The Pencil Today:


“You can’t get mad at weather because weather’s not about you. Apply that lesson to most other aspects of life.” — Douglas Coupland


So, is it I? Or is it The Loved One?

Perhaps it’s the combination of us.

Whatever the reason, ever since we left Chicago in March, 2007, nature wherever we’ve lived has gone insane.

We spent a couple of years in Louisville, Kentucky. The spring we arrived there, one of the first things we heard was how unbearably humid the place would be when summer hit with full force. So what happened? One of the driest summer’s in Louisville’s history.

The Louisville Of My Memory

Two of the three summers we lived in the River City were drought summers. Let’s see, what else happened there?

Well, there was an historic ice storm in late winter, 2009. It caused the biggest power outage the city had ever experienced. Many roads and city streets were impassable for weeks due to downed power lines and toppled trees.

Oh, and there was an earthquake in April, 2008. One morning the sound of what I at first thought were a couple of dozen grown men running over my back deck shook me out of a deep beauty sleep. Next thing I knew, doors and windows were rattling. Bottles and knickknacks on shelves danced precariously. It felt as though the very ground underneath us had become a vibrating bed in a cheap hotel room. The Loved One suddenly yelled, “It’s an earthquake!”

And she was right. The Wabash Valley Fault spasmed about 120 miles east of St. Louis, causing a 5.2 tremor on the Richter scale. It was followed by a couple of other strong vibrations later that day. The quake was felt in 16 states.

Then we were hit with a hurricane. Truth. Okay, it was the remnants of Hurricane Ike, which had traveled up the Mississippi Valley and then skittered along the Ohio Valley until it hit Louisville early on a Sunday afternoon, September 14th. Weather forecasters advised us the big blow would hit at about one o’clock and would be finished with us two hours later. They were spot on.

Ike was rated a Category 1 Hurricane when it hit us. It had sustained winds of 75 miles per hour with gusts over 80 mph. For the first half hour, I stood in the backyard with my neighbor and we simply watched in silence as fifty-foot tall old trees bent nearly horizontal in the wind. When it became too difficult for us to remain standing, we dashed inside our respective homes. Then limbs and trees began crashing down all around us.

One half of a stately old tree tumbled down on my back deck, just missing cleaving our roof. It took me a week and a half to cut the thing up with hand saws and a Milwaukee Sawzall. One good thing: the huge pile of firewood that half tree became was a nice selling point for the house when we were preparing to move to Bloomington.

Again, Louisville was left reeling. The cell phone system was jammed and for much of the rest of that Sunday, calls couldn’t get through. Eighty percent of the state was without power with some areas waiting weeks before electricity was restored. Gov. Steve Beshear called out the National Guard. On Monday morning, we awoke to find gas prices had jumped 55¢ a gallon. The Red Cross and other emergency agencies set up food banks for people whose refrigerators weren’t working anymore.

The storm was the most damaging in Louisville’s history, even surpassing the notorious tornado that ravaged the city in 1974.

So, we came to Bloomington hoping all the drama would be behind us.

Unh uh.

We were hit with another drought our first summer here, in 2010. It became so dry that fires in fields and around old railroad trestles spontaneously ignited (some of the fires were set; still, conditions were perfect for flames to spread.) And last summer was unusually dry, so much so that our grass went dormant by mid-July and our burning bushes turned flaming red about the same time. We lost a cherry tree as well as a few baby pines.

Tulip Trestle In Greene County

And now, the summer of 2012. Just Thursday, the radio announcer said we would be in for the hottest day “in decades” in this area.

My grass already has gone dormant.

Several of my burning bushes have gone red.

Both our apple and pear trees are looking awfully scrawny.

I shudder to think of our electric bill.

Try to have some fun this summer. And I apologize for all the trouble we’ve caused.

Electron Pencil event listings: Music, art, movies, lectures, parties, receptions, games, benefits, plays, meetings, fairs, conspiracies, rituals, etc.

◗IU Theater AnnexChildren’s musical,  “The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs,” presented by Indiana Festival Theater; 11am

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Grant Eversoll; 6-8:30pm

Cafe DjangoThe Short List, variety acts hosted by Marta Jasicki; 7pm

The BishopDJ Tyler Damon; 8pm

◗ IU Auer Hall, Simon Music Library — Summer Arts festival, Piano, Read Gainsford; 8pm

Read Gainsford

The Player’s PubSongwriter showcase; 8pm

◗ IU HPER, rm. 107 — Ballroom dance lessons; 8:30pm

The BishopMidtown Dickens; 9pm

The BluebirdDave Walters karaoke; 9pm


◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibit, “I’m Too Young For This  @#!%” by John D. Shearer; through July 30th

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibit, “Urban Landscape: A Selection of Papercuts by Qiao Xiaoguang; through August 12th — Exhibit, wildlife artist William Zimmerman; through September 9th — Exhibit, David Hockney, new acquisitions; through October 21st

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryKinsey Institute Juried Art Show; through July 21st, 11am

Monroe County History CenterPhoto exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

One thought on “The Pencil Today:

  1. John Bergman says:

    You’re a Chicagoan, born and bred. It’s unnatural to go anywhere else. This is why the hurricanes have gotten worse in Florida, the wildfires worse in the Southwest. Proof? The great influx of Chicagoans (or anyone else) into Southern California has ended. How many earthquakes have they had recently? No, the Chicago/Cubbies curse will continue until all the wandering tribes have returned to, if not the city proper, at least Melrose Park or Homewood or Skokie. Global warming is only a smokescreen. Rahm was elected to lead you all home. Or something like that — let me have a couple more Old Styles and think about it.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: