Thursday, August 4, 2005

If Only I'd Heeded Mary's Advice!

 Weekend Assignment #71: Recount the best piece of advice you were ever given... that you didn't take at the time.

Extra Credit: Here in Scotland (where I am) they have a dish called haggis, "normally made with the following ingredients: sheep's heart, liver, and lungs (or "lights"), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock and traditionally boiled in the animal's stomach for several hours." Want some? - J.S.

Y'know, ever since John Scalzi announced he was going to Scotland, I've been waiting for a haggis joke.  Let's get the extra credit out of the way right now: no.  I might attempt to swallow such a thing for a million dollars, but nothing less than that would induce me to try such adventurous food.  Nobody's likely to throw around big money for that purpose, so I don't have to worry about whether I could or would do it.

Let's spotlight one piece of advice here, instead of the two I planned.  I'll be using just one photo, for reasons that should be pretty clear.

Here's the advice: "Well, I hoped you learned to never leave home without your camera!" - Comment from alphawoman1 - 9/19/04 4:40 AM

Mary wrote this after I complained that I'd seen an amazing double rainbow that day, and didn't have our (old Mavica) digital camera with me to take a picture. The Mavica was really too big and clunky to carry around all the time, but I did carry it around a lot for a while after that. 

Yet even now, when I carry the Canon PowerShot S410 in my pocket or purse nearly every day, I still get caught in photographic situations without it sometimes.  Tonight was a prime example.  John and I were in the back yard, discussing the work to be done there before the appraiser comes.  John pointed out a rainbow, which reminded of the rainbow I didn't get to photograph last September.  This latest one wasn't very impressive, though, so I didn't bother to excuse myself from John, go into the house for the camera, put the flash memory back in it, come back outside, and take a picture of a small piece of rainbow against a gray sky.  But I thought about it!

Still, that was nothing.  Bigger photo ops would soon follow.

It started to sprinkle a tiny bit as we came inside.  We'd been talking about going out to eat - on a budget, because a lot of our money goes to eating out. John wants us to show more fiscal discipline than that.  Finally we left the house for a nearby restaurant, where we could eat for under $20.  I didn't take my camera along.  Despite Mary's well-remembered advice, this seemed like a reasonable decision.  It was starting to rain for real, and getting on toward evening anyway, and the clouds really weren't very pretty at that moment. Besides, John gets a little annoyed when my blog-related photography interferes with our time together. 

We started out for Chuey's, but when he saw the parking lot, John thought it looked too crowded.  We turned left instead, heading for Joe's Crab Shack or the other Chuey's or...  well, it didn't matter where we were headed, because we wouldn't get there any time soon.  That's when the rain turned into one of the most impressive storms I've ever seen in Tucson.  There were no lightning strikes touching down, but the other elements were there, chiefly hard-driving, slanting rain.

Have you ever driven on a Florida highway, such as the Bee Line between Orlando and Cape Canaveral, in near-hurricane conditions?  Tonight was like that.  Back in the late 1970s, the Bee Line didn't even have a shoulder for twenty or thirty miles at a time.  It also had very few exits.  If the visibility was zero because of some storm, there wasn't much you could do except put on your headlights and crawl along.  I remember my Mom being terrified, pulling off at the first opportunity, and praying that we'd make it through the storm alive.  Later I drove in similar conditions myself.  It was exciting, but I wasn't terrified.  The only time I've ever been really worried in bad driving conditions was on a fog-bound, twisty freeway (I-15 or I-8 or I-5, I forget which) through low mountains in Southern California.
last FridayJohn's not usually one to worry about a storm.  In fact, he's fond of saying (as am I) that he likes "dramatic weather." But tonight,as I told him about the almost-zero-visibility photo I took last Friday (as seen to the left here), the storm became so fierce that it made Friday's rain look like a light drizzle.  Everyone put on headlights and slowed to about ten miles per hour, just like in Florida. And like my mom on the Bee Line, John actually pulled off Kolb Road and stopped, to give the storm (the worst of it, anyway) time to pass.  I don't remember ever seeing John do that before, in 26 years of marriage.

"I used to like exciting weather," John said, "but now I can't help but worry about the damage."  We weren't quite sure whether the very loud impacts buffeting John's recently-purchased, late model Olds were hail or just very hard rain.  John was worried the hail would damage the car's finish, and that back home, the roof would start to leak again.

John left the car parked on the side street for five or ten minutes, until well after two other  cars that pulled up behind us had started up again and left.  Meanwhile, we watched some unfortunate pedestrian walk by, his hand to his forehead.  The rain on his bald head must have been extremely unpleasant.

"I can't see that hand helping him much," I commented.

"It's so he can see," John said.

I wish I had a picture of that for you, but alas, no camera!  Ditto the slanting rain.  John said I couldn't have gotten a decent picture anyway, but it wasn't dark yet, and the streetlights lit the rain.  I could have done it.

Eventually the storm seemed to be letting up a bit, but as we eased back into traffic it worsened again.  John pulled off again.  This time we parked on a larger side street.  Next to us was a parking lot behind something that may have been a church, or possibly a small school or daycare.  A light by the back entrance to the building lit a serious waterfall coming from that part of the roof.  A few hundred yards in front of us (we were facing away from Kolb this time), a dip in the road turned into a wash, in an amazing demonstration of flash flooding.  One sports car drove into it early on.  He gunned his way through at maybe thirty miles an hour, sending plumes of water as high as the car's roof and beyond.  After that, mostly only trucks and SUVs crossed the rising water.  "I bet it's a foot and a half deep now," John said.

The porch light of the church suddenly went dark, leading John to fret about a possible power failure at home.  It wouldn't be the first time this year.  But no: the house next to the church was still lit.  The light had been turned off, by a timer or by a person, it was impossible to tell which.  But it wasn't a power failure.

By the time we got back onto Kolb, it was getting dark.  It was full dark when we reached Broadway and Wilmot.  The flooding in the street was amazing.  John headed for the left-to-middle of the three northbound lanes on Wilmot.  He probably wasn't in a single lane, but it hardly mattered. The lane markings were completely invisible on the dark, wet pavement, and the right lane was underwater anyway.  The other cars lined up behind John, single file.

John was trying for Joe's Crab Shack on the right, but when we got there, John decided not to try to cross the rushing water between us and the parking lot.  The storm drain in front of St. Michael's was obviously clogged or flooded, causing a recurring peak of whitewater rapids at the church entrance.  I bet I could have gotten a flash picture of the flash flooding, but still no camera!

John turned left onto Fifth, seeking a route that was less flooded, letting the weather determine where we ended up going for dinner.  A broken palm tree lay just west of the First Magnus parking lot.  A block or two farther on, both westbound lanes of Fifth were blocked by cars - stopped or stalled out side by side.  One had its flashers on.  Other cars had pulled over behind them, waiting for a lane to clear.  We turned north again on a side street, but were stymied at least once more by a street that had become a river. Around us on the side streets, other cars were either stopped or edging along, making their way to desired destinations by novel and circuitous routes. 

Eventually we came out behind Saturn (the dealership, not the planet), and made our way to El Molino.  I wasn't that thrilled with the food, but I would love to have gotten photos for you of the original painting and vintage bullfight posters from 1947.  Maybe some other time.

Tomorrow, the camera will be with me for sure!  Still, I hope my word pictures about tonight made an acceptable substitute.  Yeah, I know: it would have been better with photos.



ryanagi said...

You did an excellent job describing the scene. I could see it. I've only pulled over once for weather like that...and only because my wipers failed. Fuse blew. I remember another time where the rain was coming down so hard and fast, it was a sheet of drops...and I had my mother in the car. She was WIGGING in sheer panic, but I just squinted at the brake lights in front of me and drove slowly on. I had a feeling that storm system was sitting over a localized area and it was better to keep moving. I was right. We eventually came out of it. I knew if we'd pulled over (as so many others were doing) we would still be sitting in it hours later. Glad you got some dinner finally! I was starting to wonder if you were going to just give up and head back home. LOL

ondinemonet said...

Karen :)

As usual, you made me feel like I was right there with you. I saw the pictures viidily due to how well you tell a story. That is what makes you one of my very favorite journal authors in the land...your marvelous way with words. Like a fine tapestry!

Always, Carly :)

chasferris said...

You and John have pluck to have continued on in conditions like that.  I'd have headed for home for left overs or scraps.  Maybe thw way home was as hazardous as the unknown flooding ahead.
I, too, see my best photo OPS when my camera is at home or out of reach. But when I take it with me, nothing happens. Maybe that is a good way to insure smooth sailing, hazard free travelling. Take the camera.

sakishler said...

Well, if I *must* choose one over the other, I'll take a thousand words over a picture any day.

Great entry.

alphawoman1 said...

good advice from a very smart woman!

mutualaide said...

Oh my!  That's the best advice.  I recently missed out on some great shots of a young deer playing with a wild rabbit.  Right in the front yard of a home not too far from me.  Since then, yep, I don't forget the camera, even when my arms are full to overflowing.