Posts Tagged With: storm

A walk through Tornado Alley

“If you don’t like the weather in Oklahoma… just wait five minutes.” This is a commonly used phrase describing the extreme changes that can happen within a moments time. I’m here at the end of Spring which means the rain is finishing up and the sun brings on the heat. Combine those two things and you have a humid day that often leaves you feeling sticky and constantly thirsty. This year, another element has shown it’s face earlier than usual and that little monster is called tornado season.

It’s usually the thunder that wakes you up. Sharp cracking is the first sound that alarms your peaceful rest followed by the roll of deep thunder. With the windows rattling and your heart pounding, sleep is now something of the past. As you attempt to drift off, the continuous lightening keeps your room looking like there’s paparazzi outside with dozens of cameras constantly snapping photos. I’m actually writing this post with the sound of the storm as my music and the constant light flicker as a reminder that it’s still dark outside.

With that said, let me take you on a tour of an Oklahoma Spring day. Ours starts as a bright event, with clear skies and happy children chasing butterflies as we gather in my families yard.

My dad is currently building a studio in his backyard for my grandfather who needs assisted living. This perfect sized guest house will also be a great future hide out for my siblings as they grow up and “need space”. I’m not sure if you could pay me enough to go back to those teenage years! Either way, this project has turned into a family effort due to my talented father severely injuring his dominate arm. With cousins, kids and friends… let the construction continue!

What you can’t see here, is the intensity building as we raced against the wind to finish what was necessary. Tornado warnings had been rumoring the town all day!








With our powers combined, the days work is wrapped up just in time to hear the first city alarm sound. It’s informing us that with the next siren, you must promptly take shelter. Here are the clouds bubbling up on the way back to my grandmas house.



Photo opportunity! The usual handstand picture before the storm takes over (Thanks for the fun idea Aunt Cindee!) and a “creative” sign displayed by a local.



My cousin Kaleb captured a few photos on his way home as well. He lives in the other direction and was heading towards the lightening! Notice in the first picture, he’s actually following the storm trackers from the news station.




As Kaleb gained ground, this was his final photo before putting the camera down and thankfully making it safely to his wife and daughter.


As the darkness followed him, the clearing left us with birds singing in the light of a rainbow. This was definitely an unexpected sight after going through such aggressive weather.


To give you an idea of just how separated the sky can be, I took this panoramic as the circulation was beginning. It was like watching day turn to night in seconds.


Attempting to sleep, a few more violent knocks at the window, tells me that the sky is still dancing and the threat isn’t over. A big day, a longer night and finally the sun welcomes a new start.

The morning arrives with blue sky and a few tree limbs scattered around the damp ground as the only evidence of the vicious night prior. This brings a heart of gratitude and numerous phone calls to check up on loved ones around. I’m thankful to say that my volunteer work for the Oklahoma tornados will not be done in the town of my family… others aren’t so fortunate.

To end this post on a cheerful note, I’ll return to the common phrase, “If you don’t like the weather in Oklahoma, just wait five minutes”. Here’s a recap of the 48 hours that followed the tree snapping, life threatening, heart pounding chaos.

The sun is out, the twisters are gone so now it’s time to play!

Working up a sweat!




Water balloon games!



Any excuse to get wet…





What do you get with a hot day, buckets of water and 6 siblings in a backyard? A classic water fight!










It took no convincing to finish up the fun with some good ol’ fashion country swimming!





Kicked out by the neighbors horses, we headed back home with all smiles and more memories to add to the precious family album.



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Another pit stop in Oklahaoma

After a short stretch back to Sacramento and a quicker stop in Arizona, I decided to spoil myself with another visit to Oklahoma! Now when I say “spoil”, I’m not talking about the good ol’ dry brown scenery or the flat roads with limited landscapes. I’m purely speaking of connecting with my precious family that I’m extremely grateful for.

I’m going to dedicate this one to my Aunt’s (my father’s sisters) and their mom who I call Grams.

Ill start with Aunt Tonya. Through example, she has been one of my greatest teachers. With her nurturing character she would (and did) give to others when she was the one in need. She was a natural at comforting the unsettled and there was never any doubt that her intensions were driven from pure love. I’m confident to believe that Aunt Tonya is missed and thought of often by those who were blessed to have known her.

Things I would be honored to say that I inherited from my Aunt Tonya: The ability to truly embrace joy, inner strength, and the adorable “shoulder bounce” that happens once the giggles kick in.
This photo is the two of us about 25 years ago. Her eyes say it all…


I’ve been told that my style mostly resembles Aunt Cindee. The family says, “When she was your age…” she carried herself with a natural bohemian vibe and a hippie flare. With a contagious laugh and quick mind, you can imagine the hours I enjoy bonding with her. I think if we grew up together, we would of made fantastic college roommates!

Things I inherited from Aunt Cindee: Love for homemade soup, a gypsy heart and her sense of humor (that’s based on exaggerated visuals and usually leads to a dramatic description that goes way too far… all resulting in involuntary distorted facial expressions).

After raising two children, she now designates most of her time to her energetic (to say the least) grandson and her job at Cushing Valley Hope. This is a drug rehab center in a stately mansion that provides residential, day or partial care, medically monitored alcohol detox, family and continuing care services. Also, the location for my handstand pic of the day!


Oh Aunt Heidi, Aunt Heidi, Aunt Heidi…. What will we ever do with her? She has a blunt direction when sharing her opinion and an effortless way to make you laugh. Being around her gives you a youthful sense of life (she didn’t pay me to say that). While raising her teenage daughter, she still maintains sanity and invites me for countless hours of laughter and reminiscing.

Things I inherited from Aunt Heidi: The nickname “Shug”, love for high energy socializing and her “guns” (aka arms). Also when I sarcastically laugh, my mom says “that was SO your Aunt Heidi!”

Grams, the woman that raised these 3 lovely ladies along with my dad (she must have super powers) plays a special roll in my life. Without too much said, she is simply one of my best friends. I can tell her anything, she gets my humor and most of all, she has shown me unconditional love through all the stages of my life.
Things I believe that I inherited from my irreplaceable Grandma: The love for good food, the eyes she gave my father, occasional necessary stubbornness and the ability to finish a soft serve cone quicker than you can start one.

The reason there are no photos of the girls described above is because they have mastered the art of “picture dodging”… Something I clearly didn’t inherit from them!

Need an idea for a creative gift? I took this photo of my family and made it into a puzzle for Grams. Love it!





To wrap up my Oklahoma family time, here are some fun photos of me and my sibs goofing off on a sunny Oklahoma winter day.







They set up an obstacle course from dads work scaffolding, garden gear and their own toys. Creativity is must when you’re raised without a television, computer or video games… I love to see what they come up with!




Now off to the airport on a snowy day in Oklahoma. Next stop? It’s a surprise.




They even had to “de-ice” the plane before take off.


My favorite part about taking off in a storm, is watching the sky break into a beautiful calm blue. Exposing the fact, that everyday is a sunny day… sometimes there’s just a few clouds in the way.




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