Heat and Highways and Butchery

The heat returneth.  It’s 79 degrees this morning, just before 6:30 a.m.  I walked outside awhile ago, hoping to bask in the coolness of the budding dawn, but it was not to be.  Instead, I opened the door to a wave of warm, humid air…air that challenged me to wade into the thick of it.  I met the challenge, albeit briefly, then returned to the refrigerated air that makes my home livable most of the year.

It’s not as bad as it could be and has been in years past.  Of course, summer’s just begun, so the weather could turn on us with a vengeance, but thus far, we’ve been unusually fortunate.  Until just a few days ago, the late evenings and mornings have been wonderful.  Temperatures in the sixties, nice breezes, lawns that look like they belong in Portland, Oregon, not in Dallas.

It’s when the weather teases me and plays with my mind that I think I could learn to love it here in Dallas.  Reality sets in, though, on mornings like this.  There’s really nothing keeping me here.  And the weather is prodding me to leave.  So our plan to tidy up the house, put it on the market, and hit the road when it sells remains intact.

This move will be different.  In the past, whenever we’ve moved to a new city, we’ve been busy with work and have not made the time to meet people and develop friendships.  Now, though, we have nothing demanding our time, nothing preventing us from seeking out people with whom we might develop friendships.  I intend to make it a point to meet people when we land someplace.  Not just meet them, but socialize with them.  My wife and I tend to be shrinking violets in social settings; hard to believe, perhaps, but it’s true. We tend to avoid getting too “close” to people.  I guess it’s because we don’t want to find ourselves wrapped up with people we don’t want to spend much time with…which would require us to withdraw from them and thereby seem unfriendly.  So we don’t behave in too friendly a manner from the start. Odd, that is.   That will change.  It has to.  There is no “work” to serve as a conduit for development of social relationships; we have to grease the skids ourselves, as it were.

What the hell am I rambling about?  I honestly don’t know; this must be one of those stream of consciousness posts I sometimes talk about, but don’t pin down.

Recently, both my wife and I have stumbled across interesting articles about world travel.  In my case, I came upon an article about a couple in their late sixties or early seventies who sold their two houses and all their contents and began traveling around the world, stopping for a few months at a time to live in and experience a country of interest.  In my wife’s case, she came across an old clipping she had saved about a program of around-the-world travel on American airlines; apparently, it’s possible to buy discounted fare that allows travelers to travel in one direction around the world during a one-year period, stopping wherever they like for as long as they like, provided all the travel is in one direction and is completed in a single year.  Maybe the happenstance of finding two such “world travel” items at the same time and finding them quite interesting is a sign.  Maybe the Pacific Northwest should not be our initial destination; maybe the rest of the world is a better one.

Yesterday’s brisket was good.  It’s another one of those bits of happenstance; an unplanned family visit prompted me to decide to smoke a brisket to celebrate the visit and the fifth of July.  Though good, the brisket was not as moist as the first one I did; I blame the fact that I bought Select grade beef instead of Choice grade.  I have learned a little bit about meat grading in the last couple of months; enough to make me want to learn more.  And just as I was thinking I want to learn more, I discovered that there is a short course, just a few days in duration, held at Texas A&M University in College Station that introduces the novice to beef…from slaughter to butchering to grading.  On the one hand, it sounds violent and off-putting, but on the other, it’s fascinating.  I may explore more; I’ve just stated all I know…I don’t know if it’s offered frequently, what it takes to attend, how much it costs…nothing.  I really should look into it.  I like to learn about things that are utterly outside my realm of experience.  When I took a welding class, I was intrigued by it; it was unlike anything else I’d ever done.  I loved it!  But, alas, I have no shop, no tools, no place to weld.  So I’ve forgotten most of what I learned.  But I am sure I could pick it up quickly if I got back into it.  And I could create art…not good art, but art. Yes, I’d like to do that again.

There’s so much out there that can be interesting, if only we’d allow ourselves to overlook or ignore our proclivities toward reacting badly to things of which we know little.  I suspect there are aspects of even the worst “jobs” that could be compelling if we’d just allow ourselves to open up to the possibilities.  Paving highways, for example, seems like brutally hot, smelly, uncomfortable, and unappreciated work.  But I bet there are aspects of paving highways that make those who do the work proud of what they do and keeps them interested in doing it.  Maybe not.  But I bet there are.

Now that I’ve written utter drivel for almost half an hour, I’ll stop and do something equally unproductive for awhile.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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