What’s Wrong with This Picture?

It’s August, and this is a LILAC flower.

Not a so-called summer lilac (which is really a buddlia–I have one of those, too) but a plain old May-blooming syringia, one of a half dozen along the property line between our screened porch and the neighbor’s house.

Problem is, it hasn’t been May for, oh, 11 weeks now, and yet here it is, one lone lilac stem blooming its little lavender heart out. In the 20 years I’ve been living alongside this particular hedge, nothing like this has happened before.

Spring came three weeks early this  year, and all I can think is that the early bloom plus the intense heat of July and the nearly month-long drought caused the lilac to go dormant, and when the rains finally came along with a few 50-degree nights, the lilac woke up and thought it was spring.

So I hauled out the tripod and took a picture of it for you. Happy Sprummer. Or Sprautumn.

© 2012 Anne Bingham and Making It Up as I Go

This is NOT Snow

…and the white streaks that appear to be running down the front of the gray house across the street are NOT the result of a poor paint job.

What you are seeing is a surprise hail event that occurred this morning (it only lasted about 10 minutes before turning into rain, so it’s hard to call it a hail storm).

The photo at right is our rear doormat; the hail came from the east and piled up against the back of the house almost two inches deep in places. When I walked outside a few minutes later I discovered that the hail was rough, not slick, and provided decent traction for walking, although Younger Son, who had to delay his departure for work for several minutes until the pelting eased up, reported that it was like driving in several inches of snow.

The consensus at the neighborhood coffee shop is that nobody, but noooooobody, had ever seen so much hail.

Apparently the fun isn’t over yet; it’s in the high 60s in Chicago but the very low 40s here, and the warm front is moving north. Thunder is rumbling and lightning is flickering even as I write this.

Like the lady said about a very different eve: “Fasten your seatbelts; it’s going to be a bumpy night.”

© 2011 Anne Bingham and Making It Up as I Go

Wake-Up Call

The yellow emergency horns at the top of this high school are half a block from my dad’s house, where I’m spending the week. Monday morning these horns started blaring at 4:30 a.m.

Emergency horns that are half a block away are very, VERY loud. They also do not sound like emergency sirens because there’s no wail effect. I don’t know whether this is because Ohio sirens are different from the ones I’m used to in Wisconsin, or because of something to do with the Doppler effect. I’m hoping someone with a physics background will explain it in the comments.

What the sirens do sound like is a car horn that’s shorted out in the neighbor’s driveway, which is about five feet from the wall of the bedroom where I was sleeping. I peeked through the curtains at the imputed offender, scowled, and went back to bed.

Three or four minutes later, the sirens wound down, and then I finally heard the familiar wail. Also, there seemed to be thunder in the distance…

I scrambled into the living room and turned on the TV. Let’s just say that seeing a weather map with a huge red “rotation” heading right toward you certainly accelerates the wake-up process.

I woke my dad, who had slept right through the first round of sirens. Fortunately, the second round was the last. By the time I got Dad and his walker halfway to the basement door, the weather map showed that the storm had turned north and the alert had expired for our county.

Dad fixed himself a cup of coffee and sat in the living room to watch the rain.

I went back to bed.

The rest of the week, I’m happy to say, has been less dramatic. Last night there was the Incident of the Burned-Out Light Bulb, which plunged the whole living room into darkness because it turned out the rest of the living-room light bulbs were dead, too, but that was a lot easier to fix than living in a Red Cross shelter until we could replace the roof.

© 2011 Anne Bingham and Making It Up as I Go

O, the Weather Outside is…

We’re having our first winter storm, but as often happens, Harwood is missing the worst of it.

Just 10 miles to the north and to the west, the winds are howling and the snow is blocking major highways and everything is canceled. Virtual Brother-in-Law Steve got caught on the way home from Ripon after dropping off Virtual Nephew Trevor at a state forensics tournament, and ended up spending the night in Fond du Lac.

In other words: It’s Wisconsin. The weather’s supposed to be like this.

And yet, in my immediate neighborhood, there’s not enough snow to cover the sidewalks. The walks and roads are sketchy because while everybody else was having snow a-plenty, we were having rain, which now is a fine glaze of ice on the roads and sidewalks, but it’s not the blizzard the rest of the Upper Midwest is enjoying.

This happens a lot. Time after time I’ve watched a humongous thunderstorm or major winter snow head right for Harwood, only to fall apart at the intersection of I-94 and Highway 45.

Although the joke is that we’re zoned against tornadoes, I’ve always suspected the reason the big stuff bypasses us is pushback from the (usually warmer) air over Lake Michigan 7 miles to the east, plus heat from all the pavement in the shopping areas west of us.

Last week, however, Younger Son found an alternate explanation here.

© 2010 Anne Bingham and Making It Up as I Go

In Praise of Portable Pumps

Thursday was an interesting day around here. It started raining in the morning, and began to really, really rain in the afternoon. Whole neighborhoods of Milwaukee County were badly flooded, many repeats of last week when hundreds of basements were hit by sewage backups. A sinkhole opened up on the East Side and swallowed a traffic light and an SUV.

We were lucky; we had one upsurge of storm water into the basement when the storm grates in the streets were overwhelmed, but it subsided quickly. I attribute this to the fact that we bought a portable pump in 1996, after a previous “storm of the century.” As a result of owning one, we have never had to use it.

We now know the pump works, however. Walking Partner and her husband had a small amount of flooding in last week’s rain, which they handled with a wet/dry vac. Thursday their basement had two inches, so they gave our pump its baptism. All reports are that it worked fine.

More rain is expected this weekend, although from the looks of things on the radar, it won’t be nearly as heavy or go on as long as Thursday’s. Still, I decided we should leaving the pump on their back porch so whoever needs it can use it.

Friday morning I braved the humidity and drippy trees and walked down to the parkway to inspect the river. The scene below is the Menomonee River flowing over the bike path; there’s a bridge just around the bend that was under water as well but I couldn’t get close enough to get it in the photo.

The line on the sidewalk is the debris line from the crest, probably overnight, since the pavement was dry when I took the photo around 9 a.m.

The little dot between the water and the debris line is a chipmunk on its own neighborhood inspection.

Update on Sunday, July 25: The river’s down considerably. I biked down this path twice today, once to pick up some oatmeal and bananas at the natural foods co-op, and once to a frozen custard stand to pick up a quart to have with a berry pie after supper. (Frozen custard = ice cream, but creamier. It’s a Milwaukee thing; just ask Joe Biden).

© 2010 Anne Bingham and Making It Up as I Go

After the Snow

We’re completing the third month of full snow cover in my part of Wisconsin. Due to a brief rain in January followed by another dip below 32ºF, I no longer need to snowshoe out to refill the bird feeder; the foot of snow we’ve had since Christmas has turned into a pack of nicely textured ice. Along with a lot of the eastern prairie states, we experienced another storm on Sunday; when it ended Monday morning, this is what my street looked like. I’m glad I was there to see it, and glad that after only three hours of trying, I was able to upload a photo to share! [Hint: In some browsers you can enlarge the photo by clicking on it, a little trick I discovered while looking at the pretty winter flowers in The Hot Pink Bike Route blog.]

© 2010 by Anne Bingham and Making It Up as I Go