Monday, August 21, 2017

Unpredicted storm

A few minutes after 1 a.m. I was awoken by silence.

In the summer I sleep with two fans and a sound machine so when the electricity went off, the sudden silence woke me as if an alarm had gone off.

Thunder rumbled softly, rain bounced off the driveway and wind caused the windows to rattle. Powerful thunderstorms are not unusual in the Midwest; however, it's rare that one causes power outages.  In the twenty-odd years I've lived in my house, the power has gone out only once, for less than an hour.

I grabbed my cell phone and used the electric company's online form to report the outage, then I tried to go back to sleep. Between the unusual silence in the room, the occasional thunderclap and the  rising temperature in the house, I barely dozed. Instead, I read a book on the iPad. Two hours later when I next checked the outage map on the electric company's website, it was covered with outage notices all across the city—at least 19,000 affected at that point. Oh boy.

It was a sleepless night. The electricity kicked on a couple of minutes after 8 a.m. I had decided one thing -- I wasn't going to attend a family reunion in the afternoon. It's a 90 minute drive, and I had only slept a few hours. I was reaching for the phone to call my brother and let him know when the house phone rang.

"Did you hear the storm last night?" Mica, my best friend asked.

"Are you saying you didn't?"

"I slept through the whole thing!" She hadn't lost electricity either. She would have still been asleep if another friend of ours, Sophie, hadn't called her. "You know the big tree in Sophie's front yard? It blew over and is blocking the driveway. The house is OK but she can't get out." Sophie has a family member in the hospital and needs to be able to leave if needed. "She asked if you could go over and take pictures for the insurance claim. She wants to go ahead and call a tree service to get it cleared off the driveway."

I dressed and grabbed my camera, a bow saw, branch clippers and a pair of leather work gloves, and was on my way in a short time. The route across town was tricky in spots where limbs, or in some cases whole trees, had fallen into the street. I went by one pickup parked on the street next to tree. The tree had split in two and half of it had fallen on the vehicle. A limb was through the windshield. Every yard was covered with leaves, twigs and branches of all sizes. Several sets of traffic lights were dark. Fortunately there weren't many cars on the streets yet.

I took the pictures Sophie needed. As neighbors walked over with chainsaws, Mica and I took rakes and lawn sacks to the back yard. We raked up a ton of twigs and leaves. By the time we finished, half of the driveway was cleared. Mica and I ran and bought doughnuts and bottled water for everyone. We hung around with Sophie until the owner of one of the tree services she had called stopped by. He lives outside of the city, out of the path of the storm, and didn't know anything had happened until he woke up and saw that his cell phone voicemail was full.

It certainly wasn't the Sunday any of us had expected to have, but everything turned out OK.

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Once-in-a-lifetime eh

My best friend's dog, who captured my heart nearly nine years ago. Love him, love him, love him.

Just as I was preparing to leave the house to go to a hair appointment, my hair stylist called as asked to reschedule. Totally fine with me. Instead of sitting in a salon for a couple of hours, I went to my best friend's house. [Note: in the interest of anonymity I'm using aliases for everyone I write about, and I'm going to use a random name generator for the names.] My best friend, Mica's, house.

The picture above is of her dog. This is the look we get when we're about to leave without him. No worries, though. A second after he hears the garage door close, he's off to his favorite spot on the bed for a long, luxurious nap, one uninterrupted by dreaded kisses on the head.

We had sushi for lunch and spent a few hours shopping for clothes. Traffic was heavy throughout the city. Since our city is in the path of the eclipse, we're supposed to have boatloads of visitors. Perhaps a lot of people are arriving early.

I realize the total eclipse is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and it's amazing that it's passing over where I live, but the truth is I couldn't be less excited. I have to work, and I'll have to photograph everyone else enjoying it. Not sure how much of it I'll get to experience. A coworker gave me a pair of eclipse glasses in an effort to get me to into it. I'll use them as I can. I'm sure it will be awesome.

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

While I was away

Welcome to my bland office.

While I was at home yesterday afternoon the office manager enlisted the assistance of a couple of guys to move this storage unit from a recently vacated office to mine. I had requested the unit—it's sudden appearance wasn't the result of workplace shenanigans, although that would have made more fun when I unlocked my door this morning and found it.

It's too large for the space; I knew it would be. But there's no money in the budget to order new so it's make do with what's available or go without. I needed a place to store the variety of things that had been sitting on the floor in in stacks on my desk. This unit has decent locks so I'll be able to secure my camera when I bring it to work.
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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Summer rain

The day started out rainy and muggy. I was outside under an umbrella for a short time, long enough to walk to the end of this sidewalk and duck into a building. There was an event taking place that I needed to photograph. As soon as I finished, I walked back to my office, downloaded the images, sent an email and left for the day.

My back has been bothering me off and on for a couple of weeks. I haven't had back pain for years, maybe a decade or more, so this pain is puzzling. Sometimes pain relievers work, most times not. Last night the pain woke me, and I couldn't get back to sleep. After a couple of hours of trying to find a comfortable position, I gave up on sleep and went to work early. Just after the workday officially started, I submitted a vacation request for the afternoon. I could have used sick time but I have so much unused vacation time stored, I might as well use some of it.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Once common, these old iron truss bridges are slowly being dismantled in favor of concrete ones that look like an extension of the road.

I have a love/hate feeling about these old bridges. They remind me of childhood but they also remind me of the uneasiness I felt when crossing them, especially if the wooden planks were loose and  bucked and rattled as the car tires rolled over them. Please don't collapse repeated silently to myself, picturing the muddy, mysterious river water that ran below. Did a fear of rivers or an uneasiness about bridges come to me first? Hard to say.

I'll miss these old things once they're gone.
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Monday, August 14, 2017

Instantly better

Out driving one day, feeling many kinds of lost, I turned onto a gravel road that passed a country cemetery and a couple of edge-of-town properties – one with a backyard flock of chickens, another with a backyard collection of parted-out cars – then I looked over and saw this lone tree on a slope and felt...yes. Sometimes I need open spaces. Must remember that.
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