Drying Out

My mother called me this morning from Florida and after the usual banter about work, the family, and my father’s upcoming birthday, she began to complain about the rain. Tropical Storm Andrea is poised to dump six inches over coastal North Florida. Friends of mine as far north as South Georgia are under a tornado warning. My mother can’t get the German Shepherd to go outside and pee because he’s afraid to get wet. He’s also afraid of the dark.

“I don’t want to hear about your rain. I don’t feel sorry for you,” I told her. For the record, she laughed then asked me how my garden had made it through the last two weeks of Oklahoma’s record-breaking rainfall. The answer is: I don’t know yet. I’m hoping it stops raining long enough to give the soil an opportunity to dry out, otherwise we’re back at square one.


my cucumbers, in better days

For all my frustration with the vegetables, my flowers are thriving. My daylily doubled in size, the sunflowers are mostly all over two feet tall, and the lavender is…doing something. It hasn’t gone brown or lost its heavenly scent. I call that a score. The Indian blanket has spread a few feet in all directions and this makes me very happy. When I brought that plant home with me last summer, there were two measly blossoms. I’m thinking I should go get more. Seriously, my desire to rip out all the ugly things in my yard and replace them with Indian blanket grows by the day!

A surprising sprawl of #indianblanket #wildflowers and a climbing ivy

Also, my theory about petunias is becoming as true as my theory about goldfish – it takes a lot to kill those suckers, even when you try. No, I’m not trying. I’m only emphasizing how important petunias can be to the beginning gardener’s precious and fragile ego.

TAKE HEED, first-timers.


The Mailbox is Still Standing

Elle and I roasted marshmallows on the porch over the open flame of our emergency candle and enjoyed s’mores before bed. Then she camped out on the floor next to me in the front room. There is a particular dead tree that always threatens to fall into my bedroom during tropical storms. I thought pretending to have a campout with the kiddo would be more fun than dodging toppling trees and flying limbs.

After a post-storm inspection of the house and the yard, it turns out the questionable dead tree that hovers over my bedroom is actually being held upright by a tangle of vines. *Gulp*

Tropical Storm Beryl made landfall in the middle of the night. Nighttime cyclones are always the worst. As I was telling Matt, a seasoned resident of Tornado Alley, it is difficult to tell the difference between a wind gust and a tornado being born directly over your house. Also, because I’m terribly paranoid and easily spooked when wind is involved, every blustery wind, especially at night, is a tornado.

But with the morning light comes a telling story of how bad (or imagined) things really were over the course of a rousing tropical storm. I heard power boxes explode and trees thump rather loudly as they hit the ground, but things went rather well, overall. There are the usual limbs and fence panels taken out of place by the high winds, and expected flooding in Riverside and San Marco, but nobody in my neighborhood lost a roof, a car, or their life. We fared rather nicely, I’d say.

In keeping with my family’s tradition, Elle was sent outside for a photograph in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Beryl.  The 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons were much livelier and left more of a debris path with which I could use as her photo op backdrop. Tiny Elle was photographed in front of the pile of trees and wood beams holding signs declaring “Hurricane Charley” or “Hurricane Jeanne” or the name of whichever storm had tormented us for that 36-hour period.

The last storm worthy of a photograph was 2008’s Tropical Storm Fay during which my neighbor’s tree had to be hurriedly pulled down by the power of bungee cords and pickup trucks when the eye passed over us. They couldn’t risk leaving it up when the eyewall came pounding through in the opposite direction or the massive tree could have fallen directly into their house.

TS Fay

Tropical Storm Fay 2008

After posting that picture on Facebook recently, I was asked to photograph Elle again in the same spot after Tropical Storm Beryl passed by, just so we could all get an idea of how much she has grown. Four years is a long time. Elle is still as hammy-for-the-camera  as ever, but I can’t believe how much taller she really has become! Oh, and the neighbor’s yard looks quite lovely, too.

Tropical Storm Beryl

Tropical Storm Beryl 2012

Hurricane Safety – A Kid's Guide

Elle presented me with this handmade super-informative safety guide this morning after cleaning out her backpack. Because Hurricane Season officially ended 17 days ago, it’s never too early to prepare for next year’s onslaught of overdramatic meteorologists’ warnings about hurricanes that may or may not actually happen. Also, Elle received a full 100 points on this from her science teacher, so she must know something.

Please pay special attention to this guide if you live in coastal North Carolina, near the Chesapeake Bay, or anywhere in New England. Since every single one of the last two years’ worth of hurricanes has bypassed Florida altogether and slammed into your coastline instead, I just want to say I’m sorry. Blame the ever excitable Jim Cantore. Or jet streams. Whatever. The fun starts all over again on June 1st, 2012.  Be prepared!

  Before Hurricane:
If you watching the news and it reports that a hurricane is near your city or anywhere near you. To protect your self, you need to grab a backpack and pack these items:
(see illustrations)
First Aid
Food that can’t be heated or cooled (like Goldfish crackers. Screw all nutritional staples like tuna and peanut butter)
Lots of bottled water
And entertainment (looks like a board game to me…)

During Hurricane:
Now that you’re all packed up, you need a safe place thats really strong that can protect you. The best places to hide are:
(see illustrations)
Bathroom (totally diggin’ the shower curtain and FULL ROLL of toilet paper…talk about being prepared!)

These place will help. Good thing is that you’re in a safe spot and you have everything you need with you.

After Hurricane:
After a hurricane, DO NOT drink the water that comes from a faucet or from your freezer. The water may have severe bacteria. It could get you very sick. Later you might hear a beep from the microwave. That means that you have electricity. If not, maybe some electricity poles crashed. Thank you for reading this guide.

(Editor’s note: I didn’t correct a single thing. Believe me, all those misspelled words and invisible apostrophes are making me twitch.)