Tag Archive | weather

Whistling at the Northern Lights.

I’m a geek. More than that, I’m a nerd. I love most things science, and meteorology/astronomy are no exceptions.

My whole life, I’d dreamed about seeing the northern lights. There were times, when the news said that there was a particularly violent storm on the sun, and we might just get some auroras when my dad, sister and I would drive out to the desert to escape the artificial lights, and watch for them. All with no luck.

When I received a call to go on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I was ecstatic. I was called to the Canada Winnipeg Mission, which covers Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and the eastern third of Ontario. The mission also goes north to the north pole, but (at the time I was there, anyway,) there aren’t any missionaries in the territories.

My first area was in Saskatoon, which is why I chose that as the location, but really, the first time I saw the northern lights was in Winnipeg. It was the second night I was in Canada.

During the summer, the northern lights usually came out after we had to be home for curfew, and it was hit or miss if the apartment I was living in at the time would have a view of them. During the winter–well, we were more concerned about preventing frostbite than watching the pretty lights in the sky.

One time, in particular, I remember well. I was just assigned a senior Sister as my companion (young missionaries are assigned companions, which can change every six weeks. Senior missionaries–usually retired couples stick with their companion for their whole mission. Men can only serve with their wives, but women can come out by themselves or with a friend.) My new companion, Sister Place, had come with her friend, but Sister Hillman elected to go home about halfway through her mission, because her daughter was having a difficult, life-threatening pregnancy.

For a few days, Sister Place, Sister Hillman, myself, another of Sister Hillman’s daughters, and one of Sister Hillman’s grandson’s shared a small apartment. One of these nights, I couldn’t sleep, and looked out the window to see the northern lights. I could hear the daughter moving around so I alerted her to the fact that they were out. The display wasn’t very spectacular, but it was the first time that the daughter had seen the northern lights.

One of the things you learn quickly when working with the people, especially the natives of Canada is to never whistle at the northern lights. The story I heard says that the northern lights are your deceased ancestors coming back to visit, and whistling at them would be very disrespectful.

Although, come to think of it, I never heard what would happen if you whistled at the northern lights…


For someone who doesn’t have anything to do, today has been a busy, expensive day.

So, I can’t think of a more unpleasant way to start my post, but…

I realized this morning that sick dog=stinky house.

And my carpet shampooer was at my sister’s house.

So, after calling to make sure she’d be around, I headed up.  On the way, I saw a TON of cops.  I even met one.  It turns out that when you forget to register your car for a year, you’ll get a ticket.  But thank you, Detective who’s name starts with a “J” and signed the rest of the way with a squiggly line for not impounding my car.  I can handle the $40 ticket plus the registration fees if it means I don’t have to get my car out of impound.

He was cute, too.

So, disgusted with myself, I finally got to my sister’s house.  After loading my shampooer into the car, and collecting G from preschool, I mentioned to her that I wanted to check out Piper’s Quilts and Comforts, and I have to say, I could spend a LOT of money there (I didn’t, Mom, neither Sis nor I spent a dime).  The store is full of super-cute patterns and fabrics, (MUCH better than JoAnn’s) and wonderful yarns.  I am absolutely in LOVE with that store–it’s enough to get me to figure out how to use my sewing machine.  (It’s also in the same neighborhood as a vintage store that both Sis and I want to check out, but G was being G.)

Sis and I had a good talk on the way to the other side of the valley and back, and she convinced me to apply to both SLCC and UVU.  It’ll take a couple of days for the applications to go through, so I won’t be able to start the first block of summer classes–but I should be able to start school in the middle of next month.  I still haven’t decided where I want to go.

I spotted it, but Sis was the one who managed to snap a picture. Out of the windshield of her truck while stopped at a stoplight. I totally could have gotten this shot, but it was probably more important to answer the phone call from my mother...

We were also treated to the rare sight of a sun dog in mid-May.  Honestly, I don’t think I’ve seen one of these since coming back from Canada.

So back to Sis’s house, where G decided that eating and sleeping are actually good things, and I slipped out while G was down for a nap–back to my house, but stop and get the car registration taken care of first.

So, I don’t really know why I go to the place I do to get my car registered and inspected, except it was the first “on-the-spot” registration place I spotted when I moved to Utah County, and I know the Grandfather of a guy who worked there 5 years ago.  But it is next to a big-box store that appropriates some of its parking spaces to turn into a garden center on a yearly basis.  I was feeling anxious about all the money I’d be spending today, so I wandered around the plants and flowers trying to calm down.

It’s crazy how cheap bedding plants in a Shop-ko parking lot help center a person.

I managed to take some pictures, before the batteries on my camera died, too.  I figured if anyone gave me any grief about it, I’d say I was planning my garden, and needed some time to think about the plants that I wanted.

I seriously LOVE gerbras.

I was hoping that I could take care of all my registration needs at the Lube Doc, but, unfortunately, I had to go to the DMV.  Always a treat, that.  Especially when you only have a vague idea of where it is.

So, I came to a couple of conclusions while waiting at the DMV

  1. The kids running around, screaming and being kids are a lot cuter to watch when you’re not in charge of them.
  2. Max owes me BIG TIME for not draping him over my arm and dragging him everywhere, like the lady with the pomeranian

The woman at the DMV was impressed that I’d managed to go a year without getting caught with my expired registration.  When I explained that I got caught today, she was also impressed that Detective J didn’t have my car towed, and said I had a nice cop.  I agreed, and told her I thought he was cute, too.  She laughed and asked if I told HIM that–that maybe that’s how to get out of a big ticket, by telling the cop he was cute.

I’m not sure if that would work, but, much to my sister’s consternation, I don’t know how to flirt.

So finally, back home with a legal car, a dog with disturbing noises coming from his gut, and a carpet that I’m trying to work up the motivation to shampoo.   It’s been a stressful day, and I’m glad to be home.

Or not, depending upon what Max does next.

And Then the Rains Came

I learned an important lesson over the past two days.  Namely, while it is nice to open all the windows and air out the house on the warmest day of the year so far (as long as you’re in April), if the warmest day of the year also comes with a high wind warning, the windows should stay firmly closed.

My allergies have been going crazy the past couple of days.  I’m allergic to, well, everything, and spring, though pretty, is my least favorite time of the year.

I remember waking up as a child and not being able to open my eyes, they were so crusted with gunk, and swollen from allergies.  Memorial Day, our mother thought it a good idea to teach us to be good citizens, so we would go to the cemetery to watch the various ceremonies honoring veterans.

The cemetery in the center of a bunch of farms growing alfalfa.

The cemetery where rye grows volunteer, and blooms around Memorial Day.

Guess what my two big allergies are?

Also, when I was about 6, my best friend’s family ran over my dog on the way home from the cemetery on Memorial Day.  Yeah, not my favorite holiday.

Anyway, moving on.

The last two days my allergies have been as bad as they had ever been in my adult life.  I’ve been sneezing, coughing, my nose wouldn’t stop dripping, I had a mondo sinus headache, and I couldn’t wake up. It was so bad, it affected my voice.   I was thanking my lucky stars that I didn’t live in the South, where the pollen is so bad that the whole city of Atlanta is coated with a visible greenish-yellow layer of dust.

Just when I was figuring out the pros and cons of going into hibernation until June, it started to rain.

I’m a desert girl, and grew up in a farming family, so a good rain is always appreciated.  Unless it turns into a flash flood.  Or the hay’s been cut and is drying in the field.  Or a little dog needs to go potty, but doesn’t like to get her feet wet, and I wasn’t smart enough to grab a jacket.

Rain has always been something of a wonder to me.  It calmed and cleaned the air, removing the dust and pollen that was afflicting me. (if afflicting too dramatic a word?  I’m gonna stick with it anyway)  It seems to calm the world.

Except the other little dog who was so determined to get out of the rain that he forgot to poop, then decided 20 minutes later that he couldn’t wait any longer and insisted we go back out.

Rain is a reminder for me that life goes on.   It wasn’t a big thunderstorm, just–rain.

This morning, I woke up to the sounds of running water and the sight of melting snow.  The air was fresh and clean (and blessedly low in pollen) the sun was shining, and the birds singing their little hearts out.

I’m feeling better today, both physically and emotionally.  A good storm will do that, after it passes, it leaves clear air and clear hears.


As the photographers in my blog feed are so joyfully telling me, today is the first day of spring for us in the northern hemisphere. (I’ve only had one reader from south of the equator, so…neener.)

So, the days are now longer than the nights, my baby clover are doing well–and have invited friends!  The starlings are starting to imitate not only cats and car alarms, but red-winged blackbirds and meadowlarks (or I’m actually hearing those heralds of spring), the days are bright and sunny and my nose won’t stop dripping.  Yep, I think it’s spring.

I feel like a new woman.  I actually managed to get to bed at a decent(ish) time last night, and didn’t take too long to fall asleep, then woke up at a decent(ish) time this morning.

I had a cousin mention on Facebook after last night’s post that she thought I’d do well at writing satire–which is kind of timely, because the catalyst for the post yesterday was a story idea I came up with that could be called satirical–but I still don’t know what the climax or ending of the story would be, and even satire needs drama to move the plot along.

Writing satire on the whole makes me a little nervous.  I don’t like poking fun at people. (Except myself.  And good friends and family members that I know will let me get away with it.) And, while I like to think I have a good sense of humor, it falls flat when I sit down to write something funny.  But, if this story I’m thinking of actually gets beyond the planning stages, I might have to reconsider.

So, moving on…

When I was at my sister’s house retrieving my computer earlier this week, she got a text message from E’s birth mother.  His birth father wants to meet him, so they are going to meet in a park today.  This has caused more than a little bit of stress for the family–Mom is so freaked out by this prospect that she’s on her way to SLC so she can be a part of it too.  I was offered the opportunity to go up, but decided that it really isn’t my place.

Under Utah state law, if a pregnant woman wants to place her child for adoption, the birth father has up to 24 hours after the birth to sign a paper saying that he wants custody of the child (plus the duration of the pregnancy).  E’s birth father neglected to do that.  He is legally Sis and the Bro-in-Law’s, even though the adoption won’t be official until May.

Because I’m a worrier, and tend to imagine the worst-case scenario, I’m imagining this guy running off with E.  Mom (who is also a worrier, if a more pragmatic of one, although she denies it) is thinking about G–his birth mother wanted a closed adoption, and…how to put this delicately…if anyone ever came forward as his birth father, he would be arrested immediately. (Okay, so I suck at delicate.)  Mom has always been a bit concerned that E’s adoption is open–Sis has contact with his birth mother almost daily, and she’s worried about what will happen to G if E has both a birth mother and a birth father in his life.

I’m trying to step back from the situation, but I’m not really comfortable with it.  I understand the birth father wanting to see E, Sis thinks that he thought that E’s birth mother wouldn’t really go through with the adoption, and he hasn’t gotten over it.  There’s also the practical side–it gives Sis and the Bro-in-Law a chance to get a medical history.

I’m just glad that it’s not my decision to make.

So, er, anyway, happy spring! I’m off to try to do some writing…

Oh, spring, why has thou forsaken us?

The weather has been wonky here this winter.  It got cold, quickly, for a few weeks in December, then, it was very mild through Christmas, January, and the first part of February. Then, when we hit Valentines day, they time when it usually starts to warm up, we started getting snow again.

I thought I’d celebrate the arrival, then departure, and anticipate the re-return of spring 2010 by posting some vaguely weather-related pictures I’ve taken recently.

At least I’m not on the east coast.

Kinda cheesy, but I like it. Rain drops as viewed from the inside of my windshield

The leaves from the hedge stained the concrete on the sidewalk.

The trees are ready for spring

Max isn't sure about the return of the snow, either.

I thought that the neighboring apartment block looked so pretty in the snow, kind of misty and European.

I was playing with the shutter speed on my camera, trying to stop the snowflakes around the lamppost.

Post #43, in which our heroine discusses fog, panic attacks, and big screen TVs

Yesterday was one of the biggest days The Storyteller Chronicles has had.  I’m a little confused as to where all the visitors came from, but I’m not complaining.  I hope you enjoyed what you read, and will keep coming back to check on me.

I decided to spend a few days at my parents house.  No real reason why.  Okay, I lied.  They just bought a 55″ LCD TV, and I wanted to see it in action.  I used the guise of coming down to lend my mom a book, and to visit my grandparents, so, last night, I loaded the dogs into the car and headed down.

It’s really the drive that I wanted to talk about.  First of all, I felt like I was fighting a panic attack all the way down.  This HAS to stop.  I won’t be able to function in the suburban environment in which I live if I’m too freaked out to get into a car.  I had to pull over a couple of times, just to walk around and take a breather.  I don’t know where this came from, but it didn’t take long to get old.

Actually, yesterday could have come from the realization that the panic attacks came in the car, so I was already a little anxious before I started to drive. It’d be just like me to work myself into a panic attack because I’m anxious that I might have a panic attack.

I found myself focusing on small things to help myself calm down (Je suis grande pamplemousse.  I think that’s going to be my French catch phrase from now on.) For instance, I discovered that the cement plant is almost exactly half way between my parent’s house and the 7-11 in Nephi. (I reset my tripomiter every time I fill up my car, mostly because I don’t trust my gas gage–my car is 14 years old, and the plastic bits keep falling off.  I noticed the tripomiter said 25.5 when I was passing the cement plant, then it said 51.1 when  I got to my folks house.) It’s a darn good thing that I didn’t meet a deer.

I feel like I need to mention that I’m a good driver.  I haven’t had a ticket in over 3 years, or an accident (either my fault or someone else’s) in over 5. I did total a car once, but that was gosh–10 years ago now.  That makes me feel old.  I have confidence in my own driving.  When I’m not freaking out over nothing, anyway.

I did, however, get treated to what is perhaps my favorite weather phenomenon while driving through Dog Valley.  It’s when it’s foggy, but the fog is sitting above the ground, just above the roof of the car. When I reached that point in the fog bank, it had the added benefit of being thicker in some places and thinner in others, so it was a little like driving through the Northern Lights.

You know, without the pretty colors and having to deal with deadly plasma bursts.

I might have to see if I can talk my dad into taking a drive with me, just to help me get over this anxiety.  Because, I know me, and until I’m over this thing, driving in a car is going to be hell.

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