Saturday, August 25, 2007

I Was So A'sceered

The sirens started wailing about 6PM. The lights blinked off and then tantalizingly on again and then heart-sinkingly - OFF.

Before the internet connection died, I captured this. See those little cross-hairs. That's where I sat cowering alone on the bottom riser of my basement steps.

Well, not completely alone.

I hadn't been down there all summer. Actually, we've not had at the basement in years. I kept telling myself - next fall - or when the snow flies - or the next rainy day, hot day; somehow there was always something better to do.

Now I sat there with my little candle, weak flashlight and good old Coleman fluorescent tube lantern that hadn't been switched on since a camping trip in '92. The handset from the upstairs phone didn't work. Duh. And the battery on my cell didn't have a full charge. To whichever friend gave me that little heart-laced candle years ago: Thanks for the light.

My hubby was working nite call and kept phoning from the heart of the hospital to chuckle and say "Yeah, the weatherman says Sylvania is going to get slammed." Thanks, dear.

So, I sat hunched on that step, surveying in the dim light of my fading laptop and single candle - the neglected detritus of my life. It all kind of hurt. Funny I just typed 'heart' there where I intended 'hurt'. Guess that explains the hurt. There are a lot of memory-laden items down there. No need to list them. Just start with dog paraphernalia and work up to little boy and grandpa stuff. Nuff said.

The winds blew, the candle flickered, and on my miraculously operating basement battery radio, I listened to a minister intoning God's admonishments to us sinners . I couldn't get the AM bands to work. I turned him off and sat in the little circle of my candle glow. I promised myself - not God - to have the courage to face that mess in the basement next month.

Sitting there I knew I was going to have to make my way over to the sump to make sure the back-up osmotic reverse flow pump would take over. That required body armor. That's my winter coat - hood up. Boots too. Long pants, tucked in. I was sweatn'. That 20 foot trek through ages of spider nets and leavings was gonna be challenging.

Pretty, huh....? The back-up was working. Whew. (Now remember - it's pitch-black in that corner. You only see the pump because of the camera's flash)

Back upstairs I peered out to the street. I saw a glow in my neighbor's garage. We've lived on this street more than 30 years. Neighbors are a good thing.
We sat around the kerosene lamps and visited and agreed it was our best visit all summer. (Do you like my chiaroscuro effect? You can click on it, too - Lori, Rick, Dell, Mary Kay, Rob, Mattie, Ed and Audrey - won't mind)

I looked across to our side of the street. My porch lights were back on. My hubby was pulling in the driveway. Everyone with electricity offered food and lodging to those who still sat on the shadowy side of the street. The glow enveloped us all. Everything is OK, now.

(Now, if you want a REALLY scary storm story with a happy ending go to Bev's at Burning Silo entitled: Weird Sky!)



Anonymous said...

Great photo essay, Cathy. We got hammered here in MI, too. It was ugly when I drove home last night, but the worst of it and the tornado hit elsewhere.

Cathy said...


Thank you! So glad you stopped by:0) Hey! I'm going to post some pictures I took of a storm I saw looking from my backyard here in Ohio toward you Michigan folks. Wowzers!

NatureWoman said...

Cathy - I'm so glad you're okay, but so sorry you had to go through this, especially alone! My brother was out in the storm in Chicago the other night and it took him a long time to get home.

Cathy said...

Pam -

Oh honey, I was OK. I'm a little reluctant to admit this . . . but, I did take a little pill before I descended those stairs. I keep 'em on hand in case I'm ever stuck in an elevator. You wouldn't want to be around me in that eventuality ;0)

Anvilcloud said...

Nicely done: some good moody pics.

Cathy said...

AC -

Thanks. I guess we both know something about moods, eh :0)

Larry said...

I don't want anyone to be hurt by a storm, but I find them to be exciting!-In the early 70's-we were without power for a week because of an ice storm in CT.

Ruth said...

Bad weather brings out the best in neighbours. Glad you had some to spend time with. During the big blackout in August, (was it 2003?),it was like a party on our street.
Glad everyone is OK.

mon@rch said...

O my goodness! Such a crazy thing to be going through! Glad that you were alright and how can one live without internet!

Mary said...

Loved seeing you!

Must have been spooky for you and I'm glad all is well. Your photos and commentary took me there - downstairs in your scary basement. Nice to have neighbors to congregate with during storms. We saw our neighbors more often during blizzards and hurricanes.

When you noticed your porch lights on, did you want to dance?

Cathy said...

Larry -

Oh YES! I love storms and the excitement that accompanies them. It's just that those danged tornadoes are so . . . .well - Wizard of Oz-ish and if you get a direct hit and don't have a basement. Did I mention that I love my dirty basement for that very reason?

Ruth -

Thanks. We hardly had leaves down here. Of course north in MI people got direct hits, but fortunately we're in their basements and OK. Yes - I wish we could generate that camaraderie without the power outages :0D

Mon@rch -

Tell you what: it was HELL! No, not the storm, but being without the internet :0D

Mary -

That pix of me? Woohoo! Huh?

Hmmm. Yes, when I saw my porch lights I was pleased - cause I hate sleeping hot and the freezer was thawing - BUT -it met we didn't NEED each other anymore. It was back to our modern, isolated lives. No more huddling around the fire, keeping the shadows at bay - together.

RuthieJ said...

Oh Cathy, I hate it when there's all that red and purple in the Doppler views.
I'm glad everything turned out OK for you. We've been to the basement so many times this summer that as soon as it starts to storm the cat just goes down there and hides by herself!

burning silo said...

Ha! I enjoyed this photo essay very much! Love the photo of you, and also the one of the neighbours sitting around (how cool that the have their dogs sitting on their laps with them). Glad that you weathered the storm okay. We once had a similar experience to larry's -- 10 days without power during very low temperatures following a freak ice storm in January '98. Candles made a big difference. My conclusion after doing without power for that long - a day or two is fun, but after a week, it gets really old! (-:

threecollie said...

Wow, what a night! I am glad it all turned out all right....must have been hard to be alone through all that.

Cathy said...

Ruthie -

No kidding? That was my first trip down those stairs. Wow. You've really been getting hammered. Poor Kitty. He sounds as scared as I was.

Bev -

After 3 hours it gets old. I can not imagine a week in freezing temps - now that's getting really old.

Yeh:0) Those lap-dogs are where I get my dog kisses.

Three Collie -

Thanks:0) Yes, but I don't have to stay in a milking parlor during lightning storms! Guess you could teach me something about courage.

RuthieJ said...

Well, Cathy, I'm kind of a storm weenie. If the weather service says "seek immediate shelter" I do. The dogs and cat go with my while the spousal unit continues to snore. Fortunately, things never turns out as bad as they've predicted!

Cathy said...

Ruthie -

That's the routine here, too. I think the house would have to be a foot off its foundation before Keith would join me in the basement:0)

Laurie said...

So sorry I missed commenting on this earlier Cathy. I'm so glad it all turned out alright.

Great big hugs,

Tim Burns said...

Glad to hear you're all ok. I like the picture of you waving with the light.

Cathy said...

Thanks, Tim,

Yep - everything is OK - it doesn't take much to get my adrenalin going.
I'll bet you've had a bit an adrenaline rush this week, too :0D

Cathy said...

Laurie -

Hey! How'd I miss my girlfriend:0) Well, I have to admit to being just a bit of a drama queen. But I truly do get nervous when I know there are tornadoes down. Shuddder.

Hugs back :)