The weather around these parts lately has been – hmm, how to phrase this most optimistically? – less than stellar.
Let’s start with March. We had measurable rain in Portland 29 out of 31 days. Even for the notoriously soggy Pacific Northwest, that’s a lot! It was also the 5th-wettest March on record, and the latest we have ever hit 60 degrees (March 31st – the old record was March 27th). I can remember plenty of years where our temperature soared well into the 70s the last week or two of March. Not this year!
So, when I got caught in a hailstorm the likes of which I hadn’t seen in a long time last week, I shouldn’t have been surprised. It was pretty much par for the course for a Spring where the trees remain bare and leafless and snow still coats the foothills to the east. Where the heat still runs constantly and I have yet to spend a day outside without a sweatshirt. I imagine eventually, at some point, the weather will warm up…but it may be September before that happens. Anyway…back to the hail.
I was sitting in my car, affectionately known as the Markmobile (because it’s just like the Batmobile, only white instead of black…and without any cool gadgets…and is an SUV…but otherwise, the spittin’ image!), in the drive-through lane of Burgerville. Because
I’m a cheap bastard I like to get things for free, I decided to grab dinner there and use the points on my Reward Card to pay for it. Burgerville had generously added $5 to my card because April is my birthday month, so a free pepper bacon cheeseburger and rosemary shoestring fries sounded mighty appealing. Right before I headed out, I was on the phone lamenting that we hadn’t had a really good hailstorm in ages, which seems both ironic and random, but earlier in the day there’d been hail in southeastern Portland, and I was feeling left out of the action. “There are some really dark clouds moving in,” I noted right before hanging up and hopping in the car. Anyway, fast-forward ten minutes, and as I’m sitting there waiting for my food, I hear a ping. Followed by several more, in rapid succession. Ping, ping, ping. Suddenly and without warning, the sky opened up, and hailstones the size of marbles began raining down. Midwesterners might smirk, but for this part of the country, them’s some mighty big hailstones, lemme tell ya. It sounded like I was inside a pan full of exploding popcorn kernels.
“Oh, my God,” the drive-through dude remarked, observing the deluge while handing me my food. “Drive safely, okay?”
“Will do,” I replied, and headed out onto a roadway that had quickly been covered in slushy ice. Thunder boomed directly overhead, lightning split the sky, and torrential hail fell for the next twenty minutes, piling up to over 1″ deep. I was driving 20 mph, couldn’t see a thing because my windows were all fogged up and the windshield wipers weren’t doing squat, and decided that the smart course of action would be to pick up my phone and call the person I’d been chatting with earlier, to inform them that I was in the midst of a raging storm. Never mind the fact that talking on the phone while driving is against the law out here, and not the smartest – or safest – idea when Mother Nature is pummeling you with her fury. But hey, I survived!
All along, I’m thinking of the e-mail my mom had sent that very afternoon. About how it was sunny and 88 in Florida. My kids might as well have been spending Spring Break on the moon, as much as I could relate.
Speaking of trips to the moon (or other far-off travels in the ‘Verse), I recently discovered a wonderful, glorious sci-fi series called Firefly. Actually, I can’t even claim this discovery, as it was my friend Steven who pushed the series on me, insisting that it was brilliant and I’d love it. Funny thing is, Steven wasn’t the first person to sing the praises of Firefly to me; a girl I dated a few years ago was also a big fan and suggested I check it out. My attitude was yeah, yeah…if it’s so great, why did FOX cancel the series after only eleven episodes? After watching the series on DVD from start to finish (thanks for lending it to me, Steven!), I think the answer is quite simple: the people who ran FOX back in 2002 were either A) Smoking crack, B) Insane, or C) All of the above. Because I gotta say, I instantly fell in love with Firefly. It’s from Joss Whedon, the creator of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, so you know right off the bat it’s got a great pedigree.
Growing up, I enjoyed all things space-related. I was your typical Star Wars-obsessed boy who also really dug Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek and Alien and even, god help me, The Black Hole. I ate that stuff up. Given my penchant for sci-fi, it’s a wonder I didn’t latch onto Firefly right from the start. It’s a great combination of Wild West-meets-outer space with a terrific cast full of divergent characters. They are all flawed, to some extent, but that only makes them more human. Nathan Fillion is Captain Malcom “Mal” Reynolds, and he’s every bit as cantankerous and law-skirting as Han Solo. His crew includes a female mechanic; an interracial married couple; a shepherd; a “companion” (legal prostitute); and a doctor and his mysterious, psychic sister who may or may not have been lobotomized, among others. It is wildly entertaining and features witty dialogue and action-filled story lines…and I’m totally in lust with Inara now. Sigh. I’m glad that I got into the series – better late than never – but disappointed that it only lasted for such a limited run. I want more, dammit! But alas, other than the feature film Serenity – which I intend to watch this week – that’s all she wrote, sadly. If you have never seen Firefly, I have only one thing to say to you:
- ‘Firefly’ Returns to TV, Campaign for New Episodes Begins (nowpublic.com)