A Slightly Wild Ride

 

brown and beige wooden barn surrounded with brown grasses under thunderclouds
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Monday (8/10/20) just felt weird energetically.

I took Oakley out to tend to morning business. As we sauntered around the back yard, the sun that spilled through the cracks in the clouds was intense, the breeze blew cold, and the air felt as if a wet towel had been draped over everything.

Well, storms, probably severe ones, had been in the forecast since Friday. Once Oakley freshened up his boundary markers, we went inside and turned on the TV to check the weather.

And I was greeted with special reports about overnight looting in downtown Chicago. All I could do was watch the footage of windows getting smashed and the shards of glass glittering in the early morning sun.

Finally, they went to  weather. This was not an ordinary storm; this was a derecho coming at us. A couple of years ago one trashed the Boundary Waters area in Minnesota. It’s a huge (in this case from well into Wisconsin to Peoria) storm complex with  thunderstorms, straight-line winds of 58 miles or more, and 240 mile wide swaths of damage. It wasn’t expected until after lunch time.

Even though Chicago proper is some 50 miles east and this wasn’t going to impact us directly, it combined with the storm to relieve me of the desire to leave my house. “Oakley, just tell me when you need to go out, but I don’t think we’re going to go anywhere today,” I told him.

Oakley didn’t mind since I gave him a liver cracker while I told him about the change in plans.

Now what? Plug in phone. Have candles and flashlights at the ready. Bring in the trash can and lawnmower. And wait. And keep the TV on but muted.

It finally arrived around 2:45. My phone went off with news of the tornado watch as the crawlers on the TV rattled off the counties under watches and warnings. Off in the distance the siren wailed a song of incoming danger. On the TV the weather guys posted a red rectangle stretching from Sugar Grove (about eight miles north of me) to one of the tiny towns on the Route 47 corridor about five miles south).

And then we lost power.

Not much to do. I grabbed a biskie for Oakley and joined him in his storm shelter between the coffee table and the love seat. A bit of thunder. A bit of lightning, but mostly wind driving the hail and the rain into the windows.

I don’t know how long it lasted, but it had tapered off by about five. Called the power company. Made my report and waited.

And waited.

Checked to make sure the sump pump pit hadn’t overflowed, hauled a ladder upstairs so I could pull a smoke alarm that sang its own death knell out of the ceiling in one of the bedrooms, and then sat and read.

And took Oakley out so he could touch up his boundary markers.

Thankfully, all the shingles were in place and the car parked outside was intact. Windows solid. Everything looked good.

Still no power and no signs of when it would be back. I lit several candles and read while Oakley sat next to me and napped.

I called the power company one more time, but the system had crashed. Turned out that about half a million people were in the same electric-less boat.

We went to bed a bit early. Not really anything else we could do. I took the battery operated lantern upstairs and read some more while the cricket songs floated in through the open windows accompanied by the rustle of the wind in the cornstalks.

The next morning sunlight filtered through the gaps in the curtains, gently waking me up. I went downstairs about 5:45. Just as I was putting water to boil on the stove, the electricity came back.

Again, I turned on the TV for weather. Seven confirmed tornados, including one in Chicago proper and one that damaged a church on the Wheaton College campus. A possible eighth one is being investigated about twelve miles to my west, suspicion raised by the downed utility lines and other damages.

Other than not being able to get to one of the forest preserves for a walk due to cleanup operations, it blossomed into a predictable Tuesday. Oakley went to daycare; I did some bits and pieces around the house. I picked Oakley up. He came home, inhaled dinner, and fell into a deep nap.

Cleanup at the little forest preserve continues today. The big forest preserve was open for business this morning, and we walked there to celebrate safe passage through the storm.

Somehow, we didn’t need to do anything else.

 

 

 

 

You Know It’s Spring When…

person standing using red umbrella
Photo by Aline Nadai on Pexels.com We are in for storms

I’m going to whisper this: it looks as if winter’s finally let go of us. Don’t let winter hear you repeat this; it might get ideas about returning.

Yesterday some redwing blackbirds sang in the day as I took Oakley out for his first round of social networking. It was breezy, but not to the point where walking and standing were neat tricks. The mild air smelled fresh and slightly milky with notes of green. Beneath my feet, the tender soil yielded to each step, making a slight sucking noise as I pulled my feet from the mud.

Yes. Hello, spring and all the things that come with you: the mud, the bird songs, the unstable weather. Welcome.

We are under a tornado warning until 5PM Central today. It’s to be expected when the day’s high spikes near 60 only to be chased out by a cold front during the afternoon hours. Starting tomorrow daytime highs will be more in line with averages for mid-March. After a winter with a polar vortex, they will feel subtropical.

So far today, we’ve had three short rounds of rain followed by crystal blue skies. The southwest wind is howling away. A little while ago hail smashed against the windows. No damage, just noise.

Oakley has spent the last few hours either sitting next to me with his tush glued to my hip or taking refuge in his storm shelter between the arm chair and the love seat. The flying debris smacking into the house and other solid objects is a bit nerve wracking for both of us. I don’t blame him. A seat next to Mom soothes his anxiety.

We tried to walk at the big forest preserve this morning, but bailed. The thunder under a half-blue half-clouded-over sky was disconcerting enough, but throw a couple of bus loads of elementary school students in and you can kiss any semblance of peace goodbye. We missed our 30 minute goal by about five minutes, but the speed of return to the car likely compensated for it.

I made sure to charge my phone last night in case of power outages, both so I can contact the power company and communicate with the outside world. We’re prepared. We don’t really have much else to worry about as this system makes its way to its next destination. For that I am truly grateful.

 

T Minus Five Weeks and Counting

Or so will say the groundhog tomorrow about spring.

We weathered the storm pretty well. The delay in the roads getting plowed was legit. I found out on Friday from a friend whose mom lives further out in the sticks that the county closed down all the roads. Having four plows wind up in the ditch will do that. A wise decision, indeed.

Things returned to pretty much normal Thursday. The snow is melting from the bottom up, collapsing into shapes like Jell-O molds gone wrong. Roads are perfect.

We had fog this morning, and there’s a chance of rain tonight. But there’s only five more weeks to go.

The Wisdom of Princess Anna

Today we have a week left in Mercury’s current retrograde period and a full moon. Both portent optimal times to release that which no longer serves you. That and the marginal roads (Mercury ruling transportation, after all*) here in soybean land encourage me to stay home and do some decluttering.

This morning I cleaned out a cabinet. I found storage jars and some sundry mass-produced bowls that hadn’t seen the light of day since George W’s first term in office; pasta that had gone buggy; and some cocoa mix with a 2006 expiration date.

Yep. Take Princess Anna’s musical advice and let it go. Goodwill is going to love me. The trash collector is going to hate me. Oh, well. Let it go, let it go.

I do decluttering in fifteen minute slices. My phone has an app that lets it serve as a timer, and knowing that I only have to go at a closet or a cabinet for a limited period makes it kind of fun. I don’t overthink, I just toss.

On a physical level, I created storage space for some random small appliances that need more dignified quarters than the kitchen island. On a metaphysical  level, I’ve freed some psychic space and will be propelled forward with the energy released next week when Mercury gets its act together and goes straight.

Except for the trash collector, everyone wins.

*Seriously. Usually, maybe ten minutes to get there; seven if none of the cops lurk in the bushes or subdivision entrances. Yesterday it took 20 minutes to get to the intersection of the main road into town and the state route running through it. Only reason I went out was because Oakley desperately needed to go to play group. He got the crazy out of his system and is snoring away next to me.

The Day As It Is Given

One more weather related cancellation or postponement and I will not be responsible for my behavior.

We had the post-Big Storm Big Thaw yesterday. Warmer temps melted the snow from last weekend’s dumping. That’s a good thing.

The bad thing: we had a pretty hard rain go through. Sheets, buckets, cats, dogs, and a few pocket pets thrown in for good measure. The ground is frozen nine inches down, so there’s nowhere for it to go. The runoff is regrouping in the form of seasonal ponds and black ice in inopportune areas. Nothing livens up your Friday like driving through standing water on black ice. 

After a week of rescheduling and postponements, I was ready to go out for a good walk with Oakley, then out to lunch with a couple of friends. Not so fast. The superintendent at the park was waving people away from the mirror-slick trail, and my road started freezing up again despite a salt truck driving as if in the Indy 500 trials to get the roads covered before the temps tank out again this afternoon. My road follows a hill, curves along a row of telephone poles, then goes straight along a creek .    

I’m erring on the side of caution. I would really like to get out, but what would I be driving into or on when I’m on the way home? I’ve spun out a few times and landed in a ditch. No, thanks. I don’t want to add landing in a creek to my driving resume. 

It’s a good day to practice acceptance. Again. I was able to get out and do some shopping yesterday, so we are set for the duration.  I forgot almond milk, but I will live. 

I have a variety of creative projects to work on, and will delight in the entertainment of “Prairie Home Companion” this evening likely followed by the rest of “Dances With Wolves.” I might even run the vacuum.

But I’m not that desperate yet.

Group Deep Breath

Currently in the soybean field, we are getting snow. A lot of it. And then there will be very cold temps and very bitter wind chills. By Wednesday, however, we will be back to a more moderate twenty-something. 

Yes, we will have a few days that will call for acceptance and adaptation. We will be OK, and the odds are good that most people will live.  But there’s always the inevitable flip into survival mode. You know, where instead of a fast trip to the store to grab an extra carton of milk or another pack of toilet paper just to be safe, people lose their blessed minds and buy cases of sriracha and five kinds of chips and, well, you get the picture. Like the lady at Target the night before the Blizzard of 2011 who threatened Hubby over eggs at Target. To hell with the Wal-Mart, Aldi, Jewel, Walgreen’s and two gas stations perhaps a mile away. Nope, those were the last eggs in her known universe. He graciously let her have them and grabbed some at one of the other stores. 

I had my deep breath moment this morning. Oakley sees the vet for his yearly once over on Monday (theoretically–we’re slated for a high of -12 with Kelvin scale-worthy windchills that’s going from St. Louis up into Canada) and of course I ran out of his Chinese digestive herbs and probiotics yesterday. So I considered a trip to Target this morning. We also walked at a local forest preserve, and as we walked, I felt the barometric pressure change and saw the dark slate cloud wall inch southwards towards us. Barometric changes make me feel as if I’m having a being chased by a tiger. I started doing my breathing exercises as my mind took off. On top of stuff for his tummy, I would then need…OMG…I need chocolate and frozen dog desserts and pizza and a rotisserie chicken and my own personal hygiene supplies and….

Breathe. No, Fran, want or need. You need stuff to keep Oaks’ tummy leveled out. You have enough personal supplies to get you through until Tuesday when you have acupuncture at the clinic almost across the street from Target. You could use some chocolate. Where could you go where you could get stuff for his tummy? Oh, yeah, the drug store two miles from my house.

So I went there, found some probiotics that are safe for the lactose intolerant, a couple of other OTCs to calm things down if need be, and some lovely chocolate. And spray cheese to get everything down Oakley without a fight. 

I was home in about a half-hour. Worth the extra money in this case. Hubby called shortly after I arrived with a story of going to the Target by his mom’s house. All the lanes were open and they still had shoppers in a holding pattern over Detroit Metro. He just went back to his mom’s, grateful for his tuna and soup. I also talked to my sister who lives north of the Detroit area. She and her husband had gone shopping yesterday at their Meijer’s and no carts were to be had. 

So we will be holed up for a couple of days. I’m grateful for my pantry and my freezer, and for basic cookbooks like More with Less and Laurel’s Kitchen to guide me through essentials such as bread should the need arise.

Now as the light slips over the western horizon, it snows. Let it. It will move out in divine right order. Oakley naps next to me with his tush pressed against my leg. I’m thinking chili for my dinner and turkey and pumpkin for his. I lift a prayer for the people and animals out in this. And let the day do what it must.