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Sunday, February 6, 2011


Today, I wore short sleeves and flip flops.  Last Sunday, I wore short sleeves and flip flops.  What happened in between was somewhat bizarre.  Yes, it is February in Texas but this was beyond even our imagination.

Sunday morning, the weather was beautiful, as was Monday.  I wore a pair of opened toed shoes with a lightweight suit.  Sunday night, the weather forecast had promised a drop in temperature by Wednesday and, sure enough, Tuesday brought forth temperatures cold enough to wear a coat, and Wednesday was full of arctic blasts.  Thursday was very cold, but appeared to warm up somewhat.  Thursday afternoon the sky was white and I could smell snow. 

Samantha had been desperate for snow.  Before she got to North Carolina, at Christmas, a state of emergency was called because of the adverse weather.  When she left Vegas for North Carolina, it snowed in Vegas, and had cleared at her destination.  As she boarded the plane to come back to Texas, North Carolina was once again experiencing snow. 

Before each meal we give thanks, and each prayer Samantha ended with, 'and let it snow', to which Dana would add, 'somewhere'.  Thursday night, before Dana could say 'somewhere', Samantha quickly inserted, 'in Austin, Texas'. 

Samantha and Edward had returned to his house early Thursday evening, and had left to return at around midnight. It was raining, but as the temperature was well below freezing, it was causing a thin layer of ice to cover the road.  As they reached the 'half way' intersection, they were re-routed because of the ice on the road.  Although my daughter is in her 25th year, I still sleep with one eye open until I hear her key in the door.  At 1.15am, I was able to let the sandman do his work, and I drifted off into dreamland.

Four o'clock in the morning is not my favourite time to rise and start my day, especially after three hours of not so restful sleep, but Dana informed me that the ground was white.  Half hearted, I got out of bed and saw a thin layer of snow had, indeed, laid outside our window.  As promised, if it snowed, I called Samantha, who had not yet gone to sleep!  Within thirty seconds, she was dressed in joggers, coat and wellington boots, and knocking at my bedroom door.  In my thick coat, wellington boots and hat, I followed her downstairs, where I was instructed to take pictures of the making of snow angels.  Barely awake and trying not to let the outside temperature give me a boost, I told Samantha she was now on her own, and went back inside, and attempted to return to my nice warm bed.  I had mistakenly thought that it was the dog who curled up at the bottom of the bed, at the feet of the owner, but with an extra long dachshund having jumped into my space as soon as I rose, it was me who was curled up at the foot of the bed. With no energy to belabour the point with the quadruped, I managed to sleep, albeit interrupted, for another two hours, in my corner.

Dana had suggested that if we wanted to have coffee with Joe, it would be advisable to leave before 7.  At 6.55am, we got into the car and drove down the hill by the side of our house and onto the main road.  Up the hill we went, and back down we slid.  Up we went again, and down again we slid.  Cars and four wheel drive vehicles were passing us, as they had the forward momentum from the downward slope towards our house.  We reversed into our complex and started again at the top of the hill, hoping to get enough leverage to make it up the hill.  Down we rolled, turned onto the main road, went up the hill, and slid back down. 

A well meaning lady stopped her SUV and asked if we wanted a ride somewhere.  'Don't stop', we shouted, but it was too late.  Up the hill she went, and down she slid.  Not to be beaten, she got out of her car and told us that she was prepared.  She used to live in Michigan.  Her plastic shovel was no match for the ice that was below the thin layer of now packed-down snow.  Mumbling something, possibly obscene or just generally cursing, she returned to her car, threw her shovel into the back of her car and returned to her position behind the wheel.  We waved and smiled.  She didn't.  She had to back up.  Whether she made it, or not, we do not know, as we decided to give up and take the mini.  It is, after all, a front wheel drive.  Dana parked his car in one of the spaces at the front of our condo, and we walked up the hill and round the corner, to get the mini.

Out of the car port we came, down the hill, and saw that Dana's car had slid, on its own, down the slight incline where it was parked, and was jutting out into the road.  Leaving the mini on flat ground, he got back into his car, and pulled it up into the space, once again, making sure it was in park, handbrake on, and for good measure, jumped up and down a few times to make sure it was secure.

Back in the mini, Dana drove down the slope of the complex driveway, round the corner, up the hill, and slid down again.  We only attempted this twice before deciding to turn round and take a different route.  Several cars were finding it impossible to climb the hill, and it was becoming a positive site for an accident.  It was at this point that I was convinced our early morning start was probably a waste of time as all the public offices were closed.  The courthouse was not open, the Capitol was closed, and most of the city workers were probably having as much difficulty as us in getting into work. 

However, we persevered and continued along the road, going down hills, and managing to climb with the forward momentum gained from the previous decline.  Once we hit the intersection that had caused Samantha's detour the previous night, we climbed a hill to the next main road.  The little mini chugged as hard as she could, but was unable to make it to the top of the incline.  Having got this far, Dana was not about to give up, and considering we did not have an option, being that we were on a one way stretch, he told me to take the wheel and he would push.  Pushing the car was not going to work, as each time he put his hands on the car, his feet slipped from under him.  Almost dragging the car, whilst I steered to the side of the road, where there seemed to be more snow than ice, we got the car up the hill.  The lights were in our favour for about half a mile, where we spotted some blue and red flashing lights.  The traffic up ahead had come to a standstill.  Once again, we were stuck.  A very nice policewoman came up to our car and asked if we would like a push.  Slightly concerned for her health, as she was not particularly tall and definitely not heavy enough to take the weight of the car, with Dana and me inside, I was rather relieved when she added that she could not be responsible for any damage to our bumper, as hers made contact.  She then added that the traffic problems had arisen due to people stopping at the red lights.  Looking at each other, Dana and I chose not to comment, but accepted the offer of the push to send us around the gap in the road, and back from whence we came.  Turning on her 'whoop-whoop' siren, she bumped us through the gap, and red light, and waved us on our way.  Down dale and up hill we went again and passed our complex at around 8.15am, realising that coffee with Joe was no longer an option.  As we passed the entrance, I notice that Dana's car had, once again, slipped out of the parking space, and was half way across the road, but we were not going to stop.  We managed to get up the hill, with the help of some sand, that had finally been dropped on the road.

The main road into town was still completely covered in snow.  I was rather shocked.  In England, when it snows, complaints are always made that gritters (sanders) are not out in force, and that roads are treacherous.  However, at least the gritters clear the main roads before the morning rush hour.  I was rather amazed that the surface of the road was still completely white.  The little mini could have competed with Robin Cousins (for anyone under 35, you will need to google) for a gold medal in figure skating, as she glided along the glistening surface.  Fortunately, there were no triple loops, nor pirouettes, but a beautiful performance got us to downtown, eventually. 

Once again, the lights were in our favour, but ahead we saw the red and blue lights of the emergency services.  A car was sliding down a hill, and the police were directing the traffic to the right.  Unwilling to be sent in the wrong direction, Dana took our little star through the Bank, passed the ATM machines and onto the side road.  Unfortunately, our way ahead was blocked and, once again, we had to zig zag across town to our destination. 

Sixth street, which is one of the main arteries off the Interstate, looked like a Tyrolean village.  With no messages on the answerphone and no sign of any post, or overnight deliveries, we decided to treat ourselves to breakfast at the cafe across the road.  Fortunately, the owners had managed to make the journey from their home and we enjoyed a very leisurely cup of coffee and breakfast tacos; a reasonable reward for the two hour drive into town. 

We received three calls, in as many hours, and I spent a few minutes making a snowman, before we decided to head home.  It was Friday and if the roads did clear, it was highly unlikely that any of the law offices would open for the afternoon.  With no emails and no post, we decided that playing hooky would be acceptable. 

Once home, Samantha and I toured the complex, building snowmen in every nook and cranny.  The swimming pool had its own family, headed by 'Steve', the little ice chappy who perched on top of the dumpster.  Running in every inch of virgin snow, taking pictures and generally 'having a blast', we spent another hour enjoying the snow.  Her prayer had been answered!

Saturday morning, we rose later than usual, and saw the snow had virtually disappeared.  The temperature was heading for the high 60's and once again we were back in flip flops and short sleeves.  It appears that the coming week is going to be of similar conditions to last. 

I spent the last few hours of a wonderfully warm weekend cooking sausage rolls and chocolate croissants, before watching the Superbowl, where the Green Bay Packers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Ahhh, the end of another football season.  Tomorrow its back to work, and who knows what will bring forth....another story.

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