Monday, December 22, 2008

The snow comes in...

...on little cat feet.

What I've learned from Arctic Blast 2008

1.  When you don't own a snow shovel, as I imagine most Portlanders don't, the best way to shovel a driveway/deck/walkway/sidewalk (though people in the Suburbs don't shovel sidewalks, see below) is a dustpan.  Yep.  I used a dustpan to shovel the majority of our deck and over half our driveway.  We have a flat tipped shovel, but it was killing my back.  So, I squatted and started scooping.  Worked like a charm.  My legs were killing me and it reminded me of being in the Philippines.  Weird, I know.  When I lived in the Philippines I watched many a maid squatting in the yard cutting the grass with scissors.  I also learned by watching these women the best way to squat in a knee length skirt.  But, these are completely different topics.

2.  Most people in the suburbs do not shovel their own sidewalks.  In Portland, and in most other areas, it is the homeowners responsibility to maintain the sidewalk in front of their house during inclement weather.  Now, Bill and I do not have a sidewalk in front of our house, but I feel very strongly that if we did, we would be shoveling it.  (Probably with a dustpan, but we would shovel it!)  I believe this because we use sidewalks and understand the importance of the need for safety for pedestrians.  It is NOT safe to have sidewalks covered in ice and snow and it is also NOT safe to have pedestrians walking in the middle of the street during snowstorms (see below).  Now I don't know if suburbanites don't shovel walks because they don't own shovels, like us, or if they don't think it is their responsibility (likeliest choice) or if they are just lazy, but our trip to the grocery store on foot today would have been much easier if sidewalks had been maintained.  Not a single one was.

2.  Some people get really rude when it gets snowy.  Bill and I were walking last night and the safest place to walk in our neighborhood was the middle of the street (see above).  This is because there are either no sidewalks or they are covered in 14 inches of snow and ice.  At least the snow on the streets has been packed down some by cars.  Anyway, we were walking and a car was about 50 yards behind us.  I hadn't heard it yet but became very aware when the driver yelled out of his window "GET OUT OF THE ROAD!"  Not very friendly.

3.  It will take a very long time to run out of food if you really couldn't leave your house, but when you feel like you can't leave, you become convinced that there is "nothing" in your cupboards.  Made me feel very fortunate to have what I have and very aware that there are people who actually have empty cupboards year-round.

4.  What looks like a few groceries in a shopping cart becomes incredibly heavy when you stuff if all in a backpack.  Even with both our backpacks we had a pretty heavy load on the way home today.

5.  Snow stresses out pets and makes it difficult for them to relieve themselves.  (See Teddy's lament on this topic.)  We tried very hard to keep the deck cleared so he could go outside and also shoveled a space in the yard for him.  He would get really stressed out, run around the yard (covered in 14 inches of snow), bounding around, until finally he would give in and do his business.  Note:  He never once used the area of the yard we shoveled.  Weirdo.

6.  Even if you only wear sweats for a solid week, you will still have exactly the same amount of laundry at the end of the week.  This is a phenomenon I don't understand.  

7.  Some people are morons when it gets snowy.   A couple of said morons were out on their quads yesterday and today.  One missed my garbage can by about a foot and another was pulling a kid behind him on a sled.  No one, including the kid, was wearing helmets.  I asked Bill how you could be on a quad without a helmet when it is illegal to be on a motorcycle without a helmet.  Bill reminded me that quads are not street legal so the legality of  wearing a helmet or not is really irrelevant.  Good point.  Either way, you would think the numerous deaths as a result of similar sledding accidents would deter you from extremely unsafe behavior.  

8.  Regardless of how many times you check the weather online, watch the weather report on TV (should be easy to find some coverage, see previous post on this topic), read the paper, or try to guess when the snow will stop, you just have to wait for it to stop.  The reason that Bill and I are such good traveling partners (other than the fact that we are just plain awesome partners!) is that we both believe that there are things you can't change, regardless of how annoyed you are or how much you want it to change.  We show up at the airport WAY too early (on purpose) and buy coffee, read a book, shop, whatever.  The waiting is part of traveling, so we don't get annoyed by it.  So, when the weather turns, we accept that our plans may change (we didn't get to go down south to see his family for Christmas), we go with the flow, and we try not to predict when things will be different.  

9.  If you have to be snowed in, it is one million times better if you have:
  • lots of cocoa
  • a laptop with wireless connection
  • a big TV
  • a snuggly puppy who acts like an angel despite 9 days without a proper walk
  • a wonderful partner who you enjoy being around
  • a good book you don't mind rereading (The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger)
  • good wine (our favorite)
  • a dustpan


I took this picture of our house when we moved in.
I think it gives some nice perspective as to the amount of snow
we've gotten in the last 3 days.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Party's Over

After 3 days of wearing sweats, baking, and playing with Teddy in the snow, our snow days have come to a close.  We have a 2 hour late start this morning thanks to working in the only district in Clackamas County that actually waited to see if there would be snow before canceling classes. Most districts called it last night, despite warming temps and rain.  But alas, OC waited, and upon seeing that most of the snow was going or gone, told us to come to work.  While this is the more responsible and community PR-minded decision, I wouldn't have minded just one more day.  Tis the season to be gluttonous about laziness.

But now my mindset has shifted about the weather.  I have things to do!  Winter break starts Friday at 3:15 and I have parties to attend!  Shopping to finish!  Plays to see!  Places to travel!  I really don't want the weather to mess up my plans.  

If I haven't said it enough, enjoy the season!  Drive safe!  Eat fudge!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Complete Contentment


Laundry is clean and folded.  

House is clean and decorated for Christmas.

Dinner is 10 minutes from coming out of the oven.

Glass of wine is poured.

And a snow day tomorrow to boot.

Life is good.

Seasons Greetings!

Wishing you and yours the happiest of Holiday Seasons!

UPDATE: Winter Blast 2008

All the warnings and preparation and updates were not in vain as Winter Blast 2008 has arrived. Right now we see about 2 inches of snow and promises of dropping temperatures.  Some news stations are showing continuous coverage of the storm and while looking for something else to watch, I paused on one of the stations.  Chains are required on all freeways, which is smart for two reasons.  First, Oregon snow is not like other snow.  It turns to ice almost immediately. Second, Oregonians for the most part are not equipped to drive in these conditions and have little experience.  Not a good combo.

But what I wonder is why people decide to go out today?  On a Sunday?  After four days of warnings??

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Apparently they think it may snow in the Portland area.  

If you live anywhere else in the country, I'm sure you're thinking, oh, snow, how nice.  It doesn't snow very often in Portland, does it?  I'm sure snow would look very pretty with all that greenery.    

If you live anywhere in the Portland area and you don't live in a nuclear bunker, you are rolling your eyes and snickering.  We've been hearing for about 4 days about how we are going to get snow this weekend.  TriMet has detailed their preparations (chains on all buses) and ODOT has been careful to assure that they are prepared for the winter weather (I'm not sure how, but the guy on Channel 8 with the Starbucks cup seemed pretty sure that ODOT was in fact, prepared.) We've had full analysis of the weather - all Dopler radar and weather cams geared up to give us detailed info on barometric pressure, precipitation and wind velocity.  This morning, at 6:30am, at least 20 hours before the WINTER BLAST is expected to hit, we watched LIVE reports from the critical areas likely to be affected.  Note that the critical areas are large parking lots, overpasses and any road with the word "Hill" on it's street sign.  You would think we live in Honolulu and are expecting a blizzard.  

How much snow are we expecting, you ask?

1 - 3 inches on the valley floor.

I'm sure Oregon must be the laughing stock of the entire nation.

How does the possibility of 1-3 inches result in full, first story coverage (though one station did give top billing to the bomb that went off at a local bank, killing two police officers.  Maybe they didn't have enough reporters to have someone look outside and see the extreme weather conditions...)

Why do we have live, continuing coverage of WINTER BLAST when it is 40 degrees outside?  I'm sure many stations are paying their meteorologists overtime to gather information and make predictions about the FIRST COLD SHOCK of the season.  Is it imperative that we have live, continuous coverage of potential cold wave?  Uh, yes, of course it is!  We have to have people reporting live so we don't risk the chance to interview the guy walking down the street and his preparation for the event.  "Uh, yeah, I had to find my gloves.  Heh heh.  I only had one glove so I had to ask my wife where my other one was.  Heh heh, I really need both gloves in case one of my hands gets cold.  Heh heh.  I can't stick them in my pockets - it doesn't do the trick.  Heh heh."  

If it seems like the continuing coverage is getting a little redundant, they pull out old footage of ARCTIC BLAST 2007, where an unfortunate soul got caught on tape as he careened down an icy hill, hitting several parked cars on the way down.  Or they show similar footage from POLAR BLAST 2006 where some other guy did the same thing.  

If we actually see weather like they're predicting, all regular programming will be preempted in order to provide full coverage of the snow that accumulated on the freeway and the traffic nightmare that resulted.  (The 10 people that actually decided to go to work apparently all drive the same route.)  

Okay WINTER BLAST, bring it on.  I'm ready.  Lord knows I've been prepared for you.  

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Parents, I salute you!

I have a newfound respect for parents, and photographers who have ever tried to get the "perfect shot" of their little darling.  While we don't have kids yet, we like to send out photo cards around the holidays.  Therefore we needed the "perfect shot" of our sweet little Teddy.  Teddy is very serious when it comes to picture taking.  Well, Teddy is very serious when it comes to treats, and those are required for picture taking sessions.  Teddy took the most adorable shot with Santa when we took him to Santa Paws, but I was having trouble ordering the prints as a card.  So I thought I would take one myself.

Getting a dog to pose has to be more challenging than getting a kid to pose.  Of course, I don't have experience getting kids to pose, it seems like the major challenge for Christmas pictures is the screaming child on Santa's lap scenario.  I mean, you can reason with a kid, right?  (I'm sure all parents are laughing hysterically at me right now.)  Getting the dog to "pose" not only meant asking an animal to look at the camera, but to simply sit in the right spot.  Teddy weighs 65 pounds and does not want to move while waiting for a treat for fear that it will risk the treat.  But if you take a step away from him, he will quickly move around to position himself directly in front of you.  

So, we tried gently shoving him over to the place we wanted after he sat down.

Warning!!  Butt shot coming up!  I can't believe I post this stuff...

Unfortunately this confused him further.

We managed to get a couple of reasonable photos, 
but most had some problems that made them less than perfect.

There is this shot, which is really cute, except I'm not sure 
if a dog with demon eyes is really appropriate for a holiday card.
I also love this shot of Teddy's cute "smile" but the Santa kind of looks like the Travelocity gnome, kind of hanging out on the side.

This one was getting closer, but people will wonder who Teddy is looking at.  
Why couldn't we take one of Teddy looking at the camera, they will think.

So, no perfect shot.  But much fun, and cheese (literally!) while trying.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Woo Hoo!

Finally!  After several weeks of excuses, I made it back to the gym tonight!  No almonds to roast.  I had a clean sports bra.  I didn't get side-tracked reading the newspaper or finishing the Sudoku puzzle.  I actually came home, got dressed, jumped in the car and hauled my booty to the gym.  And what do I feel after this hiatus?  Relief.  I'm so glad I went and actually am looking forward to my day on Thursday.  

I'm sure you're wondering what prompted this newfound enthusiasm.  I told Bill that I am not allowed to watch the Office on Thursday if I don't go to the gym on both my days this week.  Nothing like the threat of deprivation to create a little motivation!  Whatever works, right?