Monday, July 26, 2010

The Dawning of a Brand New Day

The sun rose over Lake Michigan early this morning. We watched, while swatting mosquitoes, as the sky went from midnight blue to pink and orange and purple to the pale blue of morning.
Yesterday, we had perfect, lovely weather -- not too hot or humid, and delightfully sunny. As the sun set to the west, a full moon rose in the east. The night cooled down to make sitting by the fire comfortable and welcome. (Although there were mosquitoes then, too.) I hope that this beginning means a blessing on our marriage.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Just Twisted.

It's been a great while since I've sat down and written. We went through weeks of no rain and wilting plants, but made up for it last night, as I shall explain. At 10:45 pm, which is nearly my bedtime over the summer (and past it during the school year), we received an automated phone call from the fire department. It notified us that tornadoes had been sighted in our area and that all residents should seek shelter in their basements or interior areas of the house. So, we gathered our cats -- not an easy task... though they are in general quite loving and social, especially for cats, they seem to know when they are being pursued for the purpose of containment. Although they cannot tell the difference between the evil carrier-to-vet type of containment and the benign go-to-basement-(where-you-spend-time-anyhow)-to-save-your-life type of containment. Anyhow, with only one scratch on Chris, we got them, and ourselves, downstairs.

For almost an hour, we sat there, cleaned and chatted and puzzled and whatnot, sometimes jovially and other times -- like when we heard loud booms from above -- in fear. The booms turned out to be thunder, not the house falling down or some sort of disaster-burglar taking advantage. So. I finally asked when this little drill would be over. You see, I sort of had to pee. We don't have a bathroom in the basement, although, as Chris pointed out, there is both a litter box AND a floor drain. Not amusing. So, would the fire department call back? Chris thought they would, although neither of us had any experience with this form of tornado alert system. For everyone's future reference: They don't call back.

But we didn't know this, so we sat there and waited a bit longer. Eventually, we decided to venture upstairs and check some sort of media to determine if it was safe... and use the bathroom. It seemed fine outside and inside, but the television told us that our area was in a tornado, flood and thunderstorm warning zone until 7 am. OK, then... We gathered pillows and a DVD, and headed back down stairs. I creatively commandeered some camping gear and set up a sleeping mat and blanket bed under a table (in case the house fell while we were sleeping). And so, around 12:30, we settled in for a long night on the floor of the basement with the spiders and the millipedes.

This lasted about 1/2 hour. The sleeping mat, which fit perfectly under the table, was really not large enough for two people, even on our sides. The blanket wasn't warm enough. But we toughed it out until we heard, right by our heads, a retching sound. And another. Ah, bueno. Cat barf. And it was smelly. Chris found the light (it is really dark in the basement at night) so that we could see to clean the vomit, which was on my puzzle. Really, kittens?

In the end, we decided that we probably weren't going to be in the path or a tornado. In fact, when we went upstairs, it was so calm that the tree branches weren't even moving, and it pretty much remained that way for the remainder of the night. We got some hard rain this morning, as well, and by 11 am it was sunny.

Time to assess the damage. In the time I've lived here I've had tomatoes and peppers blow over, sunflowers fall down, large branches land on the lawn, all the normal things you'd think would occur in Illinois summer storms. But this storm? Hardly did a thing. One pepper plant snapped off -- it was already staked because of its tendency to fall over under its own weight -- so now I have many, many too-small peppers to use. Otherwise, everything is fine. Including a lone sunflower I have that is, no exaggeration, 12 feet tall, and not surrounded by other plants or staked. So, it was a bust. I haven't talked to anyone else who experienced any damage, but I haven't talked to that many people.

I feel pretty lucky that all this happened last night, and it's supposed to rain some more tonight and tomorrow, and then Sunday is supposed to be sunny and high around 80 F. We are getting married outside on Sunday, so I sure hope that prediction rings true! Perhaps I"ll post pictures, at least of what flowers are blooming that day. (Note to self: charge camera.)

Other things that have happened since I've last blogged:
  • I have seen a lot of dragonflies, including a few unusual ones like a halloween pendant or a painted skimmer -- something with orange and black mottled wings -- what did not let me photograph it.
  • We have whiteflies in the garden, mostly on the cucumbers, which I'm sort of OK with since I've already made a whole year's worth of pickles and we're going out of town next week, but I don't want them to move to my birdhouse gourds, which are doing GREAT and I want to get a lot of gourds so that I can make a lot of birdhouses. We got lacewings and set them free today, so we'll see.
  • Also in the garden, we harvested garlic and are getting some tomatoes, tons of beans, some peppers, carrots, etc. In addition to lots of jams and pickles, this year I have canned carrots, green beans, and jalapeno peppers.
  • Silphium of all varieties are in full bloom. But my own compass plant is not blooming, because its head was tragically chopped off by friendly fire in a rain barrel installation incident. It is growing a new one, so I may get flowers yet.
  • Joe Pye weed is blooming, and... on and on and on... it's mid-summer. It's hot and lots of things are blooming!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Time Marches On ...

The first blazing stars opened maybe a week ago. Ironweed opened a few days ago. Silphiums are in full bloom... I'm not sure why I haven't felt like writing about it.

I can't believe summer break is 1/2 over. So not fair.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Bugs and Other Things

I found this female common whitetail today in the parking lot at Lowe's. It was moving but looked a little worse for the wear (her head was a little wonky looking). I rescued it and released it near a little pond, so in my brain she made a full recovery and is doing well! (Her wing is fine there, just caught in a breeze. And, the males actually do have white abdomens; on the females, the name seems rather odd.)
This question mark was also looking a wee bit wobbly when we found it on Tuesday, but may have been OK. Who knows? I was struck by how hairy its wings were in the center.
The monarchs -- this one and several others -- all looked healthy and happy, feeding, dancing with each other.
These are interesting berries, no?
Wild bergamot blooms.
A wild onion flowers, picture taken from underneath...