Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
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Friday, May 29, 2015

Things That Go Boom At 2 A.M.

The author and Mr. Fishy.
A confession:  I am afraid of thunderstorms.  This wasn't any big deal when we lived in California and there was maybe one courtesy thunderclap per storm (and we got maybe a thunderstorm a year, give or take?) but it's become An Issue since we moved to North Texas about ten years ago.  There are plenty of thunderstorms here.  They're big, they're loud, they come with terrifying flashes of lightning, and they always seem to hit about 2 A.M.  Shaken from a sound sleep by the Crack o' Doom directly above my ceiling, I'm prone to getting up, running into Joan's room (yes, we sleep in separate rooms; there are reasons for that, mainly with regard to preferred temperature) and burrowing deep under the covers with Mr. Fishy, here.  Mr. Fishy being a stuffed animal, he never seems to mind.  And there I stay, at least until things calm down and the air is quiet again and Joan says, "Go back to bed, you're too hot." (Well.  Thank you.)

This year, in particular, it's been a challenge.  I mean, it always rains a lot in the spring, but this year is just getting ridiculous.  I mean we're not ducks, for God's sake.  My back yard has been under three inches of water for pretty much a solid month now, I have mushrooms growing all over creation, there are more mosquitoes than you can shake a can of Cutter at and I've lost count of how many times I've gotten up at two a.m. looked up at the steadily vibrating ceiling and told God to stop it.  (Not sure he can hear me over all the thunder, anyway, but it's worth a try.)

So it's 2:55 a.m., I've been up for an hour and I just polished off a bowl of cereal (another consequence of thunderstorms; cereal killing).  Caesar the Cat is keeping an eye on me, the other two are kind of roaming around the kitchen and I'm pretty sure that's hail banging against our chimney up there.  Can the tornado sirens be far behind?

Hopefully not, because this house is not designed for tornadoes.  Everything's above ground.  There's no shelter or anything (and let's face it, it'd be full of water if there was one).  The best we can do when the sirens go off is decamp to the hallway, shut all the doors behind us and hope that the worst we get is flying debris.  Flying debris is, by the way, your number one problem during most tornadoes; getting sucked up into a funnel cloud doesn't happen nearly as often as Hollywood makes it out, though I guess it is a possibility.  A couple of years ago a tornado went by about a mile and a half from here.  Plenty of noise and wind and general scaryness but nobody hurt.  I have this theory about tornadoes; I think they aim for trailer parks.  Why?  Because the first thing they do when they build a trailer park is get rid of all the trees.  This is stupid; trees deflect heat, and tornadoes seem to be particularly interested in heat.  Anyway, my house has been here for 58 years, and has never been hit by a tornado. One should never say never, but last time the sirens went off (a couple of days ago) I woke up, pondered their existence, and then went back to sleep.  Until the next thunderclap.

In California, there were frequent small earthquakes and a few big ones.  I grew up in earthquake country, mainly Utah, and I had plenty of instruction in what to do if an earthquake strikes.  Best advice, get under a desk or another heavy piece of furniture.  Doorways won't really do it for you if the building collapses, but desks--there was a school that collapsed in Mexico City in 1985, and what held up the roof and the two stories that fell was a row of standard student desks.  All the kids under the desks were fine.  Still, what I actually did during earthquakes was generally just stand there, like a fool, until they were over.  Unless it was the middle of the night, like it generally was, and then I'd wake up, look around, see if anything was falling off a shelf, and if not, I'd just go back to sleep.  I was there for Northridge in 1994 and I'm not sure I even woke up that time.

So if I can do it with earthquakes I can do it with thunderstorms, right? Wrong.  As long as these long lines of "low pressure disturbances" are going to rumble through Dallas in the middle of the night like this, scattering chaos and mayhem, I'm gonna be losing sleep.  And (leaning against the door with one ear to a glass) yep, there go the tornado sirens.  Cripes, I'm gonna be finishing this blog post in the hallway.  With Mr. Fishy.  Cheers, all.  I hope your evening continues not to suck.

PS. Would whoever gave us the gift subscription to Architectural Digest kindly fess up?   Thanks.

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