Scarlet Indian Paintbrush

Scarlet Indian Paintbrush

It was another dark and stormy night, but no tornados this time. The first thunderstorm wave creeped in at four in the morning and then hung around until past dawn. Then there was a brief lull, before the second wave came through and lasted throughout most of the day. Some wind and lots of rain, but nothing severe. Although, after the storms had pretty much passed, I stuck my head out on the back porch and noticed that a lot of tree limbs had fallen. Nothing super big, but about half-a-dozen good size branches that were scatter over the backyard. That was yesterday. Today, is delightfully cool and also much drier. What we call cabin weather. I collected and cut up all of the downed branches, making littles out of bigs. Unfortunately, I had already filled up the yard waste bucket, with trimmings before the storms, so I went shopping for yard waste bags. I first tried the grocery store, but they must consider the bags to be a seasonal item and they didn’t have any. Then I tried Menards. The Menard store is relatively new here. When we first bought our house there weren’t any big box hardware stores nearby and this was at a time when we were fairly active doing home improvement. Mainly there were only little mom and pop stores that were never open on Sunday and one nearby lumber yard that wasn’t open on the weekend at all. There was a Missouri based chain of big box hardware stores, called Central Hardware, that one of which was on the way home from work. The quality of their building supplies was pretty poor, but there weren’t any alternatives about, but Central Hardware went bankrupt in 1990. Eventually, a Home Depot was put in about a mile away from home and I was happy with that. Next came a Lowes, but we don’t shop there for political reasons. After the Menards was added, Anne informed me that Home Depot was now also politically verboten. The Menards is fine, except it is impossible to find anything there without asking someone. It does have one neat and unique feature, a pair of escalator-like ramps that can take shoppers with carts up and down, because it has a second floor. Today, I had to ask two people, before I finally found the yard waste bags. I bought two sets of bags, instead of just the one that I needed.

False Indigo + Orange Tufts

Desert False Indigo and Honeybee with Orange Pollen Tufts

It was a dark and stormy night, part of which we spent sheltering in the basement. A line of thunder-boomers came to town, advancing up farty-far, from the southwest. As they approached the red tornado boxes began popping up. The first one had us just outside the line, but the second one had us square dap in the middle of it. My iPhone began to screech something horrible, and the tornado siren began wailing outside. Anne had already scooted off the couch, with its three west-facing windows directly behind it and was watching the frantic TV weather broadcast well away from said aperture. It was time to go to the basement, which is still quite cold, don’t you know? So, Anne ran upstairs again to fetch her vest, against my objections. Our tornado warning was slated to last forty-five minutes, but we got sprung after only half-an-hour, I guess for good behavior. The TV weather marathon continued on into the night as the storm front with its attending red and yellow boxes keeping pace, as this weather event marched ever eastward across Illinois. Earlier in the day, we had setup our furniture back up again on the porch. We reinstalled the swinging bench together and I hung the new windchime that Frank and Kathy had given us last Christmas. With its tubular bells, it makes a lovely dulcet tone that this morning somehow reminds me now of the wind sculptures that Hellen Hunt’s aunt made in the movie Twister. Tonight, we get to repeat this drill all over again.

Hot, Hot, Hot

White Sands’ Dunes

“It’s gonna be hot and wet! That’s nice if you’re with a lady, but it ain’t no good if you’re in the jungle.” — Adrian Cronauer, Good Morning Vietnam

It has gotten hot here in Sweat Louis. Hotter and earlier in the season than usual. We set a record earlier this week, a new all-time high for one of the weekdays. In addition to that we got a heat index of over a hundred. Plus, the following day’s low was also a new high. But it is supposed to cool off next week, so we will get a temporary reprieve, before summer begins in earnest here. 

California Poppies Closeup

California Poppies Closeup

On this day three, we four (Dad, Chris, Anne and I) trooped down the coast to Big Sur and more particularly, Nepenthe. This restaurant was already a thing when my parents first lived in Monterey, in the fifties. Originally, a lodge for a local trail club, the property was once owned by Orson Wells, who bought it as a wedding present for his then bride Rita Hayward, while he was writing the screen play for Citizen Kane. The sixty miles between Big Sur and Randolph Hearst’s castle at San Simeon was as close as he felt safe approaching. Their marriage didn’t last long and the property was acquired by the family that has ever since owned it. The restaurant signature Ambrosia burger were again standard fare for Dad, Chris and me. Anne also repeated her section of their excellent cheese board. Chris recognized a server who turned out to be their go-to waiter at their mainstay restaurant Rio Grill. I introduced myself to him, pandering to the help, as I had learned from my mother. He didn’t know me from Adam, but he easily recognized both Dad and Chris. This personal touch led him to intercede throughout most of our meal, much to the chagrin of our regular waitress. The coastal highway, Route 1, is perennially troubled by landslides. A permeant sign in Carmel indicated that all points south were open, but there were plenty of construction delays, where the two-lane highway went done to one-lane. It has been unseasonably warm here since we’ve arrived, with yesterday’s high in the nineties. There is no mechanical air conditioning at the house, but there are work arounds. First the relative humidity here is only 20%. So, if it gets hot during the day, it quickly cools off at night. We are situated at 1100’ between the inland Carmel Valley and the northern slope down to the ocean. That geography, plus the topography of the house that cascades down the northern hillside, creating a well of coolness, offers ample opportunities for natural air conditioning. All you have to do is open a sliding glass door, but then you have to get up in the middle of night to close them, when it gets too cold.


Women’s Whitewater Kayaking – Vail 2017

I dove head first into the photo archives and fetched out this photo from 2017, our first post-retirement road trip out west. We only went as far west as Utah and Arizona on this sally and on our way west, we overnighted in Vail, which initially was somewhat disappointing, it being in the middle of one of its shoulder seasons. But we did manage to catch a series of wonderful whitewater races there. They raced, kayaks, rubber rafts and paddle boards. There were both men’s and women’s heats, usually with three racers. The object of each race was to paddle downstream on the creek that ran through town, at the finish was a suspended pole that must first be circled and then out-of-frame to the left was a bell to be rung to win. As in this race the leader (orange kayak, green jacket) is almost around the pole when the other competitors arrive and block any further progress with the ensuing melee. The other orange kayak is the lifeguard.

I picked this picture in honor of the Winter Olympics, which are winding down this weekend. Even though the photo was shot in June, the icy waters of Gore Creek seemed to make it more reminiscent of a winter than summer sport. Yesterday, we got an ice storm. It started off as rain, tuned to sleet and then snow. Afterwards the bottom dropped out with the temperature and what was slush turned to ice. Today, I began digging us out. Really, all I did was sweep away the loose snow on top, lowering the albedo of the walks and the car. Today, is a bright sunny day and is forecasted to hit forty for a high this afternoon. I figure that by then, most of the ice will have melted and that that hasn’t would be much easier to remove then. I plan on refraining from egregiously idling to defrost the RAV4 and hopefully avoid another rodent infestation too. This activity will have to suffice for today’s exercise, even if it is not quite up to Olympic caliber, because it is still too icy to go walk about.

The 10 Grossest English Words

Ethel Walk

It started raining on Tuesday, which turned to sleet overnight. It continued to sleet most of Wednesday. Wednesday night and all-day Thursday it snowed. In the end, I measured seven inches, which is seven more inches than we’ve seen all winter. Yesterday, during the day, a young man knocked on the door and offered to shovel our walks. For twenty bucks, it seemed like a deal. He did a good job, but since the snow kept falling afterwards, in a few hours, it was hard to tell that anything had been shoveled at all. Later Anne and I walked to the grocery store. The headline on the front page of the paper was an order to “Stay off the roads.” It was accompanied with a rather humorful photo of some fool motoring his moped down a rather snowy roadway.

Unfortunately, the half-plowed roads were the only decent place to walk. We tried walking on Clayton, but a pair of passing County snowplows made us jump back and we retreated to the less well plowed neighborhood streets that were also much less trafficked.  Most stores were closed, and the grocery store was only operating at reduced hours. We got a few things and trudged back home again, managing not to land on our butts. The storm sewer that runs beneath Ethel Walk normally looks rather gross, but with a fresh blanket of snow, it looked almost beautiful. Today, I shoveled the walks again and dug out the car. After much egregiously idling I was able to get the ice mostly off its windows and now it is ready to go, except that we’re not going anywhere now.

Yesterday, on HuffPo I spied an article from the language learning website Preply. This article identified the ten grossest words in English, as determined by a poll. Almost all of the words have to do with bodily fluids. Most women found pus to be the grosses word, while most men disliked seepage the most. Jane’s favorite, phlegm, is sitting proudly in the number two spot.  

  1. Pus – A white/yellowish liquid formed on the site of a wound or infection.
  2. Phlegm – liquid secreted by mucous membranes.
  3. Seepage – The slow escape of a liquid or gas through porous material.
  4. Moist – Sightly damp, wet, or humid.
  5. Splooge – An abrupt discharge of fluid. 
  6. Fester – Of a wound or sore that becomes septic; suppurate.
  7. Mucus – A slick secretion produced by and covering mucous membranes.
  8. Ooze – Fluid slowly trickle or seep out of something.
  9. Putrid – Organic matter decaying or rotting and emitting a fetid smell
  10. Curd – A dairy product obtained by curdling milk. Can substitute soy.