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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

Craziness at the Ol' Homestead (and RIP Celegorm the Fish)

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

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"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

Craziness at the Ol' Homestead (and RIP Celegorm the Fish)

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mother nature bats last
There's been some craziness going on up here on our hilltop. First of all, a black bear has been spotted multiple times in our neighborhood. It was first spotted on a road that joins ours. We get bears periodically in Carroll County (the week we moved here, there was a rabid bear over in neighboring Taneytown!), but they don't apparently reside here; they move on pretty quickly. This one is supposedly young and small. It's the closest to home that we've had a bear since moving here. I'd like to see it, just as long as I don't see it tipping over our beehive!

Last night, Bobby and I were supposed to go out for our anniversary, but we had to revise our plans thanks to the weather. Over the course of yesterday afternoon and evening, Manchester was placed under four consecutive tornado warnings. After the students left yesterday, the school's weather radio started going off, so we were sent home early. As Bobby and I drove northwest from Baltimore, the sky grew more and more sinister-looking; by the time we'd reached Hampstead on the Route-30 bypass, it had that sickly cast to it. I had to put an interlibrary loan book in the mail, and by the time we stepped out of the post office, it was pouring. As we walked in our front door, Bobby's sister Erin was calling us, saying that a funnel cloud had been spotted in Hampstead, the next town south from us. It started storming but wasn't particularly fierce, just a normal summer thunderstorm, it seemed. I went into the bedroom to read, and the weather radio started going off, but just a severe thunderstorm warning with a tornado watch. More and more warnings kept coming in, then the initial tornado watch was upgraded to a tornado warning for northeast Carroll, including Manchester, so I grabbed the weather radio, rounded up the Goldens, and headed for the basement.

That was pretty much the pattern for the rest of the night. The weather radio would go off with a severe storm warning and tornado watch and, within minutes, it was upgraded to a warning, and it seemed Manchester was always on the list of affected towns. (Once, we were the only town listed in the warning!) Then the storm would pass and the sun would come out. During one break in the weather, we went into town because we needed dog food and stopped for supper at the little Italian restaurant in town. We spent the evening in the basement, so I don't know much of what was going on, but when we went outside this morning, it was beautiful and sunny with gorgeous blue skies and nary a cloud, like nothing had ever happened. Despite the string of tornado warnings, our hilltop barely had a fallen branch. We were lucky, which wasn't the case for everyone, for certain. Several tornado touch-downs were reported; friends of ours from the SCA had one pass across their property and uproot a tree onto their house.

Bobby's CoCoRaHS gauge this morning did report more than 3 inches (7.5 cm) of rain yesterday, but we were still slightly below normal for rainfall for the year, so we needed it.

While in the basement last night, I happened to look over at the fish tank and noticed that Celegorm the Fish was floating upside-down. :( Celegorm the Fish is, believe it or not, our oldest pet! We had him for almost six years; he was among the first four fish that we bought for our tank, back in the summer of 2006. He was a bala shark, about six inches (15 cm) long, a silver fish with black tips on his fins. He was only a baby, a little over two inches long, when we got him. Here he is as a baby.


He was always a spunky thing. I remember bringing him home, holding him in the plastic bag in the car, and he was jumping out of the water and against the top of the bag the whole time, making the bag jump and jerk in my hands. He survived the move from our apartment to our house--about two hours in the car--and when I opened the tank to transfer him into his new tank at our house, he jumped out and flopped around on the kitchen floor for several seconds before I got hold of him and put him back in the tank.

He saw the arrival and demise of more fish than I can remember, including another bala shark that we got to keep him company but that only lived for about six months.

The tank is empty now; Bobby said last night that he wanted more fish (while I was thinking, "oh please no I'm so done with keeping fish!") but decided today to offer the tank to his TA, Mr. Chad, who keeps fish, and put it on Craig's List if Mr. Chad isn't interested. So Celegorm was our first and last fish, it seems. He's getting better than the usual "burial at sea" (i.e., being flushed down the toilet) that fish usually get in the House of Felagund; as our oldest pet, the least we can do is give him a real burial out in the garden.

This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

  • How scary to have so many tornado warnings so close to home! That's no movie stuff. About a month ago there was a huge storm that included something that meteorologists argued for days on end whether it could be technically called a tornado or not. The real thing was that the devastation it left in a densely polulated area like greater Buenos Aires was terrible with a lot of roofs blown away and thousands of uprooted trees. My sister-in-law's house had no light/water/phone for almost two weeks.

    Do you know what's the life expectancy of fish like Celegorm? Considering how easily fish die, he seems to have lived to ripe old age. He deserves a proper burial place!

    I hope the bear can go back to the wild unharmed, poor baby!
    • We're lucky that, in Maryland, we rarely receive strong tornadoes like they get out in "Tornado Alley" in the Midwest. Nonetheless, they do seem to hit northeast Carroll with relative frequency. (While we were still contemplating moving here, a friend of Bobby's who lives here told us it was the Tornado Alley of Maryland!) I often shudder to think of the destruction a tornado would cause if it went through a city; to see what it does out in the country is bad enough. :( When we were taking storm-spotter training, we learned about something that's not a tornado but is basically a sudden, violent gust of wind that almost falls from the sky that causes the kind of destruction you're describing. Whatever-these-things-are-called are often confused for tornadoes. Any idea what the experts finally decided?

      I Googled the life expectancy of bala sharks, and it seems they do routinely live to 6+ years. Well, given that Celegorm the Fish didn't live in the most conscientiously maintained tank *ahem* and given his propensity for jumping out of said tank, I still think he hung on for a good while! :D
      • I think there was an issue with insurance companies who don't cover - supposedly - tornados in Buenos Aires so I think there was some pressure to call it a storm. Most probably it *was* a storm of the kind you' ve described.
        • That makes sense. And I'm glad they took that into account when deciding what to call it (since, in absence of seeing the funnel cloud, proving a tornado can be hard to do.)
  • That will definitely help fertilize your garden. I hate to sound tactless, but...

    I have a question. Do your goldens freak out when it storms like that? Are they afraid of thunder?
    • It doesn't sound tactless at all! :) To quote my favorite poet, Walt Whitman, death leads forth life.

      The Goldens have developed a small fear of storms and thunder. As puppies, they had no fear, but as they get older, they're becoming more timid. They mostly like to be with one of us when it storms, nothing dramatic.
  • Oh that sounds kinda scary with all those warnings! I'm glad nothing happened at your place. As a Dane I'm not really used to extreme weather - we seem to be in a butterhole, as we call it. A completely normal storm is news material for days before and after. ;) But last night I went to see a football match here in Ouaga, and as we sat there, suddenly the sky started turning red from the horizon and up and not 5 minutes later we were in the middle of the craziest dust storm! (followed by a severe rain and thunderstorm. Africans are made of tough stuff though, because the referee called a break for 5 minutes when it began and then they completed the match. And no one went home! :) The match was really boring, but the weather phenomenon was very exiting.
    • You know how hot it can get here, so a nightly thunderstorm is pretty common! :) I actually like it, as it means the plants are getting back the water that the sun sucked out of them during the day. The warnings are always a little scary since a warning means that some form of rotation has actually been spotted (or an actual funnel cloud), but I'm even starting to get used to them. o.O

      The dust storm sounds scarier to me, probably because I've never witnessed one and am trying to imagine how one breathes ...
  • Alas, poor Celegorm! But six years is a long time for a pet fish.

    We had a goldfish named "Bait" that lived nearly that long. He originally belonged to my m-i-l when she lived with us. He grew to a pretty good size for a goldfish in a small tank, and the DH and I would joke that if he got much bigger we could change his name to "Dinner". He might have lasted longer, but he did not survive the power outage after Hurricane Hugo.
    • Awwww, poor Bait ... what a cute name, btw! :)

      I Googled life expectancies for aquarium fish and discovered that, apparently, bala sharks are long-lived and goldfish can be too! So it seems that Celegorm the Fish and Bait are upholding the high standards set by others of their species. ;)
  • Ow :( Rest in peace Celegorm the Fish, truly the last Fëanorian standing.

    But I am glad that the Tornado's did not come close, does Bobby have an explanation (being such an avid weather forecast follower) how those Tornado's popped up if they are so rare for your area?
    • We get a few tornado watches per year, but the warnings are fairly uncommon, in my experience, although we had a warning last year while I was student teaching, and we had to take the kids out into the hallway for about an hour until the warning passed, and we had a tornado touch down in northern Manchester last year too, and that destroyed the home where one of my students was living. So I guess I say that they're not common relative to other areas of the U.S., but we still do have some activity here. :)

      I asked Bobby about this incident, and he said we had a tropical system coming up from the south, bringing hot air, and a system coming in from the west, bringing cool air; the collision of warm and cool air is generally what produces tornadoes.
  • I'm glad to hear you had no storm problems. I was similarly lucky - not even a blip in the power. Not so our friends R & N. I saw their place yesterday (Thursday) and it wasn't good. A HUGE 50 year old oak tree took out the roof and rafters which will all need to be completely replaced.. Also lost to the storm was a huge old Rhododendron bush, a large poplar, about 6 old pines and an assortment of trees in their pasture. The good side is no one and none of the animals was hurt. They've had to move the horses temporarily while the fence is repaired and the downed trees are taken care of. If you want a stockpile of firewood nows the time to go visit. The loss of the trees - especially the Oak - saddens me. I love trees. I'm debating picking up some pieces of wood to make something with the remains. If you and I held hands we 'might' be able to encircle the trunk.
    My condolences for the loss of Celegorm the Fish.

    A belated but HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!
    • Thank you! :)

      I know how you feel about the trees. Last fall, when it was looking like we might get whacked by Irene, I was terrified of something happening to our trees. Not because of the damage they could do to the house, surrounded on three sides as we are, but because ... well, I just love them. :) The maple grove out back was a big reason we decided on this house. A friend of mine down South lived through Katrina, and she lost most of the trees on her property, and I dread something like that happening here.

      I'm glad no one--animals included!--were hurt. That's ultimately what's important.
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