“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.”

― Frank Herbert

Monday, March 30, 2015

Getting to be that time.


There was a terrific thunderstorm here last night.  It wasn't predicted, so I hadn't done any of the precautionary things I normally do like taking the well pump off line and shutting down all the electrical equipment.

The weather radio went off next to the bed, and before I woke up enough to figure out what it was, the thunder was rolling full tilt.  One blast was very close,and very strong.  I thought it would get the well pump, at least, but this morning I could not find any damage other than limbs down from the wind. I like to sit on the porch of the apartment over the shop (it has the best view here) and watch these storms come rolling in. The lightning over the mountains is truly spectacular. At night, the bolts light up the woods with a purple white light and it has quite an eerie effect.  I don't need lightning bolts overhead as close as they were last night, though.




April is the start of tornado season here. I've never been hit by one but they have come down all around us. If I drive over the mountains towards Atlanta, there's one spot with a beautiful view. But it wasn't always like that. The forest came right up to the road until a tornado touched down there some years back. Now the forest is gone and there's a panoramic view in it's place.

Many years ago, on an April Sunday afternoon, a series of tornadoes came through the mountains, and the town where I worked was severely damaged. The first time I drove back to work afterwards, I was amazed. Where there had been houses, there were only cement slabs with pipes sticking up out of them. Where there had been woods, there were trees hurled every which way and broken off at the base. I've never had one come close to the compound here, but you never know. Tornadoes seem to be like artillery, they just hit where they hit and there's not a lot you can do if you happen to be standing in the wrong place at the wrong time.


I had a discrepancy in a financial statement this weekend. Couldn't find the problem no matter how hard I tried. I used all the standard balancing techniques, but nothing showed up.  Went to the bank, but I knew within five minutes of going in the door I wasn't going to get any help there. The person who was "assisting" me couldn't have balanced a check book, let alone one of these statements, to save her life.

So I went to an accountant here in town. Sometimes, you need a second pair of eyes to see what's wrong. It took him about 15 minutes to find the issue, so simple that it was no more than a dating error on four transactions. Didn't even cost me anything since I know the guy from the gun club days.

All in all, the day is about over and nothing dramatic happened. The weather is fair, and warm. About twilight I'll go sit on the front porch and watch the evening come on.  A good cup of coffee followed by a good pipe, and it will have been a pleasant day.






25 comments:

  1. Oh, I absolutely love watching the thunderstorms rolling in and through. I usually freak out my 9 year old daughter who is still deathly afraid of them, because I like to sit on the porch until the mayhem starts and even then it's hard to get me inside the house. I can't wait for our first one this year. :)

    We don't have tornadoes in my area but couple of years ago we had a mini twister come through.. that's the only thing I can call it as there was a clear path of destruction through neighbourhood. It took the tree down in my yard. Nothing got damaged and no one was hurt so it remains as a fun memory for us all. :)

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    1. Like you, I've always enjoyed thunderstorms. There's something elemental about them that makes the storms fascinating to watch. Especially the big clouds being lit up by the lightning miles away. Years ago, I went camping at the Three Gorges bend with my brother and my son. It's way out in Western Oregon on the Snake River. You could see forever out there, because it was relatively flat. Our first night there was a terrific thunderstorm and I got to watch it for a long time. It was beautiful beyond compare, and I'll remember it as long as I live.

      I admit to being afraid of tornadoes because they are so random, and so powerful. But if one eventually comes down here, part of my house is below ground level on three sides, and maybe I can ride it out down there. If not, there are worse ways to go, like laying in a hospital bed sucking oxygen while everybody wishes you would hurry up and die so they can get on with their lives. ;- )

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  2. I'm glad that you had no damage. If I was to rebuild, it would be underground.

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    1. Georges, after a storm like last night I would have expected at least some shakes torn off the roof, and maybe a tree down across the trail. I also expected some electrical damage since I didn't have time to do any of things I do before a storm to minimize that. So I got lucky this time.

      I've looked into underground homes, or more specifically, earth homes like Cody Lundin lives in . If I could find the expertise here to build one, I might give it a go if I lost my current buildings. I think that would be a long shot though, since I have never seen or heard of an underground or earth home anywhere up in these mountains.

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  3. oh Harry - i have never seen or witnessed a tornado - i think i would just drop dead and die if i did! but i love thunderstorms and we get some awesome thunder and lightning here! and it is always out on the ocean so far enough away not to be a problem but close enough to watch. i love watching the lightning out over the ocean - being that we are up so high on our little hill we get to see the best storms!

    that comic at the bottom of your post made me laugh. and made me think it was you - bahahahahahah! much love always to you and yours! yer a good friend Harry...and we respect and appreciate that!

    your friend,
    kymber

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    1. Kymber, I saw from your place that there is still snow all over the ground up there. Winter doesn't seem to be letting go it's hold easily this year. I am running the heaters in the main house this morning. It was 60 degrees inside when I got up. That isn't really cold for me but the ferrets don't like it that chilly.

      One of the things I like about Florida is that you can watch those thunderstorms out to sea, especially at night. Another thing I like about your place (and there are many) is the fact that you located on that hill and have a great view as a result.

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  4. Storms are amazing are they not! Both dangerous and magnificent! And the Far Side cartoon sums it up doesn't it. As to banks these days...what happened to the helpful teller that knew your name and wanted the best for "YOU" the customer? Its sad isn't it.

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    1. Fiona, I admit I enjoy them which I suppose is not the best attitude to have, but I can't help it. I've had that cartoon for a long time, I always get a laugh out of it because it fits the Appalachian mountains so well.

      When I first came to this county, the bank was a small red brick building and you knew everyone in it. Now it has grown and has branches in three states but it has completely lost that sense of community. Now they are all about grubbing money and that's it.

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  5. The whole family was watching a thunderstorm years ago. A tall hemlock 50 feet from the house was hit. Blew off the top 35 feet or so. Just missed my car and my solar panel array. It did fry the ground to one of my phone lines. All in all, we got lucky. We've had some other close calls since, but not that close.

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    1. That's a little close for comfort. I've had the lightning hit so close to the hour you could smell the ozone in the air, but I don't think I've experienced a blast at that range. Nor would I want to. There's too much of a good thing.

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  6. G'day Harry,

    back in the olden days when I was the office junior one of the old school accountants would make me balance cash books to the cent, he used to say it could be out 99,999.99 one way and 100,000.00 the other! I used to hate him, especially as I was doing everything manually then ( do you remember 16 column cash books and 200 page cheque books!). As we were charging out our time I would have to write off the extra time taken to find his flipping cent.

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    1. That is exactly what the guy I used to work for would say. It didn't matter to him if you were a penny off, or a thousand dollars off, it had to be found. I can't think how much time I wasted in exactly the same circumstances.

      The problem yesterday was so simple I just didn't see it. When I was working, I would often take the spreadsheets down the hall to a co-worker when I got jammed up and they would usually be able to find the problem in short order. I would do the same for them. I think when you are going over the numbers, your eyes see what you expect to see sometimes, and you just roll right past the problem, looking for something more complicated.

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  7. Sounds like some crazy storms. Glad nothing was damaged.

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    1. I wonder how your animals react to storms? When we had "moon dance" up here in the meadow she hated storms and would run get under a tree. She never went into her little barn unless we put her in there, even in snow.

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  8. Great weather here, had rain over the weekend and cleaned up all the remaining snow. Wed. they are saying 70 and T-storms with our luck it will be 25 and 70" of snow. As far as the bank teller, another example of our decline.

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    1. She just didn't care, either way. That's ok, I expected that attitude.

      Glad the weather is warming up there. I'm running heat here today just until the house warms up.

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  9. Harry,

    It's good to hear your place didn't suffer any damage with the storm that rolled in. I've notice the weather radio not alerting to storms as fast as they usually do for preparedness. In fact, this tornado we received last week there was no alert on the weather radio, and the warning horns never went off.

    Watching storms roll always amazes me. I try to get outside if it's safe and take pictures.

    Tornadoes scare the crap out of me. I don't mind watching them from a distance if they're not hitting homes, businesses, or cars. I would rather see them come down in open field. Two years ago was the first time I had the pleasure of experiencing(over the top of us) 2 major tornadoes at full force F5 and F3 - 4. After getting out of the closet, and on my feet I found myself in shock. It took me a little while to focus, and grab my emergency bag to help those needing help. We were very lucky in all cases, I believe the good Lord was watching over us.

    My husband and I are considering building our home into the side of a hill when we buy property if we stay in tornado alley.

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    1. You've had much more experience than I have with the big storms, as I've mostly seen the aftermath once it was safe. I think building partially underground is a good plan for a lot of reasons, and building back into the hill or mountainside is easier for contractors to do than building completely underground.

      I'm sure you would be a bit steamrolled after a big tornado, that's a natural reaction to a sudden, calamitous event.

      I'm glad you two didn't get blown to Oz!

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  10. Tornado season around here too. Our old subdivision was hit hard one year and about three years ago one took out the whole town (which isn't saying much) and skirted our ridge thankfully. They still don't have everything cleaned up. It made its way through St Louis and did major damage. We are hoping some storms this year will shake out the damaged tree tops that are dangling and way too high to cut out. I make sure no one goes near the worst one because the damaged part is about as tall as a normal yard tree. I hope you stay safe and sound up there.

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    1. Those trees sound like "widow makers". I have a couple on my land, and like you I'm not fooling with them, it's too dangerous. They'll come down on their own and they aren't near any of my buildings so there's no hurry.

      You are like Sandy, you both live in a worse part of Tornado Alley than I do. I believe my location on a mountain top surrounded by higher mountains has helped us in terms of keeping tornadoes from coming right in here to the compound.

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  11. Hey Harry,

    (captaincrunch)

    Beach Report!

    I drove out to the beach yesterday, late afternoon, early evening. Water's still kinda cool and I had no desire to get wet so I just drove around. I saw a surfer I've known for years.
    The beach was pretty deserted after the spring break crap has left. I am still seeing trash remnants from the past two weeks from the ' Walking Dead of Spring Break'

    I live near the salt water so I am used to the salt air, but walking up on the water's edge I got that supersaturated salt air smell with the water temp. being in the upper sixties it reminded me of the water in California. It had the same smell.

    The beaches had some seaweed. As spring progresses, more sea weed will drift in. Its the Sargasso seaweed. It drifts up the coast and washes up on the beaches down here. When the air temp starts to going up, the seaweed starts to smell and rot on the beach (which is fine for me) The seaweed builds up the beach and counters beach erosion in storms. It also provides a habitat for crabs and other critters.
    The tourist complain endlessly about the seaweed. Far as I am concerned those tourist don't like it, they can kiss my ass and go somewhere else. We need the seaweed. It's what built Padre Island in the first place!

    All in all, I had an enjoyable drive down the beach with as few people on it. I really don't like having people around. A few here and there that are quiet are ok, but the mobs of zombie tourist's I despise.

    The trick to avoiding the 'Walking Dead on the Beach' is knowing where and when to go to the beach and when to run home as quick as possible.

    That easter thing will be this or next weekend so there will be ten million fat Mexicans drinking beer on the beach when that happens. I will stay home of course.
    Its one of those religouse holidays where people down here go to church with a 30 pack of Bud Light on ice in the back of the truck, then its immediately off to the beach to get hammered and drive home even more hammered.

    After that holiday mess, its smooth sailing with quiet beach days all the way through, what. Memorial Day and its two 30 packs of Bud Light because its hot outside.

    One joke I heard down here is 'Come in Vacation and Leave on Probation.

    I guess I'm like a Hermit Crab. I know when too stay in and when to come out.

    Forgot to mention. Some warm evening I will go out and check out the 'blue crabs' on the beach.
    The beaches fill up with blue crabs, big ones and you can see them dance around in the headlights on the beach as they scurry about looking for dead fish that wash up on the beach to eat. Damn crabs will eat anything. They remind me of Vultures.

    A few years ago, a large (about the size of a shoebox) Land crab was in a friends garage. I caught the crab in a big box (unharmed) and took it and released it at a salt water lagoon. Damn thing was huge for a crab.

    I guess that was a 'Texas size Crab'

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  12. The potential violent weather was what I hated about the 18 months I lived in Little Rock. It could get sporty there on very short notice.

    Hey, awhile back you mentioned some Z Qi 9mm ammo on sale st China Mart. They finally put it on sale here at $12.97 a box. Did you ever get to shoot any of it? Did you weapons eat it okay?

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    1. I just keep an ear open for the weather alerts and hope for the best.

      I bought a bunch of the Turkish 9mm and 7.61X51. It has worked fine for me. I fired the rifle ammo out of an Ishapore and a Gibbs Rifle Company Jungle Carbine MK. VI, no problem. Fired the 9mm out of a Browning HP, and a Sig P226, worked great.

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  13. we get tornadoes bad here to. The year I was prego with Isaak there was a really bad one that went through a camp, and killed some boy scouts. I remember my emotions being wacky from hormones, and I could not stop crying. I'm not a real crier, but during that time it was pretty sad.

    I guess we had one that went through the area where I grew up the year before I was born. It wiped out almost the entire neighborhood. It was pretty crazy seeing the pictures.

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    1. Tornadoes are fearsome, and unpredictable. Even with some advance warning there is not a lot a person can do. I wouldn't feel bad about crying. One reason wives almost invariably outlive their husbands is their ability to release emotions that men can't. It has to be that way though. We'd be in a fine mess if the husband and father started crying in front of the family when things got tough. That would hardly inspire confidence or help morale. But nobody holds it against women.

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