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House Art Nouveau HouseWhen I booted up my computer this time, my wallpaper program  displayed this picture of a little Art Nouveau house, probably somewhere in Southern France, because Art Nouveau.  It’s a delightful little house I wouldn’t mind having if I also had the moderately large fortune it would take to keep it up.  The embellishments are charming, but I can’t help thinking they would be a booger to paint (I’d change the base color to a pale robin’s egg blue, though.)  It would have to be furnished in period furniture and have all the other accoutrements, of course.  Art glass, objets d’art and what not.  It would be very pleasant, I think, computing in an upstairs room with the french doors and windows open, but the jalousies closed and the shutter louvers tilted just enough to let in slivers of light and any breeze that cared to wander through.  It would have to have a high wall all around the house with a wrought iron gate and about an acre of surrounding garden with a paved terrace but no lawn, many flower beds, espaliered fruit trees, rose bushes, a little fountain in an arbor. (“arbor” apparently wants a “u” because I keep trying to put one in.  The spell checker objects to this and red underlines the word sulkily until I take the “u” back out.)  There would be flagged paths throughout the garden in among the flower beds.  , and the whole upstairs would solely consist of my bedroom and a large en suite with tessellated tile floors of hexagonal tiles, white with a black border and accents, a huge claw-foot tub. . . .  And if wishes were horses, we’d be knee-deep in it. . . .

Thursday, my trip to Amarillo went off without a hitch.  I left the house at 7:40 and was on the highway by 8:00, armed with a large Coke and a brace of biscuits from my friendly neighborhood Whataburger (they make the best biscuits).  It’s all interstate between me and Amarillo, I-27.  Four-lane divided, two lanes each way with a large median in between (which needs to be mowed before all the tumbleweeds die and tumble off).  The road beds are concrete, including the shoulders, and the speed limit is 75 mph/120.7 kph.  It’s beautiful road to drive on, mostly straight except where it wiggles around places like New Deal (with the accent on “New”), Tulia (TOOL-yah), Abernathy, Hale Center (in the center of Hale County, oddly enough) and Canyon (aptly named because the second largest canyon in the US).  Actually, I-27 and US Highway 87 are the same for part of the route, but at Kress, US87 wanders off to the east and visits Tulia before veering back, then it scoots off to the west just before you get to Happy, before coming back between Canyon and Amarillo. (If you follow US 87 south, you’ll end up in San Antonio, among other places, then Port La Vaca, and the Gulf of Mexico, at which point you’ll need a boat to keep going.

There was traffic getting out of town (going to work), and there was traffic leaving Abernathy (including me), but other than that, there was hardly any traffic, only one or two 18-wheelers, and most of the rest of it pickups.

The land out here is absolutely table-top flat as far as the eye can see until about Abernathy, when the land begins to have long gentle swells like a calm ocean.   I saw a lot of milo but not much cotton, and what little livestock was more horses than cows.  I’m told cotton prices are so low the farmers aren’t planting much.  The cotton is about all flowered out now and is setting bolls (seed pods). The flowers are white, and the plant is an intense shade of green that has more blue than yellow.

I am struck again by the dense interrelationship of trees and people out here on the flatlands.  Until you get past Canyon and close to Amarillo, you don’t see trees without buildings, or buildings without trees; they surround houses, barns, and occasionally bracket the turnoff to a road to somebody’s house way off in the distance.  Cedars mostly, with Siberian elms here and there.  Cedars for windbreaks, elms and cottonwoods for shade. (The Spanish word for “cottonwood” is “alamo.“)  The ratio of cottonwoods to elms favors cottonwoods the closer you get to Amarillo (“amarillo” is Spanish for the color yellow, but the “L’s” in the name of the town are English “L’s” — You get that a lot out here — Spanish names with English pronunciations).  Siberian elms are technically an invasive species, since they come from Asia, but they like a lot of sun and like well-drained soil, both of which we have a lot of out here.  If they get enough water and the wind doesn’t beat them to pieces (their branches tend to be brittle), they do well out here.  And let’s face it.  When it’s between 90-100 F/32-37.7 C outside with 20% humidity for literally months at a time, shade is shade.   A stand of mature trees shading a house can drop its internal temperature a good 10-15 degrees.

VA Medical Center
Those black rectangles are the hospital’s covered visitor parking areas. What they’re covered with is solar panels!

Once I got to the VA Hospital in Amarillo, wandered round the parking lot looking for a parking space, and got parked, it was 9:45, and by 9:55, I was seated in the waiting room.  I had barely enough time to knit two small rows on the knitting I brought before the lady called me in to the EMG suite 20 minutes before my appointment.  I was out by 10:30.

I decided that I would be thoughtful and go someplace else besides the hospital to eat my lunch in order to free up the parking space at the hospital.

I retraced my route back to Loop 335 and found a United Supermarket (they also sell gas), parked by a planting in the parking lot of its little shopping center, and ate my pasta salad and flour tortillas spread with cream cheese and chives and rolled up.

I have this little “six pack” cooler — just large enough to hold a six pack of canned beverages or bottled water — that I got when I knew we’d be going to New Mexico this past July.  Wednesday evening, I put two plastic bottles of water in the freezer.  Thursday morning, I dumped an ice tray into a large plastic baggie, sealed it, folded it in half and it fit in the bottom nicely.  I cut my rolled tortillas in half and put them in a sandwich baggie. They and my plastic container of pasta salad fit nicely on top of the bag of ice cubes, and I laid the two frozen bottles of water on top.  That worked out well.  My pasta salad was still nice and cold.

I had started my trip with a full tank of gas ($1.859/gallon).  After lunch, I topped off my gas tank (3.403 gallons at $1.949/gallon), used the convenience store’s restroom, bought 2 Rolo candy bars for the privilege (that’s manners), and I was on my way, eating one of the Rolos for desert.

There was more traffic going back, but not much more.  More 18-wheelers, lots of pickups, a smattering of SUVs and this tiny white car, possibly one of those little Fiats, that I played leap frog with most of the way back.  (I’m not sure it even had a back seat — more like a shelf, if it did. )  I can see the attraction of a car like that in terms of gas mileage, which would be a good thing out here where everything is very everywhere with a lot of not much in between.  However, they’re so light to begin with and at 75 mph, any kind of crosswind would be a real problem.  Wind tends to get in a hurry out here, and 30 mph/48.2 kph wind speeds are not at all uncommon with gusts higher than that.  It’s enough of a problem that there’s signs up here and there to warn truckers of cross winds that can just knock a truck trailer over.

I was back home by 1:30.  I spent half a day and drove 257.7 miles (414.7 km) to spend 20 minutes getting an EMG  (and had a twitchy left arm all the way home).

I slept late on Friday.  Got up after 1 o’clock and was still halfway sleepy, but I needed to call the VA to see why University Medical Center had sent me a bill for $523.00 (!) for an MRI that was done on 02/13/2014 (!!).  (That was the MRI that showed I had pinched nerves in my neck.) After four or five calls, I finally got to the person I needed to talk to, who told me it was not a co-pay and that the VA had already paid that bill in May, 2014.  So I called UMC to see what they had to say for themselves and they said, “Oops!  Please disregard that bill.” They had indeed already gotten their money.  I disregarded it through the paper shredder.

Then I started writing this blog post, pausing frequently to work jigsaws on Jigsaw Planet, which is set up so you can create your own jigsaws, and to play Spider Solitaire, so now it’s after midnight, which makes it Saturday. . .

I’ve been slowly but surely getting the house back together since the plumbing disaster.  The “office” is done.  I threw the broken bedroom lamp out (but kept the shade) and switched out the lamp in the office for the remaining bedroom lamp.  I’ve vacuumed and dusted everything, and re-shelved and re-alphabetized my books.   My BFF came over Wednesday afternoon and helped me change my bedroom back to the way I had it before, with the head of my bed back in front of the windows.  The other way just wasn’t working.  It’s all straight now and dusted and vacuumed, too.  That just leaves the living room and the dining room to do.

The dining room won’t take any time.  I’ve already vacuumed the rug. I just need to dust.  I do need to get a plug strip and plug it in behind the china cabinet (which entails moving the dining-room table and chairs out of the way so I can get to the china cabinet to move it), so I can plug in my sewing machine. There’s only two plugs/points in that area:  the one behind the china cabinet and one beside the sideboard.  The one beside the side board has the kitty fountain and a doorbell chimes unit plugged into it.  The one behind the china cabinet is behind the china cabinet.  Once I get a plug strip plugged into it, I can put the plug part out of the way under the china cabinet until I want to plug in my sewing machine.   I’ve got two twin-sized microfleece blankets I (still) need to make lap robes out of before winter comes again.