Ominous Clouds

We have had some interesting rain clouds and storms as of late. All minor in severity but they make for intriguing weather-watching.

Usually I would be more nervous about seeing mammatus clouds but these were moving away from us towards town and fortunately, they carried no hail that we could see.

We haven’t yet seen the house take hail yet and we are crossing our fingers and toes that our metal roof and stucco siding make it through the ’23 storm season unscathed.


Finally, it rained tonight. It only took several months for our first respectable rain to arrive but it was GLORIOUS.

The dark and slow-moving clouds arrived first and seemed to chug to a stop overhead, bunching up like clogged highway traffic at rush hour. Then, the first few patter-pats of raindrops began to plop onto the windows and our metal roof. This was followed by roughly forty-five minutes of meditative bliss as a heavy blanket of rain and gentle thunder enveloped our ridge.

I opened the front and patio doors, leaving just the screens closed to welcome in every last iota of humidity that could make its way into the house. As evening fell, I turned off all the lights, lit a single candle and sat down to enjoy the moment as I watched the rain drops meander down the windows overlooking our valley.

Kelvin-Helmholtz Clouds

The other week I stood at the kitchen sink when an odd little set of clouds began to stand out against the sky. At first they appeared to resemble a washboard pattern but soon they smoothed out to take the form of ocean waves (almost in the way a child might draw them).

Within seconds they were already changing. My memory was stretching to remember where I had seen this shape before and why it was special. It took me a second but it hit me I had seen this in an article on social media about a similar formation over the Wyoming Big Horns from 2022.

These were not quite that spectacular, but it was the unique shape that was memorable.

I reached out to our local National Weather Service office via Facebook and they were kind enough to confirm back that day that yes, these were Kelvin-Helmholtz clouds among other lenticular formations.

If you really want to nerd out and read about the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability phenomenon, you can start here. But all in all, this was a neat occurrence to get to see and within seconds it was unraveling and in 1-2 minutes was completely gone.

This now makes me wonder what else I may have missed in the vastness of our sky when I am downstairs working during the day or otherwise in our home not looking up.

Book Review: The New Wilderness

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Title: The New Wilderness

Author: Diane Cook

Why I picked this book to read: This book caught my eye by its interesting cover (admittedly, as most often do). I had been in Barnes & Noble filling my basket’s worth of finds and grabbed this one to top off my purchases as a “in for a penny, in for a pound” decision. I highly recommend impulse shopping as a great way to discover a new author and type of book!

How I would summarize this book: A spectrum cast of characters volunteers and join forces for different reasons in the last undeveloped lands unmarred by humanity’s environmental damage. We follow the story of Bea, a mother making gritty decisions to try to give her young daughter, Agnes, the possibility of a healthy life vs. what she would otherwise face in a smog-ridden, overpopulated city. The paths of the ensemble of characters intersect once they arrive in this new land and the journey truly begins as everyone makes their own choices along the way, all trying to survive. Human behavior looms in all its forms as the group transitions from volunteers to survivors as they fight against and for one another.

As the campfire hissed itself to sleep, she heard the last of the Community walking cautious and blind from the fire to the beds and nestling down. Someone said “Goodnight, everyone.” Against her ankle, Bea could feel Agnes’s blood pulsing through her hot clutching hand. She breathed in and out to its rhythm. I have a daughter, she thought, no time for brooding. She was needed here, and now, by someone. She vowed to move on quickly. She wanted to. She had to. It was how they lived now.

As Bea soldiers onward through each life-or-death choice throughout the book, she finally beings to near everything she has dreamed of for her only child. We also see changes in perspective of characters as much of the first part of the book is from Bea’s eyes, but later we see the story’s continuance through the eyes of Agnes. The reading adventure evolves yet again into a complete plot-twist near end of the book and opens up new twists and turns for mother and daughter as the final chapters unfold.

The challenges and outcomes for several key characters we get to know along the way provide for interesting sub-plots in parallel to the main story of Bea and Agnes. Throughout, the story follows more closely to how I can imagine true human behavior might be in this type of survive-or-die world when a group of people come together not of their own choosing. It was a gripping read that kept me guessing all the way through and was as visceral as it was imaginative and fictional.

What I Really Liked: I appreciated the details of the geographic landscapes in this book. The characters cover a remarkable amount of distance, seasons, years and terrain. The author doesn’t slow down the pace of the action by describing every last leaf or rock, but chooses savvy locations to detail during pivotal moments:

The lakes were bordered by tall pines, with the greenest needles Agnes had seen in a long time and tall rusty-orange trunks. Healthy trees. Not thirsty like what they’d seen lately. They were watered well by the lakes and snowmelt. So much vibrancy in a landscape marred by lava. The obsidian flows were glassy fingers reaching for the lakes. Elsewhere, those fingers were rough, the rock sharp, reddened, and treacherous. Pumice cliffs and peaks surrounded the lakes and the caldera rim. Between the lakes lay a flow that had hardened as it had swirled, molten, like a hurricane around its own eye. “We are swimming in those lakes,” said Debra in a reverent whisper. “I don’t care how cold they are.”

My Overall Summary: All in all, this is a great read that came at the perfect time as a change from my most recent historical fiction. It was more raw and kept me on the edge of my proverbial seat. It was one of those different and unique stories that keeps you intrigued the entire way through and cleanses your reading palette as refreshingly different.

Orchid Blooms in Sunset

This is my most prolific blooming orchid in our home: Shin New View x Smile Angel.

Despite our move of residence in October, and the stresses that occurred to the plants then coupled with the more drafty home we are fixing up, it continues to flower on. Orchids are susceptible to significant temperature changes, wind and bugs (all of which happened to my collection during the showing of our former home and after moving).

Before and after the move, this one orchid somehow continues to happily bloom every few months with a waterfall cascade of bright magenta patterns. Its roots have always remained healthy and plump despite the changes.

This orchid gets most of its light from ceiling windows high above it. It receives mainly indirect, soft day-time light. But for just a few moments each afternoon, soft rays of the fading sun move over it as the angle of the sun shifts through side windows, and the petals seem to come alive.

Some growers like to arch or stake their spikes but I just let them hang over as they would in nature if growing from a tree or a rock. They seem to be very happy with this arrangement.

Finally…a Sunny Day

We finally had a sunny day for a few short hours. It was at least a decent enough combination of sun and above freezing temperatures to open a window a smidge for Fury to chatter at the magpies in our front yard.

Cats are utterly fantastic creatures at letting any other creature know, in no uncertain terms, that they are unwelcome or otherwise being a pest. And they do not feel one bit badly about doing so, either.

Morning Fog Waves

Now this was an interesting view I have not seen before here. Looking east over the plains and over the valley we live by, a curious fog pattern was happening. It was so slow-moving it almost appeared still.

It reminded me of ocean waves and made me wonder what air or wind movements were happening out there to cause this formation.

As sun came up, the light helped provide more contrast and shadowing to really see the shapes ebb and flow across the land.

As more time passed, the fog wave shapes began to smooth out and thin.

I like to imagine, as I zoomed in, these are actually mythical fog Nessies slowly and quietly moving through a sea of mist 🙂

New Bird Sightings: Chipping Sparrows

Shortly after we last noticed the first appearance of mountain bluebirds, we’ve now sighted some local chipping sparrows! We first saw these birds during a terrific snow where they were flitting through the blowing snow currents rolling off of our roof in extreme cold. We think they somehow navigated up the ridge to our home from an established creek that runs through the valley of where we live.

These sweet little bubs make my day to see them regularly visiting us now that they have found some seeds I toss out every few days. They have great cover from nearby brush on our hillside and seem to not get bullied too much by our regular magpies.

We hope to continue to see the bird visitor population continue to increase as time goes by. Bird watching is good for the soul and helps us not forget to marvel at the abilities and beauty of even the smallest creatures.

‘Til next time little one!