Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sew to the Wind and Reap the Whirlwind

     This has been a very trying week on so many levels.  We found out that the visas we thought were fine are actually not valid for our trip because in spite of the fact that we sent the itinerary as required and stated when we were traveling to Ghana as required they put the wrong date on the visas and refuse to change them.  This means the ministry was really hit below the belt financially and will have to help those that have already sent in their visas to do this again closer to the date of our departure.  It felt like a real attack of the enemy but this is nothing to the storm that came to us on Father's Day.  I have always wanted to see a tornado but even when we lived in Oklahoma I only saw the aftermath of these beasts that everyone fears so much.  I never forgot seeing a 2x4 imbedded in a tree trunk...steel from the guard along the road wrapped around trees like a pretzel, car frames thrown into all sorts of places.  Ironically I never saw a tornado there.  I've only witnessed two tornados in my life.  One here in Montana in '91 which didn't do any real damage at all before dissapating.  We had large hail that I remember but that was about it.  Father's day was the warmest day we'd had in a while.  Lovely and I decided not to see a movie since the show we really wanted to see wasn't on and we were tired.  I taught that day and just wanted to relax.  Gabby was playing with her little friends next door while I sat in our garage reading and listening to music from our laptop.  I saw the approaching clouds but from our angle they didn't look like much.  Some huge raindrops started to fall as Danielle and Mike came home from the park with two of their friends.  We figured the storm would quickly pass with little excitement.  How very wrong we were!  The rain started to increase and with it hail started to fall.  It hailed for some time with then it seemed as though the hail would cease altogether.  My dad came out and watched the storm with us as the lighthing became dramatic enough for us all to sit up and take real notice.  It was psychedelic purple with thunder following almost instantly.  Suddenly very large hail started to fall and the cloud we had been watching took on a life of its own.  Suddenly out of the boiling cloud came the creature of many people's nightmares but almost as quickly as it came it was shrouded in rain wrapped wall.  Suddenly the town siren went off though it could barely be heard over the hail and rainfall.  Under it all we could hear a roar that sounded like mix between a freight train and a jet...just like everyone says they sound...the tornado was here!  We could see nothing as the roar continued and hail fell.  The street filled with a literal river of water as the field and the plains flooded with water that had no place to go except right down the street 

We have never owned a boat before nor ever really wanted one however today would have been a good day to have one!  It seems everyone that owned a truck or SUV thought it would be a great idea to try and run the river that was once a street...seems like a great way to ruin your vehicle if you ask me.  Some houses had terrible flood damage and no insurance to cover it since such things are very rare here.  The hail was large and lasted for nearly and hour.  We all prayerd when we saw the hail and the tornado let me tell you!  The miracle of all this is that we don't even need a new roof nor did our vehicles sustain damage...many lost windshields and sustained awful flood damage...only God could have spared us.  The neighborhood was filled with people checking out the whole got on his fishing boots and went to check things out.  I think he looks like a rescue worker!  He saw an outhouse go floating by from one of the construction projects going on!  This was record breaking rain at one time for us!  Only one of our vehicles was outside during this storm but since it's older and has more steel in it there was no damage.  A bird near the car was beaten to death by the hail...very sad.  Water was rushing by the car to the field behind out house.  The pond behind our house became one with the ditch...scary to see things flooding right next to the house this waythough I know some have had far worse flooding.  Some had a four foot wall of water shatter their windows and enter their home!  Mike found a large hailstone and held it...this was not the largest stone we saw by any means.  Going to our deck I began to have some idea of the volume of hail that fell on was shocking!  Houses, cars and plants got completely pummeled...we lost our potted garden sadly.  I was about beside myself since I couldn't get to Gabby until after the hail storm and tornado passed...she was at our neighbor's house the whole time!  Our precious flowers are destroyed nowbut we're alive and in one of the few homes left undamaged.  I read in the paper that thousands of insurance claims were made just today.  The hailstones were all unique.  Some were smooth while others were sort of spiked, some were opaque while others were nearly clear with a very white core but the sheer volume of it all is what amazed me!  Here are some of the individual stonesboth dad and I got hit by a few of these...I got hit on the toe but he got hit on the back!  Aren't these things amazing?  I think it must have been some amazingly powerful updrafts to have created these!  We then found out that the tornado was the upper end of an F2!  Nearly and F3 and it destroyed many businesses on Main Street including the Metra where I and some in our church graduated and where the fair is held...not damaged...pretty much destroyed!  That's a 10,000 seat arena!  The National Guard came in for a while but they've done a great job cleaning up.  One of the members in our church said that their son was actually driving down the road when he saw a huge pine tree fly over his car then his windows were blown out and the car was moved into another lane!  We made international news...our little town...on the news for a tornado!  I didn't get any pictures of the tornado myself but have a few pictures from the paper and posted videos on my facebook page.  Check these pictures out!  None of us will forget the roar nor those that have suffered so much from this beast...that just what it sounded like too:  an unleashed monster.  Seeing the things it destroyed and that which it left I stand in awe of how much God did to protect us.  The day before would have found thousands watching a football game at the arena that was destroyed only a day later.  It was Sunday meaning none were hurt or killed in the destroyed businesses and Lovely and I are alive because we didn't go to the show.  We are all alive and well because that tornado didn't take a slight curve and enter the residential area right close by.  We're trying to put things back together in town now but we'll never look at the sky the same way.  Storms can go from interesting to death incarnate in just seconds.  Now the storms that pass have more attention from us than usual.  It reminds me of when we lived in Oklahoma where we Montanans puzzled at the worried looks to the sky when storms came.  We're now a little wiser for the experience.  We think of the Israelites in the Old Testament that painted their door posts with the blood to keep the angel of death from entering in.  Death certainly passed us by this Father's Day 2010!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Dampened Spirits

     I was feeling pretty bummed that the weather decided yet again to take a down turn.  There were floodwarnings and tornado watches before the whole mess was through and now we're left with fifty-three degrees and wind.  The good news is that the coffee tastes just as good no matter what it's doing outside!  I love to have the rasberry chocolate creamer to add that little something to my coffee (no matter what Marshall thinks!). 

     I've been continually dismayed at the condition of things over on spaces.  I can pretty much keep up...mostly manually because the notifications are trashed again but I keep getting that sense that it's becoming a ghost town over there.  I think that part of this is the technical problems but also I believe that it's a sign of the decline in blogging in general.  Back in the day it was the rising thing to do but now I'm beginning ot think it may have been the flavor of the month and it's a new month.  Sometimes I find that I've considered quitting this whole thing all together but then something changes my mind.  Lovely and Carole have helped me in this regard though they may not understand why.  I hate the suggestions that people are dumb or unfaithful for leaving Spaces.  I know that for me communication is so important.  If a site makes it harder to communicate that really effects my decisions.  I don't understand that logic that says waiting it out sends some kind of message to Microsoft that encourages change...frankly I believe it does the opposite.  If we sit there no matter what they does this send a message that we're not happy?  That being said there are those that don't want to go through the debacle of changing to a new site and have so much that they don't want to lose in their archives not to mention the danger that people they've known won't follow them should they move.  Let me aleviate the fear that you can't keep in touch.  I've been able to keep in touch and still blog from here.  The problems with comments doesn't always make this easy.  Even if they fix the comments there's still the new limit on size of comments which again hurts what matters to me:  communication.  Whatever choice you make:  you're not stupid and I respect whatever you decide to do however keep in mind everyone has the right to make their choices.

     We are now waiting for our visas for Ghana.  I see by the tracking number that the paperwork arrived in Washington D.C. so now we wait.  Nothing helps the time pass like taking some pictures right?  I have hoped for some nice storm pictures but these storms have been anything but interesting and photogenic however we did get a cotton candy sunset which was pretty enough
The pansies have been thrilled with the weather.  I picked a fistful of them and couldn't resist taking their picture .  Aren't they amazing?  Yesterday counties all around us had massive hail and there was even a tornado watch.  Seeing the clouds head our way I was wondering just what in the world we were going to be in for.  There was a lot of lighting, thunder and pouring rainbut very little else.  I'm glad because Lovely was working and that meant her safety was in question and the car was out in the elements.  Flood warnings continued into today but the rain has now been replaced with relentless wind so I figure we'll be alright for now.  The juicy fruits look about the way I feel.  I think they have about had enough of the rain for a little while and I totally agree.  I look out beyond our backyard fence and wonder if I'm really looking at Montana or am back in Ireland again, actually I wouldn't mind being back there one bit!  Like the sun I'm trying to make my breakthrough today.  There's a lot of grey to breakthrough today but I believe it's worth the effort to do what needs to be done to get through it!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Photogenic Weather

I have had a fascination with tornados all my life.  They seem like visitors from another planet.  I have only seen one with my own eyes and it was before I ever had a digital camera and didn't stick around for very long.  I have a site that I've been visiting for some time now.  They often have some really amazing footage.  This was unique because it showed the beginning and end stages of a tornado that touched down recently in Colorado. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sweet & Sour

     This post marks a new beginning for me.  I posted my last over at WLS today.  The endless messing by the techs over there drives me up the wall.  Simple things like notifications come and go without warning and that's a basic on just about any other blog or social networking site out there.  This time they took the stats away which I don't care about but many do.  My point is that I don't want to live with the inconsistencies over there any more.  I figure I won't be the last of those that depart as they continue to show their disregard for those that use their site.  While it's true that it's a free site it's also true that I can freely leave or stay just like anyone else.  This will be my home mostly for now though I will truly miss Windows Live Writer for posting...ah well, nobody has everything perfect.  My love/hate relationship with Face Book will contiue I guess.  I've never seen a more shallow stupid social networking site in my life but I digress.

     There is some other things that I feel a bit sour about besides the blogging and social networking woes.  We have to start jumping through hoops now for our visas for Ghana.  It's annoying beyond belief to me that we have to now show our bank account info etc. to go to Ghana and if they aren't satisfied with that and reject us for whatever the reason we are out thousands of dollars for the tickets we just bought and have to have before we can apply for our about dumb!  They also require four passport type pictures so we will have to run to Sam's Club to get that done after Lovely comes home from work.  The things that irritate me most about that is that it's actually pretty expensive to do this and four?  Why the heck do they need four?  Can't we just pay the fee...which is almost as much as it is to get a passport in the first place mind you?  Tomorrow then we need to go first thing in the morning to get our interview for our continued medical insurance taken care of...I hate that place so bad.  The only good thing about it all is that Love will be there and can go get some coffee...or whatever it is she drinks now that coffee seems to upset her stomach.  Geez!

     Okay, there's the sour, God knows there's enough of that.  So, what's the sweet?  Well, there's a lot that's sweet.  One thing that's a simple pleasure perhaps is the flowers we have right now.  Lovely and I get flowers every year so we can try to lose our very black thumbs and have something that's not only alive but actually pretty to look at.  This year we have tried a little flower called "juicy fruit".  Sounds kind of unspectacular perhaps but these suckers are really popping this year!  Just look at these little things: 
!  They have been doing so well that it does my heart good!  How about that we don't kill absolutely everything we try to grow!  These even look wonderful from the back!  If you visit my wife's site you can see that we purchased some ladybugs to deal with the aphid menace.  This helped a lot though it didn't completely remove the aphids.  The pansies actually seem to be doing much better at this point.  I'm so glad to see that!  The bleeding hearts are another matter.  I'm just not sure what the heck is wrong with them.  I think they're going to make it...I sure hope so.  Right now they are more bleeding than heart!  Another very sweet thing about today?  It has been one of the coolest (not in a good way) and rainiest springs I can remember in a while.  The sun has become all too precious.  Imagine my joy seeing it shinning so brightly through our tree in the backyard!  I take my bliss where I can get it!  Mom used to look up at the clouds and say:  "There's enough blue up there to sew a Dutchman a pair of blue britches."  I love that saying and she's right:  there's enough blue for all of Holland I'd least for now!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

End of the Road

Well, this could really be it.  My disgust with Face Book and the feeling that Windows Live Spaces is becoming a ghost town has been simply one straw of many that is nearing the breaking of the camel's back.  This may not be like a broken back in that I'm not helpless...nope, I can move over here and do what I want, post pictures, keep in contact with what my wife posts.  These things are rather empowering actually.  This isn't just anger or even disgust but rather a time of change and adapting to the way things are for me right now.  If I lose some that I've known on the net I know that I won't lose those that matter most.  Here I am, this isn't an end but a new beginning...