Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Very White Christmas

I managed to make my way up most of the hill to Marie's house. After all, I was driving a Subaru and following her in the same car, different color. When my wheels started to spin, I backed up into her neighbor's meticulously shoveled driveway and headed downhill to park. This was to be quite a portent for the next 24 hours.

We spent a lovely evening drinking wine (this is Marie's house), eating food, including the infamous fish soup, a Czech tradition, and opening gifts. Marie's son, Ashton, was dressed in all manner of fashion: plaid pajama bottoms, t-shirt and yellow-tinted aviator glasses and the gifts he received only added to that worldly menagerie: a (manly) paisley pashmina scarf, a blanket with peace, love and hippiness and some lumps of coal. Marie's friend Steve, known as the man who was fired from his wrapping job, presented his gifts either completely unwrapped or in a plastic bag: a book for Ashton and African jewelry for us. Marie presented me with the proper stemware for drinking red wine and I passed to her a gift from the "Goddess of Wool"- armwarmers. 

Since it was "only" 11pm at that time, we headed on up to the neighbors' house for dessert and games. Baldo, the Doberman, bounded up to us at the door with a sniff to each person's crotch and Michelle and Joe treated us to pumpkin pie, while their daughter, Sabina, drew us into a hilarious game that took us late into the night, laughing and drinking more wine.

In the morning, xmas day, it was still very white out, with more than a foot of snow on the ground, and more snow began to fall. After breakfast, we felt a need to be productive so we went out to free Marie's car from its precarious spot in the driveway. The shovel came from the back of my car and is the variety that comes apart and can be carried in a backpack, while still being very effective. If I am ever buried in an avalanche, I hope Marie is along with that shovel. That woman can dig! She freed her car and drove down to the bottom of the hill, tires looking like they were swimming, to park until everything melted. Shortly thereafter, her friend Steve departed and we heard a car alarm go off. Worried that he might be having a problem, we went down to help him out. From the top of the hill, we called out to him that we'd be there in a moment. 

I had a bit of deja vu: it was just this past summer when there was a similar situation on a bike ride near Mt Rainier and a motorcyclist went off the road. He was told help was on the way and who should show up to help but me, Marie and Erika, later known as "Too Tall, Too Small and the Princess". This time, however, the Princess was nowhere to be found (lost again?) but at least we had a shovel. Marie did a little digging and I pushed and suddenly, the car was freed. 
We retreated back to the warmth of the house and sipped tea and nibbled on cookies. A short time later, Marie noticed an emergency vehicle who was trying to get up the hill and was struggling to get turned around. We looked at each other and knew exactly what we had to do: she grabbed the shovel and I went to get my camera. I promised the firefighter that the photos wouldn't be all over the internet and he was grateful. But I didn't mention this blog. Marie was to the rescue again, as she brought down some kitty litter and the fireman was off, ego only slightly bruised.

The snow was letting up a bit and it was time to go out and play. We put on some layers and joined up with the neighbors, setting off on foot up the hill. Among us, we had 4 types of sliding-in-snow devices and we headed toward Lewis Park to their open slopes. On the way, 
you guessed it, we stopped
to push a car out of the snow, then went merrily on our way. We took some roads but mostly trails, as Bellevue has lots of greenspace that has been preserved while the houses and subdivisions were being built. At the park, we all utilized the many different kinds of sliding mechanisms and even found another: a sheet of cardboard box covered with packing tape that we dubbed the "Ghetto Sled". Whatever works.

Exhausted from too much fun and dragging ourselves up the hill many times over, we headed back, primarily on the trails system. If I had been blindfolded and dropped there, I might have thought I was on the Commonwealth Basin trail at Snoqualmie Pass. There was that much snow!
Back at Marie's, the snow had stopped falling, the air was a little warmer and I decided to make my escape, though I knew that meant I would miss out on another feast, especially since Marie received a gift of a cookbook from Michelle. But who knew when it would really stop snowing at Marie's house so I prepared to leave. She walked me out to my car and, fittingly, I became the fifth car she helped push out of the snow that day.

For more photos of Winter Storm 2008, click here for the gallery.

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