Snow Fun

It was snowing this morning when I left to catch an early bus at 6:29. The roads were clear but the heavy flurries of flakes made it difficult to see. The bus drove through a mess of snow on the freeway, followed by some very cold rain when we got downtown. (Similar, if sightly warmer, weather is forecasted for the foreseeable future. Not a great sign for happy commuting.)

When I got my bike off the bus, the side facing out was caked with slush. This is what it looked like after I rode it down to the parking garage and a bunch of slush fell off.

On top of this, I am spending the whole day today and tomorrow in training, which means arriving at 7:30 am, and then I need to stay late to actually get some work done afterwards.

For some added fun, Benji has also come down with a nasty cold. He coughed so much he vomited yesterday afternoon, but slept OK overnight with massive help from the humidifier. Naturally, this happens right when I’m gone extra-long days.

I’ll be honest: I wish this week was done.

Evening update: I rode my bike home. The first couple miles, I rode through an inch of melty slush that fell right before I left. The traffic through downtown was literally stopped pretty much everywhere, and I saw many forlorn people waiting for buses that were probably laughably far off their schedules. As I left the parking garage, I heard the cop whose job it is to help cars turn out into traffic ask the driver next to me, “Where you going?” [inaudible response – maybe Bellevue?] “Well, good luck!” –I later learned that freeways were intermittently shut down much of the day.

I had a very slow commute, despite trying to maintain a decent pace, and I’m not sure why. It wasn’t the road conditions — after I crossed Mercer St. on Dexter, the slush miraculously vanished, leaving wet roads and increasingly chilly temperatures. But by some miracle I didn’t even get precipitated on at all — no wintry mix, no mixed rain/sleet, no freezing rain, not even any regular old rain. It all paused for a couple hours while I rode home.

I know I should be grateful (on many levels! By catching an hour earlier bus, I missed the bad morning traffic; by riding home, I missed the evening commute snarl), but I finished just feeling depressed that it was my slowest commute in several weeks. My LEGS felt like I was going 20 mph but somehow my speedometer kept saying closer to 15 mph. Sigh.

Also, Benji spiked a fever during the day, which means he has to miss school tomorrow, and tomorrow is the day his class is going to visit the vet clinic. Darn it! I am grateful, however, that my mom is able to take Benji for a second day in a row and for a third day this week. Benji’s doctor approved a small dose of cold medicine to help with the coughing, which has gotten really bad and is keeping him from sleeping.

WHY, universe, WHY??????

My Week in Pictures

Day’s Verse:
There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:
A right time for birth and another for death…

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

Saturday and Sunday, January 14 – 15

(Photos courtesy of a teammate)
Sat Jan 14
A small part of Team Group Health on Orcas Island before setting out on our day’s ride.

Orcas & Mt Constitution
Mt. Constitution, on Orcas Island.

Lopez Ferry
Sunday, the ferry to Lopez Island.

Road

Sunday Jan 15
A dusting of snow on Lopez Island.

Clouds Moving In

Monday through Thursday, January 16 – 19

When Snow Was Exciting
At first the snow was exciting.

Ian Working from Home
Ian got to work from home!

Chilly Hummingbird
Hummingbirds got food despite the lack of natural flower nectar.

Back Yard
More snow kept falling, although not the prodigious volume predicted.

Snowmobiling Neighbor
Our next-door neighbors broke out their snowmobiles for getting around.

Katie & Dad Snowshoeing
Dad and I met up and went snowshoeing.

Dad Snowshoeing

More Snowmobiles
Other people snowmobiled around the neighborhood, including a mom with a kid perched in front of her.

There IS a Hummingbird Here
But then more snow kept falling, after they predicted it’d switch to rain, and we all started getting a little stir-crazy. (There’s an out-of-focus hummingbird perched on some of those little twigs.)

Shoveled...again
We shoveled the driveway and sidewalk three times. My back is not pleased, but at least it was outdoors and productive.

Friday, January 20

After seeing an article in the Seattle Times about a brand-new sea otter pup born earlier this week, Mom and I resolved to get out of the house and take a bus to go see the baby otter (or “fluffy puffy,” as Mom ended up calling it).

This turned out to be quite a trek: I walked 3 miles through a foot of melting, slushy snow to the bus, meeting Mom along the way. Our bus was stuck so we took a different one and got off in Kirkland, instead of going straight to Seattle. That worked, though, because we met up with my friend Rachel in Kirkland and the three of us caught a bus into Seattle. We saw the baby otter, scooped our melted-from-the-cuteness selves off the floor, ate some food, went back for Round 2 of cuteness (awwwwwww), and then went up to Pike Place Market for dried fruit (no success) and chocolate (success). Along the way we splashed through ankle-deep puddles of melting snow and rain, slipped around on extremely slick slush, and turned up our collars against the almost-freezing drenching downpours. The trip to Seattle took about 2 hours and involved walking 3 slushy miles and two buses. The trip home took about 3 hours and included a standing-room only bus that had chains and could only travel up to 30 mph, another mile-long slushy walk, and a ride in Dad’s four-wheel-drive Subaru.

It was all worth it, though.
Baby Otter
Okay, in this picture, the baby does look like an anonymous lump of fur.


Here the mommy otter cleans her baby otter. My camera can’t zoom and focus at the same time, which is really quite inconvenient, but you can kind of get a sense of the cuteness.


Fortunately even though none of my pictures turned out, there are always ones like this one from the Seattle Times.

Thankful For Hummingbirds.

Day’s Verse:
But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.
James 2:18

Happy Thanksgiving, all! Here’s a little story about food for you on this day of eating and thankfulness.

During the summer, Ian and I noticed hummingbirds floating around our house fairly regularly. It took us a while to figure out that the previous owners had hung hummingbird feeders out, and the birds kept coming back even when the home changed hands. Not wanting to disappoint our avian friends, we got a feeder and put it out back where we can see it from our couch. Occasionally we’d be delighted to catch a glimpse of a hummingbird darting in for a sip.

Fast-forward to the last few days. Temperatures have dipped into the teens and 20s, and I’m happy to have a warm place to stay out of the weather. Earlier this week as I sat in our fluffy chair reading, a darting black shape caught my eye. Sure enough, a hummingbird had come to try to use our feeder — which had frozen solid, like all the other liquids outside. I felt bad. I immediately brought the feeder in, melted it, and hung it back outside. Over the next couple days, I saw more use of that feeder than we’ve had in the entire time before. At least two different birds use it regularly. Wait a few minutes and a hummingbird is sure to come by for a snack. I’ve had to melt the nectar a couple of times, but now the temperatures have gotten close enough to freezing that it’s staying liquid on its own.

Lots of questions come to my mind as I watch the birds feeding: What kind of hummingbirds are they? Don’t hummingbirds migrate?! How can they stay alive in 20°F weather? What are they eating (besides our nectar)? Well, some Internet research suggests that they may be Anna’s hummingbirds, and if so, that answers the migration question, too: apparently Anna’s hummingbirds don’t migrate from the Northwest. I guess they can handle the occasional cold snap, and they must have some kind of winter food. We’ll just keep leaving our feeder out.

Find the hummingbird!
Hummingbird: Find Me

Give up? OK, here he is:
Hummingbird Perched

Yum, nectar. My very favorite Thanksgiving food.
Hummingbird Feeding

More Snowy Thoughts

Day’s Verse:
But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.
Philippians 2:17-18

Home in the Snow
Ian took this picture when he got home around 4:00. By the time I got home at 6:00, snow had accumulated on the road and anything wet was now ice.

I am super duper glad that I didn’t have to commute to Seattle today. The morning wasn’t remarkable, but by tonight, the roads that had previously been wet had iced over quite thoroughly. Studded bike tires would’ve gotten me home, but I wouldn’t have been happy about it. I saw a few cautious souls creeping their cars down Brickyard Road — which the City of Bothell rates as a Priority 1 snow treatment road — but I had Dad drop me off at the top and I walked home.

It took us many hours to drive to Darrington, many hours of creeping around by car on the Mountain Loop Highway to find a couple of OK trees, and many hours plus several windshield-wiper-de-icing stops to get home again. We weren’t about to slip and slide up and down our hill after all that.

But we have Christmas trees! …Actually, both will reside outside Mom and Dad’s house for a couple of weeks, until Ian and I return from Seaside. The point is, we did it and we had a fun snow adventure without any mishaps. And if Ian and I still have no groceries or dinner plans because I spent all day tree hunting with Dad, well, that’s just the price we pay.

23 Nov 2011 – Edited to add:
2011 Christmas Tree Hunting
Here’s me with one of our Christmas trees. Raaaaahhh!

PS – Jane, you can barely see it, but I’m wearing a fuzzy green hat you gave me. It was so warm and cozy! My ears say “Thank you.”

Snow and Big Steps

Day’s Verse:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Philippians 2:3-4

This is my first workday after finishing AmeriCorps, and it looks like the perfect day not to go anywhere: All the buses are on a snow schedule, the Seattle Times is reporting on snow preparedness activities, and Weather Underground predicts — drumroll please — 1 to 3 inches of snow in our area today, with afternoon winds above 20 mph from the north-northwest (which is the direction I would be riding home in the afternoon). Yesterday Cliff Mass, a UW meteorologist, predicted very little snow for the Seattle region today, but even so, I’m happy not to commute in to the Bicycle Alliance today. Now, tomorrow looks sunny and cold, a perfect day to execute my plan to ride the entire length of the Burke-Gilman/Sammamish River Trail.

My plan for today? Dad and I are going to Darrington to hunt for a couple of wild Christmas trees. This is the first year Ian and I will have our own Christmas tree. Somehow it feels like a big step. We don’t have very many ornaments or Christmas decorations, and what we do have are mixed in with our parents’ Christmas stuff, but that’s OK. It’ll be more of a minimalist-themed tree this year.

Another big step moment was when I went out and put protective coverings over our faucets. It’s funny: owning and maintaining a home is full of all these small things, each of which reminds me that we are responsible for this building. It’s intimidating, and believe me, I’d be happy if somebody else raked the back yard or vacuumed occasionally; but generally I’ve been happy to do these things because this place is becoming home.