Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tornado Warning

 I woke suddenly, rolled to my other side, disturbing a cat or two, peered at the lighted display of the digital clock.  A few minutes past 4 a.m. Something seemed not right. I lay still, realizing almost at once that the 'not rightness' was the glow sifting down the hallway.
If one of us treks the few yards to the bathroom, or even out to the living area of the house at night it is seldom necessary to flip on a light as several small 'night lights' are strategically positioned.
I waited drowsily, expecting to hear J.'s feet padding back to the bedroom.
What I heard was a slash of rain against the window panes and the loud whine of the wind.
After a moment I swung out of bed, shoved my feet into slippers. Poking my head round the bedroom door I discovered the light source.  J. sat, unclothed, at his desk peering at the laptop screen.
"Whatever are you doing?" I inquired with some asperity.
"Didn't you hear the phone? There's a tornado warning."
I wallowed in a mental fog, attempting to make sense of this pronoucemnt.
[I tend either to not sleep, or to fall into a heavy stupor. The hearing in my left ear is badly affected by tinnitis....has been for about a decade.
I concluded that although I hadn't been aware of the phone, its ringing was likely what woke me.]

"I'd been awake listening to the wind when the phone rang," J. explained.  "Its the automated set-up which alerts everyone in the county.  It looks like the storm will be here in 10 to 15 minutes."

"Oh," I said, none too cleverly.  "Shouldn't we be dressed?"
J. a bit testy: " I didn't stop to dress before answering the phone!"

I made use of the bathroom, gathered up the jeans I wore yesterday, found a heavy battered hoodie that is my favorite early morning garment. Dazedly, I made the bed, even as a part of my mind told me that it hardly mattered whether the quilt was straight and the pillows plumped.  If the roof should be lifted from the house or the building itself hurled from its foundation, an unmade bed would be of little consequence.

J. thumped about, opening the drawer for clean underwear, and left the room fully dressed and obviously far more in his right mind than I.
"Take cat food downstairs and get the cats down there."
I hastened down with the canister of kibble, filling the spare dispenser I keep there, brought up and filled a water bowl. The boy cats trekked back along the stairs with me, intrigued.

J. rattled in the kitchen, gathering up cat bowls, a spoon, an unopened tin of wet food.
Aware of something unusual but possibly beneficial, cats trooped after him, watching as he set a row of dishes along the staircase.  I picked up the two old cats, Raisin and Eggnog, thrusting them into the stairwell and closing the door. Chester and Mima, always the dimwits, disappeared under the bed.  Futile to even think of rounding them up.
Outside wind now thundered and roared through thrashing tree branches.
Sitting on the edge of the bed to pull on wool socks and my shoes, I flinched as hail struck windows and outside walls with a clatter. The phone rang again: M. a mile down the road checking to make sure we were headed to safety. I knew that G. would be in a panic, herding her 3 cats and the 2 dogs into what she refers to as 'the safement.'
I picked my way downstairs, avoiding the train of felines, stood looking muzzily around the big room with the rocking chairs, my cutting table, my sewing machine on its walnut desk.
I followed J. into the back of the basement where a door opens into the outside cement stairwell.
A trickle of water appeared under the door.
Reading my thoughts J. stated, 'The drain isn't plugged; its the force of the wind blowing
rain down the steps.'
 He opened the inner door a few inches letting in the scent of rain and wet earth.
Even as we watched it seemed that the flailing of the tree branches above was slowing somewhat.

Testing the weather after the storm.

The shelves in the basement are laden with canned fruits and veggies.
I mentioned the need for bottled water.
I thought of the warm jackets, a leftover from Wyoming years, hanging in the closet near the door.
Candles on top of the big wooden cupboard. Fuzzy throws on the backs of the chairs.
One could hole up in the finished side of our basement quite cozily!

I swtiched on the radio, moved the tuner past buzzing sounds to find a local station.
A generic storm warning segued into a county-wide assessment.
"The storm is approaching the Sano district in eastern Adair County," came the newscaster's voice.
"It's past us then!" said J. "That burst of hail 10 minutes ago is all we'll get."

Willis ensconced on the butcher block.

He loped upstairs, remarking happily about his foresight in having driven both trucks up to the shelter of the barn late last evening.
'You might as well make coffee,' I suggested, still listening to the radio.
The storm was moving rapidly eastward, approaching Russell County where we have friends.
I offered an unspoken prayer for their safety, gratitude for our own.

The boy kittens had unearthed a battered catnip mouse and were smacking it about the room.
I removed Charlie-cat from the nest he was making in a neat pile of quilt fabric, stacked the fabric in a zippered bag and placed it on the ironing board near my completed quilt blocks.
Eggnog, my dear old girl, meowed anxiously from the stairs.
'It's alright now, ' I told her, following the smell of coffee.
J. had the TV on and sat in front of it sipping coffee,
'Yours is ready, I put in the sugar and cream.'
 I thanked him, prowled the kitchen with mug in hand, looked out at the still black landscape beyond the glow of the yard light.
J. had switched to a news channel.  Having explained to me that the high ridges in our western end of the county provide a bulwark against most advancing tornados, he began to expound on the
news show in progress.
Too much--I don't do mornings--particularly not withTV and running commentary.

Downstairs again, I kindled a fire, settled into the small green-painted rocker drawn close enough to feel the growing heat. I drained the coffee mug, sat quietly, realizing that I felt mildly unwell.
My body seemed heavy, my mind working sluggishly.
Small constant tremors zinged along my shoulder blades.  I was aware of every tired and aching muscle.

I stepped to the sewing table, switched on my machine. Neatly arranged on an open instruction book were the pieces for a quilt block, placed there when I stopped sewing on Sunday night.
One unit hadn't been cut for the block.  I picked up chunks of fabric, laid them back down, considering.
I recalled a phrase from my childhood: my mother's friend, the head organist at church, had encouraged another woman to play for a church service.
Commenting several days later, Mrs. Y. had stated sadly, "Eleanor's manner with the hymns reminds me of elephants walking through water."
Standing at the table, peering at my ruler, hardly daring to slice into cloth, I decided that my brain this morning had the same lack of momentum--elephants lumbering through mud, indeed!
Hot oatmeal porrige might help.
We had now been out of bed for two hours.
To my surprise, though the lamp glowed softly in the living room, J. was not there.  I tip-toed to the bedroom door, peered in at the comfortable hump under the quilt.
Downstairs again by my fire I ate slowly, a bowl of dry cereal topped with yogurt and cream.
After a bit I swept the floor, whisking up bits of thread and cat fluff, assisted by Nellie and Edward.
I stitched, pressed, cut pieces for two more quilt blocks.
I worked slowly, an hour passing before I heard J. stirring above.
I prepared his breakfast, pointed out that Willis had draped himself over the butcher block in the middle of the kitchen, something he hasn't done before. Clearly the cats were well aware that our day had started with disruption.
The kittens milled about the sliding door and I opened it to the mild wet air.
J. spotted wild turkeys in the field across the creek, several more were foraging on the corn ground.
I popped bread into the toaster, went out to snap a few photos, plucked a wet door mat from the grass and slung it onto the edge of the porch.
Pebbles the Horse trumpeted, sensing the possibility of grain.

It was scarcely lighter at 8:45 than it had been at daybreak.

Rain continued to slant down, soundless now, the wind gone to rest.

We had forewarning yesterday of storms to come.
It was too warm for January, even for January in Kentucky.
There was a restless wind which gusted at times, whirling through the dooryard.
D. helped me rescue a heavy quilted bedspread pegged out to dry on the line.
I suggested we drape it across two lines, putting on a few extra pegs.
When I fetched it in late in the afternoon I found that D. had made a parade of clothes pegs down the length of the quilt.

The time is headed toward noon, the heavy rain has slowed to a persistant drizzle.
My wits have [somewhat] reassembled themselves.
I need to put on my boots and deal with litter boxes.
The kitchen wants a bit of tidying, then I'll return to the warm and cozy space downstairs to play with my pretty fabrics.
J. has gone out to his projects in the shop.
The cats have all found comfy spots to recover from their early morning--Teasel in the linen shelves, Bobby and Edward on the bed, Nellie [where he shouldn't be] on the buffet.  Willow has collapsed on the sofa and Charlie is asleep on a cushion near my cutting table.
The two old lady cats dream near the fireplace.
It may be that before this grey day ends I'll be tucked up for awhile in the old rocker while the fire crackles soothingly.
We have been safe, 'in the hollow of God's hand' while yet another storm has passed by.

Bobby and Edward

Teasel on her blanket in the linen cupboard




  1. What a dramatic account of your early morning emergency. Thank goodness the tornado missed you. I imagine the cats would have enjoyed their change of routine, especially if it involved a catnip mouse!

    1. Ann; I think the cats were a bit unsettled by the early morning bustle, but then thought it was all quite interesting--especially having breakfast ranged along the staircase. I hope they don't think a 5a.m. breakfast will be served tomorrow!

  2. I am so very glad everyone is ok. I heard the weather reports yesterday, and you were immediately in my thoughts as I go through this too. I hate it when its in the middle of early morning and you are in a brain fog, which I am too. I have tinnitus in both ears and its very hard to hear anything.
    Blessings be upon you.
    Take care

    1. Vicki; Prior to our KY move I thought of tornados as particular to Nebraska, Iowas, and surely Kansas [think Wizard of Oz.] Several have touched down within a 50 mile radious since we've been here.
      Isn't tinnitis maddening? In addition to impaired hearing I resent that it is never really quiet--noise in my head!

  3. I'm glad the storms passed you by safely---have the weather channel on and they were just talking about Marion C., KY. I must say you have such a gift for writing. I was totally drawn into your early morning rise, and ensuing discourse on the morning---totally snug in your warm basement sewing area by the fire... :D

    1. Angie; I'm fascinated that our KY storm featured on a UK weather channel. Marion County is roughly north east of us. I didn't have time to be frightened while getting myself and the cats down to the basement. I think adrenelin and caffience rather got to me later in the hour!

  4. Oh I loved reading this, you have a talent for describing atmosphere. I can't imagine living with this kind of threat.
    I enjoyed a glimpse of my favourite quilt too :-)

    I laughed at all those pegs, but the strong winds here today necessitated nearly as many!

    1. Kath; I am gifted--or cursed--with a nature that is quite sensitive to the 'atmosphere' around me. Writing is a way of processing for me.
      I had no idea that D. was so meticulously pegging the quilt to the line--its likely a good thing he did as yesterday was gusty.
      Most of the storms travel to the east or west of us---they take a Y course just before reaching here, but it doesn't pay to ignore that one is on the way.

  5. So glad you were safe through the storm.

    1. Marci; I can only imagine the horror of being in the direct path of a tornado. We are thankful to have been spared.

  6. First I will say, "I'm glad you are safe and sound." I can't imagine being caught in the middle of a terrible tornado. I felt like I was right there with you as you prepared for the worst. Good writing will do that. I think Teasel has the best idea of where to go for a quiet snooze. I'd pick that spot, too. Hugs, Deb

    1. Deb; Teasel is so determined to use the linen closet as a retreat that I cleared that space for her and put down the baby blanket. Do we spoil our cats?
      The threat of these storms is scary--I always wonder if 'this' is the time one will finally touch down.
      Actually I think I was in seige mode--imagining that we might be trapped in the basement for days under the wreckage of our house---rational thought first thing in the morning is not my forte!

  7. I get so annoyed with trying to leave ANY comment on this....errrr I wrote one and it disappeared! Then I have to go through some sign in process that now wants an ounce of blood and a urine sample to write anything...what? ~ LOUD SIGH~ Ok...I said, for the second time," I went in the basement for 10 minutes or so but given that there is flood conditions in the safement, again...STILL, I decided I would rather be blown out of my bed by gale force winds than to sit in the depressing WET safement!!!"

    1. Gina dear, Maybe you should have risked being blown off the road and come up to our cozy basement! I feared yours might not be a welcoming space after all the rains.
      Yes--the sign-in process can trip you up when posting a comment. Usually blogger saves your comment while you sign in, but it can be notional.

  8. Nellie Bell it darling! I gave Tarry a big long TALK last night about how NELLIE BELL cuddles and LIKES his people unlike himself who thinks we are hereto feed him special treats on the counter and let him in and out on whims!!

    1. Nellie is a darling--although he went out after the storm, plodded in mud, then came in and wiped his paws on the clean tablecloth. [Sigh] we are not good at cat training and discipline.

  9. I have to ask, what happens to the horse in a tornado, does it just have to take its chances?
    I can't conceive of what its like to have that threat hanging over your head but I suppose you learn to live with it.
    Regarding Tinnitus, Tom suffers from it, he says he has a bunch of sparrows in his head (I don't know if you have sparrows, but they are small brown birds that gather in the bushes making a lot of noise)it could be worse, some people have bangings and rushing sounds, not pleasant at all.
    But glad you are all safe and thanks for a good read.

    1. Briony; Pebbles has a barn that is open on one end--she can go in and out at will. We've noticed that she often chooses to stand outside during a storm instead of taking shelter. It was so dark when the wind hit that we had no way of knowing. She was standing near the barn when I stepped out at first light.
      We do have sparrows--chirpy little things. My tinnitis produces a sort of humming/rushing sound a bit like holding a big seashell to one's ear. I often wish it would 'turn off'--especially when I go to bed.

  10. I have to tell you I was mesmerized by your story, wondering about the tornado, and also so entertained with the reaction of your dear cats. Thank you for relating your early morning activities in such a great fashion.

    1. Hildred; We've noticed over the years how greatly our pets interact with us and are affected by whatever happens. Once the cats got over being bustled hastily downstairs they seemed to be rather pleased with the proceedings.
      I am so thankful that my 'story' had a happy ending!

  11. Oh I am so glad you and yours are safe. Tornadoes would FREAK me out I'm afraid. Hurricanes are bad enough.

    I really enjoy your posts, as they are so descriptive and you make us feel like we are right there partaking in the event, or puttering around your place with whatever project you are working on.

    Love and hugs to you ~ FlowerLady

    1. Lorraine; I think of Florida as a place that gets badly battered by hurricanes. I suspect that if the tornado had actually hit us I would have become a blubbering idiot. As it was, I could share the drama of the morning with no real sense of anything but thankfulness and relief that it was just a few minutes of a heavy storm.

  12. Oh I am so pleased you are all safe,it must be a real worry for you when the storms are coming I can not imagine it Im so pleased we do not get them.Take care love Jill xx

    1. Jill; There can be some tense times during tornado season in the spring and early summer. Although we've only felt the fringes of the storms as they sweep past, it doesn't do to become complacent and ignore the warmings.

  13. You are a master story-teller MM. I remember tornado season in Minnesota, and had a couple of close brushes. No fun. Always a little nerve wracking. I would track them on a map from radio info.

  14. Hullo MM,

    Glad you're all ok. I felt I was fuzzily taking in the storm with you. You captured the befuddled state well {with help from the cats of course}. Shame you never made the porage you mentioned. It always sets me up for the day.


  15. Wonderful, descriptive post.

  16. Thank heavens you are safe. I heard about it on tv too (Sky) and was worried for you. I am glad I made it here to day to find out you are safe. Reading your tale made me feel like I was there with you and J and the cats. Very atmospheric. We would go down into mum's flat in such a weather moment, it's set into the side of the hill, so more protected than the upper house (though that has stone walls 3 feet thick in places!)

  17. So pleased you're okay. What a fabulous description of your experience!

  18. So glad you are all safe. Here in central Alabama we go through these things way too often and always vow to be better prepared "next" time. We and our 7 cats are also safe, blessed once again.

  19. Really glad you're all safe. I vividly recall tornado warnings from our time in Illinois and in particular one week when my husband was away and I seemed to spend most of every day in the basement with our cats listening to the radio. One day six tornadoes touched down within a mile of our house. Really not fun.