Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Girl's Day Out and A Night of Storm Chasing

Since the first grade (1964)  I have been blessed with four very good friends.  We graduated in 1976 and attended each other's weddings and celebrated the births and trials and tribulations of raising all nine of our respective children from infancy to adulthood.  We shared our marriage joys and difficulties, widowhood, remarriages, loss of some of our parents, and health issues and now, in 2010, the pangs of empty nesting,  menopause and hope for the new chapters in our lives to come.

Are we 'Desperate Housewives'?  Well, I doubt anyone would write a TV show for us, but like anyone else's life, we have seen our share of elation and desperation.   Over parts and parcels of the 46 years I've known these women, we've all been either full-time in the work force, or full-time homemakers or part-time employees; it varied with children's ages, spousal situations and medical conditions.  Right now, two of us (I'm one) is full-time at home, one is a full-time employee and also has several side jobs, one is a part-time employee and one (who lives out of state)  is recovering from some major health issues.

After graduation, we all sort of drifted, though three of us live within less than ten miles of each other.   Oh, we kept in touch with the Christmas cards and letters occasionally, but being busy building families and careers and marriages put our friendships on back burners.  We did all go out one night in the early 1980's sans spouses and children and vowed we should do it more often, but life's demands got in the way.  Sporadic visits here and there were about all we managed, unless there was a tragedy in one of our lives and then we did our best to be supportive of each other.  I don't know how I could have made it through my father's funeral without my friends being there.

For the last five years or so around Christmas time we made a real effort to have a 'girl's day out' where we met for lunch and then drove the restaurant staff crazy with our yakking for hours.  If it was busy in the restaurant, we would meet at one of our homes and continue the gab-fest there.  Not every one of us can attend every time, but we do the best we can, and these days are greatly treasured by me.

We don't usually get together in the spring, but one of our group (who is an AVID gardener) had surgery two weeks ago and the two of us who are not working full-time asked her  if she would like to take a little field trip to a greenhouse.  She was all for it!

So, today after doing my morning chores with the dogs, chickens, cat and green house plants and bloodwork at Aurora (which, by the way, went off without a hitch.....I was very favorably impressed!) I took off for the rest of the day, leaving a garden in need of work and a house in need of MORE work than the garden and didn't even feel guilty.  Well, not tooooo guilty.  Ok, a little bit.  

We met at her house this morning and toured her beautiful gardens with enough spring bloom to make anyone envious ( so beautiful) and then drove to a very nice restaurant overlooking the Duck Creek for lunch.  We arrived at the restaurant just before noon, but didn't leave there until nearly 3PM (you guessed it, yakking!) to go to the first greenhouse on our trip.  One greenhouse ended up being two before the day was over and even our non-certified garden nut bought something.  We parted with hugs and promises to do this again soon, and I'm sure we will.  We don't talk to each other every day or even every month for that matter,  but we know help, comfort or humor is only a phone call away. 

Today was sunny and beautiful while I was out and about with the 'girls', but when I got home dark clouds were on the horizon west of us.  We ate a light supper and watched the radar as the storm approached and listened to all the ominous tornado/severe thunderstorm warnings until it looked like the storm was slacking off a bit; then we started watching something online and kind of forgot about the weather.  Joel was trying to take pictures of lightning from the living room until he received a phone call from a work colleague asking him if he was out storm-chasing as the weather had gone from a tornado watch to a warning.

What!?  Here we had stopped watching TV and the storm had intensified. 

Joel and I were out on the road in the 1989 Oldsmobile in less than five minutes, chasing the storm.  (Don't want to take a newer car due to the possibility of hail, ya know!)  Now before anyone gets a bit upset here, we don't head directly into a storm or get in the way of emergency personnel or try to get in the way of a tornado itself---- Joel's goal is to tag along behind a storm or be in front of one to photograph whatever phenomenon there is, with lightning being a specialty, and then get the heck out of Dodge.  I don't always go along, but if I need an adrenaline rush, this is one way to acquire one.

We did run into heavy rain and wind at times, but other than that, the storm out ran us.  Still, it was a lot of fun, especially around 10PM when we got turned around and nearly headed back to Manitowoc in a heavy downpour.  We got home, safe and sound, around 11PM.

Storm approaches our house from west

This was the view just before sunset---we were lucky...

I will write a post about Joel's success with lightning pictures when I'm more wide awake, but right now, it's time to see what's going on outside, because the wind is picking up and by golly, is that lightning again???

Hoping not to wake up in Oz,

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