Wednesday, January 31

New Years Eve...

I know it was a while ago and there's probably good reason I didn't post about it earlier, but we did herald in 2007 in style and with much laughter. We had a NYE bash at Joanne's place - lots of people, good food and bubbles. At some point during the night Lorena brought out her "Hello Kitty suit" fresh from Japan where, apparently, all the ladies are wearing them. I was bullied (and that's the story I'm sticking with) into modeling it for everyone... Anyhow, photos were taken so I have decided to rob them of their power to be used against me by posting them here.

No snickering.

Friday, January 19


It's all over. The temperature is rising and the ice is melting. It started with dripping and now huge sheets of it are coming crashing down! Pretty cold and slushy outside but we'll be back to normal in no time. Or maybe not, since it's forecast to rain for the next 5 days! I don't think I've seen that much rain in the whole time I've been here.

The ice storm was a fun adventure though ^_^

Thursday, January 18

The Ice Storm

The 'Arctic Blast' continues, and we're still enjoying it! More freezing rain overnight. We went out again this morning to take some photos and this time I nearly lost it on the stairs! Luckily Jo stopped me going out in my ugg boots. I'm not very bright sometimes...

I'll let the pics speak for themselves.

Our deck roof edge

More lights

Over our stairs

mmm...crunchy grass

Frozen trees (der...)

The gate to our stairs.

Good, old fashioned Texas BBQ anyone?

And from the looks of poor old Petey we couldn't go anywhere if we tried. Hard to see from some of the pics but he is entirely encased in ice, about an inch thick.

One last one...Holiday destination anyone? Reminds me of the Scottish B&B skits from Little Britain!

Wednesday, January 17

She's a bright button!

Just a quicky to let you know that Jo has been given the Dean's Commendation Award for 2006 for her thesis! She won't tell you how big a deal this is but there are only a handful given out each year, to the best theses across all disciplines.

Still chilled...

Arctic Blast!

That's what the TV is constantly telling me. If I hear them say 'freezing rain' one more time I will SCREAM! Yep, we are officially housebound, and cabin fever may be setting in. It got below freezing yesterday and hasn't budged since. Everything was already wet from earlier rain, so that froze right away, and the rain we had last night was indeed freezing (defined as: freezes on contact). We woke up this morning, not to a blanket of snow, but to a thick layer of ice on everything!

There's no sign of it lifting yet. If anything the snow is getting closer, and as they say, snow on top of ice is bad news. Most of the roads were shut today, but there were still over 100 accidents by mid-morning. Aside from the feeling of being trapped it's very exciting, and we both jump to the window when we here the next round of 'ping ping' ice against the glass. We went for a brief walk to the mailbox this morning and took some pics, but even that was a risky undertaking! Matt tried the same adventure at his place and slipped and hurt his knee!

Not sure if these pics will be as bad as it gets, I hope not though! I'll keep you posted.

Lights on our deck




Tuesday, January 16

Chill Bill!

Well, we're well and truly experiencing winter now. After having very similar temps to Tassie in Summer (aside from the cooler nights) it has suddenly turned on us and we're seeing some real American cold weather. We're under a 'winter storm watch' at the moment which seems to mean we are either going to get an ice storm or snow at some point over the next day or so. At the moment it's just below zero (in the middle of the day) and all the puddles from the rain last night have frozen over.

Texas goes a little nuts when it gets this cold, but it's mostly because people don't know how to drive sensibly. There's already been a few horrific accidents and that was before the ice really kicked in. The national guard have been mobilised and gravel laden trucks have been distributed at strategic points along all the roads. They warn that the bridges and overpasses are the ones that freeze first. To make it worse we had a lot of rain last night, so there's plenty of water on the 'drainage free' roads. More rain is due today and tomorrow, hence the warning. Here's hoping it delivers!! Jo is very excited by the potential for snow and has already started experiments with containers of water on the deck, to see how long it takes them to freeze. I was surprised that the first was iced up within half an hour o_0

I left work at lunch time to come home and I'm planning to work home tomorrow as well. The foundation will probably be officially closed anyhow, but better to stay off the roads at the moment anyway. We went to the supermarket and stocked up on ingredients for beef stew and hot apple cider :) It's actually a lot of fun to experience these seasons, because they're so much more extreme than tassie. I kept waking up all night last night to check if the pelting rain had turned to sleet, which was dumb because it's almost impossible to tell in the dark!!

Ice on our apartment lunch time!

Our local weather (for all you BOM addicts)

Thursday, January 4

Enchanted Rock

Enchanted Rock
On Boxing day Teresa, Steve, Jo and I headed out to the hill country, to go climb something known as 'enchanted rock'. We hit Fredericksburg on the way through, and had a good hearty German lunch of bratwurst and sauerkraut and potatoes...mmm We did a quick lap of the main street, which I've described before, and was no less tacky touristy on this trip, but always fun.

Enchanted Rock was gorgeous and had something about it that reminded me of Australia. It was a huge lump of pink granite poking out of the ground. There were several options for walking trails the rest of my group, of course, picked the summit trail *sigh*. It was great to see that the trail markings were not overdone...I was partially expecting carved stairs and handrails. At times it was difficult to work out where the trail really was, but it didn't really matter since you just had to keep going up. I'm not entirely sure why it was originally named Enchanted Rock, something to do with the noises it makes when it changes temperature I think, but the enchantment for me (of the evil wizard kind, not the fairy godmother) was the slow curve of the rock meant that every time you thought you were at the top another 10m climb appeared out of nowhere!

Cactus I'll let the pics speak for the rest (since at this point I was somewhat out of breath anyway) It was so incredibly quiet, even with the small crowd of fellow climbers, and just a perfect day. I can't even imagine how hot it must get up there in summer!

Teresa, Steve and Jo


Wednesday, January 3

Christmas Day and other good stuff

Christmas lights seen while driving
Just wanted to post a quickie to let you know that we had a truly wonderful Christmas - As good as it could have been considering how far we were from home and the people we love.

more random lights
Christmas lights...from the car!

My sister Teresa and her partner Steve arrived on Christmas eve, and they arrived in style! They were due to hit San Antonio at 4pm but not only did a delayed flight into Phoenix mean they missed their connection and ended up on standby (along with half of the US) but the ALSO had food poisoning! The poor things spent most of the time waiting either getting up close and personal with the loo or passed out on the floor. They finally arrive a little after 11, looking somewhat the worse for wear. Luckily they were over the worse of it and a hot shower and a good sleep were enough to regain semi-normality. They're off to Canada on working visas for a year, and were lovely enough to make the not-insignificant detour to San Antonio to spend Christmas with us. Check out their blog for updates, and perhaps another side to the Christmas story...

The plan for Christmas day was a huge lunch/dinner with work people and friends - mostly Australians and other orphans. It was our job to cook the turkey, stuffing and gravy. On Christmas morning we let Teresa and Steve sleep as long as possible, so Jo and I got up at sparrowfart (about 6.30) to put the oven on and wash out the bird etc. It sure was a beast! A little over 20 pound, hormone free and happy - till that point perhaps. We made a pork, sage, apple and celery stuffing but decided to cook it separately in a dish to give the bird the best chance to cook right through. Luckily the oven in our apartment is humungo and it fit the beast with room to spare. Later that morning we had quiet present opening at home, and it was lovely to do that with some of our family! Then I made the traditional Christmas milk (Dad's recipe, mostly whiskey and condensed milk but soooo good) and we finished off cooking the bird. The timing was perfect, the skin was golden brown and the juices were clear (which is lucky because I forgot to buy one of those pop up turkey timer gizmos).

Christmas day was great, there were 14 adults and 4 kids, mostly Aussies, a few Texans and a Thai family. It was a great mix of people who were all please to be there - chaotic at times, but lots of fun! Teresa and Steve fit in well. The food was just incredible. I'm not sure why my blog always ends up being about food but, but I guess it's how we celebrate here, and how we tell people we like them. Americans are very good about celebrating around a feast and I think most of us Aussies here have taken that on.

We began with Thai rice paper rolls and a stunning satay sauce, which were had with champagne while we exchanged pressies. The kids were having a ball and I think the rest of us were too. After the chaos of the exchange faded somewhat we moved into our lunch/dinner...what is the word for a lunch in the afternoon?? Aside from the turkey, we had multiple hams (honey and smoked), greens, potatoes, cranberry relish and stuffing. For dessert there was rum cake (no plum puddings to be seen here) and pavlova (of course made from scratch by an aussie) followed by amazing cheese platters and sticky wine. Yummo! Our weary travellers and their tortured tums actually held out surprisingly well, and we stuck around just chatting and hanging out for quite a while. All in all this Christmas was one to remember fondly. And it was made even more special (and seemingly less distant) by cards, parcels and good wishes from dear ones at home. Thank you all, we truly miss you.

oh for my tripod