blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
Hooray, camping again at Lake Pueblo!  I've been down here four times now--twice camping, twice hiking--and absolutely love the openness, the dryness, and the off-season quiet.

The first time I camped at Lake Pueblo, at a lovely site overlooking the lake, ended early because the winds came up so strong.  I was afraid the tent was going to snap, so packed it in.  Turns out that was a good thing, since an unexpected blizzard was roaring in.

This time?  Stray shower, maybe a thunderstorm, said the forecast.  Winds gusting to 20mph, said the forecast.  That's nothing, my darlings.  I've tent-camped through Indiana thunderstorms strong enough to spawn tornadoes within a couple miles of my campsite.  I've tent-camped in inch-an-hour rainfall.  I've tent-camped in a desert windstorrm.  So 20mph winds with maybe a little rain?  I was not concerned.

So after a fantastic day that involved a lovely hike, proofreading 250 pages, and sausages roasted over an open fire for the pupper and I, I sat outside while the last of the fire burned down.  The moonlight from the east was bright enough to wash most of the stars from the sky.  Off to the west, I saw a couple lightening flashes in the distance.  I took the moments to stash this-n-that in the tent or the Jeep (I don't much like last-minute dashing when other options are available), stirred out the coals so they'd burn down faster, and got myself and Gambit settled in the tent.

It wasn't fifteen minutes later that the first wind gust slammed the tent hard enough to knock a tent pole against my head.  No warning, no preliminary breezes, nothing.  Zero to whatever-speed in a single gust.  I tried everything I knew to do, inside the tent and out, but lost the battle.  For the first time in my camping experience, the wind was strong enough to yank one of the stakes out of the ground.  And when one stake goes, the strain on all the others increases.  In a minute, half the tent was levitating and the other half was considering the same.

Alas, this happened when Gambit and I were still inside the tent and--in the fashion of one with an overactive imagination--I envisioned my dog and I entangled in the tent, blown over the steep hillside, landing in the lake, and dragged down by the weight of the tent and everything in it.  So I wrestled the tent flap open far enough to shove Gambit outside, thinking even if he ran off, he'd be safer anywhere but inside the smooshed tent, then got myself out too.

I remember finding the car keys and jamming them in my mouth.  I remember yanking the poles out of the tent and folding them just enough to fit on the back seat.  I remember dragging the tent halfway under the Jeep so I could lie on the ground (Did I mention the nigh-constant lightening, and the fact I was standing on a high point beside the lake?) and find by feel the valve that would deflate my mattress.  Yeah, that might sound like a stupid thing to consider, but I couldn't wrestle the mattress out of the tangled tent, and the tent and all its contents was going to take off if I let go.  I remember stuffing the tent--along with the sleeping bag, mattress, clothes, and assorted stuff--into the back of the Jeep.

At some point, I had opened a door so Gambit could jump in the Jeep.  I don't remember doing so, but the poor pup was shaking on the front seat when I finally got in the car.

I guess I could have stuck around for awhile to see if the wind died down enough to risk setting the tent back up.  I opted to head home instead.  I didn't know if a pole had snapped (It hadn't. Near I can tell, one end of the pole yanked free of the pin.), or if the weather would get better or worse (I'd lost all connection on my phone), or what the state of everything inside the tent was, seeing as it was now all wadded up in the Jeep.

I drove home.  Got there around midnight.  It took over two hours this morn to sort out and untangle the mess I hauled out of the Jeep, but nothing is terrible or unfixable.  It was just... messy.

I'm thinking that the next time I camp at Pueblo, I'll choose one of the sites set back from the lake views, where junipers and gulches and some such will break the wind before it kills me.  I'm thinking I can damn well drag a chair to one of those views during the day, and sleep in peace at night.  I'm thinking I need to remember more about my desert camping youth than my Midwest camping middle years!


blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
I seem to be in one of my "Woe, I feel disconnected from everything!" moods, which I seem determined to lengthen by remaining disconnected--able to read, but poorly able to respond in any meaningful way to those who most deserve it. So I'm trying to push myself.

What was supposed to be snow yesterday turned into a mix of extremely cold rain and heavy wet snow. I went outside three times to clean the slush off my car and front walk because I didn't want sheets of solid ice by this morning. Now the wind chill is between -30 and -40, just as predicted days ago. It took the local schools forever to decide that, yes, since the roads are sheets of ice and exposed skin can freeze in ten minutes, maybe there should be no school.

And the wind overnight! Big gusts that went on and on for hours. I kept jerking awake, really concerned we'd lose power (an increasing problem, as folks try to keep their homes warm and overload the grid, or trees fall on power lines). But it was the dreams that left me tired, I think. They all took place in the 100+ year old home I lived in when Dev was a baby, and involved trying to solve the mystery of why the windows kept opening to let the cold in. It was exhausting and creepy and stressful to dream of.

Today's goals: Fix up 2K in the wellness book, finish the capture chapter of Sand, write a wellness blog post, and take care of a little research. I'm too close to the end of Sand to falter now, and I need to have a solid draft of the wellness book in someone's hands by the 15th. Work must be performed!
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
For all the others in the region got hammered, our little pocket of earth was passed over by everything save a couple major wind gusts and buckets of rain.

But it certainly looked pretty once it had passed.

Photos behind the cut... )

100_2166

100_2169

100_2175

The clouds were moving so quickly, the sky changed moment to moment. Now it's clear and breezy, and getting a little chilly beneath a lovely moon.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
In truth, it was working outside. But with temps in the upper 70s--almost unheard of for Indiana in late July--the work felt like play in some ways.

Dev and I moved fifteen bags of mulch around various planting beds, and put new mulch down in an area that had never been mulched before. It's a mostly-shady area that's difficult to mow, so we'll be filling it next spring with plants that will be happy in mostly-shade.

We uprooted two "volunteer" trees of unknown species, and replanted them on the side of the deck I'd like to have screened for privacy. Each tree is only about six feet tall, and I don't know if we salvaged enough of the roots for them to survive transplant. But they were free trees, and they couldn't have kept growing where they were, so we'll just hope for the best.

While Dev mowed the lawn, I trimmed all hedges and bushes around the house and little deck, then hacked up the trimmed stuff for compost. Lastly, I picked okra and summer squash, decided the carrots should come up in the next week, and gave my tomatoes a pep talk that I hope will encourage production. The winter squash and melon vines needed a little guidance--they will soon, by design, take over all parts of the garden no longer producing other food--and I'm hopeful their many blossoms will result in plentiful harvest. Before calling the quits, we tidied the back deck and front porch.

All the while, the dogs sniffed the mulch and romped around the lawn and bumped into us and peed on anything we moved and played Grizzly Bears with each other and rolled in the grass and jumped over obstacles and and and...

And now I have the sore hands and tired muscles that come from good and hard work, Dev is curled up with his laptop, and the dogs are passed out on the floor. Part of me wants to sit here and relax all night. The rest of me wants to go out for a drink. :)
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
The advantage of working mostly from home--and having days and days off from the parts that don't fall under the mostly--is that there is no downside to being shut in because of the blizzard.

Dev was told not to come into work today, so we're just home with the dogs--dogs who spent an hour chasing each other and rolling in the snow, then half an hour being dried off with warm towels.  They are now snoring in canine bliss.

I've shoveled the driveway once.  Dev will do the second round.  It's much better to shovel easy twice than it is to shovel once hard.

Here's the front porch.  That rocking chair usually looks much more inviting, and the windchime above it doesn't usually look like a handful of nunchaku.

SnowPorch


And here are my poor little flamingoes, that look like they're huddling together against the wind.  The snow has nearly consumed their little legs.

SnowmingoDec

Lastly, hidden beneath a snow-covered evergreen, is my little garden goblin.

Goblin

October

Oct. 1st, 2012 07:45 am
blairmacg: (Default)

October is my favorite month in Indiana.  If I could make it so, it would be October all year long.

The days are just the right length.  There is that moment in late afternoon when the shadows are noticeably longer than they were last week, the light a deeper shade of gold, and one can feel dusk coming.  Most of the trees are still green, but touches of yellow and crimson highlight the woods.

Dusk and dawn are filled with cricketsong.  Squirrels are dashing all over.  The constant damp-smell of humidity drops out of the air, and everything smells clean again.  The windows are open all day, and some of them all the night.

In the evening, the faint scent of woodsmoke drifts about.  Night comes early enough to enjoy outside, but is still late enough to feel special.  Backyard campfires are common, and I think the grownups enjoy them more than the kids.

October is the year's time-out, the side-step.  It's the easy stroll to a scenic overlook that peels off the main trail right before the steepest part of the climb.  Everyone knows it's a transition into winter, but October--especially the first two weeks--lets you ignore the foregone conclusion long enough to enjoy the present.

Miscellany

Jul. 31st, 2012 01:35 pm
blairmacg: (Default)
I have never so looked forward to the end of summer.  We usually get about an inch of rain per week.  We've had less than an inch, total, since June 15.  We're supposed to have seven or eight days above 90.  We've had five or six days below 90 since June 15. 

It's the heat that's doing in my garden.  Watering produces an overwhelming amount of grass and weeds, while the vegetables drop off before ripening, or never really develop at all.  And my yard?  The grass as moved from the light brown of straw to the dark brown and black of scorched earth.  Most trees are dropping their leaves.  Many bushes look dead.

Dev and I decided to postpone our England-Scotland trip until the spring, when his godmother can go with us.  Because we did so much traveling in the first half of the year, we're not anxious to fill that October slot with much of anything.  We may take a weekend in Chicago or--at most--a trip to someplace like Niagara Falls.  (That would be in addition to my likely solo trip to Charleston to see That Man. :)

I can see half the top of my dining table.  This is progress.  I've managed to limp along this year with almost no business organization--the lack resulting from the fact I haven't a designated office and/or desk space.  Next week is to remedy that.  I still don't have an office space, but do have a Cunning Plan to bypass the lack.  Really, the only reasons I need that sort of work space is to a) process bills, paperwork, and contracts once a week, and b) store all relevant paperwork.  I don't need an office, or even a desk, for that.  But I do need to employ organizational skills and discipline.  Damn it.

I've been having the usual drop-your-shoulders drills and talks with my first-year adult karate students.  All the adults understand they shouldn't tense their shoulders, but it takes awhile for shoulder-relaxation to become more natural than tension.  When they run kata, I go around and tap tense shoulders (touch bypasses language processing, so it speeds learning), and in self-defense, I demonstrate how their tension makes them weaker rather than stronger.  Last night was a combination of frustration and amusement on the issue.  And I know that once they get the shoulder tension under control, we'll have the same learning process with hips and lower back.  Kids don't usually have those issues.  (They instead tend to throw their energy forward and/or down.)

Best news: For the first time ever, Dev has expressed excitement about college.  We spent yesterday morning talking through his plan for finishing high school a year early, then looking at the website for Vincennes University--the campus he was on for law enforcement camp.  He had me request an information packet, and even sent texts to his friends about choosing his goal.  I can't explain just how huge a step this is.  Now the key is to quietly and not-to-enthusiastically support him in that direction.  Too much excitement on my part is the fastest, surest way to make him run the other direction.

blairmacg: (Default)
It's fairly rare for Indiana to be warned of fire dangers.  Usually it's just too danged wet in the summer.  Wet enough that folks leave piles of brush burning in their back fields and never worry about it.  But this year, drought has turned lawns into straw and acres of corn into fields of yucca-impersonating spikes.

Today it's 106, with dry and gusty winds.

Today the weather service issued this:
A COMBINATION OF STRONG WINDS...LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITY...AND WARM TEMPERATURES WILL CREATE EXPLOSIVE FIRE GROWTH POTENTIAL.

Some of you know I get a little tense this time of year because, when I was a kid, fireworks set fire to my home.  It was the days before smoke alarms were standard household items.  We were awakened sometime after midnight by people banging on the bedroom rooms and screaming at us to get out.  I stood in the front yard and watched my dad, dragging a garden hose, try to climb onto the burning roof.  We lost the garage and everything stored in it, but the firewall kept the house from being consumed.

It isn't uncommon for me to walk outside, over and over, on the night of the Fourth, to check the roof for smoke.

Later in life, I watched wildfires march over the mountains toward the city I was living in.  Thankfully, then didn't get closer than about six, seven miles.  But later that year, I spent a day on that burned mountain helping a friend salvage bits and pieces from the ruins of homes consumed in another fire.  Just a couple years ago, on the farm, I had to help fight a small brush fire when winds shifted toward nearby homes.  The soles of my shoes melted that day.

So the whole "EXPLOSIVE FIRE POTENTIAL" thing unnerves me greatly.  Watching video from Colorado Springs is heartbreaking.

When dusk comes, I'll begin watering a ring of grass around my house.  My defensible perimeter.  All I can think of is how quickly fire can move, and how all it would take is some idiot tossing a lit cigarette out the car window.

And my garden looks as if everything decided to lean over and take a nap.

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