June 21, 2010

Home Time with a Twist

Back on the road and back to blogging! Hope you all had a wonderful weekend and Happy Father's day to all the dad's in the world!

Grab a cup of coffee or whatever you favor and sit back. This one's kind of lengthy.

It was so nice to be home and for the tail end of my birthday too! After driving through horrendous wind all day in North Dakota (and only getting 4.63 mpg...ick) it was nice to finally get out of the truck. It was dreary and a cool 52 degrees in western North Dakota, but once we got past Miles City, MT it warmed up to low 60's and the skies cleared for us to enjoy the evening.

We got home around 8:00 and spent the first few hours mowing the yard. Actually I did a little mowing but Malcolm used the bush hog and tractor on most of it, finishing around 10:30 by using the headlights on the tractor. Some make think its crazy too jump right into that kind of work as soon as we get home, but its nice to do it while its cool, plus...there's just something about getting up the next morning to a look out on a "manicured" lawn, and not have that job waiting for you!

Saturday it was still a bit breezy, but not bad. Malcolm's parents and sister's ended up coming over and we went out to eat to celebrate Father's Day, did a little shopping in Billings, and then had banana splits at our house before they left to return home. Saturday evening was so nice! It was warm, but comfortable and the wind was just gone. It was unbelievably calm! After Malcolm's family left we walked over to the neighbors to say hi, and ended up sitting out in their yard till 11:30 that night enjoying a little "camp fire," good conversation, and the wonderful still evening.

Sunday morning was going to be my "work" day. We had found out we weren't delivering till Tuesday so we had put the truck in the shop (it was still having some throttle issues) and I had put my work off till Sunday since I had the extra time. But instead of digging into laundry and dog washing and the other little things I was supposed to get to, I watched my recorded episodes of So You Think You Can Dance, and then mossied outside to enjoy the morning. It was a beautiful morning! Clear skies, no wind, a bit warmer than was comfortable, but still nice.

The coolest thing happened to me during my walk around the yard! My feeders have become intensely popular with a flock of red crossbills, particularly this feeder that sits by our little cottonwood tree.Me and the girls were just wondering around and I was actually watching the ground looking at the little wild flowers when I looked up and realized that I was standing within 4-5 feet of the windmill feeder and there were still 4 Crossbills on it watching me. I just stood there, but the girls were walking around under the feeder and the birds didn't seem to care. I quietly yelled for Malcolm to get the camera and come onto the porch and take a picture. While he was coming, 3 of the crossbills decided that was enough...I'd crept a little closer...but one of them stayed and just watched me. He even took a little bite of seed now and then while examining this stranger in his yard. While Malcolm took pictures I decided to see how close I could get. Please excuse my appearance. You're getting to see me in my "lazy lay around the house on a Sunday morning" look.
My new friend finally decided that was enough and flew to a branch in the cottonwood above me. So I thanked him for the experience, and then reminded him that he was supposed to be wild and not a parakeet and he'd better be careful who he trusted.

The rest of the day was relaxed, and I did get some work done.
By late afternoon, it was still a beautiful day, but in a different way. Around 3:00 in the afternoon, Malcolm decided to touch up the yard where the mower and bush hog hadn't gotten it quite even. There were some heavy looking storm clouds to the north of us, but that's not unusual and we new they'd probably pass on by and miss us as they usually do. I always enjoy watching the storms as they pass. We seem to be in a pocket and they always go around us, but we have a great view of all four horizons as we're up on higher ground than the rest of Billings and Shepherd.

After a while it was obvious it wasn't going to storm on us, but probably rain. And then the clouds suddenly changed in appearance, looking a lot more threatening. They were still passing well to the west of us, with just a few sprinkles falling, but Malcolm told me to go ahead and pull the tractor and my car back into the barn in case it hailed. It was about 4:30 and we were expecting Brandon in an hour for dinner. The clouds were fascinating, and I stood on the porch watching and taking pictures, and wishing my husband would get off the metal lawnmower and come in as it had started lightening. But you know men...he had to finish the yard.
I actually got a bolt of lighting in this picture! First time ever. Its not really clear, so I cropped it and blew it up a bit. Malcolm finally finished, and right about that time the neighbors called to find out what it was doing out where we live. They were in Billings for dinner and said it was hailing and were worried about their horses. Malcolm told them we had some sprinkles but that was all that was going on. Then he went upstairs to clean up. Shortly after he went upstairs, Brandon showed up...along with some harder rain. And even though it was only 5:00 in the afternoon, it suddenly looking like late dusk as dark as it was outside. It was obvious that the storm that had been heading towards the southwest had turned around and was coming east now.

Within just a few minutes of his arrival, a friend called Brandon from town and told him there was a tornado on the ground in The Heights (which is the east side of Billings and about 15 miles from where we live). Right about that time it just broke loose where we were. Wind blowing hard, hard rain completely sideways, and there was a little hail mixed in.

The lightening wasn't extreme, but the thunder was loud and with each burst of thunder, the neighbors horses that were staying in our pasture would take off running. The three across the road were doing the same. I was a little worried they'd end up running through the wire fence, but fortunately they stopped before going into it.The rain was hitting the side of the house so hard that it was seeping in around the edges of the window on that wall, and I had to throw some towels down to keep the water from soaking into the wood.
You couldn't see much of the neighbors houses through the downpour!
After what seemed like a pretty long time, but was actually only maybe 15-20 minutes it had stopped and the storm was moving on to the east of us. Lots of rain, some wind, minimal hail...that's all it did, other than make me feel nervous for a while.

But in The Heights....it was a different story.
This picture was taken by a friend of Brandon's and sent to his cell phone, then passed onto us.
After the storm had cleared, Brandon got another call from a friend who told him about the damage in town. Normally I'm one of those people who stays home like a good girl so the emergency response people can do their job without my being in their way. But this time....well there just wasn't much to do at home, we were super curious, and besides...I needed pictures for my blog. So the three of us loaded up in the pickup and headed to Billings. I know I know...shame on us! But its done now!
From a distance, it looked like a peaceful Sunday evening in Billings.
But the closer we got to Metra Park, it was more and more obvious that it had not been as peaceful as it appeared. There was reportedly about 2 inches of rain dumped on the city during the storm, and there wasn't anywhere for it all to go in that short amount of time.
The damage area was actually kind of small, but plenty of damage was done just the same.

Those would be the bleachers in the "nose bleed" section of the arena. If you haven't figured it out...you shouldn't be able to see them from the street!
The picture below was sent to Brandon's cell phone. I don't know who took it. Since its been distributed so broadly, I'm taking the liberty of using it myself. This is what it looks like inside the arena now.

Tornado's fascinate me...how they are so random. There is no logic to it! A roof ripped off, trees splintered, and yet in the midst of it all, the bronc rider statue remains standing unharmed. It makes no sense!
On up in The Heights, there were several other buildings damaged.

Even the "Golden Arches" weren't spared.
We weren't the only ones out seeing the sights, so I didn't feel so bad. I mean, in all this, what's one more vehicle? And there wasn't any cleaning up going on yet. The police were just standing around blocking entrances and monitering the "tourists."
After we drove past the Metra, we drove up on the Rimrocks where the airport is to see the view of downtown. We'd heard there was some flooding, and sure enough...right there in the middle of 27th street we could see the water. I guess though maybe you have to know what your looking at to recognize what's out of sorts, but even if you can't find the water...well there's Billings if you've never seen it before.

And there's the water...can't miss it now!
Amazing how much can be destroyed, what terror can fill the air, and a short time later its like nothing ever happened. The clouds cleared in time for another typical (not that you can ever call them that really) Montana sunset.

Later that evening, Malcolm and Brandon retired to the basement to watch TV and discovered we hadn't gotten off so easy as we had thought. Apparently the basement window leaked too (it was on the side of the house that the wind was hitting) and the sheet rock is all puckered and bubbled up. Really though, we can't complain, given what others were dealing with. The tornado only damaged that one area, but they had major hail all through The Heights, damaging cars, homes, and stores.
OK, so I have to ask this cause Malcolm and Brandon couldn't see it. I see a picture in the wall damage above. Do you not see a monkey on the right and a bull on the left? Please tell me you see it, cause they just laughed at me, but seriously...its there! And the monkey is mad I think (or maybe I am)!
Below is a video of the action at the Metra. There are several out there now, but this one is kind of neat b/c they show what's going on on the ground as well as in the sky, and its the only one I've seen that actually shows the Metra building. The others are just the debris in the air. However, there is a little language, so if that offends you, turn the sound off on your computer before playing it.

And just in case you were wondering...the truck was at the shop in Billings throughout all this. A tiny itty bitty part of me kind of sort of hoped that it had been whisked away...but not really. Anyway, we drove past to make sure it was ok and though we couldn't see it anywhere, nothing else there was damaged. This morning we went in to pick it up, and the guys at the shop told Malcolm that when it started to hail, they pulled it into the work bays so it wouldn't be exposed. They're good guys down there, and they take care of us.


small farm girl said...

I do see the monkey and the bull! I guess it just takes some imagination. lol.

You guys are so lucky the tornado missed you. I've seen three tornadoes in my life. The distruction is horrible. I feel sorry for all of those people who had damage from the tornado.

Be safe.

Dreaming said...

OMG! I have goosebumps from watching the video. How incredibly scary.

Glad the truck was OK - how wonderful to have someone think to put it inside.

I loved the pictures of the birds...and you feeding one. How neat is that?!

Thanks for sharing the good, bad and ugly!

Shirley said...

The bird in your hand must have felt incredible!
What weather- tornadoes and flooding throughout the northern states and western Canada; That's quite the video even if it did go sideways.
Glad that you made it through relatively unscathed.

Yankee Girl ~ Missy said...


Now that's a post

So glad that you missed the tornado.

Loved your birdie pictures.

Tuffy's Blog said...

I DID see the pics on the wall!!! I couldn't believe it when you wrote about them b/c I thought I was surely imagining what I was seeing. Amazing. The video was really good. Glad all is well with ya'll.

Meagan said...

What an adventure!! I enjoy storms so much, even scary ones to a degree. Runs in the family, I think! ;-)

I totally see the monkey and the bull! Boys, they just don't get anything, do they? lol

LOVE YOU SISTER! I'll try to call you tomorrow and catch up!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Wow. So much damage and destruction. I'm glad that that the tornado didn't you guys, too.

We've got a section above our sliding glass door that has similar water damage, caused from our summer monsoon rains....they can get pretty violent, too.

I don't see any pictures in our damage, but I do see a monkey in yours, but the 'bull', to me, looks more like a large pig with teats. lol!

You must have a large property with far away neighbors...who are also very nice. Because if we were out there mowing our grass at 10:00pm our neighbors would be complaining for sure.


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

OH and I forgot to add that the photos of you and your new feathered friend were precious!