Saturday, September 3, 2011

Vignettes of a Tropical Storm

Most of the week, I've been aware of the storm coming. I've had trouble taking it seriously. I worked all day yesterday on a web map that someone created for Irene with feeds from the GOES satellite, weather warnings, precip radar, etc. I added parish structure and services data, finished it just in time for the 4:30 NWS government conference call. Still need to write instructions for people to use it, e-mail them to everyone.

Got up today, and the NWS says the intensity tomorrow will be less than forecasted yesterday. This isn't a typical storm, all spread out and disorganized. Harder to make advance forecasts.

The rain today has been heavy at times, but we haven't had bad wind here. When I look at the GOES satellite picture, I can see the dry air from Texas cutting into the side of TS Lee, coming right up to my house. There are tornado warnings close by, but the storm is completelly quiet here now, except for the increasing humidity.

During lulls in the rain so far, I hoed a pile of leaves that was keeping the driveway from draining into the roadside ditch. I took all the waiting compost buckets on the patio to the compost pile, buried them in the chopped up live oak leaf compost base.

The covered patio is still not hurricane-proofed, we're not taking this storm seriously yet. I noticed the sickly satsuma tree was starting to drop its fruit. I picked a few, reveling in the pure orange smell even though they are still green. I forgot how the skin tears if you don't remember the clippers to cut, not pull them off the stems. They are not sweet yet, but they are ready to eat for those who like sour satsumas.

I've been reading Frances Mayes' "Bella Tuscany", the sequel to "Under the Tuscan Sun". When I read books like that, I start to think I could write. Also, makes me want to have a summer house in Italy.

The pets know a storm is coming - can the cats feel it through their whiskers? Even the carport cats who don't normally come inside are staying close by the door. The neighbor cat Andy has staked out a spot on the top of the garbage can in the dryest corner of the carport.

The college-age daughter is doing her laundry, and painting her nails. She is sitting on a dry spot in the carport, with the 19 bottles of nail polish in a semi-circle before her, arranged in rainbow order. The touchscreen smartphone is in the middle of the arc, so texts can be read and sent easily. She shows me how the crackle layer of nail polish works. She can't paint her nails indoors when I'm home because the smell is too toxic for me to tolerate. She came in to show me her fingers and toes - almost every color of polish was used. She is a walking rainbow.

I opened the heavy drapes to let light into the living room for the first time this summer. Normally, the summer sun heats up the room too much so the drapes stay closed all summer. The diffuse light from the cloudy day makes the room look different to me.

We have our 1st Sunday of the month discussion group in Butte La Rose tomorrow, at the home of friends on the bank of the Atchafalaya River. The weather forecast is for heavy rain, sustained winds of 30-40 MPH, gusts to 50. Do I really want to drive on the elevated bridge over the Henderson Swamp when the wind is blowing like that? I don't think our meeting has ever been canceled in the 8 years it has existed. How hard does the wind have to blow for a Dodge Grand Caravan to be swept off the bridge? The storm is such a non-event today that I don't think anyone else is alarmed about tomorrow. Are we going? What will we bring for the potluck supper? Do I try to make one of the Italian recipes in "Bella Tuscany" to go with the hostess's main dish of spaghetti?

Well, on to the day's chores. Watching the radar - will I get caught in a downpour if I go shopping? How much of the gardening equipment on the patio really needs to be put away before tomorrow? It's hard to concentrate on the mundane when the swirling winds surround us.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Nothing Much

Well, I had some fun on the way to the gym a couple of days ago. Jackson Browne's "Running on Empty" came on the radio. I turned up the sound, the bass & the treble, and started rocking out. The song wasn't over by the time I got to the gym, so I sang along, played air drums and air guitar till it was over.

I did my 2 miles on the treadmill in record time - pumped up by the 70's vibes.

Last night, the air was smoky everywhere due to the marsh fires east of New Orleans. It gave the town a surreal look. I sat in the carport in the evening, waiting for the daughter to return in the car so I could go to the gym. Besides my two carport cats, four other neighborhood cats came over to enjoy my cool carport cement and chill out. Two of the neighborhood cats were recently abandoned by some renters who moved out down the street. Their solution was to simply cross the street, and ask the people there to feed them. They are still trying to figure out their standing in the cat society on the block. Both my official two carport cats are abandoned pets from our block. My daughter's boyfriend arrived while I was communing with the cats, and said that I had absolutely turned into the crazy cat lady of the block.

Today, the movie "Twister" was playing during my treadmill walk. The 40 minutes and 2 miles went by quickly. It was a little surreal to come out of there with tornado images in my head, and see the clouds come rushing in. The weather reports are becoming threatening; current forecasts show the storm in the Gulf coming right our way. As a member of parish government, I might be spending the Labor Day weekend at the courthouse working through the emergency. I guess I'll find out tomorrow; better take a toothbrush with me.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Weekend Roundup

Well, this has been a busy week. So busy, that I can't even remember what happened in the first part of it.

Along about the middle, I ran over Peanut the 17 year old cat. Oh, it's OK, she's all right. But! She was in the driveway when I came back from the gym, and she normally gets up to move as you slowly drive towards her. I guess she thought I was far enough away to miss her because she didn't move.

When I stopped, I noticed the other cats Andy and Jake running towards the back of my car. I opened my door, heard a low, loud, guttural howling. I ran around to see, and there was Peanut trapped by the back wheel. I didn't stop to see what part of her was caught; I ran back around quick as I could, turned the car on, put it in reverse. By the time I got out again, she was limping away.

She went under Ray's truck, and refused to come out, even with some canned food as a motivation. So, I got the broom and pushed on her a little. She didn't like that, but she got up, went close to a rear wheel where I could grab her. I took her into the house, where she sat for a minute, then went under a kitchen chair where she would retract her hind legs every time she'd get a pain. Tippy, our sensitive new-age dog, came to lie close to her.

In a few minutes, she got up and limped around. I couldn't see anything broken or any blood. I guess I just pinched one or both of her legs under the wheel. Once I let her back out, she was happy to eat some canned food, then jumped on the top of Ray's truck cab. She hasn't been lying on the driveway since.

Took me a while to get over the trauma. Now, every time a family member leaves the house in a car, I remind them not to run over any cats, then laugh maniacally.

Stephanie and I went to east Texas yesterday for just the day, to visit with Ray's sister and her husband, and celebrate their granddaughter's birthday. It was a fun day, and we didn't get home till 9:30 pm.

Today, I was supposed to go to Acadian Culture Day at Vermilionville, but I ended up doing my laundry, cleaning bathrooms, doing grocery shopping, and finished the day by installing some additional memory in two of a friend's computers as well as installing her new wireless router. Wish I had another weekend day. Back to work tomorrow, with a slower commute due to the K-12 school year starting.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Oh My Gawd

Well, I started this blog to showcase some pictures of a record-breaking 1" December snowfall, so my friends in Missouri and Canada could mock me. If I had been on Facebook then, I probably would have put the pictures on Facebook and not started the blog.

I just looked over the 10 most recent posts, and boy, are they repetitive. When there's not any snow to take pictures of, the orange trees, hot peppers, and grass are all there is to talk about.

Arrgh! I also noticed I had much more to say in the years I was working part-time at a fairly unchallenging job (2008-2010). Once I had a challenging job, seems like my drive to write had engine trouble.

And I will say right now that my current favorite blog post is the one by The Bloggess about Big Metal Chickens.

So, prepare yourself for the advent of home improvement posts. :: Spoiler Alert:: As soon as our refinance goes through, there will be a new roof for house and workshop, new soffits, painted fascia, and other miscellanea. There may even be some drama, because the electrical wires to the house go across the roof, and they are only a few feet above the roof in spots. Do roofers ever electrocute themselves?

Do blogs self-destruct from boredom? We shall see. My solution to having a soapbox topic in the past was to start a new blog. Now I have four personal ones, plus one for work. The travel blog was done for some Canadian guests, but never updated. I don't remember what set me off about the childbirth blog. I started a blog to vent my frustrations with my GIS project, just remembered it.

Anyway, the Lafayette Backyard blog has about outlived its usefulness, needs to be repurposed or get a new theme. Anyone, anyone?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Biggest Harvest: Volunteer Butternut Squash

This has been a strange year. We had nice weather till about mid-May, when it turned into oven-hot. The grass was crispy, the irrigation water bill was high. Now, in July, it's cooler due to the daily rains than it was in all of dry hot June. It started raining about mid-July.

Many of the citrus trees have set lots of fruit, and we did get some figs preserved. The dry weather was hard on the figs, even though we watered the tree.

Our big surprise - the compost pile sprouted out with acorn and butternut squash. The butternut squash are smaller than you get in the store, but they're very good. The vines are still going strong - usually, either a borer or a powdery mildew kill them. The okra is getting a slow start due to the drought, but the hot peppers are doing great.

We are trying to think of more things to do with squash. Ray had bought some very hot chicken wings by accident, so he steamed the squash in small slices, peeled it, and mixed in the chopped up hot wings. I think it also had some sauteed sweet onions. Anyway, the sweet/hot mix made a very tasty dish, even better when topped with chopped toasted almonds for crunch. One good thing about the winter squash is that it holds very well on the vine, as well as after harvest. We might get a couple of tomatoes, and also an eggplant or two that Ray planted as an afterthought.

One thing we didn't do before hot weather was to prune the azaleas, and cut down the oak and pecan trees that are growing on the fence line. They are taking over the yard, so I think I will prune them hard, as soon as I can, even though it means I won't get any blooms next spring.