Here we go again, folks.
As Friday morning transitions into Friday midday and afternoon on September 9, 2022, once again it is a steamy and rainy day in the Tampa Bay area.
In fact, as I write this, it is raining on and off outside, and even though I can feel the heat making its way through the walls in my room – I am, as always, in my stocking feet since I normally avoid wearing shoes when I’m in writing mode – I can also feel little ripples of colder air mixing with the “always at 74 degrees” air coming into my bedroom/writing study/mancave through the air conditioning grate up above and behind me.
And even though grey-tinted sunlight is trying its damnedest to pass through the closed blinds and partly drawn curtains behind my Lenovo all-in-one PC, soon it will be so dark that I’ll have to turn on my lamp so I can see the keyboard while I type or – if we get socked by thunderstorms later – go to my futon and read from one of the many books on my TBR list.
As I type this shortly before noon, things don’t look that bad weather-wise. There is a pesky rain shower somewhere near the Lithia/Bloomingdale area of Hillsborough County, but the really nasty stuff is still over the Gulf of Mexico.
Later – perhaps by the time I post this, given that I am not the world’s fastest typist – we might not be so lucky. It’s hot outside (the heat index is currently 94°F/35°C) and there’s a lot of humidity in the air, which means conditions are ripe for the formation of rain clouds and thunderstorm cells. In fact, a flood watch is in effect from 7 AM today till 4 AM on Sunday, September 11.
I’ve lived in Florida for 53 of my 59 years, the past 50 consecutively, so this is nothing new to me. It was surprising to me when Mom, my older half-sister Vicky, and I returned to the States in 1972 after living in Colombia for a while (Mom and I left Miami early in 1966; Vicky was in a Catholic all-girls school in Parkersburg, WV until she graduated in Spring 1969, so she did not live with in Bogota till then), but I eventually – and grudgingly – accepted that hot mornings and rainy afternoons are a natural part of life in the Sunshine State.
Still, just because I know why we only really have two seasons here in the subtropics – the dry and wet seasons – doesn’t mean I like it when thunderstorms are nearby, and I have to turn off all my electronics that draw power from the wall sockets. (In theory, I could use a laptop on battery power, but I only do that if I absolutely can’t find a good book to read or have the irresistible urge to check my social media accounts just to feel some remote connection to other people.)
And speaking of good books….
My September TBR List
Because I have been playing Regiments so much lately – the same thing happened in 2020 when I bought Cold Waters from Steam – I have not made much progress with the To Be Read (TBR) list of books I began to tackle in late summer.
I mean, I do read at least a little bit on a daily basis. Reading is practically hardwired into my DNA; most of my relatives on my mother’s side are bibliophiles, as were our parents and grandparents. My mom used to tell people that my grandmother – her mother – had taught me the alphabet with ABC blocks (do toddlers still play with those in the 21st Century?) and that my father, who died shortly before my second birthday, was astonished when he saw me reading from a newspaper while he was still alive.
I think I may have mentioned this before, but most of my offline, non-Internet reading usually happens in the morning – when I’m perusing the current issue of Time magazine while I have my de rigueur café con leche at the kitchenette table. On rare occasions, I will read from one of the books on my TBR list instead, but 90% of the time I’ll read my issue of Time, even though it’s no substitute for reading the daily newspaper – something that is, weirdly, verboten in this house.
I also have a habit – one that I’ve had since I was a wee lad of six – of taking a book with me to the bathroom when I know I will be on the porcelain “throne” for a bit. Even if I know I will not be in the bathroom long enough to get numb legs from sitting on the toilet for a long time, I will take a book with me and read while I “do my business.” It beats staring at the towels hanging from a rack on the opposite side of the bathroom, and it allows me to focus on my reading – and escape from my reality, even if it’s for a few minutes.
Since I have not bought any new books in September, my TBR list – or stack, if you prefer, is unchanged from the one I was reading in August:
- Who Can Hold the Sea: The U.S. Navy in the Cold War, 1945-1960, James D. Hornfischer
- The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle: Stories and Tips from Thirteen Years with a Leonberger, Thomas Wikman
- Star Wars: Brotherhood, Mike Chen
- Fire & Steel: The End of World War Two in the West, Peter Caddick-Adams
Well, Dear Reader, I need to wrap this up and publish it on WordPress; the light levels in my room are considerably lower than they were when I began writing at 11:45 AM (it’s now a bit past one in the afternoon; told you I’m a slow typist, did I not?), and the thunderstorms that were predicted to pass through the area are, indeed, nearby. (I can hear the low, dull booms of thunder out there!)
So, until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the not-so-stormy side of things.
 Whether this story is true or not, I don’t know. Mom was not, unlike my half-sister, in the habit of making up stories out of whole cloth, but she was a human being and was, therefore, not infallible when it came to remembering details from our experiences as a family. I do know that even though my grandmother was – in my child’s mind, anyway – a bit too strict and more than a little difficult to live with, she was also a brilliant, loving, and well-intentioned abuela. She was the one who insisted, during one of my grandparents’ visits to our house in Coral Estates Park, that I, at 11 years old, could and should learn how to make scrambled eggs. It was also my grandmother who, during my first of two trips back to Bogota after 1972, taught me how to tie my shoes (I was also 11 then, so the scrambled eggs thing happened a few months before my visit in the summer of 1974).
So if my grandmother was capable of teaching me how to tie my shoes – a feat that not even the occupational therapists at Tropical Elementary achieved – and how to get over my fear of cooking by having me make scrambled eggs, it is entirely plausible that she also taught me how to read. The open question is whether Dad, who died when I was so little that I don’t really remember him, ever saw or heard me reading from a newspaper like my mother claimed I did.