The katydids of August.

August is firmly established, otherwise known as the month when it’s frequently too hot, when you stop pulling every weed, when you linger on a fall sale ad and start thinking, if only vaguely, of boots. Not snow boots, cute boots, the kind you wear on a date in October. If you still go on dates. If you still think like a dating person. Whatever.

I bought a new pair of boots this fall, at Nordstrom’s annual sale. They were a great deal, and now they’re sitting in my closet, waiting for the first cool breezes, the bomb that will once and for all end summer.

But summer still has a good month to go, and a few weeks of benevolence after that. I intend to enjoy them. Eight more pounds until the Centers for Disease Control no longer considers me overweight, 10 until I reach my pre-pregnancy weight, now that the baby who resulted is about to apply to colleges. Well, they never said it would come off easily.

So. I spent a little time today watching the now-notorious sprint-car accident that killed a young driver in New York Saturday night — video embedded at this link — and all I know is, I don’t know enough. I’ve spent more time at racetracks than most women, and the very first thing I thought, when I saw the clip, was what the hell is that guy doing, stomping all over the track like a bantam rooster? I have no opinion on whether the maneuver that took him into the wall and out of the race was OK or dirty or what; that I’m not qualified to have an opinion on. But it seems incredibly foolish and hot-headed to then climb from your car and go marching off, waving your arms and pointing at the driver you think wronged you, while the race is still in progress, even under a yellow flag. What was he going to do, pull Tony Stewart from his car and punch him out? (Maybe that’s what racing has come to when I wasn’t paying attention, like those baroque moves with the stapler in “The Wrestler.”) All these stories, like the one above, referring to Stewart “running over and killing” the other driver, seem to be ignoring a very big piece of the narrative.

I know a lot of you are racing fans; feel free to discuss.

I was thinking the other day that I don’t go to nearly as many weddings as I used to. The few invitations that have arrived in recent years have been for friends’ children. At this age, unless you know the marrying couple well, your job at these things is to sit quietly, give a nice gift, don’t stay too late or hold up the receiving line and whatever you do, don’t propose any toasts. Actually, that’s not terrible advice for any age, although if you’re a close friend of the bride and groom, you can get away with a great deal more. But probably you shouldn’t go this far. (Malcolm Gladwell link; be forewarned.) Still, a funny read.

Steven Soderbergh is one of my favorite directors, and I watched the first episode of “The Knick” Friday night with optimism. This Grantland career appreciation is scarred with that plague of internet snarkers, i.e., gifs, but it’s still pretty good.

Finally, I was moving some boxes around and came across some old photos. Thursday is the traditional day for this, but seeing as how this was taken in Charlotte’s neighborhood, I thought I’d jump the gun by a few days. This was our 1988 vacation, which was spent half at Yellowstone National Park and half at a dude ranch down the Boulder River valley. The photo was taken on one of our most memorable rides, when we climbed an ordinary-looking hill and came out on some sort of bench — I think that’s the word — that went on forever. Rainless clouds covered the sky and the look, and the light, was remarkable. I offer this because I look a) young; b) happy; and c) even a little girlish, an adjective that stopped working for me well before my girlhood ran out. And because you can see why Charlotte prefers Montana to suburban Chicago.


Curly perm, double denim and that hat. It was a great day.

Have a good one yourself, all. See you back here tomorrow. I hope.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

45 responses to “The katydids of August.”

  1. Dexter said on August 11, 2014 at 2:23 am

    Seventeen years earlier and you could have been in the cast of “Billy Jack.”

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  2. Deborah said on August 11, 2014 at 5:37 am

    Love the photo, you’d fit right in New Mexico too.

    I must have missed the memo about Malcom Gladwell. Why should we be forewarned? I made an embarrassing toast at my oldest niece’s wedding, not the one who got married recently but her oldest sister. I called her Twinkie during the toast which was what her parent’s called her when she was a baby. I think I was getting back at my sister who called me Debbie during a toast she made at my wedding. For some reason I like making toasts at weddings. If you ever meet me in person, you’ll see that I’m pretty shy and public speaking usually terrifies me. But for some reason I like to give wedding toasts. Ok, it probably has something to do with the beverages served. Since the Twinky episode I’ve managed to keep quiet.

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  3. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 11, 2014 at 7:12 am

    Giddyup, pardner.

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  4. Sue said on August 11, 2014 at 7:43 am

    Two hotheads get involved in an altercation on a racetrack. Both are professionals, so much better drivers than normal people, used to handling vehicles in stressful situations and very much aware through training and experience that they are in charge of a dangerous machine and in a dangerous environment. Now the hothead who was not actually driving a vehicle is dead. When normal people get into car accidents, insurance companies and/or judges portion out responsibility. In this case, when one of those involved is a famous, expert, professional driver with a vocal fan base, responsibility may be a little more difficult to determine. Thank goodness he issued a statement through his representative about how there are no words; now we know how devastated he is. No charges at this time.
    So is this just a tragic accident or a case of ‘cars don’t kill people, people kill people’?

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  5. Basset said on August 11, 2014 at 7:45 am

    Nice scenery; I’d prefer to cross it in an antique pickup though, maybe an old Studebaker or International.

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  6. adrianne said on August 11, 2014 at 8:01 am

    I’d cast you in a Cormac McCarthy screenplay, but you look too damned cheerful. What a great picture!

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  7. alex said on August 11, 2014 at 8:22 am

    The wedding story was a good read (although it took me a while to get past Gladwell’s overuse of the word “this” where most people would use the word “a”) and what I found most remarkable was that an ostensibly straight guy could churn out college classmate nicknames with the facility of the bitchiest of bitchy queens. Gladwell didn’t venture there, but I wonder whether the groom was the sort who liked dick but liked the limousine lifestyle even better.

    I haven’t heard too many cringeworthy wedding tributes, unless you count the putrid pop songs sung during the ceremony by awful singers who are BFFs of the brides.

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  8. beb said on August 11, 2014 at 8:33 am

    Did you walk 45 miles of barb-wire?

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  9. brian stouder said on August 11, 2014 at 8:53 am

    A marvelous photo – and a million dollar smile!

    Jeff tmmo has a photo in the last thread of the greened-up landscape near Deborah’s neck of the…range – which reminded me of the Bad Lands – with the flatness punctuated by massive rock formations.

    The question for our Proprietress is – do you still have that pair of jeans?

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  10. brian stouder said on August 11, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Re Tony Stewart – mark me down as in full agreement with what Sue says! Sunday morning Grant (our 19 year old) was tuned into the pre-race show*, and all the talk was about the death of the 20 year old that Stewart hit. And – early on – the word was Tony Stewart was going to race at Watkins Glen, b’gosh! The position was – ‘oopsie! Killed a guy… sucks to be him’. I could feel the bile rising within me, especially some mid-level lip-flapper for NASCAR came out and equivocated and yammered for the assembled cameras and boom-mikes – and said essentially nothing.

    Grant and I agreed that, behind the scenes, NASCAR was no doubt telling the Stewart people something along the lines of “You ain’t racin’ today…and either you can tell the press, or we will” – and sure enough, about 30 minutes later, the Stewart people came before the cameras and said (essentially) “oh awright; we ain’t a’ racin’ tday, on account of the damned dead guy”.

    I have no opinion on the “accident” itself, except that, as stupid as it is to exit a relatively safe race car, so as to shake your fist at a moving race car on a live race track, Tony Stewart and his fans have absolutely zero-room to criticize such behavior…and NASCAR (et al) really must change the rules to severely penalize (NOT including the death penalty!) such behavior…except the fans love this stuff, and therefore NASCAR does, too

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  11. Julie Robinson said on August 11, 2014 at 9:34 am

    Not following racing at all, I don’t feel informed enough to have an opinion except that it was senseless. But non-risk takers don’t go into racing, do they?

    Malcolm Gladwell’s books have been the source of a lot of good discussions and I don’t understand why he’d risk his reputation by exposing himself as so immature and foolish. No matter how you feel about the bride, you don’t trash her at the wedding.

    Congrats on the weight loss! Love the old picture and the joy.

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  12. Jeff Borden said on August 11, 2014 at 9:47 am

    There were a couple of dirt track racing fans on the sports yakker this a.m. discussing the situation. Everyone agreed that the young man was an idiot for leaving the relative safety of his car, but there were a couple of suggestions that Stewart might’ve wanted to teach the youngster a lesson by spraying him with dirt but that his wheels got a little looser than he planned and wound up striking the kid. I don’t watch much in the way of automobile racing any more. . .there are Toyotas on the track but no Plymouths or Pontiacs? . . .but I always recall the famous line by the great Jim Murray when he was writing about the Indy 500.

    “Gentlemen, start your coffins.”

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  13. Dorothy said on August 11, 2014 at 9:58 am

    I’m not a racing fan but we did see the clip of the accident that stopped just before the brutal moment, and the first thing I said to my husband was “Man, that guy was just asking for it. Stupid, petulant behavior and brought about his own death.” It’s sad but he really acted like an ass for doing that.

    That’s a terrific picture but I just want to know if you still have that great hat?!

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  14. Jolene said on August 11, 2014 at 10:13 am

    Great picture, indeed. You look terrific, and also love the gold of the dry grass.

    Auto racing is at the top of a long list of sports whose appeal escapes me. Have seen some footage of Tony Stewart losing his temper at other races; he seems like a real charmer. But, heck, he probably wouldn’t like me much either.

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  15. Joe Kobiela said on August 11, 2014 at 10:25 am

    I’m a racing fan, and I like Tony Stewart, he slides up, young kid gets into the wall, happens every night in dirt track racing. Did Tony not see him walking down a dark track in a black racing suit and helmet? Very possible, did he see him and try and spray him with dirt? Very possible. There is only ONE person who knows what really happened and I think we will learn what happened in how he races in the next few weeks, if he didn’t see him I think he will race fine, if it was the other I think you will see a different type of driver. But saying things like,oh awright we ain’t a racing tday, implying nascar is just a bunch of hicks that don’t care is just plain wrong. I expect that out of maybe one person, but not by the one that wrote it.
    Love the picture
    Pilot Joe

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  16. Charlotte said on August 11, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Nice picture Nancy! (And yes, it is a “bench.”) Fingers crossed, so far, August has been mostly lovely. July was a bitch — hot, dry, windy, staticky — but the temps have broken just enough to make things bearable again. Down in the high 50s at night, which makes even the occasional daytime temps in the 90s something a person can live with. And we’ve even had some rain! Found 2 pounds of chanterelles the other day and looks like it’s just the beginning of the late summer/fall mushroom season. Still on the lookout for porcini.
    I know nothing about racing despite living with my dear departed brother during his 2 year tenure at Sears Point. He wasn’t a racing person — came in through the events business — and was always horrified by the bloodlust. Secretly, he used to burn a little sage over spots on the track where people had died — and where spectators had died too (lost 2 one year, a guy in his late 50s who just sat down and died of a massive coronary, and another guy in his 60s, who OD’d on heroin in his tent). God love the Sears Point fire crew though — six big guys who drove 2 days up from California for Patrick’s funeral and wake. You can always count on firemen to come to the funeral.

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  17. brian stouder said on August 11, 2014 at 10:44 am

    True enough, Joe.

    I was just amazed (and upset) that Tony intended to strap in and race at Watkins Glen, 12 hours after killing a guy.

    Indeed – I thought NASCAR was never going to let him, and then (in short order) he scratched.

    But the criticism of NASCAR that I stand by is – they market the crashes, and they encourage the fist-waving and feuding (“have at it, gentleman”) – up to some conveniently indefinite limit, that no one can define ahead of time

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  18. Connie said on August 11, 2014 at 10:57 am

    The video of the Stewart/Ward accident is all over the Internet and I managed to successfully NOT watch it. Till I stopped at facebook this a.m. and it autoplayed. Gee thanks.

    Excitement at our house this weekend, as my husband went down Friday night with what the emergency room tells him was a kidney stone. It passed while he was in emergency, and he says he got instantly better. Hoping for no more.

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  19. Julie Robinson said on August 11, 2014 at 11:20 am

    Yeah, I’m with Brian on this one.

    Of all the people I’ve known who had kidney stones, they’ve all said it was the worst pain ever. Worse than childbirth, worse than broken bones. So here’s hoping Connie’s hubby has seen the last of them.

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  20. Deborah said on August 11, 2014 at 11:29 am

    I went to a sprint car race once, hard to believe, me of all people. It was in Southern California with my husband’s daughter and her family. Her husband is a huge fan so we had to sit down front where you’re guaranteed to get covered in mud balls which fly up off the track. The cars are weird looking.

    Regarding the wearing of boots in summer: while in Santa Fe I wear my cowboy type boots all year round. It’s supper dusty here even in the middle of the city. I’m one of those people who hates to get my feet dirty and sandal wearing here would make my feet feel grimey. I wouldn’t wear those boots in Chicago in the summer though.

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  21. Deborah said on August 11, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Yes I a agree, I’ve had kidney stones and I’ve given birth, kidney stone pain is the worst.

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  22. brian stouder said on August 11, 2014 at 11:39 am

    Deborah – and not least – boots are good snake insurance!

    In my limited time out west, we came across two good-sized snakes (and hilarity ensued!).

    Honestly, I’d not wear sandals out and about in any case; and surely not where things slither along in the tall grass!

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  23. Sherri said on August 11, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    It would help with the argument that NASCAR isn’t a bunch of hicks that don’t care if NASCAR hadn’t tweeted out the following (since deleted):

    As for getting out of his car, I think it’s stupid, but go about 50 seconds in to the first video at this link and watch Tony Stewart himself get out of his car and walk over and throw his helmet at the car he got tangled up with:

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  24. nancy said on August 11, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    I would never in a million years call NASCAR a bunch of hicks, but it wasn’t that long ago that I learned just what a racket it is, owned to the last dollar by a single family, who manipulate their audience like carnival barkers.

    I think I borrowed that hat from somewhere, or maybe it was a cheap-ass p.o.s. from Wall Drug that didn’t survive much past the trip. A great hat can be part of a vacation memory, but it never survives the transition back home. As anyone who’s ever visited a Bahamian straw market can tell you.

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  25. brian stouder said on August 11, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    Wall Drug! Ha!!

    We spent an hour or two there, and had ice cream…and I had Pam take a picture of me next to a semi-creepy statue(?) of a ‘painted woman’ (think Mis Kitty in full regalia) – wherein I placed my hand on her left knee.

    We got home and looked at 40 year old photos of Pam’s family when they were there, and her dad posed with the exact same figurine – although her dress was painted a different color then(!!)

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  26. Pam (the sister) said on August 11, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    What I heard about the Nascar debacle was that there was a car in front of Tony Stewart’s car that was blocking his view. That car swerved to avoid hitting the driver who was running out on the track. So by the time Tony Stewart could see the guy, it was too late, he had already hit him. Anyone who has ever tailgated someone, knows this phenom. Bill was tailgating someone once who swerved to avoid 2 pieces of wood in the road (with nails) and Bill did not have time to react and ran over the wood and nails and voila! 4 flat tires. It was an expensive lesson. Looking at that video doesn’t give you the correct view, you would have to see the other side, but you can see the car in front swerve, and it certainly was extremely foolish to run out in the track. That’s a forever lesson. I thought it was in bad taste that Stewart was still planning to drive Watkins Glen, but then, he wasn’t.

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  27. brian stouder said on August 11, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    A semi non-sequitur (I was reminded by the rise in the background of Nancy’s photo) –

    is anyone watching Outlander?

    Pam loves (loves loves!) that book series, and formally requested that I watch the premier of the show with her…which I agreed to do*.

    It is on Starz – which she subscribed to just for this show (see * below) – and now all her Facebook friends are doing the post-show analysis.

    As for me, I thought it was interesting enough (the lead actress is quite beautiful, afterall) – although I’ve been reserved in expressing any opinions I may or may not have (see * below)

    *pretty clever on my part, eh?

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  28. 4dbirds said on August 11, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Kidney stones. The worst pain ever.

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  29. Scout said on August 11, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    I doubt there is much tall grass and snake action in Deborah’s Santa Fe ‘hood, but she definitely rocks those boots with those long legs! And Nancy is rocking the hell outta that hat and those torn jeans. Very cool picture!

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  30. brian stouder said on August 11, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    …The jeans, especially!

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  31. MichaelG said on August 11, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    Great picture, great smile!

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  32. Dexter said on August 11, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    Bassett @ #5… I’ll follow in my 1937 Plymouth truck which I have on hold until my ship (the lottery schooner) puts in at my port.

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  33. Dexter said on August 11, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    Basset @ #5…Bassett, an old friend of mine from Idaho bought a Wells Fargo truck back about 8 years ago , re-conditioned it, and drove it to Florida and back, repairing it along the way at friends’ garages and sometimes with help from interested total strangers who saw him broken down and simply helped him locate someone who was interested in antique cars. This was a couple years after he piloted a catamaran from Florida to Ireland, solo.

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  34. Wim said on August 11, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    I tried reading Dragonfly in Amber, back in the day. I had encountered Gabaldon on CompuServe’s LitForum, when she was riding high on the publication of what was then her first novel, and more unstinting self-adulation you would never encounter this side of David Gerrold. ‘My agent says I write the best Scots dialogue in the whole wide world!’ she blurted apropos of nothing, once, starting one hell of a drama with another author who wrote Scots dialogue and had the same agent. And fuck all those people in Scotland, they just don’t have the knack. Then it turned out to be your bog-standard Mary Sue time-traveling bodice-ripper. Okay, if you like that sort of thing. I can see how Starz would go for it, a good costume vehicle all a-clash with ringing steel and Scotch labials, liberally splashed with blood and sweat and semen. At least it isn’t vampires.

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  35. Deborah said on August 11, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    At least it isn’t vampires, great line.

    As Jeff tmmo commented last thread about the abundance of rain we’re getting in Northern New Mexico, it ‘s raining again in Santa Fe right now. The average rainfall for July here is 2.33 inches and we got 6.89 inches. So quite a lot more than usual. August is doing pretty well too so far too. It keeps the temps on the cool side. Everyone is hoping for an abundant snow pack in the winter but I’m too much of a pessimist to expect that.

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  36. Deborah said on August 11, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    Too many toos.

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  37. Little Bird said on August 11, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    Damn. I really enjoyed his work.

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  38. alex said on August 11, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    RIP Myrtle the “potato chip lady.” Johnny Carson may have served her up as a hick but she sure done Fort Wayne proud.

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  39. brian stouder said on August 11, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    Little Bird – isn’t that amazing?

    I don’t suppose death will ever be common-place and unsurprising…maybe that’s the definition of true anarchy – when death becomes normal

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  40. Dexter said on August 11, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    Gut shot is how I feel. I loved Robin Williams’ work, I aged along with him (almost same age) and I was a fan instantly the night “Mork from Ork” became part of the lexicon.
    Depression kills, my friends.

    God is weeping…I-75 and I-94 are closed in both directions as both freeways are flooded out in several locations.

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  41. brian stouder said on August 11, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    And I did not know that Robin Williams (and James Lipton, for that matter) are both native Detroiters, too

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  42. brian stouder said on August 11, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    Or Chicago!! (Lipton said Williams was a native of Detroit, and I believed him)

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  43. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 11, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    I believe there is a Mr. Nancy story about the Potato Chip Lady, is there not?

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  44. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 11, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    Ah, found it.

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  45. Sherri said on August 11, 2014 at 10:59 pm

    I’m not much of a fan of standup comedy with one exception: Robin Williams. He always made me laugh. I’m just so sorry that his incredible humor couldn’t save him from depression.

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