My Novels

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Something Wicked This Way Came

NOTE: I am posting this via my sister's computer; I still don't have Internet access, and don't know when I will. A major fiber-optic line was destroyed during the tornado. I am doing okay, considering what I've been through...still emotionally shaken, of course. I have been writing steadily on my laptop, and the following says it all...

April 29, 2011

So, it's the day after the worst outbreak of tornadoes here in, possibly, history. I lived through the 74 tornadoes; myself & late husband's house was barely missed; same with my mother/sisters, but my paternal grandparents house was demolished. Fortunately they were in the storm cellar, unharmed.

Yesterday though...devastating. As I sit writing this on my laptop, I can hear helicopters overhead; obviously news crews and air ambulances. Power has been out since yesterday afternoon, but I had the laptop battery charged. Also, I have a handcrank AM/FM/Shortwave radio -- if you don't have one, go buy one when you finish reading this post. The value can never be overstated; I have mine on, listening to news - otherwise, I'd know nothing. My cell phone has been good to keep in touch with family, who are all okay. But I don't have a car charger, so when the battery goes, I'll be unable to communicate with them. I could just kick myself for not buying a small portable digital TV with battery backup! Had been looking for one, just hadn't found what I wanted.

As for damage here, next door neighbor's pecan trees fell across my garage and onto my house. I don't think there's any roof damage, except shingles blown off on the house; however, the garage is caved in! The tree is across the dog kennel too. My cedar fence is down in places, so the dogs can't go into the back yard without a leash.

Yesterday when I wrote the last Twitter about the brief dog walk, and hearing sirens...right after that, all hell broke loose. I got in the central hallway of my house with the dogs, bunches of pillows and hunkered down. And sure enough, sounded just like a train -- except, maybe not -- there was the most spooky LOUD roar that seemed to go on and on. The dogs were whining, burying their heads in my lap. I left the back door open and could see debris flying around, then my wood fence flopping back and forth before going down. Honestly I don't remember hearing the tree hit the house, there was just so much loud noise...and that awful, awful roaring. But it was over as quickly as it hit.

I got up and went to the back door, saw the tree down, got my cell and called my sister. She's in Huntsville, and I knew she'd be scared to death if she seen the damage from here on the news. They are also now without power, due to tornado damage at Browns Ferry Nuclear plant -- possibly for four to five days.

Anyway, next I went to the front door and saw neighbors coming out of houses, so I went out too. Everyone was just walking around shell-shocked, staring and pointing. The rental house next door has a couple of pecan trees on top of it, and I think that's the end of it, though the renters were unharmed. But I don't think the landlord has insurance, definitely a total loss. From what everyone was saying, about one block south there was hardly any damage; but north, the landscape was wiped out, hardly anything left standing. I am not sure about fatalities in our city; but have heard on the news that CNN puts the dead in Alabama at 162 - at this time. (Later revised to 300+)

Then as we stood out there, someone said MORE tornadoes were on the way...all of us ran back to our houses. And though it was off and on warnings, sirens going off, mostly we just got more rain and high winds the remainder of the afternoon. I got outside between showers and took photos (which I hope to post when I am able to get online with this update). It was a long night, but I actually went to sleep early, exhausted. I woke up around 4 AM, turned on the radio and heard that water might become a problem. I got up and filled as many containers as I could, and ran the bathtub full just in case. I already have a lot of plastic jugs of water in the garage, but thought I'd add this - especially for drinking water in the containers.

This morning I got dressed, ate some cereal (I put my milk in the freezer) and then called my sister. Afterward, I took the dogs on a walk; I got some more photos of the neighborhood. The street I live on is entirely blocked by huge trees everywhere - have no idea when it'll get cleared. I only went about two blocks, had seen enough - just couldn't handle seeing any more damage.

Power poles and lines are strewn about, looks like it's going to be a long time before we get power. At least my car wasn't damaged, so I can get out and go down another street to town. Right now I have enough food, and don't want to be in the middle of the work crews.And honestly, it feels intrusive to take pictures of those suffering misery and shock/devastation. The only problem I might have is getting my BP medication; I only have 3 pills left, so I may have to venture out Saturday.

And I think that's it for now. Oh, the tree limbs dented the top of the cat porch, but no leak. I let them in last night after the dogs were in their crates, and they stayed in all night -- on the bed with me! My dogs and cats were all freaked out. The stray cats made it through, I've seen all of them this morning, whew!


It's after dark now, and the national guard is out in the neighborhood enforcing a curfew. It feels like a war zone here, hovering helicopters, national guard patrolling the streets, and never-ending ambulance/police sirens wailing. Trust me on this, it's an entirely different experience actually living through this than watching it on TV.

My brother-in-law brought me some supper from the church, and I guess I'll be going to that church to get at least one meal until stores open; I see no way to replenish food supplies. I do hope to eat most of the frozen batch cooking, will get ice to keep it cool. Plus, eating out of cans, which would be necessary without power is going to be pretty bad indeed.

I took the dogs for a longer walk this afternoon, and when I finally ended up back on my street farther along than this morning, I literally wept. It doesn't look anything like "my" street, all the big trees are twisted, broken or down; grand old houses are destroyed all over the historic district.
I felt sick to my stomach, had to head back home. There is nothing to prepare you for losing the familiar landscape you've lived with for 40 years! Even now, just thinking of it makes me nearly cry.

My niece & her kids/hubby came by earlier, checking on me. Said they also had lots of food, if I want to eat with them. And I can recharge my cell phone on her car charger. They live about a block from me, so help is close if I need it.

I'm overwhelmed emotionally, going to end this for now.

Tuesday May 3, 2011

I finally found some batteries for my QuickPad, and can write more detailed information.

It's been hell - literally. I thought I was holding it together until yesterday afternoon; I had a complete come-apart. I think it was a combination of the relentless helicopters overhead (mostly news), the constant noise of chain-saws and a possibility of more thunderstorms. Plus, I learned that my insurance agent had appraised my damage, and I thought the amount was too low. However, when he came by today, and explained the breakdown of figures, it seems fair. I will NOT cash the check until I have all the repairs done. I will need a new roof on the garage, and possibly half of the house where the tree landed.

I think I got scammed on the tree removal; it cost $3,000.00 and I see the insurance estimated that to cost between $500-1,000...perhaps I'll report the outfit to the attorney general.

I have calls in to a roofer and fencing crew; can't wait to get that fence repaired, the dogs are driving me nuts since they can't go out. The husband/wife who did a lot of work on this house will come in the morning, and maybe he can do all the repairs...even the roofing. I just want the basics done, so the roof doesn't leak and the fence is repaired. Like when I had the car wreck, I've learned that material things are only temporary; what's the point of spending tons of money on the finest things? It can be gone in the blink of an eye.

As I'm writing this, the guy next door is mowing my yard; he charges only $30.00, a real bargain. When the power comes back, he can use my battery mower and it will cost only $25.00. I don't know if I'll try to mow this summer - that's a good price. Most mowing services charge $40.00.

The power company worked on my block today, and I'm hoping we MAY get the electricity on tomorrow sometimes. The north end of the city and some parts of the lower south end with malls is already on.

What a nightmare it was trying to find gas right after the tornado. I only had a fourth tank of gas when all this broke loose, and didn't get more until two days afterward. Even then it was limited to $20.00

Today volunteers delivered two hot meals, and though I am a vegetarian, I ate chicken. I was just about out of food, have only can stuff I needed the food. I had a bag of ice in my freezer, and was able to eat a lot of the batch-cooking I'd done. My weather radio has been my only means of learning what's going on....other than friends/neighbors/family. My nearest sister has a generator and Saturday I went out to her house to do laundry; I was getting low on clean clothing.

Every time I drive fifth street, I just want to cry; it looks nothing like it did before. All the tall, old beautiful trees are down, gone forever. When things settle down somewhat, and all the power crews/workers are gone, I will try to get some pictures of the same dog-walk I took pictures of in a past post, and compare those side-by-side. Stark and painful loss.

I suppose my online friends are wondering about me - but perhaps they realize power/internet hasn't been restored. My laptop battery is down, and though I bought a car charger for my cellphone, my power outlet in the car doesn't work. Have no idea why. At any rate, there is a lot I've not written about, due to the laptop battery going down. And honestly I've just been too much of an emotional wreck to write anything. I keep having unexpected bouts of crying, nerves are a wreck.

In my first post, I mentioned the awful roar - one of the neighbors said it sounded like a jet plane taking off. And I have to agree -- far, far worse roar than a train. I remember thinking, "Make it stop, make it stop..." such a horrible roar. Also I could see debris in the air, out the back door, the fence flopping back and forth. Yet I didn't hear those trees hitting my house or garage; the roar drowned it all out. I am fairly certain the tornado was lifting as it passed here, because across the street south, not one tree was down.

I have to say that the weather radio is one of the best things I've ever bought. I can get the local station, for local info. And a couple of stations have devoted most of their air time to call-ins from people asking questions they answer. I can't stress how important this has been for those like myself who only have battery operated radios.

In spite of the awful noises here, the stray cats show up every afternoon for their cat food! My dogs are a bit freaked and frustrated about not getting into the back yard; they can go on the porch and into the kennel (which is bent, but still standing); I've managed to calm them by just holding them or soothing talk. My two indoor cats had a scary day today, since they were close to the garage and the chainsaw taking down the big tree on my garage. But they are inside now, and doing fine.

For the first couple of days, dogs were running through the neighborhood...mostly ones that had been in fences which were destroyed by the tornado. That stopped a day later, since most owners found them and took them home. Another sad aspect is the squirrels that lost their homes; one of the tree crew had a baby squirrel in his pocket. Said when they cut a big oak tree he found their nest, and put it in his pocket. I asked if he would take care of it, and he said he would. Today when he came back, I asked about the squirrel and he said it was doing fine. Of course many birds lost their nests -- some with eggs and some with baby birds.

As I sit here typing this, I can hear a plaintive cry of a squirrel somewhere. It's almost like it's mourning, very sad. Fortunately the two big squirrel nests in my large backyard tree still have a home. And though some humans think we have conquered nature, we're just as susceptible to its force as the wildlife.

And speaking of nature, the next person who says there's no such thing as "global warming/climate change" in front of me will get smacked upside the head. Ever since Hurricane Katrina, there's been one mega-disaster after another, and it will be this way for the foreseeable future. The damage has been done to the environment, and coupled with earth's alignment with the center of the Milky Way as well as precession, it can only continue to get worse. Perhaps the next mega-disaster will affect you or your loved ones, if you haven't already experienced similar turmoil.

I'll close for now, since it's getting dark and I don't want to use up the battery in my LED lantern. I've been going to bed at dark, rising with the sun. Quite an experience! It's finally quiet in the neighborhood - except for the generators. I thought about buying one, but I doubt I could have managed to start it and keep it running. It would have just been a lot of trouble for my brother-in-law. When power is restored though, I am definitely going to look into getting a small generator that I might be able to use myself. Just a hour of power now and then would be such a relief -- to see the news, use the computer and charge cell phones. The cold showers have been painful, but I've taken several! Talk about roughing it!

Tuesday Night

Today the construction people dropped by, and will have an estimate maybe tomorrow. They can do all the work, and hopefully at a reasonable price. I do trust them, and it's difficult to find trustworthy crews.

The electricity came on around 10:00 last night, thank goodness. Today I did laundry, some ironing, housework...since it rained all day. Tonight it will be 39!

Unfortunately I learned that cable/internet won't be up and running until at least the end of the week, argh! I'm writing this on my laptop, and hope to post it maybe tomorrow or the next day. The ONLY internet access is at Books-a-Million, and they charge. But if I have the posts ready, it shouldn't take long to upload. No photos for now, since it takes time to upload and would cost more. Weird times, I tell you.

And with that, I'll close for now and say I hope you all are safe and living "normal" life. Don't take it for granted, and if you aren't prepared for disaster with supplies, etc. DO IT NOW!!!

Wednesday Morning

Last night when I wheeled my garbage cans out to the curb, I saw four national guard men patrolling our street. I thanked them for keeping us safe, but I have to say: it's a shock to the system to see military on your street! I have encountered them each time I leave/return to the neighborhood. All residents of the storm damaged streets have to get a certificate at city hall, which we have to put on our dash in the car - or carry when we are out walking. Several times my brother-in-law has tried to get over here, but was turned back!

This morning I had a bad fall in the bath-tub, but nothing broken (I hope). I'm all messed up, and so are the cats/dogs. Rambo has taken a vicious turn, and I have to shut him in a room when anyone comes. He is in "attack mode"...the constant noise, people around, etc. I suppose. He was a shelter dog, probably feels threatened by the noise like he did there.

Every time I step outside, the stray cats show up and make every step I do. I'm sure they are still traumatized, like everyone else -- humans, wildlife, pets.

I learned on the radio this morning that a church here has free WiFi, maybe I can make it there to post this on my blog. Apparently there's major damage to a fiber-optic cable on one of the highways and may be another week before we have cable, tv, internet. Bummer. But at least I have power...many still don't.

BEST news of all: the construction people gave me a very low price for repairs to fence/roof, I may come out with extra money. And they'll be here in the morning to repair my fence, thank goodness. If I do have extra, I plan to use it to buy the best survival gear out there. If nothing else, I've learned YOU MUST BE PREPARED.

I've heard very little national news, but what I've heard sounds ominous for other states: flooding, dams overflowing, etc. And of course, they killed Osama. The conspiracy nutcases are already acting like the ijits they are.

I think the wheels have come off worldwide. Never-ending catastrophes, economic peril, etc. I had already known this, but should have been better prepared. I suppose it's human nature to think "it can't happen to ME!" I advise everyone to realize IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU AND PROBABLY WILL.

My sister is on the way here from Huntsville, we have things to do. I need to buy a new kennel so the people can set it up tomorrow. I'll be greatly relieved to have the fence repaired; the dogs will settle down more when they can get out into the yard.

A small plane was flying around with a banner right after the tornado; I couldn't read what the banner said. But I learned it was a guy making a YouTube video; if any of you want to see the damage (and haven't on the news) look that up. Cullman, Alabama is the city where I live, and the historic district took the brunt of the tornado. One block from me, there's not a house standing, no trees, utterly a wasteland.

I hear helicopters now, probably air ambulance, since sirens earlier indicate a traffic accident. Most of the city has intermittent red lights working, but it is very dangerous driving around!

I am going to end this now. Hopefully I can find a place with WiFi to post it as soon as possible. For sure though, there won't be another post until the internet is restored here.

Wednesday Night

Never did make it to the WiFi center, had so much else to do. Sister brought lunch, then we went to buy a new kennel; the other one got crunched by the tree. Walked the dogs late, and now the cats are indoors. At least I have a DVD Netflix movie to watch tonight, nice to relax and escape the anxiety.

I've talked to many, many neighbors and it's obvious we're all suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The renters next door are in a very bad way; they are desperately poor, and now that house is unsafe to stay in. The landlord told them to leave, and they said they have nowhere to go. Today FEMA set up a mobile unit in one of the shopping malls, and I told them to apply for assistance there. I'm sure they can help those folks...even if just to relocate. That slum landlord was charging them $600.00 for that falling-in rental house; and he is from one of the oldest, richest families in town. Sickening. People like him have NO heart...

Well, I guess it'll be Friday before I can try to find WiFi...or maybe get the internet here. Tomorrow bright & early, the workers will be here to repair my fence, yah! Can't wait for the dogs to be able to run and play outside, get my privacy back. I swear I believe I'd do without food in order to have a wood fence -- I like to sit on the back porch and read or play with the dogs in privacy.

I'm sure I'll be stiff and sore from the fall tomorrow, but don't think I'm hurt seriously. All I want is to get my life back!

With that, I'll close for tonight. Plan to watch the movie and pet my indoor cats, nice evening.

Thursday Morning

Heard disturbing news last night: Cable/internet might not be restored for weeks in places. Crap! I called Dish network, was going to go with them, but...I have no established credit. In spite of having a debit card, a sound bank account, still can't get it. Oh well, more frustration piled upon more frustration. I have learned it is not a good idea to "bundle" internet/cable/phone, because if the system goes down, you're in a fix.

I was feeling calmer this morning, but first that, and now the workers called and said Tractor Supply wouldn't let them have the kennel without a receipt. I even talked to the cashier, and I TOLD her I'd be upset if I had to drive down there. Here's the thing: I signed a ticket with my name, and the worker's name for pick-up. Shit! I told the workers to just come on, I want the wood fence repaired, not worried about a kennel right now. I might just demand my money back and go elsewhere to buy a kennel.

So, that's been my frustrating day thus far. I need a Xanax!!!! Don't have any though. I may just be driven to drink if this keeps up, and hey, our ABC store is OPEN. (Sigh)

It's not as noisy here today; finally a sense of calm and quiet. I'm sure it'll ratchet up again soon, because my other next-door neighbor just drove up with a trailer. He's been cutting down a big black walnut tree, and said he'd use it for firewood next winter. He's 70 years old, his son (30ish) lives there, but there's old dad doing the hard labor. Son is lazy, IMO, won't even mow the yard. Kinda makes me glad I don't have kids.

Thursday Night

Wild day, just when I thought it was becoming peaceful. The workers arrived with lumber, etc. and began repairing the fence. But all they got done today was setting posts with cement -- they did some serious manual labor. Tomorrow they will start putting the fence back together. The wife of the construction boss always comes with them, and I like that. We talked a lot about the tornado damage; they live near the south end of the county (where DH and I had a farm)...and are still without electricity. Fortunately they have a generator, but that is not like power. I've heard so many, many true tales of the tornado and aftermath, don't know if I can ever digest it all. But if I do, maybe it'll be something to write about.

And speaking of writing....the lack of internet/cable seems to have forced me back into writing again. I'd been through a dry spell, almost a total block since I left the newspaper, but now that I have no outlet other than writing...I'm suddenly thrust back to the basics of putting words down.

A comical/upsetting incident with Oscar this afternoon: When the workers left, I took the dogs on a long walk. I've realized that with all the turmoil here, it's best to put them in their crates in the dark bedroom so they remain calm while noisy work is underway. Anyway, after the walk, I hired the guy next-door to clean out what few remaining gutters I have. And during that diversion, Oscar Meyer managed to escape the broken/blocked kennel. Of course, Rambo didn't run away; he never does. When I discovered Oscar was missing, I began calling and looking for him. I knew I was too tired to hunt him, so I told the guys next-door there was ten bucks for the first one that found him. Those poor guys ran all over the neighborhood looking for him, and really earned the $10.00. Finally one showed up with Oscar. I wanted to kill Oscar, but of course, I just hugged him.

Early this morning, I put Goldie (the yellow-striped stray) on the cat porch with my other two cats. Goldie was following me everywhere, even with the noise of the fence repair. I put her in one of the cat beds, and she went to sleep. The other two cats had no problem with it, they were sleeping too. After all the excitment died down here, I put Goldie back outside and fed her and the other two strays I feed.

I've never witnessed the trauma animals (whether pets or wildlife) suffer in this kind of disaster...but I can tell you, it's astonishing. I see birds searching for their nest/young/eggs in the piled up debris on the street; I see baby squirrels out of their nests staring at workers; I hear mature squirrels making an agonizing screech, as if mourning their loss. Don't ever try to tell me that animals have no emotions -- they are uncannily similar to humans in their emotional suffering during times of disaster.

Middle of the Night

I was exhausted after the hectic day, went to bed early but now I'm awake and can't sleep. I'd kill for a sleeping pill that would knock me out so I could get some rest. This pattern of going to sleep early, then awakening around 3:00 is brutal. Usually I lie there, toss and turn, eventually falling asleep before dawn. But this time I decided to get up and write.

I have been re-evaluating many things since this tornado hit. For one, I've allowed the internet/cable to become FAR too important to me. And I've neglected my writing since the internet is a diversion. Also, the snarky, sometimes downright mean anonymous forums have caused me stress, when I should just avoid reading such tripe. Read the factual news, skip the comment forums.

Politics are nasty, brutal boxing matches; I should probably just learn the issues, vote accordingly and quit dwelling on that side-show (which is what it has become, instead of real political debate).

National and world news is important -- but only to a certain degree. I'm here, where I live, and THIS should be my main concern. Not what is happening across the country or the world. If you are suddenly cut off from that worldwide network, you will realize quickly that RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE PHYSICALLY, is what matters. For all my concern, I can't change anything in Japan, California or anywhere except HERE. Yes, I can write about those places, but physically I cannot do anything for those people. Even if I donate money, how do I know it'll actually get in the hands of those I give to? Again, charity efforts should be local, not national or international. This is my opinion only, but what I'm learning from this traumatic experience.

I think of Kuntsler's "World Made by Hand" and his continuous, ceaseless efforts to write about the importance of LOCAL community as a way to deal with the coming onslaught of catastrophe due to peak oil and natural disasters, and realize how correct he is in that message. Unplug yourself from the internet/cable news for ONE week, and you'll understand the truth of that message.

Yes, the internet is important in my life, yet not in the way it has evolved. When I first got online, the opportunity to have my writing available was the primary importance. Somehow that got lost in the mish-mash of forums, Facebook, Twitter, and faceless distant unknowable anonymous people. That has to stop, and it has of NOW.

I will continue to make use of the internet, when it's available again; but I promise myself I will NOT get caught up in the time-wasting nonsense of anonymous attack forums, pointless political nastiness and useless speculation about unimportant matters. Research, factual news, encyclopedic information, the education online is what I will focus on. And of course, as a medium for some of my writing.

As for cable, the bald-faced truth is...television, including most of the cable channels, is garbage. Reality shows are trash, nothing more, nothing less. Entertainment to prevent people from actually THINKING for themselves and doing the hard work of LEARNING. One serious novel or well-researched factual book is worth a million trash reality shows. Networks figured out how to make more money by using real people's lives instead of paying for quality writers, actors, production. I will not waste what precious time I have left on earth viewing that programming - ditto for the shouting match of so-called news talk shows on Fox, MSNBC, etc. Factual news is worthwhile, all else is opinion and mine is as good as theirs (but only if I arrive at my opinion from examining the issues myself, not from being influenced by talking-head news anchors).

Okay, that's enough for now. Well except for one resolve: writing more instead of wasting time on the internet. A good movie is fine (which is why I have Netflix) but other than the basics of factual news, research, reading a few important, relevant blogs, I must not waste more time on useless internet activity.

During this upheavel, I've realized I'd forgotten the calming effect writing has for me. To focus on the words, to close out the loud, screeching senseless world, sit quietly and create a written world of meaning and order out of chaos. A lesson I will not forget.

And now, to bed.


Happy, happy day! Wonderful, caring people who treated me fairly...rebuilt my back yard fence, finished it today. I was almost ecstatic, because it "feels" like home again. Though the neighborhood is drastically changed, any little semblence of "normal" brings comfort.

The dogs were MORE than ecstatic; they romped, they played, they rolled over and over in the grass. Hopefully when I post this entry, I can show pictures of their happiness. I never really knew how much the dogs needed the yard; but then again, they ARE dogs and though they love "creature comforts" they also love the doggie instinct of rolling in the grass, chasing each other, running unfettered in a big back yard.

I'm writing this on the laptop while sitting on the back porch, watching my two indoor cats frolicking in the yard. Sniffing every single thing they encounter, rolling over and over in the grass, being the cats/animals they are. How is it that we humans have lost our basic instinct for being creatures of the natural world? When I see a dog or cat relishing the splendor of grass, trees, open spaces...I know that we as humans should realize we are only ONE step above them, and to forget we are basically products of our natural environment is a bad mistake, a mis-step for which we will pay if we destroy our habitat.

The lessons of this experience mount upon one another, it will take a long time to digest exactly what I have learned. These journal entries are almost like "notes" for myself to never forget the days and nights of darkness, relieved only by brief moments of insight and human compassion for the suffering of others, whether animal or human.

When disaster strikes, you learn quickly who your real friends are, and who those are that would take advantage of you. Oddly enough, I have found it is those of modest means who have been the most honest, the most trustworthy. If I were "Jesus" I could easily discern those with a good heart and those with an evil heart. I have to say, I'm impressed over and over again with those who will put aside their own suffering in times of distress, to help those who are in need. I'm not necessarily talking about family, who we take as a given, will help. And I'm not talking about volunteers either. I'm speaking of those who actually go out of their way to help you when the ones you expect to help won't. Astonishing. And something you never, ever forget. EVER.

When you strip human behavior down to the basic element of survival, it's remarkable how fast you learn the good from the bad. But then, as a novelist, I always knew this; I'd just forgotten it. That is why crime drama/suspense fiction has always attracted on the edge, the basic instincts for survival make for easy drama. Living through it though, that's an entirely different experience.

Again, it's been a beautiful day: mild temperatures, clear sky, wonderful friends who not only listened compassionately to my horrendous tornado experiences, but who also rebuilt my back yard fence for a price too low to be even reasonable. I will never forget this or them. Lesson learned.

Tomorrow is Saturday, and there may be "altruistic" or "opportunistic" people all over the neighborhood, like last weekend. I think I'll go out to my nearest sister's house, escape the madness. She has internet access, so I might post the first of my entries.

(Brenda in Kentucky, I got your email today via my sister's cell phone. Thank you for caring...and taking time to write.)

Saturday Noon

Today is the first time I felt I could trust that electricity wouldn't go off again. I know there are still areas of the city/county without power, and was afraid if I stocked my freezer I'd lose perishable stuff again. I went to Wal-mart earlier and bought my usual veggie food; biting into a fresh, crunch celery stick was delightful. I've missed lettuce, tomatoes, celery and carrots most, since those are my 'munchy' snacks. Maybe I can cook a nutritious supper tonight, which will help restore the sense of normality.

The dogs are outside right now, they are constantly running in and out, happy little devils. Oscar had gotten on my last nerve with his whining, nothing would pacify him. Both dogs would sit on the porch and stare through the lattice to the yard, obviously miserable they couldn't get out there. I took some photos of them enjoying the yard yesterday afternoon.

My nearby sister has internet access, and I'm torn about whether to drive out there and update my blog or continue to tough it out here until I get cable/internt. If I do post this now, I couldn't respond to any emails/comments, and it might upset me. I'm only now establishing a bit of equilibrium and sure don't want to disrupt it. For those with whom I have a friendship or just readers, I'm sorry I haven't been able to at least get a Tweet out letting you know I'm okay. Please understand there's been so much mayhem here I felt more pressing things to do.

I did manage to drop by the newspaper one day earlier this week; the office was heavily damaged, all windows blown out. Yet they are soldiering on, never missed one issue! They gave me all the newspapers since the tornado, I couldn't find any in newsstands (certainly historical keepsakes!). The staff have done a remarkable job under very difficult circumstances; I hope they win some awards, the writing/photos were amazing. And though they are working, you can see they (like everyone here) are traumatized. It's going to take a long time for us to settle down, and not be jittery every time there's a clap of thunder.

I've seen no news coverage of the tornado, and have only limited knowledge of other areas hit north and south. I read several bloggers here in Alabama, and there's only two I know that are close to where tornadoes struck. I hope they are both safe, but won't know till I can get online.

I need to get out there and hose down my carport/back porch, since there's lots of dirt/grime from treelimbs being hauled across the driveway/carport to the curb. The street is piled so high on both sides with fallen treelimbs, there's only one lane to drive down the center. The trash trucks are working overtime, all last weekend, and all this weekend. I have pictures of the debris on the streets. Eventually I'll have a photo-blog with just pictures I've taken during this time.

In one way I'm somewhat of a coward; I turn south when I leave home, and go down streets unharmed. Driving Fifth street still makes me tear up, plus there's crews out working and I don't want to be in the way. When the workers came to rebuild my fence, they said they got lost over here, because they couldn't even recognize familiar landmarks. Sad.

A major problem I'll have to deal with soon is the rental landlord next-door, since there's another huge pecan tree on his propertyleaning directly toward my house. He's said he has insurance, and the lot will be cleared; in fact, he told the renters he planned to have the house taken down. I'm going to give him time to get that tree cut, but if he doesn't, I'll have to take action - maybe legal. A storm with hard-line winds will bring that tree down atop my house, right over my bedroom! At this point, I'm not calm enough to take on that battle, and can only hope he'll remedy the situation before bad storms come through again.

I'll close for now. Haven't decided if I'll drive to sister's house and post this...

If I do, please always remember: NO ONE IS PROMISED TOMORROW.


Robyn said...

Cara, I'm so glad you and the dogs and cats made it safely through. I don't know why on earth I thought you were in Hartselle rather than Cullman!

I remembered you posting a comment on my site after the first set of storms went through on Wednesday saying that you were okay, and in my mind you'd posted after all the tornadoes went through, so I didn't know enough to be worried about you, as I would have!

I was almost sorry that our internet came back as soon as it did - life is somehow more relaxing when there's no way to connect to the internet and I got a lot more accomplished around here.

Stacy Horn said...

Cara, I sent you email and also a message via twitter. Jesus. I'm glad you're okay. As I said in my email, I could barely breath reading through this. I already apologized in email for not reading this sooner.

But now I realize I should also apologize for not reaching out to you sooner to make sure you were okay.

Karen said...

My prayers to you, Cara. I was living in Columbus, Ohio during the 1974 outbreak, but the closest those came to my family's house was probably five miles away. However, my cousin and her family lived in Xenia, which was ground zero, and experienced what you are going through, but their house was completely demolished along with most of the town.

Of course, it was a little different with no Internet, cable TV or cell phones to deal with and for the life of me I don't remember the hateful political wrangling over the situation like there is today (although we did finally get rid of Nixon that August, didn't we?).

Brenda said...

Thanks for the e-mail, Cara; I'm so glad you're okay! I can only imagine how horrible it was. I know it will take some time to get back to normal, but looks like you're on your way!

Unknown said...

Thank you for sending me this link Cara, and I'm so glad you are ok. I'm in Hayden and I personally had no damage but when the power came back on and we heard about what happened I was sick to my stomach. I was working part time at the store here in Hayden at the time and I heard so many tragic stories from people coming in from cull man county looking for food and water and gas......I and everyone else was deeply affected and we often cried with the customers. So many things...a trucker taking his truck to Ashville to be a temporary morgue; a man from Phil Campbell staying with his mother here because his house was destroyed and he found his neighbors lying dead in his back yard; a man in Empire who found a baby in his front yard and they still didn't know whose it goes on and on. It was emotionally draining and I haven't written in my blog since because crafts and decorating seemed so shallow and unimportant.

You are so right about one thing-it is the people who have the least who will give the most. I know for a fact that the people who sprang into action Immediately with chain saws and gathering clothes and food were not well off, most of them on foodstamps themselves.

Take a look at this house and see if you recognize it. IThink it's in your neighborhood. I did this painting in November and I got an email from the owner that it was badly damaged and not repairable .