Those who guessed that the tree in the photo was struck by lightning were, of course, correct. Here's what happened:
If you recall, about a month ago lightning struck a tree on our property, and the electrical surge traveled to our house and destroyed the inverter connected to our solar energy system. After that happened, Russell went to the city, and bought a replacement inverter, but the new inverter was smaller than the one that blew up. Russell had a friend who loaned us another (even smaller) inverter, and with the two we could handle running the fridge, the computer, and some lights, and watch a bit of TV in the evenings.
Yesterday afternoon we had another storm, and another nearby lightning strike. This time, as you can see in the photo, the strike blew up an entire tree! (The tall tree you can see behind the exploded tree in the photo is the one which got hit a month ago.) At the moment of the strike, the new inverter blew, with sparks and smoke and great excitement. Allen wasn't home when it happened, so Gus and I had to handle things, quickly disconnecting the destroyed inverter from the batteries. We're always learning new things around here!
Because we had been running two inverters, and only one was damaged, we can still run either the computer or the TV, and we can run lights. But the remaining inverter is too small to power the refrigerator, so we're using up the contents of the fridge and freezer as quickly as we can - tonight for dinner we had hotdogs, leftover hamburgers, leftover mac and cheese, leftover chili, steamed broccoli, and fried bologna. Currently we run the generator a couple of hours each day, so that we can use the washing machine. Now we are also running the refrigerator during that time. The food in the freezer is still mostly frozen, but soon we'll have to empty the entire fridge and move anything that's still good into a cooler.
In two weeks our wedding guests will arrive, and my parents will have a new inverter in their luggage. So, it's just a short period of time that we expect to do without the refrigerator. Of course, having all of this excitement right before the wedding is just - well, just probably more excitement than we needed right now, but we'll make it! ;-D
Oh, and by the way - Allen believes he has figured out why our equipment is so very vulnerable to lightning strikes (even strikes that aren't directly on the buildings, or all that close to the buildings) and he's working on a plan to more fully protect the new equipment. Please pray with us that we'll be able to keep the equipment safe in the future!