Tornado warning

I was just checking Facebook, as I’ve been known to do from time to time, and wouldn’t you know it, one year ago today we were issued our very first tornado warning. I remember it well! We had only lived in Tennessee one month, and I thought it was hilarious that we were already experiencing the adventures of the south. We have a storm shelter on the farm. It’s not our basement, we don’t have one of those, it actually requires that we go outside ironically enough. I’m pretty sure that during tornado warnings they’d prefer you didn’t do that. But alas, our storm shelter is underneath one of our out buildings nearby.

One year ago today, I asked Thomas about whether or not our storm shelter was ready should we need it. My weather app had alerted me of a tornado watch- which would be one step LESS than a warning- and so I was curious if we would have the things we would need should we need to go down there. Of course, I have no idea what sorts of things you might need should you go into a storm shelter, but I’m pretty confident there are things one should have and I wasn’t sure we had such things.

Thomas confidently let me know that he had put some bottled waters down there and a folding chair and advised me to ignore the tornado watch as the weather looked perfectly fine to him. I was no expert, and he had grown up in Illinois, but I’m pretty sure that’s what the sky always looks like right before it changes suddenly. I mean, I had watched the movie Twister easily a dozen times.

Just as Thomas headed out of the house to investigate maybe adding a flash light to our storm shelter, given the fact that in the event of a tornado, it’s likely the power would go out, both of our cell phones started making all kinds of alerts.

“Take cover now!” was the alert on my phone. We had been upgraded from a watch to a warning. The next upgrade would not be necessary as it would likely be obviously bad news bears.

Don’t worry, Readers, nothing happened on that afternoon one year ago today. We didn’t even end up going into the storm shelter, despite my phones alarmist command, and the sky remained very passive the entire 30 minutes of the tornado warning. Since then, we’ve had our fair share of watches and even warnings- usually coming and going without so much as a rain drop strangely (and eerily) enough- and today was no exception. How fun that on the one year anniversary of our very first tornado warning, we would have another. It actually just passed now (the warning, not a tornado), and I can still see the sky lit up with lightening to the south of us out my front windows as I type. We’ve now been downgraded to a flash flood warning, but I’m feeling optimistic as there hasn’t been any rain yet. At least not on this storm cell. This morning, however, we had a severe thunderstorm warning and we did take on a good 15 minutes of rain.

Yesterday was much of the same. I always check the weather in the morning just to get a sense of when might be my best window in the weather- whether too hot or too rainy- to go for a run. Yesterday there was no rain predicted. Well, I guess I should say no more than any day. At almost all hours of the day in the summer (wet) season, there is a 30% chance of rain. But nothing much else to report. That is until we got our first of three severe thunderstorm warnings of the day.

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I mean, where does that even come from? It literally WAS NOT THERE in the morning.

They say if you don’t like the weather here, wait an hour. And that’s actually very accurate. The first six months I lived here I really found myself frustrated with the local meteorologists, and even found myself uploading a variety of weather apps to try to find one that was more accurate. And now, after the second six months of living here, I just feel sorry for those guys. It’s not just a 24/7 job here, it’s an every 15 minute update. For example, tonight, the first tornado warning was meant to have ended at 9:28pm central time. Well, at 9:30pm I stood on my front porch examining the lightening to the south thinking to myself, ‘that doesn’t look any less tornado-y now than it did 15 minutes ago.’ Sure enough, I refreshed the weather app and the warning had been extended until 10pm. I’ve got to tell you, it’s ever evolving. That Nashville weather center is cranking out updates all day everyday, or so it would seem.

But I so enjoy it, honestly. It’s exciting. It keeps me on my toes. I LOVE watching the lightening and listening to the thunder, even when it’s right on top of us- and it often is. I find it just riveting and thrilling. It’s such a reminder of God’s amazing power. I feel so very small and timid when I hear that loud crack of lightening (yes lightening makes a sound all it’s own when it’s striking something near you) and then the unreal roll and boom of the thunder that follows.

The tornado warnings… I’ll be honest, they put me a bit more on edge. The adventure get’s a little bit serious for a minute, but it keeps things exciting. And it keeps things cool, let’s be real. It can get hot here. But after one entire trip around the sun calling this place home, I’d have to say there has only been a very small handful of days (maybe 3) that I would say were just too hot. And I wouldn’t even classify them as unbearable. Just a little too hot and humid for my liking. And that’s when the weather gets up past 90 degrees, but only just. Back home, in California, I’m guaranteed to have two dozen days a summer that are just unbearably hot. So I call this a pleasant change. And just when it starts to get to that ‘too hot’ point, the rain comes and the thunderstorms and everything cools back down. Of course, you do get that after shower wetness in the air, but it’s not as thick and terrible as I would have imagined.

But, then again, everyone who lives here has told me that every single separate month of the year we’ve been here has been unusual. It’s all been ‘not normal.’ So I’m going to have to stick around to do a little bit more long term research before I can weight in in any sort of conclusive way about the weather and how it compares to the west.

In other tornado news, my tiny tornado, Merit- my 4 year old- nearly got my husband arrested the other day. Although I’m sure it was incredibly stressful for my husband, and no I was not there so I can’t say how I would have felt, I do find it quite hilarious at the same time.

Thomas had all three kids with him as he was running errands. We were having dinner guests and so I was cleaning our house after having Grammy (Tom’s grandmother) with us for 2 months. Thomas decided to stop at McDonalds to feed the kids, which was his first mistake. He left the kids in the car, took the keys and locked the doors, while he went into the restaurant to order food. The drive through was slammed as it was lunch hour of course.

After ordering and waiting for the food, a police captain approached Tom in line and stood beside him. Thomas greeted the man and looked back towards the food counter.

“Are your kids in the car sir?” The cop asked. Tom’s heart sank.

Apparently, my darling son Merit, who has a hard time making good decisions on a daily basis decided that when Tom left the car, it would be a good idea to unbuckle his carseat and get out. Once he was roaming around the car, he spotted who he thought was his friend in the parking lot and proceeded to bang on the windows of the car and scream bloody murder… you know, like a kid who had been kidnapped.

Merit’s friend- who turned out not to be anyone we knew at all- had his mom with him. I can’t say I’d know what to think or do if I saw a kid screaming and pounding on a locked, abandoned car window, but this mom decided to flag down a police officer and alert him of the suspected child endangerment.

Needless to say Thomas was read the riot act. As soon as the police man approached the car and started to examine the situation- before he went in to get Tom- Merit lost his mind. He was terrified. Suddenly, all good decision making skills had returned to him and he was painfully aware of the series of bad choices he had made. Cadence, upon being asked through the cracked window, explained that her daddy was in the restaurant and described Tom to the cop.

Once Tom was standing beside the car, getting fully reamed by the cop for leaving the kids in the car, Merit quickly realized that he, himself, would not be going to jail (which is what he originally thought, which is actually kind of cute) but that his daddy might be. Thomas actually remained unsure of whether or not he was going to be arrested for several minutes. Of course Thomas was nothing but polite and apologetic to the police officer, but upon researching when he got home, we discovered that Thomas had not, in fact, broken a single law. There was no child endangerment laws broken or violations cited- other than perhaps feeding our kids McDonalds- but needless to say, that was hardly the point.

Merit spent a few hours sitting on his bed reflecting on the sentence, “Stay in your seat and sit quietly.’ We wanted to be sure he was perfectly clear on what that meant for future reference. When I asked him later that day why he got in trouble, his answer was that he had almost gotten daddy arrested.

Indeed.

In other quick farm news, we lost our baby piglet today. He died sadly, after suddenly becoming ill. The sweet baby that wandered out of the woods only just a few weeks ago as a brand spankin’ new piglet was very friendly and sweet. The kids were able to pet and snuggle the baby, and up until just about two days ago, he was eating, drinking and thriving. He fell ill with diarrhea and just got very weak very quickly, which we know can happen. There was nothing we could do and sadly his sweet short life ended this morning.

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In a surprise twist of faith, the mangalitsa piglet who had suffered a leg injury and was NOT doing well when we pulled him out of the pen to treat him on the very same day the black piglet showed up, has survived and is recovering. We tried to lance the injured leg, unsuccessfully, and basically diagnosed it as either a broken leg or a severely infected mass. Either way, all we could really do was give him penicillin and hope for the best. I was pretty certain just a week ago that he would be out and the tiny black piglet would be our sweet piglet friend for life, but alas, God is the author of life and I have no idea what he’s got in store. That is forever affirmed here at the farm, I tell you what.

We also have had a bit of a recent shift in the fact that Grammy, who, as I mentioned, was here for two months, is now back home in Illinois. We’ve had someone living in our house with us- and this house is not huge- for two months! Although we love Grammy dearly and so cherish and appreciate the special time the kids get to spend with her, it’s a freaking challenge to share your home and bathroom and kitchen and life with someone for two months. Let alone a 90 year old someone. Let alone a 90 year old someone who is quite completely set in her ways. Thomas and I have been laughing as we’ve gone over the last 8 weeks of conversations and peculiarities, but needless to say, that’s a big shift this week as we’ve started to settle back into our family of 5 again. We do, in a lot of ways, feel like the tornado has passed and everything is coming to rest again.

Aunt Laura- Tom’s aunt and Grammy’s daughter- came to visit for two days with her own daughter before she escorted Grammy back to Rockford, and so we had the pleasure of showing yet another family member around Shalom farm.

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We love having visitors and are not even close to being done with the stream of travelers. It would seem we’ve had at least one family visit on average every single month we’ve lived here, if not more frequently than even that. And we show no signs of slowing down. My in laws will be here in about a week, and my mom will be here no more than a week and a half after they leave. It’s a revolving door, and we love it, so come on down! It’s never a burden.

So the tornado of action continues here. We’re learning, loving and listening to the weather all the time. On that note, I hear the thunder getting stronger again and am wondering if tonight’s adventure isn’t over yet.

(Update: The weather alert on my phone just let me know that “Lightning struck within 0 miles of your current location.”)

The adventure continues…

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