9/4/06

It isn't raining rain, you know

...it's opening our doors. Thank heaven for a wonderful day of steady, gentle rain. Since about three this morning it has been soaking into our parched soil. This is the best gift we could receive for Labor Day. Our labors hauling soaker hoses around our homes to water our foundations have gotten a reprieve.

Texas foundations still annoy me, although I've lived atop this clay soil for sixteen years. We've landed a man on the moon. We've built earthquake-resistant buildings in California and Japan. Lowe's is selling Katrina Cottages for hurricane regions. You would think we could build homes to withstand the shifting clay soils of North Texas.

Want to know when your teen arrives home late at night? Move to North Texas! No door will ever open without a loud grating sound that would wake any mama. Worried about security? Any burglar who attempts to budge the front door will be in the emergency room with shoulder injuries. We don't get carpal tunnel syndrome. We get portal struggle syndrome.

Some parts of the country are believing the old Morton Salt slogan, "When it rains it pours." The world seems upside down with flooding in El Paso and in the Hatch valley of southwest New Mexico. Maybe Al Gore has it right when he talks about our extreme weather in recent years being related to global warming.

An alternate explanation for our extreme weather may be that normally sane people have begun to do the unthinkable. Yes! Folks have started throwing away their accumulated of National Geographic magazines.

Your mom told you not to ever, ever, ever cut pictures out of the "National G" about the same time she taught you not to run with scissors. Your father assumed a bearing of gravitas when he explained that it is each generation's duty to retain and add to the family's chronologically arranged collection of The National Geographic. Unfortunately, he didn't explain why.

It was many years later when I first heard what I thought was a joke:

If everyone threw away their National Gs, the earth's axis would shift, the poles would reverse, the force of gravity would be altered, and the planet would be thrown out of its orbit.

We slapped our knees and said, "Woo-hoo, that's a good one!"

It got so libraries and schools didn't accept donations of National Gs. Half Price Books wouldn't pay you for them, even after you hauled them up from the basement, loaded them into the trunk, drove across town to the store, and hoisted them up to the sales counter. It was darn right discouraging, and so you said, to heck with your father's warning. You threw them in the nearest dumpster. Who could blame you?

I hear creaking and moaning. The sounds of an axis shifting. Tsunami and cataclysm, deluge and other spelling words! I hear Pluto's faint voice across the redefined solar system explaining that Plutonians had arrogantly discarded their amassed National Geographics. I hear similar bubbly warnings from the submerged sages of Atlantis.

The creaking and moaning are actually the sounds of my fireplace trying to migrate from this condo to the one across the parking lot. The building is twisting like a wrung-out wash cloth. I'm not alone, as the Dallas Morning News reports in "Foundation Firms See a Shift in Business". The whole region is cracking and creaking. It's a mess.

Amassed magazines might provide a solution. Those heavy stacks dating back before Sputnik could be used to weigh down our concrete slabs, or submerged under the foundation as recycled periodical piers. Put down those scissors. I'm being serious here!



Gravitas is from the Latin gravitas, "heaviness, seriousness," from gravis, "heavy, serious."

1 comment:

Genevieve said...

We have six 8-foot-long shelves in the hallway devoted mostly to National Geographics. My husband inherited a collection that began in the 1930's and ran into the 1970's, and when he graduated college in 1979, his parents gave him a lifetime subscription. They could go anytime and it wouldn't grieve me.

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