Tornado– Up Close and Personal

 Tornado– Up  Close and Personal

Our neighborhood looked like a junk yard, with trees and branches strewn about, splinters poking up at odd angles. stones and leaves and underbrush underfoot and across the roads. These are just a few of the hundred photos I took, all on and around our property:

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Electrical power lines that had fallen still lay mangled where they fell. The ground bore tire prints of a bulldozer that had entered and retreated, entered and retreated. Huge cylinders of tree trunks that had already been cut lay next to each other, moved just off the road so that cars could pass.  The scent of raw wood hung everywhere.   Tornado and Dawn on Lake Shish 018

We did not recognize our own road, except by our mangled mailbox on the corner:   IMG_0520 Copy of Transfered from Compaq 081

Our property suffered less damage than the dozen other properties along our little penninsula. An immense oak tree had fallen on our deck, the deck my father built eighteen years ago. Another  tree dug into  the edge of the garage roof. Our pier was intact and only our boat cover was damaged. The second picture (of the house) was taken from the pier.

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Most of our neighbors had trees through roofs, boats overturned or missing, and/or piers ripped out of the shore. 

Some people had been sleeping when the trees fell on their houses, and they slept through it! Some people had awakened, terrified, and  listened to trees falling around them. The sound was like “a barrage of gunshots.”

The wind seemed to haved dug into the ground and ripped the trees out from below their roots:

After we got over the shock, Mom and I worked like donkeys, raking and gathering debris and scattering it deep into the woods. Then, we ran around the city getting estimates for tree removal, deck reconstruction, and boat cover replacement.

The work took three full days. Between teardrops and sore muscles, we gave thanks to Allah for the blessings He’d given us all these years– the lovely summer days, the family gatherings, the friends and relatives who’d shared it all with us, and the hope of more such blessings.

The landscape has been profoundly altered, and cannot be restored except by time and nature. Still, much beauty remains:





My family’s summer vacation home, on a large lake four hours drive from our main home, needs repair.  Last week a tornado tore through our small lane, ripping up trees and tossing them everywhere. Our property was damaged, but our neighbor’s properties suffered worse damage.

Tomorrow I will leave with Mom to go there, assess the damage, and meet with the insurance adjuster. Since we have no internet connection, I will be out of touch for at least five days. I’ll bring back some photographs.

Alhumdullilah that no one was hurt, and that the damage is repairable.

Creative Photography


Creative Photography

Recently I bought a new camera.  While learning how to use it I took dozens of photos that were out of focus, badly composed, underexposed, and not worthy of holding  space on my hard drive. I deleted a dozen of them before I realized I could edit them, play with them, apply filters and distortions, change color saturation, lighting, etc., and end up with something totally different from the original, and much nicer to view! Here is one of my creations:

Gardens, Greens, and Yasmeen, July 2008 003  This started out as a green vine against a tree stump. 







Here’s another:

This one started out as a tree trunk with some plants growing around it.


I’ve got lots of photos of my grandkids. They are very hard to photograph because they move around constantly, and when they see the camera, they close their eyes because they know a flash is coming! 

The kid photos make for interesting creative effects. Here’s one that started out too ordinary to keep:

My daughter is sitting with her daughter on a swing. My daughter refused to smile. She she made an ugly face and thought she ruined the photograph, but she didn’t!

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 I’ve done some realistic ones, too. This is one of my favorite flowers, the fuchsia:

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Last week, a thunderstorm approached mid-morning. The sky became dark as night, yet the sunlight still shone in the distance. I went outside and took a few photos to capture the effect. Here is my favorite:

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I suppose I’ll have to start a Flickr account now, like those of you who have inspired me to try creative photography.  You know who you are:  ~W~, Unique, Aafke, Shahrzad, Susie! I’ve already got nearly one hundred photos, and they’re all different, some of them not even in purple or green!

Sharing the Truth

One of my readers has engaged me in an interesting conversation about religion. You can read it on Your Page. I would like to take this conversation to other readers. I’d like to hear other viewpoints. This topic has been discussed before, but it’s one that usually stirs the pot whenever it is raised.

Do you believe in “sharing the truth”? Do you feel so secure in your spiritual beliefs that you are not reluctant to tell people about it? Do you believe in evangelizing? 

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Do You Want to Know How I Got Rid of Them?


“Do You Want to Know How I Got Rid of Them?”

At first, I tried chemicals. Raid was readily available at the corner convenience store, in several formulas aimed at various vermin. Cockroaches weren’t the only pests in the buildings. Other brands also competed at eye-level on the shelves. I realized the problem was widespread.

One morning I opened my kitchen cabinet and found a big cockroach sitting in the middle of my breakfast bowl, rotating its feelers, as if offering itself up in sacrifice for my breakfast. The Raid had worn off. I shrieked and dropped the bowl, giving the roach an escape route. 

I pulled everything from every cabinet in the kitchen, cleaned and wiped all the little spaces between boards and doors and wall.  On a whim, I picked up a roll of gray industrial tape that I’d left on the counter the day before.   Isilver tape stuck lengths of tape over the openings in which I expected roaches might hide. For the next week I kept vigil over the cabinets, opening them several times a day just to surprise any cockroach that thought he had privacy in there. The surprise was on me, however, because I did not see a single roach anywhere!

I phoned Asma to tell her about my new approach.

At first, I taped only the insides of cabinets and closets. When I realized how efficient the method was— far better than chemicals, which reek and then stop working— I taped other areas of the apartment. Over time I perfected the technique, learning how to choose the narrowest width needed, and how to apply it straight, without wrinkles.  I sent my husband out for three more rolls of industrial strength silver tape.

three roles tape

Once that tape stuck, there was no ripping it off. Even a thumb-sized cockroach could not emerge from behind it. I taped door frames, baseboards, stoop, and window frames. I did a neat job so it wouldn’t look  industrial.  An imaginative person could have looked at the strips and thought  they were a decorative statement.

My most significant accomplishment was taping the bathroom. This technique evolved over several years of vacations, because while we were abroad, all cockroaches knew it, and gave themselves carte blanche to move in and set up housekeeping. They liked the bathroom best, even better than the kitchen.

I simply taped every crack and orifice I could find. Each year, the roaches would find new ones, and each year, I’d tape up the new ones. The bathroom actually became a room of visual delight, what with strips and squares of silver tape lining seams and covering holes. I should have photographed it. 

more silver tapeThe day we’d leave for vacation, I’d save the bathroom taping for last. At the last minute, after the luggage had been taken out and the kids were whining, “Mom, come on,” I would tape the entire toilet lid and seat cover where they met the bowl.

When the entire bathroom looked ready to board the plane with us, we were ready to leave. Later, while listening to the drone of the jet engines, I would turn my attention to all the neat stories I’d tell the people back home.  I would stop worrying about cockroaches, secure in the hope that I’d foiled the yearly immigration. I wondered whether I’d be able to boast of my lovely taping to anyone in the States. No, probably not. I wondered if I might at least meet someone  with whom I could share my favorite movie, Joe’s Apartment.

I did! My mom loved it; we laughed like kids. My sister, however, didn’t last beyond Joe’s first infestation.

Joe's Apartment