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Quite A Night

We could feel it coming already on Sunday. The air turned heavy and sticky, the wind blew out of the East. No rain came that night. By Monday the air was heavy with tension. The heavy heat had only intensified and the wind blew hot and cold as the day was at once sticky hot and chilly.

By afternoon weather warnings were everywhere. The clouds were building in the west, small still. Soon the first sever storms were popping up on the Wyoming border, in the open empty country along the Wyoming border up to South Dakota and around Harrison. Still nothing here.

We covered the garden as best we could, made sure the horses shelter was in good shape. They came and helped, looked around a little then followed us back out. We repaired their wind break and picked up any loose toys in the yard, basically battened down the hatches. Still no storm although the sky was cloud covered and the radar showed red getting towards Chadron.

We sat down to supper and finally the storm hit. Big heavy drops first, slow to come, slow to cover the sidewalk. The weather radio couldn’t keep up with the watches and warnings, often interrupting its self to start the new before the original was finished. we debated unplugging things and decided not to worry about it yet. We let Daisy in to cower under the table. I went to see if I could spot the horses, I couldn’t, I did see lightening striking the ground in staccato beat. Each bright flash violently hitting the ground barely beyond the tree row, nearly in the pasture on the hill. Rushing back down to the kitchen I said that I thought we should definitely unplug. That was the end of watching the building storm on radar.

The lights in the kitchen fluttered, blinking on and off. Never all the way off, just enough to be distracting. Then, lightning hit a line somewhere, they pulled down, humming and dim. Then with a crash of nearby thunder they flashed back to full brightness. We were glad to have the computers unplugged.

As we finished eating, interrupted by constant trips up to look out the windows, the weather radio was going insane. Tornadoes on the ground, we listened carefully to hear where they were. Severe storms all around us, yes we could see that. The last of our meal forgotten on the table we watched the pounding rain turn to hail. Few at first, pea sized scattering across the ground as the wind blew it sideways.  Then more and larger. Fortunately the larger were few and the wind stilled. Managing to get some signal on his phone my husband worried for his garden and crops checked out the radar. The worst of the hail was going by to the south.

After the blast of hail the rain let up and the lightning slowed. I wanted to go check the horses. In mud boots and a sweat shirt I ran out into the still falling rain and closed the door on the chicks then down to find the horses. Of course they weren’t in the barn, dry with plenty of room. Instead they were squeezed under a fallen down roof, wither high and no sides. I had hesitated at first to even let them into a pen with such junk and hazards but checking it carefully for sharp protrusions I had decided that the extra space was worth the limited danger involved and now it’s their favorite hang out.

Wading out to the windbreak through ankle deep water and mud I called and called for them. If they would just come I could lead them to the barn with safer shelter and more room. They stood, huddled and refused to come out for me. I debated walking out for them and watched as lighting struck, hot and bright, to the ground over the hill in front of me. Looking down at the water surrounding me and at more lightening striking past the trees I called once again and went back to the house. They could have that shelter if it was what they wanted.

All evening the radio gave bad news, as we waited for the second round. Trying to keep children calmed and entertained and finally into bed, we kept half of our attention on the news. A large tornado at Chimney Rock, we have a friend right there. Large hail and high wind at the intersection of our highway and the Niobrara River, a couple miles south. Tornadic storms going through Fort Robinson and Whitney. Still hail and tornadoes stayed away.

The storm finally passed out of our area. The weather radio actually shut off between warnings, until the sound of it became startling instead of background noise.

The next morning we took stock. Nearly three inches of rain. The garden damaged as much by too much rain to quickly as by hail. The corn in the fields is still standing. Amazingly none of our little herd of cattle were hit by lightening. It was so bad and so much I couldn’t believe nothing would be hit. Instead we found full ponds and a nearly deafening croaking of frogs. They seem to appear out of nowhere and went straight to mating. Soon there will be tadpoles. Not all is bad in the aftermath.

Unfortunately everyone can’t say the same. Bayard NE received a direct hit. The nursing home was nearly? destroyed and the town hit hard. A feedlot was also in the direct path of the storm and many pivots twisted and flipped. A pivot repair company in the area is desperately looking to hire short term help. Many homes and barns were in the path as well as livestock, including horses.

 

 

 

Damsel In Distress

A brave knight errant and his trusty companions were out for a stroll through the wintry wood. Over deep drifts of snow and under low hanging trees they wandered in search of dragons to slay and noble quests to undertake. When, in the distance they heard a faint cry. Not sure of the sound they stopped, waited and listened to hear it again. Finally it issued forth once again, over the frozen meadow that split the deep dark wood.

The brave knight tromped through the snow in search of the creature that so desperately sought rescue. So speedily did he tromp that his troupe was left behind. He rushed on until a mere glimpse of pink was spotted above the snow, before it disappeared again. Making his way in that direction he saw it again peep above a snow bank and then gone. Finally the deep clutching snow of the meadow battled through, he made it to the crested drift of snow to find, there below, a fair and delicate maiden trapped in a deep dungeon.

“Oh, kind sir, I beg of thee, free me from this terrible fate to which I have been doomed. A great and fearsome dragon set a trap and caught me here in his lair. He goes now for his nap but will surely return soon, hurry, please and free me while there is time!”

The brave knight wasted no time but inched out onto the fragile ledge of snow holding her entrapped. His followers cowered back from the precipice watching in wonder of how he would accomplish the feat. Creeping, gently to the edge he held his strong arm out to the waif like maid. She grasped his hand, clinging to it’s safety and he wrenched her free of the clutch of the dragons lair.

Safe, away from the dungeon and free of the dragon, the brave knight and the fair maid went off to sled in the wintry wood.

 

Where There’s Smoke

My hard working husband had gone to water the cattle. I stayed home warm, cuddled on the couch. It’s colder out today than it was yesterday, even though the temperature is higher. He called and told me to look out the window, thick, black smoke was billowing up from somewhere not too far north of us. The cousins live up that way and although we knew for a fact that they weren’t home it was still concerning. He was going to look did I want to come with?

I did desperately want to come, I inherited the ambulance chasing gene fair and square from my grandma. But apparently my mothering gene is stronger, I declined stating that I was unable to leave the sleeping children. He stayed on the phone as he drove giving me a play by play as we tried to guess where it would be.

The cousins house and the church we were married in were quickly ruled out when he reached the highway. I was hoping for the house that is sitting empty waiting to go up for sale with it’s owners moved out of state. It seemed the safest, guaranteed that no one would be home or needing a place to go.

Instead it was the camper parked in the yard across the street. We had, it seemed, just driven past it coming home from town but it must have been about an hour before. Was the fire already burning then with no sign showing yet? We had looked at it as we passed, wondering why, if you were going to live in a camper in someones yard, you would put the camper right next to the highway instead of towards the back somewhere.

On the way into town we had been talking about this miserable cold weather and how it makes fires so much worse, water lines, hoses freeze making them harder to fight. And space heaters make them so much more likely. I’ve been seeing picture after picture of burnt, melted extension cords and power strips. How does one heat a camper made for temporary summer living through below zero temps?

Flames were visible nearly from where our road meets the highway. When he got to the fire there was nothing left of the camper but the frame barely visible through the fire. A handful of cars were parked along the road watching and calling it in. As he stopped a friend who is a sheriffs deputy pulled up. He said the siren in town hadn’t gone off calling the volunteers in to man the fire trucks. 911 had called him personally, he was working today. He and my husband began calling people on the fire department.

But the camper was already burnt. A fire truck and water was only going to protect the yard and do some clean up. As they stood there calling frantically, and only then, someone ran out of the house. They had only just noticed the fire. We can only hope and assume no one was inside, surly they would have done more than run back into the house if there had been.

With nothing he could do but watch and assured that it wasn’t the cousins house my husband returned home. The only thing we can take from this, two things really, is to be very careful with space heaters and any electric outlet really. Never plug a space heater into and extension cord of any kind! And shut things off when you leave home, or go to sleep. How much worse to be home sound asleep.

And love, but worry a little, about your small town volunteer fire department. The siren never went off. As the camper crumpled into ashes there was still no one even headed to the station. One would think in this age of cell phones that there would be an automatic call that would go out. Apparently there is something like that set up but word never got to the person who has to start it. Not sure why the 911 dispatcher wouldn’t be the one to send out the call? But they will get there and those guys will get out in the freezing temperatures and do everything they can to help. They are awesome, once they get there.

 

The Second Day

At grandma’s house that is. We had been on the road for five days now. Grandma had some errands she needed to run, then we got lunch at Steak and Shake. My favorite one that we went to when I was a kid with my favorite bridge next to it for the kids, young and old, to run over.

Poor grandma went back to the house to wait for the repair guy and we ran off to play. Mom has often told of coming to see her grandma as a child and how they could hear the lions roaring for their breakfast at the zoo. I assumed that it would be an old somewhat icky zoo because of the age I guess, so I wasn’t overly thrilled at our plans to go but, anything for the kids. We drove clear across town and they both fell asleep within minutes of getting there. So we did what anyone would do and went to Starbucks. With cold, and hot, drinks in hand we went for a drive and looked at stuff until they woke up. Then we went to the zoo.

 

I couldn’t believe what a great little zoo it was. Why does every zoo not allow you to feed the giraffes? They were SO cool. No upper teeth, just like cattle.

Unfortunately when we got home the repair guy had suffered from pickup troubles that had to be repaired. No new pan for the air conditioner. So sad, but we had a fun day at least.

Finally To Grandmothers House

She thought we were never going to make it. Our shenanigans that day added a few hours to the trip. By the time we got there it was dark and we were starving. So we ordered pizza and ate on her beautiful back porch. I was overcome with excitement when the fireflies came out. I tried and tried to show the kids but they were not enthused.

As we were getting ready for bed grandma pointed out the flooded spot in the middle of her hallway. She could not find the source and it was getting bigger. It was obviously not coming from the ceiling so we checked the bathrooms and washing machine but couldn’t find any leaks. Mom was on the phone with dad who was running out of patience telling us that it had to be coming from one side or the other, we kept insisting it was coming up in the middle. Finally we were standing in the garage about to admit defeat when we noticed another door. Inside was the heater and air conditioner coils. We checked to see that the drain wasn’t plugged which lead to the conclusion that the pan was rusted through. With nothing we could do the air conditioner was shut off until help could be found.

The next morning we went to one of grandma’s churches with her. The music was awesome and The Goblin Child was thrilled with “her new church”! That didn’t mean either one of them would sit quietly through the service of course. After lunch we got home and the preacher and another really nice man from the church showed up to take a look at the air conditioner and see what they could do to help. It was so nice of them, the mark of a great church. Unfortunately they couldn’t find any problems besides the one we found and were equally unable to fix it.

As they left it started pouring rain. We stayed nicely in the garage watching for a little while then as the lightning subsided we couldn’t resist any longer. We brought along umbrellas but they could only do so much and made it hard to play effectively. Our country raised kids have many benefits their city dwelling counterparts lack but playing in the gutters after a big rain isn’t one of them. I’m glad our kids get to enjoy the benefits of both worlds. The water was nearly knee deep and we watched, thrilled as it poured off the bridge into the culvert below, cheered as cars drove slowly by making waves and splashing. Finally the rain stopped altogether and eventually the water ran out, we walked slowly back to the house.

While we were gone grandma had called a repair guy, whose name she had gotten from someone at church and although he didn’t work on Sundays he said he would come by and look at it. He checked, again, to see if the drain was plugged, it still wasn’t, then came to our conclusion that the pan was leaking. He couldn’t get a new one until Monday but he would come out then and fix it. So still no air conditioning in the rain forest like heat. We spent the rest of the afternoon puttering in the garden, also very rain forest like.

That evening we had a little birthday party for The Goblin Child. She got to decorate her cake, eat ice cream  and open presents. It was hot and great and we loved every minute of it. We fell into bed exhausted.

Tornado!

My phone said it thought we would get storms about two o’clock. We scoffed. The sky was blue, the radar showed nothing. We went swimming.

 

 

 

When I drug the kids away from the water, just before two, for completely unrelated reasons we were quite shocked to see a large black cloud that had built suddenly just west of us. We rushed home and I got the kids to bed, then I went out and watched. And took pictures of course.

I can handle this type of tornado. I can see it clearly, it’s far enough away and didn’t look look it was touching the ground. From other peoples pictures apparently it was. One of those was by our neighbor to the south, the one from underneath it.

The weather radio said they were fourteen miles south of town, we are about seven miles south. That’s close enough. More storms are coming, radio is going crazy again. We’ll brace for another round.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This one is hard to see, my phone would not focus and it’s little and sideways in the cloud

 

 

New School Mascot

20150701_115644He’s strangely appealing. We’re hoping he sticks around and it takes the powers that be a little while to notice and remove him.

The Wreck

I was glad we hadn’t waited around to watch them pulling it out.  Unfortunately there hasn’t been one word about it on the news which at least tells us that the driver was okay. We didn’t stop to ask the cops holding traffic, they were looking decidedly less than cheerful by afternoon.

As hard as we looked we couldn’t see anywhere that the fence had been broken which leaves us to believe that the semi cleared it. It would have been some thing to see when it happened. A flying semi leaping gracefully into the air. Yeah, it’s good that we weren’t there.

Go Techno Huskers

The littlest ember of the team

The littlest ember of the team

The Local Robotics team is in Kearney today for the regional robotics competition. They made it down safely having left early Friday to avoid the blizzard. Hopefully the trip home is as uneventful.We wish that we were going with again this year, last year was a blast. My darling husband helped coach the last two years but this year something else (small goblin child) kind of took up all his time.

Robotics is awesome. Our team is  Four-H sponsored, for kids 9-14 to learn about science and technology. They build robots out of lego’s, Then they build an obstacle course, or as they call it a thematic playing surface, also out of lego’s. They then have to program the robot to complete missions in and around the course. I am sure they can explain it much better than I at usfirst.org and firstlegoleague.org

 

Last year

Last year