Dana Clark Music

Sick As TWO Dogs

November 2017



There is a phenomenon unique to Central Texas called "Cedar Fever."  With wicked glee Mother Nature sends it just when the broiling Texas summer heat lets up, just when the weather becomes so beautiful that it's almost impossible to stay indoors.  Some years I barely notice it, so I become blissfully oblivious of the danger when the next season rolls around.


I spent one afternoon in the chicken yard covering the cage for my adolescent hen with a second layer of chicken wire to protect the only Buff Brahma I have left.  Should I be grateful that our friendly neighborhood possum didn't kill them all?  Let me think...


The next day all my mucous membranes were lit up like Las Vegas--itchy and irritated and INFLAMED.  At this stage it's so hard to tell if it's a cold or allergy, and I was betting it was a cold.  Teaching music six days a week as I do there are plenty of opportunities for contamination as students and I trade instruments.  If someone sniffles more than once during a lesson I start to worry.     


With "defeat possum" scratched off my to-do list, I went on to "tub drain."  It didn't, and I was fed up. The problem was that the plumber I had employed when building my little house was a total amateur.  It was ME.  That's the hell of it.  If I did it in the first place, no one else on earth is going to know how to fix it, so it's up to you-know-who.  It's rotten being so eco-conscious that I have to re-use every drop of water that flows through my faucets. Washing machine, kitchen sink, bathroom sink and tub all run out into the yard somewhere to ease my conscience and keep green things alive.  Thank goodness I had lucked into that 5 lb pick axe at a yard sale.  I feel like John Henry when I sling it.  It's weathered and faded and very macho in appearance.  I fantasize that it FRIGHTENS my caliche soil into cooperating.   It is perfect for hacking out bad plumbing and replacing it with slightly less bad plumbing.  Besides, it's great aerobic exercise. 


By subtle clues in my so-called landscaping I was able to trace the serpentine path of the barely buried and too narrow PVC pipe and flexible vinyl hose that I had strung from the house to the large flower bed in the back yard.  The bed overflows with the one plant I can get to grow there, and I delude myself that it camouflages my lack of grass. With the maze-like mess exposed I marveled that anything at all had EVER drained from the tub. It was easy to spot the problem.  I must have been in a real hurry when I'd done the job in the first place.


I warehouse my building supplies in the back of the chicken yard next to the fence under the overhanging green roof of the Carolina Jessamine bushes.  To some people it might appear to be just an ordinary pile of crap, but I knew that in there SOMEWHERE were valuable left-over pieces from all the previous attempts to irrigate my yard.  Sure enough!  I found all the PVC and connectors I needed to straighten out the path of my gray-water plumbing.  No visit to the local home-depot necessary.  (Take THAT, Capitalist Swine!)  Pleased that my tendency toward pack-rat-ism had been validated, I called upon my childhood tinker-toy education and gleefully separated and rejoined components until my plumbing collage seemed perfect.


In a self-congratulatory mood, I troweled away uneven humps of dirt from below the new/old pipes and forced them down low enough that I could almost cover them with a thin layer of soil.  From a standing position, I could barely tell where I had put them.  And eventually the plants will grow back and cover the rest and no one will ever guess what lies beneath the slight ridge running away from my house.  I hope. 


The best part?  It was now my privilege to jump in the tub and rinse away all the dust and dirt that had adhered to me as I sweat like a pig during the pick-axe stage.  Boy, did I feel clean afterward.  And I blew my nose extra carefully just in case I had inhaled some of the back yard as well. 


But during all that aerobic exercise I must sucked in several forests' worth of cedar allergens.  The next day I woke up and wished I hadn't. 


Wasn't it ironic that the previous week I had finished recording the best lead vocal and harmonies I had ever done in my life?  I had worked hard to get my voice in good shape, warming up carefully every morning and exercising it now and then during the day.  I wrote down a long list of all the techniques I could remember that have improved my voice in the past, and diligently employed each one.  And it had all paid off!  I felt confident that I would be able to wrap up a few more recordings in no time at all. 


Croaking like a toad, I kissed those plans goodbye.  P'raps I could lay down some bass parts while I was sounding like Barry White with a cold, but as for anything else, I would be starting from scratch. 


It was all confirmed when my favorite appliance repairman arrived this morning to fix my leaking washing machine.  His nose was red and swollen and his eyes bloodshot.  He sniffled.  Yes, he told me, cedar fever had just arrived and it is supposed to be a bad year. 


At least now I can stop blaming my students.


Let's see--ear drops for the congestion and ringing, nose spray, eye drops for the irritation, mucinex DM as an expectorant, kleenex, Vicks, vitamin C, cough drops, humidifier, tea, honey, lemon, antihistamine, decongestant, cough syrup; windows sealed, AC on to filter air, outdoor forays kept to a minimum.  Gas mask?


Goodbye, Great Outdoors.