The episode in which I learn not to taunt Mother Nature.

Much like last summer, we've been having a very dry June and July. That'snot to say that we don't ever have rain forecast to fall, it's just thatrain never does. As such, we've been doing plenty of watering. Last night,as we were getting ready to sit down to dinner, the National Weather Servicebroke into the radio program to which we were listening with a severethunderstorm warning. The warning promised quarter-size hail, strong winds,heavy rains, thunder, lightning, and the threat of tornadoes. After goingso long without rain, I told Sarah that I was going out to stand in theyard, "naked with a golf club" because we certainly weren't about to see anyof the dreadful effects of a storm, much less the needed rain. Suffice it to say that one taunts Mother Nature at one's own peril.

Shortly after my little show of bravado, the skies darkened and filledwith clouds. Then, as I was assembling my sandwich, rain started to fall intorrents as though someone had flicked a switch. I muttered something abouthow it probably wasn't rain, but actually was a mis-aimed sprinkler and wenton assembling my dinner. Then the wind started blowing and our kitchen wasfilled with an unearthly blue glow. Sarah had been watching out the backwindows and she said that a large limb had fallen off one of our trees andon to the power lines that supply our neighborhood with power. As the limbfell there was all manner of unhealthy electrical arcing. Two of the threepower lines snapped, but the third held strong and the limb of non-trivialsize soon started to smoke and burn, even though it was caught in atorrential downpour.

Of course, as soon as the power lines snapped, the power to our housewent out so I called the local electric utility and put our house on theiroutage list.

The rain stopped shortly thereafter, but the limb continued to smolderand burn, so I called 911. The limb seemed satisfied to continuesmoldering and smoking, so we sat down to our dinner. Just as I was aboutto take the first bite of dinner, the back yard was filled with a brightorange light that scared the bejesus out of me. The third power line hadfinally snapped. At least that finally stopped the smoking and thesmoldering.

At that point, it was just a waiting game. The police came by and toldus not to touch the downed wires. The fire department came by (twice) andtold us not to touch the downed wires. The electric utility came by andtold us not to touch the downed wires and that a line truck would come by inthe near future and fix the mess.

We eventually finished dinner, got out the candles, and contemplated howAbraham Lincoln did all that legal reading by candlelight without going blind. We crawled in tobed around 23:00. About 23:45, the local utility showed up and startedfixing the mess in the back yard. They started with a good half-hour ofrunning a chain saw. After that, it was a solid three and one-half hours oftalking, walking back and forth from the yard to the street, generallymaking men-fixing-things noises. Dalla, of course, woke up periodically towarn us that men were outside the house. Sometimes, these warningsconsisted not just of barking, but also jumping on the bed to bark out thewindow at the men, who in her mind, had no business being there.

Finally, about 03:30 this morning, the work was completed, and the powercame back on. Once it was light this morning, I went out to inspect thedamage to the yard caused not only by the tree dropping a giant limb, butalso by some utility guys mucking around in the dark.

There is a large, blackened limb lying amongst the hostas at the back ofthe yard that I'll have to move tonight. The banana tree we recentlytransplanted into the back garden which appeared to be in imminent dangerfrom the limb managed to survive the ordeal unscathed. I'm sure that someof the hostas will suffer badly, but we can replace them.

All in all, we came out of the experience not too badly considering myhubris and Mother Nature's power.

What else have we been up to these past few weeks? Sarah and I have beenpiling up the miles on our bikes of late as we get ready for our fifty-mileride in a couple of weeks. Yesterday, we put on another 37. Sarah willprobably put another twenty or thirty on her bike today as she rides with herclub. While she is doing that, I'll probably take the dog hiking on the IceAge trail as Dalla didn't get any good chances to run this weekend.

The house needs to be painted, so we finally decided on a color scheme.

We bought the paint over the Fourth of July weekend as we found a good saleat Sherwin Williams. Now we just need to find the time to get started. Ourweekends are basically booked from now until the second week of August.

Then we have a couple of free weekends (maybe only one) before we run in toscheduled time again into September. So, it's looking like late Septemberand early October for house painting.

Our softball team has two games left in its season. One this week andone next week. Then our Friday nights will be available to us once again.

We've been playing on the curling club team, so it isn't just an hour ofsoftball and then home again. Like any good curling match, we head out to abar afterwords and visit, drink, and eat after the match. So, each gametakes one hour and the obligatory socializing afterwords takes at least 1.5hours, in playing again next year. However, the last few weeks have changedmy mind as I've seen the ball more and we've had more fun at the post-gamefestivities. We lost last week after I mis-played a drive to center and itwent to the wall for a bases-clearing, in-the-park, grand slam. Not myproudest moment, but in my defense, that was the first game I've played inthe outfield and I'm just not used to how the ball comes off the bat. Istarted in on the ball, but it ended up over my head and I was forced tochase it to the wall instead of catching it. Fortunately, no one on theteam seemed too bent out of shape about it as everyone else has madeunfortunate mistakes this year.