Storms a Brewin’

Yesterday as I was flipping through channels looking for a nature show for the kids and I to watch, I stopped on a channel showing footage of a tornado. I was of course instantly hooked because nothing thrills me more than a good storm and I’ve always been fascinated by tornadoes. The show is called Storm Chasers and yesterday was a Marathon leading up to the finale. So I sat and watched for 4 hours, living vicariously through these dedicated teams looking for the perfect storm.

As far back as I can remember I’ve gotten chills when a good storm has come up. Instead of staying inside I want to be out in the pounding rain, watching the lightning flash and feeling the thunder shake the ground. Storms are my favorite of God’s creations and when the movie Twister came out my day dreams of being a storm chaser myself, took flight. Of course, now I know that it wouldn’t be all excitement. It would actually be mostly driving and waiting and lots of disappointment. But it was fun to watch the marathon and dream a little bit again. Maybe someday after the kids are out of the house I’ll be a dork and pay someone to take me on a tornado chase. Maybe someday some of the dreams I’ve put on hold for the loves of my life will get to be fulfilled.

In any case, one of the teams has a website, TornadoVidoes.net where they have put up some of their incredible tornado footage. Just click on the tab Video Gallery to see it.

So what about you? Any unfulfilled dreams you still think about at times.




Hurricane Ike - An eyewitness account

Written by my grandmother in Houston. I found it interesting and thought I would share it with you. And when they get my Aunt’s power back on I should have some pictures to share as well.

It was Thursday afternoon on Sept. 11, 2008 as we sat awaiting the arrival of Ike. It seemed as if the entire city and surrounding suburbs were entirely shut down after residents had cleaned the grocery store shelves of all food and water, and drained the gas stations dry. I wonder why people wait until the last minute to make their preparations. It was kind of eerie with the city shut down and now it was just a matter of waiting. Hurricanes can be so boring while we keep waiting and watching, waiting and watching, while they speed up and slow down, weaken and strengthen, veer right and loop left. Of course I thought up until the last minute that Ike would turn. Even though I was prepared, I never thought it would ever come in here. Wrong!!

Finally by Friday evening it was very apparent from the news reports that it was not going to turn. A widow lady who lives in a mobile home came to shelter with us, along with her six cats and a parrot. The parrot went to your Aunt’s house! We watched it coming in on T.V. The extent of it was the most surprising. It practically filled the Gulf of Mexico. We have friends in southeast Texas in Lake Jackson and friends in northeast Texas in Orange and the storm raged the entire state. We boarded up the three big windows in the front and put everything moveable in the garage, had our food and water in. We watched the news until about 10:00 p.m. and then went to bed. I couldn’t sleep so got up again and stayed up until a little after midnight. Shortly after I went back to bed was the end of our power for the next 72 hours. It was soooo dark with no lights on in any house or any street lights, or moon or anything. We had to use a flashlight to find our way to the bathroom.

I can’t say that the noise of the wind was that horrible. I have heard worse in Blackfoot, Idaho many nights when I was sure the house would blow off its foundation. So the noise wasn’t too bad. I slept through it until about 4:00 a.m.

Our next door neighbor, who had a tree go through his roof said that at one point he looked out the window and one of the huge pine trees in our front yard was swaying down to the ground clear across the street and the next time he looked it was swaying clear into his yard. He quit looking after that!

I got up at dawn and looked out. Wow, it was unbelievable. The hurricane was still going on. Leaves were smacked all over my windows. You couldn’t even see the back yard. It was covered with limbs, branches, leaves and debris of every kind. And the wind blowing the rain was a sight to behold.

Later it died down and we went out to survey the damage. Our house was not damaged at all and neither was your Aunt’s. However, the neighborhood looked like a war zone. There were limbs and branches everywhere. Huge, huge oak trees were down everywhere. They had crashed into houses, blocked roads, torn up sidewalks and driveways with their roots as they went down. Power and phone lines were dangling everywhere. About 40-50% of the fences were down. It was just an incredible sight.
What amazed me so much was the fact that, even as it was pouring rain people were already out starting to clean up. I felt that it was rather dangerous as limbs were still falling from trees, but there they all were. Everyone seemed to pitch in to help everyone else out. There was a huge tree blocking the road just three houses from us and our next door neighbor was right in the middle of it with his chain saw.

We hooked up an old land line phone and for a time had telephone service, but it eventually went out too and so we had no land line, no cell phone, no wireless internet, and no power. The power of course was the worst. The first night it was rather hot and humid, but early in the morning a big thunder and lightning storm came in and really cooled things off, so that helped considerably with the lack of fans or a/c. However, it also caused more flooding now that Ike had already begun. Some people had generators, but very few, and the ones that did kept running out of gas. Those generators use an amazing amount of gas. On Monday a couple of gas stations opened up and the lines were just humongous. About a three hour wait. And of course they had to get the police out there to keep everyone in line. We can’t manage ourselves, you know.

We did lose all of our food in our freezer and fridge. I said I would definitely get a generator after this, but then after seeing how much gas they take and how difficult it is to get gas I may reconsider. It was quite eerie around here during the nights without any lights. And eerie to drive past totally empty shopping centers.

The schools are closed all week. Some sustained damage, but mostly it is the fact that we have no gas for the school buses.

The Bush Intercontinental Airport sustained substantial damage. I think they are resuming flights on Wednesday. Hobby Airport also had damage. So we were pretty isolated. We couldn’t fly out, couldn’t drive out, and couldn’t call out. Your Uncle’s mom passed away and he had to drive the five hours to Dallas in order to get a flight out to California.

We were fortunate in that we did get our power back on in 72 hours. Also we did not lose our water and some of our friends did. Your Aunt who lives just two blocks from us, is still without power at this time. I don’t know why they can’t get to her.

All in all we were very blessed. It has been a tremendous clean up job, and lots of lessons learned, but none of us was hurt and no damage done to the house. The Lord blessed us greatly, and we pray for those who lost their homes or lives. We are grateful to all of you who offered prayers in our behalf.




Vacation Recap - Bryce Canyon Utah

The first few days of our vacation were spent camping in Bryce Canyon National Park for Hubby’s annual family reunion. Southern Utah is full of gorgeous rock formations, perfect summer weather and tons of scenic areas for hiking, biking, camping, backpacking, etc. Goblin Valley is my personal favorite area to explore in southern Utah but Bryce Canyon is amazing as well. I can not tell you how thrilled I was just to go camping again. I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors and getting dirty, so this excursion was long over due. Hubby’s family was kind enough to set a tent up for us before we arrived. And during our three days there we did some exploring. Hubby and I took a walk at dusk in the woods observing the prairie dogs and elk and we went on a couple of hikes as well.

Above we’re posing in a mossy little cave at the end of the trail.

After the visit to the mossy cave, we went back down the trail and took a fork in the path toward a waterfall. Above you can see me leaping to my possible death onto a slippery rock in the river bed, just feet away from the waterfalls edge. Luckily, my trusty brother in law was there to give me a firm hand.

On the other side of the river was a steep path leading up to the above arch. We climbed through the arch and dropped down onto the other side. The trail leading down on that side was even steeper. So I did what any person who knows what jeans are really good for would do…

…and slid all the way down on my butt!




Summer means Spiders

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I have what you would call a typical fear of spiders. I think overall they’re interesting and I’ll leave them alone when they’re on their own turf. In my house however, they’re fair game for a squashing. It all depends on my mood though. Sometimes I catch them and let them go. But usually not if they’ve surprised me anywhere near my face.

The one that descended above my head while I was brushing my hair in the mirror 8 years ago? After a fit of screaming and swiping and stomping and heebie jeebie dancing, that one was toast. And the one that descended from the top of the window in the car near my cheek yesterday morning. So dead.

Sometimes I think I’m more creeped out by the way a spider can surprise me than by the actual spider itself. What about you? Ever had an insect surprise you and freak you out big time?




Can you honk any louder?

So Saturday our family went berry picking (black raspberries and blueberries this time) and on our drive there we came across a little critter crossing the road. From up the hill we could see something rather small and dark moving very slowly across the road and at first glance it appeared to be something inanimate. But I soon realized it’s rhythm was methodic instead of wind driven and told hubby to slow down. He slowed none to soon, for had we been going at our original pace we would have run it over.

It was probably not the best idea to come to a complete stop on a 40 mile an hour road but my only thought was for the little critter in front of us, which I still could not clearly see. So my husband turned on his hazards and I got out and finally identified of all things, a turtle! The little guy was now trying to climb onto the median. As I picked him up a suburban came speeding down the highway behind us blaring his horn.

Nice. Anyway, I ran across the road with the turtle in hand (he was hiding snuggly in his shell) and placed him on a slope leading up into a woodsy area. I told him not to cross anymore roads and ran back to the car, happy we had gotten to him before that suburban had. I love wildlife, and people that run animals over without a thought (like that suburban dude probably would have) really make me mad.




My first roadkill

Driving home in the dark through oft times wooded areas is always a little nerve racking for me.  I grip the steering wheel more firmly, my eyes darting to the sides of the road, looking for that ghostly white glare.  The glare that tells you an animal is about to run away from you, or jump in front of your car.

I returned home from a focus group last night in such conditions.  Add to that a very windy road and I was even more careful.  I went five miles under the speed limit, slowing down around each curve.   I was sighing with a bit of relief as I rounded what would be my last wooded curve before coming to a fairly well trafficked intersection.  Suddenly I saw a dark shadow dart into the road and the car jarred heavily as it rolled over something that was definitely bigger than a squirrel.   It had happened so fast I didn’t even have time to think about putting on my breaks.

I found a spot down the road to turn around and driving very slowly back up the road I saw my victim.  It’s eyes glared white in my headlights.  A large raccoon lay lifeless on the side of the road.  I gasped and was actually surprised when tears came straight to my eyes.  I felt an overwhelming desire to pull over and help it.  But I knew it was too late. I hope it never happens again.  I wish animals knew to stay away from streets.  I see smashed squirrels all over the roads out here.

Oh, and it’s one thing to run over them on accident and entirely another to do it on purpose.  In my life I’ve seen two dogs get run over on purpose and I’ve rarely felt such anger towards people.  My neighbors darling dog Lucy was one of them.  I saw it happen, heard her yelping and didn’t know what to do.  My friend ran out at that moment to her dog and carried her and her broken body inside the house.  Amazingly she lived, but she was never quite the same afterward.  I wish all people would treat animals kindly.

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Summer Owens

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