Avoid the rain; stay inside and read

Monday, May 19, 2008 | 10:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:43 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Thirty years ago the world seemed like a bigger place before technology pushed us into fast forward, and we knew within a few minutes what was going on in the next county, the next state and ultimately around the world.

And so we knew in microseconds about the cyclone hitting what was formerly Burma; the tornadoes in southern Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma; and the major earthquake in China. Thousands of lives were lost and a multitude have been injured. Much property has been damaged beyond description.

If you have ever suffered a natural disaster, then you know that after you make it through the immediate trauma the minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years go by, but you never truly recover. You never forget where you were at that exact moment the disaster struck, and the memories rain down on you like a spring shower. At the same time and same place, every year for some people, anniversary blues return.

April, May and June are very unsettling months for those of us who live in Tornado Alley. I have survived four tornadoes, two of which resulted in nearly $20 million each in damage. But my property was spared many of my neighbors and friends were not so fortunate. These experiences not only take their toll on people, physically, financially and materially, they often leave deep emotional scars.

The aftermath of these disasters is that people take Mother Nature a lot more seriously because they have seen for themselves the havoc she can wreak. Most people have emergency plans already in place for the spring storm season and most municipalities have emergency management personnel on hand, warning sirens and shelters available in case of a disaster.

Hardly a week goes by without us having our daily lives peppered with severe weather warnings. We seem to always be under a flood, thunderstorm or tornado watch. So, I’ve learned to adjust my life accordingly. My mantra is: Make no plans. I’m literally living my life one day at a time. What I do each day depends entirely on the weather.

My garden this year is taking the biggest hit. I haven’t planted one flower, and at this time I have no desire to. Because of the amount of rainfall, the garden as well as my lawn is a mess.

Because the weather is so unsuitable and my friends seldom see me, most of them seem to believe that I am using my time productively. They keep asking me if I’m working on a new book. No, the stack of research material, which may one day evolve into a book, is neatly sitting in a box in a corner. I’d like to say I’m spending my time spring cleaning and getting ready for my upcoming rummage sale.

But, since most of the days recently have been sunless, I’m enjoying the thing that I believe gloomy days are ideally suited for — reading. And as much as I would like to report that I am advancing my education by reading something worthwhile, I’m actually reading for fun. I’m deliberately searching my bookshelves for fun stuff and have been surprised that there is so much of it that I haven’t had an opportunity to read yet.

As my colleagues know, I am a sun lover, and I get down in the dumps when the clouds invade the sky, so I’m delighted to state that with the assistance of my sunlamp and my collection of humorous reading material I am able to provide congenial companionship to Geronimo, the cat.

When the weather clears up, I’ll have no more excuses for not getting my work done. In the meantime, there’s always tomorrow, I hope.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at

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