With hurricane season winding down, Mary Pramuk reminds us of what it's like to live through one:
"We remember one night of total silence and total darkness after Hurricane Gustav, when no refrigerator hummed, no chainsaw or generator was cranked up — just perfect quiet.
"A neurologist friend has said that the part of our brain that gives us hearing hates being unused. Maybe that's why we found our battery-powered CD player and put on Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, with its seven choral parts.
"Miraculously, we shed the agony of feeling too hot or cursing the dark. Even our familiar music took on a new and exciting dimension. I'm sure Willie Nelson, gospel music or whatever you love could do the same.
"Music is a great gift. We even share it with other mammals — they didn't start putting it in dairy barns for no reason."
Rainy day words
Courtland Chaney tells this foreign language story:
"In preparing for my new job teaching on U.S. military installations in Europe in 1980, I took introductory language courses in French and German at LSU.
“So often in class we would use sentences I thought were silly. I recall learning to say ‘Je mange l’ éléphant’ (I eat the elephant) in the French class and ‘Mein regenschirm ist kaput’ (My umbrella is broken) in the German class.
"How ridiculous it seemed.
“Many months later, I went into a German department store to buy an umbrella; and, after failing to locate the umbrella display, I found a sales clerk and simply stated ‘Mein regenschirm ist kaput.’ Of course, she directed me to the umbrellas.
"Clearly, education is never wasted. Who knows, maybe one day, I’ll eat an elephant."
Those crazy rodents!
Michael Hess says, "The recent tree rodent thread in your column made me think of this word:
"squir·rel·ly — Adjective relating to or resembling a squirrel: 'The chipmunks were little squirrelly things.'
"Informal: (1) restless, nervous, or unpredictable.
"(2) eccentric or insane.
"I'm going with No. 2 here."
The breaking point
T. Phillips, of Kenner, refers to my tale of breaking my shoulder (or, as we amateur physicians say, "Sustaining a glenoid fracture") by falling out of bed after my morning coffee:
"Your accident may hinder my insurance business. Because of the ever rising cost of health insurance, I found a company that sells much less expensive 'specific act' policies.
"I was going to sell a 'specific act' policy that covers any injury as a result of falling out bed of because of consumption of coffee.
"But because of your exposure to thousands of readers on your mishap, the government may take note of your situation and require bed manufacturers to imprint on headboards the following: 'Drinking coffee in bed may be hazardous to your health!'
"If this happens, so much for selling that kind of 'specific act' policy."
Special People Dept.
Louise S. Walder, of Slidell, celebrated her 90th birthday Monday, Oct. 23.
Tony Falterman, of Napoleonville, says, "When I was first elected Assumption Parish sheriff and prior to taking office, I was invited on a duck hunt with several of my friends and supporters from Pierre Part.
"We loaded up in an open boat and headed out to the Atchafalaya Basin to spend the night at a camp before the morning hunt.
"Since I didn’t know the Spillway, I sat next to the driver to learn the way, and several others sat in a couple of seats behind me. Ducks took off intermittently along our route.
"Suddenly, I heard the sound of a shotgun blast behind me. Startled, I turned as my good friend (now deceased) Tony Dugas was putting down his shotgun.
"He had fired at a duck from the moving boat, which is a serious federal migratory law violation.
"I immediately said, 'Are you crazy? I haven’t even taken my oath of office and you’re going to get me arrested.'
"He looked at me, took a sip of his beer and said, 'I just wanted to see how you would react under pressure.'
"Any wonder why my hair is WHITE?"