Why so much heat in so many places, why now? To be determined...as 90 degrees and higher takes over and humidity most days is way up beyond comfort. What is the 'good' about summer anyway, except for the longer light.
Apart from the discomfort, what use, too, is the well-meaning off-putting question a person sometimes says to another person he/she knows only slightly. "How Are You?" or "How Have You Been?"
Well, I could say, "I've an itch in one eye that is bothersome but not fatal. My microbiome seems to have taken over my life, becoming unruly in the most embarrassing ways. It seems to have its own mind about things. And I've arthritis in one index finger that shows slight swelling. My bunion isn't getting any better either. Skin dry and liable to bruise at the slightest bump. "
Better perhaps might be the answer "Well, I know how I've been but how about you?" Wait to see what unfolds. You might get a litany of woes that will take your mind off your own physical and mental condition. Surely, that someone has troubles far more difficult than your own. You just have to ask.
Or maybe switch the conversation to: What are you up to? Because that is a more positive approach - the assumption that a person before you has energy, is not ailing, conceivably would like to talk about his/her own interests and might lead to a discussion of the interests you two have in common.
No photo needed - if you are alive and aware while walking the streets of the US capital city, called, dismissively, a 'District'. Much to see and appreciate if you are in good enough health to stomach the air, pollution, smoke, etc. Go out early or late. Another question often heard in social scenes: 'And what do you do all day?" That is directed at almost anyone without a Title, so beholden to denizens of the fabled bureaucracy. The implication is that, if a person is not noticeably employed, he or she must be 'subsidized,' whether privately or publicly, or in that indefinite phase called retirement. Hence, what comes often is a sense of freedom not to be pegged at all. Often a longtime resident finds he/she relates well to a neighborhood simply by being a longterm rental or owner. A more innocent inquiry such as 'where are you from? stems from a common assumption that no one likely has been born in the DC. It sparks a conversation along neutral lines and can lead to a rich conversation of one kind or another.
Or just look at the vitality of the sidewalks: the guardians of the pre-school age children going by in little wagons like trains or walking hand-in-hand in groups, all with their water bottles and (some) sunhat. Do they have sunscreen on them, I wonder? Are they even cognizant of their surroundings, with buses and cars whizzing by? Then the dog walkers doing choreography as they marshal their pets adroitly on pedestrian walkways. The Eastern Market plaza one morning was filled with young people dancing in some elaborate joyful formation in the tune of an inchoate boombox. The dancers singing in identical t-shirt each with a partner and some shorter ones matched with tall. Adolescents. "Singing for the Light," as the shirts read. What was this all about I wondered. "Singing for Jesus," I was told when I asked a woman standing by who looked like a chaperone. I didn't ask further, thinking maybe a Christian summer camp embracing public space with abandon. They looked thoroughly engaged, and happy. Likely they had practiced often together and took as their right the chance to show off on public property. Probably no permit was requested - likely not even required.
Having a sense of wonder: It's all about being in the moment. And understanding why that sense or abandonment to the scene is so difficult to acquire. How, perhaps, only with time and years a person can really learn to live in the moment, to appreciate diversity in the widest way. The shapes of people and buildings, the sounds of city or country life like a symphony (not always pleasant). To go with the flow. That terrible cliche that mindfulness 'experts' have exploited for gain. Whatever the conditions, a hot mid-summer time has some advantages. Fewer people in public, many on vacation. A better time to shop for the everyday necessities and repairs. Taking each day as it comes. Knowing you are at nature's whim in so many ways.
Take time to make time: engage others, try the small talk with strangers. Show a smile when the children go by. Say hello to dogs since their owners likely will respond. Make friends in superficial ways in order to improve your image of yourself. Surprise can be its own reward. It takes considerable self-effacement. .Create your own wellbeing by assuming strangers like to be surprised. It's primal.
So to the market on a Sunday afternoon for good cheese and sword bites but also to be a social animal. From the cheese man two slivers of the same kind of cheese (he drops it from a knife into my outstretched palm) and an exchange with a woman asking for something I don't quite get - it is her accent, rounded vowels. I look at her and smile as if to ask what she is ordering. 'It's my New Zealand accent," she confesses, and, yes, I say it is different from the Australian, at which point she smiles at my observation."Best place to get the best cheese," I remark and she nods in agreement. We could go on from there but by now her purchase is in her hand. Hooray for soccer I say - New Zealand now being host to women's soccer World Cup now getting frost page status.
I turn to leave so not to miss the chance to talk to the young man vendor at an outside stand the frozen meat (organic, etc.) and CBD bottles beside tables of wonderfully fresh greens and radishes. A vendor at the cheese stand inside suddenly appears - looking to buy. I pick up a $6 bag of basil - and I'm on my way home. At the traffic-free intersection, closed off on weekends, I stop to admire a small group of solidly mature men in red t-shirts singing accapella with a director offering introductory remarks before each tune. No pieces of music in sight. Simple old songs rendered full of heart. 'Take Me Back to West Virginia.." . So goes an amble through my 'hood. But I always look around carefully to see where the 'mystery man' - bearded and athletic - has claimed space for his shopping cart (and more) full of assorted (miscellaneous with a capital M) belongings. At one point, on a quiet sun-filled day, he sat fully clothes atop one of the splash pad's sprays looking fully content, almost like a portable statue.
So go the wonders of a city stroll.
Not so wonderful the slow release of water from a ceiling pipe above the downstairs kitchen and front 'sitting room.' It made me scared, unhinged - emotional than I expected - as though my own body were being invaded, stripped down. A sanguine plumber appeared the next day to rip apart the offending spot that sent a load of dirty water onto a plastic tarp on the floor. It's surreal and revelatory to be confronted by the floor boards of a 150-year-old wooden house. As though one were somehow looking back on the history of the manse. An encounter with ghosts in physical form. Solid and strong boards, one hopes, from a time when old hard trees were used for construction in my Capitol Hill neighborhood. The offending pipe not so much so - blackened with age, emitting ugly marks on pristine walls of white and gold. The plumber measures and saws a small copper replacement to stop the leak. A gaping hole remains for days - oppressive in its way of showing the fragility of things native to the world. I'm still shocked at my own fragility in response, confused about the source of my reaction. That big ugly gash - like a wound on the house and on my spirit. I did not calm down until two days later.
Closing out the longest month warmest (it seems to have been), I read a 'cool' story about the time recently a Los Angeles Tesla made waves (tracks?) in the small SE Montana town of Ekalaka, pop. 400, as reported in the state's very independent and substantial online publication called the Free Press. How a couple visiting a museum in that town were delighted to find unusually enough an electric charger attended to a public light post in what passes for a main street. Lo and behold the curiosity, fascination and disturbing revelation that perhaps this couple, innocently enough, were 'stealing' a considerable amount of the locale's electricity supply. Innocent because who would even be able to estimate the sum? Turns out that the conscientious couple appealed to authorities when asked if they knew what they were doing. (No,not really, just doing the usual necessary plug-in operation.) Somehow a calculation was made, so $60 was handed over to rectify their error....
Ah, the contrast between the large and small, the emotional and physical contrast for people like me who journey between such worlds.
An “unidentified electric vehicle” — actually a Tesla Model Y — accused of siphoning power from the local electric utility energized the gossip mill in the small eastern Montana town of Ekalaka last week, prompting front page newspaper coverage, a frantic apology and, in the end, much jawboning about the future of transportation in one of the most remote counties in the lower 48 states.