Saturday night I was super-duper excited as we got our first big-big storm this summer in my little corner of the world. Seriously- the first big one with lightening, thunder, wind and scary black skies. God I love storms.
It took a few seconds to register that the prolonged siren I was hearing was the tornado sirens and not just another night where one of my neighbors drunkenly shoots someone in the foot then goes on a high-speed chase with the police in a stolen bakery truck, but that's neither here nor there.
When they first went off, I did what any tornado-fearing Minnesotan would do- I turned on the teevee to see what the local weather people had to say. It went something like this: "You might have a tornado where you live, then again you might not."
When the sirens went off a second, then a third time, I got a little nervous. While it would be unusual for a tornado to develop where I live (so close to the Mississippi River), it wouldn't be impossible. Crap.
When I was growing up, we lived kind of in the middle of nowhere- the kind of "middle of nowhere" that tends to attract all sorts of weather oddities. Blizzards, hail, locusts, tornadoes, worm invasions (true), lightening storms, volcanoes and the like. One summer, after a night of huddling in the basement with little more than a transistor radio and some Shasta soda, we emerged from the house to see that a tornado had cut a 20-30 foot wide path through the woods a mere 50 or 60 feet from our house. We didn't have electricity for a week, and my Mom discovered shortly thereafter that our house insurance didn't technically cover tornadoes. I also hear the story every few months about how my Mother-in-law and her family (seven kids plus the parents) pretty much lost everything in a tornado in the 60's. Ugh.
So yeah, I was a little worried on Saturday. You'd think that I would be most worried about the safety of the Mr. and the furry turdlets, wouldn't you?
Um...nope. Not so much.
Turns out they rank slightly below my heirloom tomato plants and all of my photographs.
I am an asshole.
A few hours earlier, I had decided to finally go through my giant tote of photos that, over the years, had become a mixed up mess- 70's family photos freely mingled with late 80's bad hair pics and more recent pictures of the cats. I had just about finished organizing them into piles, which was a long and difficult process considering that many of them weren't dated or labeled, so I had to organize them according to hair styles. No lie. It seems to be the only true indicator of different eras of my life. Pixie-cut dark brown hair? That indicates 1989-1991, as well as 1993-1995, the difference between the two being that the second time around I dyed it nearly black. Various growing-out phases indicate the in-between years, and when my own hair could not determine the date, I looked to the Mr. or my friends. While a fun trip down the memory highway, this was a pain in the ass project that probably won't be totally done for another 20+ years.
So, I've got hundreds of photos spread out on the dining room table in various piles when the sirens started. Good one, Universe. I had visions of all of them blowing up in a funnel cloud- people miles away would be finding pictures of me for weeks and wondering who the unfortunately coiffed girl with a penchant for pinning the ankles of her jeans was. I would end up in some Freshman art student's "found art" project. The horror!
I didn't know what to do with them that wouldn't screw up what progress I had made, so I did the only thing I could- I prayed to the gods of weather-related calamities. "Oh, St. Snowverina, Oh St. Windfred, Oh St. Hurry Caine, hear my plea! I'll sacrifice a virgin daiquiri in your honor if you just spare the photos!" I then did my patented "dance of the thousand winds" and after putting my pants back on, just hoped for the best.
Then I thought- tomatoes!
I FINALLY have tomato plants that are producing real, live, edible tomatoes, and they're heirlooms at that. We've eaten a few already and they were amazing. This is pretty much the first year ever that I have successfully grown tomatoes, and I wasn't about to let that bitch Mother Nature take my tomatoes away. I'd cut the bitch first. So I run out, throw a big towel over them, and cross my fingers, toes and eyes for good measure.
Last and certainly least, I start thinking that maybe, just maybe I should shoo all the beasts into the basement, including the Mr.
If this had been a made-for-TV movie, they all would have already perished in the storm, leaving me a hollow shell of a human being who becomes a storm-chaser in an effort to "find herself". At the end I would find the meaning of life and give up my storm chasing ways to settle down with the hunky country Veterinarian whose wife left him for a big city stockbroker.
But I digress...
Just in case, I light a bunch of candles and fill a few pitchers with water. Never mind that we live in the city and probably wouldn't lose power for more than a few hours, but in my mind without the proper precautions we would quickly slip into Donner Pass-like conditions, trying to decide if we should eat Pooter or Bubs first.
By the time I turn off the tap, the tornado watch is over, the rain has subsided, and my pictures, tomatoes, furry turdlets and spouse are intact.
How very anticlimactic, I know, but that's how it happened, folks. And no- you can't return the last 5 minutes of your life that you spent reading this for a full refund. Store credit only.
Happy tornado-free Monday, my photogenic little cannibals. Happy Monday.