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The Tornado and the Rainbow

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I don't know whose photo this is. (Now, thanks to Mike McDowell, I do: Eric Nguyen, the late and incredible weather photographer. It's real, too.) I don't know where it was taken, or even if it's real, and I'm breaking tradition to post it here (I always use my own photos). I love it so much, because it perfectly captures my soul these days.

Bill got a bee in his bonnet this weekend, and even though we went to bed around 3 AM Saturday morning after our Orangutangs gig, he got up at 8 and started moving stuff out of Phoebe's bedroom so he could paint it. Each wall is a different color: Sunrise Beach, Fruit Punch, Dusty Aqua and Ocean Mist. It's like a Caribbean dance party in there. I was charged with running to town for supplies and buying carpet to complete the makeover. Poor child has been staring at white walls for 13 years. She's more than due for a room in the colors she picked. God bless her Daddy for taking the initiative. There was stuff in her closet from the year she was born, for Lord's sake, from 1996. I am not kidding. Stuff about how to breast feed your baby. And now she's practically old enough to have her own baby, and she still had all that crap in her closet.

However. This means that until the carpet installers come Weds. morning, all her bedroom furniture, clothes and crap are in the living room. Which sets my orderly soul a-wandering, tearing its hair. Doesn't bother anybody else much. But I am like a banshee on the moors, wailing, when my house is all upside down.

Well, Liam moped and moped around because nobody was painting HIS room so I bought a carpet remnant for his room at the same time I bought Phoebe's, and then I realized that that meant that we'd have to put the contents of BOTH their rooms in the living room, which actually can't be done, and that also meant that I'd have to weed all his crap and clothes and books out before Wednesday. So I spent most of today, a perfect blue and gold fall day, doing that. And all I got done was the books. He has a LOT of books. And most of them break my heart to give away so really all I did was weed and sort them, and box up the ones for the basement, the Goodnight Moon and the Blueberries for Sal and the Letting Swift River Go and the Miss Rumphius and the Nuts to You, all the ones we know by heart.

By 2 pm I had had it and I called Shila and we decided to go on our own little fall foliage tour. And we took our cameras and Chet and had the most wonderful time photographing dilapidated barns and horse noses and the like. And no, I'm not posting those photos now because I am tired and it is late.

But Shila and I had a hoot exclaiming and freaking out over every little thing, it's like we're high all the time, but we don't use anything but beauty. It's good to have a friend like that, someone who can fully freak out over a sundog or a caterpillar or a certain slant of light through the veins of a leaf. It's not good, it's great to have a friend like that.

So the light was dying and we turned toward home where Bill was making us a homemade pizza. mmmm. And we were going up County Road 12 and I saw a sign for Dean's Fork Road and thought, wow, wouldn't it be cool to take crappy scary old Dean's Fork all the way up to our house? Everybody says it doesn't go through but my new Subaru has all-wheel drive and so does Shila's RAV-4. So I hollered back to Shila, "Hey, you wanna try to take Dean's Fork all the way home?" and her eyes lit up and she said "YEAH! Let's try it!"

Which was the MOST ridiculous thing to try, because everybody knows Dean's Fork is a piece of crap of a road. There are leaves all over it and it's barely wider than a forest path. And I had never been on the lower end of it. And we probably had ten miles of it to navigate.

The thing about off-roading is that the first few ruts and puddles you hit are bad but not that bad and the road just leads you on and on and before you know it you are mushing through the most gooshy and dangerous ruts and puddles, lakes, really. And you're telling yourself, "Hey, this isn't so bad. Look how far I've made it. What a car I have!" but inside you're biting your psychic nails because each puddle and rut is just a bit worse than the one before and you are that much farther from civilization. But I was emboldened by Shila right behind me in her Toyota and I kept mushing on. And I do mean mushing.

Finally we came to a lake in the middle of the rutted path and I knew it was probably my Waterloo so Shila and I got out and mucked around a bit and decided we had better back out of it and try to turn around and get the hell off Dean's Fork before pitch dark, which was in about 20 minutes. So she backed up and got up on terra firma and I backed up and my rear wheel went smack into the worst deepest rut which threw my front into a sashay and all of a sudden my left front wheel dropped off into nothing. I stopped and opened the door and that wheel of my precious new Forester was hanging off in space over a six-foot drop into Dean's Fork Crick. Oh, sh------t. Oh Shila I am so screwed, I am so screwed look at my car look at my car somebody's gonna have to pull me out of here! Aggghh I am panicking. I am envisioning my new car rolling slowly down greasy side up into the rocky creek bed, me and Chet in it. And Shila gets out of her car and points out that three of my wheels are still on the ground, albeit gumbo mud. "Have you tried backing up?" she asked and I said, "No, the only thing I have tried is panicking."

So I throw it in reverse and breathe a prayer and gun it and that car just backed out like Bossy out of her stall. So I did a twenty-point turn in the narrow road with Shila coaching all the way and we made our way back, refording all the puddles and ruts, until we were on pavement again. And pavement never, ever felt so good.

Shila has a bumper sticker on her car that says, "My Other Vehicle is My Imagination" and I told her I want one for my car that says, "My Other Vehicle is My Stupidity."

When Shila and I get together we are like a couple of hunting dogs, egging each other on, running wild. When I thanked her for coaching me out of that horrible jam, she said, "Well, you're welcome, but there's no way you would have taken that road if I hadn't been along." And I had to admit she was right. But it's good, no, it's great to have a friend like that.


And I imagined you sitting quietly in Liam's room browsing through his books and feeling sentimental over "Goodnight Moon". I have cried over Gina's best childrens' books...

Then the panic! You, Shila, Chet, and your new wheels lived to tell the story. Thank God.

Gee, and I thought your weekend was already full enough! Glad to hear you and especially my new boyfriend Chet are ok! Still looking for those fall tower pix.....after all, it's been OVER 24 hours! Don't be a slacker!

Gaaaaaah! Half of my nightmares involve my car skittering off a cliff. The other half involve water. Been real close to both. Both have been followed by medicinal doses of beer. So, will Liam's room be rubber-room green?

I had such a tame weekend, planting daffodils and tulips!
The thought of totally emptying Rachel's room to put in carpeting is frightening beyond belief, you are brave. She would absolutely love Phoebe's Caribbean dance party colors, she lives in an off white room with treasures festooned from the ceiling. Kites and flowers and a flying frog she made in art class.

I can't even begin to tell you how many times I was with you in this post: remorse at giving up books; a fellow banshee on the moors - the only one who can't seem to ignore the disorganized piles; high on wabi-sabi beauty; the false confidence the passing of each stretch of impossible road engenders; the brand new car teeter-tottering on nothing but the empty spaces created out of that overconfidence. I hope you had a beer with that pizza. Or better yet, several. Teetering vehicles aside, running wild is what keeps us young and free.

Gah. I not only have my sons' 'good' books but my own. When cleaning out my Dad's house a few years ago, I found my 'A Child's Garden of Verses' and it's now on my bookshelves.

And all I did this weekend was massages all day yesterday, stenciling until 3am today and then painting (walls and baseboards) all afternoon. Everything is moved all over the place so I could move ladder to do said stenciling and reach baseboards. I feel your pain on the confusion and being unsettled.

The best of friends do that to us.


Quite an adventure. The temptation of 4WD is a strong one.

Thelma and Louise!! :c) Love it! Tee hee hee!

Thelma and Louise, without a mad-on, and with a mensch at home doing all the furniture moving, painting, and cooking. He's the brave one.
TR, I hope your ears were burning, because I was trying to paint a picture of you for her, trying to figure out how and when we get you together with cameras in your hands.
Really, the Subaru is SOME car but I am hereby cured of my "Let's see where this little mud track goes!" curiosity. I do now have a slight jones for a four-wheeler but that is so not my style, and I don't want Liam on one, ever (as he trots by, draped in a Jolly Roger flag).

Our house so needs a paint job and new carpet, but I can't bear the thought of pulling things out of closets and drawers to do it. I told my husband just yesterday we are going to live in our house until we die and our children have to go through it all. Heck, most of it is theirs anyhow. I never gave away one single baby item, toy or book. If a tornado ever does hit our house, people are going to think we operated a day care here.

Trouble of the BEST kind--sounds like a wonderful ride!

Love this whirlwind of a post! (we had a tornado on our property, so hope that awesome pic doesn't give me nightmares!)

You are such good parents to do all that with your schedules! I had no choice in my bedroom colors, so lived with pastel pink all those years. Made me rest-less, as I am not a pastel pink girl! So sweet to get something for Liam, too.

I'm not as adventuresome as you, but your post reminded me that I need to get in touch with my own Thelma-Louise counterpart--who also appreciates old barns and horse noses. It's been too long since we've had an adventure! No mud slinging all-terrain or canyon jumping jaunts, though--our vans (like ourselves) aren't up to it!

Yep, been there done that. Trying old forgotten roads that should have stayed forgotten. After the last adventure which ended with my truck buried in a swamp and me with a towing fee AND a ticket, I have given up on driving my vehicles into places where I fear to tread.

But I sure do know the allure of those overgrown paths and old carriage ways. And that there is a bottomless pit waiting somewhere in there!

What could be a better cure for that "my kids are growing up" mood than to take off on an adventure like that with your friend. I loved it.

About the books...keep them all. We have some wonderful possessions (and certainly don't plan to go anywhere soon) but the one thing our grownup children argue about is who gets all the childrens books I packed away so long ago.

I'm glad I read this before we actually go out and buy a Forester (which we are thinking about doing because they are such cool cars). I am always grateful that someone else does this kind of thing and writes so humorously and smartly about it. That way I won't have to do it. The desire to drive somewhere crazy will be strong, but this story will always be in the back of my mind. Roger will probably get tired of hearing me say, "But Julie tried something like this, and you know what happened..."

My mom saved ALL of my childhood books. I love having them for my daughter. I'm glad she couldn't part with them. For that matter she saved my clothes and toys...much of which I am using again...just not the things painted with lead paint :)

I love to think of you and Roger in a Forester. I adore mine, so peppy, so road-huggy, so strong, yet so feminine.
Shila and I think alike--we both decided that we're going to leave a car at either end of Dean's Run and walk the length of it, just to see what we would have gotten into had we pressed forward! What a yuk! And Chet Baker is going to love that adventure. It is the kind of road where you might hear banjo music.

This reminds me of a little detour my mom and I took along a back road next to the river during an epic flood in 1976. After we got back to paved roads and we realized what we had done, we both looked at each other and said "don't tell Dad!" That's why I'm amazed you shared this story with us Julie. I could feel your terror!

Great story! It reminds me of when I convinced my wife to drive up the Old Fall River Road in our crappy rental car. We made it, despite scary road conditions and a blizzard in August. Pavement never felt so good.

So glad I added your blog to my Google Reader. Like so many of your stories I could just picture it! Ah, the wonder of morning glories. There's nothing like sitting out on the porch just before daybreak with a cup of coffee as the morning glories are waking up for the day.


I got my Subaru specifically for the Lazer driveway, and that is plenty exciting enough for me.

Kid books do the same to me. Don't ever get rid of them.

I just can't resist finding out where the unknown road goes. Anne and I have had some of our best birding down dead ends and no maintenance roads.

When we moved from a four level suburban side split to our 900 sq foot cottage I had to get rid of 2000 0f our 3000 books that had accumulated over the years.

I like to read. Anything. Including cereal boxes. Even ads in BWD.


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Loved the photo and I HAVE to go through all my house one day and get rid of all the stuff that accumulates over time. I googled to find the photographer for the photo. From the Astronomy Photo of the Day site:, July 07, 2002 Eric Nguyen is credited for this amazing image.

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