Happy Independence Day!

It’s rainy here.  No sunning by the pool.  No grilling out.  😦

Turner Classic Movies is showing “Yankee Doodle Dandy” with James Cagney this afternoon, and in the wee hours of tomorrow (thank goodness for the DVR!) they’re airing “1776.”  I saw this on Broadway and then again in Asheville, NC by a national touring company.  Glad I have some good entertainment since the weather is so rotten.

Meanwhile, Uncle Sam has a message for you.





“Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain.”

I guarantee Rodgers and Hammerstein had no idea just how badly the wind can sweep on that plain.  Yesterday was a frightening example.  Though the death toll has been lowered from 51 to 24, that’s still 24 who are gone too soon.

Two years ago, my home state was battered by one of the worst series of tornadoes in history.  A massive EF5 roared through my area, going about 5 miles north of me.  I still remember monitoring the weather all day and huddling in my bathroom as that storm passed so close.  The entire power grid for this area was destroyed with one tiny exception — an exit off the interstate only 12 miles from where I live.  Once I learned about it, I made daily visits to the Starbucks there to charge my laptop,  phone,  iPod and  Kindle.

I also made changes to my storm preparedness gear.  Now I have a bike helmet (many storm-related injuries are head trauma and they recommend wearing a helmet if you can), an emergency radio with a crank and solar panel, a battery-operated lantern and a flashlight that straps around my head like a miner’s lamp (great way to keep both hands free and still be able to see).

I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like to lose everything, or even worse, to have someone close to you die in a storm like that.  I can only pray for these families.  And I can donate money to help with the recovery area.  Organizations like the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army  are helping with donations.  Please consider giving to one of these organizations or to others like it.  I have.  They helped my home state two years ago; it’s the least I can do to return the favor.

Oklahoma, we’re all praying for you.  And like the song says, you’ll be OK.  It’ll just take some time.


Mark one off my bucket list

Actually, being in a tornado was never on my bucket list, but if it had been, I could mark it off now.  The National Weather Service has officially categorized Thursday’s storm as an EF1 tornado.

I didn’t get picked up and deposited in Oz, but it was quite an exciting afternoon.  I can live without that sort of excitement, though.  Just give me a good book or movie instead.

Today was sunny and I spent it with my RWA chaptermates and my fellow Playfriends from The Writing Playground (sans Kimberly Lang who was having a book signing in Pigeon Forge, TN).  We had a great meeting, a dress swap (I scored a great little black dress and someone else got two dresses of mine I couldn’t wear any more — can you say win-win?) and a productive writing session at a nearby deli.

I’m very close to finishing the short story revision. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe Monday. If it’s sunny tomorrow too, I might just commune with nature instead of writing.

Mother Nature — she can be a mean gal

Downed power line 1/2 a block from my church where I was hiding out from today’s storms.

It’s springtime in the Tennessee Valley, and unfortunately that usually brings us some bad storms. Today we had a system move through and the photo above is just a fraction of the damage it caused. Because I take the weather seriously, I didn’t head home when my boss let us go an hour early because I would have been driving right into the worst of the storm. Instead I headed to my church, where I usually go on Thursday nights for a study group and dinner. Tonight it was just the pastor and me. He’d already fixed the meal, but when we heard the civil defense siren signaling a tornado warning he called folks and told them to stay home.

Shortly after that the power went out. I’d taken my emergency radio to work so I could monitor things. We’d been warned bad weather was headed out way. We were warned last week. I told you I take it seriously. So the pastor and I got into an interior room with no windows and waited out the storm. We could tell it was raining very heavily but we had no idea the winds were so bad. Then we heard on the radio about a downed power pole causing a power outage and when they gave the location, we knew it was just at the edge of our church property. The Episcopal church next door had downed trees, one of which was driven through their church van.

The National Weather Service will investigate tomorrow to see if it was just wind or maybe a microburst or possibly a small tornado. Regardless, it was too close for comfort and I’m glad no one was hurt. A woman was trapped in her car by that falling pole, but she was able to get out safely. And a home had a large tree fall across it, but the owners were not injured. I feel for them. The same thing happened to a friend of mine two years ago and it took quite a while to get everything repaired.

So next time you think of Mother Nature and all the beautiful flowers she gives us, remember she has a mean streak too. If you live in an area prone to bad weather, be weather aware and take the watches and warnings seriously. Have an emergency radio, flashlights, candles, a helmet to protect your head (yes, my bike helmet was in my tote bag too) and most importantly, have a PLAN.

Photo from WHNT-TV, Huntsville, Alabama