This was the lake level on May 10th.
This is the lake level today. Soils are now 100% saturated down to 32″. We’ve had 21.63″ of rain for the month, and it’s still raining. The drought is well and truly busted. Now we’re dealing with periodic house flooding when the rain comes down in buckets and just has no place to go. Last night using a Shopvac, and 32 towels of various sizes, we sopped up some eighty gallons of water inside the house and some carpets still got soaked. When the rainfall rate is light to medium, my swales and diversion ditches can handle the runoff, but when the rainfall rate gets up to an inch an hour, all my efforts are quickly overwhelmed. Last night we got six inches of rain in roughly six hours. It was a crazy amount of rain, and there was no stopping it from getting into the house.
We’re expecting another round of severe weather today, so I took a few minutes to check the grounds, making sure there weren’t any potential projectiles lying around. Peter and I also lowered another wire antenna that could be damaged with the release of the widowmaker. It was then that I noticed a small lemon growing on my lemon tree. I’m really terrible with houseplants, but if they serve a purpose, other than decoration, I manage to keep them alive. I’ve had a ficus tree for ten years (it holds my bird ornaments), and this little lemon tree I’ve managed to get through two winters indoors, in the hopes that it would someday bear lemons.
I was pleased to see that the birds had found the feeder again. It was moved, again, because of the widowmaker. The Chickadees and Downy Woodpeckers found it right away, and this morning, the Painted Buntings. He let me get close enough to see all his pretty colors, but not quite close enough for a really clear photo.
Yet another Iris color showed up in the garden this week. My favorite color to date, but then I have a strong purple bias.
While checking the garden, I always grab any ripe alpine strawberries as I walk by. Imagine my surprise when the strawberry seeds moved!
The moving seeds appear to be tiny black and red beetles. I haven’t identified them yet, but I’m presuming from the coloring that they feed on strawberries and are not using cryptic coloration to hide. One quick snatch by a bird and the entire colony could be eaten. I nearly did! It’s a good thing I look at the food before I harvest it.
We were lucky. On Monday, a tornado passed
about a mile 2500 feet to the North of the house. We did sustain damage, but thankfully not to the house. The worst tree damage was to our Bradford pear tree. The poor tree withstood two pretty heavy ice storms since we moved in but was taken down by a 57 mph wind. I call it Twoface now. The South face is still full and green, the North face is cut away. After I cleaned up the branches I had at least a half rick if wood.
The fruit trees fared really well. The only damage was one branch off the peach tree.
Peter’s antenna mast didn’t fare so well. Luckily we have replacement parts. When we fix it, we’ll set up proper guy anchors for the mast, so this won’t happen again, unless of course we get a direct hit.
My biggest worry is this dead fall. This is what’s called a widowmaker, a fallen tree hung up on a neighboring tree branch, just waiting for the opportunity to fall on someone (probably me while hanging laundry). We’ll have to deal with this soon, and our neighbor has offered the use of his tractor.
Our saddest loss, although inevitable, was the fall of this cottonwood. This dead tree stood on it’s own out in the open near the pond and was a favored perch for just about every bird around. The Mississippi Kites would use it most often in the summer as a resting perch between hunting flights. I’ll miss it. It’ll stay where it fell, creating a new kind of wildlife habitat and eventually returning it’s nutrients to the soil.
More Blackjack Oaks in front broke in half, but oddly there was very little new damage in the back half of the property. I suspect Blackjacks are more adapted to interior forest, rather than a savanna setting and, if weakened, can’t tolerate strong winds. Eventually, I’ll replace the broken trees with Bur Oaks.
Peter has had an interest in astronomy for quite some time, and several years ago I bought him a telescope. It turned out to be a little more telescope than we could easily handle, not really knowing what we were doing, but we did get some close views of our nearest neighbors (planets, I mean). Over the last three years we have befriended a number of amateur astronomers here in Norman, and we decided it was high time we got together and had a Star Party.
Last night a few of us gathered just after sunset on the front lawn. Three of us had telescopes, ours, a 6″ refractor, and two Newtonion reflectors. We set ours up before sunset, so I was able to take a picture. I would never be so rude as to use flash photography after we had so painstakingly adapted our eyes to the dark (it takes forty minutes for complete adaptation).
We were worried earlier in the day that clouds would obscure the sky, but the high clouds cleared around sunset and stayed away until about 1:30AM. The views of Jupiter were spectacular, with 4 moons clearly visible, Ganymede, Io, Callisto and Europa, the cloud bands and perhaps a storm. We also viewed Neptune and Uranus. Among the stars we viewed three nebulae, ring, lagoon and swan, a globular star cluster in Hercules, comparing it to a diffuse star cluster (no name), the galaxy Andromeda, a couple of binary stars, and the Double Double (binary binaries). The evening was topped off with the remnants of the Perseids meteor shower.
We practiced using our telescope on Jupiter, then later I managed to find Andromeda on my own. We gained a lot of confidence with our underutilized telescope. We had great fun, good company, and learned a lot. We’ll be doing it again, although not too soon. I’m not used to going to bed at 3AM, then getting up at 7:30 to walk the dogs.