jayellebee's Blog

June 27, 2013

Holed Up and Hunkered Down

Filed under: Musings — Joanne @ 11:10 am
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blog pix

My fear of heights is Mom’s fault.  The phobia took root while watching her wash windows.  I have a vivid mental image of my mother perched with one hip on the third story window sill and leaning out, as if she were Annie Oakley riding side-saddle and preparing to rope a steer.    As a wee small girl, I imagined my mommy splatting on the ground below.  The memory is enough to make my hands sweat all these sixty years later.

So, this morning I inhaled a courageous breath and, with great trepidation, convinced myself to wash the upstairs windows at Clearlake.  Ours is only a two story building, but I’m pretty sure that’s high enough for me to be pierced through-and-through by the wicked thorns of the gnarled pomegranate tree at ground level.  Resigned to my fate, I hauled the window washing gear up a flight of stairs.

A helicopter hovered over the neighboring hills, darting out-of-sight and back again as I removed the screens.  The letters CHP adorned the fuselage.  I carried the filthy metal and mesh rectangles down to the driveway and distracted myself from scrubbing off bird poop and bug guts by concocting stories about the nature of the nearby emergency.

Lost and/or injured hikers?  Not likely.  My friends and I slid down those same grassy hills as children. blog pix The preamble of a grass fire?   No smoke.  Bank robbers?  More like fast food thieves in this part of the world.  I pictured the headlines, “Ketchup trail leads posse to hamburger hi-jackers.”

I had no sooner climbed back upstairs when the landline downstairs interjected itself into my thoughts.  I ran for the phone, hustling as much as my creaky back and sock-clad feet would allow on oak steps.  Picking up after the fourth ring, I was greeted by that nebulous nothing associated with telemarketers’ cold calls.  The hand piece approached the cradle when I heard, “This is a public safety announcement from the Clearlake police department.”

Great.  Police Athletic League donation?  Widows and Orphans fund?

“Residents of the Clearlake Park area are advised to stay inside and keep their doors locked.”

Say what?  The algae wasn’t that bad.  I checked the clock.  Eleven-thirty.

“Three armed and presumed dangerous fugitives are believed to be in your area.  The adult males, armed with handguns, are wearing dark clothing and hoodies….”

I yelled for Ken to come inside, my voice tinged with urgency.  He listened to my retelling of the alert, glanced at the droning copter and locked the lakeside sliding glass door.  Bad guys with guns would be stopped by dual pane windows, right?

Ken called his brother to share the excitement.  “We’re hunkered down at the lake!”

Lunch filled a bit of the what-should-we-do void and I chewed my tuna sandwich with one eye on the hills, expecting suspicious characters to crest the ridge at any moment.  My fingers were primed to hit 9-1-1.  Ken pushed away from the table, moved to the recliner and his eyelids drooped.  Siesta time.  Our ferocious guard dog’s twitching feet betrayed her REM dream state.  The lack of tension was palpable.

By two o’clock Ken was awake, rested and bored silly.  blog pix 156The helicopter had flown the coop and my always-cautious husband announced, as far as he was concerned, the lock-down had been lifted.  He returned to his interrupted chores on the pier.

“But we haven’t received the ‘all clear’ message the police department promised,” I said.

Still no news from the local version of Mayberry by 3:00.  A call to the sheriff’s non-emergency number at 4:30 confirmed the outlaws were still out there.  We spent an hour lounging on the deck, within earshot of the phone.  The passage of time made the situation feel less threatening.

I scanned the hills for fleeing suspicious adult males, but soaring turkey vultures were as close as I came to spying evil doers.  Still, each barking dog confirmed the possibility of danger.  The ice maker’s whirring and clunking machinations in an otherwise quiet house stole my breath away.  Heaven help me if a confused driver dressed in black were to find his way to the end of the cul-de-sac where our driveway begins.  I peeked out the street-side bedroom window lowered the shade.

It’s 5:30 and Shadow is ready for her walk.  Somehow, venturing out to Lakeshore Drive feels like a bad idea.  The girl will have to wait.  blog pix 155Besides, the longer I can feign fear, the longer I can put off washing those scary upstairs windows.

***UPDATE:  A day has passed.  Neighbors with internet access tell us that, as of 7:30 last night, four “alleged” criminals had been apprehended and a fifth was holed up in a house less than a mile from us.  A SWAT team was in place ready to storm the hide out as soon as a search warrant arrived.  The “all clear” call never came, but even I am ready to assume all’s well.  If you need me, I’ll be  upstairs washing the windows.


July 12, 2012

Window into the Future?

Filed under: Musings — Joanne @ 1:56 pm
Tags: , , , ,

      Disneyland re-worked Tomorrowland and razed Monsanto’s “House of the Future” in 1967.  But not before concepts seemingly borrowed from science fiction had awed 20 million visitors.  Imagine: climate control zones, carpets and upholstery woven from man-made fiber, push-button phones sporting speakers instead of hand sets, and built-in high fidelity sound systems.  The feature that impressed me even as a child was a microwave oven which cooked in minutes instead of hours.  In very short order, these pipe dreams morphed into everyday reality and the “House of the Future” became oh-so-yesterday.

     While washing windows over the past two days, my mind wandered.  Two days!  While the chore was still in progress, the dog’s nose and human fingers smudged the first panes squeegeed.  What a pain.  If science can develop self-cleaning ovens and frost-free freezers, why not windows that repel bug splats and bird droppings?  The idea can’t be that far-fetched.

     Helmets worn by dirt track race car drivers have face shields with tear-away sheets of film.  The outer-most layer gets smeared with road grime?  No problem.  A quick swipe of the hand reveals a new, clean layer.  Couldn’t there be picture window sized tear-aways?  A quick lap of the building, garbage bag in hand, and voila.  Clean windows!

     New cars have sensors which turn on the windshield wipers when moisture is detected.  Sprayers located in the hood spritz cleaner fluid at the touch of a button.  Couldn’t our homes receive similar upgrades?  At least for those windows that can’t be reached without a fifteen-foot-long telescoping pole?  I’m imagining a giant wiper blade migrating from one side to the other then disappearing into a decorative cowling.  Pfft.  Clean.  Dry.  Done. 

     A few other ingenious innovations came to mind while I was scraping stubborn crud off the windows with my thumb nail.  

     Anyone who has ever cleaned a child’s room will appreciate this idea.  Central vacuum systems hard-wired into houses already exist.  How difficult could it be to tweak one of those babies to sense anything left on the floor overnight?  While the family sleeps, the device sucks all the day’s flotsam and jetsam into a giant composting pile hidden somewhere out-of-sight.  A control panel would allow parents to dial-in the mechanism’s sensitivity room-by-room, adjusting to compensate for teen-age blight vs toddler innocence.  Who knows, the loss of a prized trading card or Barbie’s shoes might teach kids not to leave their stuff on the floor.

     Dusting.  Now there’s a ridiculous waste of time.  Wipe off the horizontal surfaces today and a month later they all need attention again.   Jeez.  Furnaces have air filters.  So, if the air is being filtered, why is there still dust floating around the house?  Silicon Valley has “clean rooms.”  All I want is a clean house without the hazmat suits.  Members of the HVAC industry, sit up and take note:  Here’s a suggestion for the perfect get rich quick invention.  Filter-alls, the furnace filter of the future, featuring micro-pores capable of stripping every last particle of dead skin from the environs.  Poof!

     Hate litter?  Picture this.  Fast food packaging with wild flower seeds embedded in the paper.  The seeds are released as the bio-degradable material decomposes by the roadside.  The recycled paper could contain some sort of fertilizer to give the seedlings a boost.  (Product warning label:  Do not chew cup.)  How’s this for a marketing strategy?  Happy Meals with your choice of seeds, geared toward Sunset Magazine‘s various planting zones.  Instant America the Beautiful, just add rain.

    I could go on, but I don’t want to miss The Jetsons.

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