Category Archives: Weather

Chez Abattoir

I’m starting to feel like our animals are staging their own production of Sweeney Todd around here.

Guinevere is fast.  Really fast.  No squirrels yet but she’s way into double digits with rabbits and chipmunks.  Last week when I called her in at the end of the night, she wouldn’t come.  I looked out into the yard and saw a large furry lump that Guinevere was clearly guarding.  It looked too big to be a rabbit so I slowly made my way out.  It was a possum.  It didn’t look alive but then I remembered that old phrase “playing possum” and wondered if maybe it was really alive.  YA was out at that point and we managed to catch Guinevere and take her inside.  YA stayed in the yard (taking pictures) and within a minute the possum had raised its head and looked around.  Within 20 minutes it had moved to the very back of the yard.  In the morning, before we let the dog out, we checked and the possum was gone.  We figure that it wasn’t injured, but putting on a good show to throw the dog off.

Nimue is also on the rampage.  It’s that time of year when mice try to find a warmer spot (apparently a mouse can get in a hole that is half the size of a dime) and this year is not exception.  Like most cats, Nimue isn’t even remotely interested in the mice after she’s chased them around and then killed them, but it does mean that I’ve come downstairs in the morning to find the little lifeless bodies – several of them in the last week.  Unfortunately, when the cat gets busy during the night, the dog thinks she needs to go down to see what fun is being had without her.  Then there is barking and some mess making.  The last couple of nights, we’ve put up the gate at the top of the stairs to keep the dog from joining the mayhem.

Usually the mouse situation is a short term issue… in a couple of weeks, the mice will have found a warmer spot and the cat will stop leaving us little gifts. The backyard?  It will remain an abattoir as long as Guinevere on guard!

What’s the last musical you’ve seen?

Freeze Warning

The earliest 28° frost/freeze where we live can occur any time between late August to late September. Last Friday, the National Weather Service warned us that a killing freeze/frost could occur Monday and Tuesday nights, September 7 and 8. That is pretty early,  and all the signs were indicative of this calamity.

On Sunday, Husband and I harvested all the chard, green and red New Mexico peppers, red sweet peppers, and  any tomato that showed any inclination of ripening indoors. (Tomatoes that have been subjected to a frost when they are still on the vine should not be canned. It produces some enzyme that is contrary to safe canning.) That meant a trip to several  local liquor stores to get boxes for ripening tomatoes, as well as a search for canning jars. (There are no canning jars to be had in our town now, as everyone was scrambling to save their garden produce, too. )

We spent Monday figuring out how to maximize the canning jars and lids we still had, and to cook up  a couple dozen chili peppers for enchilada sauce. We covered bean poles with comforters and blankets, and also covered  pepper plants  and  cantelopes with old table cloths and a large tarp. So much for a restful Labor Day Weekend.

Tuesday morning dawned with frost covered roofs and droopy tomato plants. Similar cold temperatures are predicted for Tuesday evening, so we will leave everything covered until Wednesday. By then, warmer evening temperatures are predicted.

When has the weather changed your plans?

 

109 in Escondido

The number one attraction on our to-do list in San Diego was the Safari Park.  I had been there about 20 years ago, but as is typical of my travels, I didn’t get a long tour – just the back of a truck to feed giraffes.  While this was a fabulous experience, I had always hoped to get back for a thorough visit.

It was a 40-minute transfer up to Escondido and we had our ride scheduled so we would get there right at opening as the website had said that it was “first come, first served”.  We didn’t need to worry – the pandemic has definitely changed people’s leisure habits – it wasn’t crowded.  In fact, as the day wore on, there were fewer and fewer visitors.

The park is like a zoo, except fewer animals with larger habitats, separated into different areas: Gorilla Forest, Condor Ridge, Elephant Valley, Tiger Trail, etc.  Due to covid-19, all the various tours by safari van and truck were cancelled, so we were faced with getting through the whole park in one day.

We started with the Tiger Trail and that’s where we met the first of the volunteers stationed around the park to answer questions.  These are my favorite people; it’s always fun to ask questions and chat about the animals and the park.  The tiger in the photo is Rakan, a two-year old Sumatran tiger.  He came to the safari park when he was five-months old from the Smithsonian Zoo, after his mother aggressively rejected him.  For the entire time we stood and talked to the volunteer, Rakan laid majestically behind very thick glass, as if it was his turn for the photo op.  YA snapped this great photo.

As the day wore on, YA started to complain about the heat.  I was quite hot as well, but I thought it was probably just all the walking around.  I had looked at the San Diego forecast that morning – high of 85.  Well, turns out that when you drive 45 minutes north of San Diego, towards the mountains and desert, the high is a bit higher.  In fact, at 2 p.m., the temperature was registering at 109.  Yikes.  And the safari park is NOT built on a flat land.  I know that for every up we had a down, but by the afternoon, it felt like all we did was climb up!  We went through a lot of diet pop and water but powered through; who knows if either of us will ever get back to the park.  The other areas we really enjoyed were Condor Ridge, Elephant Valley and Gorilla Forest.  I suppose it’s not a surprise that there were great volunteers at all those locations.

It was a great day and I don’t think either of us have ever appreciated how cool 85 degrees feels after you’ve walked all over a safari park in over 100!

What animal do you like to visit at the zoo?

A Return to Normal

The weather guy in the Fargo Forum announced this week that we were soon to return to our “normal” weather  pattern of ten months of wind.  July and August are typically the least windy months here on the northern Plains. Oh yay! I can hardly wait for the wind to start blowing!

Our weather shifted abruptly on Thursday morning when we had a torrential rain storm with no wind or hail. It had been hot and dry for weeks. Now it is muddy. Tonight, lows in the 40’s are expected.  The birds are flocking.  Autumn is coming. It seemed like summer would never end. Now I wonder where it went so quickly.

I wonder what we will return to, weather-wise and society-wise, when things return to “normal”. The header photo is of the normal or Gaussian curve.

What are the typical weather patterns you remember when you were growing up?  What do you want “normal” to be like in your life come January?

 

 

The Vasa Syndrome

Header photo credit: Peter Isotalo  A 1:10 scale model of Vasa’s  elaborately decorated stern.  

On August 10, 1628, The Vasa, a brand new war ship commissioned by King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, set off on its maiden voyage from Stockholm. It got about a mile  into the harbor when a mild gust of wind tipped it over and sank it, killing about 30 sailors. It wasn’t salvaged until 1961. Quite a bit of the remains of the ship and much of its fittings and cargo are on display in a very popular museum in Stockholm.

The Vasa Syndrome is a term used today to describe modern institutional or business failure due to poor communication, unrealistic  goal setting, and lack of adaptability by management. Gustavus was off fighting a war in Germany and Poland, but kept making changes to the design of the ship, insisting, for example, that there be 84 bronze cannons when the ship could only hold 36. He wanted it built quickly, with elaborate decorations and carvings that showed off his grandeur and greatness on its multiple decks, the height of  which made it unstable in the water.  It was tested for stability in the water and failed the test, but was allowed to sail anyway.  It ended in disaster.  It seems things never change.

What are your experiences with the Vasa Syndrome? Got any good stories about boats?

In Memoriam – Our Little Jail Bird

It was this weekend last year that we lost of Little Jail Bird, Edith.  In her memory, I’m running her most iconic posting on the Trail.

 

Until last fall, I had never been to Banning State Park. I had driven by it dozens of time, because when I head up to my sister’s house, I always turn off 35W and take Highway 23 into town. I didn’t know much about Banning, but when I was looking for a day trip, it seemed to fit my needs perfectly.

First, I wanted a park where I could drive there and back in one day without getting too tired. Second, I wanted a park that didn’t involve driving several back roads, because I knew that I would be driving in the dark due to the shorter fall days and my night vision and sense of direction is bad enough that I would get lost unless I kind of knew where I was going. And third, I wanted a state park because I had a state park sticker and wanted to use it as much as possible to get my money’s worth out of it. Banning fit all of those qualifications. Plus it has a waterfall, which is a big plus in my book.

So, off I went, one sunny morning in October. When I arrived, I stopped at the visitor center to get maps and ask where the best spots were. I was so excited. It seems that often when I go north, I am early for the fall colors and often find myself driving home just a few days before “peak”  and this time I was not too early! I said something about that to the woman at the desk (while trying to not jump and down in excitement) and she shook her head woefully and told me in a discouraging tone, “You’re going to see LOTS of brown out there.” Gee thanks, way to burst my bubble.

Of course, since I drove all the way up there, I figured I better go on the hike anyway even if I would see mostly brown. I drove to the parking area and when I stepped out of the car and looked up, I knew it was going to be a good day (see header photo).

I hiked all the way to the falls and back and shot lots of photos. It was an incredibly beautiful day: that clear, deep blue sky that you only seem to see on autumn days and – surprise! – lots of colorful leaves on the trees. It can be a challenge shooting in bright sunlight, but I was so overcome by the beauty of it all that I just took that in my stride. There was that wonderful northwoods smell in the air – pine trees and dead leaves. Nothing like it! and nothing else invigorates me like that does.

 

It was getting pretty cool and the sun was going down quickly by the time I was heading back on the trail but the golden evening light only made things more beautiful and the colors more intense. I went home pleasantly tired and very happy and glad that the woman’s prediction of “lots of brown” wasn’t true.

Any comments / reflections welcome!

 

Here’s Your Hat – What’s Your Hurry?

My local library has begun to accept books back – there is a big bin outside the door during their open hours.  The books will be “quarantined” – until they are out of quarantine, they will stay on my account.

When I called the library last week to check out one of my curbside holds, I asked about the returns and the librarian told me to please not bring all 28 at one time.  So I’ve been stopping by and dropping off 4 or 5 at a time every day.

Yesterday on my way home, I passed a mother and daughter who were clearly headed toward the curbside check-out.  The little girl looked to be about five, maybe six.  At first glance I was thinking “why does this kid have on a hat in this hot weather?”  Then as they got closer, I saw that it was a unicorn hat.  “Aaaah…. never too hot for a unicorn hat!”

Forget the weather, forget hat hair.  What kind of hat will you wear today?

Dressed For The Occasion

Last summer, we had some torrential rains, and our downspouts were clogged with leaves. The water poured over the side of the rain gutter on the southeast corner of the house and made its way into an egress window and damaged the drywall and carpet in a basement bedroom. We made certain that the downspouts were clear after that, and I checked as recently as last month and they seemed clear.

On Saturday night, we had a thunderstorm and sure enough, the water was again pouring over the rain gutter on the southeast side of the house, so I alerted husband to come and get the ladder and the nifty, ratcheted downspout cleaner and help avert a disaster. Before he would go out, though, he insisted on finding and donning a certain 40 year old jean jacket. He says it is good for keeping the rain off.  So are his other coats, but no, it had to be this one.  I was frantic, and he wanted to be dressed for success! We cleared out the gutter in time. I suppose I should be grateful he risked life and limb on a metal ladder on the roof when it was raining and lightening, but honestly!

What article of  clothing has or had special significance for you? Averted any disasters lately?

I Know What I Know

Yesterday I added my eggshells to my bales.  I use a high nitrogen fertilizer on the bales and somewhere in the past I must have seen something (probably on the internet) that suggested added calcium in the form of eggshells to counteract that.  While I was setting the crushed eggshells around each plant, some of them were blowing away in the stiff wind.  This made me think about my friend, LeAnne.  I’ve known LeAnne for over 30 years and from the beginning I’ve known that she believes that if you get wind in your ears, you’ll get sick. I’ve never even tried to talk her out of this belief, because you can tell that she’s not willing to believe anything else.  In fact, just last week, she mentioned how she had felt bad all day because the day before she had been gardening and it had been quite windy.

As I stood there in the wind, watching some of the eggshells blow away, I realized that I am the same as LeAnne.  I know what I know and it’s not just about adding eggshells to my bales.   Snakes.  I didn’t want YA to have an irrational fear so whenever we were around snakes (zoo, children’s museum, etc.) I made it a point to “pet the snake” in her presence.  So my brain KNOWS that snakes are dry, but my brain also knows that they are slimy.  Airplanes.  I travel for a living; I’ve been on plenty of planes.  I have even researched lift and airplane engineering.  But I still know in my heart of hearts that on every single take-off, when the plane tilts for lift off, the tail of the plane is going to scrap the runway.  The fact that this has never happened, not even once, makes no difference. I know what I know.

Do you “know” something, despite evidence to the contrary?

Amazing Azalea

Like a lot of folks, I am spending a bit of my time each day walking the dog.  I live in a great neighborhood for walking, lots of yards, a creek, the parkway.  I try to walk by a certain house each day, as I love the garden.  The tulips there have bloomed and I can’t wait to see how the garden is blossoming day by day.

Then we walk back, taking a different route each day.  Yesterday morning we walked by a house with the most amazing azalea bush out front.  As I was taking the photo, the owner came out with her dog so I was able to tell her how beautiful the bush is.  She agreed and we went on our way.  It was just a few minutes in the day, but I’m still smiling when I think of it.

Have you had a moment the last few days?