Saturday, January 11, 2020

Staying safe

Snow? Tornadoes? Unseasonable warm temperatures? A sudden freeze? Take your pick—it’s Texas. One hardly knows how to dress for the weather, let along take safety precautions. But friends and I had a sort of negative safety lesson last night.

Five of us were enjoying glasses of wine when the drizzle intensified into a good steady rain, thunder boomed, and lightning flashed. I assured everyone that the cottage is sturdy and added that I love a good storm. All was peaceful.

Until my alarm system began to beep. The youngest among us, a college student, went into the hallway, studied the control box, but apparently came to no conclusions. The system beeped again—so I went into the hallway, saw that it was warning us of a tornado watch, which is of course more serious than a warning. I punched the button that said, “Mark as read,” and went back to join the group.

It beeped again, I got up again, reassured the thing that I had read it and knew that we were in imminent danger. But it wasn’t reassured and kept beeping. Now I don’t mean to play the pity card, but each time I had to go look at it, I had to get up from my walker, flip it around so I could actually use it as a walker, and navigate the threshold between living area and hall. It was, to put it mildly, a nuisance.

My guests began to leave, and I truly was afraid I’d be left alone to deal with that balky alarm system the whole evening. By then it was raining hard, so as the first two left, the door was open several minutes while they retrieved umbrellas and moaned about ruining their shoes. The alarm system went bananas, but I didn’t think it was urgent.

Until the gentle but annoying beeping turned into a shrill siren sound. Somehow in all my fiddling I’d reset the alarm and now it thought my departing guests were people with evil intentions breaking in to do me bodily harm and steal my worldly goods. I didn’t think to use my handy bedside remote control, so there I stood at the main control panel, trying to punch in the code with my too-fat fingers. I kept getting an error message, which flustered me and made it even hard to punch in the code. The remaining guests sat on the couch holding their hands over their ears. Finally I was able to turn it off, and quiet descended. It was wonderful.

As I drifted off last night, I prayed that the alarm would stay quiet all night, and it did. This morning, the cottage was chilly—31 degrees outside—and after I settled at my desk with a cup of tea, I saw snowflakes drifting down. They melted on impact, of course, but it was nice to see seasonable snow in January after the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having. The world was that dull gray-blue that snow brings, and I thought that was just fine. I’d settle myself for an inside day, as cozy as I can make the cottage.

And then the sun came out, as though it were a fine spring day.


Meg said...

Weather service terminology is confusing,but I think “watch” is a more general term that one could occur. “Warning” means a tornado has definitely been sighted and take cover.

judyalter said...

That was what I meant to say but I may have gotten it backward. Thanks.