Thursday, February 21, 2013

Weather....

We have had a touch of what the English would call 'inclement weather'....
It's darned cold and can't make up its mind whether to snow, hail, blow or be sunny....

A few weeks ago now we had our first tornado warning since moving to NW Arkansas. I was actually quite worried. I took the boys the school, but then worried about what to do if there was a Tornado. G said "Mama if there is a tornado, will you please come and get me?" Could I actually do that? S reassured me that if a Tornado was to hit, that the schools had lots of tornado proof areas and would actually lock down the school with the children in it until the danger had passed. As it happened, it got really hot and humid and there was a huge thunderstorm, but thankfully no tornado!

Yesterday, we had a Winter Storm Warning in place. The warning started at 8am and was in place until 12pm today. When it started to snow yesterday, my usual magnificent view of Beaver Lake vanished behind a wall of white, and I decided to light the fire, just in case we lost power and the house got cold. I had just lit the fire when S called me from work and said to let him know if the schools were being closed, so he could swing by and collect the boys and be home early! I expected the worst. It was pretty yucky for a while but then the bad weather vanished as quickly as it came and took the snow with it. I felt very relieved.

The boys arrived home from school at the usual time, but then the weather seemed to close in again and the local TV stations hijacked our normal TV viewing with storm warnings again and news of freezing rain. I thought freezing rain was hail, but apparently not. The temps drop below freezing, then it rains and as the rain hits the ground it freezes - instantly! creating the mother of all ice rinks in the process. The local weather man said ice layers would between 0.10 and 0.5 inches thick - the warning said "DO NOT leave your home until the storm has passed!" Again we were told the warning was in place until 12pm today.

We stoked up the fire and prepared for a cold night! I was half expecting to be woken through the night by ravaging storms, but I slept soundly and didn't wake until 5.30 this morning, when I was woken by the sound of G rekindling the remnants of the fire. One look outside and I knew that it must have been raining for quite some time through the night. It wasn't raining when I got up but our back deck was like a huge ice rink with ice nearly ½ inch thick in places and icicles hanging from my garden chairs and table. The BBQ cover looked like it was plastic not material and it was impossible to walk out there without sliding all over the place.

The local news was reporting that the worst of the weather had yet to hit us and that there would be thunderstorms to accompany the freezing. They said that there were power outages in certain areas and that they expected more throughout the morning! Many school districts were reporting that schools were closed for the day and I was keeping my fingers crossed that both of the boys schools would be closed! One disadvantage to living so far out of town is that we can had weather conditions far worse than in the town, making travelling to town and back hard work. S left the house around 6.30am to make the drive into town and work. He rang me a little later to tell me where the trouble spots were, and my heart sunk when he said the bridge was the worst spot, but just to take it really slowly and keep straight! I have to drive across the bridge to get into town, and it is almost halfway between us and town. On a normal day it looks like this -

As you can see it is a single carriageway straight bridge. On a good day the view as you drive along the bridge is wonderful. This morning it was covered in thick ice, and if you skid, there is nowhere to go! I kept hoping against hope that the news would tell me the boys schools were closed, but there was no such luck for me and at 7am we headed out to make the 13 mile journey to town. For the most part the road was pretty good - gritters had been out and the winding road was far less slippy than I expected. The bridge was kind of scary, but it was obvious that lots of cars had passed over on their way into town and crossing the first time wasn't so bad, I just kept my speed slow and didn't break or accelerate and we got over OK. However it also became obvious that the traffic flow had only been one way - the other side of the road was virtually untouched and I needed to come back after dropping the boys. I didn't tell the boys but I was worried about my drive home, and was just hoping against hope that the bridge would be empty and I could cross over onto the wrong side on my homeward journey.

Once in town the roads were clear and I was able to drop the boys of without incident which was good. The journey home again was slower than slow and the bridge, well at about 10 mph it wasn't too bad. Sadly there was a steady stream of traffic coming into town, so I had to stick to the 'slickery' side of the street, as S would say, but I made it home in one piece - just in time for a lovely thunderstorm.

Thankfully, as I write this, the rain has stopped and I cannot hear any more thunder rumbling. The deck is still an ice rink, but I have thrown some salt onto it, so hopefully it too will soon be accessible. I am hoping that this is the last of the bad weather for a while, and I am counting my blessing that I do not live in Mass like my sister, where the heavens opened and dumped 30 inches of snow on them the other week.

There are already a few signs of Spring, and with that will come the tornado warnings again. The neighbours tell me that the tornados only ever hit the other side of the lake, and one neighbour tells me he likes to sit on his deck and watch them as they do so. Maybe I will be able to get some photo's, although I kind of hope not!

Have a wonderful day

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sick House....

I am still waiting for the feeling of peace and tranquillity I was expecting to come from the move from California to Arkansas. I am sure it is there, lurking somewhere, but at the moment we just seem to be bouncing between one yucky thing and another - namely the flu virus that is sweeping its way across the whole of the US.

I should have known it was going to strike us. I went to see the new doctor here (Dr. Janelle Potts), lovely lady, and she offered me the flu jab. I politely declined saying everyone I knew who had the jab, got the flu anyway, and so far, despite being offered it every year we had escaped the flu without it! That was the kiss of death right there, at that moment. As soon as the words left my lips, we were doomed!

So far there is only young H who has escaped. He must have the most amazing immune system to have remained unscathed while myself, S and G have all been suffering, but unscathed he is! G has had it the worst - He has now had 10 days off from school and is on a mixture of Tamiflu, Amoxycillin, Decongestants and Acetaminophen. Thankfully his school, got together some work which I collected for him, so the the effect on his studies has been minimalised. Unlike in the UK though, we had to get a note from the doctor to confirm that he is actually ill and not just skivving. The lady I spoke to at the school has been dealing with a lot of parents of sick kids these last few weeks, but she was really surprised that it has gotten such a grip on George. Even the doctor was surprised by the grip it has on him. Hopefully though the current concoction of drugs will have enough of an effect to make him able to go back to school on Tuesday. I am just grateful that Monday is a holiday from school since it is Presidents Day, because it means we have an extra day to work on getting him  back to full health. On the plus side, G and I being ill together has meant that I have been the recipient of lots of hugs from him - something that at nearly 15 he had decided he was beyond! As his Mum, getting a hug from him is a wonderful thing and is almost worth being sick for. He has reached that stage now where is he taller than me and thinks it is uncool to hug his Mum - hopefully his hugginess will remain after the illness has passed.

Other than being ill, I think life is pretty good here in Arkansas. It appears that Rogers, the town we live outside off is actually number 10 in the top 100 places to live in the US, which is kind of cool. Of course it is all as a result of Walmart. The retail giant choosing to have its Global HQ in Bentonville (the town next to Rogers) has meant that many of it's suppliers have also set their HQ's in the area, and this has resulted in a very Cosmopolitan community - or at least that's what the press says. There is still so much of the town and the area that we have not yet discovered, and we are looking forward to all being well so we can actually get out there and see what the area has to offer besides the stunning scenery.

S and I have joined our local Fire Dept. The town has it's own main Rogers Fire Dept, but out here on the lake the vastness of the area is broken down into smaller areas each with it's own Volunteer Fire Dept. As one of our neighbours is the Chief of the local Dept, and as it would seem our road is affectionately call Fire Fighter Road, because most of it's residents are members of the Volunteer Fire Dept, we thought it would be a good thing to join as well, so we are now the Dept's latest recruits. Volunteering meant that we had to complete a load of paperwork and get background checks done, but we got the letters through from Homeland Security last week to say that we had both been accepted. NOw the real training begins, and has actually begun in earnest. Last week, along with all the other members of the Dept, we took the FEMA, IS100 course and test, which is a Federal requirement for all Fire Fighters. Now we are working towards the FEMA, IS700 which will give us the required NIMS qualification as well. I think after that all of our training will be more hands on. There is a course we need to attend on 'Wildfires' and the other week we attended a course on 'Wilderness First Aid' which was basic but informative. Apparently training takes 12 months to complete, after which we will actually be as qualified as a paid Fire Fighter, just without the pay! We think it is a worthwhile thing to do in the community, although I am hoping for less rather than more call outs, once we are far enough advanced through training to be given the all important radio and bleeper! Last year our little Dept received 92 call outs of their own and were asked to assist other local Depts on several more, so obviously life as a Fire Fighter is never dull..

Finally for this post, I would like to bring a friend and ex-work colleague to your attention. My friend Vicky has decided to start writing a blog, and we all know how hard ti is to get any sort of following when you start these things. She is such a lovely young lady, so I wanted to try and give her a boost by mentioning her in this post. It is also a thank you because her asking me questions about blogging, made me realise just how long it has been since I posted anything myself, and I really want to share this new part of my adventure with all my readers. Anyway, Vicky is blogging about life and fashion and all that kind of stuff, she is recently married, so I am sure we will hear all about the trials and tribulations of being a young married couple in the UK. She also is a nursery nurse so we may get some useful posts on the development of young children - as I said Vicky is an ex-colleague, so I know she knows her stuff and will be thrilled if anyone had any questions for her. Like me she is also an avid photographer and does some great work. She tells me she is planing to show off some of her work in forthcoming posts, so I for one and going to look out for that.

Please take few minutes to visit her at:

That's all for now - off to take some more decongestants
Have a great Day!

PS. A few photos taken the weekend before we all got sick

One man and his dog - S and Lola

Sick me! Never

G enjoying some fishing before he got struck down with the flu

Even I had to give the kayak a go - Can't be outdone by the kids