Blow Westward, Winds of Prayer

Like many of you, I have family and friends in Oklahoma, and I am happy to report that they were all okay through the recent swaths of destruction wrought by those sinister storms. One friend, a former colleague, lives in Shawnee, but she and her family were spared. Prayers answered, for sure. I have never been in a tornado or even seen one. There was an afternoon when I lived in Iowa and was driving toward Cedar Falls for a meeting. I turned the radio on when I noticed the weather ahead of me looked peculiar. The sky was black and green with dense clouds swirling low to the ground. The radio announcer started reporting that a tornado was just seen at such and such a place in Cedar Falls, and another one, and still a third.

At this point I made the wise decision to not drive on into Cedar Falls, just a few miles away. I turned off the highway and parked along a gravel road near a deep ditch. Shortly after, the all clear was sounded and I went on in.

My sister and her husband live outside Bixby, near Tulsa, and they have what she calls their "hidey hole," a concrete and steel tornado shelter deep into the ground. It has a heavy steel door with steel rods to hold it shut, steel steps leading down, and a heavy concrete and earth dome with a ventilation pipe overhead. Inside, there are two chairs, a table with a radio on it, and flashlights.

They spent time down there these last couple of days.

There are two old musicals that I enjoy. One is "Music Man," set in Iowa. I am partial to that one, being an Iowan. The other is "Oklahoma!" which is pretty good, too. But now, thanks to the tragedies these last few days in that fine state, I can never again hear the overture from the musical that sings forth, "Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plains . . . "

Please keep those people afflicted by the wind in your prayers

Peculiarly Potent Potpourri

This posting, dear readers, will be short, a veritable potpourri of bits and pieces that have lingered on my mind. Hope you enjoy. First, I will be killed in a parking lot, and not by muggers. You heard it here first. I will not pass away sweetly in my sleep, be killed in a car wreck, or fall victim to a plunging and fiery meteorite (although, in a sense, that would be cool). No, I will be killed in a parking lot by some dimwit who is doing one or any combination of the following: mistaking the gas pedal for the brake, applying makeup, confusing reverse and drive, buzzed on drugs and/or alcohol, reading a map, chatting on a cell phone, or spilling a hot drink in their lap. Just thought I'd let you know because I've had several close calls. I am to parking lot peabrains what trailer parks are to tornadoes. Just sayin'.

Speaking of tornadoes, my long-suffering wife and I recently returned from a 2,800 mile trip to Iowa and Oklahoma, where we survived a midnight tornado. In a single wide. My sister assured me that we were okay, and that the single wide was anchored by steel cables in concrete. Which meant that the single wide would stay put. All that told me was that we would be sucked through the roof  into a raging, black vortex of death. My wife woke up, realized that our affairs were in good order, and went back to sleep. I remained wide awake for the two hours of the storm, concentrating on naming the capitols of the states. But, because we weren't in a parking lot, we dodged that one.

Anyway, on the trip, I noticed the names of rivers. And it occurred to me that, if a river has a name, the source of that name should be in that river. Buffalo River should have a buffalo. Spoon River should have a spoon. And French Broad River should have a, well, never mind.

On the above-mentioned trip, we passed through a town in Missouri. Peculiar town. I mean, that was the name of the town. Peculiar, Missouri. I'm serious. Which led to all kinds of weird thoughts in my head. What do you call the sports teams? The Peculiar Perverts, with a mascot being a man in a raincoat? One would be born in the Peculiar Hospital, go to Peculiar schools, have Peculiar friends. And so on. Although as far as names go, I'm partial to Frog Level, North Carolina. Or Lost Nation, Iowa. What fun!

My younger daughter, acclaimed published poet, wedding planner, and book concierge, recently drove by an empty church that was up for sale. By owner. With a phone number. Think about that.

Enough rambling.

ALERT! In my next blog, I will offer up, free of charge, the prologue to my upcoming novel, Signs of Struggle, due out come autumn. Stay tuned, dear readers. And thanks for stopping by.