Well, what do you expect when it’s Sunday, Mother’s Day, Renee’s birthday, the month of May and the mid-west. The only other thing to expect are the storms. And we had them! Friday! Saturday! Sunday! And a little bit this morning!
That’ what the eastern skies look like after the torential rain showers, thunder and lightening moved overhead and out of Missouri and into Illinois Sunday afternoon as I was preparing to eat dinner. (It was tamale pie and very tasty, too!) Mlle. Renee (who was celebrating her seventh birthday didn’t join me for dinner) because as soon as the thunder she hightailed it into my room and the safety of my bed.
That’s what she always does!
A bit soggy, but totally pretty and pink.
Well, like most of the middle section of the country we had stormy weather yesterday. So I put off doing anything outside and stayed in cleaning the house. Mlle. Renee decided that she didn’t want to go outside either and took an afternoon nap on my bed. Until right around three when she jumped off the bed, ran through the house and down into the basement where she hid in her safety corner. I looked outside and it was getting very dark, I turned on the TV weather and discover we were in the middle of a tornado alert. Renee must have a physic connection with the local weather wizard. The winds were starting to pick up so I joined my pup in the basement. Then the rain and hail began to bombard the house. Since I have glass block windows in the basement I couldn’t see a thing outside. When the rain let up, I went back upstairs to see if there was any damage. No damage, other than a lot of rain puddles and my rain gauge showed about an inch and a half of rain. So I tuned in the weather again and discovered the storm had moved out of Missouri and into Illinois. Then the damage reports began coming in. About a mile north of me a lot of trees had been uprooted in the old German cemetery. About a mile south of me the roof had blown off of an old skating rink and part of the walls had collapsed. There was also light damage to a number of homes in that area. No damage in West Walnut Manor other than fact that most of the immature seed pods (twirlers) in the maple trees had been knocked to the ground … in the lawn …… on the walks and driveway …… and even onto the siding on the back of the house!
If you look close, you can see she is even laying on maple tree twirlers! And we still have more rain in the forecast for the next couple of days.
I did not fold the cookie though, that one is real!
Let’s start with Sunday, shall we? For some reason I got up early and just moped around in the house in my PJs. I discovered I had a loaf of Italian Bread that had grown stale, so I decided to make French Toast. Doesn’t every one make French Toast with their stale Italian Bread?
It might look like a lot of French Toast, but I stored the overs in individual freezer bags and stored them in the freezer. Then I decided I would finish the origami project I had been working on and off all weekend.
If you’ll remember, this is the point I had reached on Thursday … … and little did I know that I had already made an error in my folding. Since that point, I have started over four times with a different sheet of folding paper. And none of them came close to being a parrot. I was getting ready to make a fifth start when my storm alert radio went off. I turned on the TV to discover that THE STORM was moving in fast and we were under a TORNADO WATCH!
To see where I was at this point, follow the U in LOUIS up to the US 70 line. My house is located in the little red spot just over the highway line. Now, if you remember, I’m still in my PJs, and Mlle. Renee is telling me she’s ready to seek shelter in the basement. [Mlle. Renee is a very smart dog, and she’s always a couple of minutes ahead of the weather forecaster’s warnings.] So I was trying to grab some real clothing and shoes and open the door to get to the basement. And the wind was starting to blow. HARD!! They said the storm was moving east at 70-MPH so it pasted over almost as soon as it started. And the sun came out.
We had no physical damage, other than a thick covering of leaves from my neighbors trees down the block. Unfortunately, the storm intensified once it moved into Illinois where it became multiple tornado strikes across the state. We lost power off and on for the next half hour and internet service for the rest of the day. I decided that there was still an entire afternoon to cook the beef roast I had been planning for dinner.
This was as far as I got on my fifth and final attempt at folding that blasted parrot. I crushed the tan, green yellow, and blue versions in disgust. The orange version crushed me. And I even resorted to using a magnifying glass to figure out the miniature folds. It really didn’t look much like a parrot on the printed page either.
Oh, and about those leaves from my neighbor’s trees. The winds during and after the storm were from the southeast and they basically blew the leave off my lawn … except where they were blocked by the cedar trees.
Well, the weather wizards had been warning us for the past week … “Bad weather is heading your way on Thursday, Friday and Saturday!” they screamed. And guess what, they were actually right this time. Yesterday, I decided to postpone a Breakfast for Lunch luncheon I had scheduled with a group of people with whom I used to work. It was scheduled for the new ORIGINAL PANCAKE HOUSE that had just opened across the street from where we used to work. I waited until the last-minute yesterday afternoon when the weather forecast said, “Severe thunderstorms arriving about 11 am. and continuing until mid-afternoon.” I cancelled the luncheon, knowing full well that today would dawn bright and sunny.
And I confirmed they had played me for a weather fool again, when I woke up to cobalt blue skies and heavenly sunshine.
Fortunately, they lasted all of 45-minutes before the cumulonimbus clouds started floating in overhead while thunder rumbled in the distance.
Cumulonimbus (from the Latin cumulus (“heap”) and nimbus (“cloud”) is a dense towering vertical cloud associated with thunderstorms and atmospheric instability, forming from water vapour carried by powerful upward air currents. Cumulonimbus may form alone, in clusters, or along cold front squall lines. They may produce lightning and other dangerous severe weather, such as gusts, hail and even tornadoes.
And around eleven, the clouds broke open and dumped a downpour on West Walnut Manor, if not all of the metropolitan area. It rained until mid-afternoon when the sun returned cajoling us into a false security of a wondrous June is busting out all over end to the month of May. Then the cumulonimbus started rolling back in and the local TV stations went from Weather Update to WALL-TO-WALL THE EARTH IS ENDING NON-STOP WEATHER ALERT STATUS. Frankly, there’s nothing on Friday night TV anyway since the season ended a week or so ago. So I nuked a bowl of split pea and ham soup and grilled a ham and swiss hoagie sandwich for my dinner. As I was washing up the dishes the tornado warning sirens began growling. “A tornado has just touched down in Saint Charles, Missouri.” This was quickly followed by, “There are reports that the roof of the Hollywood Casino on the Missouri River has been blown off!” And then, “People living in Earth City, Florissant, St. Ann and West Walnut Manor are advised to seek shelter NOW.”
Well, that included me and Mlle. Renee, so I grabbed my double beam sure hand grip flashlight, cell phone, football helmet and Mlle. Renee, and headed for our subterranean hidy-hole. Just as I got to the back door, the landline rang. I quickly grabbed it to hear my older brother shout, “Why aren’t you and the dog in the basement‽ Don’t you know there’s a tornado head right for you‽” “I would have been there already, if I hadn’t stopped to answer the phone,” I shouted as I hung up and caught up with Renee.
Once in the basement, Mlle. Renee headed for my old darkroom and headed directly for my sturdy enlarger table and equipment shelf I had attached to the foundation wall. Renee really is a smart dog! I headed for my fold-up lawn chair at the front of the darkroom which is directly under the TV in the living room. (I was smart enough to turn up the audio on the TV before I headed into the basement. So I could hear the weather status from down below.) Then all we had to do was wait out the storm.
The wind began to switch … the house to pitch
And suddenly the hinges … started to unhitch
Just then the witch … to satisfy an itch
Went flying on her broomstick … thumbing for a hitch
Just what I needed … an ancient ear-worm to keep me and the dog company! (Yip Harburg really was a great lyricist – anyone want to guess the name of the song?)
Within a short period of time, I heard reports of the tornado doing some damage at Saint Louis International Airport, damaging some cars on I-70, and snapping 3-feet in diameter trees in half in Saint Ann. Like the planes approaching the airport for a landing the storm was following I-70 as a flight path. Then the storm crossed the Mississippi River to wreak havoc in Illinois.
Since the ground around the house (as well as most of the metro area) had become saturated with rain water over the past couple of days, the heavy rainfall that fell during the storm began to seep through cracks that had formed in the foundation during last year’s drought. And Mlle. Renee does not like getting her feet wet inside the house. So with cat’s-paw feet we tiptoed over the tiny rivulets running to the drain and went back upstairs.
Bet your bottom dollar
There’ll be sun!
I can’t help it! I’ve been spending so much of my time this year living underground I’m beginning to look a cast member from one of those old gothic Hammer Horror films. You know … the ones with titles like DRINK THE SATANIC BLOOD OF DRACULA PRINCE OF DARKNESS FRESHLY RISEN FROM THE GRAVE, or something like that.
The problem is the weather. Ever since New Year’s Eve, it has been all whacked out. That’s when the first tornado ripped through the city. Tornadoes in December are rather uncommon. Then we had THE SNOW STORMS, THE RETURN OF THE SNOW STORMS and THE MOTHER OF ALL SNOW STORMS.
Then just as soon as the snow stopped, the rain started. And with it came the thunder storms, the hail storms, the wall clouds and finally the spring tornadoes. If I wasn’t a scoffer of whacked out religious cults, I would think that the “rapture” had already happened and we missed it because nobody qualified for it. The earthquakes, tidal waves and volcano eruptions might have something to do with that theory, too.
Anyway, being a believer in always being prepared, I followed all the rules for storm safety. Meaning when the alarms go off you duck and cover and head underground in the basement. Saint Louis is a wonderful old city, so almost all the homes and buildings have basements.
It has become such a feature of our lives this year, that every time Mlle. Renee hears the siren she heads for the kitchen door to run down to her little hidey-hole in the basement. And she knows how to pick out good safe spots, too! Spots I couldn’t fit into.
So this week Missouri has been plagued with storms and tornadoes, so Renee and I have had to make several trips to the basement to sit in the gloom until the weather wizards said it was safe to go back upstairs. Most of the warnings turned into just normal wind and rain.
Today was supposed to be the BIG one. The meteorologists had been tracking it for the last three days as it traveled across the country. And slam-bang it showed up right on time with funnel clouds and tornadoes touching down in several of the outlying towns and cities. When a funnel cloud showed up across the street from the building where I used to work; I knew it was headed in my direction.
Sure enough when they plotted the path the storm was headed, the fifth municipality on the list was mine. Arrival time about 30-minutes. I already had my cell phone, radio, flashlight, Kindle, bag of chocolate Twizzlers, bottle of water and a handful of oatmeal and sweet potato dog biscuits at hand; so I grabbed them and headed for the basement just as the storm warning sirens started to growl.
And then we sat. Hearing nary a sound other than the radio. No rain, no wind, nothing but still more dire predictions. Finally I heard rain on the basement’s glass block windows. But it was the pit-pitter-pat type of raindrops. And the radio seemed to have forgotten about the storm cloud that was supposed to be heading directly for my house. I tried reading a bit of Game Of Thrones on my Kindle, but how can you concentrate on reading when your adrenaline is skyhigh. So after an hour or so I might have dozed off — only to be suddenly awakened by the sound of large train rushing by.
OMG, this was it … THE BIG ONE!
Then I realized that it was just the fan on the AC behind me going on. I had forgotten to turn it off the day before when I had been cooking Chinese. And the funnel cloud that was headed directly for me had apparently dissipated half-way through the woods. Oh, we did get a lot of heavy rain, and one of the roof shingles was torn off. But I’ll have to have someone climb up there and check it out — I know I’m not climbing up there. There was a little local damage, and the storm was big enough to preempt Oprah’s final episode. So, we lucked out again. And Mlle. Renee returned to her doggie bed on the sun porch where she could watch the rain between dog-naps.