Friday, June 12, 2015

Spiders and Scorpions and Storms--Oh my!!

Memorial Day (5/25/15) began early for us...much to the chagrin of Jake and Cooper. Our stake's Boy Scout troop was hosting a Memorial Day pancake breakfast and garage sale in order to raise money for their camp and high adventure. They spent the previous two Wednesdays AND Saturday mornings selling tickets to the public outside local stores and walking around neighborhoods. I have it on authority that they raised around $8,000! Wow!

In order to have the breakfast and garage sale ready by 8am, however, the boys would need to be at the church by 5:30am. Not what two teen/tween boys wanted to hear on their day off from school (and first day of no seminary!) Their wide-eyed disappointment didn't affect me, however. They only had 3 1/2 days of school after that anyway! There would be plenty of time to sleep in until 6:30am. Thankfully, our neighbor and Jake's youth leader, Richard Scoresby, offered to pick the boys up that morning because he had to be at the church to set up bright and early too!

Jared works on Mondays (including holidays, apparently) but it was a treat that he didn't have to go in until 9am (leaving an hour later than normal at 8) and the doors to the express care could be locked at 4pm (instead of 7pm) making it a much needed shorter day for him as he was functioning as the solo provider that day and the day before. I whipped up some corn, tomato, avocado salad for Jared to take to the girls working with him and then I loaded the 3 littles in the burb and we headed to the church for the breakfast.

May had proved to be a wet month. We were flabbergasted at how much rain Texas was getting this spring. This was like Oregon, but so unexpected for Texas. The locals we ran into would comment they never get this much rain. It just wouldn't stop. Our drought status had been overturned in a matter of weeks--reports indicated we had received so much rain in May that it could cover the entire state of Texas (that's a big state folks!) in 8 inches of water. Sadly, we weren't aware of it at the time, but just a day or two before Memorial day, there had been horrible flash flooding in regions of Texas around us where homes and people and cars had been swept away. Due to the wet trend, we knew there was a chance the pancake breakfast would be indoors, but it was a beautiful, partly cloudy morning with a perfect breeze.

For a scout function with a mass production of food, the pancakes were actually much better than I expected :) Fortunately for me, I already had some gluten free pancakes in the freezer that I could grab in a flash for Karcyn.

Having just moved within the year, we didn't have any big ticket items to donated for the garage sale to help the effort. I felt bad about that. But just a few days ago, I had come to the conclusion that we didn't need the tall, heavy floor lamps that were the only source of light in our 1970s living room in our previous home. Apparently they didn't believe in light back then. In our new house, we have tons of natural light AND overhead lighting. The lamps were still wrapped up in their original packing from Oregon almost twelve months ago. If we hadn't figured out a place for them at this point--we didn't need them. They are really nice too. They were, of course, taaall with big, heavy bowls for the "shades" and had 3-way lighting options. They cost about $80 EACH at Costco so I was hoping they'd go for a decent price at the garage sale. I'm not sure if this garage sale was a "make an offer" or "we'll decide what to price them if you decide you want them" kind of a sale. The only other thing we had to donate was also a last minute "ah ha." In mowing for a lady in our neighborhood, Jake was given a push mower that looks like this:

The sweet single woman, who had just moved to the neighborhood to be closer to her son and granddaughter, had finally purchased a bigger lawn mower and no longer needed it. She gifted it to Jake so he could use it for his "lawn mowing business" (it's not a business really--he's just advertised his services to anyone who would like to hire him to help around the yard or house). We never used it because we got our own mower shortly after and/or Jake just uses the mowers at the homes of those he works for. Because we have no storage shed, Jared was anxious to get it gone and I figured the garage sale would be a perfect solution for that.

When we arrived a little before 8am, we casually walked through the garage sale. I saw my lamps front and center. I had forgotten about the mower, however. As we made it through the long but quick moving line to get our food, we ran into Jake who was selling tickets for fried foods like: funnel cakes, fried oreos and twinkies. I asked him how it was going. He said good and then said our push mower was one of the first things to go. The guy who took it paid $50 for it and was thrilled to get it for that much! Cool!

The tables were filling up fast, and being the only person over 9 years old in our party, I had to go in shifts. But we found a table off in the back corner. The perfect place for the Houghs! There was an older couple sitting there and I asked if we could join them. I said they looked like they would be patient with our little group. I sat the kids down, got their pancakes ready and let them dig in while I went back for drinks.

In speaking with the couple, I asked them if they were members of the church or from the community. They said they didn't belong to the church, but had bought tickets from the scouts up at Lowe's in Bryan. I told them this was the church we attended and were glad to have them join us. We made some small talk, telling them we hadn't lived here very long and we learned they were building a new house too. Then, since they were finishing up breakfast as we were starting, they got up to leave. The husband said, "Come on, Dear. Let's go get your lamps." I stopped mid-bite and said, "Wait! Are those the two tall ones with big bowls at the top?" They said yes. I smiled and said, "Those were mine!! I'm so glad you have them for your new home." We thought that was pretty darn cool, considering the hundreds of people there that morning. What are the odds?

After the kids each picked out one toy, Karcyn and Calvin paying for their own and JJ getting his free on account of his cuteness, we went on our way. I needed to grab the mail from the few days prior. I'm so bad about getting it. Our mailbox is about the middle of our subdivision. It's not exactly a quick walk. On our way there, we found this guy.

We have seen more turtles this spring out here in our neighborhood that are always trying to cross the street. We always root for the little guys when they're in the middle of the road and aren't moving very fast. We brake for turtles! In fact, our garbage truck had just come around the corner and was headed right toward the turtle about couple houses away. I put the car in park, jumped out and started jogging back to them making sure they saw the turtle and to avoid him. They gave me a thumbs up that they did!

When we got back to the house, I sat down to read my scriptures and the kids wandered off to play. Karcyn came down later and wanted to go out back (Which is a first! We have a decent back yard but no one ever goes in it. They all want to be out front!! Seriously??) As she was trying to unlock the bolt, she was looking out the glass pane and exclaimed, "OH NO!"

I looked up from my scriptures. "What?" She said that there was a black widow spider right outside the door. I jumped up to look. When Jared was weed whacking a few months ago, he said he thought he saw one along the back side of the house. And sure enough--there it was. Ugh!

I texted Jared we found it. He told me to kill it. Like step on it? Was that even safe?? I wouldn't be able to go out the back door, the noise would scare it. So I went around the house and through the back gate, but by the time I got there it was gone.

In the meantime, this was Karcyn's way of protecting the family. The sign was right by the back door. (The first word is "Poisonous")

And what warning would be complete without "CAUTION" tape? Love that girl.

I needed to go to the grocery store. I avoid going on or around holidays whenever possible, but this was my normal grocery day and I couldn't do it on Sunday or wait until Tuesday. I did, however, wait for Jake and Cooper to come back from their garage sale so I could go alone and be quick. Jake was hoping to play basketball at the church about an hour and a half later, so I would definitely need to be efficient.

I went to the garage and pressed the button to open the automatic door. I walked in front of the suburban to get to the driver's side and right as the door was almost up, I heard a distinctive sound that I had never heard before. Kind of like "tink, tink" and then I saw something fall from the garage door and land right inside the garage. When I went to investigate, I realized I had spotted my first scorpion.

As scorpions go, it's probably on the smaller side. But that was not my main concern. It was too close for comfort! It started to move toward Jared's fishing rods/poles in the corner. Oh no you don't! I moved quickly too. I thought I had lost my advantage over it, but after moving a few poles, I had a good vantage point. I wasn't about to step on it either. So I took my grocery list, which was on a regular sized piece of paper and scooted it out on to the drive way, well away from the garage. I heard my neighbors working next door and walked over and asked if they had seen any scorpions yet. (They moved in about four months before us). My friend Mary said no. I smiled and announced I had found one and it was currently in my drive way.

She and a visiting relative named Julio came over to take a look. I explained what had just happened and as if on cue, Mike, Mary's husband arrived on the scene complete with goggles, gloves and a spray canister. He sprayed that scorpion with some poison. He says it's called Demon-X and it kills everything. They spray their garage, around the doors, windows, base of the house, etc. It took a little bit of time, but that scorpion did eventually die right before our eyes. Victory!

I thanked them profusely and walked back to my car. I needed to go back inside for something and as I was walking through the garage on the passenger side of the burb, out of the peripheral vision of my right eye, I noticed something moving. That something was big and dark and definitely not welcome.

I whipped my head around and scanned the area with my eyes. Our bikes and lawn mower are along that wall of the garage. That's when I spotted...THIS thing. Ewww!!!! (Is that an eye glowing??)

I slowly yet very purposefully went to get my neighbors again who had barely reached their garage and yelled, "GUYS!! Come back!! You gotta see this!"

I pointed it out to Julio and he, who lives on the Texas/Mexico border, said, "Oh, it's a tarantula." I froze and said, "Shut.Up. No it's not it can't be." He said tarantulas around his home are as common as birds are here. Refusing to believe it was one of those spiders, I respectfully argued that it didn't look hairy to me. After a little closer examination, he concurred and said it wasn't a tarantula, but a big house spider (he thinks). Biggest one he's ever seen--the size of a tarantula. SO GROSS!!! As I was making faces, Mary laughed and said, "Well, you know what they say. Everything's bigger in Texas!"

Mike was back in a flash with his Demon-X and sprayed the dickens out of that thing. It took a little longer to die. Then, when Julio was at a good angle, he took a shovel and smashed it for good measure. Its innards stained our garage floor, it was SO big. Seriously, nasty.

I was again, grateful for the help from my neighbors and really needed to be on my way. Almost thirty minutes had passed since I told the kids I was leaving for the store. And I hadn't even made it out of my garage yet! With the two back-to-back creepy crawly confrontations I had just experienced, I was kind of hesitant to get in my car. But I did. And you better believe the first place I went was the Country Store to pick up my personal supply of Demon-X. There was no one in the store when I walked in. I was greeted, almost in unison, by three sales associates at the front counter. I was a woman on a mission and happily announced with a fixed determination, "I need some Demon-X. Stat. Could someone show me where that is?" They laughed at my "let's-get-down-to-business" approach and one young man jumped up to help me. I got my poison. Got my sprayer. Got some tips from the locals and then headed to the grocery store.

We had been invited to a BBQ with our neighbor friends from the ward that evening and I had offered to bring some corn-on-the-cob (one of Karcyn's favorite) and some fruit and chips. I was able to get 6 ears of corn for $1 at the store! I don't think I've ever seen corn that cheap before. So I grabbed 18 ears of it! Karcyn and Cooper were gracious enough to help me husk them. 

Around 3:00pm, Jared had texted me from Brenham (which is 47 miles southwest of us) and said they were in a tornado watch. [A tornado watch means that conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes within the next couple of hours. Tornado watches are often issued an hour or two before severe weather begins, and they stay in effect for about six hours or until the thunderstorms pass through.] Wow! In the 10 months we have lived here, we had only been in a tornado watch once in October. I looked outside. There were definitely dark clouds forming to the west of us. It wasn't much longer before our county (Brazos) was under a tornado watch too! This was SO exciting for us! We love severe storms! As we watched the weather radar, there was a HUGE storm front that stretched north of Dallas all the way to Houston south of us, moving east. It would be a big one! We were already getting reports of tornadoes in north central Texas as the storm moved through. Over the next couple hours, we enjoyed the rumbling of thunder and flashes of lightning as the storm made its way towards us.

At 5:45, we headed up the street to the Marble's home for our indoor BBQ. By then it was POURING rain. The guys were grilling burgers and dogs under what little cover they could get from the front porch. It was a valiant effort. There was a cloud of steam surrounding them where the rain was constantly hitting the grill. Their tenacity paid off, however. Inside we ate the yummy burgers and dogs (bun-free for me, Jared and Karcyn) and visited with the group of friends from our ward. Outside, however, the storm was intensifying. At 6:30pm, various cell phones in the room started going off--giving long, high pitched siren sounds. We were now under a tornado warning! [A tornado warning means that a tornado is imminent, and you need to immediately seek shelter to protect yourself. Tornado warnings are issued when meteorologists detect strong rotation in a thunderstorm on radar — which indicates that a tornado is likely on the ground — or when spotters actually see a tornado on the ground.]

That got our pulses racing a bit. We all looked out the back window. The sky was green and gray and sheets of heavy rain pounded upon us. We concluded that if there was a tornado by us, we certainly wouldn't be able to see it through the storm. Our clue would be when pieces of fence and trees were ripped apart and started flying helter skelter. There was no where for the 17 of us to duck and cover. We were as "covered" and "protected" as we could be. The cell phones continued to alert us of the "emergent situation" every few minutes. The storm was on top of us. I was pretty confident we were not in the path of an oncoming tornado. It was pretty thrilling though! This went on for about 30 minutes before we were downgraded to a severe weather alert. (Who cares about that? :) The intensity of the storm had passed and we were now on the back end of the severe weather.

We took our kids home shortly afterwards. It was still raining hard. And it was still dark. There was thunder, but not as much and we continued to oooo and ahhh at the lightning.

After we got the kiddos in bed, I collapsed on my bed around 8:30. My bedroom blinds were open and I just laid there and watched the lightning. There was a spectacular display to the south of us. There weren't flashes of lightning but instead bolts that stretched across the sky like reaching fingers. I tried to take a picture with my phone but the lighting would just white out the whole shot.

We had neighbors who got some incredible pictures and they shared them on our subdivision network. That's when I discovered there's a "lightning cam" app for your phone. You just hold up your phone and it takes the pictures of the lightning. This could be life changing folks! I bought my app the next day and cannot wait to use it!

At one point the sky was pitch black. And then in the blink of an eye it was orange. It was strange at first until you realized the sky got dark while the sun was still up from the approaching storm. The sun was just starting to set and that was what we were seeing as the storm cleared the area.

These pictures don't do the sky any justice, but it looked like the sky was on fire. Pretty cool and a beautiful ending to our Memorial Day mayhem!