Monday, December 10, 2007

It was a dark and stormy. . .

Do you recall some memorable storms in your life? The weather kind, not the emotional ones. :) I'll never forget the "Ruskin Heights Tornado" when I was 12, and the "Plaza Flood," and the cold and ice when my son was born, and. . .

I'm writing this on Monday night, hoping the ice that's coming won't create another memorable storm, the kind that's brilliantly beautiful to look at but which comes accompanied by the cracking of tree limbs and the green flare of electrical transformers going out, and the bouncing of bumper cars. . .

Let's forget the storms of the present. Come on over to the bonfire, grab a stick and a marshmallow, and tell us a storm story from the past. Maybe you were scared, maybe you were thrilled, maybe you were cozy, maybe you were vulnerable, maybe you saved somebody, maybe you were saved, maybe you nearly died, maybe you felt really alive, maybe you played the world's longest game of Monopoly, maybe you got drunk, maybe you got pregnant, maybe it was beautiful. . ..anything can happen in a storm!

What happened to you?


Nancy P said...

I have given my mom a flashlight and matches, and I have filled the two kerosene lamps. Today, I stocked up on books from the library, salted the front walk, and made sure we have food for a couple of days.

We're ready, but there's still hope the worst will pass us by. (Poor Oklahoma!)

If I don't see you in the morning, leave me some good stories to read later. :)

::Yawns. Peeks out window one more time.::


AndiF said...

I googled the weather news for Missouri and it looked pretty ugly but I couldn't tell if Kansas City was getting the ice. I hope you are doing okay.

As a kid, I used to drive my mother crazy by going outside before thunderstorms and lying down on the sidewalk so I could watch all the wonderful patterns the clouds made.

Family Man said...

Morning Nancy.

I hope you and your Mom are OK. Around here any thunderstorm is bad, because FMom is extremely frightened of them.

I would have to say the worst storm wasn't frighting it was more of a hassle. I lived in Kittery, ME and I woke up to my car buried in snow. I had to dig it out to get to work. Only one parking lot had been cleared on base, and I had to walk about 300 yards to my office. At the end of the day when I finally got home, I had to dig a place out to park the car. I love snow, but that was a bit much.

Cathy C said...

Morning Nancy and all,

The Blizzard of '78. We were living in southern Mass. at the time and the snow piled halfway up the picture window on the front of the house. Reports said between 3-4 ft of snow fell. Only emergency vehicles were allowed on the roads where we were and you'd get arrested if you tried to take your car out. Amazingly, we didn't lose power. It looked like a surreal winter wonderland.

Andif, you and my husband must be kindred spirits. He's been known to hang out of second floor windows to videotape the trees whipping around in a hurricane.

My fingers are crossed for everyone in the path of those ice storms.

Beth said...

I remember that storm, Cathy! I was in college in upstate NY. I'd never seen that much snow before. It was indeed a winter wonderland!

When I was growing up, we spent summers at my aunt's house (my mom's twin) in NJ. One evening (I was 13-14), it was threatening rain, and the twins suggested I go outside and do a rain dance. (They'd had a few.) So I did, dancing and singing in the driveway in the dark. Dancing up a storm, so to speak.

I ran inside at the first crash of thunder. And then the storm started in earnest. Boy, did it POUR! Thunder, lightning - it was a doozy. Branches down. Power out. Streets flooded. I was pretty proud of myself.

They never suggested it again. :-)

Maybe I should visit Rick and do some dancing in NC...

Nancy P said...

Power! Every tree coated with ice, but amazingly the streets and walks are just wet, not slick! So we get the beauty without the danger. We're expecting at least two more waves of it, but maybe. . .

I'm loving the stories.

Andi, I regret to inform you that's adorable. :)

Fam Man, I feel so sorry for FMom (and you) with her great fear of storms. Do you know why she's so scared of them?

CathyC. . .arrested! That's a serious storm.

Beth, I love that story. What a hoot.

Back after more coffee.

Rick Bylina said...

Holy pet phrases! Robin Meade on CNN just said, "Cool beans," about some story.

Sorry to read about the weather woes the midwesterns are experiencing. I believe the southeast/mid-atlantic will be getting their nastiness Sun-Tues. You've been warned.

Being a weather geek, I remember a great many storms:

* I remember the 1977-78 winter also being in school in northern PA. Many students from the Buffalo area didn't even get home for semester break.

* Hurricane Fran (1996) roared through Raleigh, their first hit from a hurricane since 1954. We were without power for two weeks. Drove to Knoxville, TN to pick up generators for us and others. Some were without power for five weeks.

* 21" of snow in Raleigh January, 2000. Most snow ever! It was great. We were without power for six days, but we had hot water due to my solar and had that generator. Made bread/food for neighbors. Had a blast.

* 1975 Berlin, Germany. 42 straight days with measureable precipitation. Began work on the ark, but my NSA boss said they were already prepared.

I could go on, but I won't.

I wasn't there, but in Montana, it went from 44 to -56 degrees in one day in 1926. Now that was a cold front.

Stay warm. Write.

Kelly McCullough said...

Hi all,

I'll contribute to the storm stories thread in a bit. In the meantime one more note on writers groups from Far's question late last night since I have a slightly different experience from Nancy's. The groups I've been in have met either bi-weekly or monthly. At each meeting some percentage of members hand stuff in for critique. Reading happens at home, and group time is reserved for critique, brainstorming, industry gossip, and writers social hour. My main group also cross-promotes each other and does things like running panels and throwing parties at SF cons.

Nancy P said...

"had a blast"

Rick, those three words trigger memories of my favorite storm. It was shortly after my son was born, and I was still married. A couple of single friends had come over that evening, when the ice and snow made travel impossible and knocked our power out. Three of us (four if you count the baby) lit a fire in the 'place and laughed and talked and "had a blast." One of us--I will not talk ill of the "ex"--just could not relax. He thought we were nuts to have fun with the storm, we thought he was crazy to worry so much over something he couldn't change. I think he was just trying to think of the baby and be protective, but he basically drove us all crazy, but we still had a perfectly wonderful time anyway. Power was out for a week and we went to stay with his mother where we got waited on hand and foot. Hard to complain about that, too. :)

Beth said...

Since Kelly started it, and I didn't think of it yesterday...I met a group of women at Don Maass' workshop, and we immediately bonded. Called ourselves the Story Goddesses. (Don refers to the Story Gods from time to time.) We live all over the country, so emailed each other chapters on Wednesdays, and then critiqued them using the markup feature in Word and returned them the next week. It worked for a while, then everyone got busy and it stopped. It was really wonderful and useful. And we're all still in touch as individuals. Each person had their individual strengths, so you learned what to use from each person, and what to overlook.

Nancy P said...

I got saved in a storm once. Took husband to airport. Blizzard started. Downtown, on interstate, car died at a dangerous curve, at an underpass. Blizzard, blizzard. Scared, scared. Maneuvered to side of road. Truck pulled up behind me IMMEDIATELY. Man gets out and offers me a ride. I look at him and think, "Okay, I have a choice here between dying when a semi hits my car in this blizzard or geting murdered by a serial killer." I went with the man and the truck and he delivered me safely home.

My storm angel!

And AAA (Angel, Angel, Angel) found my car, undamaged, and towed it.

Family Man said...

Helloooooo Nancy.

I'm so glad to see ya'll are well and hope KB is too.

I forgot the one bad storm story I have. I was living by myself away from home, and I had to have a overnight stay in the hospital. FMom and my sil come up to stay with me for a few days. The day of the procedure they drove into town and right behind them was straight line winds. They just got into the hospital when the nurses put all of us into the hallways. When the storm was over we're back in my room and we look out at the parking lot. There were tree limbs and trees down everywhere. The only and I mean only car to have any damage was FMom's back window got busted out.

The next day when I went home, the whole town looked like a battle zone. Trees down everywhere, roofs off houses and no power. Some places didn't get power back for over a month.

Kelly McCullough said...

Andi, me too. I actually climbed a power pole once to see if I could get a better view of the storm center above the trees. There wasn't any lightning at the time, just amazing wind and tornado warnings, but in retrospect I've done smarter things.

FM, sorry to hear about FMom's fear of storms. On digging out at every step of the way, that just makes me go all nostalgic. We used to get at least a couple of storms like that a year but things have changed.

Two storm memories that are especially vivid:

The Halloween blizzard. 21 inches in 24 hours. Went to rescue a friend trapped at the mall early in the storm. At one point on the way home, ended up stuck in an intersection with a fire truck coming at us. Eee! They stopped, four firemen got out, and they picked up my Honda civic with four highschoolers in it and set us back on an open patch of road.

Visiting friends in St. Louis for an SCA event when they had a massive blizzard-January 1982 maybe? 17 inches of snow, and they called out the National Guard and closed the city. We had something like a dozen people in the house and needed to lay in some supplies, so a small band of us headed out in search of a grocery store. We were stopped once by the Guard, but pointed out the Wisconsin plates on the car, and they grinned and waved us on.

Nancy P said...

And I did the saving once. Small airplane. Snow starts. Heading for rural airport. Snow turns to white-out. Ground visible only in increasingly small patches. Pilot getting panicked. I realize I can't do that. I keep searching for landmarks, then spy runway!! On the ground, the ex turns to me and says, "Thank you for staying calm."

Proud moment. said...

I actually climbed a power pole once to see if I could get a better view of the storm center above the trees. ... but in retrospect I've done smarter things.

Such as clmibing the fck down from that power pole!

Nancy P said...

Great stories, Kelly! The firemen one. . .hilarious, terrifying, amazing. And they didn't even make the extra 400-800 pounds of teenagers get out!

Nancy P said...

lol, ghost! said...

When the snow plows literally buried my car (egads, another Honda Civic), I had to take the bus to work in a snow storm. I tied bread scaks around my socks, put my shoes on and there I went.

You know snow soaks up your pants as you walk in it. Mine was above my knees in two blocks. The city busses that ran every 15 minutes (ha ha ha) were in caravan mode and so they came along about every hour. I watched a group disappear in front of me as I got to the main route.

39th Street, Nancy, from Main to State Line (I lived by the Art School on Wariwck at the time).

The bus ride turned out to be walking to the next busstop, one city block, waiting a bit, getting wet, and then walking to the next one. I ended up walking all the way to work.

No big story here except I learned an imposrtant lesson in my mid-twenties. Walking in snow puts your cigarette out when you fall down. Deep snow, btw.

Nancy P said...

You were a human wick, ghost. I can sooo see you in the snow--a dot of red at the end of your cigarette, until there wasn't.

I used to live in one of those converted mansions on Janssen Place. The kitchen in my apt. was the former sunporch. No heat in that room. One winter, an icicle drooped pretty much permanently from the faucet. I don't know why all the pipes didn't burst. I think maybe it was because the landlord was so evil the fires of hell kept us warm.

Nancy P said...

Last night, katiebird said the library called to tell her the employees don't have to go in until noon. She's sleeping in. Shhhh.

Kelly McCullough said...

Yes, Ghost, down was definitely on the list of smarter things. It has been pointed out by people who knew me in my late teens that death wish is not an inappropriate description of my adrenaline junkie phase.

Jen said...

I slept through most of Hurricane Andrew.

My (desert born and raised) then-girlfriend & I had been watching TV & prepping all day like most of the locals. (Except a couple of my idiot friends who were planning a 15 mile bike ride to the beach and then the bar; "Um, y'all, just a thought, but you really might want to turn the news on once in a while.") I'd grown up down there and I was pretty sure Bryan Norcross had it right, that the storm was going to hit south, but that up in North Miami where we were at the time, we'd do all right. Some of my gfriend's idiot friends disagreed, and tried to get us to come south with them, "Well fine," the one huffed, "but we'll be a whole lot safer in my mom's brick house than you guys are gonna be in that rickety apartment." Mom's house was in Homestead.

Around 10 or so the wind started coming in, gently electrified breezes at first, like they do, and we sat outside with the upstairs neighbors and had a beer, listening to the eerie silence of the lack of all the birds and insects and animals -- who always know -- as they'd gone to burrow or hide out. We all chatted nervously a while, then around midnight let each other know, "Hey if you need anything, you know," and then went on inside our respective places to ride the night out.

I was exhausted from prepping all day so I just crashed out. My gfriend was too wound up to sleep so she turned on the portable radio and listened to the reports from the National Hurricane Center. Wisely, I did not say aloud that I thought this was a very bad idea. Around 3am or whenever things got really intense, I remember being shaken awake and her in my face screaming, "WAKE UP THE HURRICANE CENTER JUST WENT OFF THE AIR WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!!" I got up, went and pulled the important perishables out of the fridge and dumped them into the iced coolers, checked on the apartment, etc., and promptly went back to sleep. I don't think she'll ever forgive me.

Fortunately, we didn't have any damage at our place, and all our neighborhood took was some uprooted trees, but we spent the next several days driving supplies and aid down to Homestead, which was absent any official help at first. It was weird, you know, all the damage and not a shred of green anywhere, no signs, no way to tell what had been what before, our friends had lost half their house, the whole place looked like a war zone, there were rumors of 100s of dead migrant workers going unaccounted for, and locals were running around in packs with their guns slung over their shoulders trying to keep order amongst themselves. It was the worst US storm I'd ever seen, with the worst response from the government. Until Katrina.

AndiF said...

I just want to say that if we are going to start a conversation about incredibly stupid things we have done, I'm bowing out now because I've got other plans for how I'm going to spend what's left of my allotted three score and ten.

(Glad to hear you kept your power, Nancy.)

FARfetched said...

Oh man, I got a zillion of them. Since Rick multi-posted, I guess I'll do the same. :-)

* Dec. 1980 or thereabouts: driving from Houghton MI to Grand Rapids MI, blizzard conditions or the aftermath all 550 miles of the trip. In a '66 Rambler with no snow tires. We got to where we were going without anything worse than an occasional slip of the rear end (we saw the glare ice at a county line). However, we lost count of stranded cars at somewhere around 20, and that was with 200 miles to go.

* Jan 1993: we'll be talking about the Blizzard of '93 for… ever. 18 inches of snow may not sound like much to Kelly, but this is Planet Georgia I'm talking about. The Boy actually disappeared in a snowdrift. "Help!" "Where are you?" "In here!" The kids wanted to get outside in it for a little bit; I had to carry Daughter Dearest back to the house after a few minutes. 40mph wind wears you out quick. Power was out for 9-1/2 days and we hadn't laid up much firewood.

* Oct 1994: as if a blizzard wasn't enough, Opal was still a tropical storm when it came here to visit less than two years later. Well over 10 inches of rain, winds gusting past 65mph, and of course it was at night. Just as I was drifting off to sleep, I heard the craaaackkk of a large oak tree as it came down alongside the house. Mrs. Fetched leaped up to get to the kids; I just prayed because nothing else was going to make a difference. :-P We bought a generator after this one.

* Jan 2000: "Ice2K." The interval between Opal and Ice2K was amazingly outage-free; I said that buying the generator guaranteed we'd have power. Nevertheless, I maintained it and its day came. The ice storm knocked out power for 5-1/2 days, but we had a gas stove and some electricity all through it. After a few days, Mrs. Fetched got tired of keeping the fire going (we had a Jeep Cherokee so I was going to work after gassing up the generator). The furnace turned out to have a convenient wiring diagram inside the control box cover, so I wired in an extension cord and got the furnace back. Mrs. Fetched was a little miffed, but the furnace outage encouraged a mouse that had been scratching the floor joists all night to either leave or die.

Blizzards, ice storms, and tropical storms. Planet Georgia gets all the crummy stuff.

FARfetched said...

Oh, and thanks for the writing group descriptions. Now I have something to work with when I start nagging the Arts Council.

Nancy P said...

Mom's house was in Homestead.

A simple, chilling sentence if there ever was one.

I love it that you went to sleep. Dorothy. :)

Conda said...

December 19, 1990. Started out as a gorgeous sunny day. Then my mom had her final heart attack (she'd had severe heart disease for decades). As she lay dying, it began to snow. It snowed all day, until, by the time she passed, there was over 2 feet of snow on the valley floor. Biggest storm in 30 years and ever since. For a week after we had record cold, 20 degrees below zero.

My mom sure knew how to make a dramatic exit.

Nancy P said...

Andi, you mean it would take that long to tell us about all of them? :)


Nancy P said...

Far, you can probably find a lot of advice about writers groups. Here's the first one I came across, and it looks helpful:

Kelly McCullough said...

Far, yeah with snow, context is everything. 18 inches here in the North country, no big deal. We're used to it and have coping skills and government services optimized for major blizzards. Georgia? I can see that being a world of hurt.

Nancy P said...

18 inches of snow in Georgia! Wowie zowie, far. Sounds like a lot to me.

Nancy P said...

She sure, did, Conda. I hope it was as peaceful as the snow.

Beth said...

I was in NC for a wedding. Jan. 20. Flew in from North Idaho, my sis flew in from NH. They were predicting 2". Nothing yet, though, as we drove to my aunt's house from the airport.

You'd think the world had ended. Warnings flashing across the TV. Schools closed for the rest of the week. (This is Wed, and remember - not a flake yet.) Senior centers. Daycares. Church services cancelled. Stores filled with people buying emergency supplies.

It DID end up snowing an inch. And then melting the next day. Friday was 60 and sunny. But quiet, because EVERYTHING WAS CLOSED.

We laughed ourselves silly. Obviously, they're not prepared for it. No snow plows, no snow tires.

Still, for us Northern girls, it was too funny.

Jen said...

A simple, chilling sentence if there ever was one.

To call their experience terrifying doesn't begin to do it justice. As they told us later, it was right about when they saw the sliding glass doors to the patio bow in, then out, then in further, then out further, that they realized how bad things were about to get. They fled the living room (the friend's sister had a brand new baby there as well), the glass doors burst, and they spend the rest of the night huddled in the hallway of the house, hiding from Andrew, who had actually come inside the house. The hallway was one of the only parts of the house left with a roof. In my friend's old bedroom, the roof had come totally off, and when we saw it the next day, it looked like a tornado had occurred inside the room, which, I guess, it basically had. The wind had picked up things like her hs trophies, pummeled them into pieces, and then drove the jagged pieces a couple inches into the walls. They were all lucky to get out alive.

with snow, context is everything.

Ain't that the truth. What most folks consider "disaster", Alaskans just call "winter".

Conda, what a poignant story, thanks for sharing it.

Nancy P said...

Omg, Jen, that may be the scariest storm story I have ever read. I didn't even know glass doors could do that. And the shards of trophies. . .!

hiding from Andrew, who had actually come inside the house

Serious question: have you written any horror stories? I think you may have a knack.

Jen said...

Serious question: have you written any horror stories?

Tried, scared myself too badly, stopped. :)

katiebird said...

Skimmed the stories: But I'll have to wait 'till I get home to read them.

Our power was out until Just as I was leaving for work. Which is where I am now.

Dang! I really wanted to join the party....

(who climbed a pole to watch a storm? Andi?)

Nancy P said...

Darn, Jen. The world is missing a scary scribe. :)

Dang, Kb. Sorry about the power. (I just drove over to Prairie Village with no problem. So far, so good in that regard.)

I know that sounds like andi, but she merely lay down on the sidewalk to look at storm clouds. It was Kelly who had to see them from higher up.

Man Eegee said...

I saw pictures of Norman, OK last night on NBC Nightly News. It was eerie to see the effects of the ice storm, as I lived there several years when I was wee. The tornadoes that ripped through in '87 were memorable, as I was trying to sign up for Scouts at my school.

Back in the AZ desert, though, it's the heat that leaves the impressions. I recall the 123 degree day vividly in the Phoenix area when the tires of planes started melting at the airport.

Man Eegee said...

Oh, and Nancy, you've been tagged! :)

FARfetched said...

Yeah, Jen, if I saw large pieces of glass doing that, I'd have gotten outta range too. Did you see Dave Barry's story about Andrew? He rode out the storm at a neighbor's house, whose dog got them seriously thinking about opening a window and letting some 180mph wind air the place out.

Oh, Nancy mentioned "the cold and ice when my son was born." About a week before The Boy was born, we had a pretty heavy snowfall (nearly 10 inches) with a crust of ice an inch thick on top. It would support about 40 pounds, and our dog weighed 50. He would take two steps, fall through the ice, and give me the saddest look. The cats pulled out the ice hooks and looked at the dog with a "U R such a total l0s3r!" attitude.

Nancy P said...

Manny, you rascal! :) I loved reading your list just now. You are one interesting fellow. Lightning strikes, premonitions (hmm, a connection?), meditation, counting, being a beer guru. . .makes me wonder what you might have added if the list required 10. :)

It may take me a while to do mine, but I will. If a person's tagged once, they can't be tagged again, right?

Nancy P said...

The cats pulled out the ice hooks and looked at the dog with a "U R such a total l0s3r!" attitude.

Still laughing.

I wish you could have seen the wild turkeys today. I walked out on the deck to throw bread crumbs down, not knowing they were already below me. It startled them and they skedaddled. But our back yard is coated with solid ice. Have you ever seen turkeys ice skate? God, it was funny. One of them slipped and plonked down on his turkey butt. (If only Olivia had been there for photos!)

Jen said...

Did you see Dave Barry's story about Andrew?

Yeah, I used to read all his stuff back in the day. I thought he was a funny guy, and I was always jealous that he got to play in a band with Stephen King, Amy Tan, Matt Groening and Barbara Kingsolver. :)

Family Man said...

Hey Jen I don't know if you've seen it, but Fri. on Sci-fi they have about 6 hours of Firefly on.

Jen said...

Thanks for thinking of me, FM, but I have all the hours of Firefly (and Serenity) on DVD. :D

boran2 said...

In a wind/rain storm a couple of years ago, Madame boran was driving our recently partially repainted and refreshed Mazda. Just a short distance from our house, a large tree fell right on the car smashing the hood and windshield and the rear of the car but missing the middle entirely. Madame was scared but otherwise fine, the car, well, not so much. We waved goodbye as it was towed off to the old car graveyard.

Nancy P said...

b2, I think I remember when that happened. I remember the relief we all felt in the Cafe that Madame was unscathed!!

FARfetched said...

Wow, Boran, I hadn't heard about that one. Did Mrs. B have to change her shorts after that one?