The Green, Green Grass of Home

Ninebark

So far, on this very rainy weekend, we have managed to get our walks in. Friday when we walked, it was threatening enough that there weren’t very many other people about, which in these socially distancing times, is kind of a blessing. On Saturday, the morning was so much nicer and there was a forecast for afternoon storms, meaning everybody and their brother were out-and-about. We bumped into neighbor and fellow cyclist Mary. She was out on her bike, while we were on foot. She was on her way home and warned us that Wydown was a zoo. We spoke with her for quite a while, as various other people moved around us.

Since because of the crowd that was out, we cut our walk short, well short of my desired steps. I then decided to mow the lawn. Which was a good idea, because it was shaggier than I had realized. Afterwards, I seeded and fertilized the front lawn. This is another of my gardening projects for this summer. There is a series of houses up the block that have beautiful lawns, perfect monocultures. When we walk by them I am green with envy, but not as green as their grass. I am hoping that by the end of he summer mine will more closely approach theirs.

As I was finishing up on the yard, a steady rumble of thunder could be heard. Checking the radar though showed that like Indians circling the wagon train, these storm cells continued to go around us. I wanted some rain to soak in the fertilizer. Eventually, only after dinner, the rain came. At first only haltingly, but then with more gusto. It continued to rain off and on through the night, waking me in the predawn with its steady beat. Flash flood warning boxes began to appear all around us. So, I guess that we have gotten enough rain. But wait, there is more coming. I hope that all of my new grass seed is not washed away.

We watched the Obama headlined virtual high school graduation ceremony on TV last night. I must say that I was impressed. (Did you really think that I would not be?) Barack’s commencement address was fine, well within the mold for such speeches. There were a couple of references that only the most thin-skinned of people could ever take exception to, as if it was all about him anyway. Mainly though, I was impressed with the show’s production values. I really shouldn’t have been so surprised that an industry that thrives on special effects could create the green-screen illusion of people congregating together from across the country for graduation. Like a magician with more tricks in his top-hat than rabbits, the producers would occasionally flash their green, giving the audience an insight into how they made all of their magic for this show. 

A Real Frog Strangler

Beach Creek Frog

Last Tuesday was a beautiful day. It was warm, but not too hot. That all changed on Tuesday night. A strong storm front swept over us. We were watching a TV show together on the couch, Foyle’s War, which we have been working are way through slowly, but surely. The Saint Louis heat island effect shielded us from any violent weather, but as His Majesty’s loyal subjects, one-by-one met an untimely end, the storm roared over us. It really poured. Our new storm sewers were getting a good workout and then Anne squawked! Water had begun dripping on her end of the couch. I felt that she had overreacted, but then my end of the couch was still high and dry. I paused the show and we got towels to mop up the water. The storm soon passed and the drips soon abated, but the die was cast. Years ago, a similar leak had occurred, under similar circumstances. I was still working then and then only got as far as buying the caulk, but not to actually applying it. Hey, I still had a life back then. Wednesday, it was still too wet to do anything about the leak, but yesterday, we sprung into action as a team, the dynamic duo, Caulk Man and Ladder Girl. 😎 & 😎

The suspected source of the leak was the gap above a steel bar that is just above the window frame. All of the windows in our brick home have similar bars, to support the bricks above the window. Caulking necessitated getting out and erecting a ladder to get to the gap. Once up, the ladder needed to be stabilized and leveled. We used lumber to make a couple of “steps” for the step ladder. It didn’t really take that long to do the caulking. I climbed the ladder, while Anne steadied it and also handed me up paper towels to clean up the extra caulk. It will likely be years before we know whether or not we were successful or not.

This bit of domesticity has motivated me do more home improvement. I found a still pretty full can of exterior white trim in the basement. I know that this paint is not as old as the caulk was. I had begun painting the trim several year ago and got some of it done, but with our ever lengthening summertime out-of-town excursions, progress had slowed quite a bit. This stay-at-home summer should be much better. I might even get to finish this job of home beautification.

Rainy Day Blues

Lake McDonald, Glacier on a Rainy Day

I was going to post about going to post about the medical stylings of the Bleach Bum in the Whitehouse and even went so far as to create not one, but two pics for this purpose. Here they are, one and two. The first one is an entirely original creation, with an extra dollop of Photoshop. The second one is a mashup from two open source photos. The Clorox hand sanitizer came from the free photo website Unsplash and the caricature was created by the artist Donkey Hotey. Anne didn’t want to see his image on the blog though. This way you don’t have to look at them, if you don’t want to.

It has been a pretty blah Saturday. It was already raining before I got up this morning and it will likely still be raining after I go to bed tonight. Looking at the weather radar, a rain storm has been parked over Saint Louis all day and night. Its only motion is a slow cyclonic rotation, whose center seems parked right overhead. The sump pump will be running all night long. I don’t think that we’ll even get a walk in today. Oh well, into each life a little rain must fall. 

Startling Beauty

Crest Mask, Possibly Etim Bassey Ekpenyong, Early 20th Century

Winter storm Isaiah has descended upon us with all of its biblical fury. Bringing with it flooding rain (checkout our basement), severe storms, snow and the worst of all, crippling ice. That is the forecast according to that snowflake network, CNN. But are you going to believe fake news? You’ve got to watch out for that crippling ice though. It will put you in traction for weeks. Anne with her delicate heinie has a solution for this danger of falling and landing on her tuchus, don’t go outside. That’s OK, she won’t miss it at all, because she is in full first grade mode this weekend. It’s report card time and she is weighing the fate of nineteen souls. What grades shall be placed in their permanent record? Who will triumph and who will fail and which parent will be first to assail her for her decisions? That’s not my problem though, I just have to live with it.

To us, the facial features of this southwestern Nigerian mask, may appear fierce or even look evil. The fact that it is sheathed in animal skins doesn’t help. Yet, the mask actually depicts an ideal beauty, a young woman with perfectly filed teeth (A practice that would be a nightmare for any dentist, but would make the teeth easier to floss.) and a distinctive, if somewhat devilish coiffure, worn on her wedding day, signaling her readiness for marriage. This art is believed to be the work of Etim Bassey Ekpenyong, who is credited with creating a mask for the 1939 movie, The Wizard of Oz. I don’t know which mask, maybe the wizard effigy, but I’m thinking the flying monkeys. They’ve always been scary to me. 

Wind’s Gotta Blow

Fun’ya no Yasyhide, Japan, mid-1830s

In autumn the wind has only to blow
for leaves and grasses to perish
That must be why the characters
“mountain” and “wind”
together mean “gale”
— Fun’ya no Yasyhide

The wind’s gotta blow and when it does, you gotta bend. It is an ill wind that blows no one any good. A cold icy wind. A hot summer’s breeze. The 4Hs of bicycling—Heat, Humidity, Hills and Headwinds. Close your eyes and turn your face into the wind. You don’t spit into the wind […] and you don’t mess around with Jim. And don’t piss into the wind or on Jim either. Wind is the most skilled hairdresser! Wind blown hair—A hair raising experience? Find some windy weather and let your hair be shaped creatively! Sometime I wonder why I walk alone on this cold, windy road. Maybe I have no one to love or no one loves me at all? How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man? The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind. A sigh is like a wind from the heart, but when it comes from below, we call it a fart. You know, that really blows..

Wintery Mix

The Mountain, Aristide Maillol, 1937

Neither rain, nor sleet nor snow shall keep our teacher lady from the swift completion of her appointed rounds. Oobleck was in the forecast, but turning on the TV elicited no school closings. The saints were definitely not marching in. In Saint Louis, the TV’s school closings crawl is so dominated with Catholic schools, it is like the song, “Oh when the saints, go marching in, I want to be in their number,” but there wasn’t even a crawl. It was already misting when I dropped Anne of at school, but it was of the liquid variety. It was still above freezing. By mid-morning it had turned to sleet and then soon to snow, as the mercury continued to plummet. At school, during reading, where Anne works one-on-one with a quarter of the class at a time, the other three-quarters soon had their faces pressed to the window, watching the white-stuff coming down. Against all reason, Anne took the class outside for recess, where against her admonition some of the kids soon started fashioning snowballs. “We are not making snowball; we’re making balls made of snow.” Sounds like flake news to me. By the time that I retrieved her, we were well beyond the forecasted 1” of snow. The car needed to be scraped and the roads were beginning to ice. The bottom in the temperature should dropout night. Maybe, the saints will march tomorrow? If so, I want to be in their number.