“I got off work early so I’ll make it to your birthday! I just have to run by the house I’m watching and take care of the pets,” I told a friend while driving (I know, I know, shame on me) to the Logan’s house. They had left early that same morning and their miniature dog was probably in desperate need of a step outside. The owners are a dear, long-time family friend and I wanted to make sure to return their house, pets, and plants in perfect condition. I had forgotten the past. Turning into their neighborhood, the wind started buffeting my light-weight Yaris. I saw dark clouds up above, behind me was blue sunny sky. Picture that scene in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast when Maurice is insisting on the dark shortcut and Phillipe is shaking his head and pulling toward the bright path with the chirping birds. It was just like that.
Sprinkles of rain started falling as I pulled up to the house. The real drops — as in the fat ones that will be staying awhile — were landing by the time I pulled my car into their garage. Then the real wind started — a branch-snapping wind. The west facing wall of the house was nothing but glass windows newly covered with roof to deck screens. Not knowing how to get them rolled back up (and quite scared of being blown away) I watched the wind fling the screens up even with the second story before letting them crash back down into the wall of windows. Those screens were as far as I could see. The low, dark clouds combined with the rain and the wind had created a very effective cover obscuring everything past their 5′ wide deck. I turned on the TV sure to see warnings of tornadoes, notices that the entire city was under attack, only to have the power go out.
Remembering my childhood reading I listened for the sound of a train. Were those fiction books I read as a child even right? I read Night of the Twisters repeatedly, but just maybe it had some details wrong — like how to identify a tornado. Convinced that the picture windows were about to be broken to shards, that the house was about to be blown away, that their little dog and cat too were about to perish along with me in a tornado I reached out to my mom only a 10 minute drive away.
“Mom, is there a tornado?”
“What? No. What are you talking about?”
“I’m at the Logan’s. There’s a huge storm. I can’t even see outside to their pool. I’m not sure there’s even anything out there anymore.”
“Brynne, I don’t see anything about a tornado. When your father gets home we’ll head over.”
The dog and I huddled together while waiting. Eventually (probably no more than half an hour later), the storm blew away. My parent’s showed up and I’m positive my dad was laughing at me being scared of some rain. We went out to the backyard (that was still there) to the pool (also still there) only to find no pool furniture except a table, no decorative items, pool toys everywhere, and a strong smell of chlorine. But, really it was the pool furniture we wondered about. See the table was still there, but the chairs that had been set around it in a little protected section were missing.
Hmm, this description would be better illustrated. Let me draw you one. Finished. Now you can see where the pool is and how the table is still there under the slated roof and how the chairs (the question marks) aren’t there. We looked over the edge of the raised deck and found a couple chairs. One of us looked into the pool where we found the last two chairs tangled up with the vacuum hose and a few more toys at the bottom of the pool.
“It’s almost like you had some mini-twister come through right here,” my dad said as we set the chairs back around the table.
My own personal mini-twister, apparently. This storm didn’t reach my parents only a short drive away and neither it nor I reached the birthday party in South Austin. Being an excellent house sitter, I left a note for the family to find when they got back. Which was typically how my time house sitting ended. Yet, they just kept inviting me back.
Cocoa Krispies Treats
I was house sitter while the family was on vacation, but while home I watched their two daughters. The kids taught me a lot over the years. One of the most valuable lessons was about cereal. Cocoa Krispies never made it into my childhood home. My dad argued (and lost) against the sugar-covered raisins found in Raisin Bran, so it wasn’t until a young adult that I really fell for sugary, processed bites of fortified grains. It’s been a blessed match.
Recipes can’t be copyrighted which is why you can find this on almost every box. Walking into a grocery store and picking up a box of cereal is how I got the recipe for the batch pictured above.