What the HAIL?

15 03 2008

I find hail to be one of Mother Nature’s most oxymoronic events. I know for a fact that it was 78 degrees outside this afternoon, but all of a sudden there is ICE falling from the sky?! Only “falling” doesn’t seem to appropriately describe the crazy hailstorms (yes, plural) of today – it definitely seemed to be hitting the ground (and the parked cars along my street, setting off several car alarms, I might add!) much faster than the 9.8 m/sec/sec as dictated by Newton’s Law. I have a metal-roof car-port that served as a protective cover over my own vehicle, but did nothing to protect my ear drums from the ping-pong ball sized ice chunks that were plummeting from above. Same could be said for the awning over my front porch, which is where I took this video. I took a short video on my digital camera, but I can’t seem to figure out how to get it to load on this blog! In its stead, I strongly encourage you to head over to YouTube.com and search for “Atlanta tornado.” There may not be any of today’s hailstorm videos to check out, but there will be plenty at which to take a gander. In my opinion, the scariest videos are the ones of the swinging rafters and scoreboard at the Georgia Dome during the SEC Tournament game last night. I probably would have passed out had I been there.

Oh dang, now the power’s out. But the Internet still works? Oh, hail. (which coincidentally is exactly how “H… E… double-hockey-sticks” sounds when someone down here says it!) Whatever, Georgia.

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Beware the Ides of March

15 03 2008

No kidding, Shakespeare.

Last night the National Weather Service broke into my fascinating Friday evening episode of “What Not to Wear” to inform of a Tornado Warning. Now, there was a similar situation not too long ago, so I felt uber-confident that I would be just fine. I had already scoped out the optimal wait-out-the-storm place in my house, my cell phone was charged, there are batteries in my flashlight… I am ready for anything.

Until that “anything” arrived… I have NEVER heard anything like the sound of that wind in my entire life. And I really hope that I never do again, ever. Well, first there were the hours of the storm-preview with strobe-light lightning flashes, house-shaking thunder, and sheets of rain – oh, which reminds me, I’d better hustle down to the crawl space to check on my new water heater and sump pump, yikes! And at about 10:40 p.m. or so, all of a sudden there’s a FREIGHT TRAIN barrelling toward my house. I kept waiting for it to reach a peak as far as its decibel level. I guess the actual event only lasted about 3 minutes, but I felt like I had been huddled up on the floor of my bathroom with my cell phone, flashlight, pillows, and my Blanket (don’t laugh, Mom and Grandma!) for the entire night.

I now know that it only lasted about 3 minutes… although it definitely strikes hard in its short reign. My house is virtually unscathed, but I walked around my neighborhood and snapped a few photos that have me feeling very grateful and relieved…

Tornado

Tornado

Tornado

Tornado

Tornado

Tornado

Tornado

Tornado

This used to be an enclosed staircase and covered balconies. No longer.

Tornado

Previously a billboard that was facing away from this photo’s vantage point, down onto the freeway below this overpass. Again… no longer. The poster portion of the billboard (is that what it’s called?) was strewn about on the ground on the opposite side of the street as well as being hung up on broken pieces and blown out windows of a building.

As I was out driving around, the wind started picking up again and the sky got darker, so I hustled home to “safety.” My power is back on, and the cable works, too. So I got to see some video footage from last night. Downtown Atlanta looks like… well, like a tornado hit. It’s been creepy outside all day – hot and muggy and super windy one minute than stagnant and eerie the next – and there’s a constant din of sirens on the air. So far no other major weather-related issues in Atlanta-proper today, but I guess there have been more twisters touching down north of the city. The rain is picking up a bit now, so I’ll go make sure I’m ready to dive for cover on the bathroom floor at a moment’s notice.





“Good times never seemed so good….”

10 03 2008

Had another fantastic trip up to The NC this past weekend. I spent Friday night in Shelby with Laura and Lily (Daddy was sick, so Auntie Kristen barely had to share Lily-bug at all!) Lily’s 3-1/2 months old now, and ever so much fun! She smiles and giggles and sucks both of her hands at once… and you don’t have to be quite so careful with her anymore, now that her neck works so well! She’s definitely in that fun stage where she doesn’t care who’s holding her or playing with her – of course she ALWAYS knows it’s me, and she LOVES playing with me! – so I’m trying to soak up all the time I can right now. Because all too soon she’s going to get into that I-want-Mama-only stage, and she’ll scream whenever I come near her. I wonder if I can buy her love by bringing presents every time I come to see her???

Lily

And if this wasn’t absolutely wonderful timing… Sweet Caroline (did anyone notice the foreshadowing in the title above?!) arrived at 11:20 p.m. on March 7. She was 7 lbs 10 oz and 21 inches long. And Katie and Phillip let us come up to the hospital to meet their less-than-one-day-old little one. Her beautiful dark eyes were open and just taking it all in when I was holding her, but by the time I handed her over to someone else and got the camera, she’d drifted off to dream land again. No matter, she’s still just as sweet! I’d be completely jealous of her long eyelashes, if she just wasn’t so darling!

Sweet Caroline

Lily behaved just beautifully all day long (after a major diaper blow-out incident in the car before lunch… but that’s not her fault!) especially for it having been her first ever field trip out to a restaurant. And then she was so quiet and charming when she went to go meet her new friend Caroline. (she looks so big and grown-up next to tiny, brand-new Caroline!)

Friends

Katie had this great idea – she had a photo mat for all of Caroline’s first visitors to sign. Like people do at weddings, you know? I thought it was such a nice little keepsake! She also had “parting gifts” of pastel M&M’s bundled in little pink tulle bags. So very Katie!

Saturday evening brought an invitation to a viewing party for the ever-important Duke-UNC mens basketball game. My favorite surprise – everyone LOVES Sweetwater Blue Ale – craftily brewed in my own Atlanta! It was a great time of food and drink and catching up with old friends… and introducing new friends to the origin of many a favorite inside-joke! And it was fitting, I guess, that Carolina should win, seeing as how its namesake, Caroline, was just born!

Sunday afternoon brought a “Sunday dinner” (aka: the meal one eats after church in the South) party with Allison’s family in Hickory, NC. And then a fun and exciting drive-by to Allison’s new house!!! It’s a gorgeous brick MANSION – well, at least it seems that way to someone who lives in a teensy little pre-war bungalow! – with Georgian pillars across the perfectly-designed rocking-chair front porch. How fun to think that the next time I come up to The NC, I’ll get to stay in my own room at Allison’s own house! For anyone who’s keeping track, I now have “my own room” in SEVEN places in the Southeast. And I’m always looking to add new “my own rooms” in any variety of locations across the country… just in case anyone was wondering.

The drive home, unfortunately, was far less than stellar. I was cruising along nicely (at exactly 55 mph, I’m sure, Mom!) when all-of-a-sudden, I-85 South is a P-A-R-K-I-N-G-L-O-T. Complete stand-still on the interstate. And of course, no radio station is concerned about traffic reports on a Sunday afternoon. So I roll down the windows to take in the brisk early-Spring air and turn the stereo up to cover any of my car-kareoke that may be audible to any of the other cars around me, and I breathe deeply and re-focus myself on what-I-can-control. (That’s my new calm-down-Kristen meditation) We crawl for miles until I can see that there are flashing lights and cones across all lanes… and traffic is being redirected onto the closest exit ramp. Oh NO. Now I’m crawling down some side-street in Middle-of-Nowhere, NC, and thank goodness there’s a “detour” sign for us to follow… wait, let me clarify there is A “detour” sign… singular… one… This is not good. And it doesn’t help that my keen sense of direction (meaning, I’ve always been able to tell which direction I’m facing: “the ocean is that way, so I’m facing WEST.” Well, dammit if that mentality a) doesn’t work here, because the ocean is EAST, and b) has failed me completely because none of the roads or highways run north-south or east-west, even if they are considered north-south (I-85) or east-west (Hwy 74). No lovely I-5 or I-84 or Pacific Ocean to help me out here. This is NOT good. Eventually I wound my way around and followed another ONCE documented sign back toward Shelby, because at least I can find my way home from there. I should have stopped by Laura’s for a quick Lily-cuddle before embarking on the still 3+ hour trek home. But I pressed on, through the tears of frustration, and found the non-north-south I-85 and was once again cruising along nicely. Six-and-a-half hours after I left Hickory, I arrived back at my aforementioned pre-war (WWII, not the Civil War, which is definitely what people have in mind when one mentions “The War” down here… not that it’s actually mentioned all that much in normal daily conversations) bungalow.

Oh, and to top it all off, I had to do all that travelling on the shortest day of the year – the day They soul-less-ly tear one precious hour away from us. Granted, the effects of this thievery wasn’t quite felt at its peak until the alarm clock went off in the pitch black darkness of early Monday morning. Who’s in charge of Daylight Savings Time anyway? I think I should write them a letter. I’m definitely over it.