Chomp and Other Ramblings



We’ve all heard about SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder. Winter rolls around with its shorter days and drearier skies and lack of sunlight, and a good portion of the population becomes melancholy and lethargic.

I think I’ve got some sort of reverse form of that. When summer goes on the rag and throws more than a week of scorching temperatures and swampy air at me, I become … something. Not depressed, exactly, just a lump of complete and total uselessness.

We are well over a week of temps in the 90s, with a few days, including yesterday, that crept over 100 and had heat indices of “look, mo-fo’s, your asses are baking like your Thanksgiving turkeys.”

My workouts have been wimpy when they happened at all. At work, I can’t concentrate on anything but simple tasks. I’m like a wilted stalk in a sunbeat garden. I’m pretty much out of clean clothes, because it is too hot to do laundry when running any additional appliances heats things up in my tiny house and cuts off the air conditioners. Good thing we wear less clothes in the summertime, eh?

And of course, my writing hasn’t gone unscathed. I grumbled and stumbled and skipped days this week. Frogs in hot steamy swamps don’t create. They sit on lily pads and sigh and give their froggy little middle fingers to the world. I took a lesson from them and did the same, substituting my air conditioned bedroom or living room, or sometimes the depths of a swimming pool, for the lily pad.

Here’s the thing that amazes me, though. In spite of all this lethargy and lack of concentration and admittedly wasting what little energy I have bitching about the weather, Man-Whore’s wordcount managed to jump from 37,000-something to 45,000-something over this scorcher stretch.

I didn’t even realize I was doing it, but I wrote my way through the swamp. I’m still on target. Hence this update today. Funny how cutting myself off from all other writing – including this blog – except the book, is what gave me the freedom and energy to keep on target with the novel and still want to check in here at least once every two weeks.

Sometimes, you just have to give yourself permission NOT to do something to come alive enough to do it.

Our Swampass stretch ends tonight, at least for a week or so. I can’t wait to wake up tomorrow to 80-something temps all day and finally do laundry. I need underwear, but if the heat stretch had continued to can bet your ass I would have gone commando before turning off the AC.

Of course, heat waves like this one end with storms. We had a helluva night two Fridays ago, when that “derecho” storm blew through here and everywhere else. I was at the pub. Me and two girlfriends went outside to see what was up when the warnings started flashing across the TV. Because, you know, that’s what warnings make you do when you’ve spent the evening visiting the shot fairy.

Things were blowing everywhere. But it was the sound I’ll never forget. It was like standing near railroad tracks when a freight train rolls by, only the sound partly seemed to be coming from INSIDE my head. It was one of the more eerie moments of my life. The power flickered inside the bar, but came back on almost immediately, quelling our fears that the beer would get warm.

My power was on at home, too, and all looked well. In the morning, though, Lee went outside and found that the storm had picked up a patio table we’d neglected to put away (the storm was a surprise around here, and hadn’t been forecast when Lee went to bed and I to the pub) – a glass-top one, of course, and shattered it. Our vegetable garden looked like it had been on the losing end of a boxing match.

And we were the lucky ones around here. I can count on two hands the people I KNOW – not to mention the many I don’t – who had trees crash in their yards or into parts of their homes. I had friends and co-workers who were without power in the debilitating heat that followed for days, some a whole week.

Not to be sexist, but summer is a bitch with a mega case of PMS this year. Either that, or she’s going through menopause.

On the brighter side of things, one afternoon I Lee and I went over my parents’ house for a swim. Earlier in the day, my sister had fished a box turtle out of the pool. We don’t know where he came from, but she saved him. She put him temporarily in the neighbor’s yard, since my mother’s dogs thought he was a snack. Lee snatched him up and we took him home.



He has been Lee’s project ever since. He has taken the unused half of our veggie garden (the used half bounced back from the storm, thankfully), and turned it into Turtle Mecca. It is a small-to-us but big-to-a-turtle space. There’s one big pumpkin plant in the middle, providing lots of shade, and grass and weeds going in patches that Lee no longer weedwhacks so the turtle has other things to explore. With tree bark and some bits of firewood, he built the little guy a shelter where he spends lots of time hiding from the sun.

Shade Shack

Shade Shack

The clincher is the pond. To us, it is a manmade large-ish puddle surrounded by rocks. To the turtle – who we named Chomp because that’s what he does to worms, cucumbers and tomatoes – it is the ultimate swimming hole.

Chomp waddles out of his shack sometimes when we go out to check on him, and sticks his neck out in a turtle greeting. He knows some edible goodie shows up when the tall two-leggers appear. He likes to come of hiding and chill in the pond just around sunset.

Chomp's Pool

Chomp’s Pool

He’s not the kind of pet who cuddles you while you’re watching TV or snuggles up in bed with you at night. But watching him and seeing how much he LIKES his little home has still brought us so much unexpected joy and entertainment in this stifling, yucky stretch of summer.

So that’s what’s been going on. I’m writing through the swamp, and Man-Whore made me laugh out loud more than once this week. Life is steaming and swampy and downright uncomfortable some days, but overall it has been good.  And much to my giddy happiness, next week’s forecast calls for moderation. My brain will recharge. I will have clean underwear. I won’t melt like a wicked witch in Oz when I play my part in helping out with a friend’s partly-outdoor wedding next Friday.

So, how YOU doin’?


About hawleywood40

Writer, Steelers Fan in Baltimore, Frequent Visitor to the Shot Fairy
This entry was posted in Creativity, Gardening, Slices O' Life, The Naked Man-Whore Chronicles, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Chomp and Other Ramblings

  1. Marcia says:

    Hey, Pam! Chomp must be in turtle heaven–a private swimming hole, all the luscious food he could want and a cool shack for an afternoon nap. You’re doing great on your story! Congrats! If you’re laughing out loud, I know it’s got to be hilarious! Can’t wait to read it! Sorry your weather has been so tough. We’ve had the heat and some humidity, but nothing like yours. Keeping my fingers crossed for lower swampy temps.

    • hawleywood40 says:

      Thanks Marcia! The cool front that’s killed this heat wave west and above us already is rolling through now. We’re getting lucky and the storms are landing just south of us, so we’re getting the benefits without the problems so far. I’m gonna love the next week, with cool nights and daytime temps in the 80’s : )! And yes, the writing is going wonderfully … this story that I played with and had brewing in my head for a year is truly making its way into the world – FINALLY : )!

  2. What a cool pet!

    Re the heat, I think it is the lack of sleep that makes you feel like crap all the time. Where I live (Sydney, Australia) we also have really bad humidity which just zaps your strength (and causes mould to grow on your shoes!).

    • hawleywood40 says:

      Thanks for visiting Empress! I totally agree about the lack of sleep (or at least quality, cool, relaxing, non-clammy sleep) being what zaps your energy and for me at least, creativity. We’re enjoying a brief respite this weekend and I have been writing fast and furiously : )!

  3. Stacy Green says:

    So cute! My sister used to have turtles, and I always enjoyed them. The weather has been horrid here, too. Completely zapped me on all levels. The heat broke yesterday, and the kiddo was actually able to go outside and play. Was nice to be able to breathe. Great job on the word count:)

    • hawleywood40 says:

      Thanks Stacy! I think our heat wave broke a day or so after yours, and then we were both subjected to another. Here in Baltimore this has been a muggy but much cooler few days with dreary skies and frequent rain. Depressing for some, I know, but I have been loving giving the air conditioners a break and still being comfortable indoors, and going outside even in the rain and not feeling like I was about to crisp up like a vampire in daylight : )!

  4. Melissa says:

    I love that your own character makes you laugh out loud. I think that means he’s taken on a life of his own!

    On a less happy note, today starts another stretch of horrible weather for us. I’m sure it’ll be coming your way soon…..

  5. akamonsoon says:

    What a cute turtle! He had the ultimate set up there. I hear you on the swamp ass! Although it dropped the temps here to the 90s, it was absolutely miserable. I would take 110 and dry any day over that. Hang in there. Only another month!

    • hawleywood40 says:

      Yes – fall will be coming to save us both Monsoon! I always wonder how you handle those extreme temps, and I guess that’s why! The Swampass does add a thickness to the burn. If I had wanted to live in a pot of boiling soup I would have been a vegetable : ).

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