I was in Arkansas until Wednesday this week. The plan was that I would get on a plane at XNA at 11:30 and arrive in Indianapolis by 5:00. Fortunately, or unfortunately, this is not how it worked.
I did leave XNA at 11:30. Despite a late boarding, my plane took off in time and I arrived in Memphis where I was to make a connecting flight at 1:30. The plane was set to leave at 2:30 and after eating a bagel from Starbucks and worrying about another late boarding and also tornados that were hitting Missouri, again I boarded the plane. We waited as the stewardess went through the usual instructions about exits and seat belts...I was reading and my seat-mate already fell asleep. The window was closed, so neither of us could tell what was going on outside. After about 20 minutes, she woke up and asked whether we had taken off. I didn't think so and opened the window. We were on the ground and still at the gate (actually, we soon learned, we had moved about 3 gates down from A18 to A15) Another few minutes went by and the captain came over the loudspeakers..."We're sorry folks there is a small mechanical problem with the plane. We're going to let you wait in the terminal while it is fixed." Great. Back off the plane...back into the airport...call my ride to tell them I would be late...read my book a while...talk to the other passengers...buy some candy and a pop...We waited in the terminal for about 3 hours.
Meanwhile, the weather was getting worse. Major storms were headed for both Indy and Memphis. Everyone was worried. Would our flight be canceled? Finally, it looked like there was a clearing between the two storm fronts hitting Indiana. We waited expectantly while the pilot talked to the stewardess. Everyone agreed we would RUN onto that plane and have the fastest boarding time on record, if they would just get us home!
At about 6 O'clock the announcement we were waiting for finally came. Flight 8152 with full service to Indianapolis is boarding...we DID hurry. Allen once told me that for good luck, you are always supposed to touch the outside of the airplane as you board. I've always done it since. I also prayed that we would be safe from the storms and that the plane would take off quickly.
The important half of that prayer was answered yes. After we all rushed onto the plane, the captain again came over the loudspeakers and announced that the runway was closed because of lightening. It would only open 15 minutes after the last lightening strike that was closer than five miles away. Also, the stewardess who came around offering water and pretzels explained that since we were already 3 1/2 hours late, that we were on the bottom of the list to take off. Meanwhile, the Memphis storm worsened.
Historically, I have never been very afraid of storms. My mom has always been cautious and woken us up to move us into the bathroom with pillows and blankets when threats came. But if I was allowed, I preferred to be at the door with my dad. Feeling the wind, watching the lightening and hail, and listening to the thunder. I used to love storms. But Wednesday night was only 3 nights after the Joplin tornado. It had leveled the town and killed a hundred people just 60 miles north of us. Seeing the pictures and videos of a place that I have driven through many times, a place where I actually knew people had scared me.
As mom and I stood in line to give blood on Tuesday, I heard stories of survival and stories of death. These stories ran through my head as the storm hit Memphis while I sat on the plane. I frantically dialed Allen's number wishing for some comfort. My seat mate had an Ipod and we watched the radar. There was no indication of tornados, just wind, rain, lightening, and thunder. However, as the plane started rocking in the storm, I was scared and again silently prayed for safety and comfort.
Finally, at 8 Memphis time, the storms past and we were cleared for take-off. The radar on my seat mates Ipod said that the storms were right over Indiana, but the flight was supposed to take an hour and a half and we hoped they would be past. I talked to Allen and he said it was very stormy and that he would wait at our friend's house who had a basement until I called.
We cheered as the plane finally left the ground, 5 1/2 hours late. However, I soon regretted those cheers. On the first flight from XNA to Memphis that morning, my captain had said that we might hit some turbulence and that it would be no worse than riding in a pick-up down a dirt road. Really, the turbulence on the flight from Memphis to Indy was probably no worse than what that captain had described. But, when you are flying at 10,000 feet, the bumps are a whole lot scarier than when you are on the ground. I prayed during the rough areas and I tried to keep my mind on my book during the calm times. We didn't even have drink/food service. It was that rough.
Thanks to a good pilot and probably a couple of angels, we finally made it safely into Indy at about midnight. Our plane was supposed to have arrived at 5 PM, so it was 7 hours late, but I could only be thankful and exhausted. Allen headed out to get me as soon as I called. He had been watching the radar with our air traffic controller friend and new exactly where the plane was, but he couldn't leave Bloomington any earlier because they had been dealing with weather of their own. A tornado hit the town at 10:30, demolishing a trailer park, knocking over two semi trucks in the Wal-Mart parking lot, taking the roof off of Sams, and snapping several hundred year old trees. Thankfully, no one was killed. We had flown over it.
I was very glad to get home with Allen and to hug my Pepsi Wednesday night. Our apartment had no power when we finally made it at 2:30 in the morning, but I felt safe at home. God watched over and protected me and Allen. We can only pray for others who lost so much this week. Its a reminder not to take life for granted, but also a reminder of our powerful God who controls all the storms of life.
"Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
29He made the storm be still,
and the waves of the sea were hushed.
30Then they were glad that the waterswere quiet,
and he brought them to their desired haven.
31Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man"
Truck flipped in the parking lot of Wal-Mart a 1/2 mile from our apartment.
In honor of the weather and also my family who loves A. A. Milne:
...So the Hundred Acre Wood got floodier and floodier. But the waer couldn't come up to Christopher Robin's house, so that's where everyone was gathered. It was a time of great excitement, but in the midst of all the excitement, Eeyore stubbornly stuck to his task of house hunting for Owl...
I'm in Arkansas for a week and ALOT has been going on. My brother, John Isaac, graduated from high school on Friday night and my mom and dad's 30th anniversary is today. We partied all weekend, AND we've been dealing with major storms. Friday, John's graduation was at the University of Arkansas at 5PM. I need to write sometime about how it makes me feel to see him graduate, but that's for another post.
This is the story of what happened about 10 minutes after graduation. We left the stadium and quickly found John, snapped a few photos, and worried about the quickly darkening sky. It was angry looking, a storm was imminent. Dad said he was going for the car and just as he left, the clouds BROKE! Rain poured down on the graduates and their families. Everyone (about 1000 people rushed into a 100 square foot area under the awning of the stadium. We couldn't get back into the building because everyone was trying to get out. The other high school in Rogers was graduating an hour after the Mounties and they were also trying to get in. It was a MESS. Rain was gushing down at the edges of the crowd and Rachel, mom, and I were crushed together with two high school's worth of graduates and their families. The poor people at the edge of the crowd were drenched. The heavy rain lasted about 15 minutes and meanwhile dad and Nathan drove the van around to meet us. We managed to stay relatively dry, but other poor people didn't. We had several friends coming for the War Eagle (other high school in Rogers) graduation that had to walk across the stage drenched. It was two graduations to remember.
This flood of excitement reminded me of a time a couple of years ago that Allen and I got completely soaked by heavy rains in Rogers. We were living about a mile from my parents in a duplex. We had moved in at the end of June and as soon as everything was settled, our place flooded. We woke up on the Fourth of July to wet carpet and an inch of water in our linoleum kitchen. Luckily, there was not too much damage to our possessions and our kind landlord, who lived in the next door duplex took care of drying the carpet. We decided the flood had been caused by his landscaping efforts in our backyard and also a lack of guttering. He assured us that the next heavy rain would not enter our place because he got a pump to divert the water from the corner where it had entered. We were confident in his promises and waited for the next rain without worry.
It came about 2 weeks later. Our landlord was home and he set up the pump while I started to make dinner. I was frying eggs and walked out our back door to check the flood level at about seven. A waterfall was coming off the edge of the house where the roof made a V with itself. This worried me slightly, but I knew the pump should keep the water away from the porch. About 10 minutes later I again went to check the water. By this time there was a small lake in our backyard and the deepest part was about an inch away from our foundation.
Allen! I called, I don't think this is working! We knocked on our landlord's door and he too came to check the situation. Meanwhile, the water was creeping higher and higher. When it was 1/2 and inch from the top of the foundation, we decided we better do something. Someone decided to use the 10 gallon trashcans (we had two, one for us and one for the landlord) to catch the waterfall off the roof and dump it into the ditch about 10 feet from the house. We hoped that we could move enough water to divert it from coming over the top of the foundation. Allen and the landlord worked at this for about 5 minutes, but the water kept rising! I got all my towels and put them in the corner where the water would enter...but they started to get wet, so I decided I better help with the trashcan brigade. I ran to the next door neighbors and stole their trashcan.
Actually, I say that I ran, but it was more like swimming/sprinting. The water in the yard between our houses was at least 6 inches deep and the mud was deeper than that. It was also lightening and thundering, but we were much to worried about diverting the flood than getting struck. I drug the trashcan back to our place and our landlord's girlfriend also entered the battle against the flood. Neither she, nor I were strong enough to dump 10 gallons of water, but together we could fill it (it took about 20 seconds if you want to know just how much water we were dealing with) and then we both drug it to the ditch and dumped it.
I really wish that we had a video of that night because we must have looked ridiculous. 4 grown adults with 3 ten gallon trashcans catching a huge waterfall and dumping it into a ditch! We all looked like we had jumped in the lake and we probably should have just given up, but we had already cleaned one flood out of the carpet and nobody wanted to deal with another.
With all of our efforts, we were keeping the water at bay, but it was not receding to a comfortable level, and the rain was certainly not stopping. It kept raining and raining. We were also getting tired. Finally, I decided that a new plan must be thought of and in desperation I called my dad. Mom answered. I NEED DAD OVER HERE RIGHT NOW!!! OUR HOUSE IS FLOODING! She probably thought I was crazy, but dad came in about 5 minutes. He also helped with the water brigade for a few minutes, but being an engineer, he quickly thought of the new plan that we needed.
We'll make a new ditch, he said. This ditch will allow the water to flow away from the house and into the other ditch (which was now more of a river with all the rain and also our help from the trashcans). The BAD news was that nobody had a shovel, and it wasn't like we had time to run to Wal-Mart, but the GOOD news was the the ground was basically a swamp. Allen, dad, and our landlord got on the hands and knees (good thing they didn't drowned!) and dug the ditch. It took about 5 minutes, meanwhile the girlfriend and I continued the trashcan brigade, but immediately the water started flowing and a new creek formed. The water was still pouring down the waterfall off the duplex, but now it was being diverted from the foundation and into the ditch. Hurray for ingenuity and engineers!!
Our duplex didn't not get more than a little wet that night. I did have to wash all my towels, but the water did not make it to the carpet. We also returned the neighbor's trashcan. I don't think they ever knew I had it.
I will write about the rest of my stay in Arkansas later. Its been exciting. There has been hallway/bathtub tornado experiences.
"For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over thatsheepthan over the ninety-nine that did not go astray"
Today I attended a watercolor class at church and it made me miss my old existence as an artist's wife. A few years ago I mused about writing one of those books..."you know you're an artist's wife if...." I regularly found paint in my freezer, glue in the fridge, and an entire potter's wheel, complete with the mud, in my back bedroom. Remnants of that life, of course, still survive to this day. We are inundated with art books, supplies, and of course art itself.... Everyone who has seen our apartment knows that we have little room to cram any more "art" things, yet we still search for and collect more.
To myself, this post sounds wistful and maybe I do find it somewhat sad...
So, I will tell you a funny and happy story that happened on one of our art adventures to make you smile:
Allen and I traveled to Rome when while we were in college. We were married and Allen wanted to go with the art department. I just tagged along, but of course enjoyed every second of it, maybe more than the art students. So, we were there for a couple of days, and we were staying probably 5-6 miles away from the actual tourist destinations. Every day we rode a streetcar to a station closer to whatever we wanted to visit and then we would either walk, or ride something else to our final destination.
This particular day we toured the Vatican. It was amazing and beautiful, beginning with Raphael's painting of the Ascension of Christ and ending with Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. You can't imagine how large the collection of the Vatican and how much there is to take in, unless you experience it yourself. It is breathtaking and exhausting.
So, after spending probably 8 hours touring some of the greatest art of the world, Allen and I were ready to make the trip back to our hotel bed to eat some delicious Italian bread and cheese and to watch either the BBC or MTV (those were our only two channel options in English) ;)
We climbed aboard a bus and relaxed thinking that soon we would be back at our station, climb aboard our own streetcar, and find our way home. Maybe we might even stop for some gelato! So, as the bus started to drive away from the Vatican I began to recognize sites that we had already toured previously.
We passed the Roman Forum
And the Pyramid
When I saw the Pyramid I started to panic. ALLEN WE'RE GOING THE WRONG WAY!!! He agreed, but we were afraid to get off at that point because we didn't know that we would get back. We were hoping that this bus would simply loop back to the Vatican and that we could find our bearings and get on the CORRECT bus to take us home.
So we rode, and we rode, and we rode, and we rode.
We crossed a train yard, which for the entire month that I was in Italy, I never saw again after this day. We rode so far that all the other tourists were gone. This was real Italy now. Sink or swim, we were going to find out if we could make it.
(Now: Let me interject into the story to tell any would be travelers who are getting worried and deciding that they better just stay in the states where they can ask directions in English, that we could have gotten off of this bus at ANY time and made it back to where we wanted to go. Basically, all you have to do is find one destination that you recognize, such as the Pyramid, Colloseum, Vatican, etc...then get on a bus that stops by its sign. It will take you straight there and those touristy places can always get you straightened out and on the right path again. We simply did not know this yet because we had only been in Italy a couple of days and no one had explained it to us.)
So, back to the bus and me freaking out more and more. Eventually, we came to a stop. The bus didn't keep going in a circle like we hoped, it just STOPPED. EVERYONE, INCLUDING THE DRIVER! got off and abandoned us!! D: D: D:
I remember we were next to a small soccer field and there were kids playing. It was probably completely safe and nice neighborhood, but I was at the point that I believed we would either be kidnapped or lost forever and I would never see home again. I started crying and panicking and Allen told me in a whisper to stop or we would get mugged (alot of good that did ;) Then he said here, draw.
We were drawing everything while we were there. Sketchbooks were at a constant ready. My sketch from that moment is hilarious and I will have to post it sometime because I was so freaked out that I simply drew exactly what was in front of me which was a pole that held the bus together. Its really a funny drawing.
So...we sat on the completely empty bus, looking like idiots....hoping against hope that maybe possibly we hadn't ridden the last round of the day and were stuck where we were. We sat there for quite a while (probably 15 minutes that felt like 2 hours) But, finally, the bus driver came back. He had probably gone to eat dinner and came back wondering why the two crazy American tourists were still planted in his back seat with terror in their eyes. We started driving again, which was a comfort, although we could have been going to Timbuktu for all we knew. Eventually, we again began to recognize sites and after a few hours after happily climbing onto the bus, we joyfully exited it back at the Vatican.
Its funny how situations that seem horrible or scary can turn into wonderful adventures once you are looking back at them from the safety of your comfort zone. Its good to have the memories.
Although circumstances change, I am glad I'm still an artist's wife. I'm also glad that the watercolor class reminded me of this today. :) Its a happy existence, full of intrigue and uncertainity, but also full of stories and fun.
Today is my dad's birthday and I wanted to write this in honor of him:
A couple of my earliest memories involve my dad and some then horrifying, but now hilarious situations.
The first involves my favorite stuffed animal at the time, Snowball. She was a white cat with a long tail that I carried around, petted, and treated like a real cat. I'm pretty sure Anna and I even did a couple of veterinary surgeries and saved her life several times! So, picture our little family hanging out in the living room (I'm pretty sure only Anna, Ben, and I had been born at this point) and my dad was playing with my cat. I don't know what he was doing, but he must have been throwing my cat up pretty high in the air because all of a sudden, Snowball was hanging from, and being dragged in a circle by the ceiling fan D: I was horrified. But dad, always the hero quickly jumped to his feet! turned off the blades! and rescued her, unscathed. We probably even did a little exploratory surgery just to make sure. ;)
The second of my early memories involves me, Anna, and Dad along with a Red Rider wagon. It was a real Red Rider (metal, not plastic). We spent many hours of enjoyment leisurely dragging each other around with this wagon, but tonight was not leisurely. My memory is of us barreling down the street. Dad had rigged it so that he could hold a rope and pull, while my 6-7 year old self could hold the handle (turned backwards) and steer. Anna was somewhere, not sure whether she was in front or behind, but knowing her, she was probably fighting me to steer. ;) Anyway, back to the memory: we were barreling down the street. I don't know how fast we were going (Maybe 30 mph? My dad was a track runner and I'm sure at that time he could run as fast as a car, maybe even a speeding bullet! ;) So, for the third time, we were barreling down the street, and I don't know what happened, but all of a sudden, CRASH!!! We flipped. I remember dad being very worried about us at first, but he saw that we were ok and that there wasn't any blood involved...and the thing I remember him saying was this: "we don't have to tell mom, ok?" Haha! I know as soon as I ran in the door, she was the FIRST one I told the entire story to. Sorry dad, probably got you in trouble that night. It was fun though!!
So, you may ask, are all of the memories of your dad this rough and tumble? Was he only a rescuer of defenseless animals and a speed runner creating his own roller coasters? Of course not.
My dad is BRILLIANT!
He is very smart and on long drives I remember him playing word and math games with me. He made it fun. It wasn't a chore. We liked to play "Think Pink" and my favorite: "If a car is going 30 mph and goes 60 miles, how many hours did it take..." I didn't realize he was honing my thinking skills, I just loved the attention and the challenge.
On trips we also sang. Two of my favorites that we always requested were "Oh, Roll The Ratlin' Bog" and "The Unicorn." Both are by the Irish Rovers (because of course, we are Irish!). The 'Ratlin' Bog' is a round that keeps getting longer and longer. Usually I could keep up and sing the first 1-3 verses, but it gets faster and faster as it goes along and ONLY DAD could sing it perfectly all the way to the end.
My dad is also a hard worker and I knew it. I loved to help him. I can vaguely remember his kitchen remodel and garage enclosure, but I very specifically remember him putting up our basketball goal. He made a small court beside the house and I helped him dig the foundation. I could only have been around 9, so now looking back I wonder how much help I actually was? But, I felt, because he told me, that I was excellent and that he couldn't have done it without me.
So, my dad is crazy fun, smart, and a hard worker, but the list goes on!
My dad makes spritz cookies that he had a special cookie press to mold into pretty shapes. They were my favorite. He can also sew and braid hair! The hair braiding was important. Any time Anna or I wanted braids, he was the source. He can do one, two, right-side-in, in-side-out, ANYTHING. He also used to put our hair in rollers on Saturday nights so that it would be in ringlets for Sunday morning. This rollers thing took quite a bit of time and attention and got us LOTS of compliments. :) There were SO many rollers. One morning I was actually AT church and ran my hand through my hair and there was still a roller stuck inside the curls! That's how thick and curly it made it! No one had even noticed!
Theres tons more stories I could tell, but I'll leave that up to a different time and maybe different people. Anna, Ben, JI, Nate, Rache...or anyone ese! Any of you who want to comment and add your stories, that would be great!
I love my dad very much and I hope that he has a STUPENDOUS birthday! He is Brilliant! I only wish I was there to hug him today.
This was my day today :) Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I LOVE gardens, flowers, vegetables, and DIRT! Today I got to help a friend make raised beds for her garden. She has been overly gracious with her produce the past two summers, so when she called to ask for help today, I jumped at the chance. The beds are approximately 15 feet long, 3 feet wide, and about 8 inches deep.
I dug 7 of them while she raked the dirt and made it nice and smooth for planting. It was a lot of work and I know I'm going to feel like I got hit by a truck tomorrow, but it was a free tan, gym work-out, and fellowship with a good friend all rolled into one. Good day :)
So, why name the blog "A Time To Laugh?" In fact, why start a blog at all, Mary?
The blog's name was an epiphany that came during my drive home from school about a month ago. I had been considering starting a blog so that I can keep friends and family caught up on our, oh so entertaining, life here in Bloomington...seriously, we constantly have crazy things happening! Our lives are never dull. But, even as I write that sentence, I wonder. Are our lives truly never boring? Or do we simply make a decision to enjoy whatever comes along and make the best of it? I guess you, as the audience, can decide for yourselves.
So, for the first entertaining story of the blog:
As a lot of you know and can testify, Allen and I tend to loose, break, somehow destroy a lot of our belongings. It is an unfortunate fact and one that we probably should not be proud of :/ Maybe our Pastor should preach on stewardship?
Anyhow, I recently broke my favorite coffee mug of all time. I found it at Goodwill. It was a handmade, blue/green (my favorite color), mug with the word "Optiks" carved into the side. "Optiks," you may say, why would Mary love (and be wasting our time) with a story about a misspelled word? And, isn't this supposed to be funny? This is terribly sad!
So, the background behind the mug: you see, I am currently half-way done with optometry school and in optometry school, light, and how it behaves, should be very important to the optometrist. Unfortunately, I did not realize how important this subject was when I first entered school and made a 67% on my very first optometry school test (talk about freak-out!) - However, don't worry, I'm not failing :) I quickly pulled it together, with the Lord's help, and have now successfully conquered 4 semesters of optics study.
So, that's the background on the cup. I loved it because it WAS misspelled. It wasn't perfect, just like nothing in life is perfect, but it was important and it served its purpose well.
This is the sad part of the story. The funny part comes next:
So, after completely demolishing my FAVORITE coffee cup, I started noticing that I was not missing only it, but every coffee cup I owned. Allen and I had nothing to pour our coffee into at all! I did not know what had happened to them, but I knew that I couldn't just go without that smooth, warm, incentive to get out of bed every morning....For a couple of mornings we resorted to just pouring our coffee into normal glass cups, but this did not work we because the cups were then too hot to hold. We had to wrap the cups in paper towels and be very careful not to burn our fingers!
So, fast-forward to last night. We drove into the parking lot where Caitlin met us saying we had a present inside. I was excited. What would it be? So we went in and Caitlin presented us with a coffee cup that I had bought Allen for Valentine's Day. One of our coffee cups!!! It was at church! YAY!
Suddenly, Allen was inspired, what if MORE of our coffee cups were at church!?!? We quickly investigated, and low and behold! We found SEVEN of our cups! They were in the church pantry! :) We must have brought so that we could finish them in Sunday School and then we just left them there. Hurrah for the coffee cups that once were lost, but are now found!
So, that's the first story. Like I said, we like to laugh at ourselves. We think we are silly. You can judge for yourselves. Hopefully, there will be more to come.