The Houston Snowpocalypse of 2021

The Farmer’s Almanac predicted the last Houston freeze of 2021 to be February 17. What it didn’t predict was that the freeze would begin the evening of February 14 and stick around until February 19.

We knew the freeze was coming well in advance, and Mary spent quite a few hours relocating plants into the house and covering those she couldn’t move. Thankfully plants were the only casualties at our house.

The amount of snow that arrived for President’s Day was surprising and kind of fun. I was the only optimist on my block who thought we might still have trash pick-up. I cleared the sidewalk and built a snowman. I’ve lived in Houston since 1995, and while I’ve seen it snow here maybe a dozen times, I’d never seen it snow like this. We bundled Finn up and let him experience it.

Our neighborhood continued to have power and water overnight Monday, but we filled several containers with drinking water and filled the bathtub for toilet flushing just in case.

Tuesday the power was gone. We have a gas fireplace, so we moved everything into the living room and set up a safe baby area to catch the heat yet keep Finn out of the fire. We also repurposed an old photography backdrop to shut off the rest of the house from the living room to trap more heat.

Tuesday night it was still 65 in the house when we went to bed, but it was 55 by morning. Mary slept in the baby pen with Finn to share body warmth, but 8-month-olds aren’t really appreciative of life-threatening situations, and he spent most of the night climbing on her.

Wednesday we had Finn in several layers of clothes, which he did not like at all, and he was very tired of being in the pen. We took turns sitting with him wrapped in a sleeping bag, but that became a struggle. Cellular phone service went bad. With T-Mobile I could get texts and phone calls, but photos wouldn’t download and using Facebook or surfing the internet was our of the question.

Mary transferred some of the refrigerator and freezer food to ice chests filled with snow, and we started cooking other things. Have you ever grilled croissants? I think if we’d had a pizza stone to keep the bottoms from turning black, they would have been perfect.

My parents in Montgomery had gotten power back earlier in the day, and it stayed on, so around 5 p.m. with the temp in our house possibly dropping into the 40s overnight, we decided to drain the pipes and risk the roads to get to their house.

Previous apocalyptical survival scenarios were much easier when there wasn’t an infant involved. Mary and I could have sat in sleeping bags reading books by candlelight for several more days, but babies have no chill.

Thankfully we made it to Montgomery where the power stayed on, and we finally got Finn to eat and sleep.

The power was back on at our house Thursday, so we began cleaning, but we were still under a water conversation order and boil notice due to all the water line breaks throughout the area.

I was very glad to finally see this guy melting away.

Mary’s five-year-old pepper plants that were taller than she is all perished along with an eggplant. Our orange trees may or may not make it.

Replacing plants is easy compared to the struggles of so many in Houston trying to do major plumbing and drywall repair right now, not to mention the fact that many people lost their lives.

Despite knowing the cold was coming, the self-regulated Texas power providers had no incentive to spend the money to winterize systems. We have the 737 Max of power in Texas, and the plane has finally crashed into the mountain.

As we sat in silence Tuesday, I pulled out the guitar and wrote this song in hopes of alleviating some of the anxiety in the house and making things feel a little warmer.

I’m glad the sun is back in Houston.

2015 GBCA Icicle Series begins

With rainy weather in the mid-50s, there were no actual icicles to be seen during the first race of the 2015 Galveston Bay Cruising Association Icicle Series Regatta. However, I was glad I decided to put on a coupe extra layers of clothing before reporting to the boat Saturday morning.

With Antares, the Cal 40 we crewed with last year, suffering from a leaking fuel pump, I crewed for our friends Andy and Jayne aboard their new boat Hippokampus, a Pearson 422. It was my first time sailing with them, and it was their first time racing the boat, so it was a learning experience for all of us.image

All was going well as we approached the starting line. Then we attempted our first tack to begin the race.

That turned out to be a very long tack. The jib wrapped itself up on the furled stay sail, and it never took less than two of us to run to the foredeck and work it loose. Jibes were no problem, but a clean tack proved impossible, and we ended up starting ten minutes late.

Once started, the first leg of the race went well. Then when we were about ten minutes away from the second marker, the wind shifted. That resulted in a couple more very dirty tacks to stay out of the ship channel and make it around the tower.

The last leg would have been uneventful until we were about ten minutes from the finish, at which point the wind completely died. That last ten minutes stretched to thirty as we sped towards the channel at a whopping 1 knot.

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Of course, the day wouldn’t have ended appropriately if we hadn’t had to make one last tack to get through the finish markers. We actually furled the jib and used to stay sail to  make the turn, then unfurled the jib to finally crawl across the line.

It’s interesting how many time during the race that starting ten minutes late made a difference. Of course, nobody was worried about where we placed. It was great just to be on the water with friends, learning the ins and outs of a new boat. Of course, the rum served after the race was great too.

More photos of the regatta can be found here, courtesy of John & Scott Lacy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lacyphotos/sets/72157649706310299/