Saturday, 30 January 2016

Arts major

So the worst part of the epic snow blizzard seems to be now, when 8-ft-high mountains of ploughed drift block one or two lanes of every road; first it's two lanes, then one lane, then two again, then you have to swerve to dodge diggers that are loading snow onto huge trucks, presumably not to sell to the Eskimos.

Worst still with the ongoing melt is the new one-and-a-half lane road, where crazy drivers - and they're all crazy around here - think "oh, there's just enough room for my 4x4 monster truck to undertake that giant people-mover".  Much swerving and honking occurs, and all around attempt to cheat death once again.

In summary: it was a weekend to keep off the roads, so we took the metro into DC.  This was only slightly better, with the platform signs in those Stygian depths telling us it was 27 minutes until the next train, but one did arrive two minutes later and we only had to change once on the supposedly direct line.

Our destination was an art gallery.  Where better to take a cooped up toddler than an art gallery?  But it was warm, Hannah's been wanting to go there for ages, and it's a Smithsonian so it's free.

It also turned out to be very small and very full of people.  They did have some nice things to look at, although everything was geared to attract the clammy hyperactive hands of three-year-olds; the huge anthills made of tiny squares of unglued cardboard, the thin threads of a massive rainbow harp, the intricately-woven stick houses.  The place was staffed by curators wearing badges that read: "Ask Me About Shouting At People Not To Touch Stuff All Day".

We lasted almost twenty minutes in there, half of which was spent filling in a questionnaire that a nice, non-shouty staff member asked us to help with.  Pete, it seems, is more of an engineer than an artist (actually more of a demolition expert, to be precise) so it was back to Duplo as soon as we got home.

Out came the sun and dried up all the snow, I hope.

But is it art?  Yeah, probably.

Preparing to huff and puff and blow it all down.

Don't touch!

Keep don't touching!

Art is all about the perspective you take on it.

And now for some real art, when we met the Murnanes for sustenance after our cultural ordeal.

And this is what the ice cream in our neighbourhood looks like.  I know you're not meant to eat the yellow snow, but what about the grey and black?

And then it began snowing again.  And I began screaming.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Cabin fever

Well, the "holiday" came to an end this morning when the federal government announced that it was going to open again, albeit delayed by three hours.  As oil companies the federal government this meant Hannah got to escape back to her office.  We had to drive her to the metro as the pavements remain clogged.  A strongly worded letter to the council is ready to be mailed - it should get there in a few weeks.

Pete's school remains shut, as some people only had their streets snowploughed this morning.  As long as they open by Friday, otherwise we won't get our weekly raisin challah bread and that would be a disaster.

Parenting has been going well, with only Toy Story and Thomas The Tank Engine used to gain an hour or two of peace.  OK, there has been a lot of Super Mario Galaxy 2 played, but I've outlined the educational aspects of computer games before.

I imagine life will return to normal one day.  At the moment 8-ft-high piles of ploughed snow are taking up one lane (or the entire sidewalk) of most roads, and although we managed to get to the supermarket there wasn't much to restock the larder with.  It's all getting a bit frustrating, but the snow might have got sticky enough for us to build a snowman this afternoon!  And then I'll cathartically melt him with a hairdryer.

Pete decided to join mummy doing work.  Guess how long this lasted.

The snow is now "cleared" apparently.  Driving out of the garage involves a 12-point-turn, and I haven't done one of those since my driving test.

Strangely you could find as much broccoli as you wanted.

Daddy finally delivered on that igloo he promised, and one much warmer and drier than anticipated.

Monday, 25 January 2016

The Big Thaw

In my mind the snow stops falling and everything is cleared away in 24 hours.  Normal life resumes.  Well, I'll give it 36 hours, as this was a particularly large snowfall.

Unfortunately, in reality (a place I avoid at the best of times) cleanup of all this precipitation is going to take a very long time.  This also means that Hannah is working from home and Pete's school is closed, which leaves everyone together in the house - a situation as restful and calm as you would expect.

The only thing to do was to head out on an expedition with the little one, accompanied by cake and apple juice when sustenance was required.  We set our sights on Wheaton Park but quickly found that the sidewalks are still two-foot deep and untouched.  America is the land of the car, and that seems to mean that local government is making sure vehicles can drive around before they bother with us pedestrians ("well - duh!" says every American reader).

We turned back to our local playground.  There's been some controversy in the neighbourhood that the people contracted to keep the streets clear have not been doing their job due to badly maintained equipment - three snow-blowers, two bobcats and a snowplough broke down (that one's still parked out the back of our house).  There are a few conspiracy theories flying around, but the practical upshot is that our estate is like a giant snow maze; pavements end in snow mountains, false paths spring up and disappear everywhere, and the only way to get anywhere is via the roads dodging crazed slipping drivers as you go.

We eventually made it safely to the snow field.  It's as deep as before but things are much more pleasant without flakes blowing into your face at 35mph.  The sun was out so Pete and I did what every self-respecting British family would and had a picnic.  After that we played, trudged, climbed a snow pile or two, and tried to give Hannah some time to get work done.  We came home to the news that - joy! - Pete's daycare is shut again tomorrow.  Looks like I'll be introducing him to the Star Wars films a few years earlier than planned...

Melt faster!

OK, let's get out of here.

Many hands make light work!  A loose conglomerate of next-door neighbours managed to make a passable path in front of our doors.

Unfortunately things are a little more wild frontier outside our estate.  This is the nice wide sidewalk up Amherst Avenue.

Someone made a snow tunnel!  I'm going to try to best this with a full igloo.

Picnic time.

This will all become a beautiful muddy lake sometime soon.

It is easier to get onto the swings when the ground is two foot closer to them.

Attempting the north face...

...and attaining the summit!

This is the sidewalk down the main road.  A job well begun is a job half done?  Not in this snow.

All objectives achieved, it's time to head back home and wait for the melt.  Hahahaa...

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Snowpocalypse 2: It Continues

Saturday, 8.53pm

And with that I'm off to bed, hoping for unbroken sunshine and soft breezes tomorrow.  There is so much of this white stuff that I have no idea when/if it'll be cleared enough for normal life to resume.  Join me again soon for minute-by-minute reports of slushy melting and psychological insights from being shut in a house with a toddler.  Until then take care of yourselves, and each other.

Pure as the me.

Saturday, 8.28pm

I met some other humans!  They were the snow crew who have been digging out the neighbourhood for the past 24 hours.  Now one of them was trying to drive away in his 4x4 and was completely stuck.  I lent a push, but there was much wheel-spinning and they were going nowhere.  Yes, the snow clearers were unable to leave due to volume of snow, which is a good sign for the rest of us.

The main crossroads.

After ten minutes trying to get around an inclined corner the driver decided to back all the way down and try his luck at the bottom.  Sensible?  No, but I thought it would be rude to take photos of the disaster.

Permit parking only, if you own a sledge and eight flying reindeer.

Saturday, 8.13pm

Once again, dear reader, I risk life and limb after the sun has set to give you a final report on the day.  My conclusion?  Snow.  Snow, some more snow over there, and snow still falling.

Of course, New York City once again decided to one-up the nation's capital by having the most snow ever.  The mayor declared it illegal for children to go outside and build snowmen.  Maybe something similar was in force around here, which might explain why we were the only people we saw.

No more sitting on the old school bench.

These driveways were being cleared by their owners when we went past this afternoon, and now look at them.  Why bother, I say.

Saturday, 5.53pm

It's officially a blizzard, Hannah tells me after reading The Washington Post.  Silver Spring is reporting 28 inches and I've just discovered the live Preliminary Snowfall Map which is very exciting.  Most of the totals are reported by "Trained Spotters" - this is now my employment ambition.

We're in top-five-snowfall-in-a-day territory and need only a little more to be record breaking.  Come on, storm Jonas, you can do it!  And then melt quickly and conveniently.

Dirty snowtini.

Saturday, 3.37pm

It's much better to take your kids out to the park than to sit around at home watching telly.  Usually.

A small sign of hope in this bleak weekend.  Quite Christmassy really, albeit a month late.

Saturday, 3.19pm

This is getting a bit boring now.  All the snow, not my blog, obvi.  But after watching Room On The Broom and The Gruffalo's Child (the books are better than the films, to be honest) it was time to head out again to see if anything had changed.  There was more snow and wind, but other than that not much.

At some point the snowploughs decided it wasn't worth carrying on.  There's been one parked outside our house since 6am, with various discussions happening now and again between the people sitting inside.  Perhaps I should go down and offer a cup of tea to give them some motivation.

Luckily my phone has GPS.  And we're staying within 20 steps of home, but they are quite energetic steps when the snow comes up to your thighs.

Lone figures in the blizzard.  Why aren't more people out playing in this?  Because they're not stupid.

Saturday, 1.54pm

Surely I can call it a blizzard now.  I think that snowplough is stuck.

Time for a bit of relaxation.  Hopefully both of them will be asleep soon and I can get some peace and quiet.

Saturday, 12.10pm


Saturday, 10.43am

And after all that, I need to put my feet up.

A tougher snow angel to make than the last one.

Buckets and spades.

Saturday, 10.27am

It was impossible to get back to the park where Pete and I played yesterday.  Given it's a three minute walk from our door this was a bit of a shock, so instead we spent some time sledging down the snowploughed roads.

British Antarctic Survey.

This will impact the efficiency of the post office.  Not that anyone will be able to tell.

Saturday, 10.21am

This is two cars.  No one's going to be popping out for a quiet afternoon drive.

A lovely neighbour who was clearing her steps offered to take a family picture, before apologising for the weather when she discovered it was our first East Coast winter.  As she walked back to her door she fell into a snow drift, was quickly covered, and was never heard of again.

The main road.

Always heed traffic signs.

Saturday, 10.12am

So the weather services are saying that this does not yet count as a blizzard.  To which I reply: "come to my front door and say that."  But technically a blizzard is winds of over 35 mph and visibility of less than 1/4 mile, for three hours.  Now I can't wait until the blizzard part actually starts!

Off to play in the snow.  Or knock over a bank - I haven't decided.

Hannah wants to clear our steps so that we can get back in.  Safety first is the Chevron way!

And we're off.  Guess who's pulling again.

OK, the snow is actually too deep to pull a sledge through, and too powdery to make a snowman with.  I'm not having fun anymore.

Saturday, 9.32am

Snow is mounting up at the front door.  Any moment it might become impassable.  Best to go back to bed.

Saturday, 7.48am

It's piling up, and the weathermen say it's the next few hours that are going to bring the real downpour!  Someone can't wait to get out into it (hint: not me).

Saturday, 7.42am

We saw our neighbour putting plastic sheeting out yesterday and wondered why.  It's because they really love their dog.  And probably don't want to be snowed into a house that smells of wee.

Saturday, 7.37am

Yay, the cappuccino maker is still working so everything is alright.  Only about 100 people have lost power.  So far.

Saturday, 6.45am

There is a monster in my bed jumping around and shouting about snow.  It's his mother's turn to deal with this, due to the 5.22am incident.

Saturday, 6.17am

Thundersnow!  Fox News said this was possible so I didn't believe it.  There is an almighty flash followed by a thunderclap, and it keeps snowing.  That's basically it but it is apparently a thing (The Weather Channel: What is Thundersnow and Why Does It Happen?

Saturday, 5.22am

Hannah complains "I can't sleep!"  Three minutes later she's snoring and I get to lie awake for the next two hours listening to the snow rattle against the windows and the snowploughs grind past.