Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog

July 28, 2011

Stuck in a Whirlwind

I’ve had better weeks.  I try not to use this blog space to complain, but please forgive me as I vent a bit about what happened to me over the past few days.

On Monday, the dreadful heatwave that had plagued most of the country had finally broken in this area, so I decided it was time to finally get out and mow the lawn.  I was trying to get it done quickly as it appeared that rain was eminent.  I was nearly finished when zap,zap,zap, OUCH!!!!  I had run over a yellow jackets’ nest in the ground and gotten stung several times in my hand and elbow.  I ran, swearing like sailor, into to the house to run them under cold water and make up the paste of baking soda and water to salve the stings.  To add to my indignity, upon sitting down to catch my breath for a moment, I discovered one yellow jacket had made the trip inside with me…in my shorts!  I was stung an additional three times you-know-where!

Tuesday dawns bright and sunny, comfortable temperatures.  Just a few errands in the plans for the day: Sarah having a friend over for a sleepover, getting my haircut, driving Meghan to and from the library where she was volunteering to help with a children’s art project.  It was the first time I had seen my hairdresser since the tornado on June 1st, so we were chatting about where we were and what happened.  Sadly her house sustained some damage.  We commented on what a nice pleasant day we were having that day.  I left the hairdresser’s and drove to the library to pick up Meghan.  I browsed books while Meghan finished up and noticed the darkening skies.  I hadn’t heard any thunderstorm warnings that day, but I had been busy puttering and cleaning and going about my business.  A huge clap of thunder rumbled outside and I could hear the screams of a few shocked children.  Meghan came out of the room where she had been working and I remarked we should try to get home before the storm opens up.  We live about 5 minutes from the town library, so I thought no problem.  It was gently sprinkling as we walked out to my car.

As I turned off Main St. to Springfield St, the skies opened up.  Torrential downpours and marble sized hail pelted my car.  Visibility quickly reduced to virtually nothing.  I saw blurry tail lights of the cars in front of me, and then nothing but a gray sheet of water across my windshield as traffic came to a standstill.  At that moment, a tree fell directly in front of my car, grazing the hood and grill as it went down, and another fell directly behind my car, tapping the bumper.  We were trapped.

I started trying to make phone calls.  Tried my husband first.  Couldn’t get through right away.  I tried 911; nobody answered.  I called directory assistance to get my local police department’s alternate number.  They told me to stay put in my car, they were getting dozens of calls and would do their best to get to us.  Hubby got through, told him what had happened, but by that time there was no way for him to get to us.  We were stuck in a triangle of streets that had all been blocked by trees and downed telephone poles in a matter of minutes.

And so we sat in the car and waited, not knowing what to do.  Were there downed wires? Was it safe to get out of the car?  Were more trees going to fall? Was it safe to stay in the car?  I opened my car door several times trying to  look around in the driving rain to determine what the dangers might be but I couldn’t make a decision.

When the rain finally let up somewhat, another trapped motorist stopped to check on us.  He told me there was another tree dangling perilously close to the roof of my car and that we’d better get out.

This is what my car looked like when we got out:

It was still drizzling at the time, and another family invited us to sit in their car with them while we waited for the firemen to try to get to our area.  I thanked them and sat for a while, now soaked to the skin.  Feeling restless, I got out of the car and walked around a bit, wondering exactly what our situation was.  Other people were out doing the same.  There were about half a dozen cars trapped in the same general area with us.  Finally, we heard the chainsaws of the fire department on one side of the fallen trees.  Four firemen came through to check on people and assess damage.

They confirmed what I suspected.  We were really stuck.  There was no where for the cars to go.  Trees had fallen in all three possible directions of travel (for any locals who could be reading this, I was stuck on Springfield Street at the intersection of Faculty St.).  I’d been in contact with my husband who had been offering to drive as far as he could and then hike to trade places with me, so that he would wait with the car and I could take his truck home.  I didn’t like the idea not knowing what the situation was like beyond my immediate area, fearing he would end up stuck somewhere and leave my younger daughter and her friend home completely alone.

After we’d be stuck waiting for over 2 1/2 hours trying figure out if a way would be cleared that evening, I made a decision after talking to a fireman.  I asked if it was possible to get to our town hall on foot, which I knew was only a few hundred yards away, and according to my husband the road was clear at that point.  The fireman said yes, as long as you were careful to walk on the edge of people’s yards and stay away from downed wires.  I called my husband and asked him to pick us up at town hall and Meghan and I made a wary trek under and around fallen trees and telephone poles.  My poor car was abandoned for the night.

After trying multiple times to get back to my car the next day, we finally made it back and hubby tried to assess the damage.  The grill was cracked and the radiator appeared punctured.  The car started but the temperature soared quickly as I drove it to our local autobody, where it now sits awaiting an insurance adjuster.

Meghan and I are fine.  Maybe a bit shaken up, but no damage to us!  I wish I could say the same for my garden.  The driving hail made the garden appear as though someone attacked it with a machine gun:


Some of the veggies are even scarred:


My geranium which recently looked like this:

now looks like this:

My yard is loaded with fallen branches, hail-shredded leaves and a lawn flattened by the small lake that passed through, but with the exception of my car, we sustained no damage.  Meghan and I are feeling very lucky and thankful considering how close to being hurt we really came.

Rumors of another tornado hitting this area are unconfirmed; funnel clouds were reported but official weather-type people are yet to determine if there was touchdown.  Strong thunderstorms with hail and 50 mph winds were confirmed.  I don’t know what the whirlwind I was stuck in the middle of was actually called; it doesn’t really matter, it was scary as hell!

Power was out again for about 30 hours.  It happily came back on last night.  I will be dealing with the task of figuring out which food in the fridge is still good and what has gone bad.

As I said, I’ve had better weeks.  I’m hoping it is going to get better soon.  This weekend I will be attending Big Summer Potluck 2011.  It is an east coast food blogger event, for which I am tagging along with my sister.  We are leaving tomorrow morning, so this will likely be my last blog post until Sunday evening at the earliest.  I hope your week was better than mine and that a wonderful weekend is on tap for us all!  (Thanks for letting me vent!)


July 26, 2011

Being Naughty!

Filed under: Recipes — Karma @ 9:03 am

extra-gooey mac and cheese

Want to get my recipe for making this gooey dish of badness?  Pop on over to my sister’s place today for another guest post by moi!

July 24, 2011

Portrait of a Summer Evening

I don’t have to tell you it is hot.  Seems most of the country has been experiencing a heat wave over the last few days.  Thankfully, at least around here, it seems to be breaking today.  Highs should only be in the upper 80’s and we have a chance for showers throughout the day.  Due to the heat of the day, evening has been the more pleasant time to head outside, and it is a nice time for taking pictures.

The girls came outside for a swim and hand-stand practice:


The day lillies glow in the evening:


One of my dahlias showed a deep red that I have difficulty capturing in the daytime:

The sky was painted with swirly clouds:


And some of my favorite summer creatures came around for a photo session:


Tiger Swallowtail butterfly


Hummingbird moth


and my hummingbird took his evening post.


Daphne says, “I don’t care what you think, Mom, it is still too hot!”

July 21, 2011

Cape Cod Flora and Fauna

Filed under: Travel — Karma @ 10:13 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

Flora and fauna – a fancy way of saying plants and critters!  Maybe that’s what this blog should actually be called, huh?  They are my favorite photo subjects, and my recent trip to Cape Cod provided plenty.

lace caps

Lace-cap hydrangeas


fiery day lillies

beach rose

beach roses or rosa rugosa

beach heather

beach heather

And the fauna:

grabbing a snack

gull who came close enough for a piece of pizza crust

beach visitor

beach-visiting golden retriever

hermit crabs

Hermit crabs found by my daughers (don’t worry they put ’em back!).  Amuses me that at 16 and almost 14 years old, finding and picking them up still fascinates Meghan and Sarah.

piper or plover? not sure!

Not sure what this bird is.  I’m thinking a piper or a plover – can anyone help?  I watched this bird hover over the Bass River and quickly dive in for fish.


Osprey – I’m very happy with this shot.  This is the best shot of a bird of prey that I’ve ever gotten.  In all my visits to the Cape, with the many nest boxes you see everywhere, I never quite realized just how large this bird is. The chimney gives you a good idea of its size; according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology it is almost 2 feet tall and has a wingspan of about 5 feet.

“Karma’s Plants ‘n’ Critters”…. nah, I guess not. 😉

E.T.A. : Turns out that my hovering, diving bird is but a common tern (ha, ha, I crack myself up!).  I did a little research and Cornell’s “All About Birds” helped me out again.  Great site they have there.

July 20, 2011

Hey, by the way…

Filed under: Recipes — Karma @ 9:23 am

I have a guest post  over at my sister’s place!  It is about the darn tasty beef brisket hubby and I made for our camping trip.  Why don’t you pop over there and have a peek?  You can let me know what you think or ask a question in the comments over there or here, if you like.

July 19, 2011

Showing Scale

Scott’s assignment is due tomorrow – did you finish yours yet?  Here’s my contribution.

We have been picking raspberries in my backyard for the past couple of weeks.  My younger daughter Sarah has been going out and picking them faithfully, despite the fact that she doesn’t like them herself ( I know! Weird, huh?).  One morning she brought in a huge berry, and it happened to be the day after Scott announced this assignment.  I wondered if it would make a good showing scale photo.  I compared it to a “normal” sized berry figuring most folks could probably make that connection:

(This shot was harder to get than I orginally thought!  I ended up placing my camera on my deck railing, setting the self-timer, and using live view tried to arrange my hands in front of the lens.  Even though I was out in bright sunshine, I needed a fill-flash so that the berries’ color looked right and so that my hands did not look like gray zombie hands!)

I wasn’t content with just this shot however.  A new-to-me flower this year is bee balm.  I’m doing my best to make my little hummingbird happy this year, so I planted this perennial this spring.  I’ve been fascinated taking its photo as it blooms.  I showed you its early stages in this post a couple weeks ago.  Yesterday, I took this shot:


If you aren’t familiar with this flower, you really have no idea how big it is from this shot.  I thought I could show some scale with this bloom:

Here it is with a dime in the center of the bloom.  While I was setting up this shot, another idea occurred to me for a way to show scale:


And it gave me an excuse to show my handsome boy Teddy too!

Thanks, Scott, for another good assignment!

July 17, 2011

Chasing the Moon


sunset at Smuggler’s Beach, South Yarmouth

This past Thursday evening I was driving to Cape Cod to visit my mother.  As I made the familiar trek over the Bourne Bridge, along the Cape Cod Canal and on to Rt. 6 or the Mid-Cape Highway at approximately 8pm, I was struck by an outrageously gorgeous full moon hanging very low in the sky.  The Mid-Cape travels east until you get to the “elbow” of Cape Cod, so I had an amazing view of the rising moon and bemoaned the fact that a busy highway on a famous vacation pennisula would probably be a dangerous place to pull over and take a picture.  The conditions would have been perfect (except for the fact that I left my tripod at home) – low in the sky, full, beautiful color, not too dark out.  No matter, I said to myself.  I’m here for two more nights, I will certainly get another chance.

Friday came and I spent the day getting LOTS of other fun pictures such as:
pink hydrangea

pink hydrangeas,

sand sculpture

amazing sand sculptures, and

interesting negative space

interesting negative space – do you see the “dog biscuits” my daughter spotted?

It was such a lovely afternoon at the beach, we decided to bring some pizza to the beach to eat for dinner and await moonrise.  Certainly I’d get a lovely shot right at the spot where Bass River runs into Nantucket Sound.


The light of day was fading.  Around 7:45pm I couldn’t see the moon anywhere despite a mostly clear sky and wide-open landscape.  I didn’t think moonrise would change all that much in 24 hours, but to be on the safe side, I called hubby, who wasn’t able to accompany me on this trip.

“Hon, could you do me a favor?” I asked.

“What’s up?”

“Could you go on that website with the moonrise data for me and check the time of tonight’s moonrise?”

“Uh, okay… hang on… the navy’s site says 7:22pm for the Cape Cod area.”

Okay now I was really confused.  It was nearly 8:00, the wind was getting really chilly and my daughters were getting really impatient.  No moon anywhere.  At 8:10, we gave up and went back to Mom’s place.

Frustrated by the lack of moon, I looked up moonrise information myself on this site.   Apparently, the U.S. Naval moonrise information does not take daylight savings time into account!  The moonrise was actually 8:22 pm.  I missed what was probably a gorgeous moon.  According to the Cape tides site, the next night moonrise would be nearly 9pm.  **sigh**  The picture was not mine to have this time around.

July 12, 2011

August Photo Hunt

Filed under: Photo assignments — Karma @ 9:49 pm
Tags: , , ,

Yes, I know it is still July.  And I know that right now it is time to be working on Scott’s assignment, but I had an idea for my next photo hunt that I thought you might like to keep in mind as you are going about your summer activities.  I would like you to show me summer in a rainbow of colors.  Some of you may remember Scott’s assignment from the fall about showing autumn.  I chose to do my assignment by posting a photo in each color of the rainbow.  I hope that you all, especially Scott, don’t think I am copying Scott’s idea – although it was definitely inspired by him.  I’m still calling this a photo hunt even though I am not assigning you specific items to hunt for; I am asking for a photo for each of the prominent rainbow colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.  Each photo should show something specific to summertime.

Bonus: a self-portrait of you in the summertime!

Just like with the past photo hunts, leave me a link to your photos in the comments of this post. I will leave a link to this post available on the sidebar over there on the right side of the page, and I will post a reminder come August as well, since some folks might not be looking for my hunt until then.  I will also post a re-cap of all the results. The purpose of my hunts is to get you out shooting and having fun, so new photos are preferred, but if you have the perfect shot a couple of the photo hunt  items in your archives, feel free to use them.  I’m giving you LOTS of time for this one – due date of Sunday, August 28th – so I’m hoping to get lots of participation.  As always I’d greatly appreciate if you helped me let people know about the assignment by blogging, tweeting or Facebooking a link to this post.  Let me know in the comments if you plan to participate and if you have any questions.

July 11, 2011

Camping with the Silly Walks Gang

Filed under: Travel — Karma @ 3:56 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Camping.  It is a word that produces mixed responses from people.  “Oh camping!  I LOVE camping!” or “Oh, camping, uh, no thanks,” are two typical responses.  I find myself in a place somewhere in between those two responses.  Let me explain.

My only camping experience as a child was with my family and our best-friend neighbors.  My mother considers “roughing it” to be staying at a hotel that doesn’t have room service, so it was an interesting experience.  I don’t remember a lot about it except that it ended early due to heavy rainfall one night and that my sister lost a doll’s arm in a near by creek.

My husband, on the other hand, practically grew up in the wilderness.  He was a Boy Scout for years (in the days when Boy Scouts really camped out) and a summer camp counselor when he was a teenager.  When we had been dating for a few years, he and some friends of ours wanted to go camping.  I agreed to go and was happy to spend the weekend with friends.  Thus began a tradition 20 years in the making.

With the exception of a few years here and there due to events such as the birth of children, since 1990 a group of great friends has gotten together for a camping trip.  The people available and the location of the camping have varied over the years but the one truth is this:  we have a great time enjoying each other’s company.  Our children range in age from 8 to 18 now, and our kids look forward to it as much as we do now.  For those of you on the “camping, no thanks” side, let me say that this isn’t normal camping.  With the exception of being outdoors, there isn’t much about our trip that is roughing it.


Yes, we do sleep in tents – tents equipped with comfortable air mattresses, pillows, and blankets.


Yes, we do cook over a fire – but we also use propane powered campstoves and grills.  This year’s big Saturday night dinner included 7 pounds of spicy beef brisket, grilled summer squash and zucchini (from my garden), tortellini salad, cheddar broccoli rice, baked beans with bacon, and strawberry-rhubarb compote for dessert.  During the day we munched on piccadillo (a Mexican dish) for lunch, homemade beef jerky, chips and salsa, trail mix and fresh cherries, to name a few of our snacks.  Oh and breakfast both mornings was quite delicious.  Blueberry pancakes and sausage on Saturday, egg sandwiches, bacon and cinnamon rolls on Sunday.


Check out this set up.  We are prepared for rain, have plenty of comfy seats, and did I mention plenty of food?

Yes, we do have to walk a bit to the restroom, but that’s really okay when you have a pretty sky like this to look at while you walk:


On my many walks in this direction, I was able to see red squirrels and various birds during the day, and circling bats and even a raccoon in the evening.  No pictures of them, but I loved seeing them.

So, to return to my explanation on my position about camping.  Roughing it? Uh, no thanks.  Camping our style? I LOVE camping!

For those interested, this year’s camping trip was at Wompatuck State Park in Hingham, MA.  For those curious about my blog title, “Silly Walks Gang” is how this group of friends refers to itself and is the title of our group email.  We are all great fans of Monty Python, hence the name.

July 7, 2011

Garden Update

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 10:05 am
Tags: ,

I don’t know if anyone would be interested in a peek into my veggie garden since I first planted and I last showed it to you, but it seems to be doing well this year ***knocking on wood***.   No signs of the dread blight so far.  I’m thinking maybe the landscape fabric is helping?  Anyway, here’s a little slideshow of the progress so far:

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