Archive for May, 2011

Ava Fix

I took my soon-to-be first grader to visit her new school this week. We were here a year ago for Kindergarten round-up, but elected to stay in the Montessori program rather than transitioning to the public school. Now, it’s time to move on.

Ava was excited about the visit, but spoke less and less as we toured the school and visited the three first grade classrooms. By the time we’d made our way through the library and back to the front office, she was completely silent. Fortunately, we both saw a couple of very familiar faces–Ava’s friend, Lia, who will start Kindergarten at Quail Run this fall, and her mom, Susie.

The timing couldn’t have been better!

J-E-L-L-Oh, we should have made more!

This Jello is for grown-ups only; specifically, those attending my friend Monica’s graduation party.

Thanks to inspiration from Bakers Royale, we made orange and lemon Jello shots—in oranges and lemons. Monica managed the hard part–scooping out the pulp from halved fruit. Then, we balanced the halves in muffin tins, and poured in a bit of vodka-enhanced gelatin. (We used about 1/4 – 1/2 cup of vodka in place of part of the cold water.)

Once they were set, we cut each half into thirds and served. While they didn’t pack much of a punch, they were certainly cute!

An eye on the sky

When the tornado sirens went off in town yesterday, there was blue sky overhead.

Bryan was out picking up pizza for the girls and the sitter that was about to arrive, and I was upstairs getting ready. I herded the girls into the basement and turned on the TV. In addition to a perfect hook echo at the bottom corner of the storm over Topeka, there was radar-indicated rotation, which is enough to trigger a tornado warning.

The storm was directly to our west by about 20 miles, and it was moving northeast. We weren’t in the path, but judging by the radar images and the news reports, we thought we’d have a good chance of seeing the storm at a safe distance.

After the girls were settled in with the sitter, Bryan and I headed out to the northwest corner of town. There were approximately 40 cars parked on the Highway 10 overpass, and we stopped there to watch. I’d say we were at least 10 miles from the wall cloud, and again, we were not in any danger at all given the distance and the path of the storm.

This is among the first photos I took, and in it, you can see the funnel cloud directly below the wall cloud. Given our distance, it’s a bit difficult to spot, but it’s roughly two-thirds of the way between the third and fourth power poles as you look from the left.

As I mentioned, we were in good company. We even ran into a cameraman I work with quite a bit; he was filming for our local TV station. Looking north in this photo—the storm is to our left in the photo, out of frame.

And to the southwest:

The view to the east was also impressive. The first time I saw cloud formations like this, I was with Grandpa Dankleff, who said they indicated instability in the atmosphere.

The funnel didn’t last long, but the wall cloud remained intact. We moved about two miles north on Highway 10, which is where we shot these photos.

As we watched, we were listening to the local radio station. People were calling in to report two funnel clouds, but I’m inclined to think these were just low-hanging scud clouds.

We moved a bit to the north and a couple miles to the east, stopping a a high point above a gorgeous field. Looking north:

Looking west. Again, we had quite a bit of company.

We had a perfect view of the spectacular wall cloud, with scud clouds underneath.

We watched until the wall cloud began to collapse.

This was my tenth tornado/funnel cloud sighting, and my very first one in Kansas. Having Bryan with me was probably a good thing; he ensured we stayed at a safe distance, which I’m hoping will appease the moms.

All in all, a gorgeous storm, and thankfully, one that was not as destructive as it could have been.

Olivia Fix

In bloom

The peony behind our house is in full bloom, and it could not be more gorgeous. Whenever I see peonies, I’m reminded of those that grew behind Great Grandma Stolz’s house in Elmwood.

Ava Fix

Monarch watch

We took the girls to the Monarch Watch event at the university this weekend.

As Olivia got up close and personal with with a caterpillar, she quietly informed the staffer that “caterpillars turn into butterflies.”  The helpful response came back, “WELL ACTUALLY, they turn into chrysalis FIRST.” . . . Um, thanks. She’s three.

The butterflies were contained in a mating enclosure, making them somewhat hard to photograph.

I can tell you, though, these two should get a room.

We came home with a few butterfly plants for our garden–hopefully we’ll have our own Monarchs at this time next year!