There also seems to be a problem with the muffler--or lack of muffler....
Alamo Bay = Total Success
View from the venue: Sunset over Austin
It’s been a week now since Alamo Bay Writers’ Workshop, and I’m going to brag: it was a total total smashing success!
The participants were skilled, learned, funny, articulate, cool, and possessed of touching poems and stories. Fellow instructors Diane Wilson, Larry Heinemann, and Lee Grue were terrific. Pam Booton's organizing skills were/are incredible. The venue was fantastic.
Everything was great. And next year will be even better.
The Tornado Plan
We had a big round of storms come through here on May 20th—storms that were bigger and more deadly elsewhere, but still big here. I took the screen grab to the left—the radar showing a tornado-producing cell bearing down on Pittsburg. I posted the picture to Facebook, and an old friend commented, “Tell me you have a plan.”
A plan? Me? I'm an improvisationalist, or try to be.
But I did have a plan, kinda.
I like my house a lot—it’s comfortable and pleasant at all times. But it’s not tornado-proof. And there are no inside, windowless rooms in which to hide. What then should I do to sit out the cyclone?
The car is in the garage, right? A room faced on three sides by other rooms, with one big opening on the outside, but shut the garage door and you’re totally inside. And if you’re in the car, seat-belted and air-bagged, you're doubly inside. Right? Maybe. So I grabbed jump bag with my meds and books and Dr. Pepper, and a flash drive with my current writing (also saved to Dropbox), and I tossed it all in the car.
After a few minutes, the community tornado sirens went off. I did not get in the car. I stood out on the porch and watched the storm.
Yeah, I was one of those dumb people who stand outside gawking at the storm. But the storm of course was sublime!
Also—big world, small tornado.
My neighbors have a tornado bunker, and they ran and hid. Here they are after the all-clear was sounded….
I suppose that if I stood on the porch and saw the tornado coming, I'd have time to go jump in the car and strap in. But maybe not.
At any rate, here is some appropriate music....
And then it Finally Rained....
I was as at the prison and we were writing about lying— about liars and lies told —when an instructor came by the classroom and said that the education building was being shut down, and the inmates needed to return to the units. So I gave everyone a homework assignment and the students left and I began packing up, when one of the students stuck her head back in the classroom and said, “It’s raining! You’ve got to see this!”
We’ve been in a hard, hard drought this year, and then, as of today, 23 straight days of over 100 degrees. It’s been rough.
I went out into the hallway and the instructor said, “Well, it’s trying to rain. Been a long time!”
One of the rules of the institution is that in times of thunder and lightning, inmates are restricted to the units, and so my students went all excited back to the barracks. I closed up my briefcase and went outside—and was half-blinded by dust. We’ve been so dry there’s not much but dirt and dust in this area, and the storm winds were picking up the dirt and blowing it around. I signed out at the security station and went to my car. A few drops of mud came from the sky. There were sudden blasts of cool air—cool!—from downdrafts, followed by the buffets of hot air. I could smell rain.
I drove back through the neighborhood—the sky was sort of open to the north, and stormy in the east and south. In this photo, looking north, you can see a field of dead grass. Texas right now is a sad, khaki-colored state….
Then it really started to rain! Amazing. I made a video of my drive home….
(Remember, I was a professional driver for six years—don’t try this at home!)
I stopped by the grocery store to get some supplies, and people were lined up under the awning gazing heavenward with looks of wonder on their faces.
Readers in damp climates, don’t take for granted the miracle of water from the sky.
And—why not?—some rock and roll….
Just hope I don't have to wait a long time to play this again.....
Lowell Mick White
Author of the novels Normal School and Burnt House and Professed and That Demon Life and the story collections Long Time Ago Good and The Messes We Make of Our Lives.