#WorldMetDay

What a wonderful way to celebrate my birthday – World Meteorological Day.

I have a definite affinity to all things weather wise.

Excuse me – the sun’s shining and the sky is clear blue.  I’m going to celebrate.  I’ll let you guess what. 🙂

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Rain and Renewal

Throughout the morning, as opportunity presented itself, I checked the radar to see how close the red and yellow blobs were and if they were still tracking in our direction. There was nothing I could do to direct the rain our way other than pray.  And, as much as I wanted rain and our gardens needed it…doing so felt selfish.

Would it rain?  Yes.  It would rain…was raining elsewhere.  Would it rain here? Only God knew the answer to that question.

And, I was okay with that.

As I surveyed God’s Garden #2 from my back porch, I noticed the okra had wilted. The sun was hot on my skin.  A quick glance at the sunny sky above told me all I needed to know. There was an immediate need and I had a temporary fix, so I turned on the water (just a trickle) and placed the hose at the feet of the okra. Every 15 minutes I went outside and moved the hose 6 inches down the row.

Within 5 minutes of receiving the life-giving liquid, the okra had perked up.  (It was amazing to watch.)

And, by the time I had placed the hose at the base of the last okra plant (hours had passed), the sky showed promise of a better solution.

It wasn’t until late afternoon that rain arrived.  And, when it arrived it lingered long enough to break the dry spell.

The huge blob of red and yellow that I’d tracked all morning on radar slipped South of us.  That was okay. Sovereign God knew best where to send the rainfall…knew where it was needed most, and when.

And, God knew what I and the gardens needed most, and when, as well.

Sometimes all we can do is what we can do while we wait for God to act on our behalf.

The important thing to remember while we wait is to give thanks always for God’s many blessings.

Yes, there blessings even in dry spells.  There are always reasons to give thanks.  And, having a thankful heart provokes a can do attitude and a positive outlook on life.

And, a positive outlook on life changes everything.

Believe me, I went from parched to overflowing and nary a drop of rain had fallen.  From deep within a well of Living Water bubbled up and watered my withered soul, restored my faith in God, and renewed my spirit as it changed my attitude and outlook.

Dry Spell

For over 500 consecutive days, Suzansays saw a new post appear.

And, then…nothing for five days.

I hit a dry spell, I suppose.

It wasn’t that I suddenly lost interest in writing. No…that wouldn’t be accurate to say.  And, it wasn’t because I didn’t have anything to say.

I just hit a dry spell.

Life took an unusual turn and I had an unexpected response to that turn. I was thrown off schedule and off kilter. Everything seemed out of sync.

My dry spell began seven days ago, when rain loomed large in our forecast.  The ground was dry and the gardens thirsty – ample rain was on the way…enough to saturate the ground deeply…thoroughly…satisfyingly.

I prepared for it and for the possibility of hail and wind (also forecast).  I picked the garden clean, thinking it would be a couple of days before the ground firmed and dried enough to venture into it.

I hoped for rain…prayed for it…prepared for its arrival.  I needed the rain as much as the ground did.

But, rain did not fall.  An hour south of us is where it fell for two days.  I looked lustily at the radar, desiring it to move farther north.

It didn’t.

While I was grateful that they received rain, I was disappointed we (meaning I) didn’t and set out to water the gardens and hope for rain each time a cloud obscured the sun.

Six days ago, as rain promised us fell to our south, Hubby headed out in the wee hours and slipped Southeast along the interstate.  Two days of meetings determined his direction. And, after meetings ended, he would slip East to spend a couple of days with his mom.

After less than 3 hours of sleep, (to bed after midnight and up again at 3) my body craved more and I slipped back to bed and slept off and on until nearly 9 the morning of his departure.

Early mornings are my writing times and with early morning gone and morning at the mid point, there was no time to think of anything other than heading to work.  And, beyond work, my day’s normal schedule stretched before me.

With Hubby gone, my evenings were filled with gardening (and watering) and preserving foods gathered from the gardens.

And, early mornings were spent catching up on sleep I lost working late into each night.

The days grew hot and hotter, climbing to a wilting 95 degrees F.  Everything suffered from the lack of moisture.  Birdbaths filled at the end of one day were emptied by the end of the next.  The garden, in its prime, showed signs of shutting down production.  The peas, if given sufficient rainfall, could rebound and produce one more crop – but the rain didn’t fall when needed.  And, city water does little other than keep things alive.  It just can’t provide that trigger that induces new life like rain can.

It was frustrating and in some ways heartbreaking.  So much work had been poured into the gardens….

I felt as dry as the garden…as parched as the soil.

I’d hit a dry spot.  It seemed nothing I did helped and so for 5 days I moved into and through my odd schedule thirsting to write, but with thoughts too dry to utter a word here on Suzansays I did the only thing I could.

I waited for the dry spell to end.

And, when it didn’t end, I declared it ended.

This morning I woke early with intent – the first time in 6 days – said “goodbye” to Daughter as she headed to work, checked the forecast and radar, and slipped into Suzansays to break the dry spell and begin anew.

As I look out of the window before me, the sun casts morning shadows in the garden and a breeze stirs the tops of the okra.  The forecast is for rain…perhaps a lot of rain…maybe storms.  The radar is lit with colors this morning – all Northwest of us.

I am reminded of a verse which delivers far more than the forecast or radar can promise. And, it gives hope that God has not forgotten – for God loves and cares for all.

Don’t resist violence! If you are slapped on one cheek, turn the other too. 40 If you are ordered to court, and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat too. 41 If the military demand that you carry their gear for a mile, carry it two. 42 Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.  43 “There is a saying, ‘Love your friends and hate your enemies.’ 44 But I say: Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way you will be acting as true sons of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust too. 46 If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even scoundrels do that much. 47 If you are friendly only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even the heathen do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Jesus – Matthew 5)

Rain, Rain

Wednesday night rain began to fall.

It’s still falling as I type this.

Deep moisture from the Gulf of Mexico is being pulled northward by a “deep southerly moisture feed.”

I know what “deep southerly moisture feed” means.

It sounds ominous – and familiar.

Here’s the latest from the National Weather Service concerning our city:

A DEEP SOUTHERLY FLOW OF TROPICAL MOISTURE COMBINED WITH AN
  UNUSUALLY STRONG UPPER LEVEL LOW WILL BRING SEVERAL MORE ROUNDS
  OF SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS THROUGH EARLY SUNDAY MORNING.

* ADDITIONAL RAINFALL AMOUNTS OF 2 TO 4 INCHES WITH LOCALLY
  HIGHER AMOUNTS ARE POSSIBLE ACROSS THE CUMBERLAND PLATEAU REGION
  WITH ONE TO THREE INCHES ELSEWHERE. STORM TOTAL RAINFALL OVER THE
  5-DAY PERIOD FROM WEDNESDAY JULY 3RD THROUGH SUNDAY JULY 7TH MAY
  REACH 4 TO 10 INCHES IN SOME LOCATIONS.

I can’t recall the last time it’s rained so much and for so long.

We went weeks with only a pop up shower or two…hardly enough to settle the dust.  Birds had stopped singing.  Flowers were wilting. The garden was languishing.

And, now – WOW!  It’s amazing the difference several days of (and several inches of) good soaking rain makes.

When Daughter left for work this morning at 6:45, birds were twittering and singing like it was Spring!

Flowers have lifted their heads, the garden has grown, seedling Zinnas have grown 3 inches….

Hose pipe watering is sufficient to keep the garden and flowers alive – and that’s about all it does.

God rains abundance and everything thrives.

Amazing!

Highlights of the 4th on the 5th

Yesterday was a 4th of July to remember.

Of course, apart from what I write here and the few pictures I took, I probably won’t remember much about it by this time next year.

Here are the highlights.

  • I slept late (until 8 a.m.),
  • It rained – all day long.  First good rain in weeks.
  • The garden perked up.
  • Momma Robin found worms for her new hatchings (they finally hatched after the rain began).
  • My mom felt like putting up with us all at her house and let us come in and take over.
  • Sliced into the watermelon and felt it “pop” open – that means it’s ripe.  🙂
  • Hubby and Brother churned ice cream and talked.
  • Brother, Sis-in-love, Niece, Daughter, Hubby, Mom and me – that’s who sat around the picnic table for the cookout and enjoyed home-churned ice cream.
  • Saw Niece’s new hairstyle up close and personal – beautiful!
  • Goofed with Sis-in-love.
  • Talked about Dad and Sis-in-love’s Mom.
  • Toasted JUMBO marshmallows on the grill before cooking burgers…just to make sure the grill was hot enough.  Delicious!  And, sticky. (on my lips, nose, fingers…in my hair)
  • Licked ice cream from the churn dasher before washing it (one of the perks of working in the kitchen – yum!)
  • We were able to eat on the patio, at the picnic table, even though it was raining.
  • Mom’s potato salad and baked beans – m-m-m-m.
  • The temperature at 4 pm was…68 degrees.
  • After we ate ice cream, Mom, Niece and Sis-in-love donned jackets, hats and blankets – brr.
  • We ate toasted marshmallows (again) to warm up after the ice cream chill.
  • Fireworks began early in the day.
  • An explosion two houses up the street from us – sounded like someone blew up their gas grill.  Expletives followed.
  • At this same house, as we sat to enjoy our ice cream dessert, we heard what we first took as crazy fireworks but then soon realized it was the sound of a tree falling. I ran to the 2nd house up the street and found 7 people shocked but okay.  A huge tree had fallen on the garage they were celebrating in, crushing it but not injuring anyone.
  • With dusk came a lull in rainfall and an increase in explosions as celebrants headed outdoors to shoot the fireworks they had purchased.
  • A horrible explosion sounded across the street, then screams and yelling – (no one was injured) either a novice or idiot detonated something HUGE.  I heard him say: “it incinerated my #@$& tools!” The ball of gray smoke lingered in his yard and then slipped down the street.  My ears rang for some time.
  • Fireworks, the Braves – these we watched on TV at Mom’s while we waited for the blasting to finish outside (across the street, in the street, up the street).  It sounded like a war zone.
  • Jumped when unexpectedly loud (and scary) explosions shook her house.
  • After arriving home, watched a 2000 recording of the Pop Goes the 4th with Hubby and enjoyed fireworks set to music.  (a tradition for us and since we don’t have cable or satellite TV now, Hubby pulled out our old VHS tape of it and surprised me)

I’m certain my highlights of yesterday’s events are not the same list others in attendance would produce.  .

However, I think the downsides/low points would be the same for everyone present.

  • Dad was not there.
  • Sis-in-love’s mom was not there and her dad was unable to attend due to his health and the weather.
  • Son and daughter-in-love were not there – he worked.
  • Granddaughter (6 weeks old today!) was not able to come.  Her mom kept her in and out of the cool rain.
  • Niece’s significant other was visiting his family – his mom’s birthday.

Did you notice? The only downsides listed pertained to people absent from our number?

What were the highlights of your 4th of July celebration?

Doe-eyed Dove

While in our backyard, minding my own business and pretending to work, I heard something scratching high above my head…in the gutter of the garage.

Several wasps were flitting and flying, dipping and diving around something at the end of the gutter.  As I watched, I heard more scratching, and then a doe-eyed Dove lifted her head above the top edge of the gutter.

I grabbed the ladder and set it below the gutter and ascended, my eyes fixed on the gutter.  Time was of the essence if I was to rescue the dove I felt certain was stuck and being stung by wasps.

As I came eye level with her, I saw that she was not stuck – and the wasps were not attacking her, just flying around her.  She had built a nest there…in the gutter…between the end of the gutter and the opening that leads into the downspout.

She watched me as I looked at her.  Big, soft dark eyes…so like those of a doe.  She made no attempt to fly away.  And, I made no attempt to touch her.

Unwilling to scare her any more than I, no doubt, had already, I descended the ladder and returned it to the garage.

What an odd place to build a nest!  I’m not familiar with the nesting habits of doves and I’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to selecting a site and building a nest, I’m the last to ask advice of.

But, to me, this particular placed seemed filled with risk and danger to her brood.  If they survive, what would keep them from tumbling into the hole and down the downspout?  And, what would happen when summer rains fell and flowed from the roof in a torrent, filling the gutter?

As I thought on the dove and her precariously placed nest, I headed off to truly get some yard work done – at Mom’s house.

Mid afternoon, the sky grew dark and thunder rumbled.  Huge drops began to fall from the laden clouds, lightning flashed and then the bottom fell out as heavy drops the size of quarters fell like hail.

I was caught out in it. The drops were so large and so heavy that they actually hurt when they struck me.  I fretted about the dove and her eggs/babies.  Would they be okay?

It was after 6 when I arrived home.  My first thought was to check on the dove.  Out came the ladder and up it I went.

There she sat, doe-eyed and blinking.  And, dry.  Her nest seemed dry as well.  How could that be?

I looked around.  Did it rain at my house like it did at Mom’s?  I know cloudbursts can differ, but I’m only a block away from her house.  The ground was wet.  Yes, it had rained at my house, too.

But…how did the Dove and her nest remain DRY throughout it all?  The water would have poured from the roof…right on top of her and into the gutter.

I don’t understand.

Perhaps an Unseen Hand sheltered her and diverted the flow pattern from the roof above her.

I think back on times I’ve been certain that same Unseen Hand protected me when it seemed all was lost.

It’s comforting to know that I can worry about things other than the Dove and her brood.  It seems Someone else is watching over them.

Disappointment Wilts Hope

Early in the season, I purchased a large, robust (and blooming) potted tomato plant.

My intent was obvious: obtain a ripe tomato as soon as possible.  The plant was labeled “for container or garden” and was one of the Better Boy varieties of tomatoes.

I also purchased several seedling tomato plants.

In total I planted 13 tomatoes into the garden plot.

The large plant settled into the ground and appeared to be doing well.  Quite well, in fact.  It wasn’t long before I noticed little tomatoes on it.  The small plants struggled to gain roots – and I noticed several had been clipped to only two inches tall by the incisors of some tomato eating rodent…rabbit or squirrel.

I was careful to water the tomato plants, filling milk jugs that had been placed into the ground between the plants (bottom removed) to deliver water to the roots and not just to the base of the plants.

The garden looked healthy.  Things were growing according to schedule.

I could already taste those ripe tomatoes.

One morning I went out to check the garden after a night of heavy rain and was dismayed to find the large tomato plant appeared wilted.

Odd, especially considering the amount of rain we had received.  It had looked fine the evening prior and showed no signs of anything amiss.

I pressed down on the ground around the plant and it felt solid and firm.

As the day progressed and the sun bore down hot upon it, the tomato plant withered more.

In the days that followed, I did everything I could think of to break the wilt cycle.  Nothing worked. My hope wilted along with the plant.

And, now, a full week later I have made the decision to remove the still wilted plant from the garden and dispose of it as well as the dirt around the roots.  The green tomatoes (almost half the size of my hand) show black rot on the bottoms.

It’s with sadness and disappointment that I bid the favored plant farewell.

And, it is with renewed awareness that it is not I who controls what produces and when.  That belongs to Another.  I am simply the gardener, not the grower.

Sunburn and Mosquito Bites

Gardeners garden for various reasons.

  • pleasure
  • exercise
  • hobby
  • food
  • money
  • experience
  • love
  • boredom
  • relaxation
  • enjoyment
  • stimulation
  • wellbeing
  • health

I garden because I enjoy everything about it.

Well…almost everything.

I could do without the painful sunburn and itchy mosquito bites.

Especially since both could have been prevented by the simple act of wearing a long sleeved shirt (instead of a spaghetti strap tank) and sweat pants instead of shorts.

Yes, I could have applied sunscreen and sprayed myself with bug deterrent, but I’m chemical sensitive and have to be careful what I put on my skin.

At my age, you’d think I’d take better care of my skin and not expose it to the sun as freely as I did – or allow mosquitoes to nosh on me and swill my life flow. (Especially after the report of West Nile positive mosquitoes.)

But, I wanted a little sun on my back and shoulders so I chose to expose myself a bit more than usual – after all, it was mostly cloudy…most of the time.  Plus, I was certain I would be finished before West Nile mosquitoes became active.

Well, I received an abundance of sunshine and my tender skin is screaming about it right now.  At least my vitamin D level should be high enough…. But, the damage I received, coupled with numerous serious sunburns in my childhood, elevates my already high possibility of developing skin cancer.

And, the numerous itchy whelps that dot my arms and legs remind me to be more careful – West Nile is not something I want to play around with.

Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

So.  What’s my takeaway from this?  What’s my positive in all this negative?

  • I probably increased my vitamin D level.
  • Refrigerated 100% Aloe gel soothes sunburn pain and mosquito bites momentarily.
  • The time span from 24  to 48 hours after are the most painful for sunburns – and itchy for mosquito bites.
  • Knowing what to do and not doing it is foolish.
  • Bad sunburns happen even on cloudy days.
  • Tender white skin burns quickly and deeply – cover up.
  • A bad sunburn gives flu-like symptoms.
  • Gardeners wear long sleeves and pants for a reason.
  • Foolish decisions can impact us the remainder of our lives.
  • A gentle pat on the back can be excruciatingly painful, so can a well-meaning hug.
  • Pain makes me grouchy.
  • The garden is finished.
  • I feel good about my labor.
  • I’m learning to take “I told you so” better, and actually may begin to listen and take the advice offered.
  • Throwing caution to the wind is like spitting in the wind.  You’ve gotta make sure the wind is at your back and not in your face.
  • Keep my shirt on – who’s going to see my tanned back anyway? It’s not my back Hubby notices and he’s certainly not going to say, “I just love your tanned back.”
  • Lessons learned the hard way tend to make a lasting impression – just hope this lesson doesn’t scar me.
  • Sunshine on my shoulder makes me happy – sunburn on my back can make me cry.
  • Everything I do reminds me of my error – my “sin” is ever before me…or in this case, behind me.
  • It’s possible to sleep on your badly sunburned back.  (I’d advise you wait until the aloe gel dries – otherwise you will awake to find your extremely painful back firmly GLUED to the sheet beneath you.)
  • Given opportunity, the sun will burn and mosquitoes will bite. I know this from past experience. My responsibility to my body = not provide opportunity for either.
  • Learning from past experience and making changes is wise. Ignoring past lessons learned and expecting a different outcome without taking different action is foolish.
  • This body is the only one I have and I’m going to need it until the day I breathe my last breath.  I’d better take better care of her so she can take care of me.

The garden is finished.  But, there’s one more thing to plant in the space between the garden and the fence – “tired” potatoes (sweet and white).

I’ve never heard of anyone being sunburned during a thunderstorm, so if my sunburn can stand a shirt touching it, I think I’ll wait until the rain begins before I head out to set up and set out my “tired” potatoes.

And, don’t even talk to me about being struck by lightning – la la la la la la, I’m not listening to you….

Enough

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR WAS TRACKING A [sic] SEVERAL STRONG THUNDERSTORMS ACROSS NORTHWEST MIDDLE TENNESSEE. STORM MOVEMENT WAS NORTHEAST AT 45 MILES AN HOUR. HALF INCH SIZE HAIL…AND WINDS AROUND 40 MPH ARE EXPECTED WITH THIS STORM.

I knew storms were expected today.  100% chance was the forecast.  I knew some could be severe.

But, apparently I forgot: severe storms can bring hail.

Upon seeing the above mentioned weather statement, I headed outside to bring into shelter whatever was out there that I didn’t want damaged by hail – or blown about by wind.

It was the hail that concerned me the most.  This area is notorious for receiving hail damage.  The number of new roofs and siding on the houses is evidence enough.

In came potted plants, lawn chairs, a wheeled yard/work bucket…. Out remained pots too large to move, too heavy to carry – a cherished rosebush I’d moved our past 3 moves – and, of course, numerous ground-rooted things now in full bloom.

With a backward glance and a sigh, I headed indoors – I could only do what I could do and I had done that.

And, that would have to be enough.

Red Morn, Sailors Scorn

This morning I woke to an odd red glow.

The back of our house faces SE/S/SW, so our bedroom windows receive sunlight most of the day in the winter, with one of the windows receiving first light as the sun rises.

First light this morning was red.

Red light is not the first light one expects to see upon waking.

My mind immediately went into alert mode.  Red = warning.

I jumped from bed, peeked through the blind covering the window and saw a beautiful red sunrise turning wispy gray clouds a delightful shade of crimson.

A smile lit my face.

And, then a frown.

A phrase came to mind, “Red at night, sailor’s delight. Red in the morning, sailors take warning.” And, a quip I’d read last night did, too. It’s underlined.

The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven.He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away. (Matthew 16: 1-4 NIV)

A quick check of today’s forecast revealed…you guess it – 100% chance of RAIN today.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could simply peek out the window and check early morning signs in the sky to know what the day holds for us?

On second thought – we might be more inclined to turn over and hide from what lies ahead than to grab an umbrella and bravely head out into it.