Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Just like "High Summer" in Maine, only it's MAY!

Well, the strawberries are coming almost faster than we can pick and process them, as well as the peas and broccoli.  The spinach has gone by, and the lettuce is next to go.  But tonight, in 80 degree weather, with a slight breeze, we had strawberry daiquiris (our own berries, of course) and dinner on the side porch, and watched the bluebird and cardinals.  It's 8:15 PM as I write this, and we have another 45 minutes of sunlight, so Barry is out in the front garden spraying the tomatoes, beans, corn, and whatever else he has planted out there.

This is like an ideal Maine evening in late June or early July, only we don't have any mosquitoes, and the sun sets about 50 minutes later than in Maine.  Of course, it also rises about 50 minutes later, but I'd rather have the extra light in the evening.  In late June, we can work outside until 9:15 at least!

Went to Paducah last weekend for Barry's grand-daughter's second birthday.  Great time, beautiful decorations and Rick has really done wonders with the back yard, where the party was held.  It was a very nice time.

Now, we're picking peas and strawberries, and probably beets by the weekend.  Have to get in most of the work by noon, because the hottest time of day here is 1PM to about 5PM, and it's brutal -- the sun is at a 6 degree higher angle than in Maine, and it's VERY easy to get burned.  Sunscreen and a hat (Yes, Maureen, I wear a hat when working outside since I have NO HAIR to shield my chrome dome from the sun's rays) are both necessities.

Interestingly though, for the past few days, it's been 5-10 degrees warmer in Maine than here.  We have central air-conditioning, which almost no one in Maine has, and we set it at between 75 and 77, so we notice the difference when we come in from the outside, but it's not set so cool that it'll run all day.  It just reduces the humidity a bit, so we come inside for a bit, then go back out.  Today, for example, we were out most of the day because with the intermittent clouds it really wasn't that hot, though the humidity WAS very uncomfortable.  And it's only MAY!

Tomorrow, we finish the mowing, picking peas (enough to freeze this year), more strawberries (when will we get a second freezer?), and some greens.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Spring in the Bluegrass -- Picture Fest

Mr. and Mrs. Bluebird are back.  Maybe this time they'll stay.

"Baby" robin the day before all three fledged.

The back vegetable garden at sunset.

Iris in back flower garden.

Pink peonies -- their fragrance lingers for DAYS in the house.  We also have white ones.

Gorgeous purple Iris -- wind knocked them down the day after I took this picture.

Weigela.  Barry rescued this from the Lowes half-price rack last fall.

Dianthus -- Again, Barry rescued this from a small metal plant pot when we lived in Butchertown.  It's even MORE beautiful now.

One of our two plum trees -- the only one that has plums on it.

Little teensy-weensy grapes, but they'll grow.

The first strawberry of the season.  Should've had it bronzed!

Strawberries, etc.

Barry picked the first 3 or 4 the other day, and I got a large handful today.  We'll be picking merrily by the weekend.  The raspberries will be ready in a month and the blueberries shortly after.  Unlike Maine, they will all have gone by, by the first of August!

We have all sorts of little baby marble-sized peaches, plums, nectarines and apricots which, if they stay on the trees in these 20-30 mile per hour winds, should be delicious.

Assuming our squirrel doesn't eat them all -- like we suspect he did last year!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Ark, anyone?

Any got plans for an Ark?

Yesterday morning, the first Saturday in May, was Kentucky Derby day.  I made the spearmint syrup for mint juleps on Friday, so it was ready for the crushed ice and good Kentucky bourbon.  It rained here ALL day, and with the thunder and lightning, I wasn't sure we'd even dare to keep the TV on for the Derby.  Well, wouldn't you know it, just as the horses entered the track, the skies cleared and the sun actually came out, just in time for 150,000 people at Churchill Downs to begin singing, "The sun shines bright on the old Kentucky home."  The chills went up my spine as they always do when I hear that song, and the eyes began to well up.  How many people are lucky enough to live in a state where most people actually KNOW their state song?  "Pine Tree State" -- come on!  I taught history and I don't think I could have named that as Maine's state song.

Anyway, after furiously debating which of the 20 horses to bet (internet gambling on horse races is legal in Kentucky), I finally placed my bets.  Only one of the five came in, but it did profit me about $56 above what it cost to bet!  Plus the excitement of actually winning money on the Kentucky Derby!

After the race, the evening was spent on the Internet, tracking storm after storm after storm, and listening to the relentless rain.  We didn't get a great deal of thunder or lightning overnight, but at 3:46 AM the weather radio went off with a "Tornado Warning" (re my earlier post this morning).  It went off twice more, about every hour, and finally I decided to stay up.  The scanner was busy this morning with reports of blocked and flooded roads, some of which we are familiar with, a boat evacuation a bit over a mile west of here, and reports of US-68 in Perryville down to one lane in most places, an blocked in one place.  Yet people were STILL driving through flood waters to get to CHURCH!  I mean, good Christians certainly want to meet their Lord, but should they help things along by being really stupid?

Barry and I decided to go out for breakfast, and survey the countryside.  We did find a bit of water over the road in two places, but we know the road well, and knew it was not more than an inch or two, and it was not flowing quickly.  On the way home, we passed Clark's Run, normally a little, mostly dry, 2-foot wide stream.  It was maybe 50 feet wide in places, with brown, roiling water that cascaded over rocks on its way to Dix River.  We got home just fine.

Then, as we were watching the rain cascade down like someone dumped giant buckets over us, something must have let go.  We have two farm ponds across the main road from our driveway, and the neighbor's pasture to our east normally has the small, quiet Salt River flowing through it -- again, we can step across it most of the time, and there's seldom more than 2-3 inches of water in it.  Well by last night, it had become another raging torrent, water moving maybe 15 miles per hour, brown, muddy, dangerous.

This afternoon, I looked out over the pasture and saw another whole river, maybe 50 feet wide, about 200 feet closer to us than usual.  Seems where the Salt runs under the neighbor's driveway, something must have gotten blocked, or there was a sudden torrent of water, and it was now running directly across the pasture, parallel to our driveway.

On the Google photo, we're "A", the farm pond is "B" (at least we THINK this might be the one, though there's another further up the road which could have collapsed), the orange line is the Salt River, and the green line is the "new" and hopefully temporary Salt River.

Luckily, we were in between storms, so Barry and I went out and got loads of photos and video of this -- hopefully we won't see anything like this for a long while -- and we were more lucky than many around here, and IMMENSELY LUCKIER than many in Tennessee.

As I write this, the river is still up, but the "new" river is just a wet spot in the pasture.  We still have a small rivulet running between our house and the front neighbor's, which we only have seen 2-3 times since moving here.  The rain mostly will be over in an hour or so, and the rest of the week should be in the high 70s and sunny.  Perfect for our strawberries!

A bucket on the side porch had 8-3/8 inches in it at mid-afternoon.  It now has more than 10 inches.  That's our normal rainfall for TWO MONTHS -- and that's since yesterday morning.  Parts of Tennessee and Elizabethtown, KY (about 40 miles west of here) have had 15, so frankly, we're not too far behind.  Tragically, two people in Kentucky have drowned in flood-related incidents, one east of Lexington, and one near Bowling Green.  A dam on a small lake in Edmonson, about 40 miles southwest of here, is expected to give way at any time, so it's not over, by a long shot.

Jim Cantore, of the Weather Channel, on driving from Louisville to Nashville reported that Interstate-65 was in bad shape in many places.  In places, it's impossible to exit the highway because the down ramps lead to flooded roads.  Have you seen the photos of I-24 in Nashville flooded, with tractor trailers and dozens of cars floating?  That road will be out of commission for quite a few days, and it's the main highway from Chattanooga to Nashville to Paducah.

Speaking of Paducah, here's the water that will pass that city in the Ohio River in the coming days.  Keep in mind that many of these rivers are, or will soon be, at flood stage:

1.  Part of western New York
2.  Most of western Pennsylvania, the Allegheny and Monongahela (which form the Ohio at Pittsburgh)
3.  Extreme western Maryland
4.  Most of West Virginia, the Kanawah and Big Sandy
5.  The southern half of Ohio, lots of small rivers
6.  The southern three-quarters of Indiana, the Wabash
7.  All of Kentucky, including our little Salt River, the Green, Kentucky, and the Cumberland Rivers
8.  A small piece of southwestern Virginia
9.  Part of western North Carolina
10.  Parts of northern Georgia
11.  A little corner of northeastern Mississippi
12.  All of Tennessee east of Memphis, the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers
13.  The northern third of Alabama, the Tennessee River

At Paducah, the Cumberland and Tennessee join the Ohio, and a few miles downstream, the Ohio joins the Mississippi.

3:46 AM - Weather Radio Blues

3:46 AM.  That was the time the weather radio went off -- BEEEP, BEEEP, BEEEP -- this time it said "TORNADO WARNING."  So naturally, here I am, at the computer, on watching the weather pass to the west of us, on the WKYT (Ch. 27) weather app, watching three counties to the west of us light up with severe thunderstorm warnings, flood warnings, and flash flood warnings, and on my email, for WLEX (Ch 18) for yet another severe thunderstorm warning.

Now of course, I appreciate all the warnings.  But, Saturday morning it was 5:30 when the warnings began, and got so severe that for a time, we had our meds packed, and the cat carrier out, ready to leave at a moment's notice.  And last night, it was well after midnight, watching the weather channel, and seeing the enormous lake that is usually known as I-24 in Nashville, knowing that the weather in Nashville is often the weather HERE in a few hours.  So yesterday was a long day.

Today promises more of the same.  At least we HAVE a weather radio and the other resources, thankfully.