Saturday, December 27, 2008

The thaw cometh

No photographic evidence, but I think we can declare Snowmageddon officially over. It was 41 this morning, rose all the way to 42 or 43, and kind of drizzled all day. There's still snow - or, rather, slush - on our street, but the walk and stairs are clear as are the major roads. Definitely not out of boot weather, though, thanks to all the water from melted snow and falling rain.

So, since our snow here in the low-lands is almost gone, we'll have to head to the mountains to find some! Not today or tomorrow, mind you...but soon! The slopes are calling!

Friday, December 26, 2008

White Christmas

Hoo doggies was it white! We've had snow for what, a week almost? But it was turning to rain on Christmas Eve and we figured while it would be snowy on the ground the rest of the Christmas weather would be standard - meaning rain. Boy were we wrong. 'cause we woke up to this:

So, since breakfast for Paige and the kids was the time-honored Breakfast Pie, we figured we'd throw a little White Christmas Whipped Cream in to the mix.

After some pie it was time for some serious present opening. Maya and Logan gave each other stuffed animals (Webkinz Kangaroo for Maya, non-Webkinz polar bear for Logan):

And we gave them a bunch of other stuff, none of which compared to the Wii. The Wii set off such a hailstorm of screaming and jumping in delight that it's amazing the windows didn't break and the tree didn't fall over. The only drawback was that we didn't videotape the opening, so we missed the revelry. All I've got is this picture...sigh.

Once our presents were unwrapped and tried on, it was time to brave the slushy streets and head to Grandma's for Christmas dinner and some roof shoveling. My mom lives on the top of a hill in south Bellevue, altitude 1,024 feet above sea level. She started getting snow last Wednesday (12/17) and it really hasn't stopped since. There were about 14" on the ground when we got there, and another 2 or more fell today. It's truly insane. Insane to the point where we had to shovel out a parking space from the plowed-up snow on the road so that we wouldn't be blocking traffic.

Insane to the point where you can hardly tell that Mom HAS a car. But she does, as we proved today by digging it out.



As I mentioned, there were about 14" on the ground. Which means 14" on the roof, and since the garage roof and part of the roof of the house are flat, we had to shovel them off so things didn't break when the rains start. We got the garage and half of the house done on Christmas, and finished the rest today.



It was a lot of work, and my back is still sore. But hey, at least the house won't collapse now! And that's always a good thing.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Snowmageddon Day 5: the end is in sight

The thaw started today. Not immediately, mind you...woke up to a lovely heavy snowfall that loaded down the trees again as you can see:

But it wasn't to last. A few hours later the rains came, and they came hard, knocking down most of the snow from the trees:

But before the rains came, Paige and the kids went next door to Sonya's to "build her something". And that something was a sleeping snowman:

Logan and Maya working (or, in Maya's case, sitting) on the sleeping snowman

Thanks to some weeds the snowman had a wicked 'do

The rains also brought out the birds, and Logan took over camera duties and shot a few out the window - mostly hummingbirds. So the rest of the photos in this post are his, although I did the processing...

A hummer at our feeder

The same, or possibly a different, hummer resting in the rhodie outside the kitchen

Some other bird...possibly a finch? I don't know birds, clearly.

The neighbors in the penthouse condo behind us clearly serve a higher quality nectar, 'cause they must have had 6 or 7 hummers. We only got the one.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Snowmageddon, Day 4

There's some dispute on what day of Snowmageddon this actually is. Might be day 5. Time is beginning to blur, the days to blend together. Fortunately food is still plentiful and the power is on, so we're not resorting to cooking the young. Yet.

No pictures today, because I didn't want any photographic evidence of the mornitude on the roads. But moronitude there was. Oh yes. And only some of it was mine.

Mine started with the idea that I wanted to go to the mall. Why, you ask? Well, because there were a couple things I wanted to get, and I wanted to browse the no-doubt stupidly low prices thanks to the tanking economy and all. So I hopped in the ol' Legacy and headed out in to the world.

Now, as a reminder, it's been snowy here for several days. Which is more than normal...our usual snow pattern is it snows at night, sticks around for the morning commute, then melts. Or maybe stays a day and then melts. Well, this has done neither. So the roads are seriously fucked up, to use the technical DOT term. For more evidence see the sledding pictures from yesterday's post, 'cause they were taken on the street a block away. So anyhow, I was expecting some slow going, but with the Subaru's AWD I figured there wouldn't be a problem. Oh, and I also figured the main arterials would be plowed and sanded and fairly passable.

All of this was true. But what I forgot to factor in were the other idiots on the road. Well, that and the haphazard plowing / melting of the snow.

The first rough patch was about three blocks from home. Our street runs north/south, and if you head north you come to a fairly major street with a very slight hill to get to it. That's the preferred exit route in snow, 'cause the other streets leading up to our main arterial are steep and nasty. The problem is that everyone and their dog knows this, and some of those dogs have chains. So the last block of our street was effectively a mogul field. Which is to say bumpy.

The second rough patch came when I turned and headed east toward the mall. While Greenwood, the arterial I'd been on, was melted down to the pavement (in one lane, anyway, and really that was all I needed), this other street was not. Well, the left lane had bare patches in the tire tracks - in fact, it was more bare than icy - but the right lane was a nightmare. And as a result, we were basically stop and go for 20 blocks. Then after we crossed Highway 99 we cruised at speed for another 5 or 6 blocks before slowing to a crawl again for the last half mile to the freeway and the mall.

The mall itself was fine. Toys R Us was crowded, but they didn't have what I needed anyway so no harm done. Eddie Bauer was great - 30% off and two people in line at the cashier. Brookstone was a bit more challenging, since the store was packed, I couldn't find what I was looking for, and the line was about 10 people deep. And, naturally, when I was half way to the checkout I finally saw the thing I went there to get, so I had to jump out of line. But still, nothing I wouldn't expect on the 23rd of December.

Then the fun began. I needed to get one more thing, and to get it I needed to go either to Target or Fred Meyer. They're in opposite directions. Target was closer, so I figured I'd head there first. That was mistake number one. No, correct that...mistake number one was not just leaving my car parked at the mall and walking to Target. I was already at the north end of the mall, it was only a few blocks to Target, so there's really no excuse. But I didn't think of that until I was in the car and driving. And by that time it was too late, 'cause the parking lot was full either of cars or snow. So after sitting in a line of cars trying to get out of the lot to the north, I decided to reverse course and head to Fred Meyer instead.

Had this drive been a "chose your adventure" book, at several points I would have flipped back and made different choices. One of those was the "left or right" choice out of the mall lot. I went left, thinking that while the road on that side was a little steeper, it was also busier so it would likely be a better surface. True, but what I failed to account for was the heavier traffic and the stuck bus. That added about 5 minutes to the drive, as we all inched around the bus by driving in to oncoming traffic. After that it was pretty smooth (well, except for another mogul field or six) to the next big east-west street, which then bogged down as well. After doing the stop/go thing for 10 blocks or so I got to Highway 99 again and realized the problem: There was only one lane going up the hill on the other side of the intersection. Our two lanes were compressing in to one, and that one was barely moving. So I hopped on 99, headed north 5 blocks, and then headed west again on an unplowed, lightly traveled street. Where, again, the Subaru AWD made life if not easy at least possible.

The next piece of excitement came as I headed down the hill toward Greenwood again. As I waited for a light to change I watched three guys trying to get a pickup some traction - it wasn't going to happen. Then the light changed, the truck in front of me turned, and I was faced with...two cars. Yes, some genius had decided that he should drive in the left lane to get around the guy in the right lane who was waiting for the light. And to top it off, while he had put in the effort to put on chains, he'd apparently lost one 'cause there was only a chain on the right front wheel. The left one was spinning away happy as a clam, with no traction at all. Well, not quite none...between it and the chained one he managed to get back in his lane so I could continue on to Fred Meyer, buy Elf and go home.

So tomorrow's goal is to not leave the house. Or if I do, to only leave on foot. 'cause damn, while it was an adventure, it wasn't that much fun.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Snowmageddon, Day 3

Finally, a break in the weather! After a whopping two straight days of snow we finally saw some blue skies today. And the sun pushed the temp up in to the upper 30s, making for a bit of melting to boot! Not total melt, but enough that when I shoveled the stairs and some of the walkway through the yard the little remaining snow melted away.

The big bonus of the day was that Maya had a friend spend the night, so she had someone to play with other than her brother, who has been obsessed the last few days making a PowerPoint deck. Or, rather, using PowerPoint as his animation program...anyone know where I can get a cheap used copy of a Flash animator?

Anyhow, eventually the sun broke through and I had to head out to take more pictures. Because while snowing snow and cloudy snow are pretty, there's something more prettier about sunny snow.

I started out in the back yard, 'cause I wanted to get a third shot of the island with the flowering plum covered in snow. And the devastation that a full day's play has on the pristine snowfield...

Lots of snow on the tree, lots of trampled snow on the ground

What I noticed first was the huge number of birds. Not on the Hitchcock scale of flocks, but still plenty. Mostly Robins, but there were smaller ones (finches, maybe? Something...), at least one Stellar Jay, and the ubiquitous hummingbirds (we've got about six of them nesting in the trees at the back of the yard). But only this guy was willing to sit still long enough for a decent picture.

A jay in the birch tree. Yeah, it's overexposed, but he was too dim otherwise.

I then moved to the front, where lo and behold we actually had some icicles! The kids had been asking about them last week when it was wicked cold and dry, and I'd told them that with the rain gutters and our relatively good insulation we probably wouldn't see any. But then the freezing rain hit and the snow slid over the gutter, and with today's melt we got these puppies:

And since I posted the photo of this rose all frozen yesterday, I figured I'd take one today after it had thawed out and looked all artistic.

And then I saw these berries, and the contrast of the red, white and blue was nice so I took some shots of them as well:

While I was out taking pictures another of Maya's friends came by to see if she wanted to go sledding. So they bundled up and headed up the street, where they found that three girls on the sled goes a bit faster than when it was just two.

And with that I went back inside, 'cause the wind was picking up, the temperature was dropping, and I wasn't wearing snow pants. Yes, I am that big of a wuss.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snowmageddon, day 2

We left it yesterday with the question "do I brave the snowy streets to go to the Seahawks game, or do I stay home and watch it on TV?" And the answer was a resounding "stay home and watch it on TV." When I got up it was lightly snowing and there were about 6 or 7 inches on the ground. No, I didn't measure it, and yes, I am a man, so it very well could have been 4. The point is, there was plenty of snow. And it had drifted thanks to the winds. And then at some point in the night the snow had shifted to freezing rain, so the powder had a nice 1/8 to 1/4 inch crust on the top. Very pleasant to crunch through, I must say.

Well, after putting out the hummingbird feeder and taking a few pictures, I went back inside to find Paige ready to head out skiing. So I followed her out the front and took a few more pictures, then shoveled the stairs and the walk - a futile effort given the huge amount of snow that we'd get the rest of the day.

That shoveling, plus watching a couple other cars crunch through the snow up the road and listening to two or three more not make it up the hills nearby had me leaning toward skipping the game. Then my pal Chico e-mailed to say that there was no way he was going to make it around the lake to join me at the game, so I'd be flying solo. And while that's not usually a bad thing, going to the game in severe weather is always more fun when you're with a friend. So I wimped out and stayed home, wrapping Christmas presents while watching the snow fall and the Seahawks manhandle the Jets (if a 13-3 win can be called "manhandling"). And it was the right choice. When I finally ventured out on the roads at about 4:30 (the time I would have been coming home from the game) it was wicked slick and I thought at a couple points that I probably should have put on chains.

But enough of the pictures!

The back yard first thing this morning

Snow drifting under the rhododendron outside the back door

Patio chairs in the back yard

Proof we're lucky to get out of the house alive...the snow had drifted right up to the back door. That drift must have been 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep!

The railing by the front steps

A sweet cornice of snow hanging off the roof, held on mainly by the sheet of ice from the freezing rain

Paige ready to go ski through the 'hood

A rose on ice

Saturday, December 20, 2008


Well, finally. Finally they warned us about snow and it actually showed up. But, in classic weatherman style, they also warned us about high winds and they didn't show up. And now apparently aren't going to. Or something. In any case, the dreaded power outages haven't hit, the cable is still working, so all is well in the Chicken household. So here's a recap of the day:

Got up late-ish, had some breakfast, read the paper, then hopped in the car and headed off to finally see Quantum of Solace. Missed the first few minutes, thanks to my crappy memory (got 3 or 4 minutes from home and had to go back to get something I'd forgotten, then took extra time at the store buying fire logs), but in spite of that it was a fine movie. Loved the rooftop chase through Sienna, I must say. Although the bad guy kind of gave me the creeps...then again, that's probably the point, eh?

After finally getting out of the Alderwood Mall parking lot I headed back to town, dropping something off at a friend's house before heading to Safeway for some final vital provisions before the great storm arived. And let me tell you, I was not the only person with this idea. I'm pretty certain that's the busiest I've ever seen the store. They weren't running out of supplies, but they were running short on carts. I managed to find one, and 10 minutes later it was loaded with firewood, garlic, a banana, some spices, apples, canned pumpkin, and some canned fire-roasted diced tomatoes. After 15 minutes in line I was checked out and heading home, just as the first flakes fell from the sky.

That was around 3 this afternoon. It hasn't stopped snowing since. We probably have 3 inches of new snow out side, and it's wicked powdery. It's not staying on the car too well, because the wind keeps blowing it off (I think I made it sound like there was no wind...there's wind, it's just not 70 MPH wind. More like gusts in the 20s). But great for walking in - after the kids were done with their showers and in their jammies I had them throw on their snow suits and boots and we went for a walk around the block. Quiet (except for the wind), peaceful (except for the children) and beautiful. Well, except for the bleary eyes from the wind-blown snow...should have worn my ski goggles, I guess.

Tomorrow's challenging question will be do I brave the snowy streets to go to the Seahawks game, or do I stay home and watch it on TV? That, I'm afraid, will be a classic "game day decision".

Friday, December 19, 2008


So we got some snow finally. Not Wednesday, the day the big storm was supposed to hit, the first day they canceled school altogether. No, that day thanks to the "doughnut effect" Seattle was spared any snow. In fact, we lost snow that day 'cause it warmed up to 36 or so and drizzled.

But the Thursday it finally hit. Paige said it was snowing when she woke up around 5, with just a bit on the grass and none on the street. By the time I dragged my sorry ass out of bed at 8:30 or 9 the road was covered and it was coming down big time. So we loaded the kids with pancakes and sent 'em out side to play. and I put on the ol' wool pants and followed them with the camera to take the required snow shots. We'll start with a couple pretty scenic shots to set the stage...

The frozen, snow-covered hummingbird feeder. I've since remembered to take it in each night to thaw out.
Snow on the branches of our butterfly bush
No one's home...would have been a great picture if a bird had been looking out, though, wouldn't it?
The back yard
Portrait of a wheelbarrow taking a nap in the snow. Not our wheelbarrow, mind's not that lazy

The kids were busy playing penguins, a game that apparently involved gathering snow in the next-door neighbor's yard and hauling it to our yard in the sled.

After a break to have some cocoa and lunch it was back out in the snow to sled down the hill a block to the north. This would have been ideal snow for a flexible flyer-style steel runner sled, but all we've got is the old plastic model. Ah well...maybe Santa will bring one for Christmas.

And finally Logan faked a spectacular wipe-out. Or aftermath of a wipe-out. Something like that.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

More cool science

This time in video format! And courtesy of the good people at DViCE from the SciFi channel...have to give credit where credit is due, after all! Anyhoo, the wave motion is all mechanical, not computer-driven. Very cool. Well, cool except for the music, but you can always mute the speakers...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Today's news today

I know, I know, two days without an update. And here it is the end of the year, and my Blog 365 chances are slim. Well, technically they're none, 'cause I've missed days. But maybe I can get the total up...

Anyhow, two things from today's PI. First, the latest in a long list of ways I'd rather not die: head crushed in the door of my car. This was brought to light by a horriffic freak accident over in Port Angeles. Note to self: try to remember to put the car in "park" before I lean out the door to pick anything up.

And second, on a lighter note, a baby hippo!


Sorry it's so tiny...just click the image or this link to see the full size image.