• Tag Archives tornadoes
  • Be Patient With Yourself

    Beltane                                               Waning Last Frost Moon

    An afternoon of thunder, swirling clouds, torrential rains.  Another episode in the missing spring of 2011.  We sat huddled in the basement amongst our workout equipment, watching the downstairs tvs with green rectangles and red rectangles.  Occasionally, the EAS, Emergency Alert System, would blare its attention getting noise giving us notice that the national weather service had released a tornado warning for our area.

    As we sat down here, I reconsidered my smug comments about those people that live near:  the ocean (sea level rise), in earthquake zones, beneath volcanoes, where hurricanes play.  Someone out there, watching the TV and pictures of damage in north Minneapolis, just said, “God.  How can those people live there when they know tornadoes come along all summer?”  Good question.

    The first 12 Tai Chi classes have ended.  Next time, starting June 5th, I can go to the 6:00 pm class and practice the first few moves, then move on to the 7:00 pm class and learn the next moves in the form.  My learning curve here remains steep though I have seen progress.  I read it in Monkey’s Journey to the West, and our Tai Chi instructors have said many times, “Be patient with yourself while training.”  Very useful to me.  Very.

    On Monkey’s Journey to the West.  This is a delightful story.  I’m a bit over 30% through it, I imagine it will be June before I’m done, maybe into July.  It’s so different from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms.  Romance is a military and political epic; Journey is part fantasy, part religious and cultural instruction manual, part adventure.  I see Ai Weiwei as a Monkey King figure.

  • An Intimate Relationship?

    Beltane                                                                      Waning Last Frost Moon

    I spent the morning convincing my computer that the new laserjet printer I purchased exists, could be a good friend, one with whom we might enter a long term relationship.  Boy, was that a hard sell.  Something about the printer being made before Windows 7 and the run as command.  After beating about a bit, I finally got a software package (downloaded from HP) that my computer would admit into its intimate confines.

    Then.  I stepped in and attempted to attach the USB cable to a printer not turned on.  Didn’t work. I’d stretched the power cord when getting to the USB port.  Took me three tries to realize what I had done.  Finished just before the thunder made it.  I turn all computers off during thunder storms.  I have too much invested in my electronics.  Not the computers so much as the external drives.

    During our nap Kate and I had to get up to go down in the basement.  Another tornado headed north of Minneapolis, headed north and east.  Which is where we are.  After forty-five minutes sitting on a bench I use to do bench presses and triceps curls it became clear that this one, like so many in recent years, would track north of Minneapolis, get up into Coon Rapids, but move east on trajectory well south of us.  I’m not sure what’s going on but this seems like a track multiple serious storms have taken over the last few years.

    Grocery store.  Then dinner, a bit of dithering around about Brazilian Visas, at $160 each.  Ouch.  That doesn’t include processing fees.  Geez.

    Now, off to Tai Chi.

  • Departures

    Lughnasa                             Waxing Artemis Moon

    Spoke with the folks at Dadant.  They found my order and have begun to ship the honey extractor and other parts of the Ranger extraction kit.  5 boxes from different locations.  Sounds like they’ll arrive before I have to pull the honey.

    A wet, cooler morning with a hot day later and tomorrow to follow.  We continue on our stormy way.  Minnesota, that’s right, our Minnesota, leads the nation in tornadoes this year.  By a lot.  We have had 50 more than either Texas or Oklahoma.  Maybe tornado alley has found me and wants me back.  Paul Douglas says it’s due to a blocking slump in the jet stream that holds weather patterns here that would normally be further south.

    Kate and I watched a Japanese movie the other night, “Departures.”  In it a young cellist gives up the cello after his orchestra dissolves.  He and his wife move back to his home in a small town by the ocean.  There he applies for a job listing seeking a person to help with departures.  A misprint.  It should have read departed.

    I don’t know how common the rite of casketing is in Japan, but it involves, in essence, performance of what we consider an undertakers job (the cosmetic part, not the embalming which seems not to be part of the job) in front of the mourners.  The body is then placed in a coffin, also called encoffining, and transported to the crematorium where the equivalent of a graveside service occurs.  The whole process seems humane, accepting of death and the reality of grief.

    As with most Japanese movies I’ve seen that have funerals, this one has a comedic side, too.

    The movie pulls the heart, not in contrived ways, but in its honest depiction of difficult human moments, sensitively portrayed.  Highly recommended.  Available on Netflix.

  • The Post Office Was Gone

    Spring                Full Seed Moon

    The folks at the Strib have asked those of us who blog for their weatherwatchers page to write up a storm story or two, a reminder of the forces of nature coming at us in the next few months.  As I’ve thought about this task, my own patronizing wonderment at folks who live on fault lines, in the path of hurricanes, or build homes in fire prone forest areas came to mind.

    So, I’m going to start with a proper dose of humility, admitting that I, too, live in a place where nature can play havoc and let loose the dogs of war from time to time, yet I stay where I am.   After all we frequently get those 20 below zero or worse bouts of cold weather, often driven further down the temperature scale by high winds.  In the summer tornadoes and hail storms pound our area, so much so that we have a new roof and new siding after a bout with hail and tornadoes touched down within two miles of  our home, pretty damned close if you ask me.  That’s not to mention the weather that can and has punched us up the worst:  derechos.  These straight line winds reach speeds in excess of 58 mph.

    Sorry about all those sarcastic comments southern California, west coast of Florida, San Francisco.

    I’ll write one story today and few others over the week.

    The first storm memory I have comes not from Minnesota, nor from Indiana where I grew up, but from Oklahoma, where I was born and still have family.   In 1956 or 57 my parents sent by Greyhound bus from our home in Alexandria, Indiana to Mustang, Oklahoma, then a rural community a good ways from Oklahoma City.  My uncle Rheford had the post-office attached to the front of his house and served as the rural mail carrier for the Mustang area.

    Uncle Rheford and Aunt Ruth had, as many Oklahoma homes still do, a storm cellar located in the back yard, a dug-out with a cement floor and heavy barn doors covering the entrance.  During calm weather, most of the time, the storm cellar serves as a root cellar and a place to store canned goods, so it always smelled of stored produce and damp earth.

    A few nights after I’d arrived, around 3 in the morning my cousin Jane came into my room, shook me awake, “Come on, Charles Paul, we’ve got to go to the storm cellar.”  Her urgency and the hour got me up fast.  I followed her out into rain and wind, crossed the few feet from the back door to the storm cellar and hurried down the four or five steps into this small, artificial cave.  My Aunt Ruth and two other cousins were already down there and Uncle Rheford followed quick behind Jane and me.

    Uncle Rheford closed the doors with a thud, threw a large cast-iron bolt to lock them and put a cross piece into two metal brackets made for that purpose.  He also grabbed a chain and passed it through two eye-bolts, big ones, sunk into either door.  The end of the chain went around and hooked into another bolt that was part of the cement floor.  A little too sleepy and a little too young to be awed by all this preparation I sat down on a bench near a basket of potatoes.

    The wind came.  The tornado must have passed right over us or very close because those heavy barn doors bowed up, called from their position by the voice of the storm.  The chain thrummed tight and the air left the cellar.  Then, just as it had come, the wind passed on by, the doors slumped back to their usual shape, slack came into the chain and sweet air rushed back into the cellar and to our lungs.

    I don’t recall now how long we were in the cellar, probably an hour or so, maybe more.  After we got out we came up to a wet, distressed scene with leaves, tree branches, parts of buildings and machinery scattered in the  lawn.  The big surprise though came when we looked around the house.  The post-office, basically a long addition to the side of the house that faced the road, was gone.  Disappeared.  The rest of the house was intact.

    In the days that passed I saw straw driven into telephone poles and other flotsam thrown up on the shore of this small Oklahoma town.  From that day forward I have always heeded instructions to go to the basement, remembering that night in the storm cellar in Mustang, Oklahoma.