Forecast: Dry and Smoky

this sad country
bird bath emptied in the night
by a thirsty doe

The prairies are definitely in a dry cycle this year. Most of our “Possibility of thunder showers” forecasts have evaporated and all the sloughs are dry. Since there’s no water lying anywhere near, I’ve been taking pity on the birds in our yard and putting out several basins of water in the back yard for them. It’s been a joy to watch them from my kitchen window, coming and splashing about, as well as dining on hapless insects floating on the surface.

Last week another creature found my water bowls. Early one morning I saw a doe drinking out of the largest basin so I be sure to top it off at dusk every evening. Several mornings now I’ve found it right empty and a number of telltale hoof marks on the ground. Last night I filled it to the brim around 9 pm and there was only a dribble in the bottom this morning.

Our yard light provides another source of nourishment for the birds, too, judging by how many birds are harvesting bugs on the ground below every morning. This morning I saw robins, sparrows, a kingbird and a brown thrasher feasting there.

There are many fires burning in northern forests; I heard of over a hundred burning out of control in BC alone, plus fires in Alberta and northern Sask.. All this week our atmosphere has been hazy with smoke, sometimes it gets rather hard to breathe. Still, I dare not complain when others closer to the fires are in thick smoke every day and many communities have been evacuated because of encroaching infernos. It must seem a daunting, maybe even hopeless, task to fight fires on every hand, but I’m so thankful for those brave souls out there doing that work.

We’re taking a holiday this week, going to a part of our country where rain is plentiful. In fact, there’s rain in the forecast almost every day this week — I just wish we could bring some back with us! Meanwhile, I hope the creatures around our yard can find another source while we’re away.

Afternoon Storm

A wild electrical storm came up at 1 pm this afternoon, just as I was leaving work. Soon after I got home the system settled right above us for about fifteen minutes. Fierce winds and lightning flashes all around, but the ones right over our heads were worrisome. However, we got at least 3 cm of much-needed rain, so we’re thankful. (Our neighbour’s rain gauge showed 1 1/2″ when all was said and done. Nice! ) A friend who lives +/- 40 km north of us got not a drop.

Now here’s a quickly composed verse about the event:

In constant waves the pouring rain
sweeps over the field, the road;
the tree tops thrashed by the onslaught,
spring back, to be bullied down again.
The overshadowing turbulence
hurls jagged streaks our way,
followed closely – so closely! –
by the cannon roars of thunder.
With each boom we shudder, praying
neither we nor the trees will be zapped,
sizzled or uprooted by the ferocity
clamoring above our heads.
We cringe, yet count this not
the malevolence of a foe;
rather we rejoice in the storm
and bless the sheets of driven rain
bringing life to this thirsty land.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Image by Terry McGraw at Pixabay

Three Tinkles of the Bell

Yesterday I heard three little warning tinkles that provoked some serious thoughts.

What If…

Yesterday morning Marla, the FlyLady, posted a list of practical things everyone should do to be prepared for an emergency. I went over this list of simple, obvious things like being sure you have at least half a tank of gas in your car, some cash handy, a few essentials in a flight bag.

— If there’s a big exit, such as happens in the US when a hurricane’s about to hit, cars may be bumper-to-bumper on the freeway for awhile, so be prepared. If the power’s out, gas pumps won’t work, so don’t let your tank run so low. In fact, many things won’t work if the power’s out: debit machines, ATMs, etc.

— Plan ahead and have your precious stuff near the door or where you can grab it in your rush to evacuate. Keep all precious documents in a safely deposit box, copies at home, duplicate keys and flash-drives a friend or relative’s home. Etc.

Another tinkle chimed in the news yesterday. After several days of record-breaking heat, topping at 49.6C – which is just over 121 F – a fire started and rapidly destroyed 90% of Lytton, a town in the interior of British Columbia. Horrible! Our sympathies to the folks without homes, and in that terrible heat wave. Thankfully the people of Lytton had enough time to get out. How would it be to have JUST ENOUGH time to jump in the car and go?

The next tinkle came when a friend, in the course of our visit, talked about the possibility of fire. On such a windy day as it was yesterday, which made our outdoors like a blast furnace, fire is a terrifying prospect. In fact, we heard that our son-in-law and grandson, members of the local volunteer Fire Dept, were out fighting a fire about 30 km from here. It’s not hard to imagine fires raging in the northern forests, but we’re not as immune as we’d like to think, either.

I’m not anticipating disaster but these tinkles remind me there are some things I could and should do to be prepared. If the need arose for sudden flight, we’d likely grab our two cats, our cell phones and my purse if we could, and dash for the car. Everything else would stay behind, come what may. So which of our belongings are really precious and what can we do to ensure their safety? For those of us who are pack-rats, these are questions worth pondering.

Delight + Dismay

Monday Morning Catch-Up

Delight: A beautiful sunny morning. I saw a hummingbird at our feeder at 7am.
Dismay: I’m missing the swallows. Used to be, morning and evening, I’d see a dozen swallows swooping and diving, cleaning our yard of pesky mosquitoes. So far this month I’ve seen two tree swallows and, twice now, a lone barn swallow.
Some people regard barn swallows as pests. “Dirty little birds, dropping mud here and there. Wish I didn’t have to clean up their mess.” Never considering how swallows clean up our air, devouring thousands of mosquitoes and other bugs every single day.

Delight: All kinds of birds come to my watering/bathing dishes all day long.
Dismay: Can they ever splash, especially the robins! Dishes need refilling several times a day. I don’t mind, actually; the show is worth the effort.

Delight: I’m finally getting another blog post written!
Dismay: I’ve lots I’d like to write – and posts I’d like to follow – but I’m having a hard time disciplining myself to get at it.

Delight: Last week I finished different painting projects and varnished half a dozen. They’re ready to go now.
Dismay: This new hobby takes time and money. On Friday I left another generous sum at Michael’s for more paint and canvas.

Delight: Someone encouraged me to sell them and even suggested a selling price!
Dismay: Perhaps no one will buy them? I’m not a pro, you know.

The same someone reminded me that we have other artistic sorts here who sell stuff and they aren’t PROFESSIONALS, either. Sign makers, candle makers, soap makers, bakers — we all do the best we can and it’s up to buyers if they want what we offer. So I’m encouraged to try.

Delight: Last week I studied online about the art of “paint pouring,” the different methods used, etc. And then I gave it a try!
Dismay: For the first picture I used some old Mod Podge I had sitting around as a pouring medium. Not so smart. The picture’s fine, colour-wise, but the texture is like someone sprinkled sand on the canvas.

Delight: On Friday’s trip to the city, I bought some proper pouring medium and a few more canvases. Mixed up some paint, several colours separately in cups, and gave it a try. Actually, I mixed up too much paint, so did a second picture.
Dismay: The second picture being an afterthought, I hurriedly mixed up more paint and it wasn’t mixed as carefully as the first cups. So the result had a few lumps.

Delight: Hey, the pictures were okay. The second one, on a 9″ x 11″ canvas, came out looking like six pink flowers spaced out nicely in a beige and turquoise flowerbed. This would have been a perfect illustration of Friday’s RDP prompt: Not a pair. 🙂
Dismay: One important instruction about pour art: When you leave your pictures stand overnight to harden, be sure the surface they’re on is level. Otherwise the picture may shift; paint may flow off the canvas one way or the other and you may see a much different picture in the morning. I could say I spent $25 Friday night to discover that the desk in my sewing room isn’t quite level. My “flowerbed” now looks like a dipsy tulip. Artists, beware!

Delight: I’m not giving up anyway. 🙂 I’m so enthused about my new artistic hobby!
Dismay: Much as I’d like to – I can’t spend all day painting. 😉

Delight: My operation was a great success and I’m pretty much back to normal in my activities.
Dismay ?: It’s time to catch up on all the housework and pull weeds in the flowerbeds.

Delight: Though the spring was drought-dry and dust was flying, farmers seeded their crops in hope. Now some badly needed rains have come to replenish our land. The seed is germinating and we’re all hopeful again.
Dismay: June is half gone already!

Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning: SEED

Haiku Clouds

On Wednesday I added some clouds to one of my seascape paintings, as the original clear blue sky looked so blank. Yesterday I ordered a set of fan brushes, all the better to cloud my future skies and fern-leaf my foliage.

Which leads me to this senryu:

with my fan brush
I scuffle in some clouds
promise of rain

Image by David Mark at Pixabay

Again on Wednesday, while on a walk, I watched the fluffy clouds drift over and wished they’d dump some rain on us. Yesterday’s cloud brought us about fifteen minutes of snow flurries, just enough to whiten the ground and briefly settle the dust. We desperately need a good soaking rain.

stop white clouds!
honor us with some drops
dust swirls along the road

soft morning rain
pattering in the trees
answered prayers

Another Wintry Tale

The Ragtag Daily Prompt for today is CHILLY. You might guess that word will bring some frosty responses from those of us in northern climes.

This has been a chilly week for us. On Sunday we here in SK recorded the lowest temperature on the planet. A nice conversation piece to share as we huddle around the fireplace. 🙂

Monday morning was seriously cold, school buses didn’t run so rural schools were closed. In the afternoon the wind came up. I had a meeting to go to and stopped at the mail boxes on my way home. Exposed to the bitter wind, I believe the warning the weather man often gives: “Exposed flesh can freeze in one minute.” Coming from the cooks’ + management meeting at the Villa, I wasn’t dressed for -40!

Someone asked how we dress for this cold weather. Bundled up warmly, with gloves, fuzzy scarves around our noses and foreheads, and thickly lined coats and boots. People who must be outdoors much may wear balaclavas to keep their faces from freezing. But vehicles have improved very much over the years, with heating vents and wires through the glass. You must have a block heater if you live in this country and plug your car in on nights this cold. Below -30 your chances of starting a vehicle without one are pretty slim.

That NW wind carried on all night and most of Tuesday, blowing snow across the north south highway and stranding vehicles in ditches. Blowing in from the fields NW of us, snow filled in our driveway with hard-packed knee- to waist-deep drifts. Looking out into the garden I estimated the snow peaks at 1.5 m or 60″ and an average depth of a metre/40″ all across. I see the “whatever” is still snuggled under the garage with its breathing hole open.

Someone said we don’t have much runoff this year because the dry sandy land will soak in all the melting snow, but our yard will have extra, I’m sure. Our son-in-law came with his big loader Tuesday evening, blasted through those packed drifts in our driveway, and built us a snow hill higher than our garage, to the west of it. Now we have our own toboggan run! The highest drifts he cut through in our driveway were a metre deep. (Just measured. 🙂 )

Wednesday morning the power flicked off as I was working on the computer; it went off about 7:45 am and was out until 10:05. When it’s -35 or -36 you want power, heat, and water. (The electric pump won’t deliver water when the power’s off.) Bob lit the wood stove, which is a smokey old thing, but heats the living room to keep us from freezing. Though we weren’t in any danger for that short a time and the power company were on the ball with getting it fixed again.

The temp yesterday, Thursday, was -38C with a wind chill of -50. Schools have been closed all week. It’s been sunny, though, so we’re not dreary sitting indoors. Good skating weather for hardy souls, I suppose. And today we’re glad the thermometer has climbed to a high of -23C, so a warmer day but still on the chilly side.

Our little Tuffy made a trip to the vet today, to have some of his male aggressiveness removed. Sadly, it’s necessary to neuter even such an attractive cat, who’d give such lovely kittens, but it must be done if we want to have him in the house and peaceful. He’s got a plastic cone around his head now to keep him from licking his incision; he’s not very happy about it, but making the best of the situation with his electronic toy mouse to amuse him.

I haven’t posted much this week, wanting to share brilliant, inspiring thoughts, but not knowing how to start. I’d like to organize and condense the ideas generated from reading several articles earlier last weekend. I prefer to write upbeat things, but my heart has been heavy as I’ve read about the different Christian and political perspectives in the US. I think a lot of people, even internationally, are bewildered and/or fearful where this is all heading.

We have a “Made in USA” calendar that tells me it’s Abraham Lincoln’s birthday today. I guess he could tell us a few things about political discord. The US has survived a lot already, but when I hear about extreme elements, radically right and radically left, fired up and ready to ignite a civil war at the neighbours’, I am troubled.

Mainly I wish with all my heart that the Gospel according to Jesus Christ could be shared in its purity. I’m sure our Father in Heaven grieves over the multiplicity of confusing, contradicting, and all supposedly Christian, theologies people have come up with. I think we’re all agreed on that — but who’s ready to toss out all the embellishments and dig right down to the foundation laid by Jesus and the apostles?

Something for a future post. Keep safe and warm everyone.