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

• 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 of the Czech Republic. 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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40 Responses

  1. Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

    Thanks for my AM Doni fix. My Tuesday hope is that the District 1 preliminary results remain the same in the November election. But do we now have three more months of never-ending television ads and flyers?

  2. Avatar Buffy Tanner says:

    My daily reaction to July and August’s heat is a wailed, “why do I live here?!” I feel your pain (literal pain from a sunburn if I am in the direct Redding sunlight for more than about three minutes).

  3. Avatar Sue says:

    Wonderful read – Thank you,

  4. Avatar Richard Christoph says:

    What a fine way to begin the morning, Doni.

  5. Avatar Matthew Grigsby says:

    I’m with you on this whole heat nonsense. Even being born here and spending every single summer of your life here doesn’t acclimate you. I’m meant for a cooler climate. I’m kind of sweaty all the time from May 1st to September 30th and it’s an indignity I find cruel and unfair.

  6. Avatar Meloy Brewer says:

    My husband, bless his hot body (both hot and HOT!!), did groundskeeping at Red Bluff High School for 25 years before retiring in 2012. Some days off n the summer he rode his bike! As the years went by I saw him age 10 times normal from June to September. He’d come home with his pants drooping like a little kid. I have so much respect for those who work outside in the north state, I couldn’t do it!!

  7. Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

    I grew up in Oxnard. Southern California, right? But geez, come May and June, the inland heat would suck the marine layer across the Oxnard plain, and we wouldn”t see sun until late afternoon. Some summers, we’d be stuck with gray gloom until September. Sometimes, you needed a dang windbreaker to be comfortable on the beach in July.

    I remember complaining about the summer fog and low overcast through my youth.

    What a fool.

    • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

      Ah, the complaints of youth. I grew up near Bakersfield, and my Aunt had a second home in Morro Bay. We spent lots of summers there or in our family cabin in the cool mountains at Balance Rock. I try not to come to Redding too much in summer because it’s generally 10-20 degrees cooler in our Eastern County home. But here I am today in Redding, not looking forward to running errands. And we live here because . . . ? It can’t be for the summer temperatures or the panhandlers or the revolving door criminals or the local mega church. Barbara Rice did the right thing in moving to the coast. Barbara, you should buy a huge place where you could house semi-permanent airBNB dwellers, all from Redding.

    • I guess there are down sides to every place. I suppose if I had to choose between unrelenting fog or unbearable heat, I’d choose heat. I think I’d find the fog too gloomy.

  8. Frank Treadway Frank Treadway says:

    Reminds me when I was taking my grandkids, 9 & 10, to a fun spot out in Palo Cedro and they saw a skunk that had been ran over recently, preceded by the odor, and they said, ‘Papa, stop, stop let’s see if it’s OK ?!’ It was not easy convincing them that Pepe Le Pew was not going anywhere.

  9. Avatar Candace C says:

    Fun read Doni! At a doctor appointment a few days ago I mentioned something (complained) about the heat to which he answered “You know, I’m hearing a lot of people are bothered by the heat in Redding but what’s interesting is when I ask them how long they’ve lived here most say at least 20 years.” I’m thinking he’s probably right, lol. Mental head slap.

  10. Avatar Carla DeLauder says:

    My vision is so blurry anymore I thought it said his dragon dried out.

  11. Avatar James Montgomery says:

    Oh, goodie, Redding heat stories! (How hot was it?) . . . .
    Remember back when we used to shoot the fireworks beside and off of the Monolith? Well, I was one of those pyro-maniacs. Boom Boom Productions. One year it was a measured 122 degrees up there, and we built a fireworks ferris wheel. We worked in teams of 3; one working up on top, one handing him stuff, and one in the shade drinking Gatorade.
    Pretty hot, even for those of us who are normally delirious.

    • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

      We used to love going to the July 5th fireworks in Hayfork. Boom Boom put on the same show as Anderson and Redding saw. It was a family reunion for us and greatly enjoyed it.

      • Avatar James Montgomery says:

        Actually, we liked those the best. That’s where it all started, in a conversation at the Lookout between Fred, Hippie Chuck and I, back when Chuck and I were mining at the Kelly Mine.

    • Dang, James. I should have asked you all for your hot stories. Thanks for starting the ball rolling.

  12. R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

    You know you’ve gotten used to the Redding heat when you start getting picky about where you’ll go swimming. Oh, it’s too cold! you say dipping a toe in a snowmelt creek when it’s 105 out.

    The thing about reporting illnesses on Facebook that gets me is the people, technically your “friends” but really you don’t know em from Adam or Eve, who report every last detail of their horrifying terminal disease.

    Another similar case: The other day, a good friend and journalism colleague Facebooked that somebody important to the group had suddenly passed away from a stroke, “But I don’t want to be the bearer of this bad news so I’m not naming him.”

    I hate sudden unsuspected strokes!

    • You’re right about the whole picky water temperature deal.

      And yeah, I’m constantly surprised at the personal details people put on FB, but then get selectively private. I always feel like asking, “well why’d you bring it up if you want the identities kept secret?”

  13. Avatar Eleanor Townsend says:

    Great stories to start the day, Doni, thanks. I can manage my days around the heat, mostly, but it does hurt my feelings that the flowers are powerless (even if moved around when possible). Even those labeled for ‘full sun’. Hah! Just back from Oregon and Washington where they have all those luxurious hanging baskets at this time of year. Sigh. Decided before we left that nothing more will be planted here until first rain.
    And yeah, the petunias do have to be purple, and more specifically, striped purple like the ones (that were) in your planter.

  14. Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

    Wonderful article! Reading your work has always been a treat for me. Maybe I should invent a sun shade for your flowers next year.
    Saving e-mails from Amazon was how I won back access to all of the music we had purchased there over the years. The fire wiped out our music collection, and my account had been hacked, but I could prove that I and not Kristen Ansel (hacker) had purchased the albums and tunes and was able to recover over 1,000 pieces of music. I’m another digital hoarder. Sometimes it pays off. Again, great article and thank you!

    • See, sometimes it DOES pay to horde electronic files! I knew it. (Sorry about the fire that took so much from you, Joanne. I’m happy you were able to recover so much of your music. That’s awesome!

  15. Avatar Andrea Winters says:

    Hope you’re enjoying your keto diet! It’s a great way to eat!

    • Bingo! You’ve got it! Yes, I love keto. (I’ll write about it one day.)

      • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

        Please do. My niece is having success with keto. Another friend lost 30 pounds and began putting small amounts of no-no’s back into her eating plan because she didn’t want to lose any more.