless I slip up with a “holy shit!” under dire circumstances. The profane expression that never fails to make my grandson laugh is “horse’s ass”. I think it’s a visual thing. He was quick to tell me recently, in all seriousness, that the words “ass” and “bitch” are OK because they’re just referring to animals, not cuss words. He then gave me some sample sentences, along with the priceless expression on his flushed face as if he were getting away with the crime of the century.

Some might suggest I should just curb my cussing, which I do, when I’m in public or with people I don’t know well. But I’m working on cutting back on my cussing. I know I can do better. In the meantime, it cracks me up when someone I don’t know well – usually a guy – slips up with a cuss word in front of me and then apologizes, looking horrified that he’d offended me. I think I appear more ladylike that I really am. Mission accomplished.

• Sharpies are among my favorite writing instruments. I have them in all colors. I like them because I’m so nearsighted that I write super big and the Sharpie ink shows up, especially for things like grocery lists, so I don’t have to wear my glasses in the store.

Doni’s grocery lists are approximately a 70-pt. font. (Extra points if you can figure out my current diet from my shopping list.)

Which reminds me; why is it, even though I have plenty of scratch paper and notebooks, my preferred place for jotting notes is on the backs of opened envelopes? (My mom did that. Maybe it’s genetic.)

• I got into a Facebook kerfuffle recently when I mentioned someone’s sad tale about his daughter who recently took an ambulance ride to a Redding hospital (something to do with blood pressure spiking because of severe back pain). She spent five hours in the ER and was administered a Tylenol. (She is pregnant, so docs were reluctant to give anything stronger.) The hospital bill was nearly $7,000, and the ambulance bill was also nearly $7,000.

I suggested on FB that maybe an Uber or taxi would be a transportation option for a trip to the hospital. Obviously, Uber is not appropriate for someone with a life-threatening condition, or who’s bleeding from orifices or is suffering from projectile vomiting (oh, the upholstery!). But if it’s a matter of needing to go to the ER, and just not feeling up for driving – kidney stone, for example – then why wouldn’t an Uber or taxi be a better, less costly way to get there? Someone (who worked in the health-care field) said my suggestion was irresponsible. My contention is that high medical costs call for creative alternatives.

• A moment of silence, please, for Spike, my grandson’s much-loved bearded dragon, raised and cared for by my grandson (mostly) since Spike was just a little spikey reptile. Spike suddenly fell ill and died over a weekend before he could be seen by a veterinarian on Monday. My grandson was heartbroken. He put Spike in a wooden box, and my son let my grandson use his tractor to dig a hole. (County people.) Then my grandson made a headstone for Spike’s grave. And a few months back my 6-year-old granddaughter was devastated over the loss of two rabbits (might have been three) and a goldfish.  As my son said at the time, after the loss of the fish, my granddaughter cried as if she’d lost a sister (which she doesn’t have).

Oh, how Noni Doni wants to protect her grandchildren from life’s losses and cruelty.

I think as difficult as it is for kids to lose pets, early animal losses help prepare us for the greater, unavoidable human losses to come. Unfortunately, in their short lives my grandchildren have already experienced the loss of a beloved great-grandfather, and grandfather.

Oh, how I want to protect them from life’s pain, losses, disappointments and suffering. But that’s life. And death.  We can’t have one without the other.

• I’d never really bonded with my little latte-colored KIA Soul after my precious Prius died a few years ago of a broken battery. I had a change of perspective the other night at Lowe’s when a young employee rounding up carts in the parking lot enthusiastically said he liked my car. I said thanks, and he said he had one just like it, in Alien Green, a color I’d wanted but it was unavailable at the time. He went on an on about how great these cars were, about how much fun they are to drive, and most of all, how much stuff he can cram into the back.

“Really, it’s like half of an SUV!” he said. “It’s dope!”

OK, I think I’m coming around, now that I know I have a hip (my word) dope (his word) car.

Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
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