Sunday, February 27, 2005

Rain Revisited

Yesterday, I thought the rain was over, but it had only just begun. Late on Saturday night, as I was settling down in bed, I could hear it pouring down outside my open window. The skies had looked threatening all day, but I thought that it was going to turn out to be an idle threat. Apparently the downpour was waiting for the cover of night to cut loose.

Thankfully, the rain wasn't blowing in through the window, so I was able to leave it open. I just love to sleep with a fresh breeze blowing in. Soon enough it will be too hot to survive without air conditioning; the house will be a sealed, icy tomb all summer. I want to enjoy the "window weather" during these precious months when the windows can be wide open to let in the fresh air.

The cats were fascinated by the falling water. We have a cat tree in front of one of the master bedroom windows that gives them a perfect vantage point to see the back door awning and the yard below. They love to be by the open window just about anytime, but the rainstorm made it even more interesting for them. For me, the sound of the rainfall was soothing; it lulled me right to sleep.

In the morning, the rain was still coming down. It was heavy enough to create a waterfall running off the back door awning, which the cats were watching as though it was an exciting television show. My husband looked up the local radar online, and we were under a patch of bright green, indicating lots of precipitation. I knew that we wouldn't be doing any outside activities today.

We slept in, or rather my husband did. I woke up first and spent some quiet time reading. I had stocked up on some new true crime books yesterday, so I plunged deep into an Ann Rule tome. She has written such excellent books as "The Stranger Beside Me" (the story of her personal experience with executed killer, Ted Bundy, with whom she worked on a suicide crisis line) and "Small Sacrifices (the chillinh tale of Diane Downs, who shot her three children and tried to blame a "shaggy haired stranger" for the cold-blooded act). A co-worker introduced me to Ann Rule's books several years ago, which eventually led to a general taste for true crime. I think it appeals to the psychologist in me; I am continually amazed at the acts some human beings are capable of, and through these books, I try to understand how and why. Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer, but the books are as addictive as a train wreck. You know that it's know that you shouldn't look...yet you are compulsively drawn in.

I eventially got my husband hooked on true crime, too. He loves televisions shows like "CSI," so I knew that real-world investigations would appeal to him. My favorite books are the ones that run 400, 500, or even 600 pages and go into the most minute details of the investigation and trial, as well as into the backgrounds of the victim(s) and killer(s). I never get bored with even the most mundane details. Every fact, no matter how minor, is a brush stroke that is integral to the creation of the entire portrait.

I knocked out a couple of hundred pages in a book called "If You Really Loved Me." I thought I had all of Ann Rule's books, but amazingly, I somehow skipped over that one. Now I was devouring it voraciously, eager to plow through the 600 hundred pages. As I read it, I realized that I'd previously read a book about the same crime, written by a different author. Many books cover a case in a very cursory manner; I like the ones that do a more lengthy, thorough job.

I also enjoy biographies; two of my favorites are the biography of Dave Thomas, the late founder of the Wendy's hamburger chain, and "My Life Without God," by Bill Murray (no, not the Saturday Night Live alumnus...the son of famous atheist Madayln Murray O'Hair and the subject of the court case banning school prayer). I also love the "Princess Sultana" books, which tell the true story of a female member of the Saudi royal family. They offer a frightening portrait of what it's like to be a woman in the Middle East.

I haven't been able to bring too many of my books from Chicago to Celebration yet. I have a volumnous collection, so I'll have to figure out how to fit in some bookcases first.

Eventually my husband decided to join the World of the Waking. On Sundays, I like to go out for breakfast; my favorite choice is Max's (Market Street Cafe) in downtown Celebration, but they only serve items from their breakfast menu until 11:30 p.m. Since my husband had slept in past 11, there was no way we could make it, short of skipping our showers and speeding over in our nightclothes. I figured that might be viewed as an anti-social act by our fellow patrons, so I made an alternate choice.

International House of Pancakes was definitely out, since I had a scarring experience there recently. Between waiting over an hour for food and encountering the second-most filthy restroom that I've ever seen in my life (the most filthy was at a beach on Lake Erie in Ohio), I have no desire to go back to IHOP in the near future. Besides, their version of blueberry pancakes means regular pancakes with fruit topping slathered over them. Max's does it the right way, putting the blueberries in the batter.

We've had better luck at the Waffle House, which is right across from Celebration, in the same area as IHOP. It's a chaotic place; you seat yourself, which can be a mob scene when the restaurant is crowded. The menu is somewhat limited, but they serve real waffles, and we usually have good luck with the service. I wish they served blueberry waffles, but your choices are only plain or with pecans. Oh well, by the time we got out of the house it was well after 1 p.m., so beggars can't be choosers.

On the way, we passed downtown Celebration and noticed that one intrepid merchant had braved the rain to set up at the Sunday Farmer's Market. Actually, on this day, that one merchant was the whole Farmer's Market. They were selling fresh produce and actually had a fair amount of customers. I pulled over, and my husband ran out to stock up on juicy, ripe tomatoes and cucumbers.

Once of the advantages of living in Florida is fresh fruit and vegetables all year 'round. My husband and I are both tomato connesuiers, and we hate the dry, tasteless red balls that are passed off in the Midwest during the winter. We always paid more for the "vine ripened" variety, which are a little better, but nothing beats a fresh tomato just plucked out of the yard. Now we can finally enjoy the bounty of a warm climate, even in February.

We continued on to the Waffle House, where only a couple of other booths were occupied. Oddly enough, the service was slower than I've ever seen it, even when it is crowded. There were lots of workers, but I'm not sure exactly what they were doing. I ordered a pecan waffle combo, which comes with bacon, grits, eggs, and toast. I love getting sunny side up eggs and smooshing toasted bread in the runny yolks...mmmmm! A cholesterol nightmare, but a genuine taste treat. I only nibble at the bacon and grits, and I don't touch the egg whites, but I clean up every bit of the toast and golden yolks.

My husband wasn't in the mood for breakfast food, so he had ordered some kind of steak melt. He prounouced it very tasty, with nice, lean meat.

After we ate, we planned to run over to the Racetrack gas station next door to pick up a Sunday newspaper. I own a cockatiel, Bradley, so I buy a paper every couple of weeks to keep him well supplied. When we are home, we allow him to be outside of his cage. He has a wooden jungle gym on top, but I festoon it with newspaper to help keep it clean. For some reason, he also likes to chew on newsprint and create elaborate rippled patterns, using his beak like a pair of pinking shears.

Of course, the moment we stepped out of the restaurant, the light drizzle immediately became a drenching shower. It reminded me of that scene in "The Truman Show" where the downpour follows the title character. We jogged over to the store and managed to grab a newspaper and get it back into the car with minimal sogginess.

Eventually, the rain died down. My husband loves to bike, and he was getting cabin fever, so he took advantage of the lull to take his bicycle out. I took one look at our bushes bending in the driving wind and decided not to join him.

One of our neighbors called to see if we wanted to come over to watch the Academy Awards. Unfortunately, my husband had been negligent in his work all weekend, so now, on Sunday night, he had to make up for it. We went out for a quick dinner at T.G.I. Fridays in the Crossroads, across from Downtown Disney, and then he chained himself to his computer upstairs. But I know he was sneaking a few glances at the awards show because he hollered down to me to turn it on for the fashion award (Edna from "The Incredibles" was presenting it) and also to announced that "The Incredibles" had won the Best Animated Film award. I breathed a sigh of relief; I was afraid that "Shrek II" might take it. I liked "Shrek," but I love "The Incredibles," with its message against celebrating mediocrity and hiding your light under a barrel. Along with "Lilo and Stitch," it's my favorite Disney movie of all time.

It looks like the rain is over; I'm sure that the sun will be back on Monday, just in time for our return to work. The bright rays will dance enticingly outside the windows while we are stuck working inside. Such is God's ironic sense of humor. Oh well, I'll never complain too much about rain in February. I'll just remind my self: It could be could be snow.

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