Conquering an old Fear

I checked the forecast that morning. The storm was not set to arrive until 7 pm. My shift ended at 6. I left the rain boots on the seat and locked the car.

The clouds began to gather in the distance around 3:30 pm. They were dark and menacing. The summer storm was upon us as the skies opened up at 4:06. I had asked if i could go to the car and grab my rain boots at 3:40. My supervisor said no. She took me off parking lot duty and sent me on a shopping run so i would stop fussing about going to the car even though i’d already had my 15 minute break an hour ago. I showed my colleagues who were still on parking lot duty the radar on my phone and exclaimed “there’s a big old ball of red headed right for us.” Now everyone wanted to go to the car and get their boots and jackets. My supervisor was not thrilled. She ordered everybody back to their posts. No one was going to the cars. It was just a little storm. It would come and go. Stop making such a big deal about it. I shrugged and embarked on my shopping run. As i pulled the cart around the store and raced down the aisles, thunder shook the floor. Lightening split the skies, visible through the windows and the sliding doors. I looked over and saw that it was raining cats and dogs. It looked like a hurricane blowing through the city. Sheets of rain were creeping sideways in the flooded parking lot, trees were thrashing about, the thunder continued to shake the floor, and the light just disappeared. It quickly resembled evening outside. The street lamps came on and people began to collect in a large crowd behind the sliding doors. Nobody wanted to leave with the storm outside ripping through the parking lot. Baskets dragged by the wind drifted through the water and crashed into parked cars. The lightening was not deemed close enough on the radar so the curbies had to continue running back and forth in the rain, delivering orders to the waiting cars. I thought i was lucky. I was given a shopping run instead of continued parking lot duty. I thought i just might make it to the end of the shift without getting soaked. I didn’t think it would be fair for them to make me go out in the rain and flood waters since they had forbid me to go to my car and get my boots when the storm was first approaching. I almost made it. 3 minutes before the end of my shift my supervisor asked me to get an order ready, saying she’d have someone else take it out once it was in the basket. When i had retrieved the order and the basket was full she told me to take it out. I should have seen that coming. I asked for a poncho. She made another curbie who was about to go on lunch break give me hers. The curbie removed her poncho and then her boots. The boots were meant to go on over one’s shoes but she had taken her shoes off. Now she stood in black ankle socks and took off running for her lunch break. They begin the timer the moment they tell you to leave. She was just trying to make the most of her break. I first donned the giant yellow poncho. They made them all XL or L and called that “one size fits all”. It really just fit the tall people but thats another argument for another day. I stepped into the boot with my shoe and realized immediately why she had taken her shoes off. They seemed to be going the opposite route of the ponchos with the shoes. The boot was too small. I wondered about the brains involved in hashing out this setup but there was no time. The clock was running on this order that had now been in the basket for some time. I yanked my tennis shoe off and plunged my foot into the boot. It was an immediately regrettable action. The boot was full of water. The XL ponchos reached to the ground on most of us and dragged in the water. Then as we walked and the poncho lifted momentarily out of the water it deposited all the water dripping off of it directly into any boots or shoes beneath it. I pulled the boot off my now soaked foot and plunged my foot back into my tennis shoe. I was unhappy about this development as it meant i would have wet shoes for the following day’s shift. As i headed out to deliver the order in the last minute of my shift the head boss arrived with fresh baked cookies from bakery. Apparently we all remembered the supervisor telling us we couldn’t go to the car for our rain boots ahead of time and moral was at an all time low while the possibility of mutiny was high. The head boss sought to fix things with warm cookies. It seemed to work for most.

As i ran through the parking lot pushing the basket with one hand i held the poncho bunched about my waist with the other, hoping it would not drag against the ground and deposit the drippings in my shoes. I confirmed the customer’s order, loaded the groceries, closed the trunk, and headed back to the building. I waited to be dismissed. My supervisor did finally dismiss me. I put up my smart phone, took off the poncho and split. The storm had gained its second wind. I figured i’d shop for a bit and let it tucker itself out before making my way through the parking lot. I was supposed to go to my friend’s house in a neighboring town on the way home to pick up a bag of chick feed and return a borrowed pet taxi i had in the car. My friend invited me to stay for supper. So, i realized at this point that i had to go. It was already 6:30 and it would be at least a 30 minute drive. They would be waiting on me to start dinner. I gathered my groceries quickly and headed to the check out. When i made it to the exit doors the rain was sideways again and all three parking lots were completely flooded; the customer one and both employee ones to the side of the store. I knew i couldn’t go swimming, so to speak, because i wasn’t headed straight home. I was headed to Cindy’s. I sighed. There was only one thing to do; conquer my lifelong fear of umbrellas. We sold them in the store.

For anyone who hasnt heard the story, my fifth grade teacher was struck by lightening while walking from the school to the separate gym building holding an umbrella during a storm. The principle found her when she never came to get her class and insisted she go in the ambulance to the hospital to get checked out. They said she had been struck by lightening that was attracted to the metal umbrella and the only thing that saved her was that her arm was held at a perfect ninety degree angle at the moment she was struck. The electricity traveled from her elbow into the concrete sidewalk instead of continuing on to her heart. I literally never touched an umbrella again.

I returned to the store and grabbed a small black umbrella with polka dots. I tried to pick the smallest simplest one there was. I hoped against all odds that it would be entirely made of plastic. I went to the checkout and paid for it. I asked the cashier if he had scissors to cut the tag off and then remembered, silly me, i had a box cutter on my key chain. But at this point the teenage boy had decided his manhood was at stake and was going to hulk-style snap the plastic loop by pulling at it with his fingers. I kept telling him i had a box cutter but he just moved the umbrella further and further out of my reach as his face turned pink with effort. Finally the little plastic ring snapped. Social crisis averted i guess. I thanked him and made my way to the door as he flexed his muscles for the bagger that was decidedly unimpressed with his performance. A little tip; most girls value practicality and intelligence over brute shows of force. She did seem to pick up on the stupidity of holding up a whole line of customers so he could make a point that his biceps worked.

I zipped my phone and keys into my lunch box. I tied my wallet into a plastic grocery bag. I got ready to go out into the weather and then realized…i had never owned an umbrella. I wished they came with instructions. I wasn’t sure how to open one. I pushed, then pried and then tried pushing again, then searched for a button. None was found. Ultimately i had to approach a customer and ask her if she knew how to open an umbrella. She opened it right up for me. Apparently pulling was the motion required. She showed me how to anchor it open. I thanked her and departed. I drove the basket up on the sidewalk and made it as far as around the corner of the building. There i was met with a dismal scene. The rest of the sidewalk disappeared into murky rushing water. The street was flooded and the parking lots on either side of the street were flooded too. There was ankle deep water everywhere. There was nothing to do but wade through it. I took off my shoes and placed them in the baby seat of the grocery basket. I carefully plunged the front wheels of the basket off the sidewalk and into the water. Then the back wheels. I walked through the water pushing the basket in front of me in just my socks. About half way across the flooded street an suv sped past me at nearly 40 mph, kicking the water up so that it drenched myself and all of the groceries in the basket. The car very narrowly missed hitting the basket. I stood there dripping and blinking, holding my umbrella, “great. Just great. Thank you. Thank you very much *** ****.” I made it to the other side of the street and then pushed the basket through the parking lot to my car. I managed to get all the wet bags loaded inside and then i returned the basket to the basket dock. I trudged back to the car and folded up the umbrella. I made it and was only partially wet. The important thing was that the shoes were dry. I drove barefoot in the blinding rain all the way to Cindy’s. I couldn’t see anything and was beginning to worry i missed the exit, and then there it was. I made it to Cindy’s in time to eat supper with them. Cindy’s son Caleb said Grace and then we ate fish, squash, green beans, spinach and mushrooms, and cucumber salad. Cindy told me Caleb had walked in, took a look around, and asked if i was coming.” He said, “Yeah i’m a regular sherlock in that way. I see fish, squash, and vegetables. It’s not that hard to piece together.” Cindy and Caleb were the closest thing i had to family in the hill country. Cindy always fed me and gave me extra to take home and eat the following day. I was invited to all the family holidays, and Caleb never tired of beating us at puzzle or card games with his insane ability to keep track of how many of each piece had already been played. After supper Caleb would pick his teeth with a toothpick and Cindy would make tea and start mixing up the little wooden tiles of the qwirkle game. Caleb always drank whole milk with his supper and Cindy always made the vegetables in the same way. They were my little bit of normalcy. They were family and i loved them both immensely. After supper we watched a few episodes of pinky and the brain, a show i hadn’t seen since childhood. Then i had to go, as i had to study for an exam. I reluctantly said goodbye and headed on my way. Cindy of course made me a to-go pouch out of foil, which i much appreciated. She was an excellent cook. I saw a newborn fawn and a rainbow on the drive home. I hung my socks up to dry and salvaged what i could of the groceries.

Being around Cindy and Caleb had recharged my soul a bit. I felt human again. I wished i could have spent more time with them. I missed our nights of playing games on the kitchen table long into the night while nursing cups of peppermint or berry tea and chatting. I missed watching Caleb’s brilliant mind work effortlessly to build the word worth the most points or place each tile in the right spot to both prevent Cindy and i from making any headway and further his progress, reading his chapter book between turns while he waited for Cindy and i to finish strategizing. I missed Cindy telling me about work and what was going on in the world of healthcare i had left behind. I missed the feeling of peace within those walls. Going back to school in my thirties meant less time for everything. That was how it would have to be for a while. I decided the umbrella would be for low altitude use only…never on the property…too much risk of lightening.

A Basket full of Puppies

Busy busy busy! Everyone is timed! Everyone’s units per hour are compared. Go go go. Only so many employees on the floor. Orders coming due. Down to the minute now. 22 available spots for customers to park at any given time. During the rush 22 customers could show up at once with 3 to 6 of us to tend to them. Go. Run. Bag like the wind! Hurry. Busy. Go go go. Stopwatch. Smart phones. Calling you here and there on the intercom. No time to argue. Bananas without spots. Strawberry yogurts…zero on shelf 126 on hand. Run. Back. Back miraculously, 151 units per hour, 10 orders shopped and bagged. Take this cart. Bulk order, 12. 15 minutes. Yes ma’am…

Time stops. A grocery basket full of tiny puppies enters the room. Soft tiny puppies with velvety fur and little pink tongues. The tan ones are sleepy. I lift a brown and black one into my arms and cradle it against my chest. Its little tail wags and it licks my mask and chin repeatedly, showing its precious milk teeth. This tiny soft velvety puppy is wriggling beneath my fingers and i feel the profound majesty of new life. This little being is potential. This little being is the precursor to a dog, but in this moment, it is a soft helpless baby. It is new and precious and untainted…and unpotty trained of course. The girl pushing the basket asks who wants one. I do not raise my hand. Within minutes they have all been claimed. There is no shortage of people smitten with these beautiful yawning bundles of fur. I am still holding mr brown and black with the wiggly tail, trying feverishly to lick my chin through the mask. His ears brush against my skin and i could bust into tears at any moment in response to the sheer innocence of something that wants nothing more in life than to hold your attention. It doesnt want gold, it doesnt want diamonds, it doesn’t want a car. It just wants you to hold it and look at it and rub its ears….and clean up its wee. I placed the puppy back in the basket with its sisters. I stroked its tiny head one more time and then, though it killed me to trade such a creature for a cold metal cart, off i went for a bulk run. Busy busy busy. Everyone is timed. Orders coming due. Hustle hustle hustle.

Beauty of the Hill Country

When the light painted the clouds in the sky various colors it often painted the yard as well. All the land was awash with pink or yellow light and i couldn’t understand why anyone would ever want to live anywhere else. However, i was grateful they did because i didn’t desire a thousand neighbors in high-rise condos. It would’ve ruined the view.

Willow

I was so disappointed i hadn’t seen any orb weavers since last year. I began to fear that it would be another sparse year for my slender legged friends. During the first year on the property i had a whole squad of them. During the second year i spotted one female orb weaver and two male.

Summer was now in full swing. This was the time for them to emerge. I began to fear the worst. Then one morning around 3:30 am i was headed to work. I parked the car and got out to unlatch the gate. In the darkness, illuminated by the headlights i could see a web; a signature orb weaver web. It was located right where Wilma the weather spider used to make her web on the gate. I loved the golden orb weavers but the spotted orb weavers were my absolute favorite for their short stocky bodies and sometimes translucent red legs. They were less common around the homestead than the golden orb weavers but ever since Wilma, i’d never stopped looking. I held my breath as i hurried forward with the lantern to check. Yes!!!!!! It was indeed a spotted orb weaver! It was a female spotted orb weaver, brown and gray! It did not have red legs like my beautiful Wilma but it was a treasure nonetheless and i was beyond happy to see it. I dubbed her Willow, as a nod to the spider who used to make her web on the gate in just that spot. Every morning when i go to work Willow is in her web on the front gate and every morning i turn the headlights on her for a few minutes before unlatching the gate and driving through so disoriented insects can find their way into her sticky strands. I have a new buddy to protect from the mantises.

The Best Footage is the kind Witnessed First-hand.

When i was a child i would sit in front of the television and watch animal planet; a series of different informative shows about animals. you could watch dung beetles roll turd balls across the plains. You could watch puppies and kittens while a narrator spoke about different characteristics of the breed, weening timelines, and training techniques. You could watch wolves stalking deer. There were even reptile shows. As an adult i can see all of those things without the middleman; the television. Being in a wide open wild space feeds my soul, and i’m not alone. All around me there are cardinals, jack rabbits, buzzards, armadillos, hawks, road runners, owls, foxes, deer, toads, lizards, possums, crickets, whippoorwills, agricultural termites, raccoons, coyotes, dung beetles, cicadas, and spiders. It’s the best footage available to watch captured with the best camera at one’s disposal; the eyeball.

Afternoon Storm

I had just finished an online tutoring session. i had been so focused on studying for the upcoming exam and getting these multi-day projects done by the looming deadline that i had neglected to shower and i didn’t smell pretty anymore. With the studying and the projects in a better spot, i decided i could take the time to have a shower. Nature had other plans. The dogs were outside in the fenced dog run. I was a few minutes into the shower when i heard the water pressure become unusually forceful…and then realized it wasn’t the water falling in the shower. It was the water falling on the roof. It had begun pouring outside without a bit of warning. One minute it was partly sunny. The next minute it was pouring outside and the sky was dark gray. To one side of the house you could actually still see bright blue sky all throughout the storm. I thought about leaving the dogs out there and finishing my shower. It had been months since they had a bath and sili was so dirty she had turned the cream colored comforter on the bed to a brown one. They might really benefit from a nature given bath. Then it began to pour harder and i knew i couldnt take the chance that the storm would come packing lightening. I wrapped a towel around myself and ran through the yard in flip flops motioning for the dogs to come to the gate. They were huddled under a cedar tree at the far end of the dog run. I let them out of the run and told them to make for the house. As i did so the rain increased again. They ended up getting mud baths more than anything that would have cleansed them. I also got a mud bath. the dogs kicked up mud that splattered across my legs as they ran past me to the porch. So much for getting clean. The system did end up equipped with lightening and i unplugged the dog fence and internet for the duration of the little storm. I used one of the left over chicken run panels to erect a baby gate between the bathroom and the computer so that Cashew could not stand directly against my legs and on my feet with her muddy self during the lightening and thunder. Both dogs were happy to be indoors and made no protest that they should be returned outside to play.

It would rain off and on all day. Little blips would build from nothing on the radar and arrive with short lived fury. In this way i filled the rain collection tubs. It was a long day of unplugging and replugging everything in the house around the coming and going of storms.

Misfits Market

Plums

Well, at some point the food delivery service i was using became too expensive for me to afford. They offered no explanation as to why the prices had gone up and when i inquired, they had no comment as to the reason but suggested i check out their low income options, which upon investigation were not what i was looking for. I was also frustrated with the company’s ideas on packing. The food was not snuggly packed or protected and so it was smashing into each other when the box was jostled by fedex and thus arriving pulverized. Items were frequently missing from the order as well. So i quit the service. It was several months before i was notified that a similar service had recently expanded their reach to Texas. Misfits Market was here! Look at this beautiful produce and tell me if you can figure out what’s wrong with it. I can’t. Sometimes its the wrong color, sometimes its the wrong size, but it’s all beautiful and tasty to me. I got 15 dollars off my first order so i did put a ton of items in the basket during the first week. Every week after that i paid attention to what was on sale and just ordered those items but the service gave me an opportunity to have access to a wide variety of different organic foods that were at peak level of ripeness. I was excited for the variety.

Plums, strawberries, purple sweet potatoes, and gluten free bagels with cashew cream cheese (breakfast)
Chickpea/tapioca pasta with hand chopped brussels sprouts
Grapes
Balsamic garlic marinated roasted yellow squash and portobello mushrooms
Fresh black eyed peas from the grocery with chopped tomatoes and tuscan kale from the delivery service.

Jewelry

During 2020 there was a shortage of hand soap worldwide. In the United States companies that normally made paint, car parts, or tequila were approved to begin manufacturing hand soap. However, they had to stick to a strict recipe and were not allowed to put in any additives like aloe vera that would cause it to gel. So the hand soap was liquid and it stank of chemicals. I was not sure what was in it but i used it for over a year. It was all i could get my hands on. There was no normal soap. The soap turned all of my jewelry black. Anything it touched turned black…my rings, a necklace chain it splashed on…when it touched my bracelet i hurried to rinse and wipe it, hoping to save it from the same fate. The soap turned my hands brown. The pigment would collect in the lines and creases of my hands and they would look as if someone had taken a brown pen and drawn in all the creases of my hands. I wasn’t sure why this was happening either but it wouldn’t wash off unless scrubbed vigorously with the hard textured side of a sponge and dish washing soap for a good 3 to 4 minutes. This often left my hands raw and bleeding so i frequently just let them be brown.

Now that i no longer work in healthcare, i dont have brown hands anymore but my jewelry is still tinged black as if its been burnt by fire. I thought about buying all sorts of products to see if i could get my rings silver and shiny again. However, i recognized that it would probably be a waste. My knuckles had become swollen and arthritic since i was infected and i hadn’t worn my rings in nearly a year. I sat in the bathroom next to my jewelry box and tried one on. It went over the knuckle to slide onto my finger just fine. However, my fears were realized when i attempted to pull it off. It was thoroughly stuck. The more i pulled and pried, the more swollen my knuckle became. I stood at the sink and ran my hand under some cold water. I waited for the swelling to subside under the cold water but it didn’t appear to be doing so. I was about to go for the olive oil when the ring budged a bit. I realized there was some give and i twisted and yanked the ring hard. The ring shot across the room and i had to fish it from beneath the cabinet on my hands and knees. I rinsed the dust off of it and put it back in my jewelry box. I didn’t feel like resizing all my rings, figuring out how to recover their regular appearance, and still having to worry about how temperature and weather would affect the amount of swelling in my knuckles. It was just easier not to wear rings.

Trouble at the Walmart

i went to town because i needed snacks for cramming for an exam. I needed a bag of chips…something i could just be mindlessly shoveling into my mouth one by one so that i was always chewing while i was memorizing. It helped the information stick in my memory and the tasty food kept me happy so that i wasn’t upset i had to cram for 6 to 8 hours straight. However, the kind of chips with 40 percent less fat were sold in town, not at the gas station where i lived. It was a thirty minute drive there and another thirty minute drive back. It had to be done. I didn’t want to go to the grocery i worked at because originally i was supposed to work today but my comrade took my shift so i could study for this exam. I felt it would be disrespectful to her to show up now as a customer when she’d sacrificed so i could be at home. So i went to walmart. I gathered a couple snacks and headed for the checkout. I wasn’t sure if the self checkout was on at the other side of the store. I couldn’t see that far without my glasses. I had parked at the other side of the store so i contemplated walking over there to check out on the other end, but i didn’t. I went to the self checkout in front of me. There was a man ranting at the walmart attendant standing near the self checkout. He was talking about how walmart didnt want to spend the money to put more registers in the self checkout even though there was room for one more because they were so cheap they were saving money. At first i thought he was just a disgruntled customer being an ass. I figured he probably tried to checkout and the registers were full and he was mad he had to wait in line….but there were several registers available. He was shouting and every muscle in his body was tensed. He was very animated and wired. He was babbling on about random things, switching from one topic to another without warning and throwing his hands in the air as he spoke. I quickly recognized narcotics were likely at play here. The city nearest my town was known for drugs. Nearly everyone i knew had had a problem at one point in the past. They were easily obtainable in an area that made and sold a wide variety of stimulants. So here he was on a likely drug fueled rant throwing his arms in the air and dancing around the walmart self checkout area shouting in what i’m sure he thought was an indoor voice in the state he was in. His clothes were faded and had dirt and sweat stains on them. His hair was disheveled. I recognized that it was time for me to go. I was disappointed with walmart’s response to the situation. Had we been in the grocery i worked at, we were all trained monthly in what to do in a situation such as this. The employee nearest to him would remain and try to pull the man over to the side, hear what he had to say, empathize with him, put some distance between him and the other customers, try to validate his feelings and defuse the situation. The employee would signal discretely to the employee nearest him or her to call the manager. in order to refrain from further upsetting the animated person causing a scene, the employee attending to him or her would not be the one to make the call. The manager would arrive and offer to speak with the customer privately and represent that the store valued them as a customer and wanted above all else to come to a resolution that would benefit all and ensure that the customer was a continued customer. The animated customer would be further shuttled away from the other customers bit by bit. Either the manager would be able to defuse the situation and bring about resolution or the customer would be spoken with by the manager until the police arrived to further handle the situation. Walmart employees apparently did not receive this same training. The attendant stood still and tried her best to ignore him. When she became uncomfortable she crossed the checkout area and stood on the other side for a bit before returning to her post but nobody was called. The customers were on their own when he began interacting with them. Void of all weapons i made a decision to check out quick and get to my car. In my opinion the man was on a stimulant…rash behavior, copious amounts of energy, and an artificially high tolerance for pain could be expected. I wanted no piece of this.

Out of the corner of my eye i noted an elderly gentleman in suspenders assisting his wife on her scooter to ring items up. She appeared to have some cognitive difficulties but he was still letting her scan the items. He put them in her hand one by one and motioned as she followed his gesture and slid the item across the metal platform to be scanned. He had turned around and said to the animated man, “why don’t you just calm down a bit okay?” I cringed. I wanted to help the elderly man but i wasn’t willing to take on a 6 foot man on stimulants without any weapons at my disposal. I wished the man hadn’t said that. In all honesty, i wasn’t sure what i was going to do. I wasn’t sure if i would be able to stand by and watch him harm the old man. I might have to get involved. As i turned around to face the situation i was hearing the young man shout at the elderly man as he bounced on his feet, “you wanna go? Come on lets go! You’re a yankee, i already know it! I can feel it! You’re a yankee, you wanna run your mouth, let’s go!” The elderly man waved his hand in the air, “no, no, i don’t want any trouble.” The younger man said, “well then maybe you should shut up!” The elderly man, in a voice full of complete and utter defeat said, “you’re right. You’re right.” The young man bounced back to the walmart attendant who was standing stoic next to a pole, “i know i’m right! At least i hope i’m right. You think i’m right?!” The woman in the walmart vest nodded her head that she agreed. i was heart broken for the elderly man. I understood what had just happened. In his day he would have smashed the younger man’s face in or at least pinned him to the ground until the cops arrived to cuff him; depending on how many drugs he had done, maybe just given him a good fight…but now, hunched over in his frail state, with his wife depending on him for cognitive function, he had neither the means nor the luxury of taking on this unruly young man. He was reminded of that by the pompous drug crazed idiot and he had to hang his head and admit that he couldn’t take him at this stage in his life. I knew from my years spent treating the elderly that this was a knife wound far deeper than any physical object could inflict. My female patients always envisioned themselves being crotchety old grandmas giving everybody heck and doting on grand babies in their golden years. My male patients somehow always envisioned they’d remain 20 forever, even when they knew they were in their 40s. They still felt and thought they were 20 year old men. I could see that it had taken all the wind out of the old man in suspenders and he was ashamed that he had no choice but to back down. In his day he would have said something different. I wanted desperately to right the situation, to punish the guy for the hurt he’d caused the old man. However, i was not going to take the guy on myself. If you want to fight somebody, just for your knowledge, picking someone on stimulants is not the right way to go. They develop super human strength and they feel no pain. You could literally break a chair over their head and they’d keep coming like it was a gentle breeze that barely registered. I gathered my groceries and left for the car as i heard a middle aged woman telling her earpiece to her phone that there was a crazy man on drugs flipping out in the walmart self checkout.

A Psychedelic Experience

I saw the storm approaching on the radar around 11. I heard the thunder in the distance. It looked like we were going to get hit hard. There was a thin line of storms on the radar but it was all red with an outline of yellow. I immediately ran around the room unplugging everything that could possibly call the attention of lightening. The dog fence was deactivated. The internet was disconnected. I placed the lantern next to my bed. I knew i’d need it shortly and i wished to save myself the trouble of finding it in the dark. I didn’t even brush my teeth. I knew it would be a doozy and it would probably be pretty hard to sleep if it sounded like the house might come down, so i figured i had better try to get a good thirty minutes of shut eye before it arrived. Cashew heard the thunder in the distance and was panicking now. I ushered her reluctantly into her crate. Sili waited impatiently for the invitation and then climbed into my bed, tucking her tail and hiding in the covers as i zipped her in the mosquito net tent. I held Sili and stroked her fur while telling Cashew, “you’re okay. Everything’s unplugged. You’re fine. It’s okay.” This worked while i was awake but when i drifted off to sleep Cashew stopped hearing my voice and began whining and barking. I managed to get about 40 minutes of sleep before the storm woke me. I could hear the refrigerator and a/c unit running and see the clock lit up on the oven so i knew the power was still on. The rain was hitting the roof and the side of the house. There was a lot of lightening. There was also a fair amount of wind whipping the rain against the side of the house and rattling the windows with each gust. At 12:40 am i heard the refrigerator motor click off and all went quiet. The clock on the oven was no longer visible. The power was out. It was pouring outside and had been with merciless intensity for the entirety of the storm. The wind was whipping the rain sideways and i could hear the water trickling into the house around the edges of the window unit. I wanted to go place paper towels in the problem spots and see how bad the situation was but the sheer amount of lightening stopped me. The hairs on my arms stood on end and i had the feeling that we were some place we weren’t supposed to be. There was so much lightening it hurt to keep my eyes open. It was as if i was living in a strobe light or an eternal red carpet experience where the paparazzi call to celebrities “over here, over here” while flashing bright lights thousands of times in their faces. Cashew was absolutely howling and turning round in her crate repeatedly. Sili was burying her nose under my arm and hiding in the blankets. I hadn’t seen this behavior from her and i found it intriguing. She was normally the brave one in storms. I entertained the idea that the lightening just may have been too prolific for her. She seemed to want a break from the strobe effect. She pushed her head under my arm and then under my torso and tried to hide beneath the comforter. I covered her head with the blanket and tucked her against me, “you’re okay.” I could hear the water coming in the house, the walls creaking, the windows rattling with each gust of wind, and i heard a bucket being tossed across the yard. I wouldn’t realize until the morning that the tub we used as a mailbox was also being tossed across the yard and would be found 50 feet from where it should have been, upside down and covered in mud. All of these things were concerning to me and yet, i remained glued to my bed. The lightening had become so frequent and so rapid that i was having some sort of psychedelic experience. I could see everything in my tiny house. The lightening was lighting the room, only taking a break for a brief fraction of a second before returning. I could see where everything was and also was losing sight of everything for a nanosecond each fraction of a second. It felt as if we were stuck inside a rave party of lightening. The flashes were in such rapid succession that i could no longer make sense of the fact that we had no power and were in darkness, because we weren’t in darkness. For about twenty minutes the lightening was so prolific that i don’t think there was ever 1 full second of darkness. I tried to check by counting “1 Mississippi” but i never made it to “ippi”. I didn’t move from where i lay in the bed and i prayed. I prayed to the Lord to protect the homestead from lightening, fires, tornados, high winds, hail, and especially lightening. I prayed continuously until the lightening became more evenly spaced; a flash here, a flash there. Sili tucked her head in my armpit and breathed a sigh of relief. I checked the radar on my phone and saw that the storm was now moving away from us and we had been through the worst of it. I drifted off to sleep while stroking Sili’s ear.

At 3 am my alarm went off and i awoke to darkness and silence. The storm was gone but the damage had been done. The power was still off. I pushed the button on the lantern and navigated to the kitchen for meds. After i took my morning meds i went to brush my teeth. I had forgotten to put the potatoes in the fridge and noted this was a good thing considering i wouldn’t be able to open the fridge door to retrieve food until they turned the power back on. I was thinking about how i was going to make sure i got everything clean with the floss and toothbrush, not being able to see what i was doing in the mirror, when the lights cut on, the a/c unit roared to life, and then cut off again. Within the next 2 minutes there was this type of false start two more times. On – off, power up – power down. The lights flicked on again and this time they stayed on. I brushed my teeth and charged my phone. I went back to sleep a couple hours and woke up again. I spent a couple hours showering, putting my uniform on, doing my hair and makeup, packing a lunch, readying the homestead for my departure, putting tea tree oil on my feet and donning my work shoes…my team leader called and said they were cutting hours and i could have the day off. My brain didn’t immediately process what was happening. I continued to get ready for work after hanging up the phone. Then i stopped and took everything off, laying my clothes and socks and shoes out to be used for the next day of work. I put my pajamas back on, wiped off my makeup, took the clips out of my hair, let the dogs into the dog run with a bowl of water, and sat down in the rocking chair to write this and focus on school work on my computer. It was a strange time of day to start school work; noon, but, that was just the way the cookie crumbled. I thought back to the night before. It felt like Sili and i had gone through some psychedelic light experience. At one point i looked at her and noticed she was looking at me. We were both watching each other, made visible only by the lightening. It felt like our bed was a boat in an ocean of electricity and i was sure that we ought not leave it but wasn’t positive we were safe within it. It was a trippy night.