Mother Nature can be a real bi&ch

Anyone who has lived in Indiana at least four seasons knows how unpredictable the weather can be. A May snowstorm is entirely within the realm of possibility, as is a 60-degree Christmas Day. To save my sanity, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about temperatures or precipitation.

That said, I sat up and took notice last summer. Here’s what got my attention:

FW tree

Rain and wind did this. Crazy.

A high school classmate of mine posted this photo on Facebook in late June. Once uprooted, the mature tree fell onto her Fort Wayne house. Luckily, no one was injured, and the damage has been repaired. Still, I couldn’t stop staring at the photo. Did a tornado touch down in Heather’s front yard? If not, how on Earth did that happen?

Believe it or not, the destruction was the result of days of soaking rain followed by strong wind. Not even build-an-ark rain or hide-in-the-basement wind. Just rain and wind.

A few miles up the road at my parents’ house, several of the pine trees planted in 2001 acquired a distinct lean at the same time. And my stepdad’s front-yard pine — his pride and joy when decked out with lights in December — snapped in half. Crazy stuff.

So now I pay a little more attention to the weather, and I have great respect for the power that Mother Nature wields. Even if she can be a bitch sometimes.

This post was written as part of the Think Kit blogging project. The prompt (from yesterday):

In Your Eyes: Share a photo or paint us a picture with words. Show us something from your year through your eyes. Did you see something that took your breath away? Or maybe you just couldn’t look away?


My name is Andrea, and I’m a technoholic

Today’s #ThinkKit16 writing prompt prompted a personal epiphany. I am addicted to technology. The assignment:

Get analog. No screens, no technology – what did you do with your hands this year?

Sadly, the answer is “not much.” Ever since getting my first iPhone, I have been hopelessly in love with the convenience of having a personal computer in my pocket. It’s a source of entertainment during down time (however did we endure elevator rides and fast-food lines before this marvelous innovation?!) and can provide instant answers to important questions like how to celebrate Festivus.

Remember those dinner-table debates over who played in last year’s Final Four or when the Indiana State Fair begins? Ancient history, thanks to Google.

tech overload
When it comes to tech, I’m a master multi-tasker.

At this very moment, there are four laptops, two desktop computers, four iPads, two iPhones, four video game systems, and at least eight functioning televisions in my two-person house. (“Only” five of the TVs are actually in use; the others are awaiting a trip to the recycling center.) After spending the bulk of my workday in front of a computer screen, I come home to more technology than some third-world countries. It’s a problem.

That said, I did take action to reduce my screen time in 2015. Before making the leap from journalism to the “real world” in February, I spent most of my waking hours staring at my laptop or iPhone (usually with a TV on in the background). News doesn’t follow an 8-5 schedule, and I didn’t want to miss something important. It took a while to get used to not keeping my laptop fired up at all times, but now I often go days without logging on.

It may be a small step, but at least now I’m headed in the right direction. And although I gave up making resolutions years ago, I will make an effort to spend less time tied to technology this year.

That means less TV and off-duty computer time, because I refuse to give up my pocket PC. Without my iPhone, I wouldn’t have been able to document so much of what I saw and did “offline” last year – the beautiful sunrise I noticed while pumping gas on my way to work, a peaceful boat ride with my family in Florida, a sunny afternoon with friends at a baseball game in Louisville, partying with the “pope” at Sausagefest.

Sunrise over Fishers, November 2015
2015 Sausagefest

And of course it’s invaluable for capturing aww-inspiring photos of our fur babies being adorable!lucy bath

Lucy is very helpful when it comes to hygiene.

What’s your take on technology? Is it as much a part of your everyday existence as mine? How can I break the tech habit?

What’s my story? Great question

Writing a personal blog is a little like having children — if you wait for the perfect time to get started, it may never happen. So I’m blogging every day this month as part of Think Kit 2016 to get me going (on writing, not parenthood; that ship has sailed).

Today’s prompt:

Pretend you’re writing your autobiography. Give us your first line, a first chapter, or even just an image. What’s the story of you?

I’ve considered myself a writer since I entered my first elementary school Young Authors contest, and I was lucky enough to spend a couple decades telling stories as a newspaper reporter. But when it comes to the story of me, I’m stumped. Sincerely.

I feel like Admiral Stockdale, Ross Perot’s running mate in the 1992 presidential election: “Who am I? Why am I here?” Is it an identity crisis? A complete lack of self-awareness? Heck if I know, but I probably should figure it out.

The basics

My Twitter bio is just two words: Recovering journalist. That’s what I did, sure, and it describes my professional status, but is it who I am? I’m also a wife, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, and a friend (with varying degrees of success). Do those relationships define me?

It’s not like I haven’t had occasion to reflect on my life before now. On my 33rd birthday, I was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm that took two surgeries to fix. At 39, my first mammogram detected stage III breast cancer.

What I know

I’m a survivor. I’m a good friend. I work (too) hard. I nap too much. I love playing games. I hate housework. My cats are my kids. My husband drives me crazy, but I’d be lost without him. I listen to country music. I have watched every episode of Friends and Big Bang Theory at least 27 million times. I never exaggerate. I always wear my seat belt. I don’t do scary movies. I have an amazing family who I don’t see enough of. I know it’s OK to end a sentence with a preposition. I don’t wear makeup — never have, never will. My happy place is a deserted beach. I never say no to dessert (and it shows). I like cliches. I love losing myself in a great book. I hate sad endings. Laughter really is the best medicine.

Stream-of-consciousness much?

Alrighty, then. That seems like a good place to pause for now. If I’m this clueless about my story after almost 46 years, I’m not going to find my story in one night. But I’m looking forward to the journey