Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Clash of the Cold Front

Yesterday we were melting under an smothering blanket of heat. The high was near 100 degrees and it was so humid you had to swim everywhere instead of walking. Blast those men who can strip down far more than is socially appropriate for a modest lady of distinction. But we were promised a respite of cooler temperatures come evening.

Evening came and with it, nothing. We were still melting.

Nonetheless, the weather promised that there was a cold front moving in. We had just finished readying my grandpa for bed. I took a peek out the window and saw bugs, back-lit by the setting sun, buzzing about busily. I had thoughts of the calm before the storm, that oppressive calm filled with simmering energy right before a storm breaks. Then I dropped the curtain and moved to leave the room.

Suddenly, a blast of wind shook the house. It blew the screen off the window facing west and a crash sounded from outside as a tree branch broke off and landed in my parents' yard. Trees were whipping back and forth, dust choked the air, and the temperature, so sticky and overwhelming just a moment before, dropped rapidly. A colossal battle was being fought over our heads by two opposing fronts, one cold and one very, very hot.

Of course, the only thing for us to do was to stand in the yard looking at the tree the limb came off of, then to jump in the car and drive around to look at the weather without any trees or buildings to block our view. No tornadoes, but we did get to see some impressive cloud structures as the cold air chiseled under the large mass of moist air located north-east of town.

I love the weather here. So much fun. Until the tornado comes and sucks you away.

The sunset north-west of town.

The large cloud building as the cold front moves in.
This is the cloud action to the south of town. We were ringed by storms
(we always are, to the sorrow of my mom who wants to see some action
up close). When the sun set, you could see flashes of lightning all around.

The dark pink clouds represent the lower-level cold air
sweeping in under the warm moist air (the white cloud edge).
The pink cloud moved across the sky until in the next picture,
it's now under the white cloud.

Because of the different colored clouds, we could
actually see the fronts moving together and the
cold air being sucked underneath.

Driving Adventures

Right after I got back from campmeeting, I had to make another trip across a state, this time heading east instead of west. I wish I lived in New England where going across a state can take a couple of hours instead of a a whole day, but out here in the west, we believe in SPACE. And people here grow used to making 6-8 hour trips for shopping or medical care---come Christmas you hear people talk of going to Fargo or even Minneapolis to do their Christmas shopping as casually as someone might mention driving to the mall.

I have not grown used to it, but a few more trips across the state and I'll at least be acclimated. Those drives have a way of wearing you into submission!

So anyway, there I was headed to Fargo, a trip of about 7 hours. I had my bags packed for an over-nighter and a cage of motherless kittens in the back. I left at 4 AM so I could arrive on time for my appointment, but half-way there I came smack up against the perpetual curse of summer driving....road construction. As I made my way through one of the towns along the route, traffic suddenly came to a standstill and I found myself behind a large dump truck and a black pickup truck.

We waited there a respectable length of time, then traffic began to move as first the dump truck and then the pickup pulled out and around the.....Frito Lay truck? Why was the Frito Lay truck just parked there in the middle of the road? Maybe its engine stalled or something. Oh, well, at least we were on our way again. I, too, pulled out and around the Frito Lay truck and saw to my horror a long, unbroken line of vehicles, probably 100-150 stretched out before me.

"Why didn't you just pull back in?" people ask me. Because I just didn't, that's why! The dump truck, no doubt part of the construction and radioed to the front, led our impromptu parade past car after car of formerly bored and now very amused drivers. I tried to pull my cloak of invisibility around me, but I think it had a few holes.

When we reached the end of the line and came upon the flagger, he frowned fiercely at us and gestured us onto a side road. I already had my turn signal on, and while the black pickup did a u-turn in order to get back on the road, I grandly pretended I had meant to do that all along and continued driving down the side road. Around here everything is laid out on a grid, so I knew all I had to do was make a right turn at some point and I would find the highway again.

Sure enough, I found a road, followed it, and was back at the highway again. Only to find out that the construction went for miles and I was in the middle of it with no flagger. The only traffic in sight was going the wrong direction. Thankfully, another large truck lumbered by just then and I pulled desperately behind it. As long as I kept on his tail, I knew no one would crash into me. We zigged and we zagged through the construction, crossing lanes and dodging equipment. At one point there was a line of stopped cars going west, in the middle a bunch of west-bound semis whizzing around them, and then in the far lane, our little convoy of two heading east. I never did see any cars going my direction or I gladly would have joined them.

At last we reached the end of the construction and the semi pulled over to dump his load of dirt, no doubt wondering if I would follow him right through his dirt pile. I drove bravely off, trying not to signal any low-flying aircraft with my flaming red face, and resolved not to drive through that town again until I've changed the color on my van.

The rest of the trip was fine and I had fun, but when it was time to return, like the Wise Men of old, I "returned a different way." Highway 3 is lovely this time of year.

Monday, June 25, 2012


June came in with a rush of long-postponed preparations. I was helping my sister provide the Primary 1 children's meetings at the Seventh-day Adventist campmeetings in Bozeman, MT. Now, I had never done any campmeeting work before, so I didn't completely know what I was in for, but I knew enough to know that I should have started preparing quite a while back. Alack and alas, I never figure that out until I've already passed the point of "enough time". In fact, it's far behind in my rear view mirror and I'm already rapidly approaching "there's no way".

We were doing a theme of "Truth Seekers", a program about how archaeology and science support the Bible and the literal Genesis account, so I needed to pull both science and biblical archaeology elements into the decorations. I started first with the backdrop for the archaeology room. I was envisioning a stone wall, something a little Indiana Jones-ish. I started with a plain tan sheet (Lesson Learned #1: You need two sheets for the big walls at campmeeting) and went to work with my spray paints.

A half an hour later, the stone wall was taking shape.

Now to add detail with my acrylic paints.....

Voila! Finished. Whew, now if we only had a program ready to go with the awesome stone wall. Making copies and gathering supplies isn't as much fun as painting, but little by little, the program content began to take shape. If only time weren't passing quite so quickly!

I got the basic shapes of all my props painted, and most of them finished with the spray painting before it was time to go. I'd rather have had them completely  finished, but I was out of time. Monday night and time to load up the car for the trip across Montana on Tuesday.

Bozeman, MT is a beautiful place, but unfortunately, someone, through a complete lack of foresight, has put it clear on the opposite side of the state. It takes 8 hours of solid driving to get there, through some very repetitive countryside. But at last we pulled into the driveway of Mount Ellis Academy, found out where our rooms were, and began to unload.

It wasn't until the next day that things in the rooms really began to take shape. The first meeting was Wednesday night, so life became a hurried countdown trying to finish everything by zero hour, but God blessed and we were ready for business by 7:00 PM.Fortunately, that was also the time for the first meeting to begin! Pretty cool how that worked out......

The Archaeology Dig Site, the room where we had Bible story,
History's Mysteries, and the skit using our willing volunteer offspring.

The ancient stone pottery are my favorite pieces,
though I'm also very partial to the scroll.

These pillars were fun to paint...sort of .
I used a board as my template, spraying dark first
and then light.

Each night we had a short skit set in a school room. Devon was
the only believer in Creation and got to present compelling
arguments for his case. Devon and arguing just go together like, well,  like
strawberries and ice cream.

Our science lab where we did activities and had a
science experiment every class. 

With three meetings a day, we barely had time to catch a spare breath, but it was lots of fun. Plus you get free food in the cafeteria. The kids really enjoyed it, and God helped everything to go smoothly, even though we had to make quite a few last second when our helpers and skit actors got stranded all day in Yellowstone with their youth group. They got to see more of Old Faithful than they ever wanted to!

It was bitter-sweet to come to the end of our time there in Bozeman, but I was ready for a break. Not so our attendees who kept saying they wished campmeeting were longer. All summer even. Are you trying to kill me!? I think 4 days is PLENTY! I glad we got the opportunity, and I'd definitely do it again. In a few decades when I'm rested up again.