Disasters Tibial, Meteorological, and Technological

The general pleasantness of being home with the girls was tempered slightly but annoyingly on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday by three disasters.

Wednesday, I f#@#*ed up my shins with a little slip at the playground. I blogged it here already, but let me repeat my statement that it's not good to be able to see you own tibia and to add that I'm now experiencing two phantom sensations: 1) a drop of water (or blood) is rolling  over the lacerations, even though they are bone (ha!) dry; 2) the affected strips of flesh on my shins are somehow detached and, floating free of my legs, jiggle when I walk. Not pleasant.

Thursday, all that paled in comparison to a god-awful hailstorm that punctuated thirteen hours of rain. The good folks at Northfield.org have documented the storm with a giant set of pictures up on Flickr, but the Tassavas experienced it directly. The prelude was comparatively mild: Julia and I had to run back and forth to the car during a quick trip to Target. I got wet; she didn't. Then, driving over to the library downtown, the hail started, rather lightly. I pulled over, contemplating the decision to just go home, but concluded (egged on by my dear daughter yelling, "Drive to library, Daddy!" from the back seat) that I might as well go. How bad could it be? At this point, the low strings began an ominous crescendo.

Within minutes of arriving at the library, the weather sirens went off, and everyone in the building - about thirty people - was herded into the only secure shelter, a T-shaped hallway next to the bathrooms. I was a bit unsettled to see the real urgency and worry in the faces of the library staff. From there, we could hear the storm intensify and reach its peak with the hail. When the sirens finally ended, we went outside to discover that our three-month old Saturn Vue had been pretty badly hit: the front windshield was starred almost to the point of opacity, and the roof and hood were pitted with dozens of hand-sized dents. We fared better than others, though. Driving around town, I've seen numerous cars with windows knocked out (one minivan was missing its front and rear windows, the driver's side door window, and a window on the passenger side), and even a few houses with the telltale blue tarp over a smashed-out window or skylight. The Northfield police lost most of their cruisers, so they borrowed cars from the county sheriff, which lent an occupying-army flavor to the city. And the two car dealerships out on the highway both lost their entire inventories - every last car, wrecked.

The fun didn't stop there, though. Shannon, her mom, Genevieve, Julia, and I spent an hour on Thursday evening in our only secure room, an under-stairs closet, after the power went out and the sirens sounded again. Julia's frequently repeated account is accurate: "We had to go into closet several times with Nonna and Mama and baby Genevieve! Sang songs yike Yuckee Doodoh and Fwosty the Nowman. Siren so loud! Julia scared of thunder." It was kinda fun to see her face, literally lit up by a too-big flashlight, as she looked at us to see if we were scared.

Amidst all this excitement, I did manage to place a claim with our car insurance company and to get on the list at Enterprise for a rental car (thankfully covered by through our insurance policy). I picked up the car on Friday (thanks to my father-in-law, who shuttled me up to the office), but I have yet to hear when we can get the car fixed: with probably hundreds of damaged cars down here, every auto-body shop between Owatonna and Burnsville is going to be booked for weeks.

And thank god I did my telephoning on Thursday, because on Friday, we lost our phone and DSL internet all day when some dunce cut Northfield's fiber-optic line trunk line. Why this meant I also lost cell-phone service, I have no idea. Incommunicado all day, I spent my downtime reading two depressing articles on New Orleans' recovery from Katrina in the New Yorker and Fortune, and felt a tiny bit of kinship.

Blessedly, today was calm. We had phone and internet service in the house, and blue skies above. I hope it keeps up.

email: christopher at tassava dot com